Laguna Beach

Police Files

Rollover Range Rover, careening drunk driver hits Audi, flipping on impact 

On Wednesday, June 6 at 9:30 p.m., LBPD police and fire personnel responded to South Coast Highway at Mountain Street for the report of a rollover vehicle collision. Emergency personnel arrived and found that a Range Rover, which had been traveling southbound on Coast Highway, had struck an unoccupied parked Audi.

“The impact from the collision caused the Range Rover to flip onto its side. The driver of the Range Rover was extracted from the car,” LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said. “She was not injured but was visibly intoxicated.”

The inebriated 51-year-old woman, a Laguna Beach resident, was charged with her first DUI. Because of the collision both southbound lanes of South Coast Highway were closed, and traffic was diverted to Glenneyre Street for one hour, according to LBPD. Bail was set at $2,500.

Police Files Crash

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Courtesy of LBPD Facebook Page

Local intoxicated 51-year-old woman is arrested for DUI when she rolls over her Range Rover in a collision with a parked Audi

Egg on his face, adult male arrested on outstanding warrant after allegedly throwing eggs at cars

On Monday, June 4 at 1:54 a.m. at the 200 Block of Oak Street, a local man was busted by local LBPD after reports that he and his buddies, all adult males, were throwing eggs at vehicles. What sounds to be reminiscent of a coming of age movie by filmmaker John Hughes, his story was not so “Pretty in Pink.” 

Rather Cory Robert Richins, 31, of Laguna Beach, was more the lead in the male version of “Orange is the New Black” as two of his co-stars went free, for egging and pegging cars on Anita Street and Glenneyre Street, while Richins was arrested on an outstanding OC warrant. Bail was set at $5,000.

Fire Files

LBFD quickly extinguishes several brush fires near Laguna Canyon Road Wednesday

Less than five days after the Aliso Canyon fire started, LBFD sprang to action and quickly put out several brush fires near Laguna Canyon Road Wednesday.

LBFD, LBPD, and OCFA all received the call at 5 p.m. on Wednesday of multiple spot fires burning in heavy brush. 

LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said, “We received reports of a vegetation fire, burning in heavy brush, on NB Laguna Canyon Road between the 73 and 133. There was no immediate threat to the city.”

Police Files New Fires

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Courtesy of LBPD Facebook Page

Several fires ignited near NB Laguna Canyon Road Wednesday

OCFA reported a 1-acre blaze with multiple spot fires, and that no structures were being threatened. At 5:28 p.m., they reported three separate fires in the area.

“Laguna Fire had two helicopters and ground crews doing an excellent job at slowing down the fire with a dozer working to cut a containment line around heavy brush,” according to OCFA PIO.

By 5:50 p.m. forward progress had been stopped for all three fires and fixed wing aircraft was cancelled and the fires were put out by 6:15 p.m. 

“Fire crews remained on scene for hotspots and assessment of the area,” Sgt Cota said.

Laguna Canyon Road was closed between Lake Forest Drive and El Toro Road while firefighters battled the blaze. Both directions of Laguna Canyon Road were open by 8:15 p.m.

According to OCFA, “It is not yet clear what started the fires.” OCFA investigators remained on scene, researching the cause.

Friday is the goal for 100% containment of Aliso Fire

LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota had good news about the Aliso Canyon Fire being close to completely contained on Thursday.

 “The containment remains at 85 percent and is expected to be at 90 percent by 6 p.m. today,” Sgt Cota said. “There are currently 91 firefighters assigned to the area to finish the job till they reach 100 percent containment. The goal is to be finished by Friday afternoon.”

On Twitter Thursday, OCFA PIO reported the recent incorporation of new remote cameras to assist in discovering potential fires in rural areas that could have a lengthy response time. “The three allows us to pinpoint an area and send help.” The cameras captured a time-lapsed video before at the site of the Aliso Canyon fires before it started.

Police Files Mop Up Efforts

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Courtesy of OCFA PIO Twitter Page

OCFA mop up efforts for the Aliso Canyon fire to mitigate hot spots

Fire investigators continue to investigate the burn and the surrounding area to determine the cause. The public is being asked to assist if they have any information to help identify the cause of the fire. 

“Anyone with information or any video or photographs taken at the early stages of the fire are asked to contact 1-800-222-TIPS (8477),” urges OCFA PIO.

Fire Files

Fire burns 175 acres of wilderness, injures 3 firefighters, and prompts evacuations…but thanks to our fire and emergency personnel, we are all safe

LBFD took quick actions to safeguard Laguna Beach residents after a fire broke out in Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, right in our backyard, on Saturday afternoon.

“We were notified, and our crews went to the Top of the World and began to set up in case the fire extended to the homes,” Laguna Beach Fire Chief Mike Garcia said. “They were joined by other companies due to the threat, and we had approximately 15 Engine companies in our neighborhood.

Fire Files City of Aliso Viejo

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Courtesy of City of Aliso Viejo

Aliso Fire raging on Saturday late afternoon

By 3:56 p.m. on Saturday, Laguna Beach Fire Department ordered immediate evacuation of approximately 1,500 Laguna Beach residents in the Top of the World and Old Top of the World areas due to fire danger. 

“With our Fire Department’s deep knowledge of the drainage patterns, canyon topography and wind behaviors in the fire area we quickly identified homes that could be in the path of fire and took immediate action to get those residents out,” said Chief Garcia.

