Laguna Beach Independent January 13, 2017 : Page 1

Funds Support Cancer Research PAGE 6 | CRIER Accident Fails to Shatter His Optimism PAGE 8 | A&E Tennis Coach Steps Down PAGE 10 | SCHOOLS/SPORTS “Our Town, Our Paper” lagunabeachindy.com January 13, 2017 | Volume XIV, Issue 2 Mozambique Reopens After License Suspension By Andrea Adelson | LB Indy Mozambique restaurant in Laguna Beach, known since its opening in 2005 as a venue for live music, reopened this week after a fi ve-day suspension of its license by the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. The license suspension stems from condition violations over dancing and noise audible 10 feet from the premises on three separate instances last February and March, according to an accusation fi led by a department attorney June 2. The conditions were put in place so nearby residents could experience the quiet enjoyment of their property, said department spokesman John Carr in Sacramento. Fewer than 13 percent of ABC license accusations involve condition violations, according to state MOZAMBIQUE, page 23 An architectural rendering shows the planned native plant garden and interpretive trails around new envisioned headquarters of Laguna Canyon Foundation. Shining a Spotlight On a Racial Attack By Andrea Adelson | LB Indy The parents of a 17-year-old Lagu-na Beach High School student say he and their home were the target of a hate crime because their son is black. Five fellow student athletes, chanting their son’s name in unison, hurled a watermelon at their front door and shouted a racial epithet before fleeing in a truck, according to Cathleen Falsani and Maurice Possley, who reported the incident that occurred two days after Christ-ATTACK, page 25 Fittingly, Foundation Threats Settles in a Canyon Home Target Laguna By Donna Furey | LB Indy The Laguna Canyon Foundation is making plans to relocate to a ‘40s canyon ranch house this year, the fi rst time its staff and volunteers will have a home base within the open space they protect. The new headquarters is at the base of Stairsteps Trail, one of the only entrances into the Aliso Wood Canyon Wilderness Park. Beyond it lies 100 acres of zoned open space, once part of a 194-acre working ranch populated by chickens, pigs, ducks and horses originally owned by the DeWitt family. The city purchased the acreage off Laguna Canyon Road in 1990 for $2 million with a grant obtained through Proposition 70, the California Wildlife, Coastal, and Park Land Conservation Act, according to public city records. The land extends from the south side of Anneliese’s School to Phillips Road, north of the Sun Valley neighborhood. Last February, the foundation signed a $1 a year lease with the city for the ranch house and began making plans for restoration and renovation. “The coastal sage scrub and cactus communities have been degraded by hundreds of years of cattle grazing and neglect,” Hallie Jones, the foundation’s executive director, said in a fundraising appeal letter, adding that the ranch house has been “un-loved for decades.” The foundation’s current FOUNDATION, page 24 Elected Offi cials By Andrea Adelson | LB Indy Police say they arrested the son of a defeated Laguna Beach City Council candidate for making criminal threats against public fi gures after he allegedly posted a photo of himself online hiding in brush with a rifl e while wearing camoufl age and warning he intended “to remove those tyrants from offi ce.” Police identifi ed the person in the Craigslist posting as Michael James Ross, 33, of Laguna Beach, who police say was arrested a week ago for making criminal THREATS, page 26 CHINA ∙ UNITED KINGDOM ∙ DUBAI ∙ RUSSIA ∙ INDIA ∙ MEXICO ∙ CANADA DANA POINT 34282 Shore Lantern | $3,900,000 www.surterreproperties.com BRE#01778230

Mozambique Reopens After License Suspension

Andrea Adelson | LB Indy

Mozambique restaurant in Laguna Beach, known since its opening in 2005 as a venue for live music, reopened this week after a five-day suspension of its license by the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

The license suspension stems from condition violations over dancing and noise audible 10 feet from the premises on three separate instances last February and March, according to an accusation filed by a department attorney June 2.

The conditions were put in place so nearby residents could experience the quiet enjoyment of their property, said department spokesman John Carr in Sacramento. Fewer than 13 percent of ABC license accusations involve condition violations, according to state Records.

Mozambique violated the same conditions in 2015 and paid a $3,000 fine to satisfy a 15-day license suspension, Carr said. Part of the suspension was stayed for a year and re-imposed because of new condition violations in 2016, Carr said.

