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Laguna Beach


Where’s Maggi?

Maggi asks – we deliver! The answer, that is, to just where this photo was taken in Laguna. Do you know where Maggi was? 

Send your answers in to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The location will be revealed in Tuesday’s edition, and we’ll let you know who got it right.

Wheres Maggi 8 9 19

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Summer nightlight

Summer nightlight

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Photo by Scott Brashier

The summer light fights off the darkness from both sides


Moody summer skies

Moody summer

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Photo by Scott Brashier

It’s been a moody summer in Laguna…


Mediterrania closes, another door opens

By Diane Armitage

This week in Laguna, our restaurant community suffered another casualty. The new Mediterrania restaurant (also called MG Laguna) closed its doors unexpectedly.

Mediterrania Owner Mohamed Mamoun opened his first Mediterranean restaurant in Irvine in 2013 (Mediterrania Grill) and expanded to Laguna Beach in January of this year. His restaurant took the place of the property owner’s Old House Garden Café, which had enjoyed significant renovations in kitchen and interior from the former, longtime favorite restaurant Madison Square & Garden Cafe. (Following all this?)

Mediterrania closes building

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Mediterrania closes its doors

Despite a beautifully updated kitchen, Mohamed’s plucky, friendly spirit, and decidedly good food, Mediterrania’s breakfast, lunch, and early dinner offerings struggled against its popular neighbor, Urth Caffé.

The owner of the property, Liang Fang, could not yet be reached for comment. An employee in contact with Mr. Fang says that he is considering a re-branding of the space with a new restaurant concept under his own management. Stay tuned for more details!


Born anew local ART Highlights Magazine expands its horizons with new owner and team

Local Publisher/Gallerist Ludo Leideritz, owner of Forest & Ocean Gallery, Editor-in-chief Craig Lockwood, Creative and Marketing Director Charles Michael Murray, and a dedicated cadre of artists, designers, writers, and photographers have taken over the publication formerly known as Laguna Beach ART Patron Magazine

Together, they have recast the publication as ART Highlights Magazine, expanding its coverage from Laguna Beach and Palm Springs to the greater Orange County and (planned) San Diego County areas. While ART Patron covered mostly visual arts, ART Highlights will include performing and digital arts and art forms new on the horizon. The inaugural issue arrives November 2019.

An opportunity

Leideritz says, “After learning that ART Patron Magazine was closing, I immediately contacted Christine Dodd, the former owner, to inquire as to the reasons for this (as I was running a full page ad in the current issue). Upon learning about the reasons (her running this herself from out-of-state, among other logical reasons), I offered to take over the publication. Her knowledge of me, my background and capabilities, along with my varied contacts facilitated her decision; in two days we closed the deal and ART Patron was transferred over.”

Published quarterly in print, the magazine will also have a frequently updated digital presence, keeping readers informed of the latest happenings in art, theater, music, and dance. Reader input will be welcomed, to add diversity and dialogue; the new team is also on the lookout for talented contributors with a variety of artistic/cultural interests and passions.

Born anew ARTS Highlights

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Ludo Leideritz, Craig Lockwood, and Charles Michael Murray have taken over the former “Laguna Beach ART Patron Magazine,” re-launching it as “ARTS Highlights Magazine”

The print version of ART Highlights will offer a concise, readable, graphically sophisticated guide for readers to scan and select, while the digital version will offer chances to add new art knowledge with a series of short, fact-filled, easy-to-read articles and columns.

 Leideritz says, “Aligning myself with creative and marketing director Charles Michael Murray, we made quick work of gathering others in our management team. Noted author and publisher Craig Lockwood and arts writer Daniella B. Walsh soon joined and we set forth with a set of concise changes, which will enable the publication to not just continue, but with a new set of bearings to expand both the market penetration, but also its readership appeal and content potentials.”

The team will continue with the magazine’s current distribution in Orange County, Palm Springs, and the surrounding communities, with plans to expand further north and south.

