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Laguna Beach


Letters to the Editor

Agree, “when they’re gone, they’re gone”

Thanks to Mr. Johnson for his sympathetic account of the preservation community’s concerns about the Coastal Commission’s decision to make historic preservation largely voluntary in Laguna Beach (Feb. 11, 2022 edition). We share his disappointment and appreciate the acknowledgment that despite the city’s assurances that nothing will change, of course that is not true. As he says, when the historic properties are gone, they’re gone.

I do want to correct one statement. The new ordinance and other amendments to the Local Coastal Program are not limited to residential properties. They apply to all locally eligible historic resources including commercial properties (many of the buildings on Forest, Ocean and Coast Highway, for example), and civic buildings (such as the Municipal Water Building, next to City Hall). The transformation of Laguna’s built environment would extend well beyond its residential neighborhoods, affecting every aspect of our town if the changes are allowed to go into effect. 

Catherine Jurca

Laguna Beach

Mask mandate expires tomorrow

Beginning (tomorrow) Wednesday, everyone who lives in Laguna and is fully vaccinated and boosted can finally shop indoors again without face coverings. The only glitch is this: Unvaccinated people still will be required to wear masks indoors. Unless the unprotected are wearing something like a bright orange patch complete with the letters U.V. printed on them, how will anyone know who is and isn’t vaxxed? 

To date, millions of Californians have refused to roll up their sleeves and take the jab. Because I doubt any of them will wear an orange patch, I suggest that, once the mask mandate is lifted, authorities immediately begin to fine unvaccinated/unmasked indoor shoppers. How much should they be? Start at $250 for the first violation, followed by $500 for a second violation. A third violation would cost $1,000 and a fourth $2,000 plus 5 days in jail. 

Like a toll road payment, if a ticketed shopper fails to pay his or her fine within five days of it being issued, a 20 percent late fee automatically will be added to the total amount due. In my opinion, if the reluctants won’t get jabbed in the arm, then jab them where it really will make a difference – in their pocketbooks. 

This year marks the third year in our war against COVID. Now that three vaccines are readily available, the vast majority of hospitalizations and deaths occur among the unvaccinated. I, for one, don’t want to spend another day wondering if an unmasked shopper passing me in Ralphs or Hobie Sport is vaccinated or not. Starting tomorrow, I’m guessing fully vaxxed and boosted shoppers will feel the same way.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

Too many hoops are making my re-build difficult, and causing harm to our beaches and ocean

I love Laguna Beach and would like to make you aware of how the local government, in particular the Public Works Dept., are making decisions that are detrimental to our beautiful beach and ocean and are contrary to one of the prime directives of the California Coastal Commission which is to mitigate runoff that flows into our ocean. 

I am building a new home on my old home lot that I lived at for over 15 years. Despite approval by the DRB to have the mandated parking area be covered with permeable pavers, the Public Works Dept. has instead superseded this decision and states they want the area covered with asphalt or cement. This obviously creates more runoff which goes directly into the ocean instead of percolating into the ground the way nature intended. 

In addition, the heat emanated from such a hard surface contributes to the warming of our environment. This is not the first change they have made. Drainage from my home was initially to be managed by a large French drain, which was dug during construction and handled all rain runoff without issue, including during the most recent rainstorm during which we had more inches of rain for two days than we have had in over 20 years. 

Instead, they now want water collected in a tank and pumped uphill, to run down the street. This obviously creates more runoff directly into our ocean. 

Understandably, I am upset by these changes which have no basis on current recommendations by the California Coastal Commission and are obviously contradictory to best practices. I think we Laguna Beach residents need be aware of how the city government is making decisions that affect the quality of our beach and ocean in adverse ways. 

Thank you for your time.

E. Orrillo Blas, M.D.

Laguna Beach


In Memory of Henry “Lawson” Mead

November 12, 1941 – January 16, 2022

In Memory of Henry Mead

Courtesy of the Mead family

Henry “Lawson” Mead

Henry “Lawson” Mead, age 80, peacefully passed away on Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022, from complications with cancer, surrounded by his family and love. Born in Santa Ana and raised in Orange Park Acres, he attended Orange High School, and received his bachelor’s degree and law degree from USC. After Lawson’s year-long travel around the world, he was admitted to the State Bar of California in 1969 and practiced law until his retirement in 2015.

