Let's put tough pressure on the FAA...

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

Coastline Pilot.

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'

voices.

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

christopher.cox@mail.house.gov.

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.

DON KNAPP

Laguna Beach

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

Laguna.

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

efforts.

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

regained.

SHERAN JAMES

Laguna Beach

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?

JOHN SELECKY

Laguna Beach

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

automobile!

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.

ED MERRILEES

Laguna Beach

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

expenditures.

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?

CHARLOTTE MASARIK

Laguna Beach

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.

ROGER CARTER

Laguna Beach

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

California.

DAVID J. UNDIS

Executive Director, LifeSharers

Nashville, Tenn.

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

benefits.

The City Council should institute reforms that include:

1) Increase retirement age from 55 years for city nonsafety

employees

2) Increase retirement age from 50 years for city safety employees

3) Stop having the city pay the employee portion of pension

contributions

4) Outsource lower priority city functions reducing headcount

5) Have the city disclosed actual W-2 compensation city employees

receive

6) Have the city disclosed actual W-2 compensation city retirees

receive

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

costs.

GENE FELDER

Laguna Beach

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

like to submit a letter, write to us at P.O. Box 248, Laguna Beach,

CA 92652; fax us at (949) 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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