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Mailbag

We totally agree with other letters to the editor that a

“crisscross/all way” pedestrian-controlled traffic light solution is the

easiest and best answer at Broadway and Coast Highway. An underground

pedestrian tunnel is just asking for trouble in oh so many ways.

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Fact is, we live in a busy beach town, tourism is a big part of the

economy and probably the way even “longtime” residents or their “founding

families” found out about Laguna Beach in the first place. Let’s

remember, we are all just temporary “caretakers” paying for the privilege

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to live here. So let us simply get on with making it safer for all of us

to enjoy without overspending and creating bigger problems.

JUDY GRAY AND DARRIN TRUDEAU

Laguna Beach

Some suggestions for the new fire chief

Assuming the Laguna Beach Fire Department is adequately staffed and

equipped, as we understand it to be, and that goats are doing their job,

the new chief’s top priority should be the following task, which has not

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been done.

That task is to check the city for hazardous conditions and red tag

the hazards and/or inform the property owner what corrections are needed.

Fire hazard conditions caused by excessive vegetation, large

vegetation too near structures and other dangerous things are outlined in

the Orange County Fire Authority Directives.

A portion of the firefighters on duty standby should be checking

neighborhoods for these dangerous conditions as well as excessive

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vegetation that blocks firefighters’ ready access to property and thereby

endangers their own lives when fighting a fire.

Further, while they are practicing their runs around the neighborhoods

they should be checking for visual obstructions at intersections.

Generally the obstructions are caused by excessive vegetation but

sometimes by other elements. Getting these illegal obstructions removed

may well save firefighters lives as well as ours should one of us meet

them at a blind intersection while they are rushing to a fire or

accident.

DAVE CONNELL

Laguna Beach

New mural a sign of community spirit

Laguna’s newest public art is a mural by local artist Yuri Kuznetsov

of Elena Zass Gallery.

He donated his talent, but it’s the diverse members of our community

that helped make his vision a reality. Community Art Project held an

auction in February to offset costs of permits, applications, materials

and installation. Local artists and galleries provided art for the

auction; hotels and businesses provided raffle prizes; restaurants

contributed food; and artists, musicians, politicians, residents and

volunteers came together to support CAP’s projects.

Worthy of mention is Latitude 33 Bookstore and Silver Images Camera,

which provided the wall at 311 Ocean.

This mural is a reminder that our diversity and community spirit is

what makes Laguna Beach so special. Let’s all be inspired by it each time

we walk by.

MIKE TAUBER

Laguna Beach

Fuzzy traffic counts as fuzzy math

As a resident of the neighborhood immediately across the street from

the Treasure Island construction zone, I read with interest an article by

Martin Brower where he gives “exuberant praise” to the Laguna Beach

Colony Hotel.

For more than a year, we have endured the construction of this luxury

property. As I read Brower’s article I became increasingly concerned

about what’s going to be created due to lack of parking.

Let’s do the math together based on Brower’s article:

260 Hotel Rooms and Suites

450-person capacity in the Grand Ballroom

200-person capacity in the Junior Ballroom

120-person capacity restaurant

300 or so employees

This total does not include capacities for the 20,000-square-foot spa

or the public park.

If we add up the total capacity based on the above numbers, we are

looking at 1,330 people. Let’s just divide that in half and assume two

people per vehicle arriving at the hotel property. That’s 665 vehicles.

Now for the fuzzy part. There are only 400 “valet only” parking

spaces.

Where will all these people park?

Once Treasure Island is open to the public what will happen to our

neighborhood streets? Will we once again be put into a war zone mentality

of trying to get into and out of our driveways, up and down our narrow

streets, in and out of our shopping center? The Planning Commission is

currently reviewing a proposal for an 18-home subdivision in the hills

just above Treasure Island. Where do those new residents and construction

workers park?

We’re all very excited about the added bed tax that the Laguna Colony

Hotel will bring to the city coffers. We are not excited about the price

this neighborhood will have to pay for these supposed tax benefits.

BETSY BREDAY

Laguna Beach

Simple solution to church expansion

In regards to the St. Catherine of Siena expansion (“A matter of

viewpoint,” May 3), all the Design Review Board needs to do is ask

W.W.J.D. (What Would Jefferson Do)?

