Laguna Beach

Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service turns teaching into action with donations to Food Pantry, 12/8 – 1/12

The Human Rights Campaign wants to transform MLK Day on Jan 15, 2018, from a “day on, not off,” by donating to Laguna Food Pantry for MLK Day of Service. Martin Luther King Jr. asked life’s most persistent and urgent question, “What are you doing for others?” This is a way for Laguna residents to give back.

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Submitted photo

Human Rights Campaign Steering Committee

This food drive and the purpose of MLK Day of Service is to turn Dr. King’s teachings into a day of action across the country and use it as an opportunity to deepen the community’s commitment and connection to those in our community who are too often at its margins. 

The Laguna Food Pantry provides over 2,000 pounds of free, fresh, nutritious groceries every weekday to people in difficult financial circumstances. They serve over 300 families a week in So OC, and 50 percent of their shoppers feed children and babies. The pantry believes no one should go hungry. The Laguna Food Pantry, a nonprofit, is an almost completely volunteer-run enterprise. 

Donors are asked to consider that the pantry’s most-needed items are cereal, pasta, pasta sauce, canned tuna, peanut butter, jelly, rice and beans, and packaged macaroni and cheese, and to check freshness dates. Monetary donations are even more welcome because they allow Pantry volunteers to purchase food in bulk at deeply 

discounted prices. 

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Photo by Lynette Brasfield

Food Pantry’s most-needed items

Food donations will be accepted from Dec 8 – Jan 12. The drop off locations are as follows: Tax & Financial Partners, 1000 N Coast Hwy #2, LB., Tight Assets, 180 S Coast Hwy, LB, Laguna Groomers, 384 Forest Ave #25, LB.

For more information on HRC, go to

Laguna Food Pantry is located at 20652 Laguna Canyon Rd. For more information, go to

Winners of 2017 Children’s Palette contest announced


Arts Commission Chair Michael Ervin introduced 12 winners of the 2017 Children’s Palette Contest at last week’s  City Council meeting.

Mayor Toni Iseman presented certificates to Taylor Brook Jones, Emma Chi-Sing, Mia Gwin, Ace Halperin, Audrey Calef, Paige Laws, Reagan Hannus, Allie Borgerding, Tessa Anderson, Lauren Trautenberg, Lexi Breault and Addyson Mackay. 

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Photo by Jennifer Hannus

Winners of the 2017 Children’s Palette Contest: L-R: Taylor Brook Jones, Emma Chi-Sing, Mia Gwin, Audrey Calef, Paige Laws, Reagan Hannus, Allie Borgerdring, Tessa Anderson, Lexi Breault and Addyson MacKay

Winning entries from the 188 submitted this year will be exhibited in City Hall throughout December. 

The Arts Commission began in 2004 inviting local youngsters to submit palette designs that mimic the city’s collection of iconic holiday decorations. The aim is to encourage future artists to participate in city programs. There were 188 entries this year.

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Photo by Jennifer Hannus

Five of the winners were from St. Catherine of Siena Parish School: L-R, Paige Laws, Emma Chi-Sing, Addyson MacKay, Reagan Hannus and Tessa Anderson

Village Entrance plan is on a busy agenda


Planning commissioners sat mostly silent while amended plans and the budget for the Village Entrance project was presented at a joint meeting with the City Council on Dec 5.

They will do their talking on Wednesday. The project is third on an agenda that also includes an update on the Downtown Specific Plan, a temporary art installation on the City Hall lawn, two separate wireless communication facilities and expansion of a State licensed group home from six to 10 residents.

Commissioner Roger McErlane, who was unable to attend the joint meeting, submitted a list of recommendations for consideration. His memo urged the council to undertake a study of the complete Civic Arts District before taking action on the proposed Village Entrance project.

The Village Entrance was described in the staff report on the project as the heart of the [Civic Arts] district and key to ensuring the goal of it being the cultural center of the city.

McErlane opposed planting sycamore trees to screen the parking lot, pointing out that they are deciduous and will be bare of leaves about five months out of 12. He also proposed a less complex shrubbery layout and more rural-looking lighting. 

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Village Entrance Committee recommends complete restoration of Digester Building exterior including a return to the original white paint

“I agree with pretty much everything Roger submitted,” said Commissioner Anne Johnson. “And I am dead set against the chain link fence along the channel crossing, which is all the Orange County Flood Control District will pay for—but I don’t care how much it will cost. 

“I was going to say something at the meeting, until Bob (Councilman Whalen) raised the issue.”  

The chain link fence, proposed in accordance with Flood Control District requirements, was vigorously opposed by the Village Entrance Committee, composed of Ann Christoph, Ruben Flores, Barbara Metzger and Leah Vasquez. 

The group urged a complete restoration of the Digester Building exterior, including a return to the original white paint and recommended installing a unisex restroom on the interior.

They also stressed diversifying the consultant’s recommendation for only two different trees along the roadway. Large plantings of a single tree can be wiped out by a single virus—such as happened to all the Dutch elms on the East Coast. 

