Last week’s article (“Sweat Lodge Owner Seeks City Permit,” April 6) by Rita Robinson missed more than a few facts. Sweat Lodge operator Andrew Soliz did not “miss a deadline to submit plans” as reported. He was fined because he erected a 10 foot domed sweat lodge and a 35-foot tipi in his back yard without submitting any plans or even bothering to tell his neighbors. Then, for the past three months, he hosted public sweat lodge meetings and paid women’s retreats without a business license. He also illegally converted his garage into an office and a workshop, not an “art studio” as reported, and then proceeded to re-grade and terrace the Bluebird Canyon Creek waterflow area behind his house, then built a propane fire pit to superheat rocks for his sweat lodge (which in a sensitive fire-prone area like this is both unwise and unsafe).
That all being said, I’m sure his ceremonies are wonderful, and I look foreword to attending one. But there’s a time and a place for everything, and a narrow cul-de-sac in Bluebird Canyon just isn’t the right fit. Freedom to practice one’s religion is paramount, but when your practice becomes an outdoor public event, neighborhood compatibility and tolerance for all must prevail. Besides, everyone has to obey the same laws.
Jeff Tyler, Laguna Beach