Mailbag: City instrumental in new college site

The following letter was addressed to Laguna Beach Mayor Elizabeth Pearson and members of the City Council:

All summer, the college has been working with the landlord of property at Big Bend in Laguna Canyon (formally 2825 Laguna Canyon Road), along with various consultants and contractors, to completely remodel a 9,500-square-foot building and create new quarters for our Visual Communication division. We have long needed good teaching and learning space for our high-tech departments of Graphic Design, Animation, and Game Art. As the deadline for building inspections and approvals got closer, and the beginning of the fall semester loomed closer still, the pressure built to unusually high levels to have the teaching spaces ready. Classes in the new space began Tuesday morning, complete with state-of-the-art computer hardware and software all up and running. Instructors are thrilled to finally have have a space that rivals any art and design college in the country.

Returning students who started in older quarters on the main campus are very pleased they can complete their studies and projects in new facilities. New students don't know how lucky they are.

I'd like to make you aware of your city employees who recognized the urgency, scheduled their work accordingly, and got us up and running.

John Pietig, working with the blessing of Ken Frank, stands out. His "customer service" orientation really came through in the final hour.

All of John Montgomery's team in Community Development were admirable.

Many were involved from the Building Department, but Monica Tuchscher stands out for me because I spent time talking with her directly and I know how committed she became to the project. Three code compliance officers and building inspectors spent extra time in the final hours making sure the engineers and contractor got things right: John Gustafson, Doug Miller, and Rick Bennett. Supporting staff, and others I'm sure I've neglected to mention, all helped. And I do not forget Fire Marshall Tom Christopher of your Fire Department who worked with us to make sure the building was safe and up to code.

Getting new facilities like this is a milestone for the college. The engagement by Assistant City Manager Pietig and all of the others truly makes the city a partner with us in educating the next generation of great artists and designers. On behalf of all at the college—especially students and faculty—my deepest thanks.

Dennis Power

Laguna Beach

Dennis Power is President of Laguna College of Art & Design.

Water rates unfair to ratepayers

I guess all property owners in Laguna Beach have received their notice about the progressive water rate increases. It was a very professional detailed explanation of how they arrive at rates. However, the Laguna Beach County Water District missed a key factor in projecting increases every year. That factor is that the economy and many people are in financial trouble. It seems that the Water Department, like almost all government agencies, think that giving their employees and contractors automatic increases every year is just fine. Well, it isn't. It is way past time for government to stop giving increases in wages and perks. All the figures are out there that clearly show government workers are already paid far more than workers in private industry and their perks are outrageously high compared to private industry. Government must stop all these automatic increases and cost of living adjustments and start cutting back. The taxpayers simply cannot afford these never ending increases. PS: If the unions don't like it, tough, there are plenty of unemployed and under-employed people out there that would welcome these jobs and work for far less.

Dave Connell

Laguna Beach

Regarding the upcoming City Council race: Can a zebra change its stripes? Can a leopard change its spots?

Can our four council candidates agree to not spend money on yard signs and devilishly expensive mass mailings?

I checked the Bible, the U.S. Constitution and our general plan looking for a clue, a hint of moral or legal guidance. Not having yard signs and mass mailing seems to be OK morally and legally.

Michael Hoag

Laguna Beach

Dear Laguna:

You've been in my life now for more than 15 glorious years. I've always appreciated the beauty you've brought to my life. Recently our relationship was tested on a whole new level. My heartfelt appreciation goes out to a community that has held me and supported me in ways I didn't know possible. When my beloved brother Anthony was diagnosed with ALS ( Lou Gehrig's Disease) and couldn't afford his wheelchair along with some of the construction needed to handicap his living quarters, I reached out to you and you responded by helping me raise almost $12,000. I truly understand the famous saying "It takes a village."

To all my Laguna family from Anthony and me I say thank you for making a difference in this wonderful man's life. He was so animated when he was describing what his new wheelchair can do and how comfortable he feels sitting in it. All of you…and you know who you are have touched us so deeply.

A special call out to Ann & Byron Barker for donating their beautiful garden for my grassroots fundraiser.

Mark DePalmo from Mark's Restaurant for donating all the food for this successful event.

Pauline Baker for making all the delicious deserts, and Melinda Morgan for her special deserts.

Stephen Jacobs and Frank Schaffer for putting a raffle together in their two stores downtown (Stephen/Franks) plus their generous donations.

All the shops and artists that donated such amazing silent auction items. The 58 friends that came by to write a check for Anthony.

In closing I am truly touched by the love I feel in my heart and feel so proud to live in such a magical place with so many precious people.

Christine Illuminato

Laguna Beach

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