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MAILBAG

No more smoke on crowded patios

We emphatically support the “no smoking in an outdoor restaurant patio”. If you visit any of the trendy outdoor bar areas like the roof top terrace at La Casa del Camino or across the street at the new El Ranchito, it’s standing room only!

If somebody lights up, there is no place to go and you have to suffer through it. No more smoke!

MIKE AND MARCELA MCKIBBEN

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Laguna Beach

Bolton’s cage cartoon was off the mark

I think that Bolton’s cartoon in the April 13 issue was perhaps a Friday the 13th joke. It was certainly off point.

Were I a cartoonist, then perhaps I would have improved the accuracy of his political barb by showing a snake in a cage with the label “Laguna Anti-Athens fanatics.”

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But then what do I know about cartoons? About as much as the Anti-Athens people know about property development.

DENNIS MYERS

Laguna Beach

Athens plan for Aliso resort to benefit city

The Aliso Creek Area Redevelopment Plan announced at a public town hall meeting will offer tremendous benefits to our community.

Laguna Beach’s business environment is changing. While local residents are the mainstay of service businesses, many local restaurants, art galleries and retailers say visitor traffic is critical to their success. The goal of the Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce is to help sustain a thriving business base while keeping the village atmosphere and integrity that Laguna Beach has always had.

In addition to a new resort, improved nine-hole golf course, new trails and habitat protection, the proposed project would generate an estimated $6.2 million annually in fiscal benefits for Laguna Beach.

By the time the project stabilizes in 2013, tax revenues from the property are expected to reach more than $2.1 million per year. This is very significant as compared to the approximately $400,000 in annual tax revenue generated by the Aliso Creek Inn and Golf Course today.

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In addition, the project will offer more than $750,000 per year to Laguna Beach schools, more than $140,000 to the arts, and more than $140,000 help promote future tourism.

I am impressed by the plan and The Athens Group’s track record. The Athens Group developed Montage Resort & Spa. The resort has not only become a major attraction and community asset; it has contributed more than $15 million to the community in the form of bed tax, sales tax and the Business Improvement District tax over the past four years.

I am confident our city’s committees will work with the Athens Group to work out all the details that will make this project good for our residents and our businesses. We should be very proud to have The Athens Group a part of our future.

DAVE SANFORD

Laguna Beach


  • EDITOR’S NOTE: Dave Sanford is president of the Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce & Civic Assn.
  • Toll roads should be freeways now

    The Orange County Toll Roads eventually are to become freeways; let’s do it immediately.

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    Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Strategic Growth Plan for California’s Future should include paying off the toll road bondholders so we can eliminate the not directly elected Transportation Corridor Agencies, and be able to use the available funds to improve other roads.

    The toll road approach was pursued only after years of Orange County getting short-changed in transportation funding

    Toll road are to become freeways when the bonds are paid off — pay them off now.

    Toll road bondholders are protected by agreements, not to improve competitive routes.

    Let’s take the “sucker” sign off our backs. If the state of California is to spend $107 billion total investment in transportation infrastructure over the next decade, a portion of that should pay off the toll road bondholders and be spent in Orange County improving other routes.

    GENE FELDER

    Laguna Beach

    Aliso water recycling would face problems

    Re: Tom Girvin’s letter (“Aliso recycling could help fill water gap,” April 13 Coastline Pilot):

    When Marc Reisner, in his seminal text “Cadillac Desert” (1986), wrote that “Water flows uphill to money in California” he touched upon one of the two dynamics cost benefit analysts demand for funding smart projects: economic feasibility and technological possibility. Whether you’re an engineer or a grant writer, these two masters must be served.

    Girvin’s proposal that Aliso Creek flows be diverted, then stored for emergencies, seems like a good idea, but is extremely problematic for the above economic and technological parameters.

    Even worse, considerable radical negative ecological impacts will occur as well.

    First, in this age of fiscal belt-tightening and uncertainty, who will take the lead on responsibility and liability, who will pay the millions to create the infrastructure necessary to withdraw the gallons necessary, then build/create the enormous storage reservoirs? Second, numerous agencies like U.S. Fish & Wildlife plus California Fish & Game will require a complete, thorough CEQA review (environmental impact report), including a Section 1600 Streambed Alteration Agreement. The State Water Rights Board might deny it or severely limit the withdrawal budget (volume taken per day).

    At minimum they’d demand proof that those responsible don’t drain the streambed bone dry, thus wiping out aquatic and riparian species — even extirpating the estuarial zone near the beach.

    Despite claims by the unknowledgeable, Aliso Creek — according to county officials’ sworn testimony before the California Environmental Protection Agency (Region 9) — is 30% natural drainage water, not 100% toxic soup we call nuisance water or urban runoff.

    Third, the only configuration that makes sense would require pumping the millions of gallons up to (or nearly to) the highest adjacent ridge lines so that during said emergencies like fires, lacking electrical power, the lines would avail themselves to natural hydrology (gravity) allowing constant pressured flow for firefighters.

    That means chopping up the hillsides by cutting new switchback roads for installation, dicey stabilization of said roads, plus subsequent operation and maintenance and security vehicles.

    That means reservoirs similar to the one at Top Of The World, which by the way had the advantage of existing city access streets. That means cutting the top off of these beautiful crests just as we did years ago, then burying them and re-growing native habitat.

    Are we having fun yet? Can you see where this idea is headed? What environmental group would sign off on this, let alone how would the paperwork survive the ecological agency hurdles? Incredible destruction of high value habitat acreage for endangered species, visually aesthetic decimation and ugly slopes, eternal view loss, a great deal of precious coastal sage replaced by asphalt disrupting migrational connectivity.

    So his idea would be tough sledding technologically and economically, a nightmare for complex labyrinth of permitting issues, and a veritable slippery slope of ecological ruin.

    Yes, water DOES flow uphill to money in these parts, but should NOT flow uphill to the consequences of this self-imposed environmental disaster.

    Yes, with the rising price and scarcity of water, there’s liquid gold in the creeks, but let’s be realistic: This particular idea is one whose time won’t and shouldn’t come.

    ROGER E. BUTOW

    Laguna Beach


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