Water runoff issues affect us all
When I ran for City Council a couple of years ago and knocked on doors
to meet Laguna residents, the most common complaint I heard from parents
was a concern about ocean water pollution.
I heard pretty disturbing stories from some very angry parents about
how kids had gotten sick while surfing or skim boarding and, as a result,
were forbidden to play in the beach in their own back yard.
As a result of this input, I educated myself on the subject.
What many don’t understand is that, in large part, we are creating
this problem ourselves. It’s not deliberate, it’s just a lack of
understanding as to what’s causing the pollution. I am convinced that
once there’s awareness, we will see change.
A couple of decades ago, the ocean, rivers, creeks, lakes and streams
were polluted heavily from what is called “point source” pollution --
that is, pollution which is created from sources that can be readily
identified, such as manufacturing plants, mills, etc.
With the passing of the Federal Clean Water Act, jurisdictions and
corporations were forced to revise their ways of doing business and much
of the type of pollution we saw in those days has been corrected. But,
understand, it took years to get to this point.
Much of the pollution we are seeing today is as a result of the things
that we as counties, cities, homeowners and business owners (including
contractors, landscapers, etc.) do in our daily lives. Interestingly,
what we all should know is that flowing water from our streets and yards
is the conduit that contributes to what is called “non-point-source” (no
one specific source) pollution. Flowing water carries sediment, yard
chemicals, car chemicals (oil and other fluids), animal droppings -- and
much, much more into our storm drains that typically empties into guess
Recently, I launched a program with a partner called Kids for Clean
Water that is offered to cities to teach kids about urban run-off
prevention and water conservation. We believe that behaviors will need to
change and that if we educate kids these behaviors will be ingrained once
they own homes and operate businesses.
We have produced a baseline survey for kids to measure their awareness
of concepts related to preventing run-off and using less water, which
will be used by participating cities. After the surveys are conducted,
the cities will then have the opportunity to launch kids’ education
programs to create an understanding of the concepts required to reduce
pollution in the ocean.
These are some of the concepts being presented to kids through Kids
for Clean Water:
* The water that is used inside the house does not typically go to the
same place as the water that flows on the street and into the storm
drains. (Water from the house goes to a treatment plant whereas street
water typically does not.)
* Over-watering of lawns leads to water that leaves the yard and runs
to the street, carrying pollutants to the storm drains and, ultimately,
* Watering with a hose uses much less water than a sprinkler system.
* When animal droppings are left on the ground, sprinklers and rains
contribute to the carrying of those droppings to the storm drain and,
ultimately, the ocean.
* Pesticides and herbicides will be washed into the streets if a lawn
is over-watered or if it rains. (Use them sparingly.)
* One of the biggest causes of pollution is created by contractors and
landscapers who typically hose down often while on a job, resulting in
water running down the street carrying pollutants.
* Street litter and lawn clippings that are not swept up contribute to
* Car oils and lubricants are a major source of pollution. (Did you
know that one quart of motor oil spilled down a storm drain can
contaminate 250,000 gallons of water?)
* Solvents, paints and cleaners poured into a storm drain can be very
harmful to ocean quality.
* Use kitty litter or other absorbent materials to clean outdoor
spills, rather than hosing down spills.
I applaud the city of Laguna Beach for its early efforts to seek and
implement solutions. Officials have installed warning markers at the
storm drains informing people to not pour anything into them, they’ve
purchased a vacuum street sweeper (we could use a couple more), they’ve
investigated solutions for capturing grease that drains from restaurants,
they’ve organized a community-based Task Force to make recommendations on
ways to begin addressing the problem, they’ve hired a Water Quality staff
person to focus on the issue and to secure grants to pay for programs and
solutions; they have held -- and will continue to hold -- workshops, and
they’ve made a commitment to making this issue a priority.
But, it is not just government’s job to solve this problem. It is the
job of all of us. As people become more aware, they’ll get to the point
that every time they see water running down the street when it’s not
raining, they’ll wonder: where is that water coming from and who is
causing it? Watching out for flowing water will become an addiction for
them, as it has for me. At least, I hope so.
Kids for Clean Water
Treasure Island park is jewel for Laguna
We took a walk along Aliso Beach this weekend and wandered up the path
to the new resort at Treasure Island. We probably were trespassing, but
what we saw simply amazed us.
The area that will be our public park was so much larger than we
Knowing that the expensive houses will be on the other side of the
public path, we just couldn’t believe that the park was as big as it was,
so beautiful, and had the water view that you would think the houses
We are so excited about the opening of the hotel so that we can enjoy
the wonderful public park and pathways. This is such a treasure to our
community. We can hardly wait. As 30-year residents of Laguna, we are
JUDI AND TED GEISSLER
Dirty alleys hurt clean water effort
Re: “What steps should be taken to keep Laguna’s waters clean?” (April
12). No one can say that the city is not responding to resolve this
problem. They should be commended.
Our council has undertaken the “grease spill” issue caused by the
Our sewers are being cleaned more frequently and are (hopefully) soon
to be rebuilt to prevent spills. Dams are built to prevent summertime
runoff into the ocean. Our city manager has begun a more frequent, and
certainly most effective, street-sweeping program of the streets in North
Laguna. But there is more to be done.
Our North Laguna alleys are filthy and drain into the ocean. What good
are our clean streets if our alleys continue to pour polluted water into
Laguna North has suggested regular sweeping of our many North Laguna
alleys. We were told that the street sweepers do not work well in alleys
with “vee” gutters (as are ours) or where there are no curbs.
We believe that in North Laguna (and probably citywide) the alleys and
streets together need to be cleaned regularly. There must be a way to do
this that is both cost-effective and efficient. Would better sweepers, or
some biotechnical solution, be an answer?
While Laguna tries to solve its own water pollution problems, runoff
from inland communities drains into Aliso Canyon and Laguna Canyon,
pollutes our ocean and closes our beaches. The city should become ultra
aggressive concerning urban runoff from these communities that seem to
resort to denials and delay tactics. Maybe a good lawsuit is needed to
get their attention. Someone needs to do something before it’s too late.
President of Laguna North
City needs to look at whole traffic picture
Wow! The City Council is going to consider constructing a pedestrian
tunnel under Coast Highway at Broadway. I knew I was correct when I
nominated the council for a Nobel Award in stupidity.
The problem is just too many autos. The only routes in and out of town
are the highway north, the highway south and Laguna Canyon Road inland.
Don’t blame the beachgoers who were lucky enough to find a parking
space for the traffic tie up.
If providing pedestrian access across the highway will really smooth
out the traffic flow, just build a bridge. It can be pre-fabricated and
set into place at far less cost and congestion than building a tunnel.
But not to worry fellow citizens, in July of 1996 the council put the
matter of a parking structure on its “immediate action” list and six
years later the results are dazzling. However, they did give away a
million dollars in permit fees to the Agean Corp. on the Treasure Island
development so that now they can raise our sewer fees.
I am truly in awe to think that in another six years we might have a
parking structure and a pedestrian bridge over the Coast Highway. And
with our sewers fixed people can even go into the water.
Don’t punish coach for teaching children
As many members of our community know, the Aquatics Program in Laguna
Beach includes Age Group Swim Team, Age Group Water Polo and the Master’s
In at least six years of involvement with these programs, we have
gotten to know some of the personnel very well. Chad Beeler initially was
the coach of the Master’s Swim Program and is now the coach of Age Group
Water Polo. It is our opinion that he is a dedicated, hard-working,
As parents we must all realize that some of our children will not play
as much as we want and other children will be reprimanded when they are
out of line.
At this age, athletics should teach our children about discipline and
For some of them, their athletic prowess may eventually take them to a
level where it will only matter whether they win or lose. However, for
the majority of our children how they played the game will be far more
Chad Beeler is teaching this to our children.
In our opinion, any attempt to disrupt this program directed by Chad
Beeler and Rick Scott would be a detriment not only to Age Group Water
Polo, but to the community as well.
JEB AND KETTA BROWN
Trees still blocking best part of Laguna
The correct answer to the question by the Coastline Pilot asking what
is the richest part of Laguna’s heritage should be obvious to everyone.
It surrounds us (or used to) every day.
