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Laguna Beach

Arts Commission Village Entrance project proposal

The Arts Commission has heard a lot of objections to the project proposed for the Village Entrance, and Village Laguna appreciates their decision to try to explore some of them with the artist before recommending it to the City Council, but we’d like to see them take one more step back. Whatever the merits of the design, we feel this is the wrong place for the Fornes structure, and we encourage them to accept that now and start looking for other public art options.

In all the thirty years it has taken to realize the community’s vision of the Village Entrance, there has never been talk of an assembly structure of this size. The vision from the beginning was of a green, quiet, pedestrian-friendly space, and the final plan sacrificed parking spaces to produce the landscaped areas it has today.

The structure the Arts Commission is looking at has been, in our opinion, appropriately described as not an art piece but a building, and installing it would require ripping out the existing landscaping, certainly at considerable expense, and apparently removing an elegant rammed-earth seating area that echoes the wall across the street at the Festival grounds. 

The Commission insists they are simply following the recommendation of the cultural arts placemaking study, but that study (which, unfortunately, was adopted after the final contract for the Village Entrance work was signed) suggests three possible places for a removable tent (not a building) that might shelter community activities on the site, only one of which includes the proposed location. One of the areas shown under such a tent is on the other side of the creek next to the historic digester, which we and many Lagunans would like to see repurposed as the kind of gathering place the Commission has in mind. The Village Entrance is only one of several sites the study considers as a gathering place, the others being the Festival of Arts grounds (which is in fact a public park), the Sawdust Festival, and the Main Beach cobblestones. The Arts Commission is not really required to build this thing right here.

Placing this giant installation in the narrow space between the highway and the creek would be, in our opinion, a costly mistake, and it seems to us unlikely to meet their own expectations. In the many other cities that display the artist’s work, there’s generally more space available for its proper appreciation. As close as the structure will be to the highway, it may be hard to hear what’s going on inside the “pavilion,” and holding events there would appear to raise a number of logistical problems (no restrooms, for one).

We implore the Commission to listen to what their fellow Lagunans are saying and let us enjoy the Village Entrance we’ve waited so long for. 

Johanna Felder

President Village Laguna

Marc Fornes Pavilion Art Sculpture for the Village Entrance

This is an email I sent last week to the City Council and the Arts Commission.

I hope you will give serious consideration to the costs [wasted money for installation as well as demolition] for removing recently installed landscaping between the existing parking lot and the vehicular bridge to accommodate the massive proposed Pavilion Art Sculpture by Marc Fornes.

The Fornes project requires the removal of approximately 12 native and specimen trees, shrubs, irrigation, decomposed granite pathways, lighting, decorative bike racks, concrete benches, huge decorative boulders, undergrounding, drainage, etc. This seems to be a shameful and unnecessary misuse of public funds.

To date the public has not heard of the cost estimates for the actual building and installation of this art piece. Since it is basically a building without walls we all know it will be very expensive to construct, let alone the cost of seating, the big screen monitor, and goodness knows what else to be factored in. We have heard that the Arts Commission has budgeted approximately $1 million for this project. Architects and others in the community have suggested that it could be double that cost [or more] due to the construction materials and techniques required. Shouldn’t a cost estimate, a completed budget, be immediately prepared before more money is spent to “tweak” the design? And what about the cost of maintenance down the road for this building?

I think the existing bicycle rack is an unexpected piece of artwork itself – a slinky bike rack! To remove this would be such a shame and wouldn’t it require city review and approval before being removed?

Finally, isn’t it irresponsible of the Arts Commission to propose this very expensive piece of artwork after the Village Entrance has already been constructed and without coordinating with the City’s original Village Entrance plans?

Anne Caenn

Laguna Beach

Congressional Communities meeting was very informative

My friend Marcia and I attended the Congressional Communities meeting for the Laguna Beach chapter last Saturday at the Neighborhood Congregational Church and were delighted to be able to meet with our Congressman, Harley Rouda, in such a relaxed and comfortable setting. We heard from Harley about work he has accomplished or has been moving forward in his very short time in D.C. Members of the audience asked him questions pinpointing concerns and pertinent issues important to our local community which could be further assisted at the national level. We were also amazed and impressed by our guest speaker, a 16-year-old high school junior, who educated the audience importing in-depth insight on the topic of tariffs. Congressional Communities is a relatively newly formed group whose main focus is to help organize our huge congressional district into smaller “communities,” which will help provide greater access to our representative and his staff through periodic visits. Monthly meetings are designed to inform members and provide deeper understanding about legislative issues. Constituent views are relayed to our representative through an established relationship. Kudos to Dan Carracino and the staff at Congressional Communities who are helping to bring our representative, democratic process closer to home making it more accessible for us all!

