For ease of crossing Coast Highway at Main Beach and vicinity, use a
simple solution, (like the goats on the hillside, for taming weed
* Paint gleaming white stripes across intersections
* Synchronize traffic lights for pedestrian movement (diagonal as well
This is a real basic answer for movement of pedestrian/automobiles.
It’s inexpensive and implementable immediately. No costly traffic
consultants, politicians, or Caltrans personnel needed.
If New York City can do it at major intersections, (e.g. 57th Street
and Fifth Avenue), certainly, Laguna Beach can do it.
Don’t forget the importance of trees
Obvious motivations aside, Dave Connell’s Sounding off (“Can’t compare
trees in Carmel vs. Laguna,” Coastline Pilot, May 24) calling his critic
“wrong on all counts” cites several part truths, proffers false
information and misses the real view except that which comes from his own
one-way, sell-it-all picture-window perspective.
True: This is a semiarid and south-exposed terrain with little or
periodic rain. For the most part only shrubs (native scrub) are on our
west-facing slopes. Oaks, sycamores and a variety of undergrowth as well
as unique plants such as dudlea are also native to cliff faces, and
canyons. At least that is how it was historically before the eucalyptus
was imported and took hold, as was the pepper, coral, ficus, et al.
In fact, most plants in our gardens and nurseries are not native. It
remains to be seen if our weather conditions remain as they were, given
geological information and environmental factors that continue to alter
our climate toward another direction.
While nature endowed this area with open, spacious views from the
hills to the sea and upward toward the hills from the sea, the view,
shared by our ancestors and early residents who arrived in this area,
would now be looking upward and outward from and at the intensely
overbuilt homes and commercial buildings that are reaching critical mass.
This is quite a different view, from that of early travelers marveling
at the gentle slopes, deep canyons and appreciating the eucalyptus trees
enough to record them for posterity in landscape and seascape paintings.
Artists came to Laguna over the past century and established it as The
Eucalyptus School with paintings looking through and at these and other
magnificent trees. They are becoming a symbol of Laguna’s coastal
environment and its reputation as well as the Riviera of the West.
Because of its light, also derived in part from the shadows and scale
of its trees, the contours of those eucalyptus trees and unfettered hills
are testimonials within highly prized collections of “what Laguna Beach
This is our trademark and used as extensively today as yesteryear in
brochures, photos and collectible memorabilia, in museum and gallery
exhibitions and as part of the Plein Air competition’s marketing
There are few or no remaining old-growth stands or really large trees.
WE have cut down all the 100-year old oaks along the canyon road, ripped
up most others that did not burn or stood in the way of development. But
it is not the trees that present themselves as permanent obstructions to
the view shed, but the way in which we have imposed development into our
views. We have placed our own needs and values before ourselves and other
life such as natural habitats. But that is rarely spoken in the same
vehement tones as Connell’s notion of view shed.
Telephone poles, wires, roof lines, buildings and the cheek to jowl
massing of homes with glaring view glass are predominant no matter what
the view. This has dwarfed most of what was beautiful about Laguna’s
contour lines and landscape in favor of permanent light pollution and not
so pleasing structures. These are the real obstacles to the beauty and
life of the coast and hills that were painted and appreciated by artists
and earlier residents.
The recent Laguna Art Museum’s Lincoln Plein Air Invitational, has
Marion Wachtel’s 1915 painting of a giant eucalyptus with the words
“legendary beauty” on its cover page and is the description of Laguna’s
noted fame through that view. We buy, sell and make money off of the
notion of that view through those trees, but the likes of Connell remind
us that they are unimportant.
As with most uniformed bullies who whip the flames of anger against
the most innocent of targets, Connell’s tirade passes over the important
truths and offers only “if you dislike views and are overly fond of trees
then find somewhere else.”
(In other words, move.) His final insult adds injury to our already
assaulted senses citing trees as the fuel for potential injury and fire.
Certainly his tirade has found a place in his and other fuzzy minds of
those who will go so far as to pay others to cull trees from their sight
while applauding intense development that extracts the ultimate price.
Environmental, emotional and physical health depend on a balance,
variety and open space and water shed in which to contemplate and create.
Trees add shade, moisture, shelter and scale to both the built and
natural environments. They are prunable, shapeable and add immeasurably
to the physical and emotional atmosphere as well as frame the view in
which Laguna’s reputation stands.
