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Laguna Beach

Mobility keywords in 2019 LB Downtown Specific Plan

Here is a quick summary of mobility keywords found in the 2019 draft of the Laguna Beach Downtown Specific Plan (DSP): 

--Bike: 1

--Bicycle: 5

--Skateboard: 1

--Scooter: 1

--Pedestrians: 28

--Walking: 3

--Bus: 4

--Trolley: 17

--Shuttle: 4

--Transit: 26

--Transit Center: 6

--Rail: 0

--Lightrail: 0

--Park: 49

--Complete Streets Policy: 0

--Enhanced Mobility and Complete Streets Transition Plan: 0

--Parking: 411

The intent of our 2019 DSP is clear to me it seems. Once again our Laguna Beach Planning Commission seemingly denies solutions to Laguna’s mobility crisis by preserving 1950’s parking requirements (the same as Irvine’s), and denying mobility planning altogether.

Les Miklosy

Laguna Beach

Beware of Shiny Object: Proposed Permanent Installation at the Village Entrance

The proposal presented by the Arts Commission of TheEveryMan Pavilion on August 12 seemingly exposed a disconnect between the already designed and recently completed Village Entrance and what felt like a surprise proposal, an architectural feature that would require removal of much of the VE park. Marc Fornes skyped in from France, and described his project – a five-tented aluminum structure of highly colorful and shiny tiles, undulating above and casting shadows below – a beguiling form he has produced in multiple cities around the world in varying shapes, sizes, and colors. However, he struggled to say how this particular structure was unique for Laguna Beach. He stated that Instagram selfies assure him that his existing installations are a success, but this is a strange indicator of longevity.

Why the Arts Commission felt an international designer was the best choice for a local art installation is troubling. Surely there is a local artist or at least a California based artist who could honor our history, culture, and natural environment. Why didn’t the VE landscape design include a specific area for a public art installation? A more radical yet practical solution, in my opinion, would be to restore and repurpose the already existing and interestingly designed Digester Building. It would honor our town’s history, and possibly provide a much needed self-contained performance/workshop space for intimate settings. It would be unique to our town. What we don’t need, in my opinion, is a cookie cutter design of fabricated work, produced with absolutely no natural elements.

Public art can be very beneficial to residents and tourists alike if done appropriately. A simple idea is to annually commission a CA based artist to construct a temporary and appropriately sized artwork to be on display at the VE park, promoting and helping to support our local artists. Every year a new artwork would be unveiled creating a new opportunity with every arts season. Imagine several native Sycamore trees providing natural shade and subtle calm in the busy intersection of activity, rather than an artificial structure. Trees will require water, but so will the maintenance and cleaning of a large-scale metal and permanent installation in our saline marine layer environment for many, many years to come. In 20 years I’d rather be enjoying the beauty of mature native trees than a Shiny Object without, in my opinion, any relevance to our town. 

Kristy Melita

Laguna Beach

Village Entrance Pavilion

I can’t find enough words to express my objection to the proposed Village Entrance Pavilion. I’m someone who has been involved in the arts community for many years. I was a board member for Community Arts Project for several years. I’m a member of LOCA, FOA, LAM, Laguna Beach Live!, and many other nonprofit organizations. I also support the arts community outside of Laguna. (FYI to PB: I am not a member of Village Laguna, although I have been in years past.)

But suffice it to say that I think this pavilion is totally inappropriate for this proposed location for oh so many reasons that many others have noted.

Just because the artist is a world-renowned, award-winning designer doesn’t mean that we need to use this piece if it’s not appropriate for the space. If the Arts Commission is determined to erect this huge piece, it should be mandatory for it to be staked first so that all can get a feel for its enormity. I’d much rather see something more in keeping to the natural beauty that surrounds the Village Entrance and if you must use this extremely expensive pavilion, put it at one of the schools or parks. 

Trudy Josephson

Laguna Beach

Will Joe Walsh challenge Donald Trump?

Back in 1972, Pete McCloskey was a popular U.S. Rep. from my hometown of Palo Alto. Mr. McCloskey was so upset and offended by the actions of Richard Nixon that he challenged the incumbent president in the GOP primaries. He didn’t win, but he proved to be more than a mosquito on an elephant’s backside. 

This week, former Congressman Joe Walsh of Illinois announced he is considering challenging Donald Trump in the 2020 Republican primaries. My hope is he calls Mr. McCloskey before making his final decision. I’m not one to wager bets; however, having said that, I believe a Walsh campaign could prove to be more than a fool’s errand.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

School Board playing in mud?

I went to what for me was worst School Board meeting ever on August 13. Worst because as I saw and heard it, Board member Jim Kelly used the word “racism” to describe a fellow citizen’s comments at a previous board meeting, in what I believe was actually hate speech against that citizen.

Wolff, Normandin, and Vickers joined in accusing a neighbor of making racist comments, falsely in my opinion. Seeming desperation to silence dissent drove the Board to new low, in my opinion.