A resident of Laguna Beach for more than 50 years, he loved working in his landmark garden and sharing it with the community. His “Jungle with the Tarzan Tree House” at the intersection of Monterey/Locust received the Laguna Beach Beautification Council Award of Merit and was a stop on the Laguna Beach Garden Club tour.

A devoted father, brother, uncle and friend, he loved to entertain and bring people together. He is survived by his children James “Calvin” Mead and Danielle Bearden-Mead, his brother John “Calvin” Mead and his dog Crimson. In Lawson’s own words, “It’s been a slice a heaven.”

For information on his Celebration of Life on Saturday, Feb. 26 from 5-8 p.m., please join the Remembering Henry Lawson Mead Facebook Memorial Group. In lieu of flowers, plant a succulent and hug a loved one!


Letters to the Editor

Rather than censorship…dialogue

First off, kudos to Pastor Rod and the Neighborhood Congregational Church for inviting Allyson Allen and her quilts to the Bridge Hall space. I’m hoping this wasn’t the only invitation from community leaders.

The recent removal of the art exhibit at the Wells Fargo bank in Laguna Beach raised serious concerns among many of us as artists and members of the community. Upon reflection, I would like to suggest that both CAP and Wells Fargo missed an excellent opportunity to provide education and communication about censorship and the role of the arts and community arts organizations in today’s divisive and polarized society.

CAP states that its mission is “To increase the visibility and appreciation of art and serve as a catalyst for arts education.” It would seem that this event would have been an excellent opportunity to fulfill its mission on several levels.

What if, instead of pulling that pre-approved and city-funded exhibit, the key players, i.e., the manager of Wells Fargo Bank and the Board of CAP had engaged in a discussion to explore ways to allow a dialogue of the concerns/issues?

–What if the artist had been invited and agreed to a session that was open to community members, as well as artists, CAP members, etc. to review her focus and purpose for the exhibit, and a chance to respond to the bank’s clients who were uncomfortable with the show?

–What if Wells Fargo had designed signage that informed its clients that the show, on the second floor, was designed to address current political/social issues with which they might disagree, but that the bank, at the corporate level, had approved the show and felt it was of such a quality and integrity that they were committed to showing the work.

–What if CAP had assessed its own membership, prior to pulling that show, to get their opinions and recommendations as to where or how the show should be handled if WF insisted on pulling it?

Laguna Beach has several significant community arts organizations. Wasn’t it possible that at least one or more of them would have come to CAP’s side to support them? Are we all so wary of dissent that we won’t raise our voices when this type of censorship is allowed?

Surely we are capable of finding alternatives to ensuring that this type of censorship won’t become a common practice in a city dedicated to the arts.  Please reassure me that we can resolve such issues without backing down and out from commitments that were made in good faith with an accomplished artist such as Allyson Allen.

Regards,

Carole Zavala

CZ Associates

Laguna Beach


In Loving Memory

Steven James Hernandez

Sunrise, April 8, 1987 – Sunset, December 20, 2021

In Loving Memory Hernandez

Photos courtesy of Tony’s Treehouse

Steven James Hernandez

Our Treehouse Family is grieving a deep loss. My beloved nephew, Steven Hernandez, passed away on Dec. 20, 2021. He was 34, and like a son to me and Sue.

In honor of his big, loving life, we’ve started the Steven Hernandez Memorial Fund. We’re working out the details, who the Fund will help and how. 

Stay tuned.

Our Holiday Adopt A Family event photos taken by @PictureSomething will be shared soon on social media and email. We made our final gift deliveries on December 17, and for the first time, delivered a donated vehicle to one of our families in need. There’s a lot of good news to share, we’re just working with a broken wing right now.

Thank you for your loving support during this most difficult time for our Treehouse Family.


Letters to the Editor

“Voluntary” is the wrong approach for the historic preservation program

I have lived in Laguna since 1971 and share deeply with so many others an appreciation for Laguna’s exceptional village character, rooted in over a century of artistic and preservation-minded decision-making. I urge the Coastal Commission not to abandon this careful approach that has resulted in the city we enjoy today and reject the City of Laguna Beach’s proposed “voluntary” historic preservation program.

