Mailbag: Letter on bees caused positive buzz, but issue remains in the air

A honey bee on a rabbit bush.
A honey bee on a rabbit bush. A reader is hoping the bees on her property will be saved by approval of a potential ordinance in Costa Mesa that would allow beekeeping.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
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Ambrose, the patron saint of bees, must have been sitting on the shoulders of Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley and Costa Mesa Mayor John Stephens when they arranged a reprieve for my bees after I was cited by Animal Control to either exile or destroy them within seven days. This reprieve is only temporary, however, until the Costa Mesa City Council votes at its August meeting whether to allow beekeeping in Costa Mesa.

This all started a few months back when Councilwoman Andrea Marr put native plants in her front garden, which soon were covered in bees. Then, at an Earth Day celebration at City Hall, she and I separately happened to meet Alberta Mirisciotti from Hey Honey, who said to Andrea, “We can raise chickens in Costa Mesa, why not bees?” At the June 4 council meeting, Marr quoted Mirisciotti and mentioned she would be talking to Animal Services about making beekeeping legal in Costa Mesa.

On June 8, I was cited for allowing bees to live in a trash can in my atrium for the last 10 years. Suddenly, I was a criminal beekeeper. So, I left a message for Marr and wrote to her and the other council members asking for a reprieve until the beekeeping ordinance was enacted. Hearing nothing, I wrote a letter to the editor of this paper. I called Alberta for an estimate to relocate my bees and started doing research. In 2023, Mirisciotti was on a beekeepers subcommittee of Animal Services. The group wrote a draft ordinance, using beekeeping best practices from Fullerton and incorporating input from the O.C. Beekeeping Assn. The liaison from the City Council did nothing with the information. But now Councilwoman Marr has it and is moving forward, with the backing of Supervisor Foley — previously Costa Mesa’s mayor — who is advocating for pollinator gardens and beekeeping in her entire district.


Bee advocates have deluged Marr with letters. And three people (including myself) spoke on behalf of beekeeping during public comments at the June 18 council meeting. Four council members voiced support, but that may not translate into votes in August. In the past, a few politically connected individuals have been able to force their minority opinions on everyone, while the council ignored the majority of scientists, experts and residents.

If enough people call, write and/or speak at the next couple of council meetings, this will greatly help. If the ordinance does pass, bee lovers must prepare to get permits, take classes to educate themselves and comply with other rules in order to keep bees. It’s little to ask in order to maintain the health of our gardens, our food crops and the planet.

Priscilla Rocco
Costa Mesa

Re: Former site of Costa Mesa’s RVCA apparel store being eyed for live/work housing, Daily Pilot, June 21: The proposed live-work project, with shrinking of workspace and parking requirements and elimination of others, is exactly the kind of mindless dismissal of development standards that caused the people of Costa Mesa to approve Measure Y by a landslide vote of 67%.

The purpose of the mixed-use zoning overlay was to upgrade the existing hodgepodge development that characterized the west side of Costa Mesa. Some development standards would be flexible, in exchange for amenities such as green space and communal gathering areas. But in implementing the plan, the developer-dominated city council of the 2010-14 period approved projects, such as the one across from Trader Joe’s on W.17th Street, that flouted development standards and failed to provide needed amenities.

No city council would dare to consider approving such a project in affluent Mesa Verde or the east side. But the westside demographic less affluent, largely Latino and older. It’s been the place where anything goes. “Forget it, Jake, it’s Chinatown.”

Present council members rightly hesitated about the requested deviations for the proposed project and intimated that the time has come to plan for housing on the west-side bluffs, rather than live-work units. The council must say no to the proposed project and should seriously consider replacing the failed live-work concept with housing appropriate to the location.

Eleanor Egan
Costa Mesa

Differences of opinion in Surf City

Really getting tired of the same old garbage opinions in the Daily Pilot Mailbag by the same leftists over and over again attacking our City Council because they don’t agree with them on their leftist agenda. It tells me one thing — we are over the target when it comes to the policies. All the shouting and yelling at the meetings will not change a thing. The opinions expressed in the Mailbag are the same: “We hate Huntington Beach and want to turn it blue.” One of the activists doesn’t even live in HB anymore. Lay off our City Council and cover the failed policies in other cities on homelessness, drugs and crime. God wins in the end ... that ought set you off.

Donald Witteborn
Huntington Beach

Many thanks to Huntington Beach residents who are sending letters to the editor. They have provided a service to citizens who want to know what is happening in their community. Demonizing other council representative and calling them names are unacceptable. This is not the way council members should behave.

Libraries serve a vital function in our communities. And contracting them out to the private sector is abominable.

Those who have written letters to the editors are profiles in courage.

Susan Barrett
Los Alamitos

The four conservative members of our Huntington Beach City Council have said they are taking measures at our beloved libraries to “protect the children.” Then something should be done to protect our kids from the gutter mouth and poor behavior of Mayor Pro Tem Pat Burns who recently referred to fellow council members Natalie Moser, Dan Kalmick and Rhonda Bolton as “pieces of s**t.” No apology has been given nor censure has been forthcoming.

At several previous City Council meetings, many high school students spoke eloquently about what our libraries mean to them, so it is obvious that our young adults are listening and aware of what is taking place. What sort of example or lesson does Burns’s behavior teach our children about conflict resolution or about collaboratively working together with others to reach solutions? Is this an example of how they want to “protect” our children?

Kathleen Bunge

Huntington Beach

After reading the Mailbag on Sunday which again focused on the warring H.B. City Council, the comments from Tim Geddes struck a chord with me. He writes that it is the Daily Pilot that has been exposing the chaos on the dais in H.B., and I would add that if it wasn’t for the Pilot, the public probably wouldn’t be aware of the discord on the City Council, and this should be a lesson for all of us. The collapse of local news is allowing bad actors to fester among us without exposure. This is a danger to the democratic process. When we don’t call truth to power, the community at large suffers. Couple this with consistent and shamefully low voter turnout for elections, and you have a recipe for disaster.

Mike Aguilar
Costa Mesa

The Huntington Beach City Council meeting of June 18 was the high-water mark of dysfunctionality exhibited by our purported civic leaders. As a longtime observer and participant in local civic affairs, it is my contention that the polarization that has poisoned our local government has three root causes. The first is the complete lack of respect for established process, procedures and norms on the part of the current council majority. This disrespect is compounded by those members’ abject failure to seek guidance and education on running the city through established channels. The second is the reliance on political ideology to shape public policy instead of practical and constructive approaches that involve the citizenry and represent its best interests instead of partisan objectives. The third, and a byproduct of the first two, is a stunning lack of transparency on the part of the majority, which has resulted in the inability to be open and honest with its constituents. It has resulted in a hostile approach in dealing with opposing council colleagues and has alienated a major part of the community.

It is therefore unsurprising that the political polarization we are experiencing is not only continuing but deepening. While its root causes are clear, the path to “finding commonalities and unity” to address these cankerous conditions is not. It will require the council majority to understand how this polarization has developed. It will take both sides on the council to press for a reset and return to the process and procedure norms from which it has strayed. While it may be difficult to achieve complete harmony going forward, council members can deliberately eschew the rancor and discord that has characterized this term to date. Both sides, if they agree to pursue civility, also need to admonish their ardent followers against unruly behavior and verbal assaults, which destroy decorum and cause chaos. That is the only way peace can be maintained and progress pursued in restoring smooth sailing for Surf City’s local government.

Tim Geddes
Huntington Beach