Ryan McDonald

Despite brawl, Hermosa Beach sticking with contract cities group

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By Ryan McDonald

Hermosa Beach City Councilmember Jeff Duclos was fast asleep when the action started.

Last month, Duclos was attending the California Contract Cities Association’s Annual Municipal Seminar at the Renaissance Indian Wells Resort & Spa. Some time after midnight following the first day of the seminar, a brawl involving seven people, including elected officials from the City of Commerce, rumbled through the hotel’s lobby bar. And while Commerce City Councilmember Leonard Mendoza may have been laid out in the fight, it was the Contract Cities Association that got a black eye of publicity.

At Duclos’ request, Hermosa’s council discussed the city’s ongoing membership in the association at its Tuesday night meeting, which helps keep local governments informed and advocates for them in front of county supervisors and in Sacramento. And, thanks to an appearance from some of the group’s leadership, Hermosa showed no inclination of dropping out any time soon.

The fight occurred long after official programming had ended, said Marcel Rodarte, the association’s executive director, and the association subsequently suspended the City of Commerce’s membership.

“I don’t know how to prevent someone from getting into a fight if they drink too much,” he told the council.

While the council agreed to stick with the CCCA, they expressed concern about reports from the Associated Press, denied by Rodarte, that the municipal gatherings cultivated a fraternity-party atmosphere.

“There needs to be clear expectations that this behavior will not be tolerated,” said Councilmbmer Justin Massey.

The CCCA formed out of an effort to represent the interests of cities in Los Angeles County who “contract” for public safety services from the county Sheriff’s and Fire departments. It has since expanded its representation to include cities who maintain their own public safety departments, and also focuses on statewide issues. Hermosa first joined the CCCA in 2016, before it dissolved its fire department and began contracting with the L.A. County Fire Department.

Although not included in the California Secretary of State’s 2019-20 directory of registered lobbyists, the CCCA has grown into a force in Sacramento. Councilmember Hany Fangary, who argued for joining the group, recently traveled to Sacramento for a legislative information day with the CCCA, and said he was impressed by the influence that the contract cities’ group demonstrated. He said that legislators appeared more eager to listen to them than to the larger League of California Cities.

In his presentation to the council, Rodarte highlighted a number of legislative victories his group had helped secure, and highlighted its efforts to organize and inform cities about Senate Bill 50, a controversial state housing measure that would have limited the zoning authority of local governments for certain housing development proposals. Sen. Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge), the chair of the state senate’s appropriations committee, who held SB 50 from coming to a vote until next year, was recently named the group’s “Legislator of the Year.”

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