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For ease of crossing Coast Highway at Main Beach and vicinity, use a

simple solution, (like the goats on the hillside, for taming weed

growth):

* Paint gleaming white stripes across intersections

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* Synchronize traffic lights for pedestrian movement (diagonal as well

as parallel).

This is a real basic answer for movement of pedestrian/automobiles.

It’s inexpensive and implementable immediately. No costly traffic

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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.

EUGENE LEO

Laguna Niguel

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

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“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

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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

was.”

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

strategy.

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

Wachtel’s.

LEAH VASQUEZ

Laguna Beach

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

years.

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

imposed originally.

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

increase.

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

Laguna Beach

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

effectively.

This is a proactive approach to getting the job done as opposed to

those who pontificate that this type of financing is mortgaging our

children’s future.

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

conditions.

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

project.

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.

VICTOR OPINCAR

Laguna Beach

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

coming year.

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

Arts, etc.

* 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

community serving.

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

community.

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

community.

GARY BEVERAGE

President

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

Laguna Beach

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

those residents.

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

day.

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

traffic circulation.

Please don’t undo the good work by accepting this particular proposal.

Our board urges the school board to vote against this plan.

JOHN ROBINSON

President

Top of the World Neighborhood Association

Laguna Beach

The district should not make anyone change schools!

VERNA ROLLINGER

Laguna Beach

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

good cause.

Money raised at the various events went to our own Laguna Shanti, a

non-profit organization serving clients who are HIV positive or have

AIDS.

This beats giving the money to a big-time promoter, which is usually

the case.

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 &

Market.

Let’s do it again next year.

ROGER CARTER

Laguna Beach

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.

SHIRLEY WALL

Laguna Beach

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

aggressive speeding.

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

Laguna Beach

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

Beach.

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

surveillance.

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

city.

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

Laguna Beach

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

their activities.

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

Buffett’s blessing.

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.

PAUL BEY

Laguna Beach

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

homes?

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.

GANKA BROWN

Laguna Beach


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