I know racism. Japanese occupied my island in WWII, and beat my dad for not bowing to a military officer. Yet, some Japanese secretly warned our people to escape genocide plans until liberation by America.

At the same time, 100,000 Japanese American families were imprisoned in concentration camps by FDR based on the color of their skin. This was the most racist act by any President since Civil War, in my opinion, especially when white German and Italian Americans from enemy nations weren’t herded into prisons.

In Guam, whites and some locals saw me as Filipino, and treated me as inferior. Filipinos endured U.S. and Japanese imperialism last century, and now human sex trafficking and sex tourism from Europe and America.

My respect for Filipinos includes my husband’s “uncle” Carlos DePlacido, one of Laguna’s unsung heroes who spied for the U.S. in the Philippines during WWII.

Racism against Filipinos and other Asian/Pacific peoples is one reason since the 1980s I’ve supported women leaders from the Asia/Pacific Rim like Congresswoman Amata Radewagen (R-American Samoa).

In 2019 I’m supporting Hawaii’s combat zone veteran and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) for the Democratic Party presidential nomination. Tulsi faces ethnicity based “birther” attacks because she was born in Samoa.

So when Kelly snarled “racism” about a woman who was a Board critic at the last meeting, I knew better. Real racism is race-based hatred expressed in word or act. In my opinion there was no racism at the July 23 meeting, just open discussion on complex choices and how best to serve students.

Such a shame to me for him and other board members to practice white privilege and misuse “racism” as hate speech, in my opinion, to falsely accuse. 

Now it seems Board member Kelly himself was sued by a Filipino who claimed that he got fired in retaliation for being a whistleblower. Worse yet was allegation Kelly practiced workplace racial profiling of Filipinos, seemingly based on white privilege notions of Filipino subservience, according to legal documents obtained.

That lawsuit was dismissed, but was this another abuse in academia covered up with cash in sealed settlement?

Regardless, allegations against Kelly in that court case recall a painful past for Asian/Pacific peoples in our town. So if Mr. Kelly was falsely accused in that lawsuit, he should know better than to falsely allege racism.

Instead the Board as I see it was pandering to white guilt to enhance its political image. But as we say back home, “You can’t get your hands clean by throwing mud at others.”

Lura Alokoa

Laguna Beach

Me, a racist?

I’ve been told that I seemingly have been accused of “racist” remarks by School Board member James Kelly, seemingly boldly seconded by members Normandin, Wolff, and Vickers.

I was called out not by name, but seemingly by reference to comments I made at the July 23 meeting. Kelly announced at the August 13 meeting, for public record, that he was passing out a transcript of what he believed to be a racist statement, and that transcript seemingly included my comments.

After reviewing the record it is my opinion, as well as many others, that there is no doubt the focus of the Board majority’s allegations of racist speech include my statements.

Taken together the remarks of Kelly, and Wolff in particular, are what I regard along with many others as wild accusations. In the opinion of all I have spoken with it was cowardly, clumsy, and politically amateurish for these Board members to refer to comments spoken as “racist.”

Accusing me or others who spoke at the July 23 meetings of racist speech based on the transcript Kelly passed is, in my opinion, a clear, and even textbook example, of orchestrated politics of personal destruction.

In the opinion of many it was an obvious unethical tactic to divert public attention from the debate over what has, in community perception, been controversial conduct in which the Board seemingly has been repeatedly caught red-handed. Ironically, this only reinforces the perception of political retaliation tactics by the Board and Superintendent, it seems. 

Additionally, I question the seeming duplicity of Kelly, who himself was accused of racist speech, ethnicity discrimination, and retaliation against a whistleblower alleging fiscal mismanagement in a lawsuit. Naming Kelly in his role as President of Menlo College, as reported in a San Mateo County Times article at the time, Kelly was accused in the lawsuit of stating to the Filipino plaintiff’s domestic partner that “he liked Filipino employees because he ‘essentially found them more easily instructed and loyal than other employees’”. That lawsuit seemingly did not go to trial and was settled under sealed terms, rather than a public determination that he had not practiced workplace discrimination based on racial stereotyping.

I spoke at the July 23 School Board meeting and questioned why the district was spending money translating two puff stories into Spanish for their glossy public relations pamphlet, instead of spending money on reinstating videotaping their meetings. I asked how many children that use of funds would actually benefit, and whether proper emphasis was being given to ensuring all students are also able to speak English as a skill to be successful in America.

My concerns are informed by my Latina daughter-in-law who tells me in addition to bilingualism she would have benefitted from better English language education. My grandchildren will be of Latino descent. I speak Spanish with my daughter-in-law’s family when I visit their country. My father was an ESL teacher in San Diego after he retired.

To characterize my comments as racist me a racist for questioning why they spent money recklessly and not on what matters to the community, in my opinion, makes me wonder what cross-cultural experience informs what is regarded by me and many others as the accusatory hate speech of four School Board members against me.

