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Mailbag: Teachers should not initiate inappropriate discussions

Re. "Parent urges district policy for sensitive topics" (May 3): Because no policy prevents them from doing so, currently district teachers introduce inappropriate discussions during class time on topics of no academic value, relevance, or meaning — without any professional training and without parent consent or knowledge.

In light of the fact that district teachers have initiated discussions connected to recent horror stories in the news, the board must intervene.

After my middle school children (and at least 50 others) listened to teachers introduce information about the dead kindergartners at Sandy Hook (shorty after the event), and details of the Los Angeles Unified School District teacher who fed students semen cookies, I approached the board.

At April's meeting, I urged the board to prevent teachers from initiating such discussions by adopting a policy. The board responded by stating that such incidences are dealt with individually.

This response guarantees teachers will continue to initiate such discussions because they can. Meanwhile, we parents will deal with the affects of teachers exercising their freedom of speech on our sons and daughters.

Anita Razin

Laguna Beach

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Laguna: 'world-class cathedral of ocean and canyon views'

People visit Laguna Beach for the art, yes, but mainly for the climate, the beach and the waterfront hotels and restaurants that offer beautiful views.

People choose to live in Laguna Beach for the climate, the quaint neighborhood feel and the eclectic styling, but especially for the views.

You see, other ocean hugging towns have great hotels, shops and restaurants, but our rocky-scalloped coastline and our steep stadium-like topography makes us unique — we have fantastic views. World class views. We, as a town, are a cathedral of views, and each view is like a unique stained glass window in that cathedral.

And yet inconsiderate neighbors have been allowed to grow trees and hedges up and out, unchecked for decades. They have been given carte blanche to stockpile non-native and excessive shade trees and privacy hedges for themselves, while paying no mind at all to the view theft they are committing to those around them. The loss of value is difficult to calculate, as is the loss of enjoyment. And we all suffer the losses since lost value means lost real estate tax revenue, which would have funded our community services and projects. Views are our currency here; they are the coin of our realm.

The City Council chambers and the Susi Q Community Center have been packed recently by throngs of broken-hearted citizens who have already lost some or all of their views. These aren't locals who are looking for "view preservation" because they are afraid they may lose views in the future. Those are the next generation view victims who are today sitting at home hoping this gets fixed so they won't have to get in this fight. No, this year's view equity meetings are filled with hundreds of our citizens, representing perhaps thousands of impacted views. They have already been damaged and they aren't going to take it anymore. They, we, insist on view restoration.

And what of those Laguna Beach residents and business owners who have already had their views stolen by thoughtless and selfish neighbors with inappropriate trees grown to unmanaged heights? Should we use an arbitrary base-line, such as the purchase date of a home, as the maximum view that any subsequent owner is entitled to recover? Certainly not. It is ludicrous to suggest that view theft should have a statute of limitations, since there was nowhere for a view victim to turn for so many years.

Shame on the lazy tree owners and shame on all of us for letting this go so long. But don't compound the problem by grandfathering in and ratifying the overgrowth that exists now. Just because the owner of the home or business lost his view and then died or gave up and moved, that shouldn't absolve the offending tree owner from having to do the right thing and "restore" the beautiful old views.

Laguna Beach is a world-class cathedral of ocean and canyon views.

Greg Gilroy

Laguna Beach

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City needs a more modest plan

Re. the Village Entrance:

There are 22,000 people in Laguna. Most of us are not merchants, nor members of the boards of the Laguna Playhouse or of the Festival of Arts. Yet if the current plan is put into effect, we, the residents of Laguna, will be the most affected.

The expenditure of the astronomical sum of $35 million to $55 million will seriously impact our lifestyle. There will be no money left for the buses and shuttles. There will be no money for infrastructure and capital improvements.

We started years ago, with a plan for a park and a far more modest and less costly parking structure. I would hope that we could go back to that original plan designed by Studio One Eleven that won the city-sponsored contest for best Village Entrance proposal.

Bonnie Hano

Laguna Beach

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No reason to fear skatepark

This past week I have been getting emails and seeing posts on Facebook that are rabidly against the proposed skatepark in Moulton Meadows park.

I am surprised to see such fear around what a skateboard-structure may bring. I honestly don't see offering a skate-structure as any different as offering a basketball court, a tennis court or a playscape. (To those who object to the "concrete" of a skating structure, consider the contents of these other facilities.)

Skateboarding is a deeply-embedded part of the youth culture in Southern California and in our town. I see 8- to 10-year-old kids all over the place, wearing their helmets and working on their moves. Why deny them this opportunity to polish skills early on a summer morning with their friends, so that they don't need to "schedule" a drive from a parent to another out-of-town park?

I'm sure there are many kids who live in the Moulton Meadows area who would really enjoy this new aspect of their neighborhood park.

What are we so afraid of?

In reading the emails, I heard fear of traffic from "outsiders" coming up to the park. Frankly, I don't perceive the risk of mass quantities of "outsiders" venturing to our most remote park for a skate structure when there are so many "cooler" places they can drive to for the same purpose. This would primarily serve the community in which it is embedded.

I also heard fear of a carelessly-tossed cigarette, and other environmental disrespect. Is this not profiling a certain skateboard-enthusiast "type" who would be far more likely to behave disrespectfully? Implicit in all these complaints is a fear of the "outsiders" who will pour up the hill and "congregate." Outsiders who won't respect the peaceful values of the residents. This sounds xenophobic to me.

Finally, there is a fear that the location would tempt more people into downhill skateboarding on the streets. Isn't the sport of speed-boarding completely different than the sophisticated flips and twists kids perfect on those concrete structures? Also, if there is a structure offered, mightn't it draw kids away from the more dangerous speed-boarding?

I think we need to ask ourselves what we really fear in this proposed skateboard structure, and reality-test to see if these fears are founded. We need to explore our own stereotypes and prejudices about people who love to skateboard. Only then can we make a fair and well-reasoned decision.

Kate Rogers

Laguna Beach

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