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Laguna Beach

Thank you Barbara Diamond and Stu News

LOCA Arts Education sends a big thank you to Stu News and Barbara Diamond for her excellent story on the LOCA Birthday Bash. Readers were thrilled!

Barbara is a wonderful person, a great reporter, and an asset for our community.

LOCA’s fundraiser was the most successful to date, and we are thankful to Stu News for sharing our stories with the public.

Thank you!

Mike Tauber

Laguna Beach

Please hire/rent/produce/raise/artificially inseminate more goats

Sorry to read the article on the overly “energetic” young men harassing the goatherd. But, can we impress upon those in control, whoever “they” may be, of the use, assignment, budget, designation, and location of the goatherds that more are immediately necessary. 

Your article said we have had up to 600 goats in the past. Never saw that many but now is the time to start emergency allocation, emplacement, and acquisition. It seems that at least tripling the number of herds and herders is immediately mandatory to quickly circumnavigate the city, without limitations. The dry season began this week. To wit: look at the use of up to 10+/- workers trimming down the weeds just alongside the roadway in Park Ave Arroyo and they have spent at least three days to date with weed wackers without being able to finish the job and that is only alongside the road. We need attention now! No Paradise, Calif. here please!

As an aside, maybe we can assign punishment to the harassers of the goats to pick up the “droppings” that so offended a Council candidate and her sensibilities of the environmental pollution, to clean up after the goats, if they can differentiate those from the poop of the squirrels, raccoons, rodents, rabbits, coyotes, deer, etc. After all, recycling this naturally organic fertilizer from regurgitation of the existing flora into the hillsides imaginatively pristine from invasion of the original native vegetation, whatever that may be, since the pre-advent of the “native” California Indians/natives invaders from Asia, may be destructive after all these years.

Please redirect and reallocate assets now... ASAP! Only they can prevent/limit wildfires!

Byron Nelson

Laguna Beach

School Board rookie strikes out

School Board member James Kelly showed up at a meeting and voted with the Board majority to repeal the rule that everyone I know feel was breached by the Board when supposedly electing the current President. At the same time Kelly writes letters to Stu News touting what we all support that is good about our schools.

Kelly’s message seems to be that strength in many areas and re-accreditation justify an illegitimate Board vote on its officers.

Our community funded schools spend over $60 million a year for a small school system, we darn well better get re-accredited and win outstanding school awards. Teachers, students, and parents get credit for success. The job of the School Board and LBUSD staff is to deliver resources and support for quality classroom learning on time in compliance with school rules.

Spending twice per student over comparable districts, some argue tangible metrics should at least equal districts spending far less. Not the case, especially in math. Even if tax dollar investment were yielding greater intangible well-being returns for students, teachers, and families, that wouldn’t justify shoddy governance practices.

A vote conducted for all other Board members one way but differently for the one independent outspoken member discriminatorily denies equal rights to represent voters. If Board majority wanted to change its election rules, time for that was before election, as Board member Perry correctly argued.

Repealing the rule after breaking it confirmed rather than cured the defect. Kelly was absent when Perry urged the Board that it needed to follow its rules if it expects the same of parents, students, teachers, and the public.

We hear Kelly’s missed multiple meetings since being elected, missing dozens of votes, except he made it to vote for repeal of the violated rule after the fact. I hope unverified but widespread reports of business and another place of residence elsewhere impeding his Board service are not true.

What’s wonderful about our schools doesn’t warrant rationalization for failure to address real problems degrading good governance and civic culture of community education.

The idea high achievement justifies breaking rules is not only a bad civics lesson for students, it seemingly is precisely the mentality that led to the college admissions scandal implicating seemingly hyper-aggressive parents acting out as school boosters in our town.

Instead of telling us to move on Kelly needs to show up and stand up for following rules, not bending rules to circumvent not redeem the promise of democracy.    

Christopher Kling

Laguna Beach

No threatening political language in Laguna

Politics is a contact sport. Candidates understand there is no trophy for simply showing up. With these thoughts in mind, is it any wonder chants like “Lock her up” and “AOC sucks” are heard at GOP political rallies coast to coast? In my opinion, it’s all part of the coarse, win-at-any-cost mentality that has engulfed our country since 2016. 

Having first moved to Laguna in 1970, I have attended my fair share of city council meetings. My memory is far from perfect, but I never remember residents being so worked up about an issue – from the height limitation referendum to various tax increases to the village entrance and more – that they chanted anything like what we are hearing now on a daily basis.

