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Downtown needs revitalization: Blake is the one who can do it

The more I travel, the more I see that our downtown is not keeping up with other tourist villages. Laguna shopping is third rate and the downtown, in general, is dirty and threadbare. City Hall’s attempts to tweak the downtown shopping mix have been unsuccessful. Our City Hall doesn’t know good from bad. It can be argued that Peter Blake is the only person who has created a successful and quality shopping district in Laguna since like forever, with his creation of gallery Row in North Laguna, which was a retail disaster when he moved there. His record on this kind of thing is better than the entire City Hall’s. He knows what quality restaurants, clothing stores, household goods, and furniture look like, and he has the ability to bring them into Laguna. For this reason, Peter should have a seat on the City Council.

Marc Whitney

San Clement


Laguna Beach parent responds to School Board’s decision to change student calendars

The Laguna Beach Unified Board of Education voted 5-0 passing the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 student instructional calendars on Tuesday, September 25. 

For the record, I am actually neutral on this issue for one reason: I trust them.

Separate from the calendar, I have personally vetted almost all of the current Board and administration in person. I know for sure that they have the success and well being of our students as their highest priority. They have their finger on the pulse, day and night, living and breathing what’s really going on with kids and how to continuously improve. I have found that they have been quite approachable and have always made themselves available for conversation. They will tell you that I hold them to the highest standards. 

Over two years ago, I was involved, along with other school and community members, in shaping the vision for our hiring our new Superintendent. This vision went well beyond the limits of “Laguna is unique” and being “better than Irvine.” The vision focused on a much larger context of what’s possible in education, for ALL students, with no limits on potential.    

Superintendent Dr. Jason Viloria is not only fulfilling my expectations on this vision, he is exceeding them. He has hired phenomenal administrators, and as a team, they are moving the needle, focusing on students’ whole being. Within the last two years, the consciousness level of our school community has been raising and we are just beginning to see positive results from all their surveys, data measuring, professional development, programming and outreach. I am confident that the difference they are out to make will show up remarkably over the next couple years.

To the Board, administration and staff: Thank you. I acknowledge your courage and unwavering stand for all students. In the face of topical adversity and upset, it is clear that we can count on you to fulfill on your commitment to our students. You are inspiring and appreciated by so much of our community.

Chris Tebbutt

Laguna Beach


“Ruminations of a Reprobate Democrat”: Response to previous letter

I am a Democrat. I have voted for most Democrat candidates since Jimmy Carter.

There have been a few exceptions. One was Jimmy Carter’s first and second runs, another was Bill Clinton’s first and second runs and yet another were the two terms for Barack Obama.

MY Democratic Party is one of tax and spend, fiscal instability and unbalanced budgets. It is a party that knew when to negotiate with other parties and to find common ground (of course, that went away after JFK). It is a party whose elected representatives could find solutions without demeaning or insulting members of other parties (of course, that went also went away with JFK). That’s not to say that campaigns were not lively. The failures and missteps of opponents were made dramatically clear during election time.

Today, MY Democratic Party no longer exists. It has been overcome by a mob of antagonists, which has resulted in both principal parties of left and right resorting to insult and defamation. Truth and fact have disappeared. Today, all news that does not support a particular point of view is labeled “fake”. Narcissism appears to be the rule. Self-promotion and self-enrichment by elected representatives is the primary goal. 

-------------------

Who am I kidding? I guess that you know by now that I’m a Conservative who hasn’t been a Democrat since JFK and could never lie that much without going to Confession. I’m just responding to a letter by James S. McBride who said that he was a Republican but THEN he supported the platform of a candidate, Rouda, challenging the incumbent, Dana Rohrabacher. I noticed that the challenger’s entire platform was right out of the Democratic playbook, so I seriously question how he could have ever been a Republican in the first place. His candidate, Rouda, apparently:

--Supports illegal aliens and sanctuary cities 

--Promotes more taxes and spending 

--Wants to ban guns, which seems anti-2nd Amendment to me, in the guise of improving safety

--He favors abortion by supporting Planned Parenthood which receives federal funding from taxpayers [for its other services].

--He wants to give free Medicare for all by taxing the rich, which I believe promotes wealth redistribution, a Communist goal.

--He supports getting rid of citizens’ United Supreme Court decision permitting unlimited campaign contributions by corporations but seems to have no problem with unions misusing union dues to give unlimited billions to the Democratic candidates against the will of many union members.

