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Dennis’ Local Almanac


Wet weather marches on

Dennis 5Laguna’s lofty rainfall totals continue to pile up here in the waning days of March. Out in the canyon on Canyon Acres Drive at Peter Ott’s house, the rain total since July 1, 2022 is up to 22.43 inches. One mile away at Spyder Wills’ place there is 19.38 inches, and over at Greg Weaver’s house in Costa Mesa, there’s nearly 23 inches in his gauge. 

It’s the first time since the 2010-11 season that our season’s total exceeded 20 inches and guess what...more is on the way by midweek. There’s a strong low north of Hawaii, and it’s loaded with moisture and headed in our direction. In addition, there’s a strong low with lots of cold, unstable air as it plunges to the SE out of the Gulf of Alaska. These two systems are expected to merge as they set a target at Central and Southern California and will add to the already swollen rain and snow totals. What drought?

Last Thursday’s rare tornado in Montebello was classified an E=F 1 with peak winds of 115 mph. No casualties were reported. The rare twister was a little less than 50 yards wide and was only on the ground for a couple of minutes. The tornado tore up a couple of roofs in an industrial area of Montebello, a few miles east of downtown L.A. 

An average of around four or five twisters touch down in our state, but nearly all of them are classified as EF-0 with winds less than 80 mph. Most of them occur from January through April. There was one twister that hit east of Fresno back in March 1983 and made it up to EF-2 with winds up to 135 mph and stayed on the ground for around 20 minutes. However, all it did was chew up a bunch of real estate, tearing up a couple barns in the process – but that was about it, fortunately.

On Sunday afternoon, folks in parts of the Deep South weren’t so lucky with 25 killed in violent EF-3 and EF-4 tornadoes. We’re moving towards the peak season for violent tornadoes with April and May being the prime months for such activity. During my weather career, I’ve witnessed firsthand two separate EF-4 tornadoes; the first one on April 1, 1967 in Amarillo, Texas while I was in Air Force Weather School and the second one on May 10, 1971 near Norman, Okla.

Tornado Intensity Rating System: 

An EF-0 has winds less than 75 mph and damage is light and might include damage to tree branches, chimneys and billboards. Shallow-rooted trees may be pushed over. An EF-1 has winds of 75-112 mph with moderate damage where mobile homes may be pushed off foundations. That’s why they call ‘em mobile homes. Cars may be pushed over to the side of roads as well. 

An EF-2 has winds of 113-135 mph. Incidentally, the EF stands for Enhanced Fujita Scale. An EF-2 can cause considerable damage – roofs can be torn off, houses and mobile homes demolished and large trees can be uprooted. 

An EF-3 has winds up to 170 mph and damage is severe. Even well- constructed houses may be torn apart, trees uprooted and cars can be lifted off the ground. 

An EF-4 has winds up to 200 mph where damage is devastating. Houses can be totally leveled and cars thrown up in the air. Objects become deadly missiles. 

Finally, an EF-5 has winds in excess of 200 mph where damage is incredible. Larger structures are lifted off foundations and carried away as cars also become missiles. Less than 2% of all tornadoes reach an intensity of this magnitude. The strongest tornado in U.S. history had winds up to 318 mph in May 2013 in a town called Moore, Okla. and at one point was 2.5 miles wide! 

See you next Tuesday!

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Missing scuba diver found off Shaw’s Cove is later pronounced deceased at hospital

On Saturday, March 25 at 12:32 p.m., emergency responders were dispatched to Shaw’s Cove Beach for a male scuba diver missing in the water. First responders arrived on the scene and, after an extensive search, located the missing diver approximately 100 yards offshore at Shaw’s Cove Beach.

Lifeguards rescued the victim, a 46-year-old male, at 1:33 p.m. and provided lifesaving measures with paramedics from the Laguna Beach Fire Department. The victim was transported to Mission Hospital in Laguna Beach and pronounced deceased at the hospital at approximately 2:30 p.m. His name is being withheld until family members have been notified.

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Fair Game


Laguna Beach Police report crime statistics and the numbers are good and getting better

TJ headshot AugAt last Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Laguna Beach Police Chief Jeff Calvert and members of his team presented the City of Laguna Beach’s 2022 Crime Statistics. I find this type of information particularly important because day-in and day-out, the news in so many forms comes out about how our world is falling apart.

So, the question becomes, is the world falling apart?

The first point that should comfort you is that Chief Calvert’s stated mission for the department since he took over in August 2021 is to make Laguna Beach “the safest coastal community in Orange County through exceptional policing and community engagement.”

