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Preserve village, keep it prosperous Mayor...

Preserve village, keep it prosperous

Mayor Toni Iseman said it best when describing Laguna’s Downtown.

“There’s a there,” she said, referring to it’s unique liveliness.

Preserving the village also means keeping it prosperous. Several

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events have occurred lately that severely threaten the prosperity of

downtown.

In response to isolated cries that business was down dramatically

and that newly instituted $1.50 per hour parking fees were driving

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business away, I personally canvassed at least 40 business owners and

managers and toured the Downtown for four hours with a nationally

recognized retail business consultant. Here’s what I heard:

Many businesses during the past year are down 10% to 20%, and

during October and November many were down 20% to 35%. One business I

know very well, established here for 18 years, was down 50% to 60%.

Some shops have reduced employees and lowered sales commissions. The

high rents are driving away some of our most unique businesses, and

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merchants complain about working for the landlord. Several businesses

popular with locals are on the verge of closing. North Laguna and

Emerald Bay customers are absent lately, and many business people

think the new Crystal Cove center is drawing them away.

Customers vehemently complain about all the quarters they need for

the meters, and many leave irate, vowing never to return. However,

the most prevalent and virulent complaint I heard was that shoppers

are rushed by the two-hour meters. One dress shop owner told about a

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resident -- not a visitor -- who left a big purchase on the counter

to go move her car and who was last seen driving away waving a

parking ticket. Similar stories are told by galleries, clothing

stores, restaurants, gift shops, the theater and nearly every other

business. Shoppers do not have enough time to linger and complete

purchases. These two complaints are repeated often and told with a

vengeance.

Laguna enjoys a truly remarkable Downtown that we all treasure.

However, there are not enough of us residents to support the

diversity and uniqueness of the local businesses, who rely on

tourists and increasingly on regional customers from nearby inland

cities. Other visitor-oriented cities that have ignored parking woes

and allowed rents to sky-rocket have seen their Downtowns deteriorate

to tourist traps that residents avoid. Many of these cities are

struggling to bring back an atmosphere that Laguna now enjoys. Many

of the programs these cities employ can be studied for their

applicability to Laguna. One thing is certain. Everyone -- residents,

City Hall, landlords and business -- must work together to preserve

our village by keeping it prosperous.

KEN DELINO

President-Elect, Laguna

Beach Chamber of Commerce

Hooray for hedge height limits

The Laguna Beach City Council took a step in the right direction

by approving the ordinance placing a limit on hedge height. I think

that it is a reasonable approach to dealing with safety, sunlight and

view preservation issues.

Controversy is generally fueled by extremism, e.g. cut all hedges,

don’t cut any. Compromise is difficult to achieve without help. This

ordinance addresses, rationally, a long-standing problem that a lot

of citizens have been unable to handle in a neighborly manner.

I think that it will relieve the strife of this issue and I

commend the council for having the courage to do its job.

FRANK BOUDREAUX

Laguna Beach

I feel proud of at least three members of the City Council who

bravely took action to demonstrate common sense and preserve/restore

at least a little of Laguna’s precious lost view sheds; even in the

face of vocal opposition from those who do not even understand the

issues or the content of the ordinance.

On the other hand, I am sorry that city officials continue to

punish the victims who have lost their views to the excessive

vegetation of thoughtless neighbors by making the victims pay the

costs of filing a complaint. I know of no other situation where the

victims have to pay to report a crime or violation of a city

regulation.

The public is reminded that almost every city has similar

regulations regarding the height and location of fences. And these

regulations even exist in “flat” cities where preservation of view

sheds is not an issue. In a city like Laguna, where views are so

important to both the public and the property owners, it is even more

important that we recognize that vegetation in the proximity of

property lines, etc., is indeed a fence, and the vegetation had just

been used to get around the regulations regarding fences.

These regulations are imposed for the common good and safety. The

courts have already found that vegetation is material and, when used

as a fence, is subject to the same regulations as a fence made out of

any other material. For those who feel they must have the height of

their vegetation different from the fence regulations, they should

know variances for fences can be obtained where the situation is

justified.

Most importantly, the city is not imposing limits on the height of

hedges unless a formal complaint has been filed and the city finds

that the height of the hedge is doing actual damage to public or

private view sheds.

DAVE CONNELL

Laguna Beach

No hospitality toward Fairy

Hospitality night in Laguna Beach. Yeah right!

I am a longtime resident of Laguna Beach with two children under

the age of 6. I live in Laguna because of the village,

everyone-knows-everyone, neighborly mentality.