Laguna’s richest, unique, most valuable and most beautiful heritage is
the one that nature bestowed on this area. It is the wide-open spacious
and unobstructed view of the coastline, ocean, islands and canyons as
seen from our slopes and hillsides.
The sad part is that we have destroyed, and are destroying, much of
this unique scenic beauty. We have lost much of this scenic beauty by
obstructing the view sheds, both public and private, with homes and
buildings and by importing and planting oversized, non-native vegetation
We all need homes to live in and buildings for business, etc. and for
the last many years the city’s Design Review Board has carefully
monitored the location, height and size of these structures to minimize
obstruction of our valuable and precious views.
However, people can and do grow imported vegetation to a size that we
would never allow a structure to be. If you tried to build a 50- or
60-foot high home or cover your entire property with a structure you
would be summarily denied and laughed out of City Hall.
Despite a more than 10-year effort to educate the public to select and
control all of this non-native vegetation so that their neighbors and the
public could retain their view sheds and reduce the fire hazards, far too
many people persist in growing oversized and excessive vegitation.
During this same 10-year period a citizens group has researched and
developed a “Safety and View Preservation ordinance” that has never been
accepted by the city officials. However, over the last several years the
city has been working on a view preservation ordinance and though the
first effort was fruitless, it is being revised and will hopefully be an
effective and fair ordinance, even though it still totally ignores the
related safety and health concerns.
Senior center is for everyone
Who are the seniors?
We are most of you. We are usually early 50s and up. We are more than
half of Laguna Beach.
We are past child-bearing and most of us are past child-rearing. We
are what Mary Furlong calls the “Third Age.” We are at a stage when
life-changing events are taking place. We have learned skills to
contribute, stories to share, curiosities to satisfy. We may have
finished one career and started another.
Many of us have suffered losses, met extraordinary challenges and
learned how to cope. We share many of the same feelings and desires of
We are social animals and need to talk, plan and sort through all of
life’s problems and opportunities.
While we need the company of each other, we also need younger people
and they need us. The Dakota Indians believe that if the old do not stay
connected to the young, the culture will disintegrate (as reported by
Mary Pipher in “Another Country”).
For these reasons and more, we are building a senior center for Laguna
Beach. It will be a place to come together as a community.
We will have such things as wellness areas, lounge areas, game rooms,
lunch programs, learning centers of many kinds, a media room, a juice
bar, consulting services, crafts room, exercise equipment areas and a big
It will be a place for all of Laguna Beach, not just senior citizens.
So who are we? We are you and your children and their children and
future generations. We invite you to come join us in our efforts to get
our center built. We invite you to come talk with us, plan with us and
help support us in our fund-raising efforts.
The more you take part, the more you will enjoy the Laguna Beach
Senior Center when it is built.
J. SKIPPER LYNN
Laguna Beach Seniors Inc.
Pedestrian-only idea has history
A recent letter suggested easing Main Beach traffic by using a
pedestrian-only phase of the traffic signals. All traffic would be
stopped and pedestrians could cross in any direction, even diagonally.
This is the Barnes Dance, named after Henry Barnes, the legendary
traffic commissioner of Baltimore in the 1950s, then New York during the
Lindsay years. No traces of it remain in New York.
It is still done in a few places in Baltimore.
Worth a try, but let’s give its creator due credit.
Laguna’s heritage is one with the arts
What is the richest part of Laguna’s heritage? There is only one
Laguna Beach was originally founded as an artists colony. The only one
of its kind in our country. Laguna has and always will be a mecca for
those passionate about the arts.
Our environment is one conducive to creativity and stirs our emotions.
The sky-blue waters, gorgeous sunsets and even the dampness of the foggy
mornings along our coast provide the perfect backdrop for creative
spirits as well as those who appreciate art.
People travel from all over the world to experience Laguna Beach and
we welcome them with open arms. They visit our studios, the galleries,
the homes of artists and during the summer months they attend our
world-famous art festivals.
We try to help them see the world through artists’ eyes and show them
that art is a form of healing, as well as an expression of love.
This is what our heritage is all about! Without the artists who have
lived, worked and exhibited in our community for more than 100 years, we
would have no heritage. The art that has been inspired here in Laguna
Beach will live on long after we are gone.