Unfortunately Laguna is looking more like Connell’s view than
Speak up against sewer fee hike
On April 19, the city of Laguna Beach sent all property owners a
letter of intent to increase our sewer taxes by 10% each of the next two
This is in spite of the following facts:
The sewer fee/tax was initiated in 1976, after Proposition 13 was
passed. Thus was an end run around that proposition to raise more revenue
for the city and to sidestep Proposition 13.
This tax started as a reasonable amount but has grown by 12 times that
In 16 of the 26 years that this has been imposed, and imposed without
a vote of the property owners, they have increased it.
During this time the city of Laguna Beach has collected about $70
million, but for what? Not for the replacement of the antiquated sewer
system. I feel that this increase will be frittered away too.
In the past two years these fees/taxes have been increased by almost
10% and now they are proposing another 20% over the next two years. Is
your income increasing at this kind of rate??
This increase schedule should be put to a vote of the property owners.
But it will not be! The city is taking the attitude that if over 50% of
the property owners do not object in writing, they have voted for the
That is approval by default and very probably illegal.
Send your objection, with your property parcel number from your tax
bill on it without delay.
LEE REYMER II
Funding options for sewer repairs
I’ve had the privilege of serving on several committees over the past
several years involving fixing the aging sewer system, the reduction of
pollutants going to the ocean, and more recently the Wastewater Advisory
Committee with Mayor Baglin and Vice-Mayor Toni Iseman.
In every instance the fixes require gobs of money far beyond the
current annual cash flow of the sewer fund but well within the monetary
means of Laguna Beach residents to fund if they are educated and
convinced that it is the right thing to do.
These fixes, like other capital-intensive projects in the city, can’t
be funded out of the annual city budget due to the unpredictability of
these funds. For whatever reason, there is a reluctance by city leaders
to consolidate needed (and desired) projects into a capital improvement
plan acceptable to the residents with the residents granting authority to
borrow money and implement the plan.
In the case of the sewer infrastructure, a revenue bond issue could be
sold to generate the millions of dollars needed to fix the system,
minimize future ocean pollution and treat and recycle toxic urban runoff.
For other facilities, a general obligation bond might be required.
Like the recent successful school bond issue, the projects need to be
specified with citizen oversight to make sure that bond funds are used
This is a proactive approach to getting the job done as opposed to
those who pontificate that this type of financing is mortgaging our
To those who take a short-term viewpoint, look around at all the new
infrastructure being funded in rapidly developing areas of Orange County
with various debt instruments and fees built into home prices for the
next 30 years that don’t appear to bother buyers one whit.
The pay-as-you-go mentality that seems to plague Laguna Beach’s
leadership will continue with dead-end results before any new significant
infrastructure is built. The village entrance (with some type of parking)
has been under discussion for too many years without a plan to finance
anything in particular. Ditto the city yard, which is a disaster that
occupies key real estate with heavy equipment and unsafe working
And what about ocean pollution caused by sewer failures and low-flow
urban runoff? Ocean pollution off of Laguna Beach stands a high
likelihood of continuing into the future until a credible plan is
developed to fix the sewers. This includes a credible financial plan to
borrow the money that makes sense to the residents, including those on
the Wastewater Advisory Committee.
I truly appreciate the many demands made on the elected leadership in
Laguna Beach as each special interest group exerts pressure for their pet
I urge the elected leadership to pull the projects together into a
capital improvement plan, go to the voters for money, and see if the
residents are willing to authorize the necessary bond allowing
improvements to the city’s infrastructure.
This planning will eliminate ocean pollution, solve the shortage of
parking, construct a efficient city yard, and add those other facilities
to make this a world first class community.
Some city budget concerns
The North Laguna Community Assn. and its board are concerned that the
current budgeting process is not funding the projects and services most
critical to our entire community.
Our concern is based on the council’s apparent support for projects we
view as worthwhile, but as not having the highest priority in serving the
welfare of Laguna Beach, as a whole.
We are also concerned that no discussion has occurred to determine how
to deal with the likely loss of $1.6 million of expected revenue for this
Given the importance of the budgeting process, we ask that there be
more community involvement and discussion, not only in selecting which
projects are funded, but equally important, which projects or services
will be underfunded or cut to balance the budget.