Michèle Monda

Laguna Beach

The people elected Dee

As a parent and a resident of Laguna Beach, I was shocked to see the Laguna Beach Unified School District’s decision to create a secretive subcommittee that excludes board member Dee Perry from participating in critical board business. I cast my vote for Dee Perry in 2018, not because I saw her as a voice of disunity, as several members have portrayed her, but because I felt she had the brightest vision for our students, and the strongest record as a teacher in the district for 35 years. The voters of Laguna Beach easily re-elected board member Perry because so many of us feel she puts the students first, always meeting with constituents and asking questions about how board policy would impact our kids every day in the classroom. In her tenure on the Laguna Beach Unified School Board, she has championed transparency, and focused on the big picture time and time again. This is a voice that I, and the voters of Laguna Beach have affirmed we want to be a part of the conversation shaping our children’s education. I feel the Laguna Beach School Board should respect the voters of Laguna Beach, and reverse their decision to exclude council member Perry from the subcommittee on confidential information. 

Jennifer Kinnier

Laguna Beach

Four-letter words

Today’s world is filled with four-letter words like mine, they, them, hate, and kill. Others include vice, sick, zero, and loss. The three I’m keeping my eye on are vote next year. Oh, and don’t forget love. That trumps them all.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

Response to Ganka Brown’s letter

I support William Kail’s original letter and appreciated what feels like his intelligent, logical, and common sense approach in his response. 

After reading Ganka Brown’s letter, I had to respond. Firstly, statistics are greatly suspect without context or further explanation. A quick internet search shows that there are many different stats floating around as there is no aclegal definition for the term “mass shooting.” 

Secondly, it is a fact that both the Senate and the House had Democratic majorities in Obama’s first two years in office (from 2009 to 2011) so, in my opinion, he had ample time to sign gun control legislation if the majority of Congress wanted to enact such legislation. Even after that, the Senate had a Democratic majority until 2015 (almost the entire eight years that Obama was President. Bringing up the NRA doesn’t much matter, in my opinion, unless both political parties owe them their allegiance in some manner and that isn’t a political party or Presidential issue.

Thirdly, Trump ran for President on a platform of voting out a lot of the legislation that Obama signed while he was President so that shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone. In my opinion, that’s why so many people voted for him as they weren’t happy with how the previous Administration handled things.

Fourthly, many people, including myself, saw Obama as being weak, ineffectual, and constantly apologizing for and blaming the United States for all the global problems instead of being a strong leader who loved America and wanted to do what was best for our Country and our people.

Lastly, in my opinion, mass shootings are not the fault of the President any more than drunk driving collisions, burglaries, or any other crimes are. In my opinion, we will always have evil and mentally ill people in the world no matter what legislation is done. If you blame President Trump, you’d also have to blame Obama, Bush, Clinton, Bush Sr. and every other President we’ve ever had who has had a mass shooting while he’s been in office. In my opinion, that would be rather ludicrous. Maybe we should do a better job of preventing evil or mentally ill people from being able to harm others by allowing more law-abiding, sane people to carry weapons and eliminating gun free zones where, in my opinion, most of these mass shootings occur.

Gary Zaremba

Mission Viejo

Toni Morrison – A Nobel lesson for all

Remembering those who shine light on being vigilant, have courage to call out injustices and stand up for the good that gives meaning and purpose to life, Toni Morrison, in her Nobel Prize in Literature 1993 speaks eloquently, fully knowing what weight words have, a reminder of what a life well-earned means. Her message is ours to remember and carry forward and stand against those who are not representing the public, rather pandering to power brokers using their position to bully and demean others to enhance their own power.

On August 6, it seemed to happen (again) here, during the Joint Council/DRB meeting and later (on video) as a councilman pointed at the public, spewing out that they were “obstructionists” for expressing an opinion that differs from his. The rants continued without a timeout, or a gavel brought down on inappropriate behavior.

No one, Council or public, should tolerate this without speaking up for what, in my opinion, it is: inappropriate and beneath the dignity of public office. What Toni Morrison writes applies as much to the capital as Laguna, wherever what is said or action apply reverberates and reflects who we are individually and collectively: 

“Oppressive language does more than represent violence; it is violence; it does more than represent the limits of knowledge; it limits knowledge. Whether it is obscuring state language or the faux-language of mindless media; whether it is the proud but calcified language of the academy or the commodity driven language of science; whether it is the malign language of law-without-ethics, or language designed for the estrangement of minorities, hiding its racist plunder in its literary cheek – it must be rejected, altered and exposed. It is the language that drinks blood, laps vulnerabilities, tucks its fascist boots under crinolines of respectability and patriotism as it moves relentlessly toward the bottom line and the bottomed-out mind. Sexist language, racist language, theistic language – all are typical of the policing languages of mastery, and cannot, do not permit new knowledge or encourage the mutual exchange of ideas.”

Regardless of political or social alignments, the public and its representatives deserve mutual respect. It is not necessary to agree, but the ability to encourage dialog builds and holds a community together, not in one voice, but through many voices, creating understanding and displaying what representation means. It is incumbent on those who hold public office, elected or appointed, be held accountable. 

Leah Vasquez

Laguna Beach

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