broken clouds


Laguna Beach

Love is in the plein air…your chance to find a painting that touches your heart and doesn’t hurt your wallet

Does your heart desire a small gem to add to your art collection? If so, there’s an opportunity on Sunday and the price tag to own something you love could be as little and sweet as $50.

The Laguna Plein Air Painters Association (LPAPA) will host their first LPAPA Luv-a-Thon Fundraiser on Sunday Feb 11 from 5 - 7 p.m. titled “Small Works, Big Hearts.”

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Composed by LPAPA signature artist Michael Obermeyer 

LPAPA’s big-hearted Signature and Artist Members have created a variety of small paintings to benefit nonprofit LPAPA. The 25 original paintings have been framed and will be available to own through Opportunity Drawings that will take place starting at 6 p.m. on Sunday Feb 11 during the Luv-a-Thon Party at the Forest & Ocean Gallery.

The available paintings can be viewed at the Forest & Ocean Gallery until February 11 or online through LPAPA’s website at

Opportunity Drawing Tickets are $50 each. Gallery Party entry tickets are $25 each. You do not need to be present to win. Tickets can be purchased online through LPAPA’s website or through this link or or by phone directly at 949-584-9162. 

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Composed by LPAPA signature artist Jeff Sewell  

Tickets must be purchased in advance or at the Gallery Party. No more than 15 tickets per painting will be sold. 

Attendees of the LPAPA Luv-a-Thon Gallery Party will enjoy a fun cocktail party with a selection of delectable small bites created by Chef Pirozzi of Alessa. 

Forest & Ocean Gallery is located at 480 Ocean Ave and is open Tues through Friday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturdays 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

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Composed by LPAPA signature artist Suzie Baker 

LPAPA was founded in 1996 with a mission to preserve Laguna’s rich artistic legacy and plein air painting tradition. In addition to providing opportunities for established and emerging artists to show their work, LPAPA has a strong commitment to art education to benefit young artists and the greater community. Proceeds from this event will benefit LPAPA’s education, scholarship and exhibition programs.

Patriots Day Parade Brunch feted 2018 honorees – now join them at the Parade on Saturday March 3 


The Patriots Day Parade Association kicked off its 52nd season with an honoree brunch last month – and this coming Saturday, March 3, the much-heralded and beloved event will take place, starting at 11 a.m. at the LBUSD parking lot. 

This year’s honorees are Grand Marshal Gloria Fickling, Citizen of the Year Heidi Miller, Patriot of the Year George Ciampa, Junior Citizens of the Year Marisa Schatz and Joseph (Joey) Ravenna, Parade Program Essay Winner Alexandra Keyser and Program Cover Art Winner Jackson Blake Pihi. 

Among the newer categories, the Association recognized the Laguna Art Museum as the 2018 Artists of the Year and the Laguna Beach Water Polo Foundation and the Girls 10-, 12-, and 14-and under Junior Olympic Champions as Athletes of the Year.

Gloria Fickling and her late husband Forrest Fickling, better known as “Skip,” created a whole new genre of detective stories: Honey West, a female sleuth unlike any before, with lots to follow, in books and on television.

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Gloria Fickling is honored

“She was a young, bright and self-assured blond with the body of Marilyn Monroe and the skills that usually outmatched men who underestimated her,” said Quilter. 

Honey’s spunky personality was based on Fickling. 

A nonagenarian, Fickling attends local events dressed to the nines and ready to dance. 

Miller might be the prototype to be honored for giving of themselves in a significant way to the community. Literally. 

“Her selfless and heroic donation of kidney to a dying man last year gained her the admiration of all Lagunans,” said Quilter.

It was not the first time Heidi had come to the aid of a dying friend. In 1991, she donated bone marrow to Terry Reisdorf, extending her life by 23 years.

Miller has lived in Laguna for 37 years and besides running two locally favored businesses, she has immersed herself in cultural and charitable organizations. She has served on the boards of the American Heart Association, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the City of Hope, the Laguna Playhouse, the Chamber of Commerce and Laguna Playhouse. 

She also rescued the iconic World Newsstand, which had closed. 

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Heidi with her closest friends: Robin Woods (wearing a hat), Carol Lee (standing), and Kimberley Oswald (giving Heidi a congratulatory kiss

Ciampa, a World War II US Army veteran, was part of a small and unheralded group of quartermasters who were entrusted with the most sacred duty asked of a soldier: caring for the bodies of those who have died in combat. 

He served on the front lines from D-Day to the end of the war in Europe and was awarded five battle stars, the Meritorious Unit Commendation Wreath and the French Unit Croix de Guerre. He also was awarded the Legion d’Honneur, France’s highest award for gallantry.