The City set up a temporary shelter for displaced residents at the Susi Q Community Center where some residents stayed overnight Saturday. Pets were allowed as well. 

 “The City sincerely wants to thank all of the residents who evacuated their homes for their cooperation during the Aliso Fire emergency,” said Laguna Beach City Manager John Pietig. “As one of the residents evacuated this weekend, I know it is not easy to pick up and leave your home at a moment’s notice, not knowing when you’ll be able to return. We want to thank everyone who evacuated for their diligence and patience.”

According to Thanh Nguyen, public information officer of the Orange County Incident Management Team, the fire, which originated in Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, spread quickly from one acre to 175 acres due to winds, hillside pitch and drought conditions.

Fire Files Scott Burn

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Photo by Scott Brashier

The Aliso Fire burned 175 acres of wilderness

“The weather pattern that we’ve had for the past several days – in the morning it’s fairly calm and in the afternoons it picks up – that’s what got this fire going. That in combination with the topography. You have steep hillsides. If the fire starts at the bottom, the heat moves upward, so that when the fire actually gets to it (the base of the hillside), it takes off really easily. And then, the drought situation doesn’t help with the fuel moisture so that vegetation lights up pretty fast.”

The cause of the fire is currently under investigation.

“At this time our investigators are still out at the scene and we don’t have a conclusive cause (of the fire) yet. We’re asking for the public’s assistance if they were in or around the area at the time the fire started, to contact the Tip Line at 1.800.222.TIPS (8477),” said Nguyen.

Thankfully, no structures were lost, although the fire did come extremely close to Soka University, said Nguyen. “With firefighters on the scene fairly quickly, they were able to stop the forward progression.”

Fire Files Scott Plane

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Photo by Scott Brashier

Two air tankers circled the fire with retardant all day Saturday, followed by helicopters attacking the middle with water drops

However, three firefighters suffered injuries. “One was taken off the line, but did not go to the hospital. The second one did go to the hospital to be evaluated – their injuries were minor. The third one on Monday was out on the line – I don’t know the extent of that person’s injury either, however, he was airlifted to the hospital via OCFA helicopter,” said Nguyen.

As of Monday, according to Chief Garcia, there are currently 525 firefighters still assigned to the fire, which on Tuesday, June 5 at 7:45 a.m., was 75 percent contained after burning 175 acres. The Orange County Fire Authority and Orange County Parks, 85 engines, two helicopters, four bulldozers and nine hand crews have been working to contain the fire, rotating shifts in 24-hour increments.

“The response to the Aliso Fire was a well-coordinated partnership between the Laguna Beach Fire Department, Orange County Fire Authority, CalFire, many assisting local municipalities and all Laguna Beach City Departments,” Garcia said. “I want to especially thank the Laguna Beach Police Department for helping evacuate people to safety, and also thank our affected residents who remained calm and refused to panic.”

Fire Files Mike Jarnot OCFA

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Courtesy of Mike Jarnot OCFA

OCFA was integral in fighting the Aliso Woods Canyon Fire

It is unknown at this time how much wildlife was lost.

Hallie Jones, Executive Director of Laguna Canyon Foundation, said, “Fire is a natural part of the wilderness ecosystems, and while the immediate habitat impacts are severe, the park will recover.

“Here at Laguna Canyon Foundation, we’re so grateful to our park rangers and first responders for protecting the homes and people.”

She said the best thing the community can do is to stay away from the park, which will be closed until further notice while the fire crews extinguish any last hot spots or smoldering brush.

“Let the rangers do their job and let the land heal. Footprints and bike tracks will just cause more damage,” Jones said.

Once the park opens, LCF volunteers will work with OC Parks to keep people out of the burned area and educate visitors.

Longtime Laguna TOW resident Sande Werthe evacuated “after the search lady came running by” and she “received a phone call from the police department to evacuate”, she said. It was her 80th birthday on Sunday.

After she was evacuated, Werthe went to Laguna Presbyterian Church and listened as to the choir as they rehearsed for an upcoming concert. Pastor Jerry Tankersley and his wife were evacuated too since they live nearby.

Fire Files City of Laguna Beach

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Courtesy of City of Laguna Beach

The aftermath of the fire, looking out from Top of the World

 “The Susi Q really did a wonderful job of organizing. I was so impressed. I finally got back to my place at 2:30 p.m. and went to a friend’s house who made a Mexican dinner for my birthday. After that I finally got to put my feet up and relax,” Werthe said. 

She was also in the same neighborhood during the fire in ‘93 for the fire and was forced to evacuate.

“My house was in escrow and my mom lived alone nearby. We were concerned we’d lose both houses. I kept calling my answering machine and every time it picked up I thought everything was still fine,” Werthe said. “I did the same thing this time and sang happy birthday to myself. It’s a birthday I will never forget.” 

She, like other community members, lauded the hard working personnel behind the evacuations.

“I can’t stress enough how wonderful the City was and the great job the people at the Susi Q did checking people in and making them feel comfortable, Werthe said. “It’s one way to meet the neighbors, but definitely not the best way.”

Denis Cambruzzi, a Laguna Beach resident since the ‘80s was here during the 1993 fire on Mountain View Drive. 

“We were fortunate to keep ours,” he said referring to his and his wife’s home on Mountain View Drive,” Cambruzzi said.

