Los Angeles Times

Mailbag: Fire rings on the beach are happiness

I seldom agree with the California Coastal Commission but I applaud them on trying to save the few remaining fire rings along the coast.

There is nothing quite so joyous and spirit-warming as hot dogs and marshmallows cooking on a stick over an open fire, with surf sounding in the background. Though I am too old to partake of this simple, low-cost party any longer, I would hate to see today's youth denied of yet another of the pleasures of my youth.

In regards to smoke from fire pits, remember that most of the rings sit idle the majority of the time. Those rich enough and lucky enough to live on the coast close enough to occasionally see or smell some smoke, count your blessings and don't deny this simple, wholesome pleasure to others.

Dave Connell

Laguna Beach


Parking not an 'opportunity for new business taxes'

The column in the Feb. 22 Coastline Pilot by David Hansen with the headline, "City eyes more downtown private parking," offers little useful information on current downtown parking conditions. However, it does bring attention to the continuing debate as to the need and use of public and private parking spaces.

Unfortunately, comments by certain city officials regarding private property owners charging a fee for public use of their parking lots is an illustration of apparent ignorance of the importance of gaining the cooperation from private parking lot owners and maximizing the use of available private parking areas. A softer tone toward the business owners may go a lot further in achieving that result.

Are city representatives really trying to complete a meaningful Parking Management Plan or are they looking for new taxes? Are they suggesting private owners chain off their parking lots after business hours or face new taxes?

Hansen refers to Wells Fargo Bank as not so much a bank as it is a beach parking lot during summer. A city official states, "You've got places running two businesses, like the banks. They are a bank during the day and a parking lot at night. And they're basically running the parking lot for free, as far as the city is concerned. The city is getting nothing out of that."

Later in the column, a city staff member states, "There's these secondary businesses that may not be, quote-unquote, legal, and one method is to try to … gain revenue from that to offset other expenses."

The staff member does make reference to the potential pool of private parking spaces that could be utilized. Do they mean adding more parking spaces or more tax revenue?

Hansen points out the library has a whopping 12 spaces allocated exclusively for staff. Be aware, these parking spaces also serve the Chamber of Commerce office staff and the volunteers working in the Friends of the Library bookstore located on the site, and all the parking is available for public use after library closing hours during most of the year. A small amount of the parking fees collected during the tourist season is returned to the Friends to support library activities.

Hopefully, the forthcoming public meetings on the Parking Management Plan will provide a more positive discussion of parking issues, not "eyeing" an opportunity for new business taxes. Until the city can provide more parking spaces to accommodate the downtown business area, city officials should be grateful for any private parking space made available for public use.

Martha Lydick

Laguna Beach


Personal views not enough for law

I am amazed that Planning Commissioner Norm Grossman and City Planner Monica Tuchscher have come up with an additional taxation idea on Wells Fargo because they rent out their parking lot in the evening, which Grossman and Tuchscher feel is additional income and should have an additional tax for the city because, per Grossman, "it's fair."

When did a personal view of fairness become a standard of law? If we wanted to be fair, then no one would own anything; but I think they already tried that in places like Russia and China.

Using this mentality, apartment owners who make money on washers and dryers should pay an additional tax to the city, or food stores who sell anything beyond food should also pay additional taxes, etc.

Instead of helping the city by providing this extra space and employment for the people who work the parking area, Wells Fargo could just have its use restricted to bank business and close it at night.

I'm sure the money the bank is making on parking (plus the cost they have for insurance) isn't keeping them afloat. Why not reward people who help the city instead of this "attack" mentality? Where does it end?

Actually, I guess it doesn't, because these brilliant minds are also looking at "tenants only" private parking. I'm not sure what that is all about, but I bet it's a beaut.

Mike Saitta

Laguna Beach


A poem for Laguna's views

A shiver I encountered with a déjà vu

of words similar evoked in '93 and '92

at the recent meeting on restoring views

about our desire to see the ocean blues.

Back then and led by Christoph, Ann

with her side kick, N. Grossman

words like lacing, topping

but nix on chopping

were written as guidelines for our fair land

created dismay on a scale quite grand.

Now again we are faced with such a notion

that will limit precious views of the ocean.

We will continue with pain and emotion

unless this committee listens with devotion

to the pleas for fairness and equity

by those who live in our lovely city

and have till now been a silent majority.

Again we have the whining of some, misinformation from others (many current homeowners had views when they purchased their homes and do not now).

We have learned over time that what our forefathers have done is/was not always best practice. Eucalyptus trees are fire hazards — ask the people in Australia, folks who were here during our big fire, and other parts of California where fires have devastated whole communities.

We did not coerce anyone to write the first ordinance, which has created divisiveness and anger for those who tried back then to create equity. Go back and read the poem again.

Ganka Brown

Laguna Beach

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