Our Laguna: Recalling the last half of 2011

As promised: The last half of 2011, culled from the pages of the Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot.

July 8: The Laguna Beach County Water District announced that some fees would be raised due to the development of local water supplies, capital improvements and the rising cost of imported water. All Laguna Beach water is imported.

•Audiences previewing the 2011 Pageant of the Masters were enchanted by "Only Make Believe."

•Laguna College of Art & Design hosted an exhibition of Rodin sculptures. "It is so significant that [the owners] have allowed the college to take part in their Rodin exhibit," said college President Jonathan Burke.

July 15: A county Superior Court judge ruled that the California Coastal Commission has final say over the proposed sub-division of Laguna Terrace Park.

•An estimated $18,000 was raised at a benefit for Gina Kantzabedian's pet rescue, augmenting the profits from her Animal Crackers store in the Aliso Creek Shopping Center.

July 22: The Laguna Community Concert Band scored a hit at the Festival of Arts Grounds, a triumph few could have imagined when the band was first conceived in 1998. Founders Bill Nichols, Teresa Marino and Carol Reynolds deserve a "bravo."

•The Laguna Canyon Flood Mitigation Task Force recommended improvements in the flood warning and information systems, increased flow in the channel under Coast Highway at Broadway and increased capacity in drainage culverts crossing Laguna Canyon Road.

•Youth reigned at the 35th annual "Vic", the World Championships of Skimboarding at Aliso Beach. Local Sam Stinnett, 18, won the men's title.

July 29: Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5868 honored member Harry Lawrence and all veterans at a fundraiser held at Laguna Beach Woman's Club.

•Thurston student Tyler Levine spent a weekend in Kent, Ohio, attending the invitation-only camp for serious ice hockey players. "Being selected means Tyler is one of the top prospects in his age level," said hockey coach Kelly Askew.

Aug. 5: Business owners, artists, festivals and hotels reported an uptick in business last summer over the previous year.

•Friends of the Seal Lion founders John Cunningham and Jim Staffer reminisced about the early days of their project some 40 years ago, now known and honored as the Pacific Marine Mammal Center on Laguna Canyon Road.

Aug. 12: Laguna Beach resident, filmmaker and political conservative Stephen K. Bannon, directed "The Undefeated," a documentary aimed at showing audiences that Sarah Palin was not just some "Caribou Barbie." Bannon is a co-founder of the National Tea Party Federation.

•Mexican eatery Asada opened its doors. Owner Scott McIntosh was previously involved with nearby Nick's Laguna Beach.

•The school district lagged behind other Orange County districts in the number of students vaccinated. Family Health Director Dr. David Nunez blamed parental refusal, misinformation and lack of health care for the dip in immunizations.

•Laguna Beach Live! celebrated its 10th anniversary

Aug. 19: The Laguna Beach Animal Shelter reopened after eight months of renovations.

Skipper Lynn, 80, had an epiphany after a traffic accident and began taking public transportation. She just wishes the city bus would stop closer to the Susi Q, where she spends most of her afternoons.

•The council split 3-2 on the outdoor lighting ordinance designed to limit so-called light pollution. Council members Kelly Boyd and Elizabeth Pearson opposed to the complaint-driven law, which Boyd said would pit neighbor against neighbor. Specific holidays were exempted.

Whitney Pavlik of Laguna and her partner, Jenny Kropp, lived up to their No. 1 seeding in the Manhattan Beach Open. The duo didn't drop a game on their way to the title.

Aug. 26: A group of First Thursday Art Walk gallery owners complained that they paid to participate and other galleries were riding on their coattails. The $80-a-month fees cover free shuttles that transport patrons from gallery to gallery and advertising.

•The Festival of Arts had a winner in the annual fashion show of gowns made from recycled or natural materials.

•The team of architect Morris Skendarian and Don McKeehan were the top dogs in the first Project Pet House Fundraiser presented by the Laguna Board of Realtors and Affiliates at the annual Chili Cook-off and Pet Parade.