With apologies to the council members I won’t be mentioning, imagine how shocked we would be if people started yelling “Lock Toni up” or “Peter sucks” every other Tuesday. Frankly it’s unthinkable, which begs the question: If people from both sides of the political aisle wouldn’t put up with it here at home, then why aren’t good, decent Republicans just as horrified about what they are witnessing on a national level?

I grew up in a political family. My father was a delegate to the 1952, ‘56 and ‘60 Democratic National Conventions. Two weeks before entering the 7th grade, my dad introduced me to then-Senator John F. Kennedy. I never will forget shaking the hand of the future president at the San Francisco Airport. 

After graduating from Stanford in 1959, my older brother worked for Senator Clair Engle on Capitol Hill and decades later was picked to be a federal elector in 2000 and 2008. For my part, I served as a staff assistant to Rep. Don Edwards in 1972, and as a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee in 1974.

In stark contrast to what I have seen these last two years, I believe in civil discourse and the need to protect people’s right to vote. Call me a dinosaur, but aren’t these the fundamental building blocks of American democracy?

Threatening one’s political opponents with jail or worse is what dictators and unruly mobs do in other parts of the world. We never would allow that here in Laguna, so why is it acceptable, no encouraged, at GOP rallies in Michigan or Pennsylvania for example?

Mindful that celebrities like Kathy Griffin and Madonna have made outlandish statements of their own, let me remind you neither has resulted in ugly chants by tens of thousands in an arena. That said, I invite my Republican friends in town to respond to my question.

Denny Freidenrich
Laguna Beach

Bluebelt supports AB 65 (Petrie-Norris) for sea level rise and green infrastructure

The Laguna Bluebelt Coalition supports AB 65 to significantly invest in the use of natural, or “green,” infrastructure along the coast of California.

Working together with individuals and organizations, the Laguna Bluebelt Coalition is dedicated to protecting and restoring Laguna Beach’s State Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) with natural processes. Restoration of tide pools, wetlands, and kelp forests capable of sequestering atmospheric carbon is the foundation for coastal green infrastructure. Key to our success is improvement in ocean water quality by reducing anthropogenic impacts such as urban runoff and secondary sewage discharges along the coast.

A dramatic increase in local marine mammal strandings and deaths is alarming evidence we must take multiple steps to address Harmful Algae Blooms (HABs) fed by “nutrient-rich” discharges. As HABs die off, oxygen is removed from seawater leading to Domoic Acid (DO) poisoning of thousands of fish and marine mammals. Dense HABs also retain heat adding to recent elevated sea surface temperatures as ocean waters expand, much like slowly boiling water in a pan, leading to sea level rise.

Along with companion legislation introduced by California Senate Majority Leader Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys), SB 332, the Local Water Reliability Act would reduce the amount of treated wastewater dumped into the ocean each year and set bold goals for recycling and reuse consistent with Laguna Beach’s September 16, 2014 Resolution to Modernize the Coastal Treatment Plant.

AB 65 will continue to broaden California’s diverse approach in mitigating climate change, as there is no one solution to this developing crisis. A healthy ocean determines California’s thriving economy and world-class quality of life. The State’s economy depends on a sustainable ecology and courageous leadership.

The community of Laguna Beach will suffer enormous consequences as rising sea levels inundate lower elevations in the downtown areas and beaches. Local coastal properties will also be impacted along with our health in the presence of HABs and Domoic Acid outbreaks. Legislation, such as AB 65 and SB 332, is essential in shaping the future and health of Laguna Beach’s legendary Bluebelt ocean waters annually attracting over 6 million visitors from around the world.

As we integrate land and ocean systems with sound science, multiple tools, techniques, and technologies implemented with a sense of urgency can support investments in green and gray infrastructure to preserve and protect the California coast.The Laguna Bluebelt Coalition supports AB 65 and remains ready to add to this landmark effort whenever and wherever is necessary. Please join us to support green investments.

Mike Beanan

Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach social narcissism reaches new heights

Is the city really having a highly politicized police car design contest, being decided by what options get the most audience “Likes” on social media? Can’t believe this is actually an issue, or that inane ideas about it are being taken seriously enough that friends asked me to take the time to address it.

If the city staff spends any time or effort pandering to ideological extremism over this issue, for letting that happen the City Manager should have to wear a dunce cap at the next Council meeting. Everyone has a right to their own opinion, but that doesn’t make everyone’s opinion right.

Let people think and say whatever they want. But the new police cars are already in service with no harm to anyone, and the official act of removing flag inspired design is far more provocative and political than leaving well enough alone with police car design that expresses the character of our town in a non-political way.

