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Laguna Beach

Coast Inn sub-committee meeting productive, says attorney: Issues are raised for owner to address


Councilmen Rob Zur Schmiede and Bob Whalen took their first and probably their last look on Monday as members of the Coast Inn Restoration sub-committee for the proposed project.

A crowd of project opponents crammed into a small meeting room at the Susi Q to hear a discussion between the council-appointed sub-committee, city staff and representatives of the property owner. The meeting resulted in a list of issues that the project owner, architect and attorney must address, working with city staff.

“I thought it was a very productive meeting,” said project attorney Larry Nokes. 

After hearing public comments from the project opponents and staff responses to questions, the sub-committee bowed out of the process. 

“I don’t want another sub-committee meeting,” said Zur Schmiede, with which Whalen concurred. 

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Coast Inn now: decisions awaited

Zur Schmiede opened the meeting by advising the standing-room only audience and the Coast Inn representatives that the sub-committee would not render an opinion of the applicant’s position on the issues.

The council appointed the sub-committee at the Jan 23 hearing on the project. They came to the meeting with lists of issues they wanted addressed. 

Zur Schmiede’s list included questions about the California Environmental Quality Act, better known as CEQA; parking; the threshold that tips a project into a major remodel; bluff top encroachment, seating occupancy versus building occupancy, rooftop uses, variances and trash.

Whalen said his list was similar to Zur Schmiede’s, but with a couple of additions: deliveries and historic design, including whether the project approved by the Heritage Committee made mention of proposed rooftop uses.  

Nokes added noise to the mix.

Project architect Marshall Ininns and Nokes answered questions posed by the sub-committee. 

Senior Planner Martina Caron and Development Department Director Greg Pfost clarified staff positions on issues as requested, beginning with compliance with CEQA requirements.  

The project is consistent with the Secretary of the Interior guidelines for historic restoration, and no environmental report was required for the project, Caron said. 

Pfost also explained why the project is not a major remodel: is just scrapes under the 50 percent threshold at an estimated 49-plus percent. 

Variances requested include the height above the city code limit and the deficit in parking spaces. 

The lack of real spaces is not an issue: The project has grandfathered spaces and a 37.8 percent reduction in required spaces approved by the Heritage Committed as an incentive for putting the Coast Inn on the city’s Historical Register. There is no designated employee parking.

“The employees are going to park in the neighborhoods,” opined Whalen. “They are not going to pay half of the day’s pay to park.”

As for concerns about noise, Ininns said an analysis showed it was no louder than created by traffic on the highway. 

Neither councilman specified traffic impacts, one of the issues raised by the 14 speakers from the audience, who commented on every item on the lists.

South Laguna resident John Thomas said the traffic study commissioned by the applicant reported an astounding increase of 1,265 to 1, 625 trips a day, added to the daily average of 36,800 trips estimated by Caltrans.

Opponents also objected to the proposed rooftop swimming pool and bar, which pushes the height above the 36-foot-limit that has existed in Laguna since the 1970s, as well as the size and the designation of the project as a restoration.

No one in the audience spoke in favor of the project. They had not been urged to attend the meeting, Ininns said.   

Whalen said the project representatives had heard the issues raised by the sub-committee and it was up to them to provide resolutions. 

“The next step is up to the owner; then we meet with staff and go back to council,” said Ininns, who has worked on the project for four years.

Besides the Coast Inn, the project includes the defunct Coast Liquor, a mid-century modern structure designed by the late Chris Abel, and the Olympic Cottage behind it across Mountain Road from the hotel.

A Letter to the LBUSD Community

By Superintendent of Schools JASON VILORIA

Our hearts are with the victims and their families, as well as with the students, staff and community at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. We are deeply saddened that we must endure yet another senseless tragedy.

A natural response to this event in Florida is to wonder what plans are in place at our schools to provide a safe environment. The District takes our responsibility for school safety very seriously because we are entrusted with protecting the children of LBUSD when they are on our campuses. 

Our District Safety Committee members develop, revise, and update safety plans through a collaborative process to ensure procedures are effective and current.  The District also works closely with our local police and fire department officials to include current best practices into our plans.

