Letters to the Editor

A tree in Gum Grove Park, recently photographed by Hill resident George Somlo, M.D.

Seal Beach needs to pay more attention to our town’s treasures

I had the pleasure of participating in the most recent beach cleanup with many of our fellow citizens on 11/13/2021. The turn-out and level of enthusiasm was great, and, while the low tide exposed a disgusting amount of trash along San Gabriel River jetty, by the end of morning, even that part of the beach looked nice. We were all treated to a wonderful display of birds and dolphins fishing about 50 yards offshore at the northern edge of the beach, a spectacular site for the clean-up crowd to enjoy as the reward for community participation.

We have been privileged living in our town and enjoy the proximity to the ocean, with better air quality and even more spectacular views coming once the new rules disallowing ships from drifting and anchoring within 50 miles of shore get enforced (hopefully soon).

However, while enjoying the amenities of Old Town and the shore (District 1), as a resident of Seal Beach for 35 years, first having lived in College Part East, and during the last 15 years as an inhabitant of the Hill, let me propose that we start paying more attention and designate greater resources to all treasurable sections of our town. I have three important issues in mind relevant to the Hill and adjacent areas constituting the largest geographic District 3 (which also includes the Navy Base) and embracing Gum Grove Park and the path leading to the Gabrielino/Tongva Memorial.

1. Safety of the Hill: In recent weeks, the City placed multiple video cameras in District 1, and at a few heavily trafficked areas in Seal Beach. However, there have been several car-entries and garage break-ins, thefts of goods delivered to residences, and what I would characterize as suspiciously behaving characters wandering the streets of the Hill (this is particularly concerning, since the area is adjacent to an elementary school, and there are many vulnerable citizens living here). The city should provide and monitor cameras at a few designated areas on the Hill, in light of the proximity to PCH and Gum Grove Park.

2. Gum Grove Park: This nearly 10 acre area provides a haven for all age-groups of runners, dog-walkers, and nature-lovers. The Park, however, deteriorated significantly over the past few years: natural disintegration of Eucalyptus trees, the selfish removal of foliage and trees a few years back resulting in a prolonged lawsuit, and more recently the irrational haggling over how many trees and of what size can be planted in the almost bare section at the entrance of the park seriously undermined the recreational value of this important refuge within city limits. Mischievous riding of bikes on self-created trails did not help, either.

How planting beyond the recently expertly placed five beautiful oak trees would disturb the memory of any predecessors who lived here, rather than honoring them, is baffling. One would hope the city allocates resources and continues the work of rebuilding the foliage. Signs similar to the ones placed at the Dunes and forbidding riding bikes and motorized vehicles are needed to preserve the trees and shrubbery.

Unfortunately, and most importantly, recently there have been clear signs of vagrants staying at the highest walking path, which is adjacent to the Crestview homes backing to the park. On my morning walk this past few days, I noted graffiti on multiple sections of the walls of several properties, and a number of home owners also expressed concerns about fire and safety hazards. SBPD visited the site and a bike and trash have been removed but we need to remain alert. The city should provide video surveillance at both ends of the park, and at a couple of locations inside the park. There must be sufficient priority given to night foot patrols to the park -possibly more than once per night and including the upper path- for a few weeks, and then periodically, to prevent potentially bad outcomes.

3. Path to the Gabrielino/Tongva Memorial Site: The site has been selected and had been dedicated to the early tribal inhabitants of the area. The trail leading to the memorial, however, is frequently littered with dog feces and abandoned doggy bags.

There are no trash cans. When one makes it to the circular memorial at the end of the path from either Gum Grove or from the opposite direction to the signs educating the visitor, the informational texts are mostly illegible. It would take minimal effort to provide a few permanent trash cans, maintain them, and clean the path. As for the signs, fixing them should be a trivial task. The condition of this path and signs are much more insulting to the memory of indigenous people than planting trees in the park.

Thank you for allowing to share my thoughts.

George Somlo, M.D.

The Hill, Seal Beach

10 to 20% of lung cancer victims are nonsmokers

The Sun’s November 18 front page caught my eye featuring an enthusiastic Victor Grgas at a Lion’s Club event. I did not have the pleasure of knowing Mr. Grgas but learned from your article that he passed away from lung cancer as did his first wife. Neither were ever smokers.

November is Lung Cancer Awareness month. Lung cancer is by far the leading cause of cancer death in both men and women. Each year more people die of lung cancer than colon, breast or prostate cancer. Contrary to popular belief, 10 to 20% of lung cancer victims are nonsmokers, particularly women and those of Asian descent. Unlike colon, breast and prostate cancers, most lung cancers are diagnosed at a later stage. But there is good news as well. Five-year survival with lung cancer improved from 14% to 23% over the last five years. This is due to better treatments with approval of multiple new targeted therapy and immunotherapy pills instead of intravenous chemotherapy. More screening of long-time smokers resulting in earlier stage at diagnosis is also important. So if you are a smoker and wish to kick this very difficult addiction to nicotine, get help. If you fit the criteria, get a low dose CT scan screening. If you have a chronic cough, see your doctor. Anyone with lungs can get lung cancer.

Beverly Nickerson, R.N., F.N.P. Lung Cancer Advocate

Leisure World governance

At a recent meeting of the Where We Live Club in Leisure World, it became obvious that most residents are not aware of the origin of the 16 separate housing corporations known as Mutuals. They were not created as some grand design for effective community management. The Bank of California made the developer form a new corporation every time he went for another construction loan, which he did 16 times.  The Mutuals were never intended to function as separate entities and they never did until 2008 when the courts settled lawsuits between residents and the Golden Rain Foundation Board of Directors, putting them all under the Davis-Stirling Laws. That decision put the Mutuals on equal level with the Golden Rain Foundation, eliminating the control the GRF had over them for 45 years. In the past 13 years money has been mismanaged and losses total over $3 million.  Operating expenses are higher than necessary because supporting 16 corporations is obviously more expensive than supporting one.  In short, there is no apparent cost benefit in maintaining 16 Mutual corporations. It is time for the Mutuals to justify their existence to the shareholders whose money they collect (and waste) monthly. If the Mutuals cannot show shareholders the benefit of maintaining the status quo, a return to centralized management may be in order.

Compounding the problem of costly Mutual support is the absence of professional property management. The GRF Board micro-manages the community resulting in more money wasted or lost because there’s no professional input. It is now more than two years since Leisure World residents enjoyed the benefit of a swimming pool. Had there been professional management it is very likely that a pool would have built long  before now. It is hard to fathom why the Leisure World governing body is so opposed to exploring the benefits of professional management. The commonly held belief that it would be too expensive needs to be measured against the unnecessary expenses and losses paid by shareholders in its absence.

Can it be that nobody in Leisure World cares about saving money?

Anne Walshe

Leisure World