Published January 15, 2009

Careless with the past
Dear ER:
I have a troubling story about how we forget the past. Recently my father Gary Clark was attending a function at the Rotary building adjacent to Valley Park. While taking a break outside he nearly stumbled on a piece of concrete the size of a big shoebox. While moving it to a safer location he turned it over and saw a bronze plaque affixed to it. This was not an ordinary piece of concrete, but rather a memorial to a Prisoner of War. The plaque was for David Demmon a resident of Venice Beach. David was a Army sergeant during the Vietnam War. He was shot down during a mission over Vietnam and subsequently became a Prisoner of War.
It troubles me how this memorial came to lay face down in a spot that was not its original home. However my intent is not to point blame at someone, but rather get some history and background about the original location of this plaque and how it came to rest upside down in a planter. I know in our busy lives we can’t stop and remember everyone, but my parents are seeking to fix this and would like some insight on its history.
I may be contacted by email at onlyemailicouldaford@hotmail.com
Casey Clark
Hermosa Beach

New Orleans revisited
Dear ER:
Throughout the holidays I received a volume of feedback about denying the New Orleans restaurant on upper Pier Avenue a new alcohol license. Almost unanimously, folks opposed the decision and favored granting a license.
We talk about alcohol so much in Hermosa that everyone interpreted the decision to be about problems New Orleans would create. I don’t doubt the owner’s ability to operate a healthy restaurant with alcohol. In fact, I believe a viable ‘mid-evening’ market can be antidotal to problems caused by remaining open until 2 a.m., just to survive.
While the feedback I received has been completely valid and the frustration quite understandable, there is a greater debate at hand.  For all that’s unfair about the New Orleans decision, it will be even worse to grant a license (because we like them or because a beer is nice with spicy food) only to change our terms when the next restaurant requests the same. 
We need to consider the entire field of like-businesses at the same time because once a new license is seen as an answer to slow economic times we will be giving more. Are we ready to grant alcohol licenses to the current or future owners of Creme De La Crepe, Ocean Diner, Rocky Cola, Pita Pit, the former IHOP, The Chicken Shack, Town & Country, and several others?  I’m sincerely pained this has frustrated so many, but I more deeply believe that the community is better off with a deliberate discussion and a consistent policy. 
Michael DiVirgilio
Councilman, City of Hermosa Beach

Two lives, one story
Dear ER:
I just don’t get it? A homeless person dies (that is sad and unfortunate) and this is worthy of a picture of a friend and an article covering two pages? (“Homeless woman dies in her pier bed,” ER Jan. 8, 2009)
In the same section, Kim O’Brien, a teacher at the Hermosa Valley, who taught for three decades and lost her battle to cancer gets two pictures. There was almost no editorial copy.  Not even a picture of her.
It seems that no effort was made to write an article, talk to former students, talk to anyone at her school, and tell us about her and what she gave to the community. 
But a drunk, homeless person who knew lifeguards, chose this lifestyle over a real home and had six people at a memorial is more deserving of space in your paper than a memorial drawing hundreds for Kim O’Brien?
And people wonder what happened to the profession of journalism. How sad.
Alan Meyer
Hermosa Beach

Unbalanced reporting
Dear Easy Reader,
I was angered to see the Hermosa Beach page on January 8. There was almost an entire page given to the obituary of a homeless lady who died drinking vodka, and only a snippet of a page given to Hermosa teacher Kim O’Brien, made a wonderful impact on a huge number of students “Homeless woman dies in her pier bed, ER Jan. 8, 2009). I believe that Cheri Mosher’s passing deserves a place on the paper, of course, but I find the placement of the two articles on the same page and the sizes of the articles show a lacking of respect and reverence for a teacher who gave almost 30 years of community service. I was one of Kim O’Brien’s students, and she was an amazing person who honestly loved every one of the children she taught. I’ve seen students she taught 10 years before come back to visit her, and she still remembered every one of their names. We will miss her tremendously, and I just wish the Easy Reader had chosen to give her the amount of honor she deserved.
Rachel Perlot
Hermosa Beach

Bike path politics
Dear ER:
The Hermosa Beach Public Works and Parks & Recreation Commissions, via a Bike Lane Subcommittee, have developed proposals to create up to an additional eight bikeways in Hermosa. The intent is to make Hermosa Beach a more bike-friendly community, to improve bicyclists’ access in our great town, and to allow bike and auto traffic to more safely coexist.
I would like to encourage all interested community members to attend the Public Works Commission Meeting on Wednesday, January 21, at 7 p.m. in the Hermosa Beach Council Chambers. Contribute your ideas and comments during the Master Bike Plan Review and Public Comment to help design the Hermosa Beach Master Bike Plan. As a Public Works Commissioner, it is always our desire to hear from a cross section of the public. The proposal will be on-line prior to the meeting, linked to the meeting agenda.
Brian Koch
Hermosa Beach Public Works Commissioner
Hermosa Beach

Quiet bike path plan
Dear ER:
Please be sure to note the important Hermosa Beach official notice in the legal notices sections of Easy Reader this week and participate in the Public Works Meeting at 7 p.m. on Wednesday January 21. There is discussion of making Valley and Ardmore avenues one way, placing a paved bikeway on the greenbelt, changing Hermosa Avenue to one lane each way with added bikeways, and other ideas. There are many good and controversial ideas but the city’s administration has knowingly refused to spend one extra penny per resident to place this notice where most people would be sure to see it — on the Easy Reader pages with the Hermosa Beach news, at the front of this edition.
This is an important matter but it is being used as an old trick by the council to pit resident against resident on this bikeway matter and take their attention off the council’s disastrous, lop-sided, $5 million design being fast-tracked for Pier Avenue. That design is clearly designed to facilitate more alcohol dispensing restaurants, bars, and visitor intensification the entire length of Pier Avenue, while diverting non-bar and restaurant traffic to other streets, making use of bicycles there all but impossible.
Howard Longacre
Hermosa Beach