Name change

According to Leideritz, “We changed the name to ART Highlights Magazine, as the new name implies a more broad-based platform. The statement ‘Promoting the Arts, Artists and Culture’ is our mission. In addition to highlighting the visual arts, we will also promote performance arts: concerts, dance, and theater. 

Born anew logo

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 Local arts magazine has new name, new logo, and new management team

ART Highlights is expanding and is now like bookends embracing the art world. One is the printed magazine; the other is an online magazine. They work together and independently. The printed magazine is a great vehicle to showcase and experience art in a printed form, a tactile creative presentation with coffee table appeal. Simply – creatively enticing. The online magazine is dynamic –

changing daily, weekly, monthly – and complements the scope and depth of the quarterly magazine. Artists and sponsors can showcase in either or both vehicles – truly bookends that will embrace and highlight the apex vision of artists and supporters of the arts.”

ART Highlights’ website will be topical, current, and filled with strong content that will be refreshed with a frequency to keep readers entertained and engaged.

For more information, go to www.ART-HIGHLIGHTS.com.


Barbara’s Column

Bragging Rights 

By BARBARA DIAMOND

Laguna Beach Police won bragging rights with a 16 to 7 victory in the inaugural Guns ‘n Hoses softball game against the combined Fire and Marine Safety Departments team on Tuesday night.

Both teams were ready to take the field for the nationwide annual National Night Out, created to bring neighbors and law enforcement closer together – and have fun doing it. 

Kudos to Community Service Officer Natasha Hernandez, who organized the Guns ‘n Hoses game. 

Prior to the game, Police Sgt. Jim Cota told Stu News, “The [police] softball team is very excited to be playing the Laguna Beach Fire Department/Marine Safety team on National Night Out. Bragging rights are on the line. On a personal level, we are all very close so this will be some friendly fun.” 

In response, Fire Department Engineer Paramedic Pat Cary said, “The Laguna Beach Firefighters are excited to participate in [Laguna’s] first annual National Night Out event and see this as a great way for the community and residents to connect with each other and their first responders!” 

Bragging Rights teams

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First Annual Guns ‘n Hoses competitors

“To say we are a competitive group of firefighters would be an understatement and we can’t wait to play baseball against our brothers and sisters in Blue! Let’s Play Ball!” 

The game was played on the Laguna Beach High School baseball field. Skipper Carrillo threw out the first ball – well, of course. “It was a home run day,” Skip’s signature phrase for good times. 

Cota pitched a complete game for the win. He also hit a scorcher to the opposite field and deserved to be the MVP, according to Emergency Operations Coordinator Jordan Villwock, who was in the stands for the game. 

But Cota was not Villwock’s only candidate for MVP: Shortstop Jesse Schmidt was also a contender. 

“He cranked a home run in the first inning,” said Villwock. 

Another fan said Schmidt was all over the field. That might be due to the fact that he previously played for a San Francisco Giants minor league team.

Bragging Rights Cota

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Sgt. Jim Cota pitched a complete game for the win

Randy Bitonti went four for four and ran the bases like a hyena,” said Villwock. “I wouldn’t recommend anyone trying to get away from him – they’d get caught.

Brandon Drake also had an outstanding game.” 

Larry Wohrman was Cota’s battery mate. Guns’ position players included Joy Butterfield, Jimmy Gramer, Jeremiah Kennedy, Dave McGill, Tommy McGuire, Kyle Milot, Britnie Priest, Ryan Radel, Abraham O’Campo and Raj Patel.

The Fire Department’s Hoses team included Cary; firefighters Grant Collison, Zack DeJohn and James Lin; Engineers Tony Carlson, Brian Adams, Dave Lopez, Adam Schulenburg and Kurt Bladergroen; and Captains John Kuzmic and Andrew Hill, who grilled the free hotdogs to go with chips and soft drinks before he took to the field. Compliments to the chef.

The firefighters were joined by Marine Safety Officer Tommy Cantrell, Hourly Lifeguard David Brunner and Tower Lifeguards Bridget Storm, Jack Proctor and Corey Solomon.

Bragging Rights OCampo

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Detective Abe O’Campo 

DeJohn was the pitcher. Carlson was behind the plate. 