--He supports getting back to developing clean energy but WHEN did we ever stop? It appears that we have more clean energy today than we ever have before – electric cars, solar energy and wind energy, and their uses continue to expand along with conventional forms of energy (natural gas, coal, hydroelectric, oil and geothermal) that will continue to keep energy costs down while we’re making an economically viable transition.

By the way, most of the above has NOTHING to do with Laguna Beach but are actually national issues. It’s okay to replace an incumbent but make very sure that the replacement will do a better job and not head us in the wrong direction.

Vote for the candidate who has done the most and will continue to do the most for the 48th District (which runs from Seal Beach, through Huntington, Newport and all the way down the coast to Laguna and beyond to Laguna Niguel and inland), Dana Rohrabacher.

Gary Zaremba

Mission Viejo


Historic homes

I have an historic home, built in 1926. When I was sent a letter about 30 years ago, I didn’t respond. Not sure what it meant I thought it wise to be silent. But my silence didn’t matter. I’m on the list.

I’m getting the letters and postcards that have put fear in the hearts of many residents. I understand why people are upset.   

Because I will be voting on this item, what I can say is limited. Electeds are to gather information at a meeting before we make up our minds. 

But I have stated this at public meetings. Anyone with an historic should not be required to pay for a report. That is the responsibility of the City. There is now money budgeted to do that. 

If we value historic homes we should not make it harder on residents, but rather easier.

A dedicated, knowledgeable person should be available to give accurate information, on the spot. If we value historic homes, we need to honor the people who own them.

The advantages are many. But many homeowners have not been informed.   

Would you like to be held to a lower parking requirement?

Would you like to maintain your non-conforming lot lines encroachments?

Would you like to have higher density on your lot? 

Would you like to have a break on your property taxes? 

Do you know that you can remodel, add on, even mix the architectural style? 

If being historic is voluntary many may chose to stay on the list when the benefits are delineated.

I have heard examples of unreasonable requirements, and stories of unreasonable delays. That needs to be fixed.   

The meeting we’re having Saturday was postponed several times. Once because Larry Nokes was unavailable. Once because Kelly Boyd was not available. Once because the attorney with historic expertise was not available. The meeting on the evening of the18th was cancelled in deference to the Jewish community. Yom Kippur is the highest holy day of the Jewish calendar.   

This Saturday at 1 is an important meeting, discussing the application of the CEQA, the California Environmental Quality Act. Join us at this meeting. It will be very informative.

Toni Iseman

City of Laguna Beach Councilmember


Candidate for Council spends a couple of evenings at the ASL

I live in an area called Top of the World, or TOW for short in Laguna Beach, California. It feels like the top of the world. It’s about a mile straight up from the Village. Looking down at the Pacific Ocean, surrounded by what seems like endless canyons and hills, dotted with lovely homes and prehistoric looking vegetation, it’s a magical place. A little bit like living in a Dr. Seuss book. 

Running for any public office is daunting. I don’t know why I thought running for City Council would be easier than any other campaign. I guess I thought that because I was already on the Affordable Housing Task Force, it would be a natural transition. I was wrong. It’s all-consuming at times. It’s like the first time on a rollercoaster, with all the exhilarating highs and the gut-wrenching lows. 

During the high points of this ride, my creative juices will get going thinking about bringing life back to the Village. Turning current, unused commercial space into cool urban lofts. Affordable to young urban professionals, seniors on a budget, artists and young families. We could also build prefab, innovative homes, up to three bedrooms, erected on available land owned by the Village. The town could rent them for $1,000 to $2,400. One quarter of the person or family’s monthly income. Plus, if the town was the renter, that could make money for the Village. A win-win. 

Inevitably, the question of the homeless came up. Shouldn’t we take care of them before others who might have options like Affordable Housing? Where did they come from? I would see the homeless along Laguna Canyon Road, sometimes in the Village but always on Main Beach. Hidden in the nooks and crannies of this incredibly beautiful town, with its quaint shops, shady lanes and unbelievable views, you would see the homeless every once and a while. Sometimes muttering to themselves or asking for a handout, often holding a sign pleading their case. They were a chronic reminder that where I was living was a bit of an illusion. The residents of Laguna Beach are eclectic. Modern hippy chic, cottage preppy and cosmopolitan. There are cars that look like they just drove off a movie sets, and dogs, dogs, dogs.