In 2006, Ciampa founded “Let Freedom Ring,” a non-profit foundation that makes documentaries to educate young people about the high price of liberty.

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

The joy is evident – clown at last year’s parade

Laguna Beach High School faculty members choose the Junior Citizens of the Year, based on achievements in academics, leadership, athletics and community service.

They picked a couple of corkers this year. Schatz has been active in Girl Scouts for 12 years, played varsity basketball for three years and maintains 4.0-plus grade point average in advanced placement classes. 

Ravenna is the president of the 2018 senior class and the National Honor Society; secretary general of the LBHS Model United Nations, winner of the Best Delegate Award to the International Model UN Conference, and was Laguna’s American Legion Post delegate to Boys State. 

The theme of the 2018 parade is “Waves of Freedom,” taken to heart by winner Keyser, who read her essay to great applause as the event.

The order of parade participants is available by clicking here and more information, including the route map, is available at

Rainbow Reflections

LGBT Life in Laguna


Love was in the air this Valentine’s Day when HRC (Human Rights Campaign) held a grand party on Valentine’s Day at LUXE Restaurant and Martini Bar in Dana Point. The room was packed, and it appeared everyone was in the spirit of love and romance. 

Dan Slater and Gordon Gardner

Singing around the piano bar

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Love is in the air

But most importantly, HRC was celebrated for their efforts with regard to diversity and the support of human rights for everyone in every country and within all cultures. My personal thanks for Cindy and Jimmy of LUXE for their support and the fantastic event 

We love Laguna Beach

A week ago, with the wonderful support of the City of Laguna Beach and through generosity of some local individuals, we experience the bench…the art…the generosity…and the love.

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Councilmember Toni Iseman, Club Q’s Larry Ricci, Craig Cooley, artist Michael Stutz and mayor pro tem Rob Zur Schmiede

A group of Laguna Beach gathered to celebrate the addition of a “function and form” art by local artist Michael Stutz. The plaque is inscribed with the following. 

For nearly 70 years, Mountain Road was a focal point for gay life in Laguna Beach. 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 art was funded by Laguna Beach residents Mark Porterfield and Steve Chadima, and the City of Laguna Beach. It is worth stopping by to this important and significant recognition of the diversity of Laguna Beach. 

I call it a “Vista Bench”, as you can sit and ponder the world as you enjoy a beautiful view of the Pacific. 

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Garden of Remembrance

What next? I suggest we step up with a prideful improvement to the memorial garden, the “Garden of Peace and Love” The ashes of many, rumored to be more than 100, of those that have passed from the scourge of AIDS have been interned there. 

The garden is a very important part the culture and history of Laguna Beach. It is important that it reflect the love and compassion of the community. 

If you have suggestions or ideas to improve the garden, please contact me. Perhaps we can get a Facebook page up and encourage all kinds of support. 

Speaking of Pride, save the date…

The dates are set for our first Gay Pride weekend in Laguna, from June 1 to 3.

Preliminary plans include a reception Club party at Main Street Bar & Cabaret; Saturday, block party at LBGTQ Heritage District; and Sunday, Beach Party at West Street Beach. 

Listen up for things to do in Laguna

This coming Saturday the Rainbow Radio program will be about all the various and fun things to do with an LGBTQ flavor in the greater Laguna Beach area. So be certain to tune in on KX 93.5 FM or go to to listen to it at your convenience! 

If you would like to submit suggestions, please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. as we love to keep everything interesting and relevant, and well, yes, fun and entertaining.

Permit for eight-unit STL denied: Council to hear owner’s appeal


The City Council is scheduled to hear the appeal on Tuesday of a denial of an application to convert four two-story apartment buildings into eight short-term lodgings. 

Community Development Director Greg Pfost denied the application for a permit to establish the STLs in the city’s high-density residential zone after conducting a public meeting. He received communications from five residents opposed to the project.

Notice of the meeting was sent to property owners within 300 feet of the proposed conversion, tenants within 100 feet and folks who have requested notification of all applications for STLs.

Opposition was based on the potential impacts of noise, parking and guest conduct.

The buildings have frontage on North Coast Highway and Cedar Way. They were developed prior to 1940 and are located adjacent to an eight–unit hotel approved as a Bed and Breakfast establishment by the city in 1999 that has operated as such since 2001, according to the staff report.

Differences between a B&B and an STL include the requirement of owner occupancy and management to operate a B&B; breakfast service is typical and cooking facilities are prohibited.

SVN Vanguard-Michael Arens is listed as the applicant for the appeal, which contends the STL would have little or no impact on the neighborhood of single- and multi-family residences because of the highway frontage for two of the buildings. 

According to the staff report, the proposed project would start with one STL unit. 