The commission agenda describes the hearing as a review of the design and development permit for the project, which includes the remodel of the private and employee parking lot, improvement of the center median along Laguna Canyon Road, changes in the entrance and exit to the parking areas, circulation, and a new access bridge across the flood channel. 

Commission meetings begin at 6 p.m.

Scott’s shots capture a vibrant Laguna weekend

Photos by Scott Brashier

Catalina glows at sunset

Isabel Mansour and her dad John SUP at sunset

Colors so vibrant, they’re almost palpable

Sunday provided an amazing light show

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Laguna put on a vibrant show of color this last weekend

Outta the bubble

Sometimes you just need to spread your wings – within a few hours driving

Come along with me… 

Story and photos by MAGGI HENRIKSON

Yes, we live in paradise. You can’t find a lovelier coastline. The weather is sublime. Friends back east are clamoring to visit. You ought to stay put, and then… There it is – wanderlust: the urge to explore and experience new things. Sometimes you just want to get out of that familiar and very comfortable bubble.

For a weekend getaway from Laguna, I’ve got a few thoughts.

Today’s story has to do with a very do-able, under two-hour drive from Laguna in which you’ll find yourself in a whole other world within the rolling hills of “the other” wine country, Temecula.

Temecula has been undergoing huge ground-shifting changes for a number of years. The area has become one of the biggest land-boom regions in California, for one thing, with housing and population surges like almost nowhere else. It’s also become a destination unto its own.

The drive to Temecula is pleasant enough as you roll along the hills. The first stop is the town center. 

Temecula’s pseudo “Old Town” is pretty hokey, with ye old fake Western saloon style buildings and shops jammed with tourist souvenirs. But, mosey along the boardwalk and some of the cross streets, and there is a food scene developing. Weekend brunch seems a popular activity, with nouvelle and farm-to-table concept places boasting lines out the door.

Havana Kitchen had a great selection of Cuban “Dishes, Bowls, and Hand-helds.” For just a little something to get us going until wine o’clock, my husband, Richard, and I shared the classic Cuban  – a pulled-pork grilled sandwich with cheese, pickles and mustard, and served with fried plantain. 

On the “wine trail” we headed first to Europa Village, a three-country concept vineyard with a 100 million dollar expansion underway. You heard that right. Big money is being put into Southern California wine country.

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Europa Village, Temecula

Europa Village features their own wines made from grape varietals from Italy, France, and Spain (called Vienza, C’est La Vie, and Bolero Cellars). Sample tastings on the weekends cost $20 per person and include six tastings of their regular menu. The premium tastings are $30 and include an additional two tastes from the premium menu and a souvenir tasting wine glass. The glasses are pretty cool, too, with finger indents in the bowl (no stem), designed to keep the wine at the right temperature for optimum taste.

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Europa’s server demonstrates how to hold their specially designed

 tasting glasses

You can take your tasting sample and enjoy the flower-filled courtyard or the patio backing up to the grapevines. There’s live music on the patio, and we heard an excellent Spanish guitar duo.

Two wineries in a day is my style, so I carefully planned the next stop at Wilson Creek because they have a small concert venue and one of my favorite bands, The Wallflowers, was playing. The trifecta: good wines, a special chef’s tasting menu, plus music.

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Wilson Creek’s concert venue

At Wilson Creek you can really indulge in their food and wines in the brand new Upper Room, a tasting restaurant overlooking the vineyards, gardens and music venue. For “an elevated wine tasting experience,” the Upper Room offers tastings for $50 per person, which includes a guided tasting of their most exclusive reserve wines with small food pairings designed by the executive chef.  

I was pleasantly surprised by the first pairing – Sparkling Brut served with popcorn. Who knew? The sparkling wine was actually elevated a notch by the taste of popcorn as well as the accompanying aged Brie and almonds. 

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Food and wine pairing: the samplings at the Upper Room, Wilson Creek

The ensuing whites and reds all worked well with various charcuterie and dried fruits. 

This trip to Temecula is an indulgence in food and wine, to be sure. It’s worthy of an overnight stay, so you can take in some of the special winery dinners, brunches, and live music.

Great Cuban sandwiches and coffee at Havana Kitchen, in Old Town Temecula, 41955 5th Street,

Europa Village: Taste wines from three regional styles and enjoy music outside on their patio. 33475 La Serena Way, Temecula

Wilson Creek Winery & Vineyards: Tastings paired with chef selections in the new Upper Room, plus a concert venue. 35960 Rancho California Rd., Temecula

The Boom Boom Room is putting on her party shoes for New Year’s Eve with DJ Andrew Blunk


The Boom is Back…The Boom Boom Room will be re-opening for one night only, but it’s an important one - New Year’s Eve!

Thanks to concerted efforts between the City of Laguna Beach and restaurateurs that include Mark DePalma (of historical Mark’s fame), the Boom is dressing herself up for a serious party on Dec 31. 

Doors open at 8 p.m. with a $40 cover that includes tray-passed hors d’oeuvres and bites provided by Catering By Marks. A full bar will also be in play with premium and top-shelf brands for $10 drink tickets. 

Valet parking will be available, too, for a small charge. 