Family to family
Dear ER:
As an American Martyrs’ parishioner, my husband and I have adopted a family for the last five years as part of the parish’s Family to Family Christmas Project (“For the Love of Family,” ER December 25, 2009). When we moved here eight years ago from the Santa Clarita Valley, we thought we had died and gone to heaven. AMC is such a wonderful, warm and giving parish. We are so lucky to have women like Sue Rigler and Linda Northrup.
As a contributor to the Family to Family Project, I can tell you that your article truly captured the essence and heart of this program that let’s those of us who are so blessed help others who are not as fortunate.
Keep up the good work.
Lynn and Tony Fadale
Redondo Beach

Dear ER:
What a beautiful article. Thank you for taking the time to feature the wonderful partnership between American Martyrs and St. Lawrence (“For the Love of Family,” ER December 25, 2009). As a 20-year parishioner and 10 year participant of the Family to Family program, I truly believe it is us, the Martyrs families, who benefit the most from this Christmas project experience.
Mari Bellas
El Segundo

Visions of Santa
Dear ER:
With all of the changes that Hermosa Beach has gone through over the past 30 years, including redevelopment and transplants moving into the area, it is very important to hold on to some of the city’s culture and tradition. (“Sink Surfing Santa,” ER Letters, Jan. 8, 2009). Perhaps the transplants should read the scripture at the entrance to the Hermosa Beach Community Center. “Where there is no vision the People perish”  It is quite apparent that the transplants have no regard for hometown tradition and history. That explains why they are all part of the same herd and try to out do each other with materialistic things. I say Keep the Tradition of the Surfing Santa. It’s free and great for the Christmas spirit.
Mike Kolar
Old time Hermosa Beach surfer and skater

A Santa for locals
Dear ER:
Please do not discontinue Surfing Santa on the cover of your December issue (“Sink Surfing Santa,” ER Letters, Jan. 8, 2009) It really gives me a feeling of the holidays, as you’d never know it was winter here in Hermosa Beach because of our beautiful weather. Vince Ray has had this tradition that has lasted through many years and I would love to see it continue. Not only is Ray a world class surf instructor, but he really cares about the community and brings a smile to many faces here in the South Bay. I really can’t believe someone would ask you to stop this tradition.  Does that person live in the South Bay? Maybe he’d be happy if Christmas did not exist at all?  Everybody is entitled to their opinion, but I’m hoping I am not the only one who is pro-surfing Santa
Hermosa Beach

Surfing Santa sets the mood
Dear Easy Reader,
Not only Surfing Santa one of your coolest covers, it really sets the Christmas mood for Southern California (“Sink Surfing Santa,” ER Letters, Jan. 8, 2009). Maybe someone is just too old, tired, boring and worn out to enjoy it.
Surf On Santa!
Richard Schwagerl
Frazier Park

Don’t drown Surfing Santa
Dear ER:
Don’t throw Santa out with the surf-water (“Sink Surfing Santa,” ER Letters, Jan. 8, 2009).  Agreed, surfing Santa should have purpose.  Each year my grandma creates beautiful Christmas clothes for us. The first place we wear them is to see Santa Claus.  Grandpa spends whatever money necessary for the number of family portrait Christmas cards. He has often said that he’d give anything to just once find a Santa beach scene so we could send a photo with Santa that read, “Wishing you and yours a very special Christmas from Hermosa Beach, CA.”
Since the beach is public perhaps the money from the Santa photos could be given to charities.  Anyway don’t stop coming to Hermosa Beach, Santa.
Alyssa Dimacali, 11

Santa pays his dues
Dear Editors,
One of the things going down the tubes in our culture is tradition. Easy Reader has a tradition of putting a fantastic shot (new each year) of Surfing Santa on the front page of the paper on Christmas. Who cares if Bill Krizman thinks it’s the same shot every year? (“Sink Surfing Santa,” ER Letters, Jan. 8, 2009). It isn’t. I’ve seen Surfing Santa (Vince Ray) out there in 52-degree water, catching what look like unsurfable walls. Before the photographer gets that perfect shot, Surfing Santa has to get slammed over and over. He does this with his usual ho-ho-ho and good cheer. I say Surfing Santa stays.
Deborah Paul
Rancho Palos Verdes
Paddling on

Dear ER:
My family and I look forward to your photo essays and covers featuring the Surfing Santa. What image better conveys the joy and fun of the holidays here at the beach? Our family tradition is a Christmas Day paddle out and it was inspired by Surfing Santa Vince Ray. Vince has the true spirit and stoke of Christmas, and he’s generous, too.
Please keep those covers coming.
Mary Michel
Santa Monica

Paint it blue
Dear ER:
Bondo Wyszpolski’s article in Beach about Alex Weinstein was superb (“Surf du Soleil,” ER/Beach November 2007). The connections he made with Rothko and C.D. Friedrich were enlightening and helpful for appreciating Weinstein. Just a tip of the hat: Nice piece of writing! Intriguing insight into one of the gems of the local scene.
Mike Heim
Redondo Beach