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Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach looks for Literary Laureate to enliven the local literary scene

The City of Laguna Beach is looking for a Literary Laureate to serve as an official ambassador for Laguna’s vibrant creative scene, promoting the literary community and celebrating the written word. An honorarium of $10,000 will be offered to the Laureate.

Deadline to apply is March 1.

To be eligible, candidates must have a residential address within Laguna Beach and a live or work relationship with the City. Another requirement is five years of experience (not including years as a student) in either publishing or presenting literary works, with a demonstrated record of being included or invited to present works within journals, magazines, web-sites, and/or programs that are not predominately self-curated, personal web-sites or personal blogs.


Advice for writers, from HG Wells:

If you are in difficulties with a book, try the element of surprise: attack it at an hour when it is least expecting it.


The goals of the program include:

Enhance the presence and appreciation of literary arts in Laguna Beach;

Create a focal point for the expression of Laguna culture through the literary arts;

Raise awareness of the power of literature, poetry and the spoken word;

Inspire a new generation of critical thinkers, writers, storytellers and literary artists;

Bring the literary arts to people in Laguna Beach who have limited access to or have few opportunities for exposure to expressive writing;

Encourage both the reading and writing of literature;

Create a new body of literary works that commemorates the diversity and vibrancy of Laguna Beach.


The best kind of book, according to Somerset Maugham:

What I want to feel is that it’s not a story I’m reading, but a life I’m living.


For more information regarding the scope of work, refer to the Literary Laureate Guidelines here.

Information: Michael McGregor, Arts Program Coordinator (949) 497-0722x5 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

LB Seasonal Ocean Lifeguard I tryouts on take place on Sat, Feb 24 and Sat, March 10

Who is a beachgoer’s best friend? No question about it. When a swimmer needs assistance, the lifeguard is his lifeline. 

During an average year, Marine Safety personnel rescue approximately 3,500 individuals from the ocean and provide medical attention to another 4,000 people. The Marine Safety staff enforces beach and marine-related municipal ordinances along with state codes, averaging 170,000 enforcements annually. 

And right now, LB Marine Safety is looking for more lifeguards for the upcoming season. 

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Photo by Ally McCormick

Lifeguard I tryouts on Sat, Feb 24, and Sat, March 10

Tryouts will be held Sat, Feb 24 and Sat, March 10. Sign-in begins at 7:30 a.m. at the Main Beach Lifeguard Tower (also known as the White Tower). The physical testing portion will begin at 9 a.m. 

Tryouts consist of three events: a 1,000 meter ocean swim, which must be completed in less than 20 minutes to qualify for the remainder of testing; a run-ocean swim-run; and a sprint and ocean swim. 

For those wishing to participate in tryouts, all information and necessary requirements are here.

Candidates who have not submitted a complete application online prior to the deadline will not be eligible to participate.

Memories of lands left behind take center stage at La Playa’s “Coffee House” at the Kitchen in the Canyon

Thursday morning saw the first La Playa Center music and story presentation at The Kitchen in the Canyon. Students from La Playa, housed up the road in the Boys & Girls Club, have been working on poems and stories in their ESL classes this year. 

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Submitted photo

At the reading, Kitchen in the Canyon: teacher Janet Farnham with student (and photographer) Alice Huang

Prompted by teacher Janet Farnham’s focus on “Memories,” students on Thursday shared their poems and memoirs about Mexico, Hungary, Russia, Belarus, Taiwan, and other countries they had left behind. Other students and teachers provided musical accompaniment. It was a moving experience for all listeners.

This is the first year of the writing program, and both teachers and students hope it will continue next year. Kitchen owner Patrick DiGiacomo hosted the event, and provided coffee, juice, and muffins to the students and teachers who attended the reading.

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Submitted photo

Nostalgia and creativity meet at the Kitchen in the Canyon: La Playa students read a collaborative poem at The Kitchen

La Playa Center offers three levels of ESL instruction with childcare. Co-Directors Bonnie Teder and Janet Waters organize the classes and help the dozen volunteer teachers with textbooks and other teaching aids. They hope to create more programs in the future like this first “Coffee House.”