Laguna Beach Unified School District schools are required to maintain and update an annual Comprehensive School Safety Plan, the most recent version of which was approved by the Board of Education at Tuesday’s Board meeting. These plans delineate how schools will respond to a variety of school-related emergencies and include:

Building disaster plans

Hazard assessments

Evacuation plans, routes and locations

Standardized emergency management plans

Shelter in place and lockdown procedures

Student/parent reunification plans

Emergency drill schedules

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

A view of LBHS campus: security is key

As always, our priority is the safety and wellbeing of our children. We realize trying to find words to help our children feel safe and resilient in a world that sometimes feels unpredictable and scary is difficult. In the aftermath of this traumatic event, the National Association of School Psychologists notes there are effective ways to talk with students: create a sense of safety by returning to normal, predictable routines as soon as possible; listen to their concerns and feelings; suggest they limit their use of media to lower their stress and to maintain balance and perspective; and realize that sleep difficulties are common and can lead to fatigue and poor participation.

There are additional suggestions in the links below, with resources for educators and parents.

Talking to Children About Violence

Five Tips to Help Children Cope with a National Tragedy

Helping Your Children Manage Distress

Finally, staff on our campuses are trained to report any unusual and suspicious activity, and we encourage parents and students to do the same. Please reach out to your school site administrator if you have any questions about campus safety procedures.

Brian Maryott, candidate for the 49th District, will speak at LB Republicans upcoming monthly meeting 

The Laguna Beach Republicans (LBGOP) will hold their monthly meeting on Thurs, Feb 22, at Mozambique, located 1740 S Coast Hwy. Social hour is at 5 p.m., and the meeting will begin at 6 p.m. and end promptly at 7:15 p.m.

Emil Monda, President of the LBGOP invites all Republicans, Independents and Libertarians to attend the meeting. 

“We have a special guest speaker Brian Maryott, Republican, running for Congress in the 49th Congressional District, the seat currently held by the retiring Daryl Issa.

Brian will be speaking from 6 - 6:45 p.m. 

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Brian Maryott is running in the 49th Congressional District 

While the LBGOP does not endorse candidates in the Primary, it is important to understand where the candidates stand as “we must hold the House of Representatives in the 2018 Election,” Monda says. 

“I urge all Laguna Beach Republicans to attend this meeting to  learn about one of the four Republicans who are running for this seat,” Monda says..

For more information or for those interested, RSVP to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. as space is limited.

Develop a plan for wildfire threats: hear from the experts at Disaster Preparedness event on Feb 20

On Tues, Feb 20, from 6-8 p.m., the City of Laguna Beach and Laguna Friends of Architecture will host a Disaster Preparedness Presentation at the Susi Q Center. The event will teach residents how to put together a plan to deal with the many environmental threats the community faces. 

Jordan Villwock, City of LB Emergency Operations Coordinator, will be the keynote speaker.

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Single house left standing after the 1993 fire 

Attendees will learn how to better prepare for their families, pets and homes against wildfires, landslides/floods, earthquakes, and tsunamis.

Ever wonder how one house survived the 1993 fire? An architect will be present to talk about the surviving house. Elliot Quint and Tom Stewart from Friends of Architecture will also be available to answer questions. 

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Be prepared for a wildfire

The 1993 fire burned through 14,000 acres of Laguna Canyon wilderness and ravaged multiple neighborhoods. It destroyed 440 homes and threatened many others.

A Laguna Beach Fire Department presentation “How to protect your home from Wildfires” will cover practical tips for low-cost home retrofits and renovations.

The Susi Q Center is located at 380 3rd St., 949-464-6645.

For further information, contact Jordan Villwock, City of LB Operations Coordinator, at 949-497-0389.

Kate Buckley announces Poet Laureate’s Showcase readings on March 8 at LCAD Gallery on Ocean

Kate Buckley, Laguna Beach’s inaugural poet laureate, has launched a Poet Laureate’s Showcase series of readings, aimed at bringing nationally known poets to Laguna. Literary luminaries featured to-date include Noah Blaustein, Victoria Chang, Grant Hier, Garrett Hongo, Sarah Maclay, Christopher Merrill, Kathryn Nuernberger, and Tom Zoellner.

The next Poet Laureate’s Showcase reading will be held on Thurs, March 8 from 7 - 9 p.m. at the Laguna College of Art + Design Gallery located at 374 Ocean Avenue. The literary showcase will feature the novelist Victoria Patterson and award-winning poets Francesca Bell and Kate Buckley. The evening will conclude with a conversation with the writers and refreshments.

This series is free and open to the public and graciously hosted by the Laguna College of Art + Design. The Poet Laureate program is funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach.

