Did you have a Merry Christmas with Santa bringing you everything you wanted? Santa was pretty busy here at Wet Suit World Headquarters. He stuffed the big stocking with a vast assortment of useful gifts.
There were charcoal sheet masks, charcoal natural deodorant, charcoal-infused toothbrushes, charcoal toothpaste, and a charcoal dietary supplement. Best of all was the Priority Mail package from our pals at Proposition P containing a 5-pound bag of organic charcoal briquettes, which were mindfully baked from the trunk of a heritage eucalyptus tree.
The joy continued unabated until the chief diplomatic officer said, “you know they all gave you coal for Christmas, don’t you?” Oh well, maybe next year?
Somebody finally told our City Council that the risk to life and limb from fire emanating out of our poorly maintained brush is real. They have responded to this news by creating a committee. Perhaps the members of this committee will be issued clippers, saws and axes. Or do they intend to meet the threat by smothering it with paper?
It only took one death to finally get a traffic light at the art school. Haven’t enough people died in Paradise and Montecito for us to wake up to the real danger right here, right now? It isn’t like these deadly disasters of fire and the resulting slides haven’t happened here before. We’ve even got the same steel cable snoods for controlling rock slides along the Canyon Road that are being installed in Montecito.
Another similarity can be seen in the nature of the debate and the participants in it when we’re talking about disturbing Bambi and nature in the pursuit of public safety. Before the October 1993 fire in Laguna Beach, it was easy to find people who were against building the big water tank on Top of the World. The day after the fire, when we ran out of water and almost 400 homes burned, you couldn’t find anybody who had been against it.
Up in Montecito, it was easy to find people who didn’t want nature disturbed by digging big mud flow retention basins in the wilderness areas before the fatal slide. Now you can’t find anybody who was against them.
We already know how to reduce the fire hazard from our brush. The Laguna Canyon Foundation and the fire department recently did a demonstration project on Nyes Place that even Gifford Pinchot should like. As for the question of money, try this question: Which provides for the greater public safety—remodeling the Playhouse or clearing the fire hazard from our brush?
J.J. Gasparotti moved to Laguna Beach with his family when he was 11 years old. He has loved it ever since.