Hedge limit ordinance a necessity
In response to your “Mailbag” question (“What action should the
City Council take on the hedge height ordinance?” Oct. 4), the City
Council should unanimously approve a zoning ordinance that limits the
heights of hedges to that of fences.
Just as the city has guidelines for fences so as not to affect the
safety or views of others, greenery should not be allowed to impact
adjoining homeowners in the same fashion. It is only common sense
that a fence is a fence whether it is constructed of wood, stone or
foliage. Unfortunately, some homeowners abuse the use of foliage,
thus creating barriers and view blockers that would never be
acceptable as a fence in the same location.
This amendment would not affect existing hedges where neighbors
are in agreement as to the height and location of foliage between
adjacent properties. This ordinance would only be enforced when a
neighbor who is adversely affected files a complaint. This would
create an enforceable ordinance against those homeowners who refuse
to behave in a responsive, neighborly and responsible manner
regarding their overgrown foliage.
We thank the City Council for being responsive to this issue and
for creating an enforceable ordinance. We encourage other Lagunans to
support the council in their decision.
MIKE AND LYNDA ELLIOTT
View preservation getting out of control
There is a segment of the Laguna population that is so fixated on
the “right to a view” issue that they and their allies on the City
Council fail to recognize other property rights that are of equal
importance to many, if not most, residents of this city.
As this beautiful area becomes more and more crowded, many people
find that their only refuge is their home, garden, yard, deck or
patio. In order to be able to use and enjoy these areas with some
degree of privacy, it is often necessary to maintain a hedge or other
plantings that exceed the height limit for fences. These plantings
create a diversity of landscape styles in the city, contributing to
its beauty and unique character.
To insist that landscape hedges conform to height limits currently
mandated for fences would be to create a look more in keeping with
Irvine than that of Laguna Beach. If one wants to be honest about
view impairment, then let’s talk about trees, most of which did not
even grow here 100 years ago. Are they next on the mayor’s chopping
block? By the way, there’s one in my neighbor’s yard that obliterates
a beautiful south coast view from one of my windows. He trims it
every few years, and I wish he’d trim it more often, but I don’t
think it’s my right to force him to do so.
Let’s get a grip. We live in one of the most beautiful places in
the country. If people want a community association with CC&Rs;, then
they should move to Crystal Cove.
Laguna Beach Design Review
Board Member (1999-2002)
There are hedges and hedges of all types:
some are beloved, others provoke gripes.
But the council should not hedge about hedges:
Let them grow to 8 feet unless a neighbor alleges
and before the council under oath pledges
that the hedge won’t let him see the blue wateredge.
No law should be made that creates a four-foot hedgemony
For Laguna’s shibboleth is “Hedge Row Diversity!”
The Laguna Beach-proposed ordinance to limit hedge heights is
stupid, stupid, stupid. Has the City Council any concept of just how
pervasive high hedges are throughout the community? Will we be
enduring armies of hedge police armed with tape measures and
Who decided there was a problem in the first instance? I certainly
had not been aware of any issue until it came up before the Planning
Commission more or less out of the blue. And just exactly what is the
problem? If it relates to view blockage, as some suggest, then Laguna
Beach had first better develop an effective ordinance dealing with
view blockage by trees. We know how well the City Council has
sidestepped that one!
A word to the wise: “That government governs best that governs
EDWARD A. SHAW
Is it just me, or does there seem to be a correlation between the
stratospheric rise in property values and an obsession with “limits”
... like hedge limits? Next will it be “roses must be pruned below
eye level,” or “flowering vines are discouraged from being too
colorful,” or, if we’re not careful about this, “joyful outbursts
prohibited?” This is not the Stepford Village, this is sleepy,
gorgeous Village Laguna.
It is a very dangerous thing to legislate minutiae in the everyday
issues that sensible human beings can oversee by themselves and among
themselves. There are certainly exceptions and extraordinary examples
that can be cited and dealt with, but on a case-by-case basis; these
(maybe 5%) hedge indiscretions certainly do not command such
legislative time and attention and will only lead to more.
Don’t we feel there are larger issues at hand that require these
resources? And, shouldn’t we encourage neighbors to fairly and
amicably resolve issues between themselves?
In closing, I would just like to say that I feel that a hedge is a
very lovely thing ... from both sides.
Thanks for defending Design Board
Kudos City Councilwoman Cheryl Kinsman on your reply to Jay
Laessi’s letter concerning the Design Review Board. As a former DRB
member, your support of the board’s work in such a public way
acknowledges and validates their week in and week out service to our
community. It is refreshing to hear elected officials challenge these
sorts of clearly baseless accusations.