In 2018, I was a member of the Council-appointed Historic Preservation Ordinance Task Force, so I am familiar with the arguments of property owners who urged the City to adopt a “voluntary” ordinance. These are the same property-rights arguments that come up against all planning restrictions – whether they are zoning laws, subdivision laws, environmental requirements, pollution prevention, bluff top setbacks, or stream habitat preservation.

To be effective, an ordinance cannot be “voluntary,” requiring “owner consent.” Endorsing this limit on applying the California Environmental Quality Act, and on implementing adopted preservation policies opens a Pandora’s box. How many other laws should also be “voluntary”?

None of us are the last owner our properties will ever have. A decision to demolish a historical resource is irreversible and forever deprives subsequent owners and the public of the opportunity to experience our heritage. 

That was proven true in one example that played out while our hearings were taking place. A property owner had testified that the buildings on his property were not worth saving. He just wanted to sell it as a vacant lot because it would be easier and more profitable. Since the City’s ordinance is still in place he couldn’t demolish without environmental review. He put the property on the market and sold it for the asking price within a couple of days. 

The new owners were thrilled with the opportunity to own a historic Laguna home. They restored it and got the benefits of the Mills Act tax reduction. Without the City’s ordinance, this story would not have had such a happy ending, either for the original owner or for the buyers.

Both my office and my home are Laguna Beach historic register properties and I enjoy every day the experience of living my life within these heritage structures, while they are providing a sense of Laguna’s history to the public within neighborhoods of similar vintage. Let’s not foreclose those experiences for future residents and visitors.

Please direct the City to develop a truly preservation-oriented program.

Ann Christoph

Laguna Beach

Editor’s Note: This is an edited version of the letter Ann Christoph wrote to the Coastal Commission.

Don’t “wreck” our good thing at Vista Aliso apartments

Please don’t wreck Vista Aliso’s 72 senior & handicapped apartment complex on Wesley Drive. Once an elementary school, I believe it was closed in the 1970s.

A group of Lagunatics, including the vicar at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Bob Cornelison, got National Church Residences, a non-profit, to get a loan from HUD to remodel the classroom buildings into living units. They added one- and two-story apartment buildings, with the understanding it would be leased from the school system for 50 years. Vista Aliso apartments opened in 1989. 

Now there is talk the city might add a third floor to the two-story buildings. This is absurd. As seniors grow older in the complex, some want to move to ground level apartments. Where would the tenants live during construction? 

There is parking for 40 cars in the complex which often fill up by mid-day with visitors, in-home service people, visiting nurses, doctors, physical therapists, etc., with some having to look for parking outside the complex. This can be a real challenge during the summer and other times of the year. 

Where does the city plan to add parking for the new apartments when parking is already a problem, to the point that an electric gate now requires people to have a code or call residents from the gate?             

The Laguna Beach City Council should show some respect for the seniors and handicapped who live in the Vista Aliso apartment complex. Please don’t wreck a nice thing.          

Roger Carter

Laguna Beach 


Letters to the Editor

I’m protesting the removal of the protest art

I was horrified to read today that an art exhibit featuring protest art – quilts – and installed last week in our local Wells Fargo Bank has already been taken down owing to customer complaints. Is this an art colony in southern California or a redneck village in Mississippi? I’ve written to the spokesperson for Wells Fargo cited in your article to express my outrage.

Glenna Matthews

Laguna Beach

Wells Fargo was wrong to remove quilts

As a longtime Wells Fargo customer, I believe the bank made the wrong decision to remove Allyson Allen’s exhibition of quilts. Here’s why:

Beginning in 1980, my first wife and I created a contemporary art consulting business. We helped families and businesses collect works by David Hockney, Jasper Johns, Martha Alf, Richard Diebenkorn, Helen Frankenthaler, Ellsworth Kelly and many other terrific artists. In 1982, we published Andy Warhol’s 13-color silkscreen print of actress Jane Fonda.

Since seeing my first Jean Arp sculpture as a boy, my personal response to art always has been: Does it make me think? Pretty paintings of flowers or crashing waves are nice, but they don’t make me ask questions. While I probably wouldn’t have wanted to buy any of the “controversial” quilts Wells Fargo rushed to remove, I’m sure I would have had lots to think about had I seen them.