Owner Ivan Spiers conceded that the restaurant’s license excludes dancing, but that he applied to modify the license conditions in the wake of the first accusation. “They’ve dragged their feet,” he said, of the ABC’s application review process.

The request is under review and a decision on the condition modification is expected by the end of January, Carr said.

San Diego attorney Bill Adams, who specializes in ABC matters but is not involved in the case, said typically the agency won’t act on a modification request until a disciplinary action is resolved. “That’s probably why the delay,” he said.

“I’m still bewildered; we’ve been running this place the same for 12 years. ABC never bothered about this before,” said Spiers, who contended that the ABC inquiry stems from harassing complaints by two residents, who live 500 feet from the restaurant. The ABC accusation filing does not identify the origin of the complaints, which can originate with observations by ABC investigators or police.

Spiers declined to name his accusers, who he said have raised a range of complaints about the restaurant since it opened. After a major renovation, Mozambique replaced the rundown Tortilla Flats, once a favorite of former President Richard Nixon, who established a Western White House in San Clemente during his administration, 1969 until 1974.

Over the years, Spiers has gone to extraordinary efforts to assuage neighbors, such as providing doorto- door pick-up service. As many as 120 patrons on weekend nights take advantage of the perk, which keeps cars out of residential areas and drunks off the roads.

Currently, 106 businesses in Laguna Beach hold ABC licenses and all but one was active. In the 2014-15 fiscal year, the department statewide filed over 2,200 accusations against licensed businesses, according to Carr. Just 300 of those accusations represented cases involving receiving stolen property, hidden ownership, condition violations and other violations of alcoholic beverage laws, said Carr. The majority of accusations involved sales of alcohol to minors, he said.

Spiers said the complaints have cost him $100,000 in legal fees, $100,000 in lost business and $50,000 in lost wages for the 125 people who work at the restaurant.

Mozambique also applied July 1 to modify its city-issued conditional use permit, seeking permission for dancing on a 125 square foot area. The change was approved by the City Council on Oct. 4. In a Sept. 19 letter about the matter, Community Development Director Greg Pfost noted that ambient noise spilling from the restaurant met the city’s noise ordinance standards of 65 decibels in a commercial area. Senior planner Scott Drapkin said this week the restaurant is in “complete compliance” with its permit. City officials have never received a complaint over dancing, he said.

In practice, liquor license holders must comply with conditions of the ABC license as well as local regulations, which are often redundant, Adams said. “In very active communities, the restrictions get ratcheted tighter and tighter,” he said.

Spiers, who helped open Daryl’s House in Pawling, N.Y., said he is also developing new restaurants in Charleston, S. C., and Columbus, Ohio. “I would never build another in California,” said Spiers, who is exasperated enough to consider seriously the frequent offers he receives for the local property.

“I don’t want to do that to Laguna until all my employees are taken care of,” said Spiers, though his immediate pursuit is a revision of the ABC license that allows Mozambique to operate within the letter of the law.

If Carr proves correct, that should happen soon.

Read the full article at http://trendmag2.trendoffset.com/article/Mozambique+Reopens+After+License+Suspension/2688176/377039/article.html.

Shining A Spotlight On A Racial Attack

Andrea Adelson | LB Indy

The parents of a 17-year-old Laguna Beach High School student say he and their home were the target of a hate crime because their son is black.

Five fellow student athletes, chanting their son’s name in unison, hurled a watermelon at their front door and shouted a racial epithet before fleeing in a truck, according to Cathleen Falsani and Maurice Possley, who reported the incident that occurred two days after Christmas to police.

The chanting, which they say they learned of from police, had the tenor “of a lynch mob,” said Falsani.

“There was no doubt in my mind what the intent was,” Possley said. “It was an act of hate.” Watermelons serve as a denigrating cultural stereotype.

From her own experience, Falsani knows this attack is far from the prevailing culture of Laguna. She called on the community to recognize the painful experience they’ve endured as “a teachable moment” and to halt similar corrosive behavior that undermines the town’s reputation for embracing diversity in sexual orientation, religion and ethnicity. “To hide this, to slink away, to allow us or our son to be intimidated, is wrong,” said Falsani. “To pretend it’s not happening here is delusional and lets it grow and fester.”

In the absence of any known clash between her son and the boys involved, Falsani speculates her family was targeted for an unprovoked hate crime due perhaps in part to the national zeitgeist where authority figures are using language that is mocking, hateful and disrespectful.