To that end, the association recommends that budget items be
categorized three ways:
* Infrastructure: Support and services that are uniquely provided by
the city and critical to our community’s health and safety, i.e., fire,
paramedics, police, water, sewers, building, zoning, streets, Etc.
* Revenue: Those projects that offer the opportunity to generate
additional revenue or at least be self-supporting, i.e. parking
structures, joint commercial development, under grounding, Festival of
* Community Serving: Projects that would provide community services
but are not infrastructure or revenue producing in nature and require
city funds to accomplish, i.e. community center, community clinic, etc.
We feel that city funds should be expended first to infrastructure,
then to revenue-producing projects and if excess funding is available, to
We do not feel there should ever be trade-offs between infrastructure
and community serving or revenue-producing projects. It is apparent that
our city’s infrastructure is in a very delicate state and needs major
focus to prevent future catastrophes.
As examples, funds should not be shifted from repairing substandard
working conditions for city employees at the corporate yard or main beach
lifeguard headquarters to fund less critical community serving projects.
Cutting city staff in the building and zoning departments to source
funds for non-infrastructure projects would add to the workload of an
already over-burdened staff and reduce further service levels to the
Our sewers are in desperate need of repair. Even with the 10% increase
in fees, we are only beginning to address the existing problems.
Additional funding to this critical part of our community’s
infrastructure is needed to protect us from the potential of millions of
gallons of raw sewage that travel down Coast Highway and erupt from our
streets. Any delay of upgrades to fire and police infrastructure while
facing the driest year in history would cause us great concern.
In summary, we recommend the categorizations in this letter so all the
citizens of our community can begin to understand how and where our funds
will be spent. If it is necessary to make cuts to fund something that is
currently not in the proposed budget or because of revenue shortfalls,
then we will know what the council recommends we should give up to
balance the budget.
We think this city budget cycle represents a great opportunity for all
of us in Laguna to really understand how our taxes will be used in our
North Laguna Community Assn.
Don’t take neighborhood out of school
In answer to the boundary question regarding the schools we would like
to say the following:
The school district should NOT move students that are currently
walking distance to the elementary school to a school that requires
busing them for 40-80 minutes each day.
Keep Top of the World a neighborhood school that our young children
from kindergarten to fifth grade can walk to.
TERRI AND MARK MEISBERGER
The Board of Directors of the Top of World Neighborhood Assn. opposes
any proposed plan to force the elementary school children in the Top of
the World neighborhood to commute to El Morro.
Many residents of Top of the World moved here planning to send their
children to the nearby school. The proposal is utterly impractical for
One of our board members who had kids in the district prior to the
construction of the school says the daily drive to El Morro or Aliso
School was “a nightmare.” It does not make sense for children who live
within easy walking distance of Top of the World Elementary to commute an
additional 40 minutes a day to El Morro, or to be bused 90 minutes per
This plan will adversely affect the desirability for younger families
to buy homes in this neighborhood and negatively impact the quality of
life and property values.
A better approach would be to redraw the existing lines to equalize
the El Morro and Top of the World populations, as has been done in the
past, or assign the new kids from Newport Coast to El Morro as planned.
For example, there would be much less of a travel time impact on the
kids currently bused from outlying areas to Top of the World, if they
were reassigned to El Morro.
The proposed experiment, like forced busing, is doomed to fail because
of its impracticality. It’s a waste of the school budget and our tax
dollars to consider or implement.
Parents don’t want to spend additional time on the road. Laguna Beach
does not want more traffic and pollution as those who presently walk will
now be driven. Top of the World residents do not want desirability of
their homes reduced or their quality of life negatively impacted.
Our association praises Top of the World School, the Laguna Beach
Unified School District and the city for recent work ensuring the safety
of schoolchildren walking to and from the school and for improving
Please don’t undo the good work by accepting this particular proposal.
Our board urges the school board to vote against this plan.
Top of the World Neighborhood Association
The district should not make anyone change schools!