“Our best hitters were Kuzmic and Collison,” said Cary. 

The team did not take the loss lightly. 

“We are looking forward to our second annual Guns ‘n Hoses game,” said Cary. “We will be practicing and ready to go.”

Kaley Gilstrap and Alicia Gutierez were in charge of the scoreboard. Keri Moreno helped out. 

The game was preceded by a K-9 demonstration by partners K-9 Ranger and Officer Zack Fillers

Ranger joined the Laguna Beach Police Department in October 2014, thanks to generous donations from the Woman’s Club of Laguna Beach and the Assistance League of Laguna Beach. 

He is a Belgian Malinois that received several years of training in the Netherlands before coming to the United States. He was named Ranger in Laguna Beach in honor of the late Officer Jon Coutchie, who had been a U.S. Army Ranger before he joined the police department.

Fillers joined the department in 2011. Together they have completed months of intensive training. They are on call 24/7.

Bragging Rights boy

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Officer Hariri and Officer Lee with young fan

Other pre-game activities included an Orange County Health Care Agency information booth, staffed by Program Supervisor Pauline Stauder and Health Educator Sherryl Ramos.

Laguna Beach Detective Natalie Leal, accompanied by James Merritt, staffed a booth selling patches to raise funds for Breast Cancer Awareness. 

“We will be selling the patches year-round on our website, www.lbpdpinkpatch.com,” Leal said. Patches also are sold at the Police Department’s front counter. 

The Guns ‘n Hoses softball game is in a league of its own. The National Night Out promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie as a base path to make our neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live.

National Night Out fosters a relationship between neighbors and law enforcement while bringing back a true sense of community. In Laguna, that includes first responders.

The event was introduced in August of 1984. Neighborhoods across the nation began to host block parties, festivals, parades, cookouts and various other community events with safety demonstrations, seminars, youth events, visits from emergency personnel, exhibits and more.

Bragging Rights Kennedy

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Officer Jeremiah Kennedy

It has grown into a celebration beyond front porch vigils and symbolic efforts amongst neighbors to send a message of neighborhood camaraderie. 

City Council members said they wished they could have attended the game, but they had a full agenda Tuesday night. 

Fire Chief Mike Garcia also was unable to attend the game. He was needed at the council meeting. However, Police Chief Laura Farinella was in the stands to see her team score the win. 

Also in the stands, Gwen and Community Emergency Response Team Director Sonny Myers; Mary and Matt Lawson, who had all the bases covered. Matt was wearing a Hoses’ T-shirt, a Guns cap and a red line flag, green on the flipside, signifying that police and firefighters’ lives matter. 

But wait – there’s more. You will find advance notice of all the fun and interesting stuff for visitors or residents to do in Laguna by reading StuNewsLaguna.com. Contributions are welcomed.


Design Review dominated Tuesday’s council meeting

By BARBARA DIAMOND

Design Review issues dominated Tuesday’s City Council meeting that began with an hour-long joint session at 4 p.m. with the Design Review Board and included the last five items on the agenda for the regular meeting that ended at 10:47 p.m.

The council unanimously approved adding a 25 percent increase in fees to cover the city’s costs to process the multiple major projects proposed by the Laguna Beach Company.

 “We believe [the increase] is fair and feasible,” said City Manager John Pietig. “The projects are already costing more money.”

Projects include the Cleo Hotel, restoration of the Hotel Laguna, the Museum Hotel, the Central Bluffs – all along Coast Highway – multi-unit housing in Canyon Acres and most of the properties along Laguna Canyon Frontage Road that include The Hive, [seven-degrees] and Art-A-Fair grounds.

Descriptions of the projects are available for review by clicking here. Applications for review have been submitted for the Cleo and Museum hotels.   

 Pietig said an alternative to the increase would be for employees to track and record their time, but that would require a new and complex accounting method.

Mayor Bob Whalen and Mayor Pro Tem Steve Dicterow, both attorneys, said they had been tracking time spent with clients throughout their careers and it wasn’t that hard.   

City staff will be conducting a detailed Fee Study in the next fiscal year and Mayor Bob Whalen asked that tracking be added to the study.

