Let's put tough pressure on the FAA
Many thanks to Barbara Diamond for her excellent story on the jet
aircraft noise problem in her "What's Up" column in the Aug. 20
Many of us have been fighting the Federal Aviation Administration
for years at least to recognize that there is a noise problem created
by low-flying commercial jets above Laguna Beach, which has been
aggravated since the closure of the Marine Corps Air Station at El
Toro, and for them to do something about it. (As I write this, two
noisy jets have flown over.) We have written letters to the aviation
administration, met with them, and involved our congressman,
Christopher Cox. For years, the aviation administration has continued
a denial of any change in flight routes or that there was a problem
of noise caused by the allowed routing of commercial jet aircraft
over Laguna Beach at low altitudes.
Finally, we have proof that commercial jet flights over Laguna at
altitudes of less than 7,000 feet have doubled since El Toro was
closed. Cox has requested a meeting with the aviation administration
to determine if there can be a solution. Meetings with the aviation
administration before ended in failure, and the jet noise continues.
The aviation administration is on the hot seat at last. This may be
our last chance at any over-flight relief for some time to come. The
aviation administration is a huge federal bureaucracy that will only
change its ways with political pressure from on high. In this
election year, elected officials seem to listen to the voters'
I urge every Lagunan to write or call Cox at 1 Newport Place, Suite 420, Newport Beach, CA 92660, call (949) 251 9309 or e-mail to
The aviation administration is on the hot seat at last. Don't let
its officials off. Let's make some noise of our own, Laguna.
Design Review members work hard
This is not about whether the decisions the Design Review Board
makes are the right ones or the wrong ones, but about the time, care
and effort they put into making them.
Every week at City Hall, stretching into the midnight hours, they
put themselves on the line for us -- and in the line of fire --
facing off against emotionally charged neighbors, fellow
professionals and prominent developers with whom they are often at
variance. In making their decisions, they risk personal disfavor
within their own communities, even among their own associates on the
board; yet at the couple of Thursday evening review boards I
witnessed, I saw no signs of them catering to these or any other
influences. In casting their votes, they appear true to their own
standards, community standards and a dedication to the spirit of
This endorsement is not my attempt to curry favor with the board.
I have already been through my own design review process and out the
other end -- besides, I have a feeling any such attempt would
backfire with this group.
I watched them listen with a fresh mind to the merits of each
case, one after another, project after project, from 6 p.m. to past
11 p.m. Forget what you've heard. If you don't trust their sincerity
or the amount of thought they put into their adjudication, go to City
Hall one Thursday night and listen for yourselves. Whether or not you
approve of their decisions, I guarantee you'll end up in awe of their
They don't do it for money. The small stipend they receive barely
covers their telephone and gas expenses as they travel to our homes
to personally review our issues with proposed developments. If it's
power they crave (a common criticism), more power to them. The rest
of us aren't offering that amount of time, legwork, thought and
creative energy on behalf of the uniqueness of our town.
For the amount of flak the members of this board take, they
equally deserve our appreciation. So I for one want to say thank you,
Design Review Board, for taking the time to preserve our cottages
(old and new) and our ocean and canyon views, because such things,
once lost or compromised to bigger business interests, can never be
Who should we believe at City Hall?
Bonnie Hano's Aug. 13 letter stated that Mayor Cheryl Kinsman did
not share with the public that the ugly buildings at the Corporation
Yard would remain if we agreed to her proposal to move everything to
Act V during her tour of the site. Given the fact that a major
premise of her support for the move is the beautification of the
Corporation Yard site, I find this omission very deceiving.
I would like to add that the assistant city manager was at the
same tour and did not disclose that fact though he must have known it
(or should have). Then, a few days later, City Manager Ken Frank also
failed to make this disclosure in his presentation to the Coastal
Commission seeking approval to make the move. It was only when
Councilwoman Toni Iseman shared from the Coastal Commission dais,
after Frank presented, information she had learned just that day that
we learned of this huge omission.
So, the mayor, city manager and assistant city manager mislead us
in a big way. Who are we to believe at City Hall?
It really is time for a multiuse trail
Jeanette Pool's furious assault on Supervisor Tom Wilson's guarded
observations about the Ben Brown's (now Montage) golf course included
some collateral damage that must be addressed ("Sounding Off," Aug.
20, Coastline Pilot).
Yes, there is a "long awaited multiuse trail." An existing trail
is at least 20 miles long, from as far as O'Neil Park or Modjeska
Canyon on through Lake Forest, Mission Viejo, Aliso Viejo, Woods
Canyon. It finally dead ends abruptly at the golf course.