First off is response time. Let’s face it, when you call, you want them there…fast! There are two types of emergency calls, Priority 1 and Priority 2. The first one is an immediate threat to life. The national response rate goal for this type of call, which is measured from the moment the police dispatcher answers the call, listens to your concern, radios for a unit to respond and up until when the police arrive is five minutes.

Laguna Beach’s Priority 1 actual response time average is 4 minutes and 18 seconds. Some 42 seconds ahead of the national goal. And last year’s stats are an improvement over both 2021 and 2020.

Priority 2 calls are when the caller feels immediate and substantial risk of major property loss or damage is at hand. Again, there’s a national response goal target which is 20 minutes or less.

Well, our PD arrived in an average of 5 minutes and 56 seconds for these types of calls. It was fairly similar to the previous two-year number, although technically seconds up, for those counting.

What kind of arrests are most common in Laguna Beach? The number one is DUI; two is related to drugs; three is disorderly conduct related to alcohol; four would be bench warrants and five would be domestic violence.

Including probably most of the domestic violence calls, it shows the impacts of drugs and alcohol on our society.

In 2022, there were 1,165 arrests; compared to 1,306 in 2021 and 1,280 in 2020, showing a nice downward trend line.

Of the arrests, the most troubling would be Part 1 Violent & Property Crimes. I’ve put the nine types included here, followed by the numbers, from the most recent year dating back to 2020.

For example, Homicide – 0 this past year, 0 in 2021 and 1 in 2020. So I would write this as (0-0-1). Rape – (3-4-7), Robbery – (8-7-14), Aggravated Assault – (19-29-20), Simple Assault – (108-129-132), Burglary – (47-53-45), Larceny – (239-240-278), Auto Theft – (47-38-30) and Arson – (3-2-5).

As the Chief would tell you, “one crime is too many,” but all-in-all the numbers are very good and getting better. In fact, the only line that’s up is Auto Theft and the story there is they now count e-Bike thefts in these numbers. This past year there were 27 of them, so you can see why the higher number makes more sense.

The PD has also recently acquired a bait bike to deal with these crimes. This is where the department puts out this bike to basically have it taken and then follow it to make the arrest. So far, they’ve apprehended three people in the early part of this year.

So, whatever you do, don’t take a bike. It’s like the old saying goes, “it’s like shooting fish in a barrel.”

I think you’ll agree that our Police Department is performing well. And, sure we have those detractors in town that would like to have some people believe a different scenario, but it’s simply not true.

To our men and women in blue, keep up the good work. And thank you for making our streets as safe as you do.

• • •

I recently received the information concerning upcoming online enrollment for the Laguna Beach Unified School District. But, before we go there, I thought I’d share something that was brought to my attention recently.

I was sitting through a presentation conducted by Hoag which discussed their plans for expansion and growth over the next decade or so throughout Orange County. It was very interesting, but way over my paygrade to fully understand.

One fact, however, that did get my attention was when they said that Hoag has an average of 22 births a day…or as they added, basically a new kindergarten class every day, 365 days a year. That’s a lot of kindergarten classrooms! Then, as I daydreamed about that number, I started thinking about all the other hospitals around probably doing something similar. It seemed overwhelming.

So, when I got this information I’m about to share from LBUSD, those Hoag numbers popped back into my brain.

Anyway, online enrollment application for the 2023-24 academic year is now open for new students entering transitional kindergarten (TK) or kindergarten through grade 12. 

Transitional Kindergarten is for 4-year-olds who turn five between September 2, 2023 and April 2, 2024. Then, for the full-day kindergarten program, students must be five years old on or before September 1, 2023, to enroll for the 2023-24 school year. 

If you’ve never been on the local school campuses, new families can visit the Top of the World and El Morro elementary schools on April 26 at 1:45 p.m. or May 4 at 6 p.m. for campus tours. Elementary school orientation for parents and guardians will be virtual via Zoom on April 27 from 6-7 p.m.

Parents should also know that in addition to the educational programs offered throughout the year, LBUSD also offers full-day expanded learning opportunities for all students during winter, spring and summer breaks when school is not in session. 

Those Expanded Learning Opportunity Programs (ELOP) are offered year-round in partnership with the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach for students in grades TK-6. During the school year, the program provides afterschool enrichment at the Laguna Canyon Clubhouse through 6 p.m. and full-day camps during the spring, winter and summer breaks. 

