Help Mozambique Steakhouse thrive

Restaurant and Catering IndustryTransportationTravelRoad TransportationRestaurantsDining and Drinking

I was disheartened at the report of the City Council cutting back on operating hours of Mozambique Steakhouse, our favorite restaurant in Laguna. It seems just another blow to business owners in Laguna Beach who are struggling to keep their businesses afloat among the "sales prevention" policies of a few of our current City Council members.

My frustration was worsened after a recent conversation with owner Ivan Spiers, when he told me he was forced to decline service to more than 60 guests Memorial Day weekend due to the cut in hours. They also turned away a group of 18 coming from the Surf and Sand Hotel wanting a late dinner.

I read that Councilwoman Toni Iseman said, as she moved to curtail operating hours, "I don't think taking an hour of service hurts them…"

She obviously has no idea what she's talking about! Losing an hour of service has a significant impact on the business.

I am sorry that a few of the neighbors have been disturbed by noise of restaurant patrons, but it begs the question: Why did you move a block away from a busy restaurant? We once lived on Cleo, a couple blocks from Mosun, and there was noise on a nightly basis, we moved! I never once thought to complain or ask Mosun to change their operating hours; we just moved.

Mozambique is a great asset to our town. It represents all the things that makes Laguna Beach a destination spot for tourist and residents. It's a beautiful venue with great food at value pricing and warm, friendly service. They offer world-class entertainment that takes the musical culture of Laguna to a level not previously seen. They support local charities and our schools. They employ more than 60 people, more than half of whom are Laguna Beach residents.

The bustling business one may see when visiting Mozambique belies the fact that they are taking on water fast. The restaurant is in a very dire financial situation and a move to cut hours during the high summer season could be just the straw that breaks the camel's back.

If Mozambique fails it will be a major loss to the city and its residents. It will be the fault of those City Council people who worked against their success. Mozambique will stand again in front of the City Council this Tuesday in an effort to win back their hours. I urge all patrons in the interest of fairness to turn out in support.

DELPHINE CHANNELS BERRYHILL

Laguna Beach

Susi Q will miss Lynn BennerLast month the Susi Q lost one of its most loved and generous members. No one who knew Lynn Benner would disagree.

She was one of the best in so many ways! Her sunny disposition, positive attitude and sense of humor were obvious to all. Where ever she was that's where you wanted to be whether it was in the lunchroom, bingo tables or current events class.

Not many of our members knew about her concern for others and that's because she didn't broadcast her good deeds. Many times when we had special events, like our Holiday Luncheon at the Tivoli Terrace she'd come to me and hand over a check for $50 or $100 and say, "Here Skipper, you take this and see that someone gets a ticket that otherwise wouldn't be able to go." She did this many times for all kinds of things.

Also, if she won a gift certificate in bingo from a supermarket she'd give it to me and say, "Go give this to someone who may need food." Never at any time would she let me tell who the provider was.

Lynn always made a donation to the Susi Q when we had a fundraiser but she never wanted her name to appear in print. At her memorial I mentioned this to Maryknoll, her daughter, and she said, "We want our mother recognized for her contributions now."

If you walk by our Cornerstone wall in the Susi Q you will see the name of Lynn Benner.

As one of her last acts of generosity, she asked her family to see that any donations in her memory be given to the Laguna Beach Seniors, Inc. If you'd like to help us honor Lynn, please send us or bring your gift to: The Susi Q, 380 Third St., Laguna Beach, CA 92651.

SKIPPER LYNN

Laguna Beach

Why did council settle ACLU suit?The Laguna [Beach City] Council has a long history of rolling over every time they hear the word lawsuit. When a lawsuit is threatened, their longtime legal counsel tells them the sky is falling, and they run for cover.

The latest is this council, and the ACLU lawsuit about our homeless problem. The ACLU filed, and our council rolled over.

By contrast the ACLU filed the exact same lawsuit against Santa Monica. The difference is that Santa Monica fought it, and, last week, the courts ruled in favor of Santa Monica. The ACLU lost. Santa Monica announced that during the lawsuit their homeless population went down. They moved out of town. Probably to Laguna.

And, we still have the homeless problem, their numbers are growing, and we have new rules that require we only walk on wet sand after midnight — or is it only in the ocean and then walk in a straight line back to the sidewalk, or something like that — and put up with the homeless continuing to sleep on the beach, etc. This doesn't happen in Santa Monica.

When will the Council fully meet their responsibilities to protect our town? Probably never under the current direction.

Maybe we also need a new lawyer.

JOHN SELECKY

Laguna Beach

More on 'Complete Streets' programLast week I introduced Complete Streets interventions to improve overall mobility when applied to our city streets. Balancing mobility reduces automobile traffic and the demand on parking while maintaining safety. Adopting these interventions will begin to restore balance among four modes of mobility; walking, biking, busing, and driving. Every person walking, cycling or busing in Laguna means one less person driving a car. There are locations around Laguna where street access is restricted, in most cases access could be provided at minimal cost by removing a fence, painting a route, posting a sign.