As the campaign heated up, more and more candidates were appearing on Nextdoor, a popular neighborhood website. Back and forth the issues would be argued among candidates and residents. A candidate would weigh in on one of the town’s many project problems, especially money that is seemingly disappearing into the “Village Entrance.” Another hot topic was dealing with parking and car congestion. One day, a man named Tim was answering someone else’s question about the homeless being brought here by police officers from Newport and being dropped off in Laguna Beach. He had spoken to an officer who told him it had only happened a couple of times. The officer was in a rough spot. How was he supposed to turn down someone walking along a dangerous road and not take them to Laguna Beach when they asked?

Why should Laguna Beach pay for another city’s homeless? I couldn’t believe it. Newport didn’t want them, so they were bused here? This was a Friday night and I was full of outrage. I told Tim that as a candidate for City Council and I would get to the bottom of this even if it took me all the next day. I would show everyone the “true” story. I was on a mission and full of confidence that I could stop this indecent practice. 

Next day. Saturday. Every service agency was closed, or the director wouldn’t be in till Monday. I decided the only thing to do was go directly to the source. I had driven past the ASL (Alternative Sleeping Location) dozens of times. I would sigh and say to myself, “But for the Grace…” and I would continue driving and not give it a second thought. That’s where the really bad homeless stayed. The tweaked-out, drunk, and violent. This time though, I would drive in and be incognito. I was going to get the truth. Not some watered-down version given to city officials or concerned citizens. I was confident I could handle anything that came way. 

I parked and walked to a small, one story building that I later found out it was called “The Box”. It was a typical galvanized aluminum framed building. The kind you see at construction sites. It was larger than one of those trailers. About three times as large if they were to place the trailers side by side. There were people standing around, disheveled, looking depressed. There were dogs too. A couple of dogs that were being lovingly cared for by homeless individuals. Each had a backpack or blankets on the ground, in their own space, strategically placed about seven or eight feet from each other. 

I walked into the Box and asked where I could sign up for a bed. There was a nice man at the by the main entrance that I just knew worked there and wasn’t homeless. I don’t know why I knew he wasn’t homeless. Maybe because he wasn’t dirty, or more likely because he didn’t have “that” look on his face. He had purpose. He was at ease and had life in his eyes. He did work there and told me to write my name down on the white board and they would do a lottery at 6:45. I could leave but had to be back soon. 

I left. I hurried home and got blankets, a towel and a pillow. I bought some water, protein bars and cigarettes. I saw too many prison movies. Was sure cigarettes were currency. I went back down and rushed to find out if I got a bed. They weren’t “beds” but neon blue mats on the floor. About a foot apart. 45 beds in total. There were three washing machines and three showers. One toilet for women and one for men. The men and women were separated by a row of fold out tables. Anxiously, we waited for our name to be called. I didn’t get a bed. I didn’t know what that meant. Where was I supposed to go?

It meant I would have to sleep outside and not just outside, but outside the chain link fence that surrounded the Box. That was scary. There were younger men in the lot who seemed rowdy and drunk. Some women outside too, but they were quiet, and I think were pretending to be asleep. About twenty altogether in the parking lot outside the safety of the fence. The lighting was bad, so I thought I would try a sad story and maybe they would take pity on me and let me sleep in the corner, inside. I told them I didn’t need a mat. They asked if I came there in a car. I said yes, and they said I should consider myself one of the lucky ones. I could sleep in my car. They suggested I lock the doors. I asked how long I could stay in the Box before I had to leave. They said I could stay inside till about ten thirty. 

I placed my stuff near one of the workers and asked if they wouldn’t mind watching my things for bit. I was told no, and to be careful. A lot of theft happened in the Box. I put stuff in the car and locked it and went back in. I was hanging around the people sitting outside but within the Box’s fence. I wanted to hear their stories. Not many wanted to talk till I showed them my cigarettes. I was right. It was currency. 

For a cigarette, I could get a life story. The first person I spoke to was Mary (not her real name); she was pretty. She was tall with long brown hair and a sweet smile. She was also about seven months pregnant. I asked her how she ended up here. She told me it was her ex. He tried to kill her, and the domestic violence services were also at capacity. “They just hand you a bunch of numbers and wish you luck.”  At that point, a woman in her forties, Dawn (also not her real name), came and sat with us. Another cigarette, and another story. 

