Our Laguna: More snippets of the news from 2010

Moving right along — Here's a snapshot of what folks were reading about last summer in the Coastline Pilot, when they weren't grumbling about the weather. Ask anyone — there was no summer, but we did have fireworks on the Fourth of July, thanks to donations from residents and the Laguna Beach business community and fund, all coordinated by the Laguna Board of Realtors.

July 2: Mission Hospital celebrated its first anniversary in Laguna Beach. Monsignor John Urell, a familiar face to communicants of St. Catherine of Siena Church, led the blessing of crosses that were to be installed on the exterior of the hospital tower.

The California Coastal Commission ordered Michael Weiss to remove the storage containers from Aliso Beach, putting a crimp in his plans for a more elaborate eating establishment than a snack bar.

July 10: The council rejected an appeal of the Planning Commission's approval of the renovation of the Coast Inn proposed by Steven Udvar-Hazy.

A group of Laguna Beach residents announced plans to ask the Parking, Traffic and Circulation Committee to put the brakes on skateboarding in Laguna. Previous attempts to curb skateboarding had been divisive. The new attempt appeared to be no different.

"In all my years on the PTC, this is by far the most controversial issue we have had before us," said Curt Bartsch, committee chairman.

A 36-year-old man was stabbed on Mountain Road. The attack was not fatal. Police asked for the public's assistance in tracking down the four assailants.

July 16: Toni Iseman was the last of three City Council incumbents to announce her intention to run for reelection. School Board incumbents Ketta Brown, Theresa O'Hare and Betsy Jenkins filed papers for reelection.

Ron Rodecker returned to Laguna as the guest artist at the Sawdust Festival, where his Dragon's Castle was for decades one of the most popular booths on the grounds.

July 23: Residents of Laguna Terrace Park applauded the City Council's tentative approval of the subdivision of Laguna Terrace Park so tenants might eventually be allowed to own the land under their mobile homes. Final approval was pending resolution of the city's approval of a coastal development permit for the subdivision, which was expected to be challenged by the California Coastal Commission, park manager Jim Lawson said.

Crystal Cove hosted the fifth annual Native American Camp, which included activities such as drawing wildlife and making ropes from yucca. The camp was organized by Jacque Tahuka Nunez, a member of the California Acjachemen tribe.

July 30: Cell towers constructed next to Crystal Cove got a poor reception from park activist Dale Ghere, among those who worked for four decades to get the park developed.

The bills for the repair of infrastructure damaged in the 2005 Bluebird Canyon landslide were paid off with a $34 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the city's own Disaster Relief and Street Lighting funds and the Laguna Beach County Water District.

More than 150 people attended the Parking, Traffic and Circulation Committee hearing on skateboarding. Speakers ranged in age from pre-teen to octogenarian, the clear majority of them, as well as the audience, in favor of the activity.

Aug. 6: The obliteration of a second-story view from a Mystic Hills home by the installation of solar panels on a home below had property owner Lea Eastman up in arms. Solar panels are green, which the city favors, but council members were asking how the installations, over which they have no control, could be done in manner less upsetting to neighbors.

City officials' salaries and benefits were posted on the city's website, in accordance with State Controller John Chiang's orders, following the uproar over the high salaries paid by the city of Bell to administrators and council members.

Two California Coastal Commissioners and Laguna Beach gay activist Audrey Prosser filed an appeal of the approved redevelopment of the Coast Inn, which includes the iconic Boom Boom Room. The appellants contended that the project didn't jibe with the city's Local Coastal Program and raises issues about visitor services along the coast.

Lifeguards recovered the body of Taylor Patrick Blanco of San Juan Capistrano, who had disappeared in the waters off Three Arch Bay the day before when rescue efforts were called off at dark.

Aug. 13: The Laguna Terrace Park owner filed a law suit to avoid dealing with the California Coastal Commission on a proposal to subdivide the parcel and let the residents buy the land under their coaches.

Collaborative Courts Foundation, founded by Lagunan Kathy Burnham in 2006, helps substance abusers clean up their act rather than going to jail, saving taxpayers millions. The program, which typically lasts from 18 to 24 months, provides a four-phase series of mandatory self-help meetings, individual and group counseling, employment or school enrollment and court attendance.

Three school board incumbents went unchallenged, which meant they were automatically elected, saving the district the cost of an election.

The city didn't get off so cheaply: the candidacy of State Sen. Tom Harman aide Emanuel Patrascu challenged council incumbents Elizabeth Pearson, Kelly Boyd and Iseman, which cost the city an estimated $30,000 for the election.

Aug. 20: The City Council allowed some extra height on Joe Hanauer's Broadway project in return for some public parking and a non-profit organization event board on the site.

Laguna Laurel bonds approved by 79.5% of the ballot cast will be paid off by the end of the 2010-2011 fiscal year.

The council agreed to pay $84,000 to prop up the cottages that were moved in 2007 from Third Street to Big Bend.

Aug. 27: Between 70% and 80% of artist Julita Jones' home was destroyed by fire. However, the presses, plates and rollers used by Jones in print-making were saved. Her own artwork was on display at the Festival of Arts and the Sawdust Festival, but the family's art collection was lost.

Relay for Life netted more than $56,000. Then-Mayor Pearson crowned young cancer survivor Hannah Thomas Relay Princess.

The council voted unanimously to oppose the construction of a tunnel that would connect Riverside County to Highway 133/Laguna Canyon Road.

Sept. 2: Assistant City Manager John Pietig announced the resumption of the Heisler Park renovation. Improvements were expected to be completed by May 2011. Previous work was completed in 2008.

Sept. 10: A hiker stranded overnight on the steep cliff near Canyon Acres was rescued by helicopter.

Coastline Pilot columnist Steve Kawaratani reported sharing his final meal at Five Feet before it closed went full circle. His last meal, like his first at Michael Kang's eatery was with Rev. Bob Cornelison.

The community celebrated the end of the tourist season with the traditional Laguna Beach Exchange Club pancake breakfast, organized as always by Sande St. John, and cooked by members of the Laguna Beach Fire Department.

Sept. 17: An Eagle Rock Way home was the third house fire within a month. None had working smoke detectors, Deputy Fire Chief Jeff LaTendresse said.

The first City Council Candidates Forum of the 2010 election was hosted by the Chamber of Commerce. The chamber presented questions to the candidates in advance. Voters who expected fireworks were disappointed.

A retirement party was held for Police Corp. Ted Falencki, who served the city for 25 years.

Sept. 24: Village Laguna gave candidates a week to bone up on questions that would be posed at the second City Council Candidates Forum, but reserved the right to comment on the answers.

Council members Iseman and Boyd co-chaired a meeting at Mozambique Steak house to try to resolve complaints from the restaurant's Woods Cove neighbors.

We'll wrap this up next week with snippets from the final three months of 2010.

OUR LAGUNA is a regular feature of the Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot. Contributions are welcomed. Write to Barbara Diamond, P.O. Box 248, Laguna Beach, 92652; call (949) 380-4321 or e-mail coastlinepilot@latimes.com.

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