Ryan McDonald

Chamber names Hoffman and Lewis Man, Woman of the year

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Maureen Ferguson Lewis and Peter Hoffman have dedicated themselves to public service in Hermosa. Photos by Ryan McDonald

by Ryan McDonald
Pete Hoffman and Maureen Lewis will be honored at the Hermosa Beach Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau Annual Installation Dinner next week at the Comedy and Magic Club. They share a dedication to civil service in Hermosa.

Hoffman plans for the future

Asked to name what he likes about living in Hermosa, Pete Hoffman’s answer is pretty traditional: the beach lifestyle and the eclectic sense of community. But his answer carries a bit more weight, given his role in shaping the place he calls home.

Hoffman is working his way through his fifth four-year term on the city’s Planning Commission, where he lends expertise gleaned as department chair in LMU’s Department of Urban and Environmental Studies.

Current planning wisdom, he said, often involves trying to undo the damage of post-World War II sprawl. Hermosa, with its walkable downtown and store of 100-year old homes, avoided many of these problems. Sitting down outside Java Man, Hoffman gives a sweeping wave of his hand at the intersection of Pier and Manhattan avenues as bicyclists and pedestrians pass by.

“What everybody wants to be, we already are. We are dense, we are mixed-use, all the things that planners aspire to,” he said.

That desirability, however, doesn’t come easily. Hermosa, Hoffman said, has a highly educated populace, with a high share of residents who understand the intricacies of planning in California. Over the past five years, as the city has dealt with major projects such as the oil vote, the General Plan, and big developments such as the Skechers office complex, residents have kept him on his toes.

“People here are very engaged,” Hoffman said.

This term will likely be Hoffman’s last; he hopes to spend more time with family. When he first joined, veteran commissioner Pete Tucker jokingly told him, “Stick around long enough, and the whole town will learn to hate you.” Hoffman has managed to avoid that fate and has found time to get involved in other civic efforts like the Sister City Association. He’s motivated, he said, by a recognition that the impacts of his decisions will be felt decades down the road.

“It’s not that long in the future that my grandchildren will be in my house,” he said.

Lewis gets kick out of giving back

Maureen Ferguson Lewis had just retired from an executive position with consumer electronics manufacturer Belkin International when she got a phone call. The voice on the other end informed her that she had been selected as the Chamber’s Woman of the Year.

The timing of the phone call helped reassure Lewis that her decision to leave the company had been the right one. She is now taking classes through the University of North Carolina on nonprofit leadership, and plans to focus her career on “helping established organizations optimize their potential.” For the community-minded Lewis, helping volunteers do the most good is what makes her feel best.

“Follow your passion, and all good things happen to you,” she said.

Lewis’ civic involvement began when she joined the first class of Leadership Hermosa in 2003. Through LHS, she got involved in the Hermosa Centennial Celebration, which she ultimately co-chaired.

As she ticks off a list of city projects she has been involved in, Lewis often notes that they were accomplished without the use of city funds. This does not appear to be any sort of political statement; as a member of the city’s Parks, Recreation, and Community Advisory Commission, she clearly understands the role of government. Instead, it comes from Lewis’ deep-seated belief that the best things about Hermosa have been built on the backs of volunteers.

“I’ve lived in quite a few places, and Hermosa is definitely one of the more civic-minded,” she said.

Lewis hopes that, as new residents move in, they don’t lose sight of the grassroots network that has helped make Hermosa the desirable place location they chose. Nonprofits, she argued, need to do a better job in the future of letting people know about the job they do and encourage younger generations to get involved. She points to a favorite a quotation from Muhammad Ali:

“The service you do for others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”

The Installation Gala, sponsored by Athens Services, takes place Jan. 16 at 5:30 p.m. at the Comedy and Magic Club. The event is open to the public. For details, call (310) 376-0951.


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