Mailbag: Commending officials for marine protection

The citizens of Laguna Beach deserve congratulations for the recent decision by the Fish and Game Commission to designate our ocean as a Marine Life Protected Area. Without the overwhelming support from Laguna's residents and leadership from a band of citizen volunteers too numerous to list, this designation would not have been possible.

Councilwomen Toni Iseman, Verna Rollinger, Jane Egly and Elizabeth Pearson also deserve our thanks and congratulations for this victory! We all appreciate their leadership on an issue so important to our village. And, more importantly, we saw they were not deterred from taking a courageous stand by a few strident critics who have and continue to personally criticize their environmental votes and commitment to our blue and green belts.

They are creating a legacy for which they should be honored, thanked and recognized.

I have been spending a lot of time in China this year and can testify to the destruction of marine life and ocean quality taking place across the Pacific. Overfishing, uncontrolled development along the coasts, discharge of poisons and sewage into rivers, etc. continues unabated. No one drinks tap water in China except the poor who have no choice. Their beaches are simply unfit for any human activity and their cities choked by air pollution that is literally doing serious damage to their lives. It is a crime! As is the destruction of their culture, history and neighborhoods as a result of a building approval process that provides for no citizen input. It is so sad to see.

Laguna Beach is setting a great example to so many others around the globe. I tell as many people as I can in China about how Laguna takes care of its environment and neighborhoods. Perhaps, someday, residents there will be able to make a difference too, led by enlightened civic leaders and active citizens like ours.

Thank you all for this great achievement.

Armando Baez

Laguna Beach

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Bicyclists have rights, responsibilities

Both cyclists and motorists forget the details from time to time, so here is a review of the most common rights and responsibilities of cyclists and the California Vehicle Code where it appears.

Cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicle drivers. (CVC 2120)

That includes stopping at stop signs.

Roadway: Bicyclists traveling slower than the normal speed of traffic must ride as close to the right side of the road as safely possible, except when passing, preparing for a left turn, avoiding hazards, or if the lane is too narrow. (CVC 21202)

Bicyclists should take the entire lane where the pavement is too narrow or risk being "mirrored" by a daydreaming motorist (happens all the time, near misses at Aliso Bridge, Temple Hills, Park Avenue).

Direction of travel: Bicyclists must travel on the right side of the roadway in the direction of traffic, except when passing, making a legal left turn, riding on a one-way street, riding on a road that is too narrow, or when the right side of the road is closed due to road construction. (CVC 21650)

Motorists should share the road here; this is the space cyclists are given, so show some patience and slow down.

Sidewalks: Individual cities and counties control whether bicyclists may ride on sidewalks. (CVC 21206)

In Laguna Beach, riding on sidewalks or the boardwalk is illegal. (MC1002020)

Brakes: Bicycles must be equipped with a brake that allows an operator to execute a one-braked-wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement. (CVC 21201(a))

It makes just plain good sense to have good brakes when riding around Laguna.

Lights: At night a white headlight visible from the front must be attached to the bicycle or the bicyclist. (CVC 21201(d) and CVC 21201(e))

To be visible to motorists sharing your lane, a taillight is more important than a headlight.

Reflectors: At night, bicycles must have the following reflectors:

Visible from the back: red reflector. Visible from the front and back: white or yellow reflector on each pedal, shoe or ankle. Visible from the side: 1) white or yellow reflector on the front half of the bicycle and 2) a red or white reflector on each side of the back half of the bike. These reflectors are not required if the bike has reflectorized front and back tires. (CVC 21201(d))

Helmets: Bicyclists and bicycle passengers younger than 18 must wear an approved helmet when riding on a bicycle. (CVC 21212)

Alcohol and drugs: Bicyclists may not ride while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. (CVC 21200.5)

If you're drunk, you're busted.

Pedestrians: Bicyclists must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians within marked crosswalks or within unmarked crosswalks at intersections. Bicyclists must also yield the right-of-way to totally or partially blind pedestrians carrying a predominantly white cane or using a guide dog. (CVC 21950 and CVC 21963)

Parking: Bicyclists may not leave bicycles on their sides on the sidewalk or park bicycles in a manner which obstructs pedestrians. (CVC 21210)

More bike racks would help here.

Les Miklosy

Laguna Beach

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Bring Emerald Bay into Laguna Beach

After reading today's Mailbag letter from David Wilson ["Why ban torches, fire pits?", Coastline Pilot, Dec. 17] we felt compelled to wholeheartedly agree with his summation of the Emerald Bay community deciding any business to do with the city of Laguna Beach. We have personal experience.

We have a mega monster McMansion built directly above us. The "Villa" is in Emerald Bay, we are not. We must abide by all Laguna Beach city building ordinances. They do not. They ask the Orange County Planning Commission, because that is the only building entity they must appease, for a 15-foot variance that virtually fills their entire small lot with "building." The county grants this.

They ask the county if they can begin their first floor 6 feet above street grade then add a second floor (third floor?), so that they can get an underground garage. After we ask for a hearing and plead our case, lamenting a complete infringement of privacy, the county grants this second request. The county "people" have a lot of business to take care of in this county so why should they linger and listen to the protest from our entire Laguna Beach neighborhood?

Does this Orange County Planning Commission care about Laguna Beach like we do and like our Laguna Beach city elected officials? Obviously not! And our city officials hands are completely tied in regard to any of these issues and cannot overrule anything decided by the county building department! Preposterous!

Can someone please explain to us how this happened or better yet how this can be stopped? Emerald Bay has a "Laguna Beach" city address but does not have to play by the same rules as every other community in our beautiful town. There are other "older homes" above us that will be "turned over" before long. Our neighborhood will simply not allow this to happen again! How can we start a grass roots movement to have the good people of the Emerald Bay community truly belong to the city of Laguna Beach and answer to the powers that be in the city that they claim as theirs?

Doug and Kristi DeCinces

Laguna Beach

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Village Laguna is too influential

I am glad to hear that someone else is becoming aware of the stranglehold Village Laguna has had on our town. I have attended many City Council meetings since living here and have witnessed over and over again the kowtowing of City Council members who are elected in office because they are funded and supported by this political action committee.

This was especially evident when we were wresting with the issue of view preservation and the end product was an ineffective, and deplorable document that has cost property owners not only financially but obstructed or mitigated their views, destroyed neighborhood harmony, perhaps their ability to protect their property because insurance companies drop them, and frustration.

Perhaps at one time they served a purpose but today they have divided this city and those who live here. Not only do they have influence with council members, they have quietly over the years made strong alliances with city workers. These moles have made reports to Village Laguna about what is going on and thus giving Ann Christoph and others an inside edge on possible action.

I find it appalling that there are some staff/elected officers who in my observation and opinion appear to get pay increases and special treatment beyond the scope of their abilities and job description and other equally or even more valuable staff being disregarded because they may not be willing to act as moles for Village Laguna.

I sincerely hope that more and more residents take back our city. We need to demand that any one running for City Council/staff positions divulge how much money they get from Village Laguna and of course from individuals who belong to Village Laguna as well as other similar groups and that people base their voting on abilities, knowledge and vision of the candidates. The other way to achieve this is to limit spending by any candidate and any groups promoting a candidate to a minimum amount and rely on public forums as the vehicle to seek votes.

Thank you Mr. Navarro ("Mailbag: Village Laguna tactics failed with Pearl Street home," Coastline Pilot, Dec. 17) for your willingness to put it on the line. It does not surprise me that you have had negative feedback. I have been subject to it myself. On the flip side, I have met many people who thank me for being outspoken on many issues and that makes it worthwhile.

Ganka Brown

Laguna Beach

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