The flag is not political, only ideology about the flag is political. Not one dollar or one minute of city employee time should be expended on this topic. The city should not mollify people who think self-indulgent solipsism entitles them to impose on others their subjective ideological rumination about red, white, and blue accents being “nationalistic” in a negative sense or anti-immigrant.

We can’t let socially distraught haters take away our love of country because they are unable to cope with the admittedly stressful times of shifting political paradigms in which we all live. Especially those of us whose families include recently naturalized immigrants who still feel the swelling pride experienced taking the oath of citizenship, and know the flag transcends politics.

Our town is a political subdivision of a nation, state, and county. Laguna Beach hosts international visitors, but it does not have an international status that makes the indicia and insignia of our nation incongruous with its status. Any visitor who does not want to be reminded this is America is free to leave.

If displaying national colors on a city vehicle is culturally offensive then the city of Calgary in Alberta better re-paint its cop cars too. Even little police smart cars patrolling schools and neighborhoods bear city and province colors, as well as Canadian national flag.

Calgary hosts people from all over the world for the Calgary Stampede every summer. Somehow being good hosts and signifying local, state, and national unity in public safety and security is part of humanizing not dehumanizing the police.

What about Amsterdam, Netherlands, one of the ten most international cities in the world, where the Dutch are unsurpassed in multiculturalism? Amsterdam’s police cars boldly display city and national colors in an artistic design-forward array explicitly and intentionally symbolizing mission integration by joint national and local police.

And for all our fellow Americans who hold out Finland as a socialist paradise where the quality of life is higher and all needs are met for free, be advised the police cars in the capital of Helsinki also pronouncedly nationalistic, bearing only the two colors of the “Blue Cross” on the national flag.

As a former U.S. Navy JAG officer and treaty negotiator, I’d like those who claim our police vehicles violate the Flag Code as adopted by Congress to provide citations supporting that interpretation. I have more than a passing familiarity with the Flag Code, having worked with U.S. State Department Office of Protocol officials staging treaty-signing ceremonies in over 20 countries in which flag display issues always arose.

As I would interpret the Flag Code, the city of Laguna Beach is not displaying a U.S. flag on the side of its police vehicles. Rather, it is using an abstract artistic image evoking the Stars and Stripes as design art to enhance the visual optics of its public mission statement lettering. That fittingly expresses the heritage of our town as home to fine arts festivals that bring most of the international visitors that come here.

No doubt those who object to the LBPD police car design also object to U.S. flag patches on local police uniforms. The logic of opposition to our new patrol vehicles would make flags on uniforms equally if not more menacing. Yet, flag patches on local city police uniforms are explicitly authorized under Sec. 176(j) of the Flag Code.

Again, the graphics applied by LBPD do not constitute display of a flag on the side of a vehicle. This is lettering with our national colors and abstract visual reference to the Stars and Stripes to accent lettering evoking our town’s unique art colony heritage. 

Howard Hills

Laguna Beach

New police cars are not reflective of spirit of Laguna

Laguna Beach has been a leader in so many ways, concern for the environment and preservation of the village character just to name two.

The new design for the police units, with a special emphasis on a cartoonish American flag, is so out of step with the Laguna citizens take pride in. As a veteran, it pains me to see our flag trivialized in such a way.

I understand the City Council approved this dramatic change, but I hope there can be a review and a change to a design more reflective of our town.

Dan Kenney

Laguna Beach City Council – 1982-90
Laguna Beach Mayor – 1984, 1987

Thank you for fire safety presentation coverage

Thank you for your comprehensive article about the City’s presentation on fire safety March 25th and a big thank you to Village Laguna for having the forethought to invite the City to the March general membership meeting to present findings from their visit to Paradise.

Because of all the rain we had this winter and the fuel it has produced, Laguna should be as prepared as possible for the coming fire season. The City’s presentation covered what the City and we, as individuals, can do to best prepare for an emergency.

I encourage other organizations to follow Village Laguna’s lead and ask the City to present this important information at their meetings.

Anne Caenn
Laguna Beach

Impeach Donald Trump?

Not long ago, several of my Democratic friends in town thought it might be possible to impeach Donald Trump before the end of 2019. Having not only lived through Watergate, but worked at the Democratic National Committee during the infamous hearings, I reminded my friends that even if the House voted to impeach the president this year, there is no way the Senate would vote to convict 45.

My friends’ reactions were somewhat predictable: First, what happened to the liberal they all remember; and second, don’t I think Trump deserves to be impeached? Once I gathered my wits, I answered along these lines: Regardless how I feel about Trump’s tenure in office, being liberal is a great motivator but being experienced is an even greater teacher.

