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Mailbag: Taxpayers association ‘never wants to pay for anything’

The Laguna Beach Taxpayers Assn. sent out a citywide letter last week about ballot Measure CC, the Open Space Initiative, which is on the November ballot.

The association apparently thinks that a $10 a month parcel tax, which would raise $21 million over the next 20 years, is too much to spend to purchase remaining open space in Laguna Beach.

The association doesn’t acknowledge that by maintaining a reasonable density in our town the infrastructure, including traffic, circulation, and parking, and the need for electricity, water and sewage will limit the financial burden on our citizens, and will also lead to an increase in our property values. Doesn’t this make Measure CC a good investment?

The association was against the bond measure for Main Beach Park. They actively opposed the 1990 Save the Canyon bond Measure H, and they did not support the temporary sales tax to pay for the Bluebird landslide repairs.


Thanks to the citizens and taxpayers of Laguna Beach, we have a beautiful window to the sea at Main Beach, acres of open space in the canyon — where there was to be 3,500 homes — and the Bluebird landslide is repaired.

The Laguna Beach Taxpayers Assn. apparently never wants to pay for anything but ends up the beneficiary of what others have provided. By opposing Measure CC the association has once again shown they know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

Johanna Felder

Laguna Beach



Last chance for freedom

All of a sudden, it is less than 30 days until we decide the fate of our nation. Will the country elect Barack Obama and accelerate the growth and power of the federal government enslaving us all under a massive socialist and communist master or elect Mitt Romney and start a careful and business-like return to freedom, a less controlling and expensive government, and equality of opportunity for everyone.

But those who love freedom must also vote for conservative candidates at every level if we are to save and restore a constitutional government. I find the recommendations by the Orange County Register’s editorial board match my own. For the following propositions, it is: 30 No, 31 No, 32 Yes, 33 Yes, 34 No, 35 Yes, 36 Yes, 37 No, 38 No, 39 No, 40 Yes. And of course, for Laguna voters, it is a giant No on Measure CC, which is nothing but a scam by a power group in Laguna to increase our taxes so they can gain control and power of $30 million to $40 million of our tax money.

Supposedly this money is to buy empty lots around town that they mislead voters by calling it open space. We tax payers not only lose our money, but every vacant lot they buy for the city goes off the tax roles diminishing the tax base of the city and county. These empty lots are empty because they are either unbuildable or would be too expensive to build on. Don’t be scammed, leave them on the tax roles and let their private owners take care of them.

Dave Connell

Laguna Beach



Losing Animal Crackers is a shame

It’s a shame when a small, close-knit community loses such a staple in their town. Animal Crackers Pet Rescue is being kicked out of its home of 13 years. Why, you ask?

Shelter Bay Retail Group is to thank for this one. Shame on you Shelter Bay. If you ask me, the center is going downhill, the decisions that are being made are all about money, money, money, and not the well-being of the community or the small business owners. I am confused as to why Shelter Bay would kick out a life-saving pet rescue.

Whoever owns this center should really consider getting rid of Shelter Bay and get a management company who cares about the community and the people in it.

I drive 45 minutes to get to this center not only to purchase pet supplies because I know 100% of the proceeds benefit Animal Crackers but I also have lunch and run other errands at the center. I have stopped all that. I will no longer be shopping at the center nor will I ever eat at zPizza because I have a voice and a choice and I will be using it to educate people on this issue.

Johannah Falke

Costa Mesa

Editor’s note: Falke is a volunteer with Animal Crackers.



Animal Crackers important to the community

When zPizza manager Summer Tarango said “We’re wishing [Animal Crackers Pet Rescue] luck in looking for a location that’s appropriate for them,” it came across as smug and self-serving and underscored a misunderstanding about the importance of Animal Crackers to this community.

Ms. Tarango, Animal Crackers is in a perfectly appropriate location now. While there are other pizza places, there isn’t another pet shop south of downtown — and Animal Crackers is also a long-standing business at the Albertson’s Center.

Perhaps it’s the Northern California-based Shelter Bay Management Group that doesn’t understand why Animal Crackers is vital to the community. Proprietor Gina Kantzabedian is a business contributor to Laguna Beach who did nothing inappropriate to endure the treatment she has received from the landlord —and from zPizza employees who have on more than one occasion tried to interrupt her business hours to perform tasks related to their move. I witnessed one such attempt.

Unlike zPizza, Animal Crackers didn’t misread or misunderstand a portion of its lease. Instead, the shop lost its lease because the management decided it wanted a — yawn — bank in the center and zPizza hadn’t renewed. The 400 to 500 pets, whom Gina helps find homes annually through the proceeds of her store, can’t vote so they’ll be back on the streets without her efforts.

The students who walk foster dogs will have to learn about animal adoption and rescue elsewhere. The people who shop and get their pets groomed at Animal Crackers will have to drive several miles to other locations for the same services. And the people who turn to Gina for help in finding new homes for their pets or to care for abandoned animals will have to find alternatives.