Deborah Young

Laguna Beach

Trolleys from hell? The saga continues with apparent attitude

After a meeting with Shohreh Dupuis and Paula Faust of Public Works, I was confident we pinpointed the biggest hurdle that was in the way to simplify our trolley’s PCH and Canyon routes. The canyon route currently has no possibility to make a U-turn at PCH and Broadway. Shohreh had a brilliant idea to me, to loop the trolley around on Cliff Drive eastbound back to the Canyon. This way would definitely be a better solution, in my opinion, than having so many different, confusing routes. It also would prevent folks from having to get out at Whole Foods and walk to the depot. For neighborhood routes, the City is considering a model like San Clemente where you can use Lyft or Uber for $2 from any bus stop to another – meaning less big, empty trolleys on our quaint tiny roads. 

Lagunans really ought to to change their behavior to move at least within the boundaries of PCH and the Canyon to public transportation if we want to retain the quality of living here. For this to happen, it seems we need to have the trolley service every day not just on weekends in the off-season. This won’t happen if the City requires citizens to change their transportation mode for the weekends only. People ought to be able to learn that they can trust their transportation. Currently they can’t. The app is not reliable, in my experience, and does not open like Uber/Lyft. 

I learned on September 1 that an acquaintance of mine wanted to use the trolley. According to her, she waited a while, and since no trolley came, she called at 6:20 p.m. and the dispatch told her to wait 7 minutes at her stop. At 6:48 she called again and the dispatch told her there is so much traffic on PCH they can’t do anything. Kathy responded that she is standing on PCH and there is very little traffic. She said dispatch then answered that she should not be impatient since it is a free service. My friend said she told her that it is not free because Laguna pays for it. That’s when the dispatch apparently just hung up on her. I see this Laguna Beach attitude over and over. A seeming attitude of entitlement mixed with a misuse of political correctness, which I believe is used to manipulate and coerce instead of being just, getting things done, and striving towards being an exemplary City. Granted, I believe everyone here loves Laguna, but it seems often mixed with righteousness instead of a tight community and civic pride.

Michaell Magrutsche

Laguna Beach

Wolff running away from her record?

In her letter on 9/3, school board member Peggy Wolff obtusely, in my view, insists press reports of a board “feud” are fake news. This apparent political selfie by Wolff seemingly messages blithe dismissal of Dee Perry’s challenge to Board governance standards as mere rumination of a malcontent, “unhappy she didn’t get her way.”

But the record shows it was the Board majority that seemingly became petulant, hostile, and legalistic when it did not get its way, seeking seemingly to impose its will and silence Perry, along with constituents she represents.

With trendy absolutism and sophistry afflicting our politics these days, Wolff patronizingly asserts, in my opinion, respect for Perry’s right to vote independently and serve with equal rights as a duly elected member of the Board. Just not in meetings from which Wolff and two other members of the Vickers-led majority decide to exclude Perry, right?

Wolff’s record, in my opinion, is voting and supporting the board majority in what, to me, seems to be a pattern of discrimination and harassment. In my opinion, Wolff willingly plays defensive point position, opposing Perry’s representation of teachers, parents, and students with grievances, which the Board and Superintendent seemingly refuse to allow an orderly, safe, and fair hearing of.

Perry had a lot to lose trying to get the Board to follow the rules it seems strictly to enforce in a seemingly opportunistic and politicized manner. I am one of many who believe Wolff is escalating retaliatory actions for the purpose of “making an example” of Perry and those who are aligned with her.

A partial chronology of Wolff’s actual record is the only antidote for what in the opinion of many is more disingenuous denial.

First, in a seemingly scripted, unusually scheduled “special” meeting in November of 2017, without audio or video recording, in a session “open” to the public but with no public present, despite a shroud of silence, the evidence seemingly confirms that Wolff and the board majority decided to pass Perry over for rotation as President, straying from an established Board tradition, as outlined in a Board bylaw.