Niko Theris

Laguna Beach

A cleaner way to wash your car

Among all the good suggestions how to keep pollution from entering our

ocean, none ever referred to Lagunans washing their cars at home.

The detergent, combined with the grime accumulated underneath the

fender, the undercarriage and in the wheel well, makes for poisonous

runoff.

What is the solution?

1. Pass an ordinance prohibiting washing cars on the street and in

driveways.

2. Build a self-service, coin-operated carwash station with hand-held

power sprayers out in the canyon.

I have used one near Bakersfield -- $1 for 20 minutes of warm water,

detergent and jet spray followed by clear-water rinse off and loved it!

GUS MATHIEU

Laguna Beach

Time for truth about El Morro

It’s time for the facts about El Morro Village.

1. We are a community that has evolved to its present form over the

past 75 years. We are good neighbors to both Laguna Beach and Corona del

Mar and, very importantly, to El Morro Elementary School. Ask the school

principal, Joanne Culverhouse, and members of the Parent Teachers Assn.

and the Laguna Beach School District.

2. The location of the 296 units of the village on a relatively small

site within Crystal Cove State Park is between El Morro School and the

State Park/Laguna Beach boundary. There is ample space for the proposed

60-unit RV park and a picnic area with parking spaces on the ocean side

of Coast Highway, either across from or up the coast from El Morro

School.

3. Within the section of the village inland from Coast Highway,

approximately 35% of the residences are occupied full-time by owners or

renters, many of whom are senior citizens and some of whom are employed

in Orange County. The village provides “affordable housing” for many of

the occupants, with space rents in the lowest range of $385 to $415. The

State Park system gets one check from the management company. This

company collects the space rents and maintains the grounds and

infrastructure.

4. There is very little if any excuse or additional public benefit to

eradicate El Morro Village and lose the current $1 million plus net

income to the state parks, thus killing the goose that lays the golden

eggs while increasing the unnecessary taxpayer burden of subsidization of

the proposed project. The desired public benefit can be obtained at a

much lower cost without disturbing the birds and other habitat that live

in the village simply by using vacant land within Crystal Cove State

Park.

5. The beach area in front of El Morro Village is completely

controlled by the parks department, not El Morro Village. The beach is

not private.

6. When and if the beach area within Crystal Cove State Park becomes

overcrowded, then additional visitors could be taken by tram from Reef

Point to the sandy area in front of El Morro Village. At present the park

is grossly underused both for vehicle parking and beach use. Perhaps the

state park gate receipts should be analyzed to judge use. My guess is

even in the summer parking will rarely be at maximum capacity and for the

balance of the year it will be very low. This is in spite of the

reduction of the auto entry fee from $6 to $3 a couple of years ago to

stimulate use of the park.

7. Officials of the state park system say that business and private

occupancy have no place in the state park, but they did not hesitate to

let a commercial operator in to the Crystal Cove section of the park, who

was later bought off for $2 million. This would appear to be a conflict

of philosophy.

8. If the village tenants (296 homes) are forced out at the end of

2004, think of the confusion, the waste of resources and the hardship,

both financial and emotional. As stated, there is a very significant

portion of the occupants who are permanent residents. Some of their homes

would be impossible to move because they have been made permanent to a

certain degree. In order to get a lease renewal in 1999, there was a

clause requiring a waiver by tenants of relocation reimbursements. Now it

appears that federal law, in regards to mobile home parks, outlaws a

waiver of this type.

The bottom line is that certain politicians in the parks department

are personally dedicated to removing almost 300 families from their homes

at any cost. This is not only unnecessary, but also very costly to the

state park system and California taxpayers at a time when we are facing a

huge budget deficit.

It just doesn’t make sense to displace the people of El Morro Village

and lose the income generated by them. There was a bond issue approved by

state parks. Where does the money come from to pay the interest and

retire the bonds?

The use of rental income of $1 million or more from El Morro Village

is a sure thing for use in renovation of the Crystal Cove cabins. So far

state parks officials have been overly optimistic about both available

funds and the rehabilitation progress in their press releases and

interviews with reporters. The taxpayers of California need to think

about this.

