Mailbag: Skateboarding as an outlet and way to grow

I am a homeowner on Bluebird Canyon Lane. I was born in South Coast Hospital and grew up in Laguna. Next year my 5-year-old is starting at Top of the World Elementary School, my 11-year-old is starting at Thurston Middle School, and my 14-year-old starts at Laguna Beach High School — home of the fighting Artists (inside joke).

Skateboarding is part of my culture. The young men in this town earn their stripes surfing third reef Rockpile and second reef Brooks Street. They also carve up Skyline Drive and the beautiful hills of Laguna. These kids need those outlets and it's better than some alternatives.

Contrary to one of my fellow homeowners' statements, a halfway decent skateboarder can stop the board on a dime with a power slide.

The lessons learned by falling are valuable. Why take those opportunities away?

I disagreed with the City Council actions of getting the city into the housing business and retroactively reimbursing retirement benefits to the tune of $10 million, but this is really out of hand.

Making skateboarding illegal is a direct assault on the culture of Laguna Beach, an increased expense in enforcement, and I oppose it.

Peter Davidson

Laguna Beach

[briefs_subhead]Kids have a place of their own

This letter is offered in support to a previous, and very well articulated, letter regarding the youth of Laguna and their need for "Their own piece of the territory."

Without a doubt teens will be influenced by what's happening around them. Whether it's barreling down a hillside on a skateboard, hanging out with friends drinking in the park, or something more constructive. They are a product of their environment. And having a place of their own like one the writer described could possibly even help them turn their energies into a positive impact on our community. And the fact is, they do have this place.

The Club Teen Center is located at 1085 Laguna Canyon Road and it exclusively serves kids 13 and older. At the center, they have an independent place to hang out with access to a pool or ping-pong table, a Wii console, computers, games, books, basketball hoop, regular dances, etc., plus the important benefits of peers and mentors all in the same location.

At the club, there's plenty of space and time for our teens to call their own, but we also provide many enriching opportunities to be part of something bigger if they choose. Opportunities for them to stand up for something they believe in, express themselves creatively, explore life outside of Laguna, discover what makes them special, tap into the intrinsic value of helping others, and become a leader of tomorrow.

Another thing that makes this place so special is that our youth take an active roll in its creation and ongoing development. To build a place that they want to be part of, we start by listening to them, and with those same ears, we continue to grow it- including the addition of our own regular skate program to be announced in the very near future.

I encourage any of Laguna's teenagers to stop by or send me personally (pame@bgclaguna.org) any ideas to make our club a place that they can own. I also encourage all of Laguna Beach to visit http://www.bgclagunabeach.org or stop by the club and see what a fantastic resource you all have helped create right here in our own backyard. We can only do these things with the support of our extremely generous community.

Pamela Estes

Garden Grove

[Pamela Estes is executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach.]

Do tattoos matter in an emergency?

I would like to express my concern about a situation I ran into the other day at the local grocery store. Our town heroes, the men and women of the Laguna Beach Fire Department, were gathering their daily food supply while I was gathering mine.

Of course, like everyone should be, I was enamored by them. I was lucky enough to fall into the check out line with them.

As one of the gentleman was loading his groceries on the conveyer belt I noticed he was wearing gloves. Immediately, I asked him how bad the burn was, naturally thinking that he must have gotten burned in a fire. He calmly explained to me that he was not burned, and that he was forced to wear gloves in public because he had gotten tattoos on his hand to represent his marriage, one by his thumb and one that was his wedding ring.

My jaw dropped. I couldn't believe that he had to cover up his tattoos that represented something so beautiful. The tattoos were not offensive in any way. Why did he have to cover them?

It absolutely shocks me that in this day and age, especially in this artsy community, one has to cover a tattoo! What is the point? I know if I were in need of rescuing, I wouldn't deny help from someone who had a tattoo, heck, I wouldn't even noticed if he had one, or 10 for that matter!

Nicole De Pasquale

Laguna Beach

O.C. Parks should support beach cafe

I write to you as an observer and testament of the will of a young man having a heated battle with three governmental agencies — Orange County Parks, the city of Laguna Beach and the California Coastal Commission — at the same time.

The local media has been following the story of a local businessman and owner of Sands Café at Aliso Beach. From what I have read in the Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot, Laguna Beach Independent and Orange County Register, Michael Weiss recently leased an O.C. Parks-owned building for his use as a cafe. The lease gave him permission to place removable tables in the sand along with two storage containers for supplies, beach rental chairs, etc. in order for his business to thrive.

Just before he opened O.C. Parks notified him that they were unaware that the California Coastal Commission did not allow those items in the sand, yet they had already granted him permission. O.C. Parks has had several storage containers on the adjacent property and in other beach locations for years without permits.

As the story has unfolded, the newspapers have exposed that O.C. Parks really didn't do the due diligence they should have before granting him permission and inducing him to sign the lease. It seems that they are being vindictive for exposing their incompetence. They may be further exposing their incompetence by violating selective enforcement laws, given that they have containers on the beach and major hotels in Laguna have had tables and chairs for years.

I heard today that at Aliso Beach, the county of Orange will be causing the containers to be removed in contradiction to the lease and the precedent set by O.C. Parks.

This is clearly a case of government not taking responsibility for its actions, in this case inactions, and the businessman with a $250,000 investment becomes the fall guy.

I think this is particularly news worthy because O.C. Parks took nearly nine months to select him in a competitive process, granted him permission and then dropped him like a stone in the water, yet the community thinks he has brought something to Laguna that is long needed — a place to eat good food with your feet in the sand.

This type of manipulation should not be allowed to be imposed on anyone.

Mark Gelfat

Los Angeles

Editor's note: Gelfat rents a home in Laguna Beach during the summer.

City lucky to have film society

I became a member of the Laguna Beach Film Society last fall. The subsequent monthly film sessions at our local theatre have been, in turn, thought provoking, charming, occasionally obtuse, fabulous but always original.

Hats off to Keiko Beatie, who selects the films for those of us who love an off-beat but well done movie. The most recent film, "Mao's Last Dancer," was incredible and a West Coast premiere. We are fortunate to have these films in our community, and I encourage film lovers to join the organization. Those of us who miss the flicks at the old Port and Balboa theatres can once again experience the pleasures of foreign and domestic independent films here in town.

For more information about the Laguna Beach Film Society, contact JoAnne Story at the Laguna Art Museum (949) 494-8971 Ext. 201.

Carole Zavala

Laguna Beach

Bell officials part of culture of greed

[Editor's note: The following was written in response to a letter from Dave Connell, "Bell should be a lesson in our city manager search," in the July 30 Coastline Pilot.]

Unfortunately, Bell's city officials did just do what those on Wall Street have been doing for years — taking investors' dollars (tax payers' dollars) and helping themselves first with high and unjustifiable salaries, benefits and perks, then paying their top dogs, making sure their friends were taken care of and SOL for those who didn't pull their money out of the stock market soon enough.

Like them, Bell officials laid off those who provided necessary services to make their bottom line so that they looked like good managers. They copied Wall Street by cutting back services and outsourcing what they could. Sound familiar now? Capitalism is not the end all, nor is communism, nor is socialism — earning a living with integrity and doing a good job is something out of the past.

Sadly, the idea of working together as a country has long passed as greed and consumerism permeated the strong values that once drove America to greatness.

There are many good parents trying their best to bring up their children to be good citizens but it sure is getting harder and harder for them. Their task is made difficult when their children see adults speeding and breaking laws, trashing our parks and public areas, cheating where and when they can.

Ganka Brown

Laguna Beach

Laguna's gridlock must be solved

The visit was great, the traffic was horrific. When the charming and beautiful town of Laguna Beach solves the traffic and parking problems that overwhelm this idyllic corner of Orange County, California, then those solutions should be embraced by large and small cities everywhere. Nowhere is worse than here.

Laguna Beach during the summer and on weekends is a congested gridlocked trap which is surrounded by mountains, ocean and the two-lane Pacific Coast Highway. Visitors are drawn by the gorgeous beaches, inspiring hillsides, canyon and mountains and the quaint nature of the beach town's original 1920s buildings, not to mention its worldwide reputation as an arts capitol. The Festival of Arts, Pageant of the Masters, Sawdust Art Festival, hundreds of galleries and shops has made Laguna Beach a destination for tourists, collectors and patrons of the arts for decades. The unwanted consequence is a traffic nightmare.

Even though the city has an excellent free trolley throughout town, the streeets are forever gridlocked, parking is limited and no alternatives currently exist to solve this traffic problem, which is caused by the success of the growing popularity of Laguna Beach.

Some sort of public transit mix and solutions involving bicycle paths, pedestrian walkways, buses from the north and south Pacific Coast Highway at 10-minute frequency, water taxis from Newport Beach and San Clemente, passenger ferries from Long Beach and San Diego must all be adopted. And after that transition from a traffic horror to public transit success, other cities can learn and follow the Laguna Beach model.

Otherwise, this seaside town will follow a Yogi Berra quotation: "This place is so popular, no one comes here anymore."

Chuck Levin

Santa Monica

Health directives not subject to faith

As a follow-up to my July 9 letter to the editor "Will faith override health directives?", I am please to report that the answer to that question is, "No."

I attended this week's Mission Hospital Laguna Beach Neighbor Forum and was assured that Do Not Resuscitate and California Advance Health Care Directives will be honored. What a thankful relief.

Niko Theris

Laguna Beach

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