There was no comparison between the fear he felt this time around and during the ’93 fire, he said.

“That one was scary, during fire season and propelled by the dry hot winds but, began much further away. The winds blew smoke in our direction all day and by evening the fire followed,” Cambruzzi said.

This one began very close and only got scary for about an hour, he said.

“And then these pilots put it down. Hitting it from all sides with fire retardant and water from planes and helicopters. They flew into and thankfully out of that canyon countless times. Brown smoke followed by the victorious white plumes,” Cambruzzi said. “Truly amazing. The firefighters on the ground were also braving the inferno hand to hand with shovels, axes, and chain saws.”

Jean Keyes from deck at Bluebird Canyon

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Photo by Jean Keyes

The path of one airplane, as seen from Jean Keyes’ home in Bluebird Canyon

Sawdust artist September McGee was walking in the park when she learned that they were being evacuated on Saturday.

“I was looking at the birds in the trees and the sky looked clear,” she said. 

It didn’t look as clear on the other side.

“I live half way down Bern Street and they were ready for us to roll. Then they went back up the hill and backed off. So luckily, we didn’t have to leave. But it’s important to give kudos for everyone involved, they did a very good job,” McGee said. “The evacuations were very organized.”

“I knew that with the birds still singing in the trees that it’s going to be fine. It’s a good sign. After all, they know more than we do,” Mc Gee added.

See more photos from the scene by staff photographer Scott Brashier

Click on photos for larger images 

Police Files

Former LBHS coach, Brian Bishop, arrested on meth and gun charges

On Friday, May 25, former LBHS assistant football coach Brian Jay Bishop, 35, was arrested by the Costa Mesa Police Department on drug and gun charges in Costa Mesa. 

Three men were arrested, two on suspicion of offenses including possession of heroin and methamphetamine, during two traffic stops in Costa Mesa, police said. Bishop was among those taken into custody that day during two separate traffic stops.

Authorities said the arrests occurred Friday after they monitored white supremacist gang members in the city. 

Police did not confirm whether the three are believed to be connected to the gang and did not disclose the gang’s name.

Police Files Brian Bishop

Courtesy of Costa Mesa Police Department

Former LBHS coach Brian Bishop was arrested on several charges including possession of meth for sale and possession of a concealed/loaded gun not registered to him

At approximately 1:30 p.m. that day, Gang Investigators, detectives, and patrol officers conducted a traffic stop along the 2400 block of Newport Boulevard. 

According to authorities, Bishop was arrested for possession of methamphetamine for sale, possession of a concealed/loaded firearm while possessing narcotics, and possession of a firearm when not the registered owner. 

Bishop has since posted bail and was released. 

“He was hired in August 2016 as a walk-on assistant football coach,” Leisa Winston, Assistant Superintendent, Human Resources & Public Communications, Laguna Beach Unified School District said.

Bishop served as LBHS Football’s Offensive Coordinator in 2016, John Shanahan’s first year as head coach. He also served as the freshman/sophomore team head football coach and a track coach.

“Mr. Bishop is no longer employed by LBUSD. His last day of work was Tuesday, May 22,” Winston said. “He indicated to staff he would be moving out of the area.”

Self-driving Tesla crashes, decimating LBPD SUV

On Tuesday, May 29 at 11:07 a.m., officers responded to a report of a traffic collision involving a police vehicle at 20652 Laguna Canyon Road, near Laguna Dog Park. The officer was on a call at the time near where his police vehicle was parked.

“Officers began investigating a two-vehicle traffic collision involving a 2015 Tesla S and an unoccupied Laguna Beach PD unit,” LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said. “We learned from the driver’s statements that he had the Tesla in ‘driver assist’ mode when the vehicle veered off the roadway and crashed into the police vehicle.”

According to Sgt Cota, the driver, a man in his 60s from Laguna Niguel, reported that he was looking at the hillside when the vehicle veered off the roadway and crashed into the police vehicle. 

Police Files Tesla

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Photo courtesy of LBPD

A man crashed into a parked LBPD SUV while operating his Tesla in ‘driver assist’ mode on Tuesday; luckily, the officer had stepped out of the vehicle before the accident occurred

“He sustained minor injuries and refused transportation to the hospital,” Sgt Cota said. “The police vehicle sustained major damage and the Tesla sustained moderate damage.” The driver, not the Tesla, was placed at fault for the traffic collision, but not cited.   

The LBPD SUV appears to be totaled. LBPD put out a traffic alert warning about the accident warning that there would be delays on outbound Laguna Canyon Road for about an hour.

Car break-ins are rising in Laguna, keep doors locked

LBPD recently issued a press release warning residents that car break-ins are on the rise. On January 27, a victim reported that her vehicle had been burglarized and her purse containing multiple credit cards was stolen. 

LBPD Detectives began their investigation and learned that the victim’s credit cards were used in Laguna Beach and several other cities throughout Orange County. The next day the suspects also attempted to use the victim’s personal information to obtain a credit account at a San Bernardino furniture store.

The lengthy investigation led detectives to San Bernardino County where they identified three suspects in connection with the crime. 

“On May 24, detectives conducted a surveillance operation and subsequently arrested Highland residents Robert James Bird and Amber Lynn Holt for burglary, conspiracy, forgery, and theft of an access card,” Sgt Cota said. “Detectives learned the third suspect, Vincent Razvan Oajdea, was already in custody in Riverside County for an unrelated theft charge.”

