City Council Doesn't See the Light; Smoking Also Targeted

City Council Slamdance: What you missed at Tuesday's meeting ...


By a 3-2 margin, the Fab Five—Mayor Toni Iseman (lead vocals), Jane Egly (guitar), Verna Rollinger (keyboards) Elizabeth Pearson (bass) and Kelly Boyd (drums)—approved what they’re calling the Good Neighbor Lighting Ordinance, which requires outdoor lights to be covered or aimed downward so they won’t be shining directly into anyone’s property, thereby annoying them when they’re trying to sleep, watch TV, stargaze, or anything else that would interfere with one’s quality of life.

And as we all know, the Laguna Beach quality of life is wicked expensive.

Somewhat surprisingly, no independent filmmakers came forward to speak out against the ordinance—for without proper lighting, how else are you supposed to video your next-door neighbors making out with their drapes open for eventual postings on Xtube?

The new law starts Feb. 1, 2012, and the holiday season as well as Valentine’s Day, the Fourth of July and Halloween are exempt. It also doesn’t affect street lights, sports fields, historic buildings, public art and LBPD-approved crime prevention lighting.

In the interim, the city has launched an information campaign to explain things, and printed brochures (available at ) that offer some suggestions as to what to do when your neighbor is totally bugging the crap out of you with his blinding, Broadway-musical-wattage production.

Too bad the brochures are written in such a condescending tone that they make you feel like your second-grade teacher is lecturing you.

“Try to be helpful and supportive and maintain neighborly relations,” the brochure reads. “If, after a friendly conversation, a light continues to be a problem, we suggest sending your neighbor a letter suggesting solutions.” 

Golly-gee willikers, maw!

No tips on how to respond if your neighbor’s idea of a “friendly conversation” involves a shotgun …

Seriously. Over in Seal Beach, 

As with most 3-2 votes, there was some consternation among the dissenters. Like councilmember Kelly Boyd, who wanted a trial period first before the law was passed outright.

“This is another ordinance that’s gonna pit neighbor against neighbor,” groused Boyd. “Throughout this whole process, there were two people who came forward (who wanted an ordinance). Two, out of 25,000. I think we should wait and see what kind of response we get from the public until we adopt a resolution. I don’t think we’ve had that many complaints.”

Also voting in the negatory was councilperson Elizabeth Pearson, who was most concerned about how the lighting ordinance might affect businesses, especially the pricey hotel resorts along the coast.

“I would like to throw it out there and have people absorb it first,” said Pearson. “I’m going with Kelly on this.”

But mayor Toni Iseman, voting in the affirmative, recalled that in the years she’s served on the council, two of the most painful citizen complaints had to do with lighting issues.

“Ultimately one neighbor caused tremendous pain. There were lights into their master bedroom in the evening, and the other neighbor said ‘Too bad, so sad.’ I'm glad we’re getting some teeth on this—I see it as ending disputes.”

Councilmember Verna Rollinger agreed.

“What this does is set up standards for lighting, and hopefully it will avoid problems in the future.”

So essentially, the law says this: Don’t be a jerk to your neighbors.



Clearly in a banning mood, the council also voted to support a resolution that would make it illegal to smoke in a 100-foot passageway downtown off Coast Highway between  and the . The ordinance has to come back to the council for a second reading before it can become law, which seems inevitable.

And when it does … well, good luck trying to enforce it.

The city has already abolished cancer-stick sucking on beaches, parks and sports fields (next: your own living room?), but this is a weirdly specific area. What could possibly be the problem with smoking in just that one spot?

Turns out, the targets are the homeless people who tend to congregate there. And smoke. And that smoke has apparently been intense enough to keep customers away from businesses.

We assume that money-burning, smoke-blowing tourists will be exempt from ticketing, even if they’re wearing Speedos.

The lone dissenter was Verna Rollinger.

"I just don't like ordinances targeted at particular groups," said the councilmember.



  • The council sang “Happy Birthday” to gadfly Bruce Hopping, who suggested that the old sewage treatment building in the parking lot to the north of city hall be converted into an art gallery. OK, fine, sure thing, sounds good …
  • Sawdust fest artist Art Zdanowski—he prefers you call him Art Z., and really, who can blame him?—presented the council with a vivid black-and-white photo of the lifeguard tower beneath creepy, threatening skies, which won him a first-place ribbon at the Orange County Fair …
  • Some folks complained about the lack of public access to the beach at Rockledge, then other folks complained about the complainers …
  • The council voted 5-0 to take $38,400 from the general fund to pay for consultant fees and system components for an early-warning flood system, which hopefully will get installed before the next one comes. The dough would buy four remote stream monitoring cameras, four rain gages and four hillside soil saturation monitors …
  • They also voted 5-0 to install decals on city trolleys that promote the new Whale Tail California license plate, which will be nice to look at when you're stuck behind one in Coast Highway traffic.
Rich Kane August 19, 2011 at 06:32 PM
WHOOPSIE! In an earlier version of this story, we said councilmember Verna Rollinger voted to ban skateboarders. Turns out we were wrong. Sorry, Verna!


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »