Kevin Cody

Hermosa Beach council approves outdoor music to lift spirits

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Rick Busbea performs in front of Java Man last Holiday season. The city council recently outdoor music through Jan. 15. 

by Dan Blackburn

Music will fill the Hermosa Beach air during the holidays, the city council decided Tuesday by temporarily suspending an ordinance regulating use of outdoor speakers at commercial establishments.

Restaurants, retail, and personal service businesses will be allowed to play outdoor music to attract customers now through January 15.

City Manager Suja Lowenthal, noting that pandemic measures now preclude restaurants from providing outdoor dining during the next three weeks, said the relaxed music ban “will be uplifting for people.”

“Despite having this obstacle (the pandemic),” she said, “there are still the holidays, and how we get through them depends on all of us. People are craving this.”

The relaxed prohibition applies only to outdoor dining and to retail businesses. The policy will be re-examined by the council following its next meeting January 12.

Council member Mary Campbell spoke in favor of the proposal: “Why not give this a try for so many reasons? If we can create an ambiance… music is so transforming. It would not be an insignificant lift to the environment.”

In other action, the council:

— Discussed a “sharp rise” in COVID-19 cases in the city and county and an apparent relaxation of mask-wearing and social distancing by residents and visitors, particularly in the Pier Plaza area. Resident Anthony Higgins, in an email to the council, was critical of enforcement efforts.

“The (council) should know mask compliance on the beach is a joke,” he wrote. “The same is true at Valley Park. Mask compliance, up until this week, was running at under 20 percent. We need 90 percent compliance. And because we are not taking mask compliance seriously, COVID-19 is exploding all around us.”

— Heard a report from Chief of Police Paul LeBaron that his department has seen “a significant increase in property theft” during the past few weeks. Bicycles and items left on porches and in vehicles are primary targets for thieves, he added.

— Adopted an urgency ordinance to amend the temporary moratorium on commercial evictions. The action is intended to “prevent premature evictions in advance of remodeling or demolitions of a building during the pandemic,” said City Attorney Michael Jenkins. 

The council’s decision was prompted by problems faced by the owner of La Penita restaurant on Longfellow Avenue, Kyle Rambeau, who is facing eviction. The establishment has been operating for 41 years. 

Existing law “prohibits the eviction of commercial tenants for non-payment of rent if the tenant notifies and demonstrates to a landlord that he or she is unable to pay rent due to financial impacts of COVID-19.”

In an effort to “prevent these problems and keep employees of commercial tenants employed for as long as possible,” according to Jenkins,  the amended ordinance now prohibits commercial landlords from evicting tenants “before obtaining all necessary approvals and permits to perform the work.” The amendment will extend only through the emergency period of the pandemic, Jenkins added.

The council will consider similar action for residential applications at its next Dec. 8 meeting. ER



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