Police Files Bird and Holt

Photos courtesy of LBPD

Robert James Bird     Amber Lyn Holt

LBPD Captain Jeff Calvert reminds the community that, “As we approach summer, we ask Laguna Beach residents and visitors to assist us by properly securing their vehicles at all times and to immediately report suspicious activity to the Laguna Beach Police Department.” 

For further information, please contact Sgt Jim Cota at (949) 464-6671 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


LBPD, LBFD, and Laguna Lifeguards enjoy annual Special Olympics Torch Run yesterday

LBPD, LBFD, and Laguna Lifeguards laced up their running shoes for the annual Special Olympics Torch Run yesterday morning at 7:35 a.m. to share their support for Special Olympics athletes on the 5.4-mile run.

Laguna’s trio of public service teams escorted the “Flame of Hope” from the Laguna Beach Police Department to the intersection of Coast Highway and Newport Coast Drive and handed the torch off to The California Highway Patrol.

Police Files Torch Run 1

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

LBPD, LBFD, and Laguna Lifeguards enjoying the Special Olympics Torch Run

Over the years, the Law Enforcement Torch Run and Tip-A-Cop have been some of the largest fundraising and community relation events for the Special Olympics.

“The Laguna Beach Police Department has had the honor and privilege to participate with the Special Olympics, interact with the Laguna Beach Community, and raise awareness for the Special Olympics programs and athletes though these activities,” said Sgt Cota.

Police Files Torch Run 2

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

LBPD gets ready to rally for the 5.4-mile Special Olympics run yesterday

Police Files

LBPD arrests Carlsbad man for felony sexual battery of a Laguna Beach minor

On April 4, LBPD began investigating a sexual assault case involving a minor. The reported victim is a 16-year-old Laguna Beach girl.

Last Wednesday morning, May 23, a search and arrest warrant was served on a suspect from Carlsbad with the assistance of Carlsbad PD, in connection with the suspected crime.

 “After a thorough investigation, Laguna Beach detectives served a search warrant in Carlsbad and subsequently arrested Rajiv Dilip Parikh, 36, of Carlsbad, for Felony Sexual Battery and Annoying, Molesting a Minor,” said LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota. “We are working closely with the family.”   

At the conclusion of the investigation, it was determined that this was an isolated incident, said Sgt Cota.

“The Laguna Beach Police Department will not tolerate any form of inappropriate or illegal acts against our children,” said Sgt Cota. “Our detectives conducted a very thorough investigation and established crimes were committed. We would have traveled to the other side of the planet to get the suspect if we had too.” 

Parikh’s bail was set at $25,000.

Sawdust mural vandal remains at large, please call LBPD with any leads

On Tuesday, May 22 at 6:44 a.m., officers responded to a vandalism report at the Sawdust Art Festival. Sometime the previous night, an unknown suspect had spray painted black X’s through the Sawdust’s summer mural, “Goddesses.”

According to Sgt Cota, a black rubber glove and a yellow spray can tip were found within proximity of the crimes.

Unfortunately, there was no video surveillance captured at the address, but LBPD is hoping someone who knows something or saw something will step up.

“There are no suspects at this time. We are hoping someone in the community knows something,” said Sgt Cota. 

According to Sgt Cota, LBPD detectives will be processing the glove and spray can tip for any DNA. “If there is any DNA on the items located, we will find out the suspect(s) responsible for this act of vandalism,” said Sgt Cota.

The artists who created the mural, Charmaine Olivia and Alec DeMarco, will be working hard to “fix” the mural in time for Sawdust Art Festival’s opening on Friday, June 29.

If anyone has any information about the crime, please contact LBPD at (949) 497-0701.

Hot wheels, not here, steer clear: LBPD corporal ranks #1 for tracking down stolen vehicles

Laguna Beach vehicle owners are a lot safer thanks to LBPD Corporal Luke Gilbertson, who recently received the 2017 Vehicle Theft Recovery Award for the third year in a row.

Sponsored by the Auto Theft Advisory Committee, Cpl Gilbertson received the award on May 23 at the 28th Annual Awards Presentation in Garden Grove.

Police Files Award

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Photo courtesy of LBPD

LBPD Cpl Luke Gilbertson awarded 2017 Vehicle Theft Recovery Award

“Within the year, Cpl Gilbertson recovered 17 rolling stolen vehicles. If you are driving a stolen vehicle, stay out of Laguna Beach, we are good at what we do,” Sgt Cota said. 

LBPD gave congratulations to Cpl Gilberton on the City’s website and on their Facebook page. 

Police Files

‘Goddesses’ defaced, Sawdust mural tagged by vandal, leaving evidence behind

On Tuesday, May 22 at 6:44 a.m., LBPD received a report that a mural outside of the Sawdust Art Festival had been vandalized, tagged with black spray paint. Located at the 900 Block at Laguna Canyon Road, the mural is on the north end of the Sawdust property facing the street. 

Upon arrival at the scene, LBPD discovered that a glove and the tip of a spray paint can had been left behind. 

According to Sawdust Marketing and PR Coordinator Franky Duschane, the mural, “Goddesses,” by Charmaine Olivia and Alec DeMarco, was defaced during the late evening of Monday, May 21.