Village Laguna President Johanna Felder said the group was concerned that the increase would lead to special consideration of the projects. 

“Paying more of the costs may create a tendency for staff to value the projects ahead of the smaller projects proposed by and for residents and move them to the front of the queue,” Felder testified. 

The increased fee was on the Consent Calendar Agenda but was pulled for discussion and a separate council vote. 

Community Development Action Plan

No vote was necessary on the presentation by Assistant Community Development Director Jim Pechous and his boss, Greg Pfost.

“This is a snapshot of the things we are looking at to lower the threshold of review,” said Pfost. 

They reviewed for the council and public the proposed implementation of the Community Development Action Plan and changes to streamline the discretionary review requirements summed up as Phase II of the action plan. 

The phase will examine the possible amendment to the Municipal Code to move minor requests for discretionary permits to lower minor level of review. 

Laguna Beach requires a discretionary permit for more than 100 types of projects. More than 1,500 permits were agendized in 2018, according to the staff.

“We are not considering amendments,” said Pfost. “We are just discussing possibilities to give to the Design Review Board to make comments and to the Planning Commission to make comments that would go to the council and finally to the Coastal Commission.”

Due to the variety of permits, staff is proposing a detailed evaluation of all discretionary permit applications to determine which are better suited to be reviewed and approved at a lower level – say from Design Review Board to administrative review – but still appealable to the council. 

Proposed changes also included simplifying revisions to approved landscaping plans; relocation of approved windows, if privacy is not an issue; changes to exterior materials if consistent with design and color palette;  improvements within the footprint of the existing building that have no impacts on the neighbors; and skylights with night shades. 

The presentation also recommended administrative review of trash enclosures for commercial use, revocation of encroachment permits and habitat restoration and fuel modification plans and programs.

Council directed staff to consider Emergency & Disaster Preparedness Committee recommendations on the proposed review of fuel modification.

“We are grateful the council supported our position,” said Committee Chair Matt Lawson. 

Waiver of fees for fire department-approved fuel modification projects, a requirement for fire department personnel to oversee projects and moving routine oversight to the department were among the committee’s recommendations. 

The committee also recommended limiting intrusion of fuel modification programs into environmentally sensitive areas unless deemed necessary by the Fire Chief to protect public safety and to consider ways to streamline approval of modifications of existing structures that improve fire safety.

Staff additionally recommended second story offices in commercial zones outside the downtown area be considered by-right use. 

Also proposed was a minor-exception permit – a junior-grade approval for minor code deviations. The exceptions findings would require neighborhood compatibility but would not be as rigorous as ordinary variance findings.

Already approved by the council was the inclusion of a clarification of the effective date of an application for an appeal of a Planning Commission interpretation and an expiration date. 

In addition to Phase II of the effort to streamline the discretionary review process, the city is also amending the Coastal Development Permit requirements so the projects that are minor in nature can be processed and approved faster. 

Design Review appeals

The next to last agenda item dealt with the process for appealing Design Review decisions, to make the city’s ordinance compatible with the California Coastal Commission process. 

Mayor Pro Tem Steve Dicterow withdrew his request to consider all appeals as de novo (meaning starting from scratch) due to lack of support. The council did agree that a 3-2 board decision appeal would be heard de novo. 

An appeal of a Design Review Board denial of a permit for a 57-square foot deck was overturned 4-1, Councilwoman Toni Iseman opposed. 

A second appeal of another Design Review decision was continued.


Guest Column

Summer prescription

By Jorge Rubal, CEO & Medical Director,

Laguna Beach Community Clinic

Did you know that vacations are something that doctors should consider prescribing? Studies have shown that doing so has demonstrable beneficial effects on your health. One of the best pieces of advice I have gotten is to always have your next two vacations planned. It ensures that in this ever-demanding world, we have an outlet, a goal, a way to minimize burnout. Just the anticipation of vacation can boost happiness. 

Studies have also shown the tremendous benefits to taking a holiday, such as decreased stress, less risk of heart disease, a better outlook on life, and more motivation to achieve goals. If taken with your family, this has the added benefit of keeping relationships strong. 

