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Iconic ‘L’ endangered by vandals

Dennis Taylor wants to know why an “L” emblazoned on a Laguna hillside isn’t better protected.

The “L” is dear to Taylor, who was one of the kids who helped in the original construction in the 1930s. He urged the council at the March 5 meeting to make it clear that malicious vandalism will not be tolerated on the refurbished “L,” which has withstood decades of relatively innocent high school hijinks, until recently when it was nearly destroyed.

“It has been used and abused by about every senior class at Laguna Beach High School and sometimes during football season, guys from Tustin would come over and make a ‘T’ out of it or come from Brea and make a ‘B’ out of it — it was all kind a good-natured thing, not mean in any way, but it isn’t in fun anymore,” Taylor said.

“I went up a couple of weeks ago, and it was damn near destroyed. The canvas was torn, cans of paint were spilled all over.”


He and Dave Gibbs repaired the damage. Gibbs has been the keeper of the “L” for many years, Taylor said.

“Dave suggested we should put a sign up to please respect it,” Taylor said. “A lot of people put a lot of time and effort into it and I think it should be protected.”

Taylor was among those who put in time to create the first “L” on the hillside below Pacific Avenue.

“I was in the sixth or seventh grade,” Taylor said. “One of our classmates had a brother who worked at the [movie] theater downtown. So we’d go up the hill on Saturday and collect all sorts of rocks and pack them up — the first ‘L’ was made of rocks.


“After we did the rocks, we’d go down and get free tickets to the Saturday matinee — didn’t have to spend a dime to get in.”

Back then, the matinees featured two films, a cartoon, a “news reel” and coming attractions.

“That’s how far back the ‘L’ goes,” said Taylor.

While wanting to protect the “L,” Taylor doesn’t want to spoil the fun of the city’s high school seniors.

“If the class of 2013 [or subsequent classes] want to do their thing — which I imagine they will — they could do it by getting permission or a permit, provided they agreed to restore it to its original condition after 30 or 45 days,” Taylor said.

Over the years, the construction of the 44-foot-tall and 8-foot-wide “L” has changed. It is currently made of canvas drop cloths stretched over a frame and painted and has a small wooden plaque attached by Taylor inscribed with Gibbs’ name on it to honor his dedication.

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