Featured poets have been widely published

Francesca Bell has poems published in BODY, burntdistrict, ELLE, Flycatcher, New Ohio Review, North American Review, Poetry Northwest, Prairie Schooner, Rattle, Spillway, Tar River Poetry, and Zone 3. She has been nominated ten times for the Pushcart Prize and won the 2014 Neil Postman Award for Metaphor from Rattle. Francesca’s translations, from Arabic and German, appear in Berkeley Poetry Review, Blue Lyra Review, Circumference | Poetry in Translation, Four by Two, Laghoo, and The Massachusetts Review. 

She co-translated Shatha Abu Hnaish’s book of poems, A Love That Hovers Like a Bedeviling Mosquito (Dar Fadaat, 2017), and Red Hen Press will publish her first collection, Bright Stain, in 2019. She is the events coordinator for the Marin Poetry Center and the former poetry editor of River Styx. 

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Poet Francesca Bell won the 2014 Neil Postman Award 

Kate Buckley has poems published or forthcoming in Bellingham Review, The Cafe Review, Chaparrel, North American Review, Poetry Foundation, Rattle, Shenandoah, Silk Road Review, Slipstream, and many others. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Spalding University and is the author of A Wild Region (Moon Tide Press), named a Midwest Book Review Selection, and Follow Me Down (Tebot Bach). 

A four-time Pushcart Prize nominee, Kate’s awards include a Gabehart Prize and the North American Review’s James Hearst Poetry Prize. Her short story, “The Gods of Flight,” was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize. 

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Kate is currently serving as the local Poet Laureate

Victoria Patterson is the author of the novels The Peerless Four and This Vacant Paradise, a 2011 New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. Her story collection, Drift, was a finalist for the California Book Award, the 2009 Story Prize, and was selected as one of the best books of 2009 by The San Francisco Chronicle. She lives with her family in Southern California and teaches at Antioch University’s Master of Fine Arts program. 

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Victoria Patterson is 2011 New York Times Book Review Editors Choice

For more information on this upcoming event, contact Kate Buckley at 760-808-1086, or log onto

Gas Company wants more time to present meter plan to commission

City staff is recommending the Planning Commission hold off hearing a presentation on Wednesday from Southern California Gas on “advanced meter technology” until the March 21 meeting.

The delay was requested by the company, which is responding to commission directions in November to revise proposed placements at 1414 Dunning Drive, the El Toro Road right-of-way and the Regatta Road right-of-way, according to the staff report.

Commissioners directed the gas company to revise the Dunning Way application to minimize the impacts on a neighboring property. The company was advised to explore opportunities to locate its facility on Laguna Beach County Water District property to the south of the proposed installation on El Toro Road and to come up with less intrusive alternatives to the location proposed for Regatta Road. 

Plan is to upgrade residential and commercial gas meters

The gas company plan is to upgrade residential and commercial gas meters with “advanced meter technology” as part of a region-wide transition to wireless utility use tracking. 

Advanced meters would be attached to existing analog gas meters and wirelessly communicate with data collection units. 

Installation would include two whip antennas, one collector unit, one solar panel and associated ancillary equipment mounted onto concrete poles.

The Planning Commission unanimously voted in November to approve the gas company’s application for conditional use permits and the design of the proposals, but subject to findings and conditions. 

--Barbara Diamond 

Talking Across the Partisan Divide: Susi Q believes it is possible in small group conversations 

Recent surveys have found that many Americans would rather their children marry someone of a different race or religion than a different political party. It reveals the depth of division and distrust that now permeates our political culture. 

How did we get so polarized? 

On Tuesday, Feb 27, the Laguna Beach Seniors and League of Women Voters in Orange County are pleased to present “Talking Across the Partisan Divide,” from 6 - 8 p.m. at the Susi Q Center, located at 380 Third St. 

Small group conversations are intended to bring together people of different views to discuss ways to promote civility and respect. 

The guest speaker will be Peter Ditto, who has a Phd in Psychology and Social Behavior at UCI. His research focuses on how motivation and emotion shape our social, political, moral, medical, and legal judgements. Hear about the factors that contribute to our political polarization. 

At 6:25 p.m. there will be introductions, 6:30 p.m. there will be the speaker presentation, at 7 p.m. the breakout conversations will begin, and at 7:45 p.m., reflections and closings will conclude the evening. 