 “At this time, we do not know who is responsible for the vandalism nor do we know why, but we are actively working with local law enforcement to ensure it does not happen again,” Duschane said. “Charmaine and Alec generously donated the mural to us and are graciously committed to its restoration. Sawdust Art Festival’s 2018 mural was reviewed and approved by the Laguna Beach Arts Commission.”

Sawdust Board President Kelly Akins is appalled.

What a despicable act that was perpetrated on the beautiful art being created for our summer mural,” Atkins said. “The artists, Alec and Charmaine, were devastated by this, but they are amazing and working harder than ever to fix the vandalism and have the mural ready for our opening.”

Click on photo for a lareger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Sawdust art mural tagged, the crime of defacing art in Laguna is highly unusual

There has been public outcry on Facebook with Laguna Beach residents coming together to support the beloved local art festival. Lifetime Sawdust exhibitor Doug Miller posted pictures of the defaced mural on Facebook with details of the egregious crime.

“Mural at Sawdust was defaced with black spray paint…the police are on it,” Miller said. “If anyone knows anything, please report it.”

Like the rest of the Laguna Beach community, City Cultural Arts Manger Siân Poeschl was angered. 

 “This type of vandalism is highly unusual and unacceptable in our community,” Poeschl said. “These young artists had yet to complete the work, and we had not had an opportunity to enjoy it.”

Sawdust glass artist Maggie Spencer echoed Poeschl’s sentiments.

“It is disgraceful that such a vulgar act of vandalism would happen to any work of art,” Spencer said. “But to have it happen in this art community is particularly vile.”

As of 8 p.m. on Thursday, nearly 300 people had responded to Miller’s post, including over 116 comments. In an update, Miller later said, “The artists are going to repaint and protect it with an anti-graffiti clear coat.”

Neighbor Mark Orgill, Laguna Creative Ventures’ President of Strategy and Development was sympathetic. “These things are very unfortunate,” he said. 

Orgill has been instrumental in the Laguna Civic Art District improvements, including the recent murals added to The Hive (formerly the Festival Center).

Fortunately, those murals are protected.

“The product we use is Sher-Clear by Sherwin-Williams,” Orgill said.

Stu News will provide updates on the investigation of this crime by LBPD.


LBPD will be going door-to-door to enforce that local canines are ‘properly licensed’, it says

Fido might be fined if he’s an unlicensed canine. Beginning June 1, the knock at the door could be LBPD Animal Services Officers, who will begin going house-to-house to verify that dogs are properly licensed.  

In a press release issued by LBPD Police Chief Laura Farinella, locals are reminded that dog licenses are required by law and that a rabies tag is not a dog license.

“Many dog owners do not realize that state and local laws require all dogs over four-months of age to be licensed, and to wear a dog license tag at all times,” Chief Farinella said. “New residents or dogs newly acquired shall obtain a dog license within 15 days.”

During the neighborhood rover to find rogue rovers, Animal Services Officers may leave a door hanger to remind residents that their dog licenses are expired and need to be renewed. 

On the up side, securing a dog license is an important part of identification and can assist Animal Services if your pet becomes lost.

Courtesy of PetWorld website

A real picture of a puppy, just for illustrative purposes, not an actual pup that may or may not live in Laguna Beach, or may or may not be licensed 

Since dogs need to get tagged annually, think of it as routine maintenance, like an annual exam. The cost is $48 for canines that are not spayed or neutered pets and half the cost, $24, for pets that can no longer produce pups. And senior citizens, ages 65 and older, receive a 50 percent discount of the applicable fee. 

However, don’t shirk the money due on that Shar-Pei, there is a late fee of $17 if the dog license is not purchased by the due date. Pet registrations are not transferable or refundable. 

To procure a new dog license, download an application form from the City website and mail it with a check made payable to the Laguna Beach Animal Shelter. Or, if you prefer to take care of it face-to-face, visit The Animal Shelter or the Cashiers Counter at City Hall during regular business hours. 

The Animal Shelter is open seven days a week, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. City Hall is open Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m, and alternating Fridays from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. (City Hall is closed on the other alternating Fridays). Check the City website calendar if needed at For information, call the Laguna Beach Animal Shelter at (949) 497-3552.

Police Files 

LBPD’s crackdown on exhaust noise goes viral on Facebook

A Stu News Police Files story on Tuesday went viral on LBPD’s Facebook page, stirring emotions and comments (thousands of them) about our PD’s current crackdown on loud tail and exhaust noise.

According to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, the crackdown started to quell locals’ complaints about the noise. 

“We receive complaints regarding loud vehicle noise, both motorcycle and vehicles, on an ongoing basis. In response to these complaints, we have been providing ongoing education, issuing warnings and citation enforcement,” said Sgt Cota. “We have been communicating to visitors and residents through the use of our city message boards that loud vehicles may be cited.”  

Cota explained that the noise enforcement was done through officer’s observations. 

The section LBPD cited is CVC27150(a), which states, “Every motor vehicle subject to registration shall at all times be equipped with an adequate muffler in constant operation and properly maintained to prevent any excessive or unusual noise, and no muffler or exhaust system shall be equipped with a cutout, bypass, or similar device.”

“The enforcement was aimed at those individuals who intentionally modify their 

exhaust so that it is loud or those who have a legal exhaust, but intentionally create excessive or unusual noise by revving their engines to create noise,” said Sgt Cota. 

LBPD is not intentionally targeting a specific group of people, he said.

