Mailbag: Public must speak up about Rockledge access

Many of you have signed the petition and/or seen the posters around town about restoring a public coastal access to Rockledge. It's the longest stretch of public shoreline in Laguna Beach that doesn't have a public stairway. Kayakers and paddle boarders can get there easily, but the rest of us have to climb on the cliffs and rocks that separate it from Victoria Beach and Moss Cove. Even lifeguards must swim or paddleboard a great distance to get there. And despite illegal plucking of tidepool creatures, the Marine Refuge enforcement officer can't get there at all.

Ever since the Old Coast Road was built, Laguna residents could go to Rockledge and see and enjoy the tide pools, cliffs and sunsets. Today, the cliff top is filled with homes, and public access has disappeared. Twelve private stairways remain, making the public Rockledge shoreline almost the exclusive domain of the people who live there.

Here are the facts:

•The California Coastal Act of 1976 says, "Public access from the nearest public roadway to the shoreline and along the coast shall be provided in new development projects," including "highly scenic … rocky coastal areas." This is especially the case where no public access exists.

•Replacing an existing house with a new one is exempt from the access requirement, unless the new house is 10% larger or more. The city has approved a new home at 2425 S. Coast Hwy. that is almost five times larger than the existing one.

•There is a long history of the public walking through this property to get to Rockledge, just like people crossed over private land before public stairways were built from Crescent Bay to Thousand Steps. Legal affidavits have been obtained from numerous people to prove this.

•People who get into Rockledge can get trapped at high tide and have to cross over private property to get out onto Coast Highway. The solution is to provide a safe public stairway.

•Some are concerned with potential damage to coastal resources. The access will be managed according to a beach-access maintenance program.

It's time to give voice to the 3,000 people who signed the petition in support of Rockledge public access. I urge you to come to the City Council meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday and speak up under public comments at the beginning of the meeting.

Or email or write a letter to the California Coastal Commission: Mary A. Shallenberger, Chair & Honorable Commissioners c/o Executive Director Peter Douglas at or 45 Fremont St., Suite 2000, San Francisco, CA 94105.

Just a simple message to them: "Please help save Rockledge access."

Thank you.

Fred Talarico

Laguna Beach


Doctor played big role in mammal center founding

The recent article "40 years of rescues" (Aug. 5) leaves out a highly significant figure in the founding of the Pacific Marine Mammal Center, Dr. Rose Ekeberg.

Ekeberg, a long-time Laguna Beach veterinarian, played a significant role in working with Jim Stauffer and John Cunningham. She was honored by the center for her role in helping to found and support the center. Any article about the founding of the center is incomplete without mentioning the huge contribution of Ekeberg. She passed away in 2010, and this letter by Cunningham appeared in the center's newsletter:


Our center's first veterinarian, Dr. Rose Ekeberg passed away June 18, 2010. She was born in 1927 in Montana where her father owned a general store in an area with a large Native American population where Rose's blond curly hair was a curiosity. She came from a nurturing background. Rose was the first woman that graduated in a class of veterinarians and had to deal with discrimination toward women wishing to work in this field. It was her strong personal drive and determination that helped her overcome this barrier.

In the early '50s, Rose moved to Laguna Beach, where she owned and operated the Canyon Animal Hospital. Local lifeguard Jim Stauffer, co-founder of the marine mammal center, worked alongside Dr. Ekeberg, and it was Rose who encouraged Jim to start a group to rescue, treat and release the seals and sea lions along the coast. Rose made inroads into better treatment methods by sending Jim to the undersea center in San Diego to acquire knowledge about the latest medical procedures. By using these methods, their success rate improved greatly and inspired by this improvement and still in need of additional help, they organized the first meeting thus forming the Friends of the Sea Lion in 1971.

Dr. Ekeberg served as the marine mammal center's veterinarian for the next 11 years, providing the center with a strong foundation and professional standing.

Rose was honored in 2001 at the 30th anniversary awards dinner for dedicating her time and expertise to help ensure a future for marine mammals. The center is truly grateful for Dr. Ekeberg's dedication and accomplishments."

I hope that you honor Ekeberg's memory by accurately reporting how the center came to be.

Ron Kotkin

Laguna Beach


Questioning officials on access, trolley service

Laguna Beach Public Works Director Steve May says: "Camel Point Drive is a private street, and the city does not maintain it or post any coastal access signs on private streets or Coast Highway, which is maintained by Caltrans," ("Beach access at Camel Point under investigation," Aug. 5).

May knows the Camel Point entrance pedestrian gate is a walking public access way, along with the stairway at 31351 S. Coast Hwy., neither of which have a coastal access sign. He refuses to cooperate with Orange County, which owns all of the access ways and beaches in South Laguna. What is the City Council doing about the lack of coastal access signs? Nothing so far.

Another big question that hotel, gallery, restaurant owners and other people are asking: Why is the summer trolley service stopping on Aug. 28 and not running through Labor Day weekend?

Orange County Transportation Authority gives the city hundreds of thousands of dollars for our trolley and municipal bus system, and hotels collect a 10% tax from all visitors. Hotels should contact the City Council and demand that service run through one of the biggest weekends of the year, especially because business is up, and moving people around means more cash for everyone.

If it's because trolley drivers are also school bus drivers, then we need new drivers.

Roger Carter

Laguna Beach


Fire, hospital services are imperative

Bravo! I could not agree more with Linda Dietrich's letter ("Mailbag: We're lucky to have Mission Hospital," Aug. 5). On the day that was published my husband had a pre-dawn scare that found us calling upon our local Fire Department and local Mission Hospital. We need these entities. Their services were provided in a speedy and efficient manner that was above reproach. Kudos, all around.

Cherril Doty

Laguna Beach

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