With this backdrop in mind, let me ask: Have you ever seen breakthrough works by Pablo Picasso, Frida Kahlo, Claude Monet, Marcel Duchamp or Jackson Pollock? Early in their careers, these masters were savaged by critics and the public; yet, they never stopped creating art.

I don’t know Ms. Allen, but hope this unfortunate experience doesn’t throw her off course. Just the opposite. I hope it motivates her to make bigger, bolder quilts in the future.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach 

No longer objective

I seldom read Stu News anymore.  Do you have a new editor?  Why the side comments? As others have mentioned, one expects a non-biased publication, which in the past, Stu News appeared to be. Perhaps, however, that is no longer your objective.

Judy Phillips

Laguna Beach

The paper has come alive

I just wanted to let you know what a “BREATH OF FRESH AIR” you and your writing is! I had been so wishing for many years that Stu News would come alive….and my wish has FINALLY been granted! THANK YOU.

Sam Goldstein

Laguna Beach

Correcting Councilman Blake on parking issue

Sara Hall’s article “Split Council approves updated Downtown Specific Plan” was very good but did not mention when Community Development Director Marc Wiener corrected Councilman Peter Blake on parking when a business intensifies use.

Many callers into the January 25, 2022 City Council Zoom meeting warned the City Council about intensification of use and parking. One resident said, “The changes in the parking element of the Downtown Specific Plan will enable developers to intensify use without properly mitigating the impacts it creates.” Apparently, the residents are better informed than Councilman Peter Blake.

Councilman Peter Blake exposed his ignorance about intensification of use at about 1:57 (see City Council meeting video here) into the meeting. After being corrected, he still voted to approve the revised Downtown Specific Plan. Revisions that are destined to aggravate parking, congestion, traffic and the livelihood of surrounding businesses.

Councilman Peter Blake: “Marc, I’d like to clarify something. It keeps being said that a retail place could turn into a restaurant without modifying the parking. Everything I know says that that’s false. If you’re a retail location and you decide that you want to open a restaurant at that retail location, you’re going to have to come up with parking, right?”

Community Development Director Marc Wiener: “So, under…with the updated downtown’s specific plan, it’s going to require three spaces per 1,000 sq. ft. of commercial floor area, regardless of the use, for most uses.”

Gene Felder

Laguna Beach


Letters to the Editor

Board of REALTORS® seeks support for Historic Preservation Ordinance

(The below letter and call to action was sent by the Laguna Board of REALTORS® to their members and any concerned Laguna Beach property owners. They are seeking support for the California Coastal Commission Final Review plus the Adoption of the City of Laguna Beach’s Historic Preservation Ordinance at the February 10 meeting.)

As you may know, many of our members worked passionately and diligently for years alongside residents of Laguna, city staff and city councilmembers to reshape the City’s Historic Preservation Ordinance (HPO) into a voluntary program that we believe will ensure Laguna Beach continues to be a vibrant, vital place to live and establishes a balance between private property rights while encouraging preservation of historic properties in town.

The HPO was adopted by City Council in 2020, but now stands a final review before the California Coastal Commission (CCC) on February 10th.

The CCC needs to approve the changes to the ordinance and the Board is asking for your support in this matter. We need our members and any other concerned Laguna Beach property owners to send letters or emails to the CCC prior to the meeting showing your support for the approval of the HPO. The commission pays serious attention to the concerns and opinions of their constituents. We have all worked hard to achieve this outcome and your participation is CRUCIAL to get this over the finish line.

Ways to take action:

1. Share this letter and the attached Sample Letter with your clients, colleagues and any concerned public you can think of.

2. Email or print/scan and send a letter (see link to Sample Letter) to the Coastal Commission expressing your support of the HPO to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and our CCC South Coast District Director Karl Schwing at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

3. Call the Coastal Commission to ask to participate in the meeting via Zoom on Thursday, Feb. 10  at 415.904.5202 // Agenda + virtual meeting info here: https://coastal.ca.gov/meetings/agenda/#/2022/2.

Please click here for Sample Call to Action Letter.

Thank you for your support with this matter – you make a difference!