“It has been incorrectly communicated that we are targeting Harley style motorcycles and exotic sports cars,” Sgt Cota said. “We welcome everyone to Laguna Beach, but are asking that motorists drive responsibly, keeping in mind that the noise from vehicles echo throughout the community.”


Courtesy of

Loud, exhaust heavy cars like this one on are the culprit in the fight against noise pollution, not a real car cited in Laguna, just an example

Manufacturers have to comply with exhaust noise regulations and factory equipped exhaust systems in California, which for cars must be under 95 dbA. Motorcycles must be under 80 dbA. The average car, similar to that of patrol vehicle or police motorcycle, meets these requirements.

“During the education and enforcement detail on May 12, there were 45 motorcycles stopped for excessive noise. There were 26 combined citations and warnings issued to motorcyclists. There were 24 vehicles stopped for excessive noise and 21 combined citations and warnings were issued,” Sgt Cota said.

 He said both citations and warnings were issued. Citations generally require a motorist to pay a fine but that is determined by the court, not by the police department. And contrary to naysayers of the law, the police department does not generate revenue as a result of issuing these citations.

 “We receive request complaints from citizens regarding loud vehicles, as they feel it is disruptive and a form on noise pollution,” Sgt Cota said. 

 “We are being responsive to the community’s concerns while trying to balance the letter of the law vs the spirit of the law,” Sgt Cota said. “We appreciate those who choose to live in Laguna Beach and those who visit Laguna Beach. We hope to encourage those who drive through Laguna Beach to be respectful of the community and to not intentionally create excessive noise by revving their engines.”

 He said Laguna Beach is not the only community being inundated by exhaust pollution. Because Pacific Coast Highway is a popular recreational area to drive it’s an issue among neighboring agencies, especially along the coast.

The post on LBPD’s Facebook page says that the noise pollution patrol is going on for the entire week. However, Sgt Cota commented that LBPD’s efforts to reduce intentional noise from loud exhaust is ongoing. 

“We post on FB to make the community and visitors aware of our efforts,” Sgt Cota said. “We have received numerous supporting emails and calls because of the enforcement and they are happy we are taking their complaints seriously.”

Longtime Laguna Beach City Councilmember Toni Iseman applauds LBPD for their efforts to mitigate the loud muffler brigade. 

“I’m hearing from countless residents so delighted about the enforcement,” Iseman said.

Comments that she’s heard are all positive, including, “I hope the word is out that they can’t roar through our town anymore.” “I look forward to walking downtown again.” “It’s not just the noise, it’s the fumes.” “They set off my car alarm and woke up my baby.”

Longtime resident and merchant Heidi Miller cheers the LBPD.
“So proud of our police department! Proactive and dedicated. Laguna Beach is so proud, and we stand behind our brave police department! As a 40-year resident and 40-year business owner in Laguna Beach, my interactions with the LBPD have been positive, professional, and appreciated,” Miller said.

Luciana Straulino Coutchie, who gave LBPD a 5-star review, concurs.

“All the negative reviews appear to be from people who do NOT actually live in Laguna Beach. A number of them seem to have targeted several other Police Departments giving them all negative reviews,” Coutchie said.

She continued, “If they were actual residents, I have no doubt the majority would rate LBPD as excellent and caring Police Officers. I personally know, admire, and respect Laguna Beach’s Police Officers.”

Coutchie is the mother of beloved fallen Laguna Beach Motor Officer Jon Coutchie, who, devastatingly, was killed in a crash on September 21, 2013 at the young age of 41.

He will never be forgotten by LBPD or the community that loves and misses him.


Dog abandoned in car by tourist on Mother’s Day

On Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 13, a pet owner, presumably the pet’s mother, left her dog in the car in the middle of the day. A hot car = a hot dog, and not the good kind.

Jim Beres LBPD Spokesperson Civilian Services Administrator said four separate callers called to get help for the canine, who was locked in a car in the 300 Block of North Coast Highway at 12:52 p.m.

The second caller reported, “The dog looks distressed.”

The third caller reported that the canine had been cooped up for over 30 minutes.

And the final fourth caller mustered even more might for the mutt, threatening to break in the windows themselves to let the dog out.

“The door was opened by tow company at request of Animal Services…the city pays for that,” Beres said.

The tow truck came, released the dog from the vehicle and the dog was taken into custody.

“The owner of the dog was a 28-year-old female from Colorado,” Beres said. “The owner of the dog was upset until it was explained to her the severity of the incident and that citizens wanted to break her windows.”

Andy then a Mother’s Day miracle…“She was able to calm down and thanked LBPD personnel,” Beres said.

“The owner was cited for CPC 597.7(a)-Animal in unattended motor vehicle. The case will be heard in Superior Court and the fine will be determined by the judge,” said LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota.

Police Files

Man eats meth – or tries to

On Tuesday at 9:30 a.m., a concerned caller reported fears that an angry man might attempt to vandalize her vehicle. The man had threatened the RP that “he’d tear the whole place up if she called the police,” according to the police log.

Officers arrived at the 300 block of Broadway Street and detained Ralph Francis Bowers III, 47, Huntington Beach, who “attempted to swallow a baggie of methamphetamine in front of them,” said Sgt. Jim Cota.

Unfortunately for Bowers, the arresting officer was a former narcotics detective and identified the drugs.

Bowers was ultimately arrested for possession of a controlled substance, resisting officers, and parole violation.

