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Mailbag

To the mayor, council members and Laguna residents:

In response to complaints regarding the new light on Broadway, I must

express my extreme gratitude for the light and urge those of you who have

been inconvenienced by it to read on.

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To answer Lynn Epstein’s query as to why the lights were installed:

Without the lights it is impossible for those of us who live in North

Laguna to cross Broadway to get into town.

No one, and I repeat no one, stopped at the “Keep Clear” sign written

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on the street. Everyone proceeded to the original red light and left

those of us on Cliff Drive trying to turn onto Broadway waiting

indefinitely.

My stress level would rise immeasurably the minute I would try to

cross Broadway -- not to mention, the number of times I’ve almost been

sideswiped by cars flying around the blind corner from the canyon while

trying to turn left onto Broadway. And it gets a thousand times worse in

the summer. We become veritable prisoners of North Laguna.

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I agree that the light facing traffic going toward the canyon is not

as necessary (although definitely helpful) and is causing problems. But

the light facing the traffic headed to the beach is a lifesaver.

Please, please, please, I implore you not to remove it. We’ve waited

for years for its arrival and would despair greatly if it were taken from

us.

DIANE BASS

North Laguna

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Like many North Laguna residents I say “hurrah” for the new traffic

light at Lower Cliff and Broadway.

Before this light was installed, turning left up Broadway was like

playing Russian Roulette. Would I get sideswiped by a car in the far lane

whose vision was blocked by the giant SUV that had stopped at the limit

line in the lane closest to me? Would I get pummeled in the midst of my

turn by the cars accelerating down Broadway as they saw the Beach at

Broadway light turn green? Would I safely get into the middle of the

intersection only to be walloped by the Beach Street drivers turning

right illegally during the posted no right turn hours of 3 to 6 p.m.? Or

would it be the drivers exiting the shopping center and understandably

intent on oncoming cars who would miss my left turn from the opposite

side of the street who would nail me? Did I leave out the buses and the

trucks? Yikes.

The installation of the new light has coincided with the beginning of

summer and all the beach traffic. Caltrans will work the bugs out but

they can’t fix the obvious -- too many cars and too many people. I drive

Broadway to go out of town to my teaching job, but when I go to the post

office, do my shopping and marketing, go to my Festival booth, or other

errands I usually walk. Its a lot less stressful. I recommend it to

everyone.

HEDY BUZAN WILLIAMSON

Laguna Beach

The new additional traffic signal at Beach and Broadway has eliminated

the “Russian Roulette” experienced by North Laguna drivers exiting Beach

and heading outbound on Broadway.

There were numerous accidents and near misses during the seven years

we waited for this improvement.

Evidently some timing considerations and coordination with other

traffic signals are needed. However, once this problem is resolved, these

essential signals will provide increased driver safety at this

intersection for all residents and visitors. Thanks to the city and

Caltrans.

KEN ANDERSON

Laguna Beach

Affordable housing is welcome idea

This sounds like a wonderful proposal for those of us who love Laguna

Beach and work in the service industry [“Affordable housing now before

council,” July 5]. Our income goes primarily toward our rent.

How wonderful would it be to have a little extra money to buy food and

other daily living supplies.

RICK WENNERBERG

Laguna Beach

I think it’s a great idea to have an affordable housing proposal. I

have lived and worked in Laguna Beach for 13 years and I work hard just

to pay the rent. It would be nice to have a place to rent that I could

afford and be able to enjoy all the great shops and restaurants in Laguna

Beach.

PETER MARTINEZ

Laguna Beach

Low-income housing not well conceived

My wife, Glynnis, and I have been closely following a Laguna Beach

plan to demolish a building in our neighborhood to make way for a new

“very low-income” housing project to be built. After two meetings on the

subject, and with plenty of neighbor input, the Laguna Beach Planning

Commission is recommending to the Laguna Beach City Council that it

approve the Planning Commission’s determination that the project on

Glenneyre proceed -- with recommendations.

As you may know, the Laguna Beach City Council used money it received

from the developer of the Treasure Island hotel property to purchase the

former convalescent hospital on Glenneyre -- directly across from the

large downtown parking facility and backing up to Goff Street. This

building has been in disuse for several years and is slated to be torn

down to make way for the project.

The Planning Commission has made its approval based on several

compromises with neighbors who objected to a second floor of the

building, which was the most contentious aspect of the developer’s plan.

We think there are also several variances the city is planning to grant

itself of which our neighborhood friends should be aware. These variances

might hurt our neighborhood’s quality of life (population density,

traffic congestion more cars parking on our streets), and since the city

is proposing to offer itself the variances, we feel obligated to inform

you.

