Mailbag: Laguna aesthetics depends on trees

I am very concerned about the language of the proposed View Restoration and Preservation Ordinance, and fear that the intent is focused exclusively on restoring views and removing trees.

I have been a resident of Laguna Beach for almost 40 years, and I'm very pleased to say that most of the special qualities that attracted me to Laguna Beach all those years ago, including the abundant mature trees throughout our community, are still present.

If our town is denuded of mature trees, that would seriously alter its peace, tranquillity and scenic character.

While the proposed ordinance states that "it is not intended to encourage or result in clear cutting or substantial denuding of any property of its vegetation by overzealous application of this ordinance," what would prevent this from happening?

It raises serious concerns when the No.1 objective states, "The purpose of this ordinance is to establish a right for property owners to restore a view."

This is not an equitable balance between view restoration and tree preservation. It gives no consideration to old-growth, mature trees that existed when many property owners, including myself, purchased their homes. It also gives no view preservation measures that do not involve topping trees to the homeowners' roofline.

While the current view ordinance may not satisfy some, at least it recognizes the considerable contribution that trees add to our environment, for all to enjoy. People have commented that trees did not exist in Laguna Beach in the 1920s. This may be correct, but we also didn't have houses, asphalt roads, concrete walkways and hardscape throughout the town.

The addition of landscaping throughout our community softens the harshness of the man-made additions. The aesthetics of Laguna Beach would be very sterile if we were to use the 1920s as a benchmark.

Imagine how sterile La Jolla, Santa Barbara and Carmel would be without trees. I don't think they would be quite the same places if they had an ordinance in place like the one proposed here. Laguna Beach without trees would not be the same either.

It would make sense to keep the current view ordinance but change the procedure for enforcement.

Dwight W. Spiers

Laguna Beach


Jammed parking fills city's pockets

Tuesday night I attended a City Council meeting about financing the $42 million Village Entrance parking garage during which the council voted 3 to 2 in favor of the project.

I was astonished to hear a public referendum is not necessary for acquiring public debt paid for by parking meters. City Manager John Pieteg proudly revealed this city runs on parking meter money, so much so that he is leveraging the parking garage debt-service by twiddling the knobs on all the parking meters.

As long as city operations remain addicted to parking meter financing, we will suffer from a lack of parking and bumper-to-bumper congestion, and Laguna Beach will remain a parking lot.

Les Miklosy

Laguna Beach


We can always get a new council

Maybe it's because we both had civics class with Mr. Simpson years ago at Laguna Beach High School, but I agree with Mayor Kelly Boyd that the residents of Laguna Beach have the right to vote on such an important issue as the Village Entrance.

If we don't have City Council members who are willing to give us that voice, we could always recall them and get replacements who would. We will do this vote the easy way or the hard way. I wonder which it will be.

J.J. Gasparotti

Laguna Beach

* Why won't council let us vote?

As reported in your newspaper, the Laguna Beach City Council recently voted for a new Village Entrance plan that will add a park and 200 parking places at a cost of $30 to $50 million — probably closer to the latter. Déjà vu. Didn't we form a committee to create a plan — not adopted — 18 years ago?

Now a different, business-oriented group is promoting a new and vastly more expensive plan and the council has agreed to implement it. To its credit, the council held an open meeting at which residents were able to present their views.

It was amazing. Speaker after speaker voiced serious concerns about the plan and asked the council to allow Laguna residents to vote on it. A reasonable request, it would seem, and the right thing to do.

In the past we have sometimes chosen to tax ourselves in support of worthy causes. An opportunity to vote on the current proposal would give everyone a voice and resolve the controversy that surrounds it.

Regrettably, the council voted not to allow the residents to vote. Strange. If not us, who do they represent?

Bette Anderson

Laguna Beach


Pick up after your dog, please

I have a dog, it poops. Your dog may poop too.

My dog is a good dog. Her name is Jane. She and I like to go hiking. When we hike, she poops. I clean up her poop. And, often times, the poop of other dogs. But lately it's getting harder to clean up all that poop. More and more dogs seem to be leaving their poop behind.

Poop on the trails. Poop in the parks. Poop in the streets. Poop in my frontyard. Poop on the beaches. If you have a dog, I'm guessing your dog poops too. 

Just watch: Food goes in the front, but poop comes out the back, like some kind of poop factory. Go ahead, watch your dog's pooping process. If you clean up that poop, thank you. If you don't clean up that poop, please do, because Laguna is a dog-friendly city (kinda), but not a dog poop-friendly city.

If you're counting, there are 21 variations of the word "poop" in this letter. Pretty gross, huh? That's because that's how many poops I saw on my hike this morning.

John Zegowitz

Laguna Beach

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