The weekend that was: Golden days at the beach

Photos by Scott Brashier

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Among these glorious photos of sun and fun in So Cal, the sad reminder of a flag at half-mast

The Commission to hear The Ranch plan to restore Aliso Creek habitat


The Laguna Beach Planning Commission will review on Wednesday the design proposed for the restoration, monitoring and maintenance of vegetation in the general area of Aliso Creek in The Ranch.

Laguna Beach Golf and Bungalow Village LLC, formerly known as the Aliso Creek Inn and Golf Course, proposes to remove vegetation within the boundaries of the property, replant the area with native plants and maintain its integrity. The plan was prepared by a qualified biologist. 

New recruits within polygons will be removed by hand (read on to understand what biologists mean by that…)

A .83-area of native and non-native woody vegetation to be removed is identified in the staff report as within the refined maintenance trimming polygons – refined meaning removal of unwanted items. Polygons for the math-challenged are straight sided shapes, such as triangles.

The proposal also includes ongoing hand removal of vegetation that naturally recruits within the polygons outside of the avian nesting season while the recruits are still saplings. Recruits are new plants naturally added to the existing growth. 

A little more than three acres of native vegetation are to be restored and revegetated within and along the banks of Aliso Creek, according to the plan. 

The California Coastal Commission vetted the proposal and approved a coastal development permit amendment for the project. The amendment was in response to restoration areas impacted by unauthorized trimming, replacement of plants to avoid disturbing the creek. 

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

The Ranch at Laguna Beach offers plan to restore vegetation

Restoration was approved to mitigate impacts of previous trimming and removal of vegetation in the creek and vegetation from the banks downed by the storms in January of 2017.

Improvement of a local habitat area that regularly suffers from storm erosion damage and the growth of invasive species that come from an upstream location is the goal, according to the staff report.

City staff has concluded that non-native plants continue to invade native habitat in the creek area and will take over a significant area unless controlled and recommended approval of the application. 

The applicant is obliged to obtain related local, state and federal permits as well as Planning Commission approval of the design. 

The Planning Commission reviews all design applications for commercial projects.

St. Catherine of Siena Parish School will celebrate their 60th anniversary with A Starry Night Gala 

On Friday, March 23, St. Catherine of Siena Parish School will celebrate its sixtieth anniversary at the Port Theater with A Starry Night Gala.  

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

St. Catherine’s Church

There will be a live and silent auction, dancing, gaming and music by one of Orange County’s favorite DJs as well as delicious food and drinks. Cocktail attire is suggested. 

The event takes place at 6 p.m. The Port Theatre is located at 2905 East Coast Highway, Corona Del Mar. 

All funds raised will go directly towards school programs and facility needs.

“The Sixtieth Anniversary Starry Night Gala brings families together to build camaraderie, celebrate Saint Catherine of Siena Parish School and raise money to support the spiritual, academic and artistic development of our talented students,” said principal Mike Letourneau.

“Throughout the years, the event has raised money to support new academic, technology, artistic and faith programs that benefit all of our students, many of which would not have been possible without the generous support of our families, parishioners and local businesses.  

“Saint Catherine provides students from Laguna Beach, Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo and other surrounding communities with a strong academic education blended with the arts and faith that help our students develop into successful young adults. ”

St. Catherine’s is a 501 c (3) non-profit, Catholic elementary (TK -8) school located in Laguna Beach.

Rudy is full of life and ready for adoption 

Rudy, our Pet of the Week, is a male, tan Chihuahua mix puppy, three and a half months old. He is known to be extremely sweet and playful, great for a house with lots of activity. Rudy is ready for someone to come into his life and show him a new adventure that lies ahead. He is easily adaptable. Nancy Goodwin, shelter director, hopes to see Rudy adopted as soon as possible. 

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Rudy is young and full of energy  

The Laguna Beach Animal Shelter adoption procedures are designed to make sure that both the potential family and the animal adopted are in the very best situation possible. Due to their approach to adoption, their return rate is five percent as compared to the national return rate of 50 percent.

The LB Animal Shelter is located at 20612 Laguna Canyon Rd, (949) 497-3552, or go to the website for information on adoption procedures:

Recommendations to be discussed regarding the “look and feel” of the downtown


The Planning Commissioners will try on Wednesday to get a handle on how residents want the downtown to look and feel.

A 107-page staff report on proposed revisions to the Downtown Specific Plan section on urban design includes recommendations by MIG, a consulting firm paid by the city, and revisions by an ad hoc committee that does it for free. Opinions often differ.

“We don’t think they did a good job of defining the desired look and feel of the downtown,” said Norm Grossman, a former planning commissioner and a member of the ad hoc committee. “’Keep it the same, only better’ has become almost a cliché, but it is valid. This was supposed to be in Chapter Three on policies and goals.” 

The two sides also differed on where to implement pedestrian scrambles. MIG favors the Ocean Avenue intersection with Coast Highway. The Ad Hoc Committee prefers Broadway and Coast Highway. Both sides recommended a scramble at Laguna Avenue and the highway.  

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Where to place pedestrian scrambles? MIG and the Ad Hoc committee both recommend at the Laguna Ave and Coast Highway intersection 

Staff’s submission to the Planning Commission includes a Profile of the Downtown Character, Issue Statements and Policies, Urban Design, Land Use Districts and Implementation. 

Issue statements cover such items as village character, said to be something no one can define, but everyone knows it when they see it. Also under Issue: Identification as an art colony, parking circulation and public transportation, the Civic Art District and the Central Bluffs.

Urban Design deals with such issues as building height, materials and colors; and signage design.

Land use districts determine what you can put where: Short term lodgings, offices or public parks are examples.

“The recommendation to divide the downtown into six areas with names like Lower East Side, that no one in Laguna knows, shows just how of touch with the community MIG is,” Grossman said.

Staff is requesting direction to bring the revised section of the plan in the context with the full draft back to the commission for further revisions at a later date.

“Not getting as much public input as possible would be criminal,” said Grossman.

Ranger – one of Laguna’s finest – shows off his skill at stopping bad guys

Story and photos by CAMERON GILLESPIE

If you don’t know who Ranger is, know now that he is one of Laguna Beach’s finest. This member of the LBPD’s K-9 unit is by far the fastest moving member of the police department, and he absolutely loves his job, made evident by rapid tail wagging when he knows it is nearly time to bite down on his target.

 The Citizen Academy class was told by PSO Ross Fallah on the very first week’s meeting to make sure that they didn’t’ miss the K-9 unit demo on week four. The class was not disappointed.

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Ranger is the happy member of LBPD’s K-9 unit

Last Thursday at the Susi Q Community Center,  CSO Nikkie Hernandez began the class by going over the Neighborhood Watch program, tips on crime prevention and various tactics that the police use to keep the city safe, and other programs that the police are involved in such as CERT, Realtor Watch, and Coffee With a Cop. 

“Not locking car doors, not winding car windows up, leaving items like bags, tablets, and phones in plain view, [those things] happen too frequently,” she said.

One tactic that thieves implement is following behind UPS and Fedex trucks. The package is dropped off, and immediately picked up by the thief. 

Don’t open your door to strangers

Or they may pose as salespeople, with one thief distracting the resident with a speech, while the second goes around the side of the house to see if there’s anything worth taking, or to figure out access points to the house. 

“I never answer the door at my house,” added Cpl Gramer. 

It’s possible to get a peddler’s license through the city, but the qualifications for an individual to do so are very strict, and not one application for the license has been turned in within the last three years. 

On citizens staying informed, Hernandez did have one one point that seemed to be very important to her as she became a little slower in her talk and added pauses to ensure the message sank in: “We want the neighbors to open that line of communication. If you see something, tell us. That’s your gut, your intuition. Ninety percent of our calls are initiated by residents [as opposed to tourists or visitors from other areas].”

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Not all incidents demand a call to 911, but dispatchers (seen here at an earlier Citizen Academy training) are ready for your call if they’re needed

Then came one of the moments that the class had been looking forward to: a delicious homemade meal, this time, marinated pulled pork on dinner rolls and pasta salad prepared by one of the couples from the class (yes, this is date night for them).

Up next was the very exciting Police K-9 demo to be held downstairs in the parking garage of the Community Center. But first, some information on these amazing animals was provided by Laguna Beach’s only K-9 Unit handler, Cpl Zach Fillers, including a video of K-9 police dogs in action.

LBPD’s Ranger, as well as many of the police dogs used in the US are Belgian Malinois. The German Shepherd is used less often due to the breed’s tendency to develop glaucoma, an eye disease that can cause blindness. 

Fast-moving, high-jumping, blasé about teargas – and bilingual…

Ranger and his fellow Malinois in arms (paws?) are fast. A very sharp set of teeth running at you at 30 miles an hour with the ability to jump seven to 10 feet up in the air? Only the most stubborn criminals opt for this type of painful outcome. 

Police dogs have no problem going into a location where there’s teargas in the air. And they’re all bilingual. They learn roughly 10 commands in another language in order to keep them encrypted from perpetrators.

Being a member of the K-9 unit for the last seven years, and having Ranger as his partner for the last three years, Cpl Fillers has never once had to release Ranger on a perpetrator. Ranger did however get to help with one incident on one of the rare occasions that Cpl Fillers was not called in. 

The perpetrator evaded the police, ran into the canyon, through the bushes, but Ranger made sure to put an end to this unlucky man’s nature jog. And in case there is a chance that the person avoiding the police is armed with a gun, the dogs do have their own bullet proof vests.

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Ranger with his handler, Cpl Zach Fillers

In one of the video clips played to show K-9 units in action, the team of officers show up, the handler often takes out a lighter out to check the direction of the wind and then gets downwind of the perpetrator in order for the dog to be able to be inside the “scent cone.” With their keen scent, the dogs can clear areas of anyone hiding, or be able to locate various drugs. 

But before the dog is actually sent in, the person hiding is advised to come out and is warned about the presence of the dog. Often this works with people evading the police and it isn’t necessary to send the dog in.

If not, the dog either tackles the person inside, or just barks, depending on the command. If the dog is needed to return back to its handler, both the dog and the handler have little beeping units that the handler can operate in order to let the dog know.

The videos were exciting enough. Now we were to be introduced in person to the individual of the hour. 

The class traveled downstairs to the ground level parking lot underneath the community center, where everyone was lined up shoulder to shoulder, and was introduced to Cpl Filler’s happy-looking partner Ranger. As he hopped out of his climate controlled metallic section in the back of the squad car, Ranger’s tail was wagging rapidly. 

“He knew that he was going to do the activity he loves best: bite down on a heavily armored police officer”

He knew that he was going to do the activity he loves best: bite down on a heavily armored police officer… A fellow dog handler himself, and Ranger’s second best friend, the officer put on a thick heavy suit, and grabbed a long wooden stick to simulate a weapon. Cpl Fillers then began to give the command to stop or the dog would be released. The officer refused, and kept walking. 

Cpl Fillers gave a few more warnings, and at this point the officer began to run away in his giant suit. Ranger was there in a flash, hopping up and grabbing the officer by the arm, and bringing him down.

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Ranger delights in biting heavily armored targets when ordered to do so

The team demonstrated that dogs can also be used if the person evading the police is about to drive away. The officer got in a Laguna Beach parking enforcement vehicle, and told Cpl Fillers that he was leaving. Cpl Fillers gave the warnings again, repeated himself multiple times, and the officer then began to drive away. 

Ranger was released and bit down on the officer’s arm, with the officer doing a little acting, yelling “Ow! Ahhh! Ow!” 

Ranger let go and was put back on the leash, with streams of saliva dripping out of his big grin.

After the different types of drills were finished, the class was able to walk up to Ranger and pet him. He was overjoyed with the attention and affection the class was showing him. Tail wagging rapidly still, he posed for photos and happily extended his paws when people were wanting to shake his hand. 

Next week’s class will offer another interesting sight: a volunteer from the class will be given libations, and then walk through a field sobriety test. Drinks and a ride home are of course all provided by the LBPD.

A bench – no, a work of art – now curves creatively atop the Mountain Rd Beach access point

On Sunday, Feb 18, at 3:30 p.m. at the Mountain Road Beach access point, a crowd gathered to celebrate the unveiling of an iconic bench: “Boom Boom Peal Step from Ocean Hill” by artist Michael Stutz. 

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Michael Stutz talks about his creation

The plaque reads: “For nearly 70 years, Mountain Road was a focal point for gay life in Laguna. This bench is a celebration of Laguna’s deep history of welcoming people of all walks of life to enjoy its beauty and community spirit.”

The installation was funded by Laguna Beach residents Mark Porterfield and Steve Chadima.

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