Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times | Terms of Service | Privacy Policy

Mailbag: Social host ordinance is a tool community needs

I am a current resident of Laguna Beach and have been a pediatrician in the community for more than 50 years.

As a doctor, I have been witness to countless instances where alcohol and drugs have destroyed young lives. This is even true for “good” kids from “good” homes in our community who get access to alcohol or drugs. All it takes is access to these substances, and youth can get themselves into very bad — sometimes even deadly — situations. In my professional experience, underage alcohol use is often the tip of the iceberg that sends kids down the slippery slope of substance abuse. Seeing kids I have known since infancy struggle with addictions as teens is heartbreaking.

When parents or adults provide alcohol to teens so they can drink “safely” at home, they are giving the message that drinking is OK and that the law doesn’t mean anything. Perhaps their child will have no consequences, but it’s a very dangerous game to play. What does it take to help protect our kids from playing a form of Russian roulette with their lives — and potentially the lives of others? The answers are not popular or easy.

In my practice, I have decided that I must warn parents and my patients that there is danger ahead. As my patients approach puberty I have a conversation with them about substance abuse. But as a community, we need to do more.


One tool I believe our community should employ is a social host ordinance. I have seen and heard too many stories about kids who get drunk, only to learn that the alcohol was provided by adults they know.

A social host ordinance is but one tool in the fight against teen alcohol use, but it is a step in the right direction to make access to alcohol more difficult for our community’s underage kids.

Dr. Al Clark

Laguna Beach



Support the local community

Several weeks ago we had a fire adjacent to where I live.

Thanks to the quick and professional work of the Laguna Beach Fire Department, no houses burned and no one was hurt. To all the firemen who worked long hours until the fire was extinguished, thank you. To all the police officers, electrical workers and everyone who helped keep us safe, thank you. It was amazing to watch these courageous people working together with such proficient fluidity and rhythm as they fought the fire — absolutely top notch. With the electricity out, all the neighbors gathered and watched in gratitude. Not the best of circumstances, but it was reassuring to see everyone come together, as it should be in any community.

Which reminds me of more thanks due. I had the privilege of working with many amazing artists at our incredible Laguna Beach art shows this summer and I would like to take this time to thank each and every one of them. It’s not easy being an artist, particularly in this economic climate, and yet artists continue to be the most generous and giving souls on earth. Almost every fundraiser from Laguna and surrounding communities asks artists for donations for their events. Artists always say yes. At a minimum, we get six to 10 ten requests. We were even asked to donate for a young man who was ill. Every single artist said, “Someone needs help, count me in.”

Local artists really support this town and work harder than you can imagine, providing fun art venues that attract thousands of visitors to Laguna, boosting our local revenues. If you look around your home, I hope you have all graced the walls of your homes with paintings of local artists; and not only just paintings, but also ceramics, jewelry, glass, clothing and so much more.

I make it a point to do as much business and shopping as I can here in Laguna. It not only saves me a lot in gas, but also helps support our wonderful merchants in Laguna. I needed a seamstress in an emergency and a friend recommended someone in Corona del Mar. I knew I could find the perfect tailor shop here in Laguna, and I did. In less than 24 hours I had my dress ready to wear. If you are in need of anything for your home, business, life in general, you can find it here — even for the upcoming pending holidays. This is a time for all of us to come together, support each other and keep Laguna Beach one of the most artful and beautiful places to live and visit.

The only thing I cannot seem to find in Laguna is a good pumpernickel.


September McGee

Laguna Beach


Giving continues despite difficult times

This time of year seems to highlight one of the many qualities that make Laguna Beach such a magical place. Generous residents left boxes of food curbside for our Waste Management friends to deliver to the Laguna Food Pantry. Then representatives from the Hearts of Montage brought us carloads of food donated by the Montage Laguna Beach’s wonderful employees.

As if that weren’t bounty enough, all of Laguna’s schools are having food drives that again with the help of Waste Management, will supply the pantry with months of non-perishables. And last, but not least, my favorite gym, the Art of Fitness, collected boxes of canned goods for our shelves.

From all of our volunteers and from our neighbors working hard to survive these difficult times, thank you all for your kindness.

Andy Siegenfeld


Laguna Beach

Editor’s note: The author is the director for the Laguna Food Pantry.


Get informed about climate change

Now that we have witnessed the colossal impact of global warming, lived through fires, earthquakes, mud slides, radiation leaks and grid failures, and have the knowledge that oil supply can’t meet demand, doesn’t it make prudent sense to prepare our vulnerable city the best we can?

We are a coastal town near a fault-line with tinderbox hills that imports all of our food and water. I believe the two new councilmen will be every bit as focused and passionate about sustainability as Verna Rollinger and Jane Egly were. This is not a partisan battle.

We have the ingenuity and resources to get this town double downed for supply interruptions and disaster preparedness. We now have a councilman who is an expert on municipal financing, and a former mayor who witnessed, and was shaken by, the devastation and chaos of the ’93 fire. The enormous consequence of carbon emissions is upon us and coming in waves we can’t predict — Just think about Sandy.

Bill McKibben was the first scientist to predict global warming. He writes today that if you Google global warming and grandchildren, you’ll find thousands of luminaries speaking about the need to address global warming as a legacy for our grandchildren. But he opines the correct reason to do it is for your parents.

Transition Laguna is one organization that is focused on both the small steps we can take in our home and community to prepare, and the larger issues of education and activism. The website is another great way to get informed and involved in the battle against climate change on a global scale. I am excited about the passion, spirit and resourcefulness of our town and elected officials, and would just like to emphasize the time for political collaboration and positive action on our local stage is exactly now.

Billy Fried

Laguna Beach


Time to address issue of trees and views

With two new members to our City Council, I hope that we as a city can take this opportunity to look at some of our ordinances that have caused so many heartaches in our town. One that comes to mind, not only to me but to many of us, is the issue of our views. Our views have been blocked for various reasons by individuals who felt that trees — and more often than not eucalyptus trees — were to be saved at all costs. I have called these trees weapons of mass destruction because of their inherent nature. Some people have actually used them for personal vendettas as well. I know of at least two such cases.

The notion of view preservation has been faced by several cities in California and successfully settled so that those with ocean views/vistas can enjoy them aesthetically and financially. After 20 years of working on this issue, I sincerely hope that this City Council will be more respectful of those of us who wish to regain and retain our views for which we have paid a premium and are blessed to have.

We can correct this situation without too much ado as it would be a matter of modifying our current ordinance, which makes a mockery of its title. Or, we can implement those from other cities that have been successful through the test of time and trial. We also can take this opportunity to discuss the “Vegetation Plan for the City of Laguna Beach,” written by a landscape architect to promote and pre-determine for us what trees should be planted on which street (all eucalyptus trees). Perhaps then the city will be able to take a more proactive stance to protect our health, safety and property.

In the process, we can also save thousands of dollars in trimming and removing vegetation. This savings could be applied to purchase additional green space.

If this council listens to those of us who have been the silent majority, cooperative citizens will not be subjected to nasty letters, midnight threatening calls and other despicable acts that have been part of the mentality of those who were in opposition to letting us enjoy our rights.

Ganka Brown

Laguna Beach