Sidewalks: Sidewalks in South Laguna are incomplete along Pacific Coast Highway from 11th Street to the Montage. Pedestrians at these locations are forced to walk in the emergency parking lane shared by parked SUVs and moving traffic. Meanwhile there are a mix of residential homes and apartment buildings (23) on Ramona Street. Residents there can see Ralphs supermarket located at the south end, but can't walk there due to a fenced barricade. To get walking access to the supermarket, fast food or the Community Church, residents on this street must pass through the tenant entrance of the last apartment building or drive a car to go one block.

Crosswalks: Wayward pedestrians at Beach or PCH and Broadway ignore traffic lights and wander into traffic. Anxious motorists proceed without waiting for pedestrians; perhaps the posted speed is too high. The pedestrian bridge at Aliso Creek is blocked by a private gate and doesn't allow pedestrian access. Pedestrians at Three Arch Bay need a trail link between Stonington Drive and Virginia Way to complete the route north.

Bikeways: Within Laguna Beach 70% of all bicycle accidents (29) and 50% of all pedestrian accidents (51) occurred on Pacific Coast Highway and Laguna Canyon Road in a 20-month period. For the bicycle component of mobility, establish a safe bicycle route between Central and South Laguna and another through Central Laguna. A utilitarian bike route along Virginia Street and Monterey would serve South Laguna and remove bike traffic from PCH.

Parking: Revenue from metered parking should benefit the immediate community where fees are collected. Pool meter fees collected at these locations into a provisional fund, then re-invested into the local community to re-vitalize the business district.

School Routes: Young students from Arch Beach Heights can see TOW Elementary School from Moulton Meadows but cannot walk there because a fence across a private road bars their access. Consequently they are driven by parents to and from TOW Elementary contributing to unnecessary traffic jams at 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. daily.

The intervention here would allow walking routes for students to their school with painted bikeways and signage complying with federal standards for Safe Routes to School.

Complete a bike/pedestrian way from Moulton Meadows to Old TOW for school children.

For further information visit www.completestreets.org

LES G. MIKLOSY

Laguna Beach

Pooling resources for tidepoolsAfter witnessing the latest oil spill, I am compelled to again press for increased tidepool protection. With new budget constraints, some changes (hiring another tidepool educator) are proactive, while staffing cuts, though "needed," are disconcerting and contrary to our overall city vow to protect our beaches.

Marine Safety has reorganized itself, per Kevin Snow, chief of marine safety. City officials are more concerned with our visitors having a positive experience, so citations for naïve offenders are being replaced with warnings and eco-contacts by Calla Allison, docents, and lifeguards. Reporting of chronic offenders, though, is encouraged. We've all seen unlicensed fishermen; children catching crabs and prying urchins from the rocks to take home; early-morning fishermen throwing gill nets, etc. Last week, men were laying in Treasure Island's tidepools Jacuzzi-style (and "saw no sign"). For such offenders, contact Marine Safety at (949) 494-6572, police non-emergency (949) 497-0700 or (949) 497-0701 after hours. California Fish & Game has a poachers and polluters call tip number, (888) 334-2258.

Education of tidepool etiquette is a key focus, so Marine Safety added a third tidepool educator to their "Meet the Bus" program. Since Jan. 1, educators have logged more than 700 hours teaching and giving educational tours. In 2009, our lifeguards, in addition to saving lives, made 24,724 official "eco-contacts" (30,000 in 2008) notifying people of tidepool protection policies. Marine Safety Department is working with County lifeguards to further protect our county-run (Aliso) beach. Budget cuts to lifeguard, police and fire departments are a major concern, and a key area to find additional monetary support. County and State support agencies (Fish & Game, Coast Guard, to name but a few) have also had severe budget and staff cuts, affecting their ability to lend needed marine protection support to Laguna. Beach Patrol and full time lifeguards should now be empowered to cite.

According to Laguna Ocean Foundation, their tidepool educators (during their docent hours) contributed the following additional support from June 2009 to May 2010.

Treasure Island: During 2,036 docent hours, there were 55,000 visitors, and docents made 36,000 visitor contacts, with 2,500 MPA violations. (Note: May numbers were not complete. Several days are estimated). Since 2007, the number of visitors has almost doubled.

Heisler Park: During 477 docent hours, there were 33,400 visitors, with 24,770 visitor contacts. Topping Laguna Ocean Foundation's wish list is more visible signage near the tidepools (at Treasure and Goff Islands, tidepool signs parallel to ramps should be turned for maximum visibility). Additional Heisler year-round weekend hours were possible this year due to a Coastal Commission grant, which is almost over, so new funding is needed. New programs are needed at Crescent/Shaws and Pearl/Woods. Perhaps certain entities (hotels, beach restaurants or other) could pool resources and follow The Montage's example to proactively designate money (tax-deductible) for additional tidepool educator hours/programs and beach clean-ups and/or apply for additional grant money. Just a thought.

With millions of visitors annually, Laguna's beaches and tidepools must be our highest priority. Make no mistake. Our visitors come here first and foremost for the beauty of our Coastline and beaches, and secondly for our art. Our natural resources are literally our lifeblood and our legacy. Nothing is more important or should be more protected.

JOANNE SUTCH

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