Fundraisers in support of Animal Crackers have produced positive results in recent years. But all the fundraisers in the world can’t accomplish a CUP for a vital business it seems. Where’s the concern about resident-serving businesses? Where’s the concern about businesses that reduce the need for more car trips?

Surely there is just one person in Laguna Beach who has commercial space and the ability to get a zoning permit for this crucial business. It’s not sexy, it’s not an eatery (except for dog and cat treats) and it’s not trendy. But I live within walking distance and can attest that it generates no noise or smell in the neighborhood, nor do its customers flock to the shop in droves at certain times of the day, unlike other nearby businesses.

All Gina does is provide an essential service in grooming and specialty pet products — and she saves 400 lives each year. Isn’t that just as important as a good pizza?

Sandi Cain

Laguna Beach


Beautification Council celebrates 60 years

The Laguna Beach Beautification Council wishes to extend its thanks and gratitude to all of the people and companies who so generously supported its 60th anniversary Diamond Jubilee Oct. 8 at the Montage Laguna Beach resort.

Silent auction donors included: the Montage, the Lumberyard, the Laguna Riviera, Tivoli Terrace, Areo, Black Iris, Blow Salon, Yvette Hairdresser and our own artists Lydia Delgado, John Barber, Gavin Heath, Wolfgang Bloch, Gretchen Shields, Marianna Van der Veer and Rob Gage. Zahide Lawrence also graciously donated items of her husband, the late Harry Lawrence.

Thanks should also be given to Michael Gosslin, who delighted guests with souvenir photos of the event. Ora Sterling’s champagne toast and anecdotes totally entranced us all.

A very special thank you also goes to Todd Orlich and Montage for their generosity and support in hosting the event. Without the Montage , its staff and expertise, this event would have been nearly impossible.

Congratulations and kudos to all of the current Beautification Council for its hard work in making this event the success that it was. Beautification members are Eleanor Henry , Zahide Lawrence, Ruben Flores, Max Brown, Joanne Sutch, Lecia Davis, Chloe Echternacht, Scott Alan, Barbara Ring and Ron Kaufman.

Nearly $15,000 was raised to help support the Beautification Council’s new projects, additional trees for the Broadway and new “street end” projects; designation of new trees for city education and support for new public and private projects such as the Nyes garden redo this year; and, of course, the council’s awards ceremony and presentation, which were started in 1959.

The Beautification Council is looking for to add to its roster. Anyone interested should attend the next meeting at the Montage on Oct. 17.

Joanne Sutch

Laguna Beach


‘A real cliffhanger in this election’

City Council elections are important. This is the level of government that can affect you most directly. There are two incumbents and two challengers for two seats.

Verna Rollinger is extremely knowledgeable about the workings of Laguna Beach. Having served as city clerk for 29 years and now running for her second term on the City Council, she knows the city well and how to get things accomplished. Residents’ concerns, no matter how small, are No. 1 with her. Furthermore, she is leading the effort to make the San Onofre Nuclear Facility accountable and that it fixes safety concerns and develops a residents’ evacuation plan before resuming operation.

Jane Egly is a lawyer and a smart lady. She has held a very important role on the present City Council — the swing vote. As a supporter of historic preservation I was disappointed, and surprised, at her lack of support for preserving the oldest house in Laguna, a modest beach cottage. She called it a “shack.” Shacks in Crystal Cove are doing quite well. Just try and get a reservation.

Furthermore, at a recent City Council meeting there was an appeal from a resident to have the full five member Design Review Board review his concerns, instead of the minimum three members that heard his case concerning view issues dealing with new construction in his area. I thought Egly would swing with Rollinger and Iseman in this instance. I was disappointed. However, I was glad to see that she supports the Open Space Initiative.

Bob Whalen has been a respected member of the school board and now serves on the Planning Commission. I was heartened by his positive vote on maintaining the height limitation at a recent Planning Commission meeting. But I was a little taken back when he followed it up with a comment saying that it was a zoning issue and could be changed in the future. Is this comment a harbinger of future votes?

I have lived in Laguna since 1966 and understand how important the height limitation has been in keeping the small town atmosphere of Laguna that we all love and that tourists enjoy. I also am concerned about his negative stand on the Open Space Initiative, which calls for $120 per year increase in the property taxes of Laguna Beach property owners to put in a fund to purchase unbuildable properties that are voluntarily put up for sale. In a town where the median income is over $90,000, $120 represents less than what a couple might spend on dinner in one of our more upscale restaurants. And don’t forget that open space, both in the canyon and within the city itself, has been an important factor in the growth and preservation of our property values.

What I like about Steve Dicterow is his openness and friendly attitude. I do not share his political philosophy, but I appreciate the fact that I can discuss local issues with him, and that he doesn’t make me feel like I am wasting his time. I do regret his flip-flop on the Open Space Initiative.

We have the makings of a real cliffhanger in this election. Your vote can make a difference. Do your homework; watch City Council meetings on TV, read the recaps. And remember: By their votes ye shall know them.

Anne Frank

Laguna Beach