Over the seven decades I’ve loved so many things about Laguna, I’ve always marveled when neighbors step up to beautify the town. In the 1980s, our friend and neighbor Kel Bratten wanted to eliminate four ugly (and dangerous) utility poles that ruined the ocean’s view for Kel and 10 others. Working together, we got those poles removed. Then, we improved the end of Cleo Street, replacing a rusted-out guardrail with a stylish Gregg Abel designed river-rock wall with pilasters and lamps. Twenty neighbors chipped in to get the $70,000 job completed. And just recently, when Taco Bell closed, we negotiated with the new owner (The Taco Stand) and architect Marshall Ininns to beautify the property with river-rock pilasters (to match our neighborhood’s “character”), covered trash enclosures and an artful ceramic mural honoring Michael Hallinan’s plein air paintings, by Laguna’s Mike Tauber. The costs of these improvements were shared by the new owner, by the project’s required “Arts in Public Places” contribution, and by the Cleo Street Neighborhood Beautification Committee (with monetary donations by Ray and Kathryn Fidel, Jeff Jahraus, Mike and Jacquie Broadfoot, Judy Sturgis, Russell Goldstein, Chip and Helen Johnson, Meghan and Louis Weil, and Barbara and Greg MacGillivray).
When the Taco Stand opens (soon) we will reveal the mural and the historical plaques (a requirement of the ever-active Orange County Historical Groups) paying tribute to the historical aspects of the Taco Bell and to Laguna’s own master artist, Michael Hallinan (Cathy Hallinan will be there!) It’s a win-win-win. The owner gets a prettier building, the neighbors improve their home’s streetscape, and the city residents honor their past. You too, could create ways to improve your neighborhood. It’s easier than you think. (And please try to check out the Taco Stand!)
Greg MacGillivray, Laguna Beach