Last night during hospitality night I witnessed something that

shattered my vision of Laguna. An absurdity in light of the context

of the night.

Here is the story ...

I was with my two daughters on the sidewalk in front of Santa’s

House. We were waiting for the line to recede to see Santa. My

5-year-old daughter wanted to wait next to the Christmas Fairy who

was there on the sidewalk. We waited patiently (about 30 minutes)

while the bagpipes played on Forest Avenue.

The woman who was the Christmas Fairy wanted to wait to sing to

the kids after the bagpipes had moved further up the street. During

this time of waiting, all the kids that passed by the Fairy were

enthralled with her dress, wings, wands and most important the smile

she bestowed upon each of them.

Once the bagpipes moved on up the street, the Fairy started to

tell her stories and then sing to the kids who had been waiting in

the long line to see Santa. After a little while, in the middle of a

song, up comes one of Santa’s helpers, red hat and belly worn

proudly. He interrupts her singing to the kids to tell her what she

is doing is not permitted.

I watched in dismay. He was extremely rude and thoughtless in his

approach. I walked up to him, listened to what he was saying and

suggested that he wait to let her finish the song to the kids.

Meanwhile, the kids were looking upon this scene. He immediately

turned to me and rudely told me I should back down or else he would

call the police on me, too. I was stunned. I looked around at the

kids, the smiles replaced by confusion as to why this Santa’s helper

had interrupted the Fairy’s beautiful singing.

As the story goes, the police showed up a little while later, and

once again in the middle of a song, shut her down.

I do not know who this Christmas Fairy is and I am not sure of the

circumstances of why she could not be there singing.

From what these bullies were saying, she did not have a permit.

She professed to have had permission from the organizers.

Either way, it doesn’t matter to me the whys or legalities. What

matters is what I witnessed as far as approach. This was not the way

to deal with the situation in front of the kids. It was completely

void of the notion of why all these people were there on the streets

of Laguna.

Hospitality Night in Laguna Beach. Not for the Christmas Fairy.

Not for me. Not for the kids that witnessed such rudeness.

MARK SMITH

Laguna Beach

Thanks for the hospitality Laguna

As a new resident of Laguna Beach, I have great pride in my new

community. The hospitality night was as festive as any celebration in

the Northeast, and what a treat to stroll around Downtown rather than

to be forced indoors by frigid weather.

In the last eight years, I have not lived in the same town for

more than a year. Laguna may be our home for more than a few years,

and what a place to call home. Though I miss the snow, the forests,

and the familiarity of New England, here is what I love about Laguna

Beach:

The people -- warm, friendly, fun, engaged.

The charm -- strong character, history and sense of place.

The natural beauty -- cliffs, oceans, beaches, lush foliage.

The cafes -- so many places for a good cup of coffee, and no need

to rush.

The weather -- enough said.

I look forward to every day here.

Happy Holidays, Laguna Beach.

DIANNA TOWNSEND

Laguna Beach

Scouts should have been allowed to sell

Regarding the letter from Keith Kesler, Scoutmaster of Troop 38 in

Laguna Beach, in the Dec. 6 Coastline Pilot. I agree with Kesler that

the atheist’s beliefs should not take precedence over the activities

of an outstanding organization that has been helping young men for 90

years.

The store manager was also wrong for requiring the Scouts to

leave. People are free to buy See’s Candy from the scouts or not, as

they wish.

Thank you, Kesler, for your worthwhile effort in helping boys to

become good adults.

ED PETERSEN

Laguna Beach

What will city do about traffic?

Traffic is a major problem in Laguna Beach. It affects the quality

of life for residents and visitors alike.

Currently, the traffic problem is acute. It will only become

exacerbated with the build out of Aliso Viejo, Newport Coast and

other planned Irvine Co. developments.

Our city’s problem is further complicated with our two major

arterial roads being state highways. Any proposed solution to our

traffic congestion problems involving these two arterial highways may

be beyond our local control.

Laguna North would like to know what the city plans to do to

address the present and future traffic situation confronting our

city.

It would seem that a comprehensive and objective traffic study

would be help determine the best course of action to be taken that is

best for our unique village. We do not believe that we should leave

our traffic congestion problems solely to Caltrans to resolve for us.

DON KNAPP

Laguna North president

Laguna Beach

* The Coastline Pilot is eager to run your letters. If your

letter does not appear it may be due to space restrictions and will

likely appear next week. If you would like to submit a letter, write

to us at P.O. Box 248 Laguna Beach CA 92652, fax us at 494-8979 or

send e-mail to coastlinepilot@ latimes.com. Please give your name and

include your hometown and phone number, for verification purposes

only.


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