A practical and safe route around the golf course can be worked
out with covered fencing as was done at Pelican Hill Golf Course next
to the coastal trail. Such a multiuse trail would allow hikers and
bikers to get to the ocean and back from inland through beautiful
natural surroundings. And all, without using our favorite specie, the
This breakthrough of the Aliso Creek Trail to the ocean should be
included in any discussion of the Montage proposal for changes at the
Inn or golf course.
Yes, the completion is indeed long awaited.
Why is Pearson touting Montage?
The Montage Resort is a great place for a drink and enjoying a
great view, but it has been a mixed blessing for Laguna Beach.
The traffic study was obviously flawed as Montage parking
regularly overflows into the surrounding neighborhoods. The city
allowed the Montage to manage the public park and public parking lot
A recent issue of the Beverly Hills Courier indicates that current
and former City Council members are now vouching for the Montage and
assisting the Montage in getting projects passed in other
communities, currently Beverly Hills. How can this be?
Councilwoman Elizabeth Pearson, along with Kathleen Blackburn, is
reported as testifying in Beverly Hills "said a Montage Hotel had
been all positive for their city."
I don't know if this is more unfair to the residents of Laguna
Beach or the residents of Beverly Hills, regardless, it is not right.
If true, Pearson, please explain yourself. Are you fixing on moving
to Beverly Hills?
Feels like Montage is taking over
Residents of Laguna Terrace Mobile Home Park, directly east of the
Montage Hotel, report the hotel has made a offer to the Esslinger
family to buy the park.
Fifth District Supervisor Tom Wilson says the hotel should be
allowed to build another nine holes for a golf course, to adjoin the
nine-hole course they now own in Aliso Canyon, on public park land.
The Montage sent Councilwoman Elizabeth Pearson in a limousine to
Beverly Hills to tell their City Council how the hotel has enhanced
the local neighborhood.
The Montage is also attempting to purchase the 72-unit Vista Aliso
senior housing complex on Wesley Drive, 500 feet east of the hotel
and the Albertson's shopping center.
South Laguna should have a new name. Montageland -- enter at your
own risk or to paraphrase it, goodbye Laguna, hello greed.
One way to get people to donate
The generosity of live organ donors like Tiana Bryant is
remarkable. Most Americans won't even agree to donate their organs
after they die. They bury their organs instead of sharing the gift of
life. As a result, more than 6,000 of their neighbors die every year
waiting for organ transplants.
The solution to the organ shortage is simple -- if you don't agree
to donate your organs when you die, then you go to the back of the
waiting list if you ever need an organ to live.
A grass-roots group of organ donors called LifeSharers is making
this idea a reality one member at a time.
LifeSharers is a nonprofit network of organ donors. Members agree
to donate their organs when they die, and they give fellow members
"first dibs" on their organs. This creates a pool of organs available
first to members. The existence of this pool gives other people an
incentive to sign donor cards and join the network, and this
incentive grows stronger as the network expands.
LifeSharers also makes the organ allocation system fairer. About
70% of the organs transplanted in the United States go to people who
haven't agreed to donate their own organs when they die.
Anyone who wants to donate their organs to others who have agreed
to donate theirs can join LifeSharers at http://www.lifesharers.com.
Membership is free.
LifeSharers has 2,473 members, including 365 members in
DAVID J. UNDIS
Executive Director, LifeSharers
City benefits cost residents too much
Proper financial management requires the city to make a serious
effort to reduce its headcount and institute necessary reforms.
The city faces the same problem that most companies in the United
States have: Employee benefits are rising out of control. Health
care, worker's compensation and pension costs are soaring. The city
has substantially higher tax receipts, particularly through soaring
property taxes, but they are basically already spent for employee
The City Council should institute reforms that include:
1) Increase retirement age from 55 years for city nonsafety
2) Increase retirement age from 50 years for city safety employees
3) Stop having the city pay the employee portion of pension
4) Outsource lower priority city functions reducing headcount
5) Have the city disclosed actual W-2 compensation city employees
6) Have the city disclosed actual W-2 compensation city retirees
Taxes are not too low. With this year's projected $1,462,000
increase in Property Taxes plus the $370,000 increase in sales taxes
one would expect the City Council to be able to allocate money to
fund new projects. It is unfair to Laguna Beach taxpayers that these
are funds are basically instantaneously consumed by city employee
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