Kaira Rouda’s Laguna World

Writer Kaira Rouda might be mistaken for a pop culture Orange County housewife and some of the characters in her novels might be kissing cousins. However Rouda is Midwestern born and even-tempered, so even the worst of her characters are more in need of redemption than...
Posted On 05 May 2016

Next Generation Cultivates New Activists

“You see the same 40 people all the time,” says Aaron Talarico, founder of Laguna NextGen, an independent organization urging civic and philanthropic participation and a social networking group for young business people and professionals. “We want to see new faces.”
Posted On 24 Apr 2016

Dollars Challenge Board Recruiting

In a town with an abundance of non profits organizations, charities board recruiting efforts sometimes are hindered by the expected financial contributions of its members.
Posted On 22 Mar 2016

Small Hotels Adopt Big Ideas

In Laguna Beach, small hotels are being revitalized to not only appeal to guests with an aversion for chains, but to capitalize on their historic value.
Posted On 24 Jan 2016

Hotels Strive to Gild the Guest Experience

By Randy Kraft, Special to the Independent Since developers of the first Montage resort built a luxurious craftsmen-style sandcastle in Laguna Beach in 2003, nearby resorts from Newport Beach to Dana Point have been scrambling to compete. Other top-rated ocean view luxury hotels...
Posted On 04 Oct 2015

Cycling’s Rise Outraces Park Resources

Part 2 Mountain biking is on the rise locally, and both trail users and environmentalists are concerned about threats to sustainability and safety. The resources of OC Parks, which has responsibility for park preservation, have not kept pace, despite the steady trek of bikers...
Posted On 29 Mar 2015

Mountain Biking Goes Viral

Part I By Randy Kraft, Special to the Independent In the winter 2014 issue of Das Gravity, a German biking magazine, Laguna Beach was ranked the second-best mountain biking destination in the world, after La Palma, Italy. Entitled “Mutterland des Bikers,” the motherland, weather...
Posted On 22 Mar 2015

Mind Over Matter

By Randy Kraft, Special to the Independent When Robert Owens, the adopted son of now retired Orange County Superior Court Judge Claude Owens, first made his mark on the world, it was not as high-minded as expected. He just wanted to have fun. “It was all rear-view mirror stuff...
Posted On 28 Nov 2014

OC BookBlog: “Nora Webster” by Colm Toibin

I rarely read reviews of new books before I pen my own, but I had to check out what the great Jennifer Egan had to say last weekend in the New York Times on the great Colm Toibin’s Nora Webster, and she got it right. The only thing she understated is that Colm Toibin deploys the...
Posted On 10 Oct 2014

Hold the Roast

By Randy Kraft, Special to the Independent By now, Laguna Beach residents would have been clamoring for tickets to the 23rd annual “Lagunatics,” the homespun production that delights audiences by skewering Laguna life and people using original lyrics matched to popular music....
Posted On 06 Oct 2014

What Next for Mozambique?

By Randy Kraft, Special to the Independent Mozambique’s restaurant main floor dining area, voluntarily closed last year in lieu of opening rooftop dining, will not reopen anytime soon. The Planning Commission last week unanimously denied such a proposal by Zambique Properties,...
Posted On 21 Sep 2014

Rooftop Bar Still on Ice

By Randy Kraft, Special to the Independent Local resident Sam Goldstein will require more patience to learn if his petition for a rooftop deck on the Heisler Building can proceed. Last week, the Planning Commission put off resolving the matter, granting a continuance until Sept....
Posted On 31 Jul 2014

Big Changes in Small Packages

By Randy Kraft, Special to the Independent A duo of innovations hit the downtown this month with the Planning Commission’s approval of a temporary use permit for a cottage foods storefront on Beach Street and the introduction of Forest Avenue’s first social robot....
Posted On 27 Jul 2014

Rewriting Life Stories

You might say Lagunan Kaira Rouda has spent a lifetime reinventing lives – her own as well as others. She moved around during childhood, from the mid-west to points south and west, and she has shifted jobs several times, although not careers. From journalist to copywriter...
Posted On 15 May 2014

The Show Goes On

Sam Goldstein might relax and enjoy the rewards of a long productive career. However, if you know him, you won’t be surprised to learn he has embarked on yet another venture, one that brackets his early days as a musician and award-winning television producer, before he...
Posted On 25 Apr 2014