* Density Variance -- The city intends to grant itself a variance on

how many units can be built on this property. Normal density requires no

more than one unit per 1,000 square feet. The city plans on having the

developer build 27 “efficiency units” of less than 500 square feet each.

There will be no common areas, and the Planning Commission approved

waiving the typical requirement of 40% of the property’s open space be

covered entirely with vegetation.

* Parking Variance -- The city is intending to have the developer

build 50 parking spaces, which will be situated below grade, with one

entrance/exit at the downhill (Park Avenue) side of Glenneyre. The city

is planning to offer the very low-income residents one parking spot per

unit, with no guest parking. The city intends to lease-back the other 23

parking spots from the developer to be used by businesses in the Downtown

that lack parking.

While in principal we do not oppose the concept of a very low-income

housing project one block from our home, we do object to the city’s

density and parking variances. We believe the project plan to require no

more than one occupant per unit is unenforceable, and that the project

may ultimately house double or triple the number of occupants per unit.

In addition, we believe this facility is no place for children, and this

topic has not been considered. Where will they play?

We also believe the city’s plan to allocate 23 of the 50 parking

spaces to Downtown business will cause extra traffic and parking

congestion on Glenneyre, Goff, Legion, Park, Catalina, Through and Reed

streets. When street parking is already at a premium, and residents in

the neighborhood are incapable of having a visitor park near their homes,

the city should not be adding to our traffic and parking problems. We

believe that the city is not providing adequate parking for the project’s

occupants, personal guests and visiting family members, and this issue

needs to be addressed.

We hope that you will be able to come to the City Council meeting next

Tuesday and participate in the decision-making process regarding the

housing project.

MATT ENGEN

Laguna Beach

Fire wasn’t true test of department

The answer to your question, “After the recent fire do you feel more

confident that Laguna will be able to contain fires in the future” (June

29), is no. This was a nothing fire, which with proper oversight could

have been prevented.

I lost my house in the fire of “93" and at that time the Laguna Beach

Fire Department was clueless as to how the fire should be contained. I

hope things have improved. If not we are in for a possible repeat of

1993. Santa Ana winds and a low-humidity situation could have led to a

devastating fire.

I’m going to volunteers for the Red Flag Patrol program and do my

part.

In my opinion, the jury is still out on the Laguna Beach Fire

Department.

PAUL R. JONES

Laguna Beach

More trees will mean worse fires

At the recent public city budget meetings, City Council members

discussed a $20,000 to $45,000 line-item expenditure to provide for more

trees for South Laguna and for a consultant to review the current tree

inventory to ensure that all heritage trees are included.

As in the past, the “tree de jour” will probably be one type or

another of the Eucalyptus family. I question the wisdom of such action

and ask that the members of our council take their heads out of the sand

or should I say trees for the following reasons:

A. Laguna is prime for a fire (what happened the week before could

just be a prelude);

B. We are in severe fire alert situation and due diligence has not

taken place:

1. The fire road serving Top of the World and Arch Beach Heights has

waist-high weeds growing along it as well as in many surrounding areas.

Where are the goats?

2. Dead trees still line the north side of Coast Highway, many

streets, as well as yards facing streets and canyons. Moulton Park has a

huge pine tree that has no leaves and appears to be quite dead. Where is

our fire chief? Why is he not resolving these potentially dangerous

situations in city?

3. Weed abatement has not been enforced in many neighborhoods.

C. Insurance companies are already raising rates and others will

follow suit. In addition, some of them are considering redlining certain

areas out as being financially unsound to insure. Laguna has been

considered more than once as a potential for such redlining because of

our history of fires, floods and land slides.

D. A consultant is to be hired to suggest trees be planted in South

Laguna and anywhere else where, in their opinion, they are needed and to

take an inventory of existing trees. This is a slap in the face for those

of us who have for the past 10 years pleaded with City Council members

(and those running for office) to listen to the majority of the residents

of Laguna Beach who want the issues of health and safety and an effective

vehicle to address view preservation (from an emotional and financial

standpoint) in one package as the primary focus of their duties to the

public. Instead the council continues to volley the issue back and forth

and continues the tradition of avoiding taking action. We are fast

approaching the end of this year with no resolution to this issue in

sight.

It is a well-known fact that Eucalyptus and pine trees are not only

extremely dangerous when in a path of a fire (how quickly we forget the

suffering and loss of our many friends and neighbors during that

monumental fire that hit Laguna in 1993). The floods and landslides that

followed caused additional damage and even a death. All of these acts of

God also had a helping hand -- Eucalyptus trees. Oils and debris from

these trees are highly flammable, their root system are notorious for

being shallow and ineffective for soil pretension, as any professional

landscape architect, arborist or others in related fields will tell you.