She too was there running from a killer she said. “If he finds me I’m dead. I’m sure of it.”  Mary agreed. She said her ex just got of prison and didn’t want a second child, so she was hiding to protect this child. I asked her where her first child was. She said with him. I asked her how on Earth could she leave her child with that man? She said she couldn’t get into a shelter that allowed children and besides, “He would never hurt her. He loves her.” These women didn’t seem drunk or on any drugs. They were lucid, and we were sitting fairly close and I didn’t smell any alcohol. Their eyes were clear, and they spoke well. 

Lennie then came by for his cigarette. He had been a Marine through special services. He spoke multiple languages and I knew it was true because we spoke French together and his French accent was good. He spoke Italian and German too. He had been an engineer but had been injured while in service. He showed me his scar. He wore it like a badge of honor. I asked if he was on disability. He said, “No. That ran out a long time ago.” So what made a man like this, a man who quoted John Smith, of colonial Jamestown, end up here?

“They prescribed Oxy and Vicodin after the second operation, I got hooked. I got into a rehab out here because my insurance was good. There were drugs and alcohol all over that rehab. I stayed sober if I could. No one was watching the hen house if you get my drift.” No. I didn’t get his drift. How could a rehabilitation center or sober house be riddled with drugs and alcohol? Weren’t these places regulated? Where were the professionals? Doctors? Therapist? “A doc would come by once in a while. We would get bused to AA meetings or NA. That’s about it.” He put out his cigarette and asked for another. I didn’t know whether to believe him or not. One thing I did know was addicts lie. 

I got a gentle tap on my shoulder around eleven and was told it was time to be on the other side of the fence. Lennie insisted on walking me through the parking lot. I was determined to get a mat tomorrow. I said goodnight to the ladies as Lennie walked me to my car. “You aren’t going to sleep in your car, are you?” “I think I’ll drive somewhere else,” I responded. “Don’t blame you. But be careful. You can’t just park anywhere and sleep. The cops will get you.” I waved good night and drove back up to the Top of the World. 

I was haunted and didn’t sleep well that night. I still hadn’t gotten Tim’s answer, but I had done enough. I spent hours down there and got a good feel for the place. But why were there so many homeless and so little mats? Were people being bused in? I didn’t know so I had to go back. 

I woke up the next morning and I still felt uneasy. Wasn’t sure I could muster the courage to go back down there. It was overwhelming. I had been so arrogant thinking I could handle this situation let alone come up with a solution. I persuaded myself to go down and get some answers. Talk to the employees. The workers, and who were those well-dressed middle aged to elderly people sleeping on the mats? They could easily fit in town and no one would ever know they were homeless. What was going on? I was going to get answers today. 

I was determined to get a mat this time, so I showed up early. I had brought more water, protein bars and cigarettes. I had my bedding and had already decided that I was going to give up my mat if I got one and just sleep in the corner. Dinner was given. I ate my bars. The food they told me, “was really good.” Some of the boxes of food said “Zinc” on them sometimes. I told Mary, “that is good food. I’ve eaten at the restaurant lots of times.” She said, “it’s a restaurant? Huh. Nice people to give us this food.” I agreed. After dinner, the movie “Groundhog Day” was playing on the TV. People gathered around. I had gotten a mat. I was excited and had already decided to sit between Dawn and Mary for the night. 

As everyone watched the movie, I spoke to some of the older people who had no interest in watching TV. I asked to sit next to a nice looking man I would guess was in his early seventies. He had neatly combed white hair, eyeglasses and a pressed shirt. He wore khakis and ked sneakers. He reminded me of my dad. I asked him how he got here. “I never left here. I’ve always been a resident of Laguna Beach.” I didn’t understand. He explained, “I still have a business in the Village but the rent went up, so it was either my apartment or give up my business.” “Couldn’t you live in a cheaper town and drive in?” I asked. “When my wife got cancer, the bills wiped us out. But at least she’s ok now.” He pointed to a lovely lady watching the movie.” Don’t tell anyone. People know me in this town.” I gave him my word I would not. 