A hunky, trunky thank you
Hunks in Trunks, a multi-event Memorial Weekend Extravaganza proved
beyond a doubt that local gay- and lesbian-oriented businesses can join
together and attract literally thousands of people to Laguna Beach for a
Money raised at the various events went to our own Laguna Shanti, a
non-profit organization serving clients who are HIV positive or have
This beats giving the money to a big-time promoter, which is usually
These sponsors of Hunks in Trunks should be heralded by the whole
community for opening their hearts and pocketbooks to people with AIDS:
Aqua Terra Spa, Areo Home Accessories, Black Iris Florist & Gifts, Casa
Laguna Inn, Coast Inn, In a Flash Photo, Jewelry by Ponce, Koffee Klatch,
Laguna Health Club, Laguna Properties, Madison Square & Garden Cafe,
Main Street Bar/Cabaret, Mark’s Restaurant, Peter Blake Gallery, Pottery
Shack, Seven Degrees, Salon John Bryan, Sundried Tomato Cafe & Catering,
Super Printers, Surf & Sand Resort, the Boom Boom Room, Vintage Poster,
Video Horizons, Woody’s at the Beach Restaurant, and the ZINC Cafe &
Let’s do it again next year.
Different view of ‘Unfaithful’
I just wanted to tell you that we had the opposite opinion of the
review on the movie “Unfaithful.”
We went to see it with another couple, later discussed the movie over
dinner and all agreed that it was one of the best movies we have seen in
a great while and that Diane Ladd should be considered for an Academy
Award her role as the wife, Connie.
The emotions reflected on her face when she was returning on the train
from her tryst was enough to support the award, in our opinion.
Her range of emotions from disdain to pure pleasure was compelling, to
say the least.
Also the body language was an important part of the movie especially
when she was in the coffee shop with her friends.
We loved it. Different strokes for different folks, I guess.
Be nice and stay off our neighborhood streets
Nice people do not take short cuts through other people’s
neighborhoods on the way to work. The term short cut implies in a hurry,
in a hurry can lead to speeding.
For the residents who live on the affected streets speeding feels and
is perceived as dangerous and inconvenient. Dangerous for children
walking to school.
If you’re pulling out of your drive way with fear and trepidation it
is inconvenient. I have actually had mothers tell me that they would not
drop their child off one block from Top of the World School, as compared
to dropping off at the front entrance, because of other parents
When driving to work, please consider dropping straight down the hill
to Coast Highway. Nice people do not take short cuts through others’
neighborhoods especially while speeding.
MICHAEL L. HOAG
Detailed thoughts on Highway crossing
I agree with Councilwoman Toni Iseman that something should and can be
done with the pedestrian problem at Coast Highway and Broadway at Main
After carefully analyzing the benefits and the negatives of different
ways of moving pedestrian traffic, I have come to the conclusion that a
tunnel under Coasts Highway at Broadway would be extremely expensive, not
cost effective and construction would have automobile traffic messed up
for weeks if not months.
Here are some other negatives: There would be expensive upkeep and
maintenance all year long, but especially during the winter months when
it would have the least amount of traffic.
It would have to be lighted 24 hours a day. It would provide an
excellent place for the homeless to sleep and would need constant police
The ends of the ramps would have to be at least one to two feet above
extra high tide to keep the tunnel from flooding. It would have to have
pumps with special impellers so they will not wear out from the ocean
water and beach sand abrasion.
The purpose of the tunnel is to get pedestrians across Coast Highway
and it will do that at initial and continuous great expense. It would,
however, have wheelchair-approved ramps, which would also be used by
pedestrians. The idea will work, but it appears to be not the best way to
get the job done.
A simple and inexpensive means to control the large amount of
pedestrian traffic crossing Coast Highway at Main Beach is to paint one
crosswalk line at the corner of the intersection, where there is one now.
The other crosswalk line should be 18- to 20-feet north on Coast
Highway. This would provide at least twice the width of the present
crosswalk and would allow twice the number of pedestrians to cross in the
allotted time, completely out of the intersection. This change would
allow automobile traffic to make left-hand turns from Broadway onto Coast
Highway and right-hand turns from Coast Highway onto Broadway
simultaneously during the traffic signal.
The pedestrian signal could be increased another 20 to 30 seconds.
This would give even the slowest pedestrian time to be safely across
Coast Highway within the time allotted. Drivers resent having to wait for
inconsiderate pedestrians to clear the intersection after the signal has
changed for cars.
If a pedestrian repeatedly does not get across in the allotted time,
he should be issued a citation. The citation would not be excessive, but
the inconvenience of having to pay the fine just might get him or her to
make the crossing faster so as not to hold up automobile traffic. As the
number of citations to an individual increase, so would the fine. That
will help the flow of traffic and the city coffers.