The appeal included the opinion that permitting the conversion to short term lodging would allow the owner to keeps rents low for long-term tenants until the current lease expires.

However, the applicant’s intent is to phase out the apartments.

The council could consider overturning the denial, but reduce the number of STL units and require a local property manager to be available within one hour all day, every day. 

Arens’ address on the appeal is in Santa Ana.

So far, no pleasure in urban treasure 


Who hasn’t read stories about adventurers finding hidden treasures of precious gems and doubloons? A few years ago, (according to, a retired businessman in Scotland unearthed the mother lode of Viking gold and silver artifacts dating back more than 1,000 years, valued in the six-figure range. The year before, he found 300 medieval coins in the same area. 

How? Promising his firstborn to a witch, a deal with the devil? 

No, by using the art of metal detecting.

So, when my 12-year-old grandson, Terry, expressed an interest in getting a metal detector, I jumped at the idea and immediately ordered one, thoughts of pirates’ bounty and Spanish coins danced in my head. Or at the very least, some US coins. And it would get Terry outside onto the beach, and it was something he could do with his grandpa. 

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Everyone dreams of finding buried treasure

After charging the metal detector up and reading the directions, armed with a shovel also, we headed for Main Beach. There’s a definite rush of adrenaline when it beeps for the first time, and my grandson immediately started digging, only to uncover a Bud Light bottle cap. Not treasure, but it was proof that the detector worked. 

And thankfully, although there’s a certain amount of self-consciousness involved in walking among beachgoers with a piece of machinery hugging the sand, that didn’t seem to bother Terry. It was clear that he was on a quest. We thought we’d at least find a lost ring or some other piece of jewelry, maybe some change. 

Our bounty: we lost the other bottle cap and the penny

After all, only last week, the owner of a platinum wedding ring who’d lost it in the sand at a beach in Laguna solicited a professional metal-detecting group called Ring Finders to look for the ring, and they found it. 

But obviously, Terry and his grandpa aren’t professionals, because they searched for over an hour and a half, and all they found was that bottle cap. Undaunted, however, the next day, they set out again, and headed for Divers’ Cove. Bounty – another bottle cap and a penny that they soon lost. At this rate, we’ll never recoup the money we spent on the detector.

The fun, though? Priceless.

Special book signing and tour of North Beach took place at Crystal Cove Conservancy last Sunday


I joined the Crystal Cove Conservancy for a unique morning featuring the Crystal Cove Cottages: Islands in Time on the California Coast 2nd Edition book signing with co-author, Laura Davick, founder and vice president of the Conservancy on Sunday, Feb 25 at 11 a.m. There was an additional presentation at 1 p.m.

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Courtesy of Crystal Cove Conservancy

Crystal Cove Cottages: Islands in Time on the California Coast 2nd Edition is authored by Karen E. Steen, Laura Davick and Meriam Braselle

It was enlightening to learn about the rich history of Crystal Cove and the final capstone – the North Beach Restoration Project. 

The day began with Davick being interviewed by volunteer Virgihina Webber at the Crystal Cove Visitor Center in Cottage #00 during a well-attended event. Historic photos filled the walls along with recognition of the many donors to date. Following the interview and Q&A session, there was a 15-minute tour and overview on the sand in front of the North Beach Cottages, followed by the book signing.

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Photos by Lana Johnson

Renovated cottages in Crystal Cove

What was most apparent was Davick’s undying passion and commitment to the Cove. Her parents met here in 1937, fell in love and married; since she was a youngster 40 years ago, she has called Cottage #2 her home.

In Davick’s words, “This is more than just a book signing. We are excited to raise awareness for completing the restoration of the final 17 cottages on the North Beach Restoration Project for Crystal Cove State Park and to protect this national jewel for future generations.”

The book was a compilation by three authors: Meriam Braselle, a former resident of Abalone Point (that once sat at the south end of the Park) and also one of the founding members of Laguna Plein Air Painters who collected the art; Davick, who researched and collated the historical perspective; and Karen Steen, who along with her family share deep roots of the tent-camping era at the Cove. Steen integrated the components to write the story…a historically accurate one. Principal photography was by John Connell.

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Cove cottages awaiting renovation

“Squatters built these cottages, which is such a unique story in itself, that we want to ensure it isn’t lost,” Davick shared.

The first edition of the book was originally published beginning in 2005 until 2016; this second edition is devoted to the remaining 17 cottages (out of a total of 46) that remain to be renovated. Once the cottages are restored, they will be self-sustainable, and any additional funds accrued will go directly to education. The launch of the treasuredsecond edition was made possible through the generous support and partnership of Randy Higbee. All proceeds of the book will go directly to the Crystal Cove Conservancy’s mission.

