Mailbag: Controlling outdoor lighting is a dim idea

Editor's Note: This letter was addressed to the City Council:

I know that City Council members Kelly Boyd and Elizabeth Pearson voted against it, but it appears now that Laguna Beach will have the "light police."

Is it really necessary to have one more thing that people can go the city to complain about? There are, I'm sure, a few people who whine and complain about their neighbor's exterior house and landscape lights, and I'm even more sure there are some legitimate reasons to complain.

But I'm not sure the city has the right to be involved in every private property dispute. There are two very big problems with this kind of law.

One, how about a lawsuit against the city? If the city gets involved in making a decision about someone's personal property it could very well end in a court battle with the city right in the middle.

Two, it will give some people a sense that, rather than talking to the offender and trying to work things out, they can simply call the city and file a complaint. Then who is the arbiter of "proper" lighting? The council? Some new city employee?

Apparently you don't believe people can be reasonable or you think you are the only ones capable and therefore you should be making private property decisions, even if it's not your property. My exterior lighting should not be decided by you or my neighbors.

Yes, there may be some individuals that will abuse their responsibility as a good neighbor with their landscape or other exterior lights. But I think there will be far more frivolous and petty complaints lodged by people that feel their rights exceed those of the property owner.

What's next, water police? When someone goes overboard with their watering, what are you going to do? Go on their property and turn their water off? Their penalty is they pay a larger bill. Maybe you won't like the tint of their windows. Are you going mandate they change their windows?

I think you guys stick your noses in places you have no business. This is government over-reach. It's bad enough when the Feds and the state do it, but this is truly scary. Look, the bottom line is that you must think residents can't handle disputes without your wisdom and that property owners' rights come second to the city.

Then again, maybe you feel personal property rights come second to your preferences. I would respectfully ask that you reconsider implementing this intrusive law.

Ralph Balcof

Laguna Beach

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Waiting for a safer marine habitat

Over the Fourth of July weekend I witnessed a number of violations to our marine habitat.

Walking around the point at Shaw's Cove, I encountered fishermen with nearly a dozen mussels they had ripped from the rocks to use as bait.

While out swimming off Fisherman's Cove, I came across two speared garibaldi.

Then I saw two spear fishermen walking through the tide pools with their fins on, entering the water from the rocks instead of from the beach where it is safer for them and less destructive to the habitat.

Later, when swimming past these same spear fishermen, I realized one of their spear guns was pointed straight at me and my friend. When I asked him if he would point his gun down and not straight ahead in our direction, his response was to shout expletives at me.

I for one will not miss having to share the water with these offenders and their lethal weapons.

Leave the weapons behind and snorkel out to our kelp forest.

You'll see an amazing variety and abundance of marine life — sardines and senoritas that dart away from you; kelp bass that stare you down; beautiful garibaldi that stand their ground and defend their turf; large schools of sargo and white sea bass; graceful bat rays "flying" through the kelp; and maybe even the elusive giant black sea bass (I've seen one!) or a playful harbor seal.

The water is nearly 70 degrees; what are you waiting for?

Sandy Dildine

Laguna Beach

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Mission is corporate, not community, hospital

Back in the 1950s, when a police officer was shot and lay dying, we had no hospital to rush him to. The incident helped galvanize the community to build a hospital. We called it South Coast Community Hospital. The key word, of course, was and is "community."

Residents chipped in. Some gave pennies. Some gave thousands. Pete Peterman, who lived in the canyon, threw together a spaghetti dinner, which he cooked himself for hundreds and sold for $2 a plate. He gave all the money to the hospital building fund.

That is how a community hospital gets built. When you phoned the hospital, a cheery voice would chirp: "South Coast Community, how may I help you?"

Eventually, the hospital was sold to Adventist, which permitted the plant to deteriorate. When Mission took over the hospital from Adventist, the word "community" was waylaid. The Mission people held a meeting to hear comments from residents. I suggested the name include the word "community." Mission Community Hospital of Laguna Beach. "Community" did not make the final cut.

I do not denigrate Mission and its excellent emergency room. I do not argue with the efficient lab where I go for blood draws. But I expect more. I think back to that wounded cop and how the city responded when he died. We built a community hospital.

So today we are stuck with a hospital that is not a community hospital, but a corporate hospital. It calls itself a nonprofit, but you could have fooled me. As you know, Mission now owns 8 acres of land the city and the Laguna Canyon Foundation wanted to buy for open space.

When Mission learned of the pending deal it rushed in a bid of its own. Strange behavior for an institution that came into town billing themselves as a good neighbor.

I do not want to see valuable land whittled away, chaparral destroyed, open space strangled. That's what land rapists do. Not a hospital. We wanted open space, room to breathe, room free of clutter, room to connect to hiking trails. Mission wanted property.

I feel duped. Mission was riding to the rescue. Does this not remind you of another banner unfurled, another boast of good tiding?

"Mission accomplished!"

I believed in Mission. Then it revealed its corporate soul.

Arnold Hano

Laguna Beach

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