Wolff also seemed aggressively to support enforcement of so-called “protocols” that, for example, required members who oppose a policy or program and cast dissenting votes to cease opposition or advocacy of change to policy once an issue is decided by a majority.

Since that would be undemocratic and violate the federal and state constitutional rights, those protocols were legally invalid under LBUSD bylaws and state law.

After being re-elected to the board Perry was again passed over for President in December 2018, once more in an “open” meeting with no audio or video recording or public present. According to the Superintendent, the video live streaming malfunctioned, and even a backup recording failed.

When Perry mentioned that she had conducted her own investigation and discussion with the vendor, Wolff seemingly not only joined but led the Board majority in castigating Perry for violating the legally invalid “protocols” by daring to ask LBUSD staff for the vendor’s contact information.

The LBUSD website video of the January 15, 2019 meeting – at 2:08:30 – confirms Wolff joined in the Superintendent’s apparent scolding Perry, who was told adamantly she “had no right” to contact the vendor or investigate on her own.

Isn’t fact-finding and oversight investigation a right and a duty of an elected member of a legislative body?

That’s seemingly when a contract lawyer was brought in and the Board began conducting more closed meetings, so a greater proportion of the Board’s proceedings were classified as secret, which Perry challenged as unjustified under applicable state law limiting abuse of secrecy.

In my opinion, the Board majority next tried to weaponize its bylaws, it seems, by adopting a rule authorizing the Board to exclude Perry from its deliberations.

Even though, in my opinion, the law protects Perry’s rights to reveal information claimed to be confidential if challenging its legality, the Board and its lawyer even threatened to criminalize Perry’s challenges to the legality of the Board’s secrecy tactics, it seems.

Most people would agree that constitutes something in the nature of a local political feud. But moving beyond hollow sophistry, what matters is holding all Board members accountable in the weeks and months ahead based on the actual record, not just what board members may want the public to believe.   

Howard Hills

Laguna Beach

Top ten recycling mistakes

 The city was kind enough to print in their quarterly Community News Brochure (where information for all sorts of fun classes for all ages is provided), which lists all sorts of information about our parks, city events, etc. The back part of the magazine had a whole page committed to the “Top Ten Recycling Mistakes” to help us with being good stewards of the environment. I went out to see if anyone in my neighborhood had changed their habits with respect to recycling – nope!

It is important that we are cognizant of how we can all work together to minimize our impact to the environment – other communities, states, and countries are very committed to this. Unfortunately, there are many individuals, neighborhoods, communities, states, and countries that are not – for example, Brazil it seems. With each passing day, we get further behind in getting rid of plastics and many other man-made products in a productive way. We also must show our children that from an early age they too can participate in easing the pressure we put on our only earth.

So for those who didn’t read about the “Top Ten Recycling Mistakes,” here they are: (I added some additional info on some of them)

1. Do not bag recyclables – just dump into the grey bin – putting them in plastic bags just creates more plastic to get rid.

2. Plastic wrap, bubble wrap, plastic sandwich, or freezer bags – do not place these in the recycle bin either – see if you can reuse some of those products a couple of times.

3. Plastic grocery bags can be taken back to our local grocery stores to be recycled – or use them again when you go shopping.

4. No flexible packaging (chip bags, juice, or soup pouches).

5. No cups with plastic or waxed coatings (hopefully some of the companies that sell their products will find new ways to sell their liquids).

6. No polystyrene foam and plastic (to-go containers and cups) – some restaurants, etc. have come up with some creative ways to “take out” their products.

7. No food waste – put uncooked vegetable/fruit skins, etc. in the green bin to be composted.

8. No soiled paper towels – I use a couple of sheets to dry the counter, then I use the same sheets to scrub scratchable surfaces, and finally use it to wipe up stuff from the floor/ground.

9. No pizza boxes (that have leftovers, grease or liners). Sometimes the top is clean on them – I cut off the top and recycle that. Same for other food containers.

10. No large household items – I have seen patio furniture cushions, tables (wood/metal/plastic), household items like lamps, small appliances, children’s toys (even a wading pool), pet carriers, and of course the worst offender, fluorescent bulbs – big and long and dangerous. 