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Laura Davick shares the cottage renovations with attendees on the sand

Located along 3.2 miles of pristine coastline, “The Cove creates a place like no other, and we are committed to educating children and protecting this environment for future generations,” Davick said.

By the numbers, the North Beach Restoration project budget is $35 million, broken down as $17.5 million for the infrastructure (site work preparation, utilities, etc., along with a 650-foot boardwalk and public access service path) with $16 million for cottage restoration. With early commitments and anticipated credits totaling $12 million, the current campaign goal is $23 million.

“The goal is to raise $9 million between now and June, when we anticipate starting the renovations,” said Alix Hobbs, CEO of the Conservancy. The hope is to finish the cottage renovations in five years. The 17 cottages will double our rental occupancy,” she shared.

 “We are elated to shine the light on the North Beach as the Conservancy begins its largest preservation initiative to date,” Davick said. “We invite all of you to participate in the ongoing effort to protect and preserve this pocket of paradise for all to enjoy.”

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Laura Davick signing my book

Books were sold at the event and can also be purchased for $34.95 at the Conservancy’s interpretive store in the Park or on the Crystal Cove website at

Take the trolley to the Patriots Day Parade

Catch the trolley or the City bus and you will be downtown in plenty of time for the Patriots Day Parade, which starts at 11 a.m. this Saturday March 3. Floats and marchers gather at the LBUSD parking lot on Park Ave.

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Take the trolley to the Parade

The Neighborhood Transit Service will be operating on a regular Saturday schedule starting at 9:30 a.m. and the Coastal Routes will start early at 9 a.m. to get you to the parade.  

For schedule and route information, visit

Waxing crescent moon over maroon Cope House

Photo by Scott Brashier

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In this photo, the moon is a shadow of its former self

Accessory Dwelling Units will be discussed at the March 6 City Council meeting

The Laguna Beach City Council will hold a public hearing to consider the “Draft” Accessory Dwelling Unit Ordinance on Tues, March 6 at 6 p.m. in the City Council Chambers located at 505 Forest Ave. 

Since July of 2017, through a series of public workshops and hearings, the City of Laguna Beach has been in the process of drafting an update to Municipal Code Chapter 25.17 regarding Accessory Dwelling Units (formerly referred to as Second Residential Units) to comply with mandated State law changes. 

On Jan 1, 2017, new legislation (SB 1069 and AB 2299) was adopted by the State to address California’s housing shortage by making it easier to develop ADUs. The intent of the law is believed to provide affordable housing options for family members, students, the elderly, in-home health care providers, the disabled, and other vulnerable populations at, or below, market prices within existing neighborhoods. 

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Example of accessory dwelling unit

The law also addresses development barriers related to parking requirements, waiver of water and sewage connection fees, and exceptions for fire sprinkler requirements. 

The draft ordinance will also address other development restrictions currently proposed in the City’s existing Ordinance. 

On Dec 13, the Planning Commission recommended the City Council adopt the “Draft” Ordinance with modifications. Additionally, the City Council will review technical changes to state law (SB 229 and AB 494) regarding Accessory Dwelling Units, enacted on Jan 1, 2018. These changes clarify areas of (SB 1069 and AB 2299) that were not clear. 

City Council meetings are open to the public. They are also broadcast on the government channel, streamed on the City’s website, and archived on the City’s website for future viewing. To view the staff report for this item and the revised “Draft” Ordinance, please refer to the City’s website: These documents will be available by Thurs, March 1. 

City Hall is located at 505 Forest Ave. The phone number is (949) 497-3311.

A Note from the Publisher


As you may have seen, we sent out our first-ever Stu News Laguna reader survey over the weekend to all of our email subscribers. A big thank you to each and every one of you that has taken the time to respond already (there have been so many of you!), providing us with valuable feedback on how we’re doing, what you enjoy most about Stu News, and how we might be able to improve in the future.

We have been overwhelmed by your responses, both in terms of the volume and overall love you have shared with us. Reading things like “It’s the best local news outlet in our city”, “I count on Stu News as my hometown local paper”, “You make me feel more a part of the community”, and “I NEVER miss an issue” make us feel really great about what we’re doing. We also appreciate knowing that 74 percent of you are spending 11 minutes or more reading each issue of Stu News, with many of you responding “an hour or more” too!

Also valuable were a few suggestions on what we can do to improve in the future. We want you to know that we are listening, and will endeavor to become a better version of ourselves every issue that we publish. 

As a result, you will see certain news items and columns moving spots, and also an increased coverage of our schools moving forward. Nothing major, really, just a few tweaks here and there.

Thank you, Laguna, for entrusting us as your local news source. We feel so lucky to wake up every morning and get to do what we do in a town we love so much.

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.

We all love Laguna and we love what we do.

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