I moved down to a woman who was sitting in a wheelchair. She was drastically thin, an African American woman who looked like she was in her seventies too. She wore scrubs and worn slippers on her feet. I asked her how she got here. She said she was from Spanish Harlem in New York. She had a niece who lived in Southern California. When she was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, she came to California where the weather was better. That didn’t make sense to me. “Why are you here and not at your niece’s house?” “Well. My cancer is now a stage 1. I don’t want to live with them and they don’t want me.” I asked why not, and she said, “Because of my schizophrenia.  “I act crazy sometimes.” What about medication I asked. “Can’t afford medication and the doctor who comes around here every once in while can’t write scripts.” What about MediCal? Special groups? Anything? “Where am I going to find a Doctor? I can’t keep anything down and I’m in this damn chair. I don’t have a phone and even if I did, who’s going to drive me back and forth?” She asked forcefully. It was at this time I got another tap I’m my shoulder. It was too early for lights out, so I didn’t know what was going on. It was one of two female employees. 

There were two women who worked until eleven each night. They called me into the office. I felt like I had been sent to the principal’s office. We sat down behind closed doors and I was asked if I was interviewing people. “Well, kind of,” I said. The other woman cut to the chase. “Are you Homeless?” After a pause, I fessed up. “No. But I am running for City Council and there is a rumor that the homeless from Newport were being dropped off here in Laguna Beach. I wanted to find out if that was true, but got sidetracked talking and listening to individuals and their life stories. “Is it true?” I asked. 

“Not as much as before,” the first woman said. “Maybe four times in the past year. But you don’t have the full story. There is a whole life that starts once everybody else in town goes to bed. All the police and the shelters are trying to do is get people off the streets. One homeless person at a time. Not more than that. It’s not like Laguna Beach homeless haven’t slept in Newport,” she said defensively. She continued, “There are no bad guys here. The Police are doing the best they can. I can also tell you there are anonymous vans that drop people off right before the gate and then take off. We have no idea who they are. The police aren’t the problem. I want to make that clear,” she said. “It’s clear,” I reiterated. “So, what’s the real problem you see?” I asked. 

They both sighed simultaneously. “We get paid minimum, so we aren’t doing this for the money.” That to me was clear. This was really hard work and the idea that these women were paid minimum wage or a few dollars above seemed ridiculous.  About 98 percent of the people there were white, roughly half middle aged or older. There seems to be mental health issues and addiction/self-medication, some PTSD and those who simply fell through the cracks. Then there were domestic violence victims. That surprised me. “Yes,” one of the ladies said. “The domestic violence residences fill up quickly, so women end up here.” “So, you have addiction, mental illness, domestic violence, PTSD and those who financially fell through the cracks all crammed together in a 45-bed area?” I asked. “Yup” was the response. 

“Do you really have people who have come straight from one of these fancy rehabs or sober houses?” I asked. “Oh yeah. Everyone knows those places just suck up your insurance and then kick you out.” “There is no supervision or counseling?” I asked. “Probably a doctor who shows up once in while like here, but they can’t write any prescriptions.” This was insanity I thought. “What if we had three boxes?” I asked. “Separating the severely mentally ill, addicts and those overwhelmed by financial hardship through medical bills or high rents?” “Yes!” They said in unison. “I’m sure you wouldn’t mind a raise either?” I asked. They laughed and said that would help too. I told them I thought the addicts should get medically supervised rehabilitation but if they relapsed, they should go to jail for 90 days. Second offense, 120 days behind bars. They both agreed only if the addict wasn’t really interested in getting sober. They did point out that there have been some success stories of addicts going to the Canyon Club (an AA meeting club nearby). These addicts would go to the Canyon Club during the day, sleep at the ASL at night, and would slowly straighten out their lives. Eventually they would move on after finding jobs and housing. Some even come back to volunteer.” “Our success stories,” one said. “So, there is hope?” I asked. “Hell yah!” The other answered. “If there weren’t hope, I wouldn’t be here.” “So, we need doctors to volunteer their time and write prescriptions.” I said. I told them I would investigate it. They were good people everywhere. We all agreed. 

“You can’t smush all these people together and not expect chaos,” one of ladies told me.” Made sense. “You know you can’t stay here, right?” The brunette asked me. “Yeah. I figured,” I replied. “But I wasn’t going to take a mat from anyone.” I gave it one last attempt. “I called the director and she said you still had to go. But thank you for checking out what we are doing here.” The blonde employee woman told me. “I wish I had more answers. This is just a band aid.” The other woman said, “Well, sometimes a band aid on an open wound is better than nothing,” said the other. I gave the rest of my cigarettes to Dawn and hugged her and Mary goodnight. Dawn said she was going to sell them. “Good idea,” I replied. Mary asked me if I would be back. I told her I would. 