•Information about city salaries became easier to find when the city consolidated the data that had been scattered on the city's website following criticism from the Orange County Grand Jury.

Sept. 2: Laguna Beach Police Department employee Robin Ellen Levinson sued the city, claiming poorly maintained Eagle Rock Way caused her to fall from her bicycle. Levinson asked for $1.5 million compensation. The city denied culpability.

Sept. 9: Laguna businessman Saeid Boustanbadi Maralan, 53, of Laguna Niguel was arrested on suspicion of one rape and two sexual assaults. Additional charges were later filed against the registered sex offender.

•Coastline Pilot columnist David Hansen expressed regret about the lack of "family" restaurants in Laguna, which has firmly established itself as a mecca for foodies.

•Firefighters, police officers and volunteers flipped flapjacks, grilled sausages, poured milk and juice and brewed coffee for the annual Exchange Club's Labor Day Pancake Breakfast, directed as always by Sandi St. John.

Sept. 16: A flag that flew over ground zero was raised at Monument Point on Sept. 11, at the dedication of Jorg Dubin's memorial sculpture that incorporated two metal beams salvaged from the World Trade Center debris and donated to Laguna Beach.

•Sleepy Hollow Medical Group on Ocean Avenue celebrated its 20 anniversary in September.

Sept. 23: The council ratified a new contract with Laguna Beach firefighters with new rates of contribution for new hires that will save the city almost $400,000 over two years. The contract included no raises. "This is a significant action on the part of the city's firefighters," City Manager John Pietig said. "They deserve a lot of credit."

•Tibetan monks visited Laguna for the second time. "It is such an honor to have these holy men with us," the Rev. B.J. Beu told the congregation at Neighborhood Congregational Church, where the monks began work on a mandala — an intricate design made with colored sand to aid enlightenment.

Sept. 30: The council approved a bike route in North Laguna. "Sharrows," painted arrows in the roadbed, will indicate the route that will be shared by bicyclists and motorists.

•Councilwoman Verna Rollinger kicked off her reelection bid with a fundraiser at the home of Kathy and Mike Conway. She was the first candidate to formally announce.

•Red Ball II at the Festival of Arts Grounds raised funds for AIDS Services Foundation.

•LCAD celebrated the 50-year road to its present status as an accredited four-year college.

Oct. 7: More than 3,000 signatures were submitted to the city on Oct. 4 in support of an initiative to tax property owners $10 a month for 20 years to raise money to buy open space in and around the city.

•The council voted at the Oct. 4 meeting to pay Friendship Shelter an additional $31,535 to staff the Alternative Sleeping Location daily from 5 p.m. to 10 a.m. and to provide van transportation for the rest of the year, picking up some of the slack in services when the Laguna Relief and Resource Center pulled out.

•Former Councilman Steven Dicterow announced he would seek a fourth term after a six-year hiatus.

•The Environmental Committee imploded. Five members resigned or declined to apply for reappointment. The council formed a sub-committee to try to determine what went wrong and how to fix it.

•Plein air painters gathered in Laguna for the invitational hosted by LAM.

Oct. 14: The council acted to stabilize the abandoned burn dump in Laguna Canyon that shed glass, metal and ceramic debris into a residential area during the December 2010 deluge. Laguna's disaster go-to guy Bob Burnham said five regulatory agencies are involved.

•Laguna Beach resident Victoria Buzzo, 54, was among the victims in shooting rampage at a beauty salon in Seal Beach.

•Six international teams and four American teams competed in singles and pairs matches at the Laguna Beach Lawn Bowling Club.

Oct. 21: Georgia Andersen hosted a reception to celebrate the extensive remodeling on the interior of the Hotel Laguna. She paid homage to the hotel and to her late husband, Claes. "I feel he is here today and he is happy that the hotel is beautiful again," she said.

Erik Henrickson and Marley Donenfeld were crowned king and queen at the Laguna Beach High School homecoming game.

Michael Lewis, 20, of Laguna won the Formula 3 Italia Championship Rookie title.

