I just came from my annual token visit to the Sawdust Festival in Laguna Beach. I say "token" because I do it in honor of the artists and their effort, but usually do not find anything new and exciting there.
This year, however, was different. This year, there were wonderful new yarn and fiber pieces hanging in the trees!
What a surprise! And how fitting for the festival to honor some more local artists by displaying their works. It had me smiling all the way through the festival, watching for more pieces and looking at the other artists with a new, fresh eye. The weavers, clothing artists and, yes, even the painters and jewelers, seemed more appealing after seeing the wonderful way these "Twisted Stitchers" embellished things — trees, posts and bridges.
I often tell visitors about how the Sawdust began as a venue for the artists who were not deemed "worthy" of the Festival of Arts. How fitting that they are now including "not-for sale" artists who just want to join the fun.
I have already invited several friends to join me for a visit to the Sawdust this year, telling them that there is something new, current and exciting there. I came home and did some research on "yarn bombing" or "knit graffiti," and it certainly is new and popular. I went out and bought myself a season pass to the Sawdust.
Hospital's secrecy in land deal is troubling
Yes, Mission Hospital has "outbid" the city for a 7.8-acre parcel of land on Mar Vista Avenue that sits adjacent to the hospital. The property features a popular public trail connecting to Badlands and Aliso and Wood Canyons parks, and hosts the rare and endangered southern maritime chaparral. I consider this to be a blatant rejection of good neighborliness and, quite frankly, I am shocked that there has been no transparency of this transaction and the hospital feels under no obligation to let us know their dealings.
Over time the community has given the hospital munificent donations, and the success of the hospital is due in large part to our generosity and support. The "Donors Wall" in the hospital's entrance testifies to that effort. For the hospital to negotiate a deal behind closed doors at the last minute against the city, thus undermining the community that supports it, is not the way to treat us.
Where does Mission Hospital obtain the money to make presumably close to a $1 million purchase of open space? From whom did Mission Hospital receive funds to buy this land, and are donors informed of how their money is spent?
It appears that Mission Hospital has one overriding motivation: to maximize the financial value of their existing property at the expense of the neighborhood. Now with the hospital owning this land, instead of the city owning it as open space, one can only conclude the hospital wishes to develop it or use it as a valuable bargaining chip. I hope I am wrong.
As one of many long-time supporters of our Laguna hospital and its excellent doctors, I am concerned about the stealthy acquisition of its adjacent Domanskis parcel, undercutting what Lagunans believed to be a successful bid to preserve the land as open space. It appears that the hospital's new owners have goals unrelated to residents' needs or land-use priorities.
It is particularly troubling that the late bidding process was conducted in secret, announced only after the deal was finalized. The reason Laguna residents wanted the land is clear, but the hospital's motive is not. However, logic suggests that it's not to preserve the property (Laguna's purchase would have done that), but to develop or exploit it in some way.
So how do we rate, as residents, with our hospital? Somewhere below the bottom line, I'd guess.
Count me among many Lagunans who are profoundly disappointed and angered by Mission Hospital's last-minute pre-emptive action to prevent the city from acquiring almost 8 acres of open space behind the hospital. While there probably is nothing legally wrong with it, it demonstrates contempt for our city and an apparent willingness to play hardball with potential hospital development.
I think that Mission needs to figure out that community loyalty is a two-way street. Google Maps says that Hoag Hospital is 10 miles from Laguna Beach, and Saddleback is eight. Those distances don't seem as far today as they were two weeks ago.
Betrayed. That's what the Laguna Beach community has been. Betrayed by Mission Hospital.
I have been approached by more than two dozen people asking how could this happen. All of them opining that the officials at Mission Hospital acted in an unethical, unprofessional way. (Actually, nearly all used language that was a lot stronger than that, but such words are not appropriate for publication.) At the very least, if Mission Hospital cared about the community and Laguna Beach, it could have been much more open about its intentions.
Instead it let the city staff, the City Council and the Planning Commission spend a very considerable amount of time and effort believing that the city could acquire the Domanskis property. Prior to that, of course, the Laguna Canyon Foundation and the California Coastal Conservancy had expended huge efforts working to facilitate the acquisition of this property. Then, at what appears to be the very last minute, Mission Hospital, like a vulture, swoops in and totally thwarts all the work. So much for Mission Hospital's touted good community relations.
Such a nightmare for folks along the Orange Coast would impact us all. A tidal wave of surge refugees would sweep inland.
All reasonable preparatory steps should be taken. That's easy to say but daunting even to think about.
We shrink from the implications of breached nuclear generation stations. Minute radioactive sparklers are now making their way into Japanese flesh, blood and bone.
About SONGS (San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station) fronting the Pacific just south of the Orange County line, we wonder whether a tsunami and/or earthquake might unleash its sparklers.
Official reassurances this could not happen include referral to a "30-foot-high" barrier wall across its shore side.
But height and sturdiness may not be all that is called for. Where barriers are sited as well as how they are designed to handle an incoming surge may turn out to be life-and-death important.
All of us want to believe nothing like this could ever happen here.
Millions, whether they know it or not, are betting their lives and the lives of their families, friends and neighbors on that belief. But whose responsibility is emergency response? If you don't know, maybe you should find out. Don't ignore the question. Don't just point every which way but home.
How come the cities of Dana Point, Newport Beach and San Clemente are the only ones on the Orange Coast with an official Tsunami Ready Community logo on their websites?
Why does the city of Huntington Beach test sirens monthly and post online its Tsunami Evacuation Map?
Why is even the word "tsunami" nearly missing from the Seal Beach city website? Such a sea surge there would abruptly created a human tossed salad.
A Newport Beach inundation map posted on the Web suggests an incoming tsunami might run its upper bay inland like a UC Irvine freshman late for class.
Where on the Web or any place else does the city of Laguna Beach make public that its downtown area — already forewarned by surge nudges — could be gigantically wet-mopped by a tsunami?
Most of the city of San Clemente runs inland from seaside bluffs, but where it doesn't, you may see at least some tsunami hazard signage. Warnings appear on roads entering either end of its coastal park area.
There is even one in Capistrano Beach inland on Doheny Park Road, just before it reaches Costco.
Some city of San Clemente tsunami hazard signage shows up on the shore side of the coastal railroad track crossings favored by beachgoers.
It's better than the absence of any at SONGS.
A few years ago, the tsunami bell tolled in the Indian Ocean. A few months ago, it tolled in the western Pacific, a clang that smashed ashore on Hawaii's Big Island Kona Coast and devastated California's Santa Cruz boat harbor while pounding our Humboldt shoreline.
Where will it toll next?