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Mailbag: Meeting demeaned the homeless

Re. “Plan for destitute draws crowd,” April 25: Were I a stranger from, let’s say Indiana, and wandered into that City Council meeting on housing the homeless, I would have expected the town’s downtown to be a virtual slaughterhouse, a bloody abattoir. Rape and pugnacity would have been the ordinary course of events daily. And I would flee the premises.

I am not a stranger. I have lived in Laguna Beach since 1955. In the intervening half a century and then some, I have never been rudely or aggressively accosted by a panhandler. I have never seen a person urinating in public, downtown or elsewhere.

I’m not saying these events do not occur. Obviously they do. But not to the extent emphasized by those opposed to housing the homeless. That meeting featured exaggeration by those opposed. Exaggeration begets exaggeration. You tell a vile story, I will tell one even worse. Exaggeration is like rumor; it races halfway around the world before truth and facts get their shoes on.

At the meeting we all were told not to demonize the other side. We followed that wise advice. But nobody told us not to dehumanize the homeless. Dehumanizing became the order of the day. The homeless were turned into animals, not human beings.


I spent several years on the board of the Laguna Resource Center. I met with and worked with the homeless. I never saw the breed that was portrayed at the meeting.

I thought we are a community that practices compassion.

The homeless live dark and secluded lives. They sleep on benches, in bushes, under boardwalks. For years they were rousted out by the police, given a toe in the ribs, told to move on.

Today we should hold out a hand and say not move on but move in. What they would then have is what we take for granted: a bed, four walls and a roof.


Is that too much to ask?

Arnold Hano

Laguna Beach


Trust in Friendship Shelter’s experience

I didn’t get a chance to speak at the last City Council hearing regarding permanent supportive housing and neither did many who’ve been serving meals at the Alternative Sleeping Location.

For more than 20 years, the Friendship Shelter has done an outstanding job of supporting the homeless in our community with the excellent services it and the city provide. At the very least, we should give permanent supportive housing a fair chance because of Friendship Shelter’s respected experience and compassionate help and understanding to those less fortunate.

(Friendship Shelter and Irvine-based Jamboree Housing Corp. are working on a proposal to build a 40-unit apartment complex for the chronically homeless.)


Thank you, Friendship Shelter. Please continue to work with us all in the community to provide permanent shelter to those who need it.

Charlotte Masarik

Laguna Beach


Canyon is the place for homeless project

I was present at the City Council meeting last week when the concept for supportive housing for Laguna’s homeless was discussed.

It was a respectful and open-hearted forum that enabled voices, both pro and con, to be heard. Concerns were raised that I, as a supporter of this project, believe can be addressed. Moving the location of the proposed facility, however, would surely doom it. How would maintaining the status quo (no new project) solve any of the myriad concerns expressed by business owners and others in town?

Many speakers said that they were not against the proposal, per se. Rather, they were opposed to its location in Laguna Canyon. If not at this location, then where?


As proposed, it would be bordered by the Pacific Marine Mammal Center and the dog park. Sure, no one would be thrilled to have such a facililty as a neighbor, but the current use and zoning of this particular neighborhood deems it the most feasible. Issues concerning security, safety and quality of life raised by canyon residents can and should be addressed.

I have confidence that it is possible to care for and provide rehabilitation services for our human, marine, canine and other sentient beings without prejudice while remaining attentive to the quality of life for all.

The Friendship Shelter’s track record speaks for itself. It accomplishes its mission with integrity, fiscal responsibility, professional management practices and respect for Laguna’s residents, both inside and outside of its facilities.

Where improvements to security and quality of life must be made, I trust that the Friendship Shelter (together with Jamboree Housing) will act to do so. The shelter has earned the trust of our community to manage such a project.

I have confidence in our ability as a caring community to find a humane solution, no matter our differences.

Linda Brown

Laguna Beach


Adjust speed for safety of art students

My sincere condolences go to the Fitzpatrick family over their terrible loss (“She was always laughing,” April 18).

Despite the concerns expressed by many individuals about road safety, we have yet another preventable pedestrian fatality with the death of Nina Fitzpatrick, who was struck by a vehicle April 3. Let’s correct the misuse of our roadways before another pedestrian is sacrificed to motorist traffic.

When is the last time you drove through a school zone or through a crosswalk? Laguna College of Art + Design, where Fitzpatrick was a student, is home to both.

I blame city policymakers and Caltrans for misuse of a roadway.

Instead of a traffic-calming device, Caltrans has served us a yellow strip activated by a panic button. The agency says posted speed limits are not easily changed. Let’s measure the speed of walking students and set motorists’ speed limits accordingly.

Les Miklosy

Laguna Beach