The Boom Boom Room of the Christmas past

“I can’t even tell you how crazy it is for my catering company through Christmas,” says DePalma, a longtime restaurateur and caterer in Laguna Beach. “But when this idea came along, there was no way I was going to turn it down. Besides, I’ll have nearly an entire week to figure out what I’ll be serving for New Year’s Eve!”

Throughout the evening, Boom Boom patrons can dance the night away with LA’s DJ Andrew Blunk, and stay for party favors and a bubbly toast at midnight to usher in the New Year. 

The Boom will remain open until 2 a.m. before she kicks off her party shoes and goes silent once again. 

The Boom’s Fabled History

Housed inside The Coast Inn, one of the city’s three oldest hotels, the Boom Boom Room became famous as a gay bar for more than two decades. (In the seventies and for decades before, its predecessor, the South Seas Bar, had been known internationally as a safe haven for gay and straight, welcoming all, evolving over time into the Boom Boom, an icon for the gay community, locals as well as travelers, for many years.)

Fred Karger, a tireless advocate for saving the Boom Boom Room before its closure, once noted that “the Boom Boom Room represented the acceptance and openness of Laguna Beach long before it was acceptable to be gay.”

The Boom was friendly to anyone and everyone, and many a night would see as many “straight” people in the lively bar as gays. It was a safe haven for all. 

“I’m not sure who’s going to be at the door this New Year’s Eve,” says DePalma. “But, whoever shows up is going to be welcomed in usual, exuberant Boom Boom Room style.”

DePalma, whose brother died of AIDS nearly 25 years ago, was an active supporter of AIDS research and the gay community long before he moved to Laguna Beach with his family. “I think any community that welcomes and encourages diversity is a community where you want to raise your kids,” he notes.

The Boom Boom Room closed in 2007 after a Beverly Hills billionaire purchased the Coast Inn. Originally built in 1927, The Coast Inn definitely needed some revitalizing love, and the new owner hoped to create an upscale boutique hotel. Eventually, he put the property back on the market. 

In 2013, Laguna locals, Marcella and Chris Dornin, stepped in to buy the Inn with plans to redevelop the property to its former glory, which includes a tribute to The Boom. 

The revitalization project continues to meet with snags, both with surrounding neighbors and the Laguna Beach Planning Commission.

“I hope all these issues will eventually be ironed out,” says DePalma. “Redevelopment of the property would give that whole area life again. But, at least we’ve got that life for one night.” 

Are you in for the Boom?

RSVP at – which helps Mark DePalma plan for food and drink.

Then, help us spread the word! Click here for the Facebook invite to let us know if you’re “interested” or “going,” and share with friends!

Diane Armitage is the best-selling author of the book, The Best of Laguna Beach, and offers a cornucopia of ideas and upcoming events at her blog,

Not a reindeer, but a Laguna deer – one of the wonders of the wilderness that surrounds us

Photo by Marielena Verdugo

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Scott’s silhouettes in silver and gold

Photos by Scott Brashier

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Last weekend: Silver and gold along Laguna’s coastline

Women and $s: Save the date


Too many women still have no notion about managing their personal finances, according to many experts.

“We spend more time planning our vacations than planning our finances,” said Barbara Crane, vice-president of Crane Investments and a financial advisor for 25 years.

Crane will be a member of a panel that will present basic financial information every woman needs to know at a special meeting presented Jan 16 by the Laguna Beach Woman’s Club. The program will cover mistakes to avoid and resources to ensure a financially secure future.  

Club membership is not required to attend the program. 

The panel will also include attorney Nicole Anderson, founder of Anderson Law Group in Laguna Beach. She specializes in advanced estate and business planning and asset protection.

In addition to professional expertise, both women are active in community affairs.  Crane is the immediate past president of the Woman’s Club and a member of SchoolPower. Anderson has been associated with the Laguna College of Art & Design, the Laguna Beach Community Foundation, SchoolPower and Next Gen.

A third panel member will be announced at a later date.

Zen and Keanu’s book “Skimstories: Riding Waves” is now available following a book launch party at Ripcurl

Story and photo by Mary Hurlbut

Zen and Keanu Mir-Scaer, ten year old brothers with a passion for the ocean and riding waves – plus, clearly, a literary and artistic bent – had a party at Ripcurl during last Thursday’s Art Walk to celebrate the launch of their book, Skimstories: Riding the Waves.

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

World famous Skim Board Champion Austin Keen showed up to support Zen and Keanu at the Ripcurl book launch party

Laguna Beach boys Zen and Keanu self-illustrated their book with beautiful watercolors. Oh, and fun fact – all of the skim boarders mentioned in the book are local Laguna riders.

On Thursday, the accomplished skimboarders happily signed and sold their book on skim boarding to friends and fans. 

And today, Tues Dec 12, the brothers, who say they have been influenced by Laguna’s art culture and take much joy in painting (as well as writing), will be giving a reading at Laguna Beach Library from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. 

They’ll sign books and answer questions about their process as well, of course, as the art of skimboarding.

Copies are available on Amazon or contact them via

Shaena Stabler is the Owner, Publisher & Editor.

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor & Writer.

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Mary Hurlbut is our Chief Photographer.

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

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