There are more items but for now if we can focus on eliminating these perhaps there is just a slight chance we can make a difference – especially if we share this information with friends and family who live outside of Laguna.

Ganka Brown
Laguna Beach

It takes two to feud

The article “School Board feud continues” (8/30/2019) is, in my opinion, misleading. To me, it implies the LBUSD school board is feuding with one of its members. I am one of five board members. I am not in any type of feud with anyone on the board. 

Each board member is duly elected, and each has a single vote. Each member must vote in the way he or she believes best serves the mission and goals of our school district. That’s the standard I bring to each vote, and I believe all other members do the same. 

The key is to respect each other’s vote. If the vote doesn’t go one’s way, respect that others viewed the issue differently. To me, that’s not a feud; it’s a difference of opinion. Taking it personally, I feel, disrespects the integrity of the other board members. And to threaten litigation if one doesn’t get their way is, in my opinion, unprofessional. 

As the papers have reported, one board member has threatened litigation because a majority of the board voted to elect a different member as president. The same board member is also upset that a majority, following the recommendation of LBUSD’s attorney, voted to redress what the attorney advised are her breaches of confidentiality. This, as I see it, is not a “feud”; this is one person unhappy she didn’t get her way. 

I stand by my votes because they represent my good faith decisions on what is best for LBUSD. To characterize the disgruntlement of one member as a “feud,” I feel, disrespects my votes and those of other board members. 

As a parent and longtime volunteer, I am proud of our schools, teachers, staff, and district leaders. As a board member, I am proud that we continually work to prioritize student needs and improve the quality of their education. We have an exemplary school district. 

Peggy Wolff

Member Laguna Beach School Board

Our Village Entrance should be elegant

The Arts Commission just listened to a whole room full of folks mostly opposed to the proposed huge and costly cone sculpture they want to install at the Village Entrance, then read their pre-prepared statements, and voted for it anyway. Way to go, Arts Commission.

In a recent article it was stated “Artist Marc Fornes’ focus is to enhance the visual identity of a place,” and so, the Arts Commission wants to deliver the visual identity of Laguna Beach as a colorful, whirling aluminum structure that while impressive, just doesn’t seem to fit. Not at our front door as our signature piece. Add the creepy hoodie-thugs-shooting-toilet-plunger-arrows display currently on the City Hall’s lawn to the list of artistic misses, in my opinion. I get it, art should challenge you and make you think but with my tax money, I’d like my art to soar elegantly, harmoniously, and have folks go “Wow,” not “Huh?” I am glad they’re taking bold chances and “going for it” and it’s obvious several folks in this process are enamored of the talented Mr. Fornes, but those aren’t good reasons for a bad choice. More art by local artists that’s pleasing, please.

Kirk Morgan

Laguna Beach

Installation at City Hall after much think

Hoodies and arched positions. Fear permeates. Seemingly aimed at objects; we totally ignored the larger subjects. Growing, a collectively large and increasing fear of the world around us occupies us daily. We should be relieved at the Newton reference with the clever plunger. Walk around and capture every angle. We must “teach our children well.”

Gail Landau

Laguna Beach

My opinion on proposed and actual public art in Laguna Beach

The Marc Fornes “sculpture” appears in the renderings to be a shelter and not a sculpture. While it has a vague reference to Gaudi’s structures its actual artistic merit escapes me, except perhaps as a more attractive shelter than the bus station to serve as a hangout for Laguna’s homeless population.

On the other hand, I find the temporary Mark Jenkins installation on the lawn at City Hall to be very successful: an actual work of art – meaningful, haunting, and enigmatic.

However, I missed the “Global Climate Change” reference cited in the article. For this viewer the piece is all about the anonymous workers who manicure and make possible the lives of the entitled. The irony in these faceless individuals using tools of work to play games on the City Hall lawn was wry, witty, and incredibly thought provoking

I particularly liked the calling out of the legend of William Tell, who would risk his own son’s life rather than bow to a tyrant, a reference that manages to evoke both the Founding Fathers and illegal aliens. Placing this piece on the City Hall lawn was brilliant. However one interprets it, or whatever one’s political views are, one thing is clear – the installation is not is an inane bit of eye candy. That is more than I can say about the Marc Fornes piece.

Too bad the good piece is temporary while the other will impact Laguna into the future.

Hedy Buzan

Laguna Beach

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