Our Laguna: A final look at an eventful 2010

And finally…a brief look at what went on in Laguna in the last three months of 2010, culled from the pages of the Coastline Pilot.

Oct. 1: Geo-Technical Engineer Hannes Richter presented awards to Mayor Elizabeth Pearson from the California Geotechnical Assn. and from the American Society of Civil Engineers for the restoration of Bluebird Canyon.

"[The landslide] was a disaster, but it was also a defining moment for the residents and the city to work together," Richter said.

The Parking, Traffic and Circulation Committee recommended the elimination of a ban on downhill skateboarding from a proposed ordinance, subject to council approval.

Members of the Laguna Beach Sister Cities Assn. visited Indian Territory on North Coast Highway to learn about a culture closer to home than Menton, France, the first of Laguna's sibling communities.

City Manager Ken Frank disputed City Council candidate Emanuel Patrascu's statements that seemed to imply that the council had illegally raised property taxes.

Patrascu stood by his accusation, based on his position that charging for sewer service is a tax.

Oct. 8: Frank announced that larger-than-expected revenue from property transfers put the city in a more robust financial position than anticipated when fiscal year 2010-11 began July 1.

The Laguna Dance Festival drew crowds to Main Beach

Oct. 15: Four successive years of increases in water rates were recommended by the Laguna Beach County Water District commissioners to offset escalating wholesale costs. About 70% of the district's prudent water-using customers won't see much difference in their bills, district General Manager Renae Hinchey said.

City staff was instructed to seek willing sellers of Edison financial allocations for undergrounding utilities to be acquired by the city to pay for a district on a section of Laguna Canyon Road.

Oct 22: A dramatic storm illuminated the night sky over Laguna on Oct. 19 and 1.6 inches of rain fell in a 24-hour period — a portent of what was to come before the year ended.

The fireworks many had expected in the City Council candidates' forums final erupted. Mayor Pro Tem Toni Iseman lashed out at incumbent challenger Patrascu for his quote she called a lie on an election flier. He stated that Iseman had raised taxes in Laguna by $11 million. Quite a feat if true, Iseman said, since the whole council can't raise taxes without a vote of the people.

The flier also quoted Patrascu claiming he would never raise taxes, which Iseman pointed out would have included a bond approved by the voters to buy pieces of Laguna Canyon for open space and the temporary half-cent sales tax to help pay for the restoration of Bluebird Canyon infrastructure and to establish a disaster fund that will be used to pay for the cleanup of the December storms.

Oct. 29: The council reappointed Ken Sadler, Robin Zur Schmiede and Ilse Lenschow to the Design Review Board and eliminated the alternate position as recommended by the board, which meant one of the four incumbents seeking reappointment was out of job.

The Laguna Playhouse kicked off its yearlong 90th anniversary celebration with the dedication of the refurbished callboard at the Peppertree Parking Lot where the theater once stood.

Many of the celebrants remembered the original community theater.

Pageant of the Masters Director Diane Challis Davy starred as Dopey in "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." Past performers also included Karen and Jim McBride and Barbara Painter.

They all signed in on the original callboard, said Karen Wood, Playhouse executive director.

Nov. 5: John Pietig, top assistant to the city manager for more than nine years, was appointed to succeed his boss. Pietig was selected from more than 100 applicants for the job.

Laguna bucked the national trend of ousting incumbents and reelected Boyd, Iseman and Pearson.

"Lagunatics" wowed audiences.

Former Laguna resident Jeff Parker recounted his writing career, which started with "Laguna Heat," for an enthusiastic audience of the Friends of the Laguna Beach Library.

Nov. 12: State officials declared Laguna Beach ground zero for a deadly threat to California's palm trees, following the discovery of the red palm weevil in two North Laguna trees.

Tommy Bahama opened in Laguna in the restored Heisler Building, owned by Pam and Sam Goldstein.

Highly regarded Susi Q Executive Director Bea Fields retired.

Nov. 19: The city will ask for a one-day exemption from new water quality regulations that could prevent the annual Fourth of July fireworks display at Monument Point, which could spill into the ocean.

Festival of Arts officials unveiled a proposed remodel of the Irvine Bowl Park façade, but the council said it needed more information before releasing funds for the project.

Nov. 26: Pyne Castle, once considered for President Nixon's western White House, went on the market for the first time in four decades. The building was most recently owned by Richard Massen and Roland Green, both deceased.

Parking citations were raised $3 to offset the state's increased share of the fees. The state increase would have cost the city $85,000 without the $3 addition to the city fine.

Dec. 3: LCAD President Dennis Power announced his intention to retire in June 2011. He is credited with expanding the campus and the enrollment since assuming the presidency in July 2005.

Montage Resort & Spa's first Christmas tree lighting celebration drew an estimated crowd of 1,300 revelers. The evening was highlighted by the presentation of a $5,000 check to Laguna Relief and Resource Center, accepted by Faye Chapman and Don Campbell. The check honored the funds raised by of Hearts of Montage volunteer group for local nonprofits.

The City Council approved a request by the city's Heritage Committee to impose a yearlong moratorium on Mills Act applications for K-rated structures. The hiatus was requested to allow the committee to shore up its guidelines for eligibility for the state property tax breaks, which are the paramount reason property owners want Mills Act status.

Dec. 10: Following the installation of the three incumbents for new terms by City Clerk Martha Anderson, Iseman was elected mayor, Jane Egly mayor pro tem.

Ken Frank was lauded by past and present council members at his last council meeting as city manager. A public farewell party was held the night before the council meeting at Seven Degrees, attended by several hundred people.

The Laguna Beach Visitors Bureau hosted a dandy dinner at Tivoli Too.

Dec 17: Laguna police were exonerated in the fatal shooting of Colby Joshua Koenig on Jan. 12. Koenig was shot after he crashed his car and allegedly failed to stop when ordered by police.

The Orange County District Attorney's office, which investigated the shooting, announced it had changed its policy on reporting the results of police-involved shootings, which henceforth would include factual findings and legal conclusions.

The California Fish and Game Commission voted 3-2 to include Laguna's coastline in a network of marine protected areas, in which recreational and commercial fishing will be banned.

"I am very pleased by decision," said Councilwoman Verna Rollinger.

Councilman Kelly Boyd not so much. He predicted a legal challenge to the decision.

Thee Foxes Trot won the Coastline Pilot's annual holiday window contest.

Dec. 24: No one needs a reminder of what happened on Dec. 22. Hillsides, soaked with 10 inches of rain in a week, tumbled and Laguna Canyon Creek turned into a raging torrent.

Coming at the tail end of 2010, it was the top story of the year.

Dec. 31: Storm victims poured out their hearts to city officials and emergency relief representatives at a meeting called by the city manager on the eve of the New Year.

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.

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World