ELOP is free of cost for students identified as English Learners, students from economically disadvantaged homes, foster youth and students experiencing homelessness. You may find more information here.

The district also offers a summer enrichment program, LEAD, for students in grades K-11, who will be incoming students in grades 1-12. LEAD allows students to learn, enrich, advance and discover by exploring a new interest or passion. 

Courses are free of cost for all current and continuing LBUSD students. Classes address academic topics, social-emotional wellness, physical fitness, the arts, technology and many other high-interest areas. Course catalogs and details for summer 2023 are available at

Finally, LBUSD provides traditional academic summer school interventions for current students referred by their teacher to address gaps in knowledge and skills. The first school day for the 2023-24 academic year is August 24. To enroll, visit

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Nothing like a front row seat

Nothing like a front row seat SNL 3.28

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Just a calming, relaxing view taking in the ocean, cameras up and firing

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Swiftly flow the days

Swiftly flow the days SNL 3.28

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Photo by Scott Brashier

Sunrise, sunset

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Up on rippled creek, she sends me

Up on rippled creek SNL 3.28

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Photo by Joel Goldstein

With the rains comes water, lots of water. Here, Aliso Creek meets the sea.

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Ocean Explorers program at PMMC brings the ocean into your home

Bring the ocean into your home with the Pacific Marine Mammal Center (PMMC) Ocean Explorers program, an after-school remote learning experience.

Live instructors teach engaging and interactive content for kids ages 8-12 over four 90-minute classes.

Ocean Explorers dolphins

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Courtesy of PMMC

Geared to ages 8-12, PMMC’s Ocean Explorers program is an after-school remote learning experience with engaging and interactive content

PMMC is now enrolling for Wacky Whales! Have you ever wondered what it takes to be a marine mammal scientist? Dive in with PMMC as you investigate together active research on some wacky whalers. Explorers will discover research techniques and methods used in the field, while experimenting with their own data.

For more information and to sign up, visit

Pacific Marine Mammal Center is located at 20612 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach. For more information, visit

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Tickets are selling out fast to Susi Q’s “Evening with an Author” featuring Susan Straight

Tickets are selling out fast for an “An Evening with an Author,” featuring renowned novelist Susan Straight at the nonprofit Susi Q Center. The event takes place on Wednesday, March 29 from 5-7 p.m., with doors opening at 4:30 p.m. for attendees who would like to network while sipping wine and enjoying light hors d’oeuvres prior to the program.

Straight’s most recent best-seller, Mecca, is included in the $25 cost of the program.

tickets are susan

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Submitted photo

Novelist Susan Straight

Esteemed arts columnist, published short-story writer and podcaster Marrie Stone will be in conversation with Straight, who is renowned for her entertaining and insightful novels portraying the life and times of Southern California’s ethnically mixed communities.

The event is the first of a series of “Evenings with an Author” planned for the Susi Q. Author Janelle Brown is slated for June 6 and novelist Lisa See will be featured on September 13.

tickets are marrie

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Photo by Jeff Rovner

Straight will be in conversation with Marrie Stone

“We like to think of the Susi Q as the place where the generations meet,” said Nadia Babayi, executive director, “and this event is a good example of programming that attracts every age group. We’re thrilled at the response.”

The Susi Q is operated by Laguna Beach Seniors, established in part to enable older adults to “age in place.”

“In Laguna Beach, ‘aging in place’ means you’re supported in your lifestyle and your own home as the years tick by, instead of feeling the need to move to a senior community,” said Babayi. “In that same vein, we encourage all age groups to attend our programs so that older adults don’t feel isolated from the community at large.”

Register online for “An Evening with an Author” at and click on Classes. To RSVP by phone, call 949.715.8105, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The Susi Q offers a wide range of educational and fun programs, classes and clubs for older adults – though all ages are welcome. The Susi Q’s Care Management Department provides free consultation, education and practical resources for vulnerable seniors, enabling them to stay safe, informed and independent. For more information on the Susi Q, the portal to access the best of Laguna’s community resources, visit

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Newly renovated medical clinic sparks celebration

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

Last Thursday (March 16), the Laguna Beach Community Clinic held a public Open House to celebrate its fully renovated medical home. The renovation, a $1.5 million project and two years in the making, was led by Ken Mockett, owner of Pacific Orca.