Thanks for taking the time to speak out !
ROBERT ZUR SCHMIEDE
Bland forum gives one clear outcome
I attended the candidate forum held by North Laguna Community
Assn. and others at the Wells Fargo building last week. The regulars
who I often see attending Laguna Beach City Council meetings were
present. While pleased to see the collection of attendees, I was
disappointed in the lack of our younger neighbors.
Except for our 3-month-old son Jeremy, my wife Kimberly and I were
probably the youngest in attendance (we’re in our 30s).
Melissa O’Neal and Toni Iseman sat to the left of Frank Ricchiazzi
(moderator), while Steve Dicterow and Elizabeth Pearson sat to his
right (coincidence?). Unfortunately, when the left was speaking, I
noticed our moderator didn’t seem to have qualms about chatting and
joking with the right. As far as candidate forums go, this was one of
the blander I’ve attended. Arguably the most exciting thing there,
was the buzzer on the time-clock. The candidates seemed pretty close
on the issues faced by Laguna: Village Entrance, sewage, flood
control, mansionization, council meeting “efficiency” and our
That said, I would have to say that Elizabeth Pearson seemed to
set herself apart from the others in other ways. I had to chuckle
when she began reading the newspaper while fellow candidate Melissa
O’Neal was speaking. I find myself wondering what could be so
interesting? I’ll have to remember to teach my son that it’s rude to
read the paper while you’re on stage -- let alone when someone is
speaking -- in case he’s a member of a candidate forum. Elizabeth
Pearson was the only one to indicate support for limiting public
comment to 30 minutes and limiting comments to a minute and a half.
The other candidates all indicated broad support for public input
(although Steve Dicterow blasted Mayor Wayne Baglin’s supportive
style of running City Council meetings).
Pearson was the only candidate who expressed disappointment that
the boondoggle flood control project was canned. This project
would’ve jeopardized businesses with a torn up Downtown Laguna for
two-plus years. All this and it would provide little protection from
100-year floods, and give us protection only from “10-year” floods.
She must live above the floodwater line, or have a business that
would be unaffected by construction. Forget that we seem to have a
“10-year” flood about every two or three years, and that this project
would do little to protect us from more serious flooding. Or that it
would’ve all but destroyed one of Laguna’s most precious gems: Main
Beach. There was a reason why the current City Council shot it down
in spite of the fact that much of it was paid for. It was terrible
planning and would’ve been bad for Laguna in the long run as well as
the short run.
I’ve got three votes and four candidates. I know who I’m not
voting for: Elizabeth Pearson. I want someone who will support my
right to provide public input at Laguna Beach City Council meetings.
As it happens, most of the leaders of environmental groups in Laguna
I am aware of will be voting for Melissa O’Neal, Toni Iseman and
A tip on pro-view candidates
Over the last several weeks, representatives of the Safety and
View Preservation ad hoc group have interviewed all four candidates
for City Council regarding their position on preservation and
restoration of Laguna’s unique and beautiful public and private view
sheds. We made it clear to all of the candidates that the support of
people who love our scenic views was totally dependent on how
strongly the candidates personally and publicly support
implementation of a strong, fair, and effective view preservation and
restoration ordinance enforced by the city.
The good news this year is that all four of the council candidates
support either a right to a view and/or view equity and enforcement
by the city in an effective ordinance. However, after more than 10
years of frustrating meetings with the city, we have done the
research to determine which of the current candidates most strongly
supports prompt action on this critical issue. After meeting with
each of the candidates, analyzing their past performance, and
reviewing their campaign literature for position statements we have
arrived at the following recommendations. We have determined that
Elizabeth Pearson and Steve Dicterow have made the strongest
commitments for prompt enactment of a strong, fair and effective view
preservation/restoration ordinance and therefore are most deserving
of strong support from the citizens of Laguna. Candidates Melissa
O’Neal and Toni Iseman are also supportive but seem to lack the same
degree of commitment.
We encourage every citizen in Laguna to vote in November and as a
result of our meetings and research we recommend everyone vote for
Pearson and Dicterow.
Grand Prix planning was short sighted
What were they thinking?
Blocking off the city, the entire Downtown, was a stupid or
perverse action that deserves a recall of the entire board! The huge
inconvenience that was brought down on not only residents of this
jolly burg, but everyone else who was caught unawares in the morass
of traffic that was caused by the decision to hold a bike race in
I don’t know what the Downtown businesses must have thought, but I
hope that most of them just decided to take the day off. I had plans
and reservations to meet at a Downtown restaurant for lunch with
several friends. None of us could get near the place.