Even death certificate is stolen in document burglary

On Monday afternoon, a resident in the 1200 block of Brangwyn Way came home to discover someone had been in his home and had gone through personal items. 

Amongst the missing items were a $1,000 camera lens, various CDs, a jar of change, an antique camera, prescription sleeping pills, and a filing container with auto insurance documents, birth certificates, vaccine records, and more.

A neighbor reported seeing a woman on the property in search of the victim, but it is not clear if this is related. 

Remember, if you see something, say something – you could prevent a crime.

Police Files

Sunday sees a rash of crime in Laguna and plenty of arrests: LBPD warns residents to be vigilant

Early Sunday morning at 5:09 a.m., LBPD foiled a burglary and made two arrests for possession of stolen items, burglary tools and meth.

At 12:35 p.m. police officers took four people into custody, two of them charged with grand theft and conspiracy to commit a crime.

At 4:45 p.m., police officers pursued a man in a stolen car who tried to escape arrest by gunning his car toward police officers, who then fired two shots, which didn’t stop the car thief – but the man, identified as Richard Lewis, 54, was cornered not long after and captured near the high school. 

Details about all three incidents are contained below.

Car thief arrested in residents’ backyard after shots fired

“Police officers began a pursuit of a silver Toyota Corolla suspected to have been stolen in Palm Springs the previous day,” Sgt Jim Cota, LBPD spokesperson said. “The driver turned into the 100 block of Thalia, which dead-ends at the beach. Police officers attempted to block his exit route with their cruisers but the man did a sharp U-turn and aimed his car in their direction.

“A female had jumped out - we later determined she wanted no part of it. 

“One of the officers, as the car headed toward him, feared for his and his partner’s life and the safety of people on Coast Highway, so he fired two shots.”

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut 

Police cars line Thalia

The shots didn’t stop the car thief, later identified as Richard Lewis, 54, a parolee at large wanted on an outstanding no-bail warrant, who then drove toward Cuprien Way. 

A police helicopter circled above the area near the high school, warning people to stay in their homes and be on the lookout for a man in his fifties with a moustache, wearing a plaid shirt.

“The suspect abandoned the vehicle on the 600 block of Cuprien and was cornered in a backyard on Glomstad Lane after jumping fences,” Cota said.

Cota says once in custody, the man complained that his leg hurt, “Not surprising after jumping all those fences,” Cota commented.

Resident Kay Metis said, “We were in the epicenter of helicopter circle with the suspect ultimately apprehended 100 yards from our home. We had ordered a pizza from Gina’s Pizza and they called us back to tell us there was an “active shooting” and they couldn’t get to our home.”

Metis added, “It was a harrowing time for a bit but Laguna Beach pulls together in these rare moments which ultimately results in a feeling of safety.”

(And Gina’s Pizza delivered as soon as the commotion died down, Metis adds…)

Sgt Cota noted, “LBPD will be handling the investigation as the DA’s office won’t get involved because there were no injuries. The OC Sheriff and Newport Beach PD helped out, in a great example of community collaboration.”

Getaway car doesn’t get suspects away

Earlier, at 12:35 p.m., officers responded to citizens’ calls about a theft from Robin’s Jean at 264 Forest Ave. The suspects had grabbed several pairs of jeans and other items and were running toward the US Bank parking lot. 

LBPD booking photos

A waiting car, a white BMW, picked them up and headed south on Glenneyre. Officers located the vehicle after a short pursuit when the BMW turned on Cress. A high-risk vehicle stop ensued. 

Four people were detained. Joshua Hoover, 20, of Inglewood and Jodan Hongocollins, 18, of Los Angeles were charged with grand theft and conspiracy to commit a crime; Maasai Lopez, 21, on a count of petty theft; and charges are pending for Laneice Barnes, who had a stolen ID in her possession. 

U-Haul contains oddly-dressed thieves and their haul

Earlier on Sunday at 5:09 a.m. a resident called to report a white U-Haul with back doors wide open on the 400 block of Panorama Drive.  

“Something seemed suspicious about the vehicle and the RP was correct, there was something not right at all,” Sgt Jim Cota said “Thank goodness for alert residents.”

Inside the vehicle, LBPD patrol officers found a man, 33, and a woman, 23, both dressed oddly - he wore a firefighter’s outfit and she was dressed in some kind of emergency worker’s gear. 

Officers found meth and a meth pipe inside the vehicle, along with burglary tools - and plenty of stolen goods, including clothing and firefighting gear that had been stolen from an out-of-town firefighter staying at a local hotel.

LA resident Travis Alexander, 33, and Buena Park resident Robin Griffin, 23, were arrested for possession of stolen items, burglary tools and meth; in addition, Griffin was charged with possession of a stolen vehicle, a felony.

Detectives are combing through the property to identify which items have been reported stolen.

“We stopped a residential burglary about to take place,” Sgt Cota tells Stu News. “I can’t say enough about the patrol officers who did a great job and the residents who were doing exactly what we ask everyone to do - if you see something, say something. They deserve huge credit. That’s pretty awesome to be willing to get up and do something at that time of the morning.”

How Laguna residents can help

Sgt. Cota adds:

“The citizens of Laguna Beach need to be vigilant. We have terrific residents and the more they help the better off we all are. The Laguna Beach Police Department needs your support and backing as we take on people who come into the city to commit crimes,” he said on Monday as he detailed the crimes for Stu News Laguna. 