The five boys involved in the incident were all interviewed by a juvenile investigator at school this past Monday, said police Sgt. Tim Kleiser. The matter is still under investigation as a criminal violation and has yet to be presented to the district attorney, responsible for filing specific charges, Kleiser said.

After the election, reports of hate crimes spiked nationwide, but not so in Laguna, with one exception, Kleiser said. A gay couple received harrassing mail in November.

Whether the boys involved will also face discipline at school isn’t clear as the attack took place off campus and during the winter break. School officials did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Falsani and Possley, who are both journalists, met their future son Vasco while on a trip in Malawi in 2007. The orphaned boy, then 7, was living on the streets and suffering from a congenital heart defect. They brought him to Chicago where he underwent surgery, and relocated to Laguna Beach because of ties with friends who are residents. “This town embraced him,” Falsani said. “That has been our experience the entire time we’ve lived here.”

With one exception, Falsani said. Two of the boys who participated in the recent incident also were involved in racial name calling aimed at their son in a classroom last year, said Falsani, who didn’t know if those students were disciplined for their actions. A former LBHS student, who told her of other racially tinged school incidents, helped convince the parents to speak up. “If left unchecked, history tells us these things continue to escalate. We want to nip that progression,” Falsani said.

When a student in a Ku Klux Klan like hood jumped up at a school assembly several years ago, history teachers were asked to address the incident by talking about racism for a single class period, said teacher Carolen Sadler, who was aghast at the tepid response that she thinks reflects denial of the seriousness of the issue. More recently, she offered extra credit for students in her two history classes to see the new film “Hidden Figures,” about black women involved in the space program. None took up her offer, she said.

“Somew here there is a huge disconnect,” Sadler said of her students“They are totally insensitive to people who aren’t like themselves.”

And while the Vasco’s parents say they and their son are still processing the jarring insult, the three are determined to wrest good from vitriol, though they have yet to settle on a direction.

“We can’t not address this publicly,” Possley said. “If we don’t, who will?”

Read the full article at http://trendmag2.trendoffset.com/article/Shining+A+Spotlight+On+A+Racial+Attack/2688177/377039/article.html.

Fittingly, Foundation Settles In A Canyon Home

Donna Furey | LB Indy

The Laguna Canyon Foundation is making plans to relocate to a ‘40s canyon ranch house this year, the first time its staff and volunteers will have a home base within the open space they protect.

The new headquarters is at the base of Stairsteps Trail, one of the only entrances into the Aliso Wood Canyon Wilderness Park. Beyond it lies 100 acres of zoned open space, once part of a 194-acre working ranch populated by chickens, pigs, ducks and horses originally owned by the DeWitt family.

The city purchased the acreage off Laguna Canyon Road in 1990 for $2 million with a grant obtained through Proposition 70, the California Wildlife, Coastal, and Park Land Conservation Act, according to public city records.

The land extends from the south side of Anneliese’s School to Phillips Road, north of the Sun Valley neighborhood.

Last February, the foundation signed a $1 a year lease with the city for the ranch house and began making plans for restoration and renovation. “The coastal sage scrub and cactus communities have been degraded by hundreds of years of cattle grazing and neglect,” Hallie Jones, the foundation’s executive director, said in a fundraising appeal letter, adding that the ranch house has been “un-loved for decades.” The foundation’s current Office is located in Legion Hall on Legion Street.

The 20-year lease with a provision for a five-year extension makes LCF responsible for maintenance and restoration of the house. LCF will be required to obtain permits and city manager approval for all work done. The city will provide casualty insurance while LCF must provide $5 million in general liability insurance, according to the lease terms.

Heavy rainfall in 2010 exposed a debris field, the result of garbage-burning by residents in the 1940s and 1950s. In 2014, after the waste was removed and a tenant vacated the house, the city hired LCF to restore the property. “We are absolutely thrilled to be creating our new headquarters in Laguna Canyon,” Jones said in an email.

In addition to repairing the house and developing outdoor space for public programs, a native plant garden and interpretive trails are planned. This “will allow us to be even more effective in our habitat restoration, education, and trail work programs,” Jones said.

In a staff report last January, LCF estimated improvements would cost approximately $600,000.

Calling the anticipated relocation part of the foundation’s maturation, board President Michelle Kremer described it as a major undertaking. “This project is more than new headquarters. We’re creating a home base for our fight to protect our open space, and a place for our community to learn about and appreciate our precious greenbelt.”

Michael Pinto, Elisabeth Brown and Carolyn Wood founded the Laguna Canyon foundation to channel support for regional open space preservation in 1990, the year following a march that drew thousands of demonstrators protesting Irvine Company plans to build 3,500 homes in Laguna Canyon.

The foundation works with state, county and city landowners to manage and preserve the 22,000-acre Laguna Coast Wilderness. Its fundraising previously supported efforts to increase public awareness of wilderness, acquire land for preservation, restore wildlife habitats, and maintain and improve the 70-mile trail system in Laguna Coast Wilderness Park and Aliso and Wood Canyons Park.

Year-end revenue reported in 2014 by LCF was $765,500, the most recent figures available on Guidestar, the website that tracks non-profits. The budget funded restoration projects costing $430,166, education programs of $159,000, public programs of $146,200 and trail maintenance amounting to $130,347.

Kremer expressed confidence that the city partnership and support of members will bring to fruition plans for the new headquarters and for returning the surrounding hillsides of the De Witt parcel to a healthy natural habitat. With equal enthusiasm Jones added, “now we just have to raise the money to do it.”

Read the full article at http://trendmag2.trendoffset.com/article/Fittingly%2C+Foundation+Settles+In+A+Canyon+Home/2688178/377039/article.html.

Threats Target Laguna Elected Officials

Andrea Adelson | LB Indy

Police say they arrested the son of a defeated Laguna Beach City Council candidate for making criminal threats against public figures after he allegedly posted a photo of himself online hiding in brush with a rifle while wearing camouflage and warning he intended “to remove those tyrants from offce.”

Police identified the person in the Craigslist posting as Michael James Ross, 33, of Laguna Beach, who police say was arrested a week ago for making criminal threats.

Court records show civil restraining orders were filed the following day, Friday, Jan. 6, against Michael Ross, prohibiting him from contacting or being in the vicinity of the current elected officials or city manager. His posting was titled “Going to Laguna Beach city council with My Gillie suit,” police said in a statement released Wednesday, Jan. 11, referring to what is known as ghillie camouflage garments worn by hunters.

Uniformed officers were uncharacteristically present during the City Council meeting this past Tuesday. Police will be present at future meetings, City Manager John Pietig said. Mayor Toni Iseman declined comment.

Their presence may reflect that despite the police allegations, Michael Ross was released from county jail on Monday, Jan. 9, without having to post bail because the district attorney is seeking additional information before filing charges, police Sgt. Tim Kleiser said. “The charges weren’t dismissed,” he added.

Robert Mason Ross, 79, a retired film editor, was also arrested last week and remains in county jail facing a $250,000 bond. He was held on four felony charges over possessing firearms, court records show. Public defender Stella Pogosyan could not immediately be reached for comment.

The charges against the elder Ross stem from the seizure in his house of a cache of weapons, which were all legally registered to his son, Kleiser said. Robert Ross, though, is prohibited from possessing weapons due to a previous felony conviction in Los Angeles County in 2002 of making a criminal threat, the criminal complaint filed in court by Deputy District Attorney Angela Hong says.

Police said they seized six rifles, a semi-automatic handgun, and over 100 boxes of ammunition as a result of a search warrant served last week with the aid of a sheriff’s SWAT team at the Ross home on Treetop Lane.

Ross earned 616 votes in the 2012 election, where he criticized the record of city officials, particularly expenses for the city attorney. City Clerk Lisette Chel said this week she will ask candidates to sign a sworn statement about their eligibility for office, which includes voter registration. Convicted felons voting rights are restored after completion of parole, according to the Secretary of State’s website.

Police learned of the Craigslist posting through a Google alert seen by a City Hall employee, Kleiser said. According to the police statement, the post also stated, “Call the police and the city, council and tell them I am coming to end this corruption, from the Laguna Beach City Council, once and for all. Hahahahahaha, you are going down now.”

Ross’s son was not an active participant in his father’s 2012 campaign, but the elder Ross has not backed off his criticism of local government. He made nine appearances during the public comment periods at City Council meetings in 2016, minutes show.

Read the full article at http://trendmag2.trendoffset.com/article/Threats+Target+Laguna+Elected+Officials/2688179/377039/article.html.

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