I had an appointment on the north side of town and there was on
only one way to get there. Crown Valley to the toll road to Newport
Coast Road to PCH, back into town. That was quicker than the crawl of
traffic going along Coast Highway. I first tried that route and it
took me half an hour to get from Bluebird Canyon to Thalia, where I
finally gave up. Nothing was moving; Glenneyre, Catalina, even Wilson
and Wendt were backed up, and they had no place at all to go after
This town is not designed to block off Downtown for anything, but
at least we have some kind of warning -- at least those of us who
live here -- like Patriots Day and the Christmas tree thing, but
this, as even an avid reader of the Coastline Pilot, I must have
missed an issue, and did not have a clue about it until I called the
Police Department Traffic Conditions number to find out just what the
heck this was about.
How would all those folks just trying to take a leisurely drive up
or down Coast Highway on a “nothing is going on” Saturday ever find
out that they were going to spend the entire day trying to get
through Laguna? They must love us!
I had the occasion to talk to one of our men in blue and suggested
that he might try directing traffic to get things to go faster. As
frustrated as he was over all the mess, he took the time to tell me
that he agreed with me fully and that it not only is a stupid thing
to do but hugely dangerous, since even they cannot get through, all
the city’s assets are tied up in traffic and if there were a
disaster, there would be no way to unsnarl it.
The only lucky thing was that the day was dark and overcast and
the huge number of people who were in town the Saturday before to go
to the beach were not present, that would have doubled the number of
people stuck in traffic.
This does nothing for our business, for our residents or for
people who might just want to drive through and look. It shows that
our council, by approving this, has no concern for the results of
what they do.
Grand Prix was fun and exciting
What a great event that was. I had never seen a criterion race
before and how exciting it was. It’s nice to have an event that can
get the who family involved, i.e. clinics. I thought it was very well
done and look forward to participating next year, as I think I can
stay with some of the older guys.
I’m a Cat. 2 racer from Scottsdale, Ariz. and I participated in
the Laguna Beach Grand Prix.
I wanted to let the organizers, sponsors and the town of Laguna
Beach know that the inaugural race was a huge success. I will be
planning on attending this race for years to come. I always attend
the Manhattan Beach Grand Prix every year for the same reasons. The
town is beautiful, the people were wonderful and the food and
atmosphere was perfect.
Next year I hope there isn’t any conflicts on the National
Calendar, because this could easily be one of the instant classics in
cycling. Next year I will be bringing my new team and all of our
support staff and we plan on making it a full weekend. I look forward
to seeing the race on the calendar next year.
Again, what a beautiful town. It was my first time visiting.
Every great athlete is an artist
Has everyone forgotten that the most revered athletes in the world
are known as artists? Mohammed Ali is an Artist. Michael Jordan is an
Tiger Woods is an Artist. The list goes on and on. Where’s the
shame in that sort of association?
When I was young and in high school, I was uninformed,
inexperienced, insensitive to others and thought that I was really
I liked art but, being young and stupid, I wouldn’t take art
classes because I didn’t want to be a sissy.
After playing basketball for the National Championship and putting
in more than three years in the U.S. Army, almost a year on the front
lines in Germany and Czechoslovakia, I decided that I was not a sissy
after all. When World War II ended, I enrolled in the school of Art
at the University of Missouri, where I played basketball and received
by BA in art and BS in industrial education.
In 1953 I coached the Laguna Beach High School varsity basketball
team. We won the Southern California Basketball Championship. Clyde
Cook was a member of that team. He was voted most valuable basketball
player for Southern California. He was an aggressive player but also
I not only coached basketball but taught the junior high art
classes. I felt like both a coach and an artist when we practiced and
played. The court was our canvas and the dribbling, passing, running
and controlling the player’s movements were like brush strokes
creating their own team masterpiece. They were truly “Artists” and
they were “Champions.”
When there are big waves, they are called “Breakers.” When the
ocean is calm with no waves, a breaker is so small, it is not even a
ripple. To be a true champion one must always be creative, dominant
and control the game. To me, that is the definition of an “Artist.”
Our five children and three of our grandchildren are all proud to
have been Artists and I feel blessed and fortunate to have lived in
our wonderful community for more than 52 years. Go Artists.
JOHN H. RUDOLPH
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