Laura Baptista, President 

Madelaine Whiteman, President Elect

Kendal Clark, Past President

Marie Thomas, Director For Life

Dana Wall, Director

Geoffrey Dunlevie, Director

Reuben Gulledge, Director At Large

Traudi Hansen, Director

Jesse Brossa, Director

Gilda Duhs, Director

Kudos to Sara Hall for what she brings

I’ve been meaning to write a fan letter for months about Sara Hall’s columns in the paper, but alas! I haven’t seen her articles in the last few issues. I hope she is well and will be back soon to write her thorough recaps of topics under discussion in Laguna’s City Council and the City at large. Her reporting is missed.

Deborah Laughton

Laguna Beach

(Editor’s note: We couldn’t agree more. Sara is an important part of what we’re doing here at Stu News. Unfortunately, like so many, she too has been a little under the weather. The good news is SHE’S BACK and actively participating in today’s issue.)


Letters to the Editor

Village Laguna deserves better mention than being an afterthought

Village Laguna has been around for 50 years, with a long history of service to the community. It predates anything remotely associated with the popular understanding of a PAC (Political Action Committee), which exists primarily or even solely to influence elections. To put Village Laguna in the same category as, and almost as an afterthought to, the developer-funded reboot of Liberate Laguna (a.k.a. Laguna Forward, which seeks to wipe the past clean) is a disservice to the community.

Catherine Jurca

Laguna Beach

The passing of Jeff Sears

Sad news about Jeff Sears for sure. I’m glad my son, Spencer, had a chance to play for “Coach” in 2009 and 2010.

I played Little League baseball more than 60 years ago. To this day, I still can remember wearing my uniform hours before each game, hearing the crack of the wooden (not aluminum) bats, and crouching behind home plate in all my catcher’s gear. Although I eventually traded in my mitt for a water polo cap, I never stopped loving baseball.

My hope is Spencer’s teammates, and all of Jeff Sears’ players, for that matter, continue to love the game years after hanging up their cleats. I don’t know for certain, but it wouldn’t surprise me if “Coach” isn’t saying something like this now: “Over a lifetime, classmates, friends and business partners come and go, but baseball is forever.” 

RIP Jeff. You will be missed.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

Who knew, Wayne Thiebaud’s work was “licensed”

Thank you for the comprehensive article in today’s Stu News Laguna detailing the vast artistic contributions by the late California treasure, Wayne Thiebaud. I am writing to add one detail that the article fails to mention: Wayne designed the California Arts License Plate offered by the DMV. I thought this might be of interest to your readers.

Elyse Miller

Laguna Beach

Editor’s note: The California Arts Plate (below) was created through special legislation in 1994. Since then, the iconic image has become famous worldwide, and proceeds from the plate have provided millions of dollars to support arts programs in California.

Letter to the editor License Plate SNL 1.25

Courtesy of www.artsplate.org

Peace gesture apparently means anything but

I go to yoga to de-stress, to be among like-minded people who want to cultivate calm and goodwill. And yes, despite no clear studio policy, I wear a mask to protect myself and others while in class. So, you can imagine my shock and disgust when a woman in yoga class swore at me last Thursday for wearing a mask!

The incident unfolded halfway through class, when this woman returned from the restroom and started to close the sliding doors at the back of the studio, which were slightly ajar. I asked her if she would please leave them open, as I was very warm from wearing a mask. Apparently, these were fighting words, because her response went something like this: “So, you’re going to make all of us pay because you’re wearing a mask?” 

As she went back to her spot in the room, she yelled at me, “You should not be wearing a mask.” She repeated this a few times, like an ill-begotten mantra. The mood in the room was tense, the teacher didn’t say anything, and there were a few other people in the room wearing masks. I didn’t want to escalate the situation, so I simply said, “Peace,” and proffered the peace sign to her in a conciliatory manner. I sincerely meant this. I was trying to calm her down.

She gathered her belongings and as she stormed out of the studio, she leered at me with a chilling look of hatred and called me “a f—–ing hag.” 

One woman who was not involved in the confrontation, but who was wearing a mask, got very afraid. She was shaking. She voiced her fear to the teacher, who said to let it go. After the class, many of the women who took the class told me how sorry they were that I was aggressed. The teacher wasn’t one of them.

