Mailbag: Lucky to have fun watersport options

Among the many viewing pleasures of the fabulous holiday weekend was the extraordinary array of watersports gracing our pristine waters. Kayaking, swimming, diving, boating, and that most pandemic of water sports — stand-up paddleboarding.

There was a panoply of healthy, eco-friendly, noiseless activities that reminded us of the amazing bluebelt playground we call home. And all of it was enhanced by warm, clean, clear water and our ubiquitous, resplendent golden kelp beds. Monet couldn't have painted it better. My, my, my, what a wonderful world we live in.

Billy Fried

Laguna Beach

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Hospital must work to gain back residents' trust

Editor's Note: This is an open letter addressed to Mission Hospital and Michael Beck, vice president of operations:

A few months ago, I attended a meeting at Mission Hospital at which you presented the hospital's plan for the next few years. During your thoughtful and interesting presentation, you indicated that Mission Hospital was aware of the need for a strong local presence and good community relations.

In response to a question, you agreed that a good relationship with Mission Hospital's neighbors should be an important consideration in your future plans.

Mission Hospital's actions with respect to the acquisition of the Domanskis property, and the manner in which the hospital acted was contrary to the goals stated above. The importance of open space is recognized as one of Laguna Beach's guiding principles as adopted in our General Plan and has been consistently supported by city residents.

For more than 35 years, every Laguna Beach City Council has labored to preserve Laguna's undeveloped open space. Mission Hospital's actions showed a blatant disregard for the residents of Laguna Beach, South Laguna and its immediate neighbors.

After two years of negotiations, the Laguna Canyon Foundation, the Coastal Conservancy and Domanskis reached an agreement that would have allowed the property to be acquired by Laguna Beach to be preserved as open space.

At a June City Council meeting the purchase by the city was approved. The purchase was supported by Laguna Greenbelt, Laguna Canyon Conservancy, Orange County Community Resources, Village Laguna, members of the South Laguna Civic Assn. and others because the property represents an attractive hillside and globally significant habitat that should be protected.

While I strongly support free enterprise and open competition, a not-for-profit, community-serving facility must consider additional factors when contemplating actions that affect its neighbors and community. Mission Hospital's acquisition of the Domanskis property is viewed by many Laguna Beach residents as a breach of public trust and as an unscrupulous attempt to undermine an open space purchase by our city.

Mission Hospital must take appropriate steps to correct this problem and to repair its image as our "Laguna Beach Hospital." Mission Hospital will place community patronage and financial support in jeopardy unless it works with the city and its neighbors now and in the future.

Richard L. Picheny

Laguna Beach

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God's work trumps Mother Nature

I find it hard to sympathize with those who complained about Mission Hospital purchasing parcels abutting its current location. It's about time that they had a wake-up call.

Just because you are trying to save some weeds and space for a small group of hikers and birdwatchers does not give you exclusive rights to purchase private property. Even if you think you have Mother Nature trudging with you through the weeds, you have no entitlement.

Additionally, after learning that you were unsuccessful, you derided an institution that is highly valuable to our community and accused it of underhanded tactics. What they did was completely professional, and by the way, they did not need your compliance or permission.

Anything Mission Hospital does to assure its long-term tenure in our community is a real win. Their actions are the neighborly thing to do. It wasn't long ago that everyone was uptight about the prospects of losing a hospital in our community. Mission took over a marginally performing medical facility and is obviously intent on rebuilding it to a higher degree of quality and service.

Mission Hospital's quest to assure long-term viability in our town with the purpose of doing God's work of caring for those in need of medical help is inspired. Caring for the sick and injured certainly trumps any effort to render land with some scrub bushes unavailable for intelligent development just to favor a few elitist residents that have a very narrow view of how things should work. Their reactions reflect just how self-serving their aspirations are.

Taxpayers, take note: The reactions to this purchase of real estate should tell you all you need to know about the ill-conceived "open space" initiative. It is as bogus as the supporters' intentions that are pushing for it.

Their real intentions are clear: take the buildable lots off the roster for future development. They could care less about the rest of the unbuildable weed patches that dot our community.

Signing their petition is the equivalent of opting out of controlling how taxes are spent and who makes the decisions to spend your money. If that undefined board is approved, even God won't be able to win.

Dennis Myers

Laguna Beach

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Reef product trade remains largely unregulated

Dona Leicht's letter ("Community Commentary: Just follow rules for collecting, selling shells, July 1") illustrates my point by saying seashells and corals are on the CITIES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) list, which means they are endangered.

We are deluding ourselves though if we think that this ensures a highly regulated harvest and trade in these species. The illegal wildlife trade is highly profitable. Management and enforcement of collection activities in source countries, such as Indonesia and the Philippines, are weak.

My point is that even with the good intentions of international agreements, enforcement, fines, etc., there is still a huge unregulated trade of reef products.

And even with the diligence by some who sell shells in making sure that they are legal, one is really never sure of the chain of custody. The increasing market for shells only increases the pressure on wild populations and leads to further declines in reef health.

We buy shells because they are beautiful and because we love the ocean. But maybe if we really love the ocean, we should forgo buying shells and leave them where they really are the most beautiful — on their home reef, doing their job in the ecosystem.

Lest Leicht think this is misinformation, I refer her to any number of peer-reviewed articles on this subject. I would be happy to point some of those out if she is really interested in the facts.

Yes, there are many problems in the ocean — overfishing, pollution and plastic, to name just a few. But this is one issue that I choose not to make worse.

Anne Earhart

Laguna Beach

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