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Long-reaching effects of a riot

Following up on the aside concerning how Neil Purcell “busted Timothy

Leary for possession of marijuana,” it is interested to remember that

“narc.” Neil found the joint because he could gain access to Leary’s car,

which was parked illegally on Woodland Drive where he was visiting his


followers, the Brotherhood of Eternal Love.

Woodland Drive in 1968 was where they rented their homes. It is a

unusual area because it is in the center of the original tract from which

the trailer park split off. Joe Thurston planned the “park” with six-foot


lanes and walks for access to the homes with designated parking lots

along Woodland and Milligan drives for each building site within the

area. Thus it is like a “park” because there are no streets and driveways

to most of the homes.

The hippies turned the area into a perpetual party place as they

didn’t leave to go to jobs. Trash cans were filled with Heinekin beer

bottles. Nothing but the best! Their children’s birthday parties must

have supported the toy stores of Laguna, and there were occasional


communal feasts to which other area residents were invited.

In 1968, three city council candidates -- Goldberg, Ostrander and Lorr

-- were elected with a platform to get rid of the hippies in Laguna. They

promised that they would enact a housing inspection to condemn the

hippies” homes and drive the drug culture out of town. The hippies’ saw

it as an attempt to allow the police access to their homes so that their

stashes could be found.

In any case, all hell broke loose among civil libertarians, including


myself, and the papers had a ball with such news and editorial material

when this council majority proceeded to create and implement laws that

which would accomplish the goal.

As a longtime resident in the area, I responded with outrage and wrote

a petition that essentially dealt with the fact that the method of their

action was unconstitutional. This was circulated throughout Laguna and

returned to me. The pages of the 500 signatures were taped together in a

scroll that was unrolled from the back of council chambers to the lectern

where I presented it during oral communications. The council voted to

stay the inspection for further study and legal guidance.

On the Fourth of July, the hippies and their friends from all over had

a great celebration on Woodland Drive. Finding myself in the center of

hundreds of young people shouting in jubilation, I decided this is not

where I wanted to stay and went home. Minutes later Laguna police, as

well as those from 26 other departments, showed up in full riot gear.

People fled into the hills, up the trails and all over, including the

home of the Brotherhood.

The results of this were that eventually there was a housing

inspection; the neighborhood was designated a “Housing Deficiency Area;"

the police busted enough people there that drug dealing was no longer

profitable, partly because of the expensive attorneys; the mayor of what

the Brotherhood called “Dodge City” became a born-again minister; the

sheriff disappeared; Purcell was promoted eventually to Chief.

With no sewers, and other problems, something had to be done.

Coincidentally, at the same time, the federal Department of Housing and

Urban Development came into existence essentially to provide low-income

housing but also to assist in other ways as well. One of these, public

works improvements, included senior housing, which was the first priority

in Laguna. When that failed, finally efforts were directed to Thurston

Park and eventually sewers, new water lines and a specific plan were

accomplished. Redevelopment was possible because the city purchased the

park as a tribute to Jim Dilley’s vision of a greenbelt.

As for me, 20 years later, my tiny house was remodeled to the studio

home of my dreams. Also, Jim Dilley’s greenbelt became a parking lot for

some of the neighborhood and also a small children’s playground.

So far, five new homes have been built and others are in the planning


All this happened because three councilmen vowed to drive the hippies’

out of Laguna, and there was a riot.


Laguna Beach