For more information or to make a required reservation, call 949-464-6645, or log onto

Weeds as food? Eating the Weeds workshop by Abe Sanchez opens eyes and piques palates on Feb 24

Native foods expert Abe Sanchez will host a workshop “Eating the Weeds” at the South Laguna Community Garden Park on Sat, Feb 24 at 10 a.m. The Garden Park is located at Eagle Rock Way and Coast Hwy. 

Sanchez will open participants’ eyes and pique their palates as he discusses sources of food from plants considered to be weeds, often from plants that made up the diets of the Native Americans who lived on what is now the Laguna Beach coast. 

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Abe Sanchez conducts Eating the Weeds workshop on Feb 24

Attendees will learn about these ancient foods, and how to gather, prepare and eat them to not only improve our health, but that of the environment as well. 

Abe Sanchez is a founding member of the Chia Cafe Collective and co-publisher of “Cooking the Native Way,” distributed by Heyday. 

The public is invited to attend. There is no cost for the workshop, however, contributions are welcome. 

To make reservations, go to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Studies in Blue by Scott

Photos by Scott Brashier

Catalina Island perches on hues of beautiful blue

Blue sunrise, with scattered clouds

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Recently revamped and reenergized Hobie Surf Shop exceeds expectations in more ways than one


Photos by Mary Hurlbut

When one walks through the doors of the recently remodeled Hobie Surf Shop, which celebrated its grand opening last Saturday, it’s obvious that there have been substantial physical changes. Hobie Surf Shop took over the adjacent space and now occupies the entire building. The goal was to create a store that feels light, bright and open and appeals to the consumer on every level. 

And it certainly does.

“We’re taking the next step up in terms of the physical space, exposing the original truss ceiling, incorporating reclaimed wood flooring, adding a completely new and relocated sales counter and upgrading lighting and all surfaces,” Mark Christy, the owner, explained last month during the remodel.

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Hobie’s new expansive space and festive tiki bar

The physical changes are obvious, but there’s something else. The beachy aura has been enhanced too. Everything appears more expansive, not only is the ceiling is higher, there’s more breathing room, and the relaxing vibe that one expects here. It takes one back to the mellow times of the 50s when things were “more laid back,” and surfing was born.

And preserving that surfing heritage is especially important to Christy.

Christy explained that the remodel is intended to highlight to a greater extent the role that Hobie Alter and his partner Dick Metz played in transforming surfing from a fringe sport into a cultural phenomenon, infusing a sense of history into the flagship shop and celebrating a story unique to Hobie stores in the reenergized interior.

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Remodeled exterior showcases vintage surfing and store photos in windows

And he succeeded. The interior feels like a vintage museum celebrating the birth of skateboarding and surfing and the surfing culture, an homage that resonates throughout the store. 

Along part of one wall, vintage surfboards are exhibited next to incredible photos of Hobie Alter and his partner Dick Metz during the 50s and 60s that visually tell the story of the beginning of surfing. And letters and information about Hobie’s innovations beckon one to read on and on.

To further bring back that era, there’s a handcrafted tiki bar in the back corner. Almost everywhere one looks, there’s a piece plucked from that time-period.

But there’s more.

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Display of surfing and art books

 “There is so much talent here, and sadly, the window for these artisans to exhibit their creations to the public is often limited to a few weeks of the festival season. As such, you may see some ‘outside-the-box’ things you might not typically see in a surf shop,” Christy said. “Above all, we want to make the place interesting for our customers (and ourselves) and reflective of the town we love.” 

To this end, he’s added craft pieces, for example, ocean blue pottery and large paintings of the sea. And there’s a substantial display (with chairs to sit and peruse the merchandise) of surfing, art, and other books.

Maddi Hall, who worked at Hobie before the remodel says, “It’s exciting to see everyone’s reaction when they come in. Now it’s more fun to work here.”

Unbelievably, this transformation took only three weeks. It’s still uniquely Hobie Surf Shop with its high-quality brands and water-lifestyle clothing, but now it clearly harkens back to its roots. And it was worth waiting for the reveal.

Hobie Surf Shop is located at 294 Forest Ave, 949-497-3304,

Shaena Stabler is the Owner, Publisher & Editor.

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor & Writer.

Michael Sterling is our Webmaster & Designer.

Mary Hurlbut is our Chief Photographer.

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

Stacia Stabler is our Social Media Manager & Writer.

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