Our Laguna: A weekly look at the last half of 2009

As promised, here is a brief review of the stories that appeared in the Coastline Pilot in the last half of 2009 that reflect what makes Laguna so special, but didn’t make the top 10 headlines.

July 3: BC Space Gallery owner Mark Chamberlain began preparing for the Cal State Fullerton Grand Central Art Center’s retrospective on the gallery’s influence on the Southern California art community. The show is set to begin in February.

July 10: Festival season was in full swing.

July 17: Morrie Granger and other tooters for a community garden in South Laguna convinced the council to waive fees for a temporary use permit.


July 24: The council declined to take sides on a proposal to put in a stop light at the Emerald Bay entry, which some residents of the gated community supported and some opposed. Bottom line: Emerald Bay is not part of incorporated Laguna Beach.

Aug. 7: Coastline Pilot columnist James Pribram organized a “paddle-out” to protest a man’s arrest for surfing on Lake Michigan.

Aug. 14: John Mansour announced the suspension of Athens Group’s Aliso Creek Area Redevelopment Plan project, blaming the downturn in the economy and challenges to new development. The project was vehemently opposed by Village Laguna and the South Laguna Civic Assn.

Medals were presented to young artists whose work was among the 300 pieces displayed at the Festival of Arts, funded by the PIMCO Foundation.


Fire Chief Mike Macey announced his retirement. He spent the last four years of his 30-year career heading the Laguna department.

Aug. 21: Youngsters who read or were read to for 20 hours during the Laguna Library’s summer program were treated to a barbecue cooked and served by firefighters.

Aug. 28: The Regional Water Quality Control Board fined the city $70,000 for the Oct. 29, 2008, spill that spewed more than 590,000 gallons of sewage onto Woods Cove beaches.

Sept. 4: The council approved the eighth design proposed for the Lifeguard Headquarters on Main Beach.

Laguna Beach resident Richie Sambora was among the celebrities at the Festival of the Arts season-ending gala.

Sept. 11: Schools were back in session.

Sept. 18: Bogart, a Boston terrier was voted the Most Gorgeous Senior in the annual Pet Parade and Chili Cookoff, hosted by the Laguna Board of Realtors and Affiliates. Prudential California was the winner of the cookoff.

Sept. 25: “Laguna Open for Business” was created to assist new or flailing businesses in town.


About 800 volunteers bagged more than 2,800 pounds of trash at the annual California Coastal Cleanup Day, event coordinator Roger von Butow said.

Oct. 2: Despite financial losses amounting to more than $500,000, Laguna Art Museum officials were buoyed by the increase in membership and paid admissions and a full staff for the first time in 13 years

A candlelight vigil was held at Main Beach to show support for the Sandys family of Laguna Beach, whose relative, Sarah Shourd, and her two companions were detained in Iran after allegedly crossing the border.

Oct. 9: Laguna celebrated the generous spirit and the birthday of Harry Lawrence on Thursday at Main Beach Park. His fingerprints are all over the town’s most cherished institutions — including the Chamber of Commerce, the Laguna Art Museum, the Laguna Playhouse and the Festival of Arts, the Beautification Council, the former South Coast Hospital and Main Beach Park.

Oct. 16: Thurston Trailer Park residents asked the council to help them in their messy negotiations with the park board of directors.

“I will meet with them if the council directs me to, but I sure don’t want to meet with both sides at the same time,” City Manager Ken Frank said.

Oct. 23: El Hathaway took two top prizes at the annual Rotary Club’s Classic Car Show.

The Laguna Community Foundation sponsored a tax workshop at the Aliso Creek Inn.


Oct. 30: The city manager’s midyear budget report included the good news that General Fund revenues for fiscal year 2009-10 were more than $500,000 above projections, in spite of revenue from hotel and sales taxes and service charges coming in $1 million below estimates. The windfall was due to property taxes that exceeded expectations and savings by city departments.

“Lagunatics” went off-script to proclaim the stage at Legion Hall was to be named in honor of Bree Burgess Rosen, founder of the show and No Square Theatre. Show co-writer Chris Quilter made the announcement. The mayor read the proclamation honoring the diva’s contributions to the city’s performing arts — not to mention raising funds for the Susi Q Senior Center and scholarships for Laguna Beach High School graduates.

Nov. 6: La Casa del Camino’s swapped old-world Mediterranean décor for hip California themes in 10 redesigned suites. The grand opening party was Chris Keller-stellar.

Those who walked The Walk 20 years ago talked about it at the Laguna Canyon Conservancy dinner.

Nov. 13: The city bought the Verizon parcel between the Bark Park and the Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Canyon.

Festival of Arts President Wayne Baglin reported a banner year for the festival and the Pageant of the Masters. The council honored gay activist Fred Karger for his efforts to oppose a state law banning same-sex marriages and to make public the names of donors of more than $100 that contributed to the passage of the law.

Nov. 20: Bonnie and Arnold Hano were honored by Village Laguna, and it seemed like half of Laguna village attended. Big turnout for the “Villagers of the Year.”

“A World of Art and Imagination” was the theme of the Sawdust Winter Fantasy, which showcased work by 173 artists and crafters, live entertainment and interactive workshops.

Nov. 27: City officials moved ahead with a curfew for city beaches and parks, in spite of the California Coastal Commission Deputy Director’s notification that it violated the commission’ requirement for a coastal development permit, which would be appealable.

Police Capt. Paul Workman, interim chief since Michael Sellers left to take a job in Fullerton, was named Laguna’s top cop.

Dec. 4: The county did what many thought was impossible: united Laguna. Public opinion so solidly opposed a fence installed in front of the renovated library that it was removed two days after it was installed.

Ho ho ho. Hospitality Night kicked off the holiday season.

The city acquired the coveted Mahbouubi Fardi parcel in South Laguna, a surprise donation by the owner. Boyd handed over the mayor’s gavel to Elizabeth Pearson. Toni Iseman was elected mayor pro tem.