This is lucky for those of us who are fortunate enough to live in Southern California, which is viewed as a premier vacation destination. In particular, Laguna Beach offers much to experience. This is especially true during the summer, with a multitude of events involving the arts. An added benefit of the arts is that they are also good for our health. Studies show they are effective in improving both physiological and psychological well-being. 

Summer prescription family

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Rubal family on vacation

Music is the most accessible and most researched art medium. It has been shown to decrease anxiety and pain by calming neural activity in the brain. In many instances, music can be shared in group settings, which can also have beneficial effects on mood. Personally, music and dance is cultural, so it is an important part of cultural heritage as a Cuban American. Family functions always involved music and dance. Laguna is known for its rich music heritage. 

Specifically, the following events are currently ongoing in town: 

--Festival of Arts 

--Laguna Beach Live!

--Music in the Park

--Even the clinic holds an event in October with a live band and dancing

Art can help people express experiences that are too difficult to put into words and thus can be a refuge for intense emotions. Engaging in the different types of visual arts can help in four ways. One, it allows a focus on positive life experiences. Second, it may enhance self-worth. Third, it can maintain social identity. Finally, it allows expression of feelings in a symbolic manner. 

Movement-based creative expression has also been shown to decrease stress and anxiety. Movement can lead to increased range of motion, which may decrease fall risk as well as blood clots in the vessels. Exercise may aid in a positive body image, as well. 

Health encompasses our physical, mental, and social well-being. The arts bring them all together in different capacities. Let’s take advantage of the amazing opportunities available in Laguna to be our best and healthiest selves.


Lifeguard Intersquad Competition 

Photos by Ellen Lougee

Lifeguard Intersquad Kiko swim

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17-year-old identical twins Kiko and Sam Nelsen, who will be seniors at LBHS, competed in the Lifeguard Intersquad Competition on August 3. Kiko enters the water for the swim section of the Run, Swim, Paddle competition.

Lifeguards Intersquad Sam paddleboard

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Sam during the paddle section of the competition

Lifeguard Intersquad Sam swim

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Sam on the “Rookie B” team during the swim section of the competition 

Lifeguard Intersquad Kiko paddleboard

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Kiko during paddle competition 


Live streaming of school board meetings on Tuesday’s agenda

By BARBARA DIAMOND

The Laguna Beach Unified School District Board of Education will discuss live streaming of its board meetings, discontinued in May due to ADA compliance concerns.

Live streaming is on the agenda for discussion as an information item. The meeting is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. and information items are heard early. 

“Cost information and any data about the systems we can use will be [presented],” stated Board President Jan Vickers in an email. 

“There is interest to continue to provide the community with live streaming of the meetings and we hope the cost estimates will allow us to continue.”

Members of the public vehemently disagreed with the discontinuation of live streaming in May, and made their opinions known during subsequent meetings. 

Viloria stated in an email on Thursday to Stu News that the current system does not capture the audio as well as it should, citing the December board meeting at which the recording equipment failed. 

The failure meant that answers to questions about some board decisions made at the meeting were unavailable to residents who disagreed with actions stemming from the meeting.

Viloria said the current system has had to be rebooted several times during meetings.

“So we are proposing to upgrade it and move the old video/audio equipment to the theater,” stated Viloria. 

The cost for meeting ADA compliance was previously estimated at $16,000 by the district but Viloria stated additional one-time costs for upgrades to the system will run another $40-$50k.

“Once we get direction, we can bring back an action item at the next meeting so we can get it all installed and working,” said Viloria.

Shaena Stabler is the Owner, Publisher & Editor.

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor & Writer.

Michael Sterling is our Webmaster & Designer.

Alexis Amaradio, Barbara Diamond, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Lynette Brasfield, Marrie Stone, Maggi Henrikson, Samantha Washer, and Suzie Harrison are our writers and/or columnists.

Mary Hurlbut and Scott Brashier are our photographers.

Stacia Stabler is our Social Media Manager & Writer.

We all love Laguna and we love what we do.

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