I got in my car and quickly locked the doors. I was scared I would run over someone on the ground as I reversed. It was cold and my back window had fogged up. People started walking towards me. No one I recognized. I punched it into drive and took off. Couldn’t wait to leave. But now, I felt sick about feeling that way. Maybe that was progress after all. 

Allison Mathews

Laguna Beach


Obituary

Shirley Jean Shindler Dugger 

Obituary Shirley closeup

Click on photo for a larger image

Shirley Jean Shindler Dugger passed away on Monday, September 3, 2018. Shirley was born and raised in San Diego, but being the daughter of a naval aviator, the service life took her family to VA, FL and Panama while growing up. Shirley graduated from San Diego State University with a major in physical education. While in college, Shirley and some girlfriends spent Spring Break in Laguna Beach, where she met Thomas La Vern Dugger. Affectionately referred to as “Dugger,” he and his friend Jake Jacobson were lifeguarding at Main Beach. Shirley and Dugger struck up a love that lasted a lifetime. After graduation from college, Shirley went with her family to live in Florence and Trieste, Italy. While there, she skied Corina and beached at Sistiana. As fate would have it, Dugger wooed her back, so they could be married. For over 25 years, Shirley and Dugger raised their family in Laguna Beach.

After Dugger passed and their four children were grown, Shirley moved to Oahu, Hawaii, where she spent over 20 years. She loved the islands and the lifestyle.  Wearing shorts and flip flops year round. Walking Waikiki’s busy Blvd’s, watching fireworks and parades from her lanai. She enjoyed sharing these experiences with her good friends Eli Alexander, Juanita Westgaard, Rod and Sandy Riehl and many others.

Shirley’s friends and daughters were able to share fond memories before she left this earth to her next journey. She was a tea room model, a Hollywood extra, worked for Dilley’s book store and enjoyed her days working at Neiman Marcus. She loved to travel and some of her favorites were Tahiti, Indonesia, Switzerland and Rio. She had a very long, healthy and independent life, and she will be missed dearly by all who knew and loved her.

Shirley is survived by her daughters Carol Dugger Moore, Stacy Dugger and Sally Dugger; her son-in-law Tony Lythgoe, and her two grandsons Adam and Shane Dugger Lythgoe. She is now in the loving arms of her husband Dugger, son Dan and her dear friend Bea Miller Becker who proceeded her in passing by just a few weeks.   

In lieu of flowers, the family would be grateful for donations made to the “Dugger Family Memorial” c/o Laguna Beach High School Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 1569, Laguna Beach, CA 92652. This family scholarship is awarded annually to a graduating senior who has demonstrated traits of honesty, integrity and friendliness that describe Shirley, Danny and Dugger.


Laguna Beach should have an Ocean Commission

Other coastal cities like San Clemente and Newport Beach have Ocean Commissions or Committees. Laguna Beach, which is dependent on the ocean for its economics and quality of life, has none. 

A Laguna Beach Ocean Commission will monitor and post ocean conditions including visibility, surf height, local sea currents, pH (for acidity from climate change), chlorophyll plumes and sea surface temperatures to detect pollution. The Ocean Commission can also invite and sponsor scientists to live/study in Laguna Beach and track their specialty like kelp forests, tide pools, coastal estuaries, whale migration, sewage plumes, ocean warming, habitat restoration, ocean acidity, sea level rise in downtown areas and popular surfing spots, etc. and publish findings for community presentations.

The Ocean Commission can invite Coastal Commission Staff and Commissioners to regular coordination gatherings at The Ranch to put them front and center, as partners with others, in restoring the Aliso Estuary and Bring the Lagoon Back to Laguna! Open, regular communication would eliminate the unnecessary and expensive battles between the City and CCC, which a majority of Laguna and most California voters support over-overwhelmingly.

Let’s show our love and concern for the health of the ocean like neighboring coastal cities. In our election debates, seek ocean mindedness and ocean kindness.

Sound science should guide city policies.

Check it out: 

www.newportbeachca.gov/home/showdocument?id=85

www.san-clemente.org/i-am-a-/business/coastal-advisory-committee

Mike Beanan

Laguna Beach


Residents should attend this Saturday’s Special Council Meeting

Everyone who is concerned about property rights must show for the Special Council Meeting on Saturday, Sept 29 at 1 p.m. The Council will decide on the direction for our Historical Preservation (HP) Program.