BOB NICHOLS

Laguna Beach

Bowl neighbors should listen to facts

In reply to Barbara Diamond’s story “Muffling the arts” (Coastline

Pilot, April 26) regarding Festival of the Arts neighbors bothered by

Irvine Bowl noise.

Diamond’s story was filled with false assumptions and fears,

inaccurate statements and was completely one-sided, quoting three

disgruntled residents while not including one word from representatives

of the festival, Irvine Bowl Committee or the Arts Commission.

First, residents of High Drive and Linden and Hill streets said they

fear a year-round schedule for the Irvine Bowl, causing their property

values to drop. False. As an outdoor amphitheater, the bowl cannot be

used year-round. Winter weather, November to March, is too unpredictable,

causing the booking of concerts or special events to be a high financial

risk. And the correct and wise time to consider future property values is

before you purchase property, not after.

The pageant staff and crew have priority over the bowl and when it can

be used. Work begins on the stage for the following summer’s show as

early as January, making the usage of the stage for additional events

from January to June impossible. Realistically, the only time the bowl is

available are the months of September and October.

Second, residents, promised to be kept in the loop, said they were in

the dark about the new concert series. True and false. Yes, any expanded

usage of the bowl must be approved by the Irvine Bowl Committee (two

Festival board members and two City Council members). If additional

events are approved, the city notifies the residents in the area by mail.

Residents did not know of the classical and jazz concerts because they

are all scheduled for the festival grounds, not the bowl.

These performances will be held during summer festival hours, when the

festival has always had live entertainment for those attending the

festival. This is not a change in any way from the past. The festival has

never been subject to clearing its summer festival entertainment with

Irvine Bowl residents.

All locals are admitted free to the festival so, instead of

complaining, go down for a glass of wine and enjoy some great music.

Third, a High Drive resident claimed “the Festival feels it was here

first and it can do what it wants to.” True and false. Yes, the festival

was there first. The festival moved to its current location 61 years ago,

opening July 30, 1941. For the most part, the now-existing homes on the

surrounding hillsides had not yet been built.

No, the festival does not feel “it can do what it wants to” and never

will. This was proven by the involvement of the local citizens and

festival’s membership with the recall of the previous board when they

attempted to move the festival to San Clemente.

Fourth, the same resident continued, “never once has anyone from the

festival come and thanked us for putting up with the noise.” True. You

have a long wait. Are you serious? Take some personal responsibility. You

chose to live near an existing, outdoor amphitheater, blame yourself and

not the festival.

Bottom line, as a resident you have a choice. You can either sit back

and complain, stick your head in the sand and later cry, “We didn’t

know!” or you can get involved. Become a member of the Festival of Arts

and stay informed.

As proven by the very positive meeting held last Thursday with a group

of the Irvine Bowl residents, the festival is eager to be a good neighbor

and work in partnership with both residents and the city to best handle

any noise issues and how they affect the areas adjacent to the Irvine

Bowl.

MITCH RIDDER

Laguna Beach

New kid should learn old tricks

This flashy new kid on the block looks pretty good and I would likely

have supported it wholeheartedly if I hadn’t opened it up to find the

letters to the editor section seriously compromised and diminished.

Previously, we had an editor who allowed a forum of free expression to

permeate its pages. He’s gone and what has taken his place is a myopic

standard of expression limited only to local concerns, which, of course,

couldn’t be more uneventful and boring.

Gone are the weekly philosophical debates held by a diverse group of

self appointed “experts” with opinions ranging from far right to far

left.

Gone is the religious forum with a born-again Christian on the right,

sometimes a New Ager in the middle and an atheist on the left. What fun

it was.

The new Coastline Pilot should recognize that we are not ordinary

citizens blissfully unaware of life outside of Laguna. We are, for the

most part, artists and visionaries and should be allowed the same vehicle

for our free expression that we’ve had for years. I am committed to not

reading this paper until this complaint has been duly noted and a

reversal of its mailbag rules is implemented.

YAMINI REDEWILL

Laguna Beach

EDITOR’S NOTE: While we of course support First Amendment rights to

free speech, we strongly believe that local issues are in no way

“uneventful and boring.” As this Mailbag shows, there can be lively

debate on Laguna Beach issues, which is what we are dedicated to

encouraging and supplying a place for in these pages.


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