Get ready to hear those trolley bells a little earlier than normal. Free year-round trolley service on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays will start March 6. Typically, the trolleys only run during summer when the art festivals are in full swing. The expanded service is thanks primarily to a six-year grant (up to $514,600 annually) from the Orange County Transportation Authority. However, the grant is contingent on achieving minimum ridership numbers—an average of 10 passengers per hour per trolley—for the new weekend service. The planned route includes a loop along Coast Highway from Mission Hospital in south Laguna to Cajon Street at the north end of town. Trolleys will run from 4-11 p.m. Fridays, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturdays, and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays. Hop aboard—and don’t forget to download the Laguna Beach Travel Info app to track the trolleys and know when they will arrive at any given location. —S.S.
Rained out in 2014, the 49th Patriots Day Parade is set to step off at 11 a.m. March 7, following the route through downtown Laguna Beach with last year’s honorees—including Olympic swimmer and resident Janet Evans as grand marshal.
Laguna’s newest officer may be a little shaggy, but he’s fast and can apprehend a suspect with the best of them. The police dog is the city’s first and only since a German shepherd named Max retired in 2003. Ranger, a 2-year-old Belgian Malinois, was “recruited” this past fall from the dog training academy Adlerhorst International in Riverside. The Woman’s Club of Laguna Beach contributed $14,000, including $5,000 from Hearts of Montage and other community donations, while the city paid for the balance of training, a specially outfitted vehicle and equipment costs. Ranger was named in honor of Officer Jon Coutchie, who died in the line of duty in September 2013 and had previously served as an Army Ranger. Officer Zach Fillers, who has served with the Laguna Beach Police Department since 2011, was selected as Ranger’s handler and partner. Zach and Ranger went through a rigorous, six-week training program and a five-week narcotic detection school. Ranger will live with Zach and his wife at their home. —S.S.
Group Projects Go High-Tech
Starting in January, Laguna fifth-graders were invited to bring their own laptop or tablet computers to school as part of the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program, which began as a pilot project at the high school in fall. Now, approximately 230 students—all of the fifth-graders at Top of the World and El Morro elementary schools—are included in the program. Those without their own portable computers may borrow Chromebooks (including many donated by the nonprofit SchoolPower) from the campus library or their classroom. They will use the devices to prepare presentations and work collaboratively on group projects using Google Docs, which allows several people to simultaneously edit a shared document online from multiple devices and any location. Teachers may also monitor the students’ progress and offer advice throughout the process. “It’s one of the things [we’re doing] to prepare them for college and career,” says Mike Morrison, chief technology officer for the Laguna Beach Unified School District. —S.S.
Laguna residents dug deep to support the Laguna Beach Community Clinic late last year, when it requested donations to match a $10,000 grant from the John D. Evans Foundation. Locals contributed approximately $43,000—more than quadrupling funding from the Florida nonprofit established by the co-founder of the C-SPAN television network.
The matching grant couldn’t have come at a better time. The clinic faced a nearly $250,000 cut (10 percent of its operating budget) in 2014, when Orange County eliminated a funding source the clinic had come to rely on.
Donations are still needed to close the gap and support the clinic; it is the only low-cost provider of HIV and AIDS care in south OC, treating 130 to 140 patients each year. The clinic has received national recognition for its successful treatment program and two of its board members, Susan Neely, a local real estate agent, and Brian Sadler, chairman of Laguna’s HIV Advisory Committee, ask the community to continue supporting the organization’s work. (lbclinic.org) —S.S.
Laguna teen Niki Hunt has found sweet success with her online business, La Vie en Rose Cupcakes, and is paying it forward by donating some of her profits to charity. Niki, 18, sold mini cupcakes during Hospitality Night in December 2014, raising more than $200 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which grants wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions. Niki had previously helped raise more than $800 through bake sales with Laguna Beach High School’s Make-A-Wish Club and wanted to continue supporting the nonprofit after graduation.
“Many of these kids are only familiar with the cold, white walls of hospital rooms and being pricked by needles,” Niki says. “… By granting them that one life-changing wish, they get to either be a hero for the day, receive something to make their illness less intrusive or fulfill their lifelong dream.”
Niki plans to keep donating and baking, offering 26 gourmet cupcake flavors in addition to seasonal varieties. She adds: “I decided if I can do what I love and find a way to help others simultaneously, then I really have it made.” (lvrcupcakes.com) —S.S.
1. Huit for the Home
Laguna native Tania Cassill has curated a collection of modern, organic and vintage home accessories for her new store and interior design studio, huit—French for “eight” (Tania’s lucky number). Opened in November at Glenneyre and Calliope streets, the shop features furniture made from sustainable materials, hand-dyed accent pillows, wool blankets from the Andes, and items handpicked from Paris flea markets and design shows, as well as pieces from local artisans. In addition to furniture and home decor that fits with Laguna’s chic yet relaxed lifestyle, the shop carries an exclusive jewelry line from designer Stacey G of Precious Gemstone Jewelry and will feature rotating exhibits by local artists. (949-715-5617; huitlaguna.com)
2. Couture Consignment
Dotori Collections, a high-end consignment store, opened in November in north Laguna. It offers a wide selection of almost-new designer clothing, handbags, shoes and accessories at affordable prices, in addition to Dotori Jewelry—one-of-a-kind, handmade pieces by artist and shop owner Jung French. Brands range from Armani to Gucci, Louis Vuitton and more. Additionally, the store sells placenta skin care products by Australia’s Nova Group, and eclectic items from the owner’s travels to more than 60 countries. Jung, also a longtime piano teacher in town, named the shop Dotori after her childhood nickname, which means “acorn” in Korean. (949-499-8557; dotoricollections.com)
3. Soothing Solutions
For those seeking extra relaxation or restorative skin treatments this winter, Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa opened in December near Montage Laguna Beach. The south Laguna spa, owned by local residents Tom Heatley and David Taborelli, offers massage styles ranging from Swedish to deep-tissue and hot stone, in addition to prenatal and couples’ treatments. Other services include hair removal, facials, microdermabrasion and UV face-mapping, a scanning technology that identifies areas of skin damaged by the sun to help choose the best treatments. Hand & Stone stays open until 9 p.m. weekdays, 8 p.m. Saturdays and 6 p.m. Sundays, and welcomes walk-ins. (949-715-5567; handandstonelagunabch.com)
4. A New Kitchen Look
Flashman Design Inc., a new kitchen-focused design studio, is set to open in February next to the Sawdust Art Festival grounds in Laguna Canyon. The space will showcase contemporary kitchen setups for customers to view products close-up and find inspiration for their homes. Owner Andrew Flashman, a longtime design director for Clive Christian, is now the Orange County designer for Christopher Peacock Cabinetry. His studio will sell high-quality cabinetry from Rational, a company based in Germany, as well as appliances, difficult-to-find kitchen accessories and work by local artists such as Gavin Heath, Larry Gill, Mark Timothy and Marcus Thesing. (949-892-9826; flashmandesign.com)