Mailbag: Future of music festival is bright

We want to thank the Sawdust Festival Board of Directors and the city of Laguna Beach Planning Commission for agreeing to the Blue Water Music Festival last weekend held on the festival grounds.

Rick Conkey and his team, including a large number of community groups and volunteers, deserve congratulations on organizing a mellow, musical event in a peaceful, historic setting. We hope the board and city will recognize the value of this event and agree to a repeat performance next year.

We believe that approving the event early will allow the organizers to garner more sponsorships and invite a larger lineup of performers, including, possibly, bands from the high school.

It would also allow organizers time to work with all of the nonprofit organizations, artists and sponsors involved to get the word out to a larger audience — including tourists — and allow increased ticket sales at reduced prices.

Ellen and Roger Kempler

Laguna Beach

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District and LagunaTunes making music together

I want to thank the Laguna Beach Unified School District for helping LagunaTunes Community Chorus resolve a scheduling problem with the Artists Theater. The size of our chorus and popularity of our concerts has grown to the point where St. Mary's Church is no longer a viable venue for our performances.

Despite following proper application protocol procedures in the past, we have been unable to reserve a space in the Artists Theater. Thankfully, that all changed! As a result of efforts by trustees Betsy Jenkins and Ketta Brown and emails sent to other members of the school board, I received a phone call from Supt. Sherine Smith informing me that we could perform our spring concert in the Artists Theater.

LagunaTunes is a community chorus which receives funding from the Laguna Beach Cultural Arts and the Festival of the Arts foundations to support our mission of experiencing the joy of singing. Anyone is welcome to join our group, with no auditions required.

Our spring concert on June 8 will feature popular songs and music from the '60s, a live band, and the Artists Theater will be the perfect venue. Thank you, LBUSD, for giving us this opportunity. Here's hoping we can continue to make music together in the future.

Gary Greene

LagunaTunes publicity coordinator

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View laws are important part of dream life

Imagine that you have been searching for months, maybe years, for a home you can afford in Laguna Beach with a beautiful white water or ocean view.

You have scrimped and saved and dreamed of the day you will find it, and then one day there it is — the home of your dreams, and the gods are with you and somehow your bid beats everybody else's and it's yours — all yours. Your dreams have come true. You invite family and friends to enjoy your little piece of paradise. You raise your kids there. You wake up in awe every morning over this gift you have been given.

Now imagine a few years go by, and one day you wake up and notice that a tree or a bush or a bunch of trees and bushes are beginning to grow through your beautiful, priceless view you sacrificed so much to call your own.

Imagine that these overgrown trees and bushes are in back of someone's property who themselves have a fully unobstructed view. So you bolster all your confidence and decide to knock on their door or write them a letter, kindly asking if they would be amenable to allowing you to pay to trim back their vegetation so you can also enjoy the same view they enjoy. Imagine now that they either ignore your request or downright refuse to accommodate you.

This is what has been happening for years in Laguna Beach. That is why the residents of this town, who have been so patient for so long while watching their views disappear and property values plummet, have spent the last year and a half working tirelessly to get the city to finally enforce their own view preservation ordinance.

We don't want to cut all trees down to 6 feet. We wish only to retain or recover the views we have lost during the period when the city didn't enforce the ordinance, be it by lacing, pruning, shaping or trimming. And yes, if your tree cannot be handled in that way it might have to be removed and replaced with something more easily maintained.

Losing a priceless view to a huge, unmaintained tree is no different than losing it to a big house going up in front of you. The city certainly doesn't allow that, nor do the people who will be affected by the structure. Why is a big, overgrown tree any different?

Nobody cares how big the trees are in the canyon, but none of the trees along the coast of Laguna Beach are indigenous. All were planted without consideration of how they would one day impact the views for which we pay an arm and a leg.

If the city had enforced its own view ordinance, and if people had been neighborly years ago, the vegetation would never have gotten this out of control. As it is, the proposed new ordinance requires the complainant to pay all the costs to begin the mediation and the early restoration process. That's where the money will come to cover the costs of the mediators and arborists, etc.

The city stands to earn substantially more revenue when homes sell for more money once their views are restored. It all comes down to this: If people were willing to work together to share the wealth of our precious views we wouldn't need a view ordinance. But too many people have proven to be selfish and obstinate. Their attitude is, "As long as I get mine, to heck with the rest of them."

Marsha Bianchi

Laguna Beach

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More money, more banks

The simple answer to why so many new bank branches are locating in Laguna is simple — it's where the money is. Look at the facts in front of you and not the nostalgia you see in the rearview mirror.

Laguna Beach is a high-end resort and entertainment venue for the millions of visitors who show up each year. Our sales tax revenues reflect that more than three quarters are derived from restaurants, bars and hotels. The average household income is significantly higher than the California average. A majority are well-educated professionals. You typically cannot touch a home in Laguna unless you have several million dollars to spend.

The mom-and-pop stores in town do not survive on resident spending because most of the working Laguna residents leave on a 20-mile commute every day. I call them drive-by residents who leave before the mom and pops are open.

This last fact is why our little shops often don't do well, except in the summer season, and why pizza shops and the like are always seeking lower rents to survive. We live in a high-rent town. It takes tenants that can afford the rents.

These, and many other facts uncovered in a 2009 study I did for the city's Business Assistance Task Force, have been lost in the fog of nostalgia, and the unwillingness by many residents to realize that Laguna Beach is not some sleepy little artists' colony.

We are a world-renowned premier coastal town that is ideal for high-end homes overlooking the ocean and for millions of visitors to visit and wish they could afford to move here.

And by the way, ZPizza is still in the shopping center. I have probably said enough, it's just the whining gets to me.

Dennis Myers

Laguna Beach

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