Newly renovated Cole and Rubal

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Roya Cole and Dr. Jorge Rubal at the clinic’s wall of gratitude installation

At a private reception for major doors held an hour before the Open House, Dr. Jorge Rubal lifted his glass of Champagne and said, “In my time as CEO and CMO of the Laguna Beach Community Clinic, I’ve never been more thrilled, grateful and humbled than I am at this moment. Today we celebrate you for making this renovation possible.

Newly renovated VIP reception

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A private VIP reception was shared with major donors

“I finally feel that our facility, functionally and aesthetically, is now equal to the excellent medical services our physicians and nurses provide,” said Rubal.

The centerpiece of the renovation is the Bonnie and Arnold Hano Nutrition Center, located on the second floor. The spacious center includes a well-equipped kitchen and meeting area with state-of-the-art virtual communications technology for in-person and remote instruction.

Newly renovated Champagne toast

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(L-R) Dr. Jorge Rubal; Roya Cole, clinic board member; John Link, clinic board president and Ken Jillson share a Champagne toast

Guests touring the modernized clinic discovered its pharmacy, lab, triage room and private check-in. The minimalistic interior design is enhanced by the photography of Laguna’s beaches and canyons from local artists, including Sean Hunter Brown, Ron Chilcote, Patsee Ober, Mitch Ridder, Cory Sparkuhl and Cliff Wassmann. Laguna Beach artist, Jeff Lavinsky, created a large mural in the children’s section of the lobby. Guests also enjoyed live music by Felisha Dunne along with food and beverages from Starfish Restaurant.

Newly renovated clinic tour

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Barbara MacGillivray (fourth from left) and other community members touring the clinic

Newly renovated ribbon cutting

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(L-R) Ribbon cutting with clinic board members Susan Neely, Roya Cole and John Link; Dr. Jorge Rubal, clinic CEO & CM; Sue Kempf, mayor pro tem and Lidia Mandala, board member

A ribbon-cutting ceremony organized by the Chamber of Commerce included comments by Mayor ProTem Sue Kempf, who remarked to the crowd, “The nicest people work at the clinic. I have friends who come to the clinic and they love it.”

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Fair Game


School District “introduces” future facilities plan to the community; while city votes to release controversial City Manager video

TJ headshot AugLaguna Beach Unified School District officials met with the community last evening to introduce a facilities master plan that they were, in fact, tasked to produce, that looks at potential needs across the community. Included in those ideas with the high school were a district office replacement building, a new aquatics center, parking, theater enhancements and field updates; at Thurston were courtyard enhancements, a gym expansion, theater upgrades and security fencing; at Top of the World was a new lunch shelter, multiple outdoor learning areas, field upgrades and state required transitional kindergarten facilities; and at El Morro, included were the same transitional kindergarten requirements, playfield upgrades, a new two-story classroom building, and more.

The community came out…some to endorse the thinking, others to condemn it. On the condemn side were the obvious concerns one might expect from surrounding homeowners related to “the district ruining or negatively impacting my neighborhood.”

Some were concerned about not being notified of the meeting in advance, others about the drawings and plans being drawn up without their input and/or approval.

So, here’s where everyone needs to just take a deep breath. First off, the district officials were again “tasked” with providing this. They didn’t wake up one morning thinking, how can we negatively impact our neighbors?

What residents heard were some ideas, and with those ideas, plans on how they could be carried out. These were not finalized plans, in fact the pictures included in the handouts showing the projects were simply examples to inform residents of how, especially around the high school area, the elevation changes would be dealt with.

Still, it’s just the beginning. No final plans have been devised. No proposed changes have been approved. And, perhaps the biggest issue, no determination has been made on how it would all be funded.

Again, it was just a starting point, an introduction. For those that complained about NOT being included, next you’ll have that opportunity.

What’s important to point out is that, particularly with the high school area, is that the school is pretty much landlocked on space. So, anything proposed leads everyone to the concern – “not in my backyard.”

At the same time, the schools have facilities that drastically need upgrades; including the fact that no one anticipated new requirements for TK classrooms and facilities; a community pool that fails to meet basic requirements for the programs that use it, meaning handcuffing programs for the participating athletes; parking issues that strap the entire community and more.

People, including those valued neighbors, need to now get engaged and figure the challenges of the future out. However, we can’t just sit around and do nothing.

• • •

City Council on Tuesday evening voted to have the body-cam footage from the Laguna Beach Police Officer who pulled over City Manager Shohreh Dupuis released.

Dupuis was pulled over several months back for talking on her cell phone while driving. She has publicly admitted to doing so, saying she was speaking to Police Chief Jeff Calvert at the time, but agreeing she should pay the fine.

