Now And Then: Hoping summer brings tangible changes

"The more one mulches, the less water your garden will need."

— Catalina Cooper, embedded somewhere in Baja


Somewhere between last week and this one, I found myself considering consecutive storylines for the first time in a year. Some writer from Corona del Mar has filled my gardening niche these days. The decision must have been made from someone outside of Laguna. I miss my column.

Closing in on my landmark birthday — surely you haven't forgotten — I won't be close to the 90 years that the Laguna Playhouse has been around (my mom is 90 in June as well) or Arnold Hano's 89, although I have lived in Laguna longer than him.

The Laguna College of Art & Design is a mature 50 this year, and I have been late in congratulating outgoing LCAD President Dennis Power and his successor, Jonathan Burke. LCAD has been interwoven in my life, first with Catharine as an alumna and former trustee for many years, and recently as a consultant with Dennis and Jonathan on the opening of their Big Bend campus.

The opening would not have happened without the concerted energies and focus of then-Assistant City Manager John Pietig, the entire Community Development Department and Fire Chief Tom Christopher. That cooperative effort truly reflected the city's commitment to local institutions.

Similarly, the City Council continues to explore ways to support local business. It is not about politics these days; it is about keeping businesses open and filling empty storefronts.

Most everything else tends to become political in Laguna — whether two trees make a hedge or Village Laguna opposes all development. Does anyone believe that anything is that simplistic in our town?

I am privileged to be a bus guide for the 39th annual Village Laguna Charm House Tour. This event is always scheduled the week after Mother's Day and is great fun, whether you are a developer or cottage hugger.

Joining me as guides are Mayor Toni Iseman and Councilwoman Verna Rollinger. The other guides are a treasure trove of local history: Bob Borthwick, John Monahan and Tom Osborne. Meet them and visit some great homes at noon Sunday. Call (949) 472-7503 for more information.

From 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, the city, Tierra Verde Industries and Waste Management of Orange County will offer free compost to Laguna Beach residents, at the Act V Lot, 1900 Laguna Canyon Road.

This is a highly anticipated, annual event, and our locals' reward for using the green waste recycling cans. For more information, contact my friend Liz Vazquez-Avila of the Public Works Department at (949) 497-0344 or Don't forget your gloves and shovel!

It is my hope, and of many, that the onset of the summer season will bring tangible changes to Laguna, a return of prosperity for local merchants, restaurants, taverns, hotels and the festivals. And the skies retain their blue hue, the ocean is clean and warm, and the surf is up.

I wouldn't mind if it even becomes difficult to find an empty parking space again downtown.

STEVE KAWARATANI can be reached at (949) 497-8168 or

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