Oct. 28:

Fred Karger said he was the first presidential candidate to file for the New Hampshire primary.

Nov. 4: Friends and admirers of the late peace activist Jean Bernstein gathered to honor her dedication on the spot she made her own: the Saturday peace vigil at Main Beach.

Malcolm Warner was hired to succeed Bolton Coburn as director of LAM.

Nov. 11: Gallery owners conjectured that art thefts in the area were connected. A suspect was caught on tape at the Village Gallery.

•Members of American Legion Post 222 hosted a special ceremony on Veterans Day to honor those who served their country in the armed forces.

• "Lagunatics" wound up its 19th season, already looking ahead to the 2012 production, which will reprise some of the greatest hits from previous shows. One suggestion: former Police Chief Jim Spreine's rendition of "Montage Cash," to the tune of "Monster Mash."

Faye Chapman's brain child, the Hunger Bowl, was a feast for eyes and stomachs: taste buds and wallets were tempted by soup and "fixins" donated by local restaurants and the auction of artist-created and donated bowls.

Nov. 18:

Laguna Beach Community Foundation officials announced the formation of the Professional Council, open to professionals in law, accounting, financial services, insurance and real estate who live or work in Laguna.

•Laguna Playhouse launched the Players Club, with the goal of attracting new patrons, rekindling old relationships and raising money for the theater's operations.

•SchoolPower's $78,000 donation was added to the district's $87,000 to buy musical instruments for all four schools.

Nov. 25: Vandals destroyed murals at the Bus Depot.

• "Embrace Diversity," a stop-motion video by Thurston student Austin Fickman, was selected for showing at the 2012 Irvine International Film Festival.

•In sports: The Breaker's boys' water polo team repeated as CIF Southern Section Division 3 champions; the football team dismantled Anaheim 49-13 to win an opening-round game in the sectional championships; and the girls' cross-country team qualified for the state meet.

Dec. 2: All Hospitality Night activities traditionally held at City Hall were condensed to Forest Avenue to accommodate traffic expected for the semi-final playoff game between Laguna Beach and Corona del Mar high schools. The Breakers lost the game, but it was the first time since 1935 the team played a 13th game in a season.

Dec. 9: Jane Egly moved into the center seat on the council dais. Rollinger will succeed her as mayor pro tem.

•The City Council approved at the Dec. 6 meeting an Edison proposal that saved five Bluebird Canyon eucalyptus trees from the chopping block. Not everyone embraced the reprieve, cheered by environmentalists, citing safety as their major concern. Edison had proposed cutting down the trees to reduce the threat to high voltage power lines that could cause a fire or of falling into the roadway, blocking evacuation in an emergency.

•One of the most important documents for governing the city was approved when the California Coastal Commission gave a green light to the updated land use element. The element is the centerpiece of the city's general plan, one of the major tools used to determine how the city will look and function in the coming years.

Dec. 16:

Smart Circle International brought holiday cheer to 17 families "adopted" through the Laguna Relief and Resource Center's annual holiday Adopt-a-Family program.

•Laguna Beach Seniors Inc. celebrated the season at their annual luncheon at Tivoli Terrace.

Dec. 22: High School Principal Joanne Culverhouse was featured in a film entered by Thurston teacher Andrew Crisp in a national competition highlighting former collegiate athletes who make a positive influence on their community.

•Longtime Lagunan David Wilson played Santa Claus to the tune of $15,919.61, which paid off 260 lay-aways at Kmart in Costa Mesa.

•Girls' volleyball standouts Allison Palmer and Alyse Wallace-Form were named All-CIF, Division 1–A.

Dec. 30: The top stories in news, education, art and sports in 2011 were featured.

•Laguna Terrace mobile home park went to court in pursuit of rulings that would allow park residents to own the land under their mobile homes.

OUR LAGUNA is a regular feature of the Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot. Contributions are welcomed. Call (949) 302-1469 or email coastlinepilot@latimes.com with Attn. Barbara Diamond in the subject line.

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