The program proposed by staff and Village Laguna will continue the current failed and unpopular program. Registration applications have been falling for decades. Why? 1) The City requires a perpetual agreement that encumbers your property forever. No other city does this! 2) The most powerful incentive (Mills Act) is not available until after you encumber your property in perpetuity to the Heritage Committee (HC). 3) The HC is run by political appointees with little expertise. They have the power to impose subjective and arbitrary rules on your home, forever! Lagunans have voted by running away from this harmful process.

Now they want to force your home onto an inventory selected by a paid expert who lives far from Laguna. If your home was built 50 years ago you are “presumed historical”. No choice. You cannot remodel your home without doing an expensive and time consuming “CEQA review”. You will lose your property rights to obtain a traditional building permit. HC now controls your home.

There is a better way. 80 percent of the cities in California have no HP ordinance. Yet many have successful and popular preservation programs based on private incentives and voluntary participation. A good example is Anaheim. Their program is called “Freedom First”. Anaheim has five historic districts and over 350 Mills Act homes, a state record. Anaheim does not use the “hammer” of code enforcement to force you into preservation. They charge no fees and hire no consultants. Their staff is qualified to process applications. Local charitable philanthropies work with the City to encourage homeowners to participate. It works and can work in Laguna.

On Sept 29 please attend the Council Meeting. Urge them to transition Laguna away from the current unpopular ordinance and toward a new 100 percent voluntary, private incentive program that does NOT rely on code enforcement and criminal prosecution for failure to comply. The City has the legal discretion to make this decision. Just ask the 400 cities that have done it.

Doug Cortez

Laguna Beach


Inclusion on City’s Historical Inventory should be voluntary

Property owners should have to petition the City to have their house on the Historical Inventory!

The City should pay to have the property evaluated as to its historical value! The City has the discretion to make it a burden or an asset to have your house on the Historical Inventory.

Please take the time to read the City of Anaheim’s Historical Preservation Program! Totally voluntary!

Personally, I think that it’s morally wrong to force property owners to have to deal with CEQA. After reading the email from California State Historian Ron Parsons, “there is no legal requirement that a city have a registration program or an Inventory.”

Yesterday I was at the LB Community Center for the 10-year anniversary!

The center is the best thing the City has achieved since the creation of Main Beach.

Three “historical structures” were moved to the Canyon to rot!

A shame but best for the community.

The City should make an effort to let homeowners incorporate existing older structures into a livable modern home fit for a family! The City should “bend over backwards” to help owners! Not make it a nightmare.

When you sit in the Council Chambers remember this should be a plus for the homeowners not a burden.

Patrick W. Gallis

Laguna Beach


Know thy budget…

Before we know it election time will be fast upon us whether or not any of us are truly prepared to make our best decision as to whom and what we will cast our vote for. I have looked, listened, and read much about the many candidates who are seeking a seat on our all powerful City Council. My major concern with this election cycle is all about our City Budget and the money therein and how all of our tax dollars are not only collected but how and who makes the spending decisions from grants and gifts and all the basic costs to run our town.

Just how much do any of these candidates and current councilmembers actually know about how our budget works? I have been to the City Budget webpage more than once to take a look-see only to discover how complex this document really is. Indeed, it is a monster to wade through and attempt to have it make any sense. Just my review of over 250 pages led me to ask the question: does the right hand truly know what the left hand is doing and choosing? 

When any government needs more, “funds” (fees, really hidden as taxes and just ask Chief Justice Roberts) are increased to make costs work without knowing the budget well enough to determine where any possible reductions can be made or even cuts can be made. Just look at the costs for permits and the costly permit process as any of us attempted to improve our property. Look at all the fee increases from dog licenses to business licenses to the cost of a traffic ticket, all leading to greater and often times more unnecessary spending, even surpluses because the money is/will be there. 

Our small government tends to behave like most if not all governments. When additional funds are needed government will use the old gimmick of fear that public services will be cut or public safety will be put in jeopardy to convince taxpayers we need to ante up to save we helpless citizens. Our political leaders must first see where the money can be saved or even cut. Yes, candidates as well as current City Council members including all City Staff must have a meaningful understanding of our City Budget. During this campaign process, each candidate needs to be asked just how much of an understanding they have about our budget. My search for the best qualified three new City Council members continues and at the time I cast my vote I will be confident that those I support will know and understand this City Budget of ours and know how to keep our tax dollars safe as well as respected.

Jim Gothard

Laguna Beach

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