With this last thought in mind, I am all for “impeaching” The Donald, but not via Congress. I want to beat Trump on election day 2020.

Notwithstanding Robert Mueller’s findings, or lack thereof, I honestly believe Democrats have a great chance of booting the president and his political apologists, like Senators Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham, out office 20 months from now. I also know what it will take to accomplish said goal/s.

Inflamed, liberal talk – like the kind we have been hearing from some new members of the House – most likely will invigorate a portion of the Democratic base, but it also runs the risk of alienating political moderates and potential GOP swing voters. With everyone in line, victory could be ours. Without them, I believe Trump could prevail next year.

Without sounding like an elder, but at 70 I guess I am, here is my Rx for 2020: First, if a Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker or Beto O’Rourke is picked to head the ticket, then he must select a female running mate; second, if an Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren or Kamala Harris wins my party’s nomination, then she cannot pick a female running mate; and third, one of the Democrats on the ticket needs to hail from the Midwest.

Beginning with the 2000 Gore v. Bush election, I have urged all presidential candidates to announce their running mates and other possible cabinet picks, like Secretary of Defense or State, long before the national nominating conventions. Why? Because voters deserve to know more about Oval Office hopefuls than just their positions on the issues. They also should know which insiders a new commander-in-chief would turn to for advise and counsel. Which begs the question: If he gets in the race, is this why Joe Biden is rumored to be considering naming Stacey Abrams as his running mate now?

The late, great Will Rogers used to say, “I’m not a member of any organized political party…I’m a Democrat.” In some ways, this still is true today.

What’s also true is Rogers’ other famous quip: “Democrats never agree on anything, that’s why they’re Democrats. If they agreed with each other, they’d be Republicans.”

My hope is my Laguna friends who want to impeach The Donald will focus on what is possible, not what makes a great sound bite. I’m all for “impeaching” 45; but, since it is never going to happen in Congress, and we need an alternative. With this thought in mind, it’s time to unite around the singular task of beating Donald Trump on election day 2020.

After that, there will be plenty of time for Democrats to act like Democrats.

Denny Freidenrich
Laguna Beach

More than your fair share of taxes

It’s tax time and if you feel like you’re paying more than your fair share, it’s because you are. But it’s not what you are thinking. I’m talking about a local problem, not your federal or state taxes. That’s a whole other kettle of fish.

What I’m talking about is the fact that those millions of annual visitors to Laguna not only add to parking, traffic and congestion problems, but they also are not paying their fair share of what they cost the city to provide all the extra services they require.

According to my analysis of the city budget comparing revenue the city receives attributable to visitors and costs the city incurs attributable to visitors indicates a shortage of more than $20,000,000 per year. Simply stated, the revenue the city receives from visitors does not cover their costs and the residents make up the shortage, subsidizing visitors and the local businesses that are here primarily to serve visitors.

This is about $2,000 per year that the average Laguna household pays the city that should instead be paid by visitors.

What would we do if the city found a solution? For one, we could ask for a $2,000 per household annual refund. If you don’t think the city is likely to issue refunds, the least we could expect is that the money would be used to enhance the quality of life for residents and probably the tourists too. So, everyone should be happier if the city could come up with a solution. 

And there are solutions. There have been suggestions of generating more revenue from sources like parking or from other types of use taxes. Other cities are adopting programs like congestion pricing.

But there are other, relatively easy ideas like simply removing the cap on business license fees. As is, Laguna’s business license fees are modest and generate less than one percent of the city government’s revenue and represent only a small fraction of one percent of sales revenue of businesses in the city. The average fee is about $232 per year per business. 64 cents per day. Considering Laguna businesses report over one-half billion dollars of annual revenue, $232 doesn’t seem like a lot.

The fees charged by Laguna for business licenses are calculated on a sliding scale and the rates vary by type of business. The idea of the sliding scale is that businesses with higher revenue would pay a higher fee, but it doesn’t work that way because the fees are subject to a maximum or a cap. So, with the cap, it is reasonable to surmise that some of the smallest businesses may be paying the same business license fee as some of the largest. That doesn’t seem fair to the smaller businesses. And it artificially limits revenue for the city from larger business.

Why not remove the cap? At least on businesses that are mostly here for visitors. Seems fair. And it might generate a little more revenue attributable to visitors to cover some of those costs attributable to visitors.

Paying your own taxes is bad enough. Why should you be paying taxes that someone else should be paying?

John Thomas

Laguna Beach

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