Vegetation cannot grow under their canopy of leaves and this is a

deterrent to natural wildlife -- birds included. All of these are good

reasons for not planting any more trees, especially Eucalyptus, until we

have resolved some long-standing problems.

I think that the City Council members since 1985 have had knowledge of

this issue and should be held accountable for their decisions or lack of

decision with respect to these issues and for putting Laguna residents at

risk for fires, floods and landslides and for ignoring those who truly

care about the vision for this city. If insurance companies start

redlining our community, or make premiums prohibitively expensive, how

many of us can self-insure for such catastrophes? The city did not much

to help those who suffered during the 1993-94 catastrophes, nor will they

help us in the future at this rate, even in a preventive manner.

GANKA BROWN

Laguna Beach

Large homes don’t ruin the neighborhood

In response to S. J. Cahn’s column, “Looking out from within the

‘mansionization,”’ [Coastline Pilot, July 5] the argument made against

property owners’ right and desire to expand their domain is wayward at

best.

When someone buys property they are entitled to do with it what they

will as long as they meet city codes, requirements, guidelines, and, in

this city, have their neighbors’ blessings.

Yes, homes are becoming larger. Most families cannot live comfortably

in 1,800 square feet of space. Some can. Good for them. But don’t squash

out the rights of those who prefer an extra room. Like Cahn, I cannot

understand what it is about these people who are in such an uproar over

what their neighbor has -- and they don’t.

In Laguna Beach, as with most beach communities, the view of the ocean

and canyons are priceless and increase a property’s value. It makes sense

to capture those views. Our lots are small in this town and it is

perfectly fitting that people make the most of them.

Downtown, in the village, I can see where smaller cottages are

preferred so as to further the “little village scene.” But, that too

should be left to the will of the property owner. Most people are

conservative when adding on space, and in most cases, are willing to

compromise with their neighbors.

As for Cahn’s feeling that Laguna has lost its sense of slowed-down,

talk-to-your-neighbor, old beach community; well, it’s just that, his

feeling. I find that Laguna Beach residents are very friendly, like to

stop and chat Downtown, in backyards and -- gasp -- in front yards, too.

My family and I are always running into people we meet at the Farmer’s

Market, at the local Starbucks and in local restaurants. And guess what:

We live in one of those 4,000-plus square foot so-called glass boxes.

I would not call it a fortress, but a space where my family can live

comfortably, access the most beautiful views nature has to offer and

entertain friends from out of town who all wish they could live in our

charming town. Oh, and did I mention that we can barbecue, sit outside

and play croquet in our backyard?

AMY KRAMER

Laguna Beach

Fond farewell to funny Phil Interlandi

Another funny guy has left.

And the funny guys will miss him the most.

And you know that the funny guys aren’t really funny, and being funny

isn’t funny.

The funny business is a funny business.

Funny guys are funny when they get together but it is serious funny

fun.

Behind the smoke, the booze, bad words, bad taste, bad stories, lies,

puns, laughter is concern, caring, compassion, anger and tormented

brilliant minds trying to understand and explain the marvelously terrible

messy world with a smile, a smirk, a jab, an ironic twist.

We need funny guys.

We needed you, thanks.

PAUL DARROW

Laguna Beach

A husband’s thanks for gift of life

Two and a half years ago my wife, Marcia, donated a kidney to me. Many

times, each and every day, I am awed by the realization that one of

Marcia’s organs literally keeps me going, not to mention the magnitude

and clarity of her present to me. Nice way to appreciate each day of your

life a little bit more, huh?

You hear people say that a disease or ailment was, “the best thing

that ever happened to me.” I can only agree with that quote when it is

preceded by “living through this disease and now feeling great was . . .”

When friends ask me how I feel, my response is “grateful.”

I don’t know whether it is the second chance or that I literally

received parts of Marcia, but it does seem that I listen better, am more

compassionate and thoughtful (at least I think so).

At no time has marching out to buy a Harley or feeling compelled to

climb a mountain before it’s too late occurred to me. I am just so much

more appreciative of other people and all of those mundane, typical daily

life events -- how could I not be. Being able to enjoy so many things

were previously such a struggle for me is so exciting.

The handful of medication that I take twice a day somehow seems like a

privilege that only the healthy and living are able to do. I actually

look forward to it -- another reminder of how lucky I am.

I hope that you can see why I want to share with others the love that

I have for Marcia. On July 10 we celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary

and July 22 it is her birthday. I am very proud of her.

GARY SANSERINO

Laguna Beach


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