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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

where?

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,

the ocean.

* 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

pollution.

* 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.

ELIZABETH PEARSON

Kids for Clean Water

Laguna Beach

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

thought.

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

would have.

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

very pleased.

JUDI AND TED GEISSLER

Laguna Beach

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

restaurants.

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

the ocean?

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.

DON KNAPP

President of Laguna North

Laguna Beach

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.

DAN HUSTON

Laguna Beach

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

Swim Team.

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,

ethical coach.

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

team work.

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

valuable.

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

Laguna Beach

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

(mostly trees).

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.

DAVE CONNELL

Laguna Beach

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

humankind.

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

multi-purpose room.

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.

Laguna Beach

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.

ROGER TAFT

Laguna Beach

Laguna’s heritage is one with the arts

What is the richest part of Laguna’s heritage? There is only one

answer, Art!

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.

ANNE ENGLAND

Laguna Beach


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