A group in town, who seem intent on bringing Dupuis down, have vocally fought to have the video footage released.

On Tuesday, City Councilmembers Alex Rounaghi, Mark Orgill and George Weiss voted to do so, while Mayor Bob Whalen and Mayor Pro-Tem Sue Kempf dissented.

I spoke with both sides yesterday. Both agreed that there was nothing to hide. Mayor Pro Tem Kempf felt that it led to bad precedent, while Councilmember Rounaghi simply hopes the release of the video will finally put the issue to rest.

Here’s my concern with the release of it. The video never completely answers the question as to whether Dupuis was on the phone with the Chief or not…which actually, shouldn’t matter either way. However, the vocal group that sees the release of the video as a win is likely to use that matter against Dupuis in their continuing attacks.

Oh, as the world turns!

• • •

Matthew Tietz is the proud head coach of the girls basketball program at Laguna Beach High School. And, no matter what anyone says, in most of the world of sports, girls’/women’s sport programs just don’t seem to get the same recognition that boys’ and men’s programs do. This in spite of the fact that what they’re accomplishing should be making everyone proud.

Here’s a first-person account from Coach Tietz discussing the extraordinary things going on with the LBHS girls basketball program:

“We were coming off what many consider to be the most successful Girls Basketball season in school history (in 2021-2022). The pressure of living up to that, plus the fact we were moved up a division to 4A, made this year even tougher than last. 

“And, despite having one of the toughest schedules in school history, this year’s team broke the school’s record with 23 wins, going 23-11. 

“The playoffs proved even to be much tougher but the team was up to the challenge and advanced to the 4A semifinals. That wasn’t all, the team qualified for the state regional tournament and advanced to the 2nd round where its season finally came to an end at the hands of LA City Division 2 Champion San Pedro HS

“Still, the four playoff wins this season tied the record set last year. The combined eight wins over the last two seasons are twice as many as every other team in school history combined.”

And what about the individual accomplishments?

“The team was led by Senior Sophie Marriner. For the third consecutive year, Sophie was named 1st Team All-CIF, 1st Team All-League and the team’s Most Valuable Player. 

“(Sophie) led the team in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocked shots. She broke her own single season rebounding record with 441 and became the first player in school history to register more than 400 points and 400 rebounds in the same season. 

“Also playing a huge part in the team’s success was Senior Kenna Rudolph. Kenna was (also) awarded 1st Team All-CIF and All-League honors, the first time for her, and won her second team Defensive Player of the Year award. She once again led the division with 57 three-pointers and her 213 career threes ranks second in school history. 

“Kenna also set the school record with 120 games played in her career, and what makes that number even more impressive is that it is 120 consecutive games, having never missed a game in her career. 

Alex Grombchevsky and Kate Cheng were the team’s co-Offensive Players of the Year. Alex’s strengths were controlling the ball on the offense and hitting big shots. She was second in the division with 44 three-pointers and honored with being named 2nd Team All-CIF. 

“Kate provided all-around play, scoring both inside and out and handling the ball within the offense. 

“And, we can’t forget about Sabrina Yang, who rounded out the starting five. The senior provided consistent play, solid defense and leadership throughout the season and got hot in the playoffs hitting several clutch three-pointers during the team’s run. 

“Sabrina also won the Team Spirit Award, which everyone agrees should probably be named after her given her history of uncontainable enthusiasm. 

“Off the bench, Elaina Seybold provided additional scoring and rebounding with physical play inside, while guards Brisa Campos and Alicia Mendoza provided great defense with athleticism and energy. 

“Freshmen Kyli Kanter, Lily Alvarado and Mila Davis each spent some time on varsity this season and gave a glimpse at some exciting basketball that will be coming up to help the returners keep the successes rolling in.

Well team, congrats on a season to remember. Now, I’m not saying they deserve a parade down Forest...YET. But they’re certainly a program this community should watch and definitely get behind.

• • •

This in from Erin Slattery and the Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce. “Join us on Thursday, March 30 at 5:30 p.m. for a ribbon cutting in celebration of Laguna Urgent Care.

“Laguna Urgent Care is an amazing community organization,” said Slattery, CEO of the LBCC. “No appointments are necessary, just fast and efficient medical attention for all of our non-life-threatening needs!”

For those in attendance, Laguna Urgent Care, located at 303 Broadway St., Unit 103, will be offering a raffle with door prizes and will be providing complimentary coffee, tea and snacks.

You may RSVP to the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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