“We are prepared for any event or incident that they may bring. Laguna Beach and surrounding cities have changed over the years and that’s not the fault of Laguna or the citizens, it’s that society has changed and criminals head to specific cities for opportunities. 

“The Laguna Beach Police Department is committed 100 percent to its citizens and the people who come to this city on vacation or to just spend the day.”          

--Lynette Brasfield

Police Files

Sometimes a suitcase is just a suitcase…

Sometimes a suitcase is a just a suitcase, but these days nothing is certain. On Monday, July 3 at 12:18 p.m., a concerned citizen reported seeing a suitcase locked to a stop sign at Temple Hills Drive & Alta Laguna Boulevard. 

“Due to the suspicious nature, the bomb squad was called,” said Sgt. Jim Cota, LBPD spokesperson. “They responded and determined the suitcase was not a dangerous device, but it was destroyed during their investigation.”

Officers are not sure how long the new looking suitcase had been there.

…but sometimes, a cell phone is actually a knife

On the evening of Sunday, July 2, officers responded to the 300 block of Y Place after a resident said his neighbor had threatened him with the 12” hunting knife he had in his hand.

“The suspect stated he did not have a knife, but only his cell phone in his hand,” said Sgt. Jim Cota of the LBPD. “A video recording proved otherwise.” The video showed the suspect making threats with the knife in his hand. 

Martin Edens, 53, Laguna Beach, was arrested for criminal threats and brandishing a knife. He was held with $50,000 bail. 


DUI saturation patrols will be on the streets this weekend between 5 p.m. & 3 a.m.

Officers from the Laguna Beach Police Department’s DUI Enforcement Team will be deploying this weekend to stop and arrest alcohol and drug-impaired drivers in the Department’s ongoing traffic safety campaign. 

DUI Saturation Patrols will deploy Friday, July 7 & Sat, July 8, between the hours of 5 p.m. and 3 a.m. in areas with high frequencies of DUI collisions and/or arrests. 

When possible, specially trained officers will be available to evaluate those suspected of drug-impaired driving, which now accounts for a growing number of impaired driving crashes. Studies of California drivers have shown that 30 percent of drivers in fatal crashes had one or more drugs in their systems. 

If you are impaired by drugs or alcohol, hand over your keys or get a ride home

Everyone should be mindful that if you’re taking medication – whether prescription or over-the-counter – drinking even small amounts of alcohol can greatly intensify the impairment affects. Law Enforcement emphasizes the preventable nature of drunk driving, reminding everyone that all it takes is a little planning ahead. 

Drivers caught driving impaired can expect the impact of a DUI arrest to include jail time, fines, fees, DUI classes, license suspensions and other expenses that can exceed $10,000 not to mention the embarrassment when friends and family find out. 

Funding for this DUI operation is provided to the Laguna Beach Police Department by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, reminding everyone to ‘Report Drunk Driving – Call 9-1-1.

For further information, contact Lieutenant Tim Kleiser at (949) 464-6655 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Police Files

Parolee on a rampage drives vehicle onto crowded Main Beach sidewalk

Israel Chavez resists arrest, attempts to shove officer into traffic, spits, is tased; police find an eight-year-old girl in the vehicle

Last Sunday evening at 7:21 p.m., LBPD received multiple reports of a possible DUI driver and a vehicle on Coast Highway swerving dangerously in and out of traffic, at one point almost hitting a bicyclist. 

“An officer observed the vehicle making an illegal left turn from northbound Coast Highway onto the 100 block of Laguna Ave,” Sgt Jim Cota, LBPD spokesperson told Stu News. 

“The driver then turned onto El Paseo, hit a parked car, and continued north. He drove onto the cobblestones at Main Beach, then over the grass area, across the sidewalk, which was crowded with pedestrians. It’s amazing that no one was injured.”

The driver, later identified as Israel Chavez, 39, of El Monte, headed south on Coast Highway. Police officers caught up with him near Third Ave on PCH and conducted a high-risk car stop. Officers learned that Chavez was on parole for carjacking,

“Chavez showed signs of alcohol intoxication. He exited the vehicle as requested by officers but then became increasingly uncooperative, attempting to shove the officers back into the traffic,” Sgt Cota says. “Officers were shocked to see that there was an eight-year-old girl seated in the right rear passenger seat.”

Chavez challenged officers to fight and spat at one of them, becoming increasingly combative.

“An officer deployed his Taser. After a struggle on the ground, with Chavez kicking and trying to twist away, officers were able to handcuff him but he continued to fight,” Sgt Cota said.

OC Sheriff’s deputies arrived on the scene to assist and Chavez was finally put in the back of a patrol car. A spit mask was used to prevent him spitting at the officers.

Chavez was taken to Mission Hospital Laguna Beach for a medical clearance. After being cleared, he was taken straight to Orange County Jail and booked on charges of violating his parole, fighting/resisting officers, and child endangerment.

The child was released to her mother and grandmother. 

Chavez, the LBPD has learned, is not the child’s biological father.

Shaena Stabler is the Owner, Publisher & Editor.

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Alexis Amaradio, Barbara Diamond, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Lynette Brasfield, Marrie Stone, Maggi Henrikson, Samantha Washer, and Suzie Harrison are our writers and/or columnists. Scott Brashier is our photographer.

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