The most effective and efficient means to handle pedestrian traffic
across Coast Highway at Main Beach is to build an overpass. Coast Highway
traffic would not be interrupted with straggling, inconsiderate
pedestrians. Beach goers can go to and get from the beach without having
to wait for traffic signals.
An overpass can be erected in a very short time at night or in the
spring or in the fall, when there is the least amount of automobile
traffic. If the spanning structure can be precast and welded together on
site, it would take a matter of days, even hours to erect and would not
impede either pedestrian or automobile traffic. Everyone will benefit
with an overpass including the through traffic, the beach goers and the
The overpass would have planters, totally covered with gorgeous
flowers that bloom all year long. The flowers would be fed by a precisely
measured automated drip system and a special drain would be installed
that would utilize the city sewer system if it becomes necessary to
contain excess special chemical nutrients so they will not contaminate
the storm drains and the ocean.
There would be minimal maintenance cost to the city for the overpass
and the flowers. I am sure there are many service organizations or
related businesses in Laguna Beach that would volunteer to keep the
plants and vines pruned and to make sure that proper nutrients are being
dispensed to the flowers to keep them healthy and blooming.
The overpass must be wheelchair approved so the correct ramp angle
would be adhered to and adequate-sized switchback landings would be
provided. These same wheelchair ramps would also be wide enough to be
comfortably used by pedestrians. There would be a minimum amount of
lighting, however, outlets would be required to provide power for the
small pumps used for the flower irrigation.
If the overpass is constructed of reinforced concrete ramps, concrete
floor and concrete sides there would be virtually no maintenance.
If it is made of steel it can probably be constructed faster and
cheaper, but protecting the steel from rust in the salt air will need
almost constant maintenance.
The same overpass concept should be used at the Festival grounds over
Laguna Canyon Road from the Festival to the proposed new parking
structure. I have additional information on this improvement.
JOHN H. RUDOLPH
Upstanding citizen deserves recognition
I am 74 years young and have been a resident of Laguna Beach for the
past 25 years.
As a former musician, I recently attended a rehearsal of the Laguna
Community Concert Orchestra and was most impressed.
Anyone living here is certainly aware of said group of volunteers and
While enjoying the music my feeble eyes caught sight of a young man,
perhaps in his mid-40s, playing the bass trombone, a most difficult
instrument and exceptionally well.
In stature, he was tall, lean and stood as erect as the Statue of
Liberty. I was intrigued and determined that he was formerly a captain in
the U.S. Marine Corps, which accounted for his posture, is in the
reserves and still is an exemplary pilot.
Further investigation revealed that he possesses an extraordinary IQ.
graduated from USC in the top 5% of his class with an MBA and was a
member of Beta Gamma Sigma (national business honor society).
Currently, he is associate vice president and manager of the Laguna
Beach branch of A.G. Edwards is a CFP as well as a CFA. Now that’s what
you call real credentials.
Furthermore he semiannually teaches a class on Warren Buffet, with
As I have done, when in downtown Laguna, stop in and introduce
yourself to one of Laguna’s nicest overachievers you will ever have the
pleasure of meeting.
In my feeble eyes, this fine young man has earned local recognition.
We all love trees, but they need to be controlled
In response to Mary Nelson’s letter in the May 17 edition of the
Coastline Pilot, “Laguna trees should be cherished,” -- she sound like
she would rather live in Carmel!
When was the last time she talked to anyone living in Carmel? There
are many people who have had their homes and other property damaged by
branches falling from trees that they are not allowed to trim.
They are scared about fires -- like we are. Was she here for the fires
of ’92 where are all those lovely trees burned to cinders along with
Those lovely trees have damaged our sewer systems, granted they were
old, but please let’s look at all the reasons.
I love trees I have six on my property but I keep them at bay. I wish
other people were as considerate. There are several of us who are held in
fiscal and emotion hostage because of the meanness of a neighbor. They
are using lovely trees as weapons and we can no longer look at the
magnificent ocean view that I and they once had.
Nelson must live where a view is not of importance. Please think about
those who value our town and want to be sure we don’t lose it to fires,
lose our views and lose our hillsides to poor planting techniques. Like
grass on the other side of the fence that same can be said about trees.