I reported the incident to the receptionist, who apologized. A group of women in the class stood by me and said the offender should be banned from future classes. I called the manager, who also apologized. Since the studio has no stated mask policy, I asked that their mask-wearing policy be posted in plain sight. I asked that they address the issue with teachers. I said that the teacher should have checked-in with me to see if I was alright.

After I did all this, I got an email from the teacher. She apologized for not taking action. As of today, I haven’t heard anything from the studio owner and the management hasn’t followed-up with me or instituted anything to stop this from happening again.

Clearly, the yoga studio isn’t responsible for this woman’s behavior. But their lack of any clear policy regarding COVID protocol contributed to the harassment. There is a mask mandate in the State of California right now. But in Orange County, many businesses ignore it. Everyone in that yoga studio should be required to mask-up – because COVID loves a crowded, poorly ventilated room. 

By many standards, this was a small act of aggression. But it demonstrates a much larger problem we have yet to resolve in this nation – the role of individual rights versus collective rights during a pandemic. I believe we all have a responsibility to do all we can to protect ourselves and others from a highly contagious, life-threatening disease. And that civil discourse with others should remain civil. 

Lisa Morrice

Laguna Beach


Letters to the Editor

Fewer tourists are the answer

We moved to our cottage in Laguna as a weekend retreat. But now cacophony: from the ever-encroaching sounds of skidding wheels and car horns, blasting as though they mattered, the sounds of accelerating motors, straining to get up that hill faster still, but why.

Builders are paid to build; contractors and business owners are paid to sell. The tract or venue is only significant if deemed to make a profit. Revenue over residents.

What will the quality of my life be, and that of my neighbors, and how will it be eroded by building up my village, creating parking lots, so surely, they will come, more tourists, more restaurants, more…more…more? How will an increase in bed taxes affect my quality of life? More police, more sanitation workers, more helpers to deal with summer traffic. More taxes to pay for less advantages for residents. Keep building more so more will come? Revenue over residents again.

I recall a LTE  in last week’s edition, written by Mr. Gene Felder. What makes our town vibrant? Is it all about eating and drinking, and roof-top gardens, and bands at night? Does being inebriated make you vibrant, and smashing a glass bottle on the concrete steps of a resident’s home create a sense of vibrancy? Yes, it happens. No more white washing. How about ripping out some freshly planted saplings? Another example of “vibrancy?” Inebriated tourists, happy at last to leave our city at 2 p.m. Why is the city council in denial?

Are we being pitched a sanitized version of reality when we listen to our outside consultants and city councilmembers wax on about the benefits of building and more-more-more tourists, and how underground parking is an answer? How the initiative simply isn’t financially feasible? Stop the histrionics of demanding a parking lot, when FEWER tourists are the answers. Don’t build more and more won’t come.

Hear the sounds of the seagulls and waves over the sounds of checks being written and cashed to buy another parcel and add another story…more density means more dough for whom? The residents? Why not put our heads under the vast amount of sand, and pretend we live in the matrix?

We must think Residents First. And then we must vote as if the future of Laguna Beach and our quality of life depended on it, because it does.

Jahn Levitt

Laguna Beach


Letters to the Editor

It’s been done before and worked, so we should do it again

May I provide perspective on the Laguna Beach City Council consultant’s report claiming any number of dire consequences if the Laguna Residents First initiative passes? I have a unique perspective because I live part time in both cities and I was part of the group that worked to pass Newport Beach’s smart growth Greenlight Initiative in 2000. 

The Newport Beach City Council also made all sorts of grim predictions if Greenlight was approved. We were told that we would have multiple elections every year, that the economy would die, that businesses would never stay in Newport and even that single family homes would be impacted by the initiative. That last statement was a bold-faced lie, but the City Council and their developer friends were desperate to say anything that would make people vote against Greenlight. 

We won that election with 66% of the vote because the residents realized that the City Council was in bed with developers and would never support the residents’ desire to stop overdevelopment.

Fast forward to 2022 and guess what? Newport Beach has a strong economy, businesses didn’t leave and the world as we know it didn’t end. We have had a grand total of three Greenlight elections in 22 years. It turns out that developers know how to read and figured out the requirements of the new law and they just planned developments that stayed within those boundaries. We have plenty of redeveloped buildings that are thriving and plenty of new development that is reasonably sized and economically sound.

