Native son seeks return to council

City Council candidate Kelly Boyd's roots in Laguna run deep: His family history goes back three generations and forward two, with him and his four siblings sandwiched in the middle.

Boyd, who owns the popular Marine Room Tavern, is running for a second term on the City Council, on which he last served from 1978 to 1982.

So, why run again after all this time?

"I saw that things were not getting done as quickly as they should be," Boyd said. "And I hear complaints from locals who come [into the bar] about the Design Review process and the length of time it takes to get a project approved."

Boyd does not think the state law that prohibits elected officials from voting on issues or projects within 500 feet of property they own or lease would unduly hamper him as a council member.

"I should be able to vote on city-side issues, although I probably wouldn't be able to vote on some downtown projects," Boyd said.

Councilwoman Cheryl Kinsman also is prohibited from voting on downtown projects within a 500-foot circle from her Mermaid Street property.

"It's a stupid law," Boyd said. "There are a lot of downtown issues that aren't affected by Cheryl's property."

Downtown was not an issue when Boyd's great grandparents came to Laguna.

Boyd is a scion of the Thurston family. Grandfather Joe Thurston arrived in Laguna at 16 with his parents. He married school teacher Marie Thurston, for whom Thurston Middle School is named.

"My grandmother taught school in this very building," Boyd said with pride at the Laguna Beach Seniors Candidates Forum, held recently at the Veterans Memorial Building on Legion Street.

The Thurstons built their first homestead in Aliso Canyon, which Joe wrote about in "Laguna Beach of Early Days."

They also owned considerable land in Laguna, which was a separate entity from South Laguna at the time. Their holdings included Mystic Hills.

The Thurstons donated the property to the school district on which Laguna Beach High School was built and established a scholarship in the 1950s, administered today by the high school Scholarship Foundation.

Joe and Marie adopted two daughters, sisters Virginia and Doris.

Family memorabilia includes a photograph of Doris taken with Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks when Pacific Coast Highway was opened from Laguna to Newport Beach in the 1920s.

Restaurateur Robert "Bob" and Doris Thurston Boyd built a home on the site of the current high school parking lot and had five children: sons Happy, Bo, Kelly and Randy. A daughter, Cindy, came between Kelly, the middle child, and Randy, the baby of the family, who own Thurston-Boyd Antiques on South Coast Highway.

Kelly Boyd was born in 1944. He attended school in Laguna. After graduating from Laguna Beach High School, he attended Orange Coast College and USC.

Boyd served in the US Army in Vietnam and helped establish an orphanage in the war-torn country.

He has two children from his first marriage and two grandchildren.

Boyd has owned the Marine Room for 20 years.

"Since the age of seven, I have worked in full service restaurants, beginning with my father's restaurants in Laguna Beach: Boyd's Café and Bob Boyd's French Restaurant," Boyd said.

Boyd is a past member of Rotary and the now-defunct Laguna Beach Jaycees. In 2000, he served on the board of the Laguna Beach/Emerald Bay Public Facilities Authority.

He married Michelle Bierstra in 1982. She also is active in town. Besides her job as Human Resource Manager of the Laguna Beach County Water District, she is a member of the Assistance League and volunteers at the CSP Youth Shelter in Laguna. She established the CSP art exhibit, "As I See It," which just closed Sunday at the Laguna Art Museum.

"I am very proud that he is running," she said. "I know he will make a great councilman"

Among the issues Boyd sees as unsolved is parking. He told one forum audience that a parking study was started in 1984 and the problem still exists.

"I work downtown six days a week," Boyd said. "Locals tell me they won't even come there in the summer."

Several studies have been conducted through the years since Boyd was on the council, including one downtown traffic model, recently completed.

He vowed, if elected, to elevate the Parking, Traffic and Circulation Committee to commission status. He said that would be an improvement over the current status, in which the council sends a project to the committee, which sends its recommendation to the Planning Commission, which makes a recommendation to the council, which sends it back to the committee.

"A commission reports directly to the council," Boyd said.

As for "mansionization" concerns, Boyd pointed out that Pyne Castle was built in the 1920s and is still the biggest residence in Laguna, although now divided into apartments.

"Neighborhoods have to work together," he said. "No view should be lost and we have to maintain what the neighborhoods are about, but we must look at things individually."

Boyd has been endorsed by the Laguna Beach Republicans and the Laguna Beach Taxpayers Association.

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