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
events have occurred lately that severely threaten the prosperity of
In response to isolated cries that business was down dramatically
and that newly instituted $1.50 per hour parking fees were driving
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
Hospitality Night in Laguna Beach. Not for the Christmas Fairy.
Not for me. Not for the kids that witnessed such rudeness.
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
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
The weather -- enough said.
I look forward to every day here.
Happy Holidays, 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
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
Thank you, Kesler, for your worthwhile effort in helping boys to
become good adults.
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
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.
Laguna North president
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