Our Laguna -- Barbara Diamond

Supervisor Tom Wilson served up a heaping helping of good news at the

Laguna Canyon Conservancy Dinner on Monday.

They were even friendlier after Tom assured them that Main Beach and

the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park will never have commercial flights over


them from El Toro.

“The V Plan, concocted by the New Millennium Group, has caught some

attention,” Tom said. “They have contacted the Board of Supervisors to

put on the ballot an initiative called the ‘The Reasonable Airport and


Park Nature Preserve.’

“I’m not concerned about it. They are trying to get signatures, but if

they had the signatures, they wouldn’t be asking the supervisors to put

it on the ballot.”

Tom would like to see the U.S. Marines come back to El Toro, and two

600-acre sites will be whiteholed to see if the federal government will

pony up the money to move the Marine Depot to either site from San Diego



The cleanup of the base is about 80% completed, Tom said, but some of

it never will be.

Tom also told conservancy members that the long-promised widening and

realigning of Laguna Canyon Road should begin this year and be completed

by the winter of 2003-04. The project includes restoration of wetlands,

but will generate no increase in downstream runoff.

The canyon views will be better in some areas than others unless Tom

can find funding to underground all of the utility poles and lines. Right


now, he has a lock on about $3 million. He needs another $3 million to

underground the whole road.

Still on his plate: a new South County Court House in Laguna Niguel,

the Dana Point Harbor revitalization project, the Orange County

Transportation Agency Centerline rail project, high-speed rail and the

Rancho Mission Viejo development.

Sometimes local folks forget that Tom is supervisor of the “Fabulous

Fifth District” of Orange County, not just Laguna Beach.

Not such good news was Tom’s opinion there is no permanent fix for low

flights over Laguna from John Wayne Airport.

The only answer is to keep after the airport and the FAA. Call the FAA

Noise Hotline, (310) 725-3638 and the John Wayne noise abatement number,


Nancy Wilson attended the dinner meeting with Tom.

Gene Fielder serves as master of ceremonies at the conservancy

dinners, held the first Monday of the month, September through May at

Tivoli Terrace. Everyone is welcome. No meetings are held during festival


The election of the conservancy board of directors is held at the May

meeting. Elected Monday by acclamation: Jeannie Bernstein, Ed Drollinger,

Maxwell Brown, J. J. Gasparotti, John Keith, Sharon Larimer, John

Pfeffer, Diane Valentino, Carolyn Wood and Gene.

Conservancy founder and former council member Lida Lenney attended the

dinner. She announced that she is writing a book about how Laguna Beach

residents and other open-space adherents saved the canyon from


She distributed a letter at the meeting, asking for stories from those

who participated.

“I can only represent my view,” she said. “Each of you had a unique

experience that only you can contribute.”

Good photographs also will be needed.

It was more than 10 years ago that folks gathered together for The

Walk down Laguna Canyon Road to protest the build-out of Laguna Laurel.

The Walk -- always capitalized in Laguna -- is credited with triggering

the Irvine Co. sale of Laguna Laurel parcels to Laguna Beach.

“It was an exciting time,” Lida said. “It is a story that must be


Arnold Hano has agreed to write the first chapter. And the Irvine Co.

will participate.

The guest list Monday included Anita Mangels, Bud Schaefer, City Clerk

Verna Rollinger, Realtor Bobbi Cox, League of Women Voters member Jean

Raun, Jean Sturgis, Harry Huggins, Eric Jessen, Laguna Greenbelt board

member Ben Blount and his wife, Gigi.

Also: Mary Fegraus, executive director of the Laguna Canyon

Foundation; Johanna Felder; Charlie Boyd and Phyllis Sweeney, former

mayors; Marion Jacobs, Vison Steering Committee member, and Ann and Peter

Weisbrod, who claims to be the longest AYSO referee in the United States

(since 1973).


It was standing room only for the opening ceremony of the city’s

Heritage Month. The celebration was held May 2 at Madison’s Square &

Garden Cafe.

“This is the biggest crowd we have ever had,” said Tamara Campbell,

Heritage Committee chair.

Vice Mayor Toni Iseman greeted the guests.

Toni supports the preservation of older homes and commercial buildings

in Laguna and urged people who own them to consider putting them on the

city’s historical register.

“The first commercial building on the register was City Hall, which

isn’t as old as some people would like,” she said.

She opposes plans to replace it, perhaps with a look-alike.

“Do we want faux or do we want the real thing?” she said.

Tamara also gave thanks Jon and other Heritage Committee members Molly

Bing, Anne Frank, Andy Alison, Rick Gold, Steve Fairbanks and

contributors to Heritage Month festivities:

Jonathan Fackler, Kenneth Garcia, entertainers Jasso and Garcia and

artist John Eagle, who set up his easel at the reception and created a

work of art on the spot.

Fabric artist and designer Olivia Batchelder took time off from

preparing for festival season to attend the celebration.

Mingling in the garden: John Hoover; Jim and Arts Commissioner Pat

Kollenda; Coastline Pilot Managing Editor Steve Cahn and his wife, Bobbie

Jo Allen; Dick Frank; and Kathy Jones, back in Laguna Beach after a

hiatus in Washington D.C.


Former Planning Commissioner Doug Reilly is on the mend, home from the

hospital recovering from injuries he suffered in a traffic accident on

April 29. He has a broken clavicle, two broken ribs and internal


Doug was making a left-hand turn off of El Toro Road onto Laguna

Canyon Road when he was broadsided by an SUV whose driver, witnesses

said, ran the red light. None of the witnesses left the scene, friends


“He was very lucky,” said Verna Rollinger, who brought Doug home from

the hospital Sunday.

Friends such as Bonnie Hano have rallied around and signed up for

preparing dinners until Doug can fend for himself.

* OUR LAGUNA is a regular feature of the Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot.

Contributions are welcomed. Write to Barbara Diamond, P.O. Box 248,

Laguna Beach, 92652, hand-deliver to 384 Forest Ave., Suite 22; call

494-4321 or fax 494-8979.