Without Greenlight, Newport Beach would look a lot like Marina del Rey. Without the Laguna Residents First initiative, I’m concerned that Laguna Beach will begin to look like Newport. I hope Laguna residents will see that this is a good initiative that will protect Laguna’s charm and character and is deserving of their support. 

Susan Skinner

Newport Beach/Laguna Beach

Thanks to Russell for the Laguna Canyon Foundation piece

Many thanks for the wonderful December 28 article about the Laguna Canyon Foundation hikes. I have been hiking for several years with John Foley and thank you for giving him credit for the incredible photos he takes on all hikes he leads. I was very pleased that on the January 4 hike, which followed Dianne’s article, there were two new couples in the group, both of whom became aware of and interested in joining the hike because of the article.

Keep up the good work! 

Deborah Joyce

Laguna Beach

Initiative seems confusing, so read it closely

I always read things twice, especially if they are generated by Village Laguna. 

Over the years, I have discovered certain things that have given me concern – one big one was their effort to include more than 400 homes on the Historical List without notifying the owners nor getting their permission to do so. Yes, there are benefits to having one’s home on the Historical List but – without giving consent? 

Also, for many years they claimed that they were a nonprofit, when in fact they were making donations for political reasons, especially folks that they were supporting for city council. That oversight was corrected by saying that they are still a nonprofit mutual benefit organization (whatever that means). I still don’t know what their proceeds from the Charm House Tour are intended for. I had even checked on some of the charities that they claimed they donated to – however, in checking, some had no idea what Village Laguna is. 

Of course, for years they claimed that “Green trees don’t burn,” yet they do, as we witnessed in very horrific fires this year and last. 

I will stop here but I know there is more I could write about.

My main concern is for their Initiative that they claim they have the signatures to qualify for the ballot. It does seem confusing and even redundant in some areas. The city does have a height limitation so any new construction must meet that criteria as well as whatever the Coastal Commission has the power to do. 

In my mind, Village Laguna in trying to maintain control of our city, is limiting what can be built, as well as what needs change; our business buildings need to be brought up to standard and provide additional safety for customers, renters, etc. Some of our buildings are out of date including in South Laguna. 

I have heard complaints about all the tourists parking in South Laguna, using the public beaches down there and leaving a mess. Yet no concrete solution to solve that. 

Also, I would think that building a nice new fire station for the safety of the locals or a multi-level parking lot would enhance and bring safety to the community. We have a fire station on Top of the World, also in the Woods Cove area – they are not making any more noise there than they would anywhere else and can provide immediate services to those living close by. 

Other issues? Well, we can read and ponder before the election.

Now, we have Councilmembers Whalen, Kempf and Blake that have done (I may not agree with them all the time) so much and I do feel that they have the interest of the City (oops Village) at heart to provide necessary amenities, upgrades, etc. 

With many insurance companies pulling out of our town (this also happened in the 1993 fire when Ann Christoph was mayor), we are finally addressing some longstanding issues and getting them done through the Fire Prevention/Mitigation initiative. 

Other steps taken will also solve problems on projects previously delayed by the council under a Village Laguna majority when the cost kept going up with each “study” and the probability of injury or death as a result of negligence/delay went up as well. 

I hope the three members can get through this long-neglected list. I am a pragmatic person and this Initiative makes me very nervous as I don’t feel it will solve our problems and, in any case, certainly delay many important solutions.   

Please read it thoroughly and see if you can support it knowing the history of Village Laguna of putting off necessary actions for our town’s safety and future.    

Ganka Brown

Laguna Beach

Shaena Stabler, President & CEO - Shaena@StuNewsLaguna.com

Lana Johnson, Editor - Lana@StuNewsLaguna.com

Tom Johnson, Publisher - Tom@StuNewsLaguna.com

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor.

Michael Sterling is our Webmaster & Designer.

Mary Hurlbut and Scott Brashier are our photographers.

Alexis Amaradio, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Marrie Stone, Sara Hall, Suzie Harrison and Theresa Keegan are our writers and/or columnists.

In Memoriam - Stu Saffer and Barbara Diamond.

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