Kevin Cody

Hermosa Beach parking lot of the future still a ways away

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Matt Hill, his brother Steve and their neighbors have urged the city for two years to clean up the parking lot at 14th Street and Manhattan Avenue. Finally, the city  has agreed to act. But it will take another year. Photo by Kevin Cody

by Kevin Cody

In late 2016, Steve Hill asked the City of Hermosa Beach when it would make improvements to the 19-car parking lot at 14th Street and Manhattan Avenue, across the street from his home. Hill was concerned both about the ascetics and the threat the lot posed to public safety.

“Valley Park, South Park, the Green Belt, the Community Center — all of Hermosa’s public properties are beautifully maintained except the parking lot across from my home. Plus, a steep,  dirt bluff borders the lot and someday someone is going to roll down it and land on the hood of a car and then sue the City,” Hill said.

Since Hill began complaining, the only city improvement to the quarter-acre lot behind the The Underground Pub and Grill has been a fabric “dust/silt fence” that catches blowing debris and pedestrians who might otherwise tumble down the bluff.

But finally, at last Tuesday’s city council meeting, the council unanimously approved an estimated $700,000 in improvements for a “multi benefit demonstration project,” most of which will be paid for by grant money. The improvements include landscaping like the native plant garden at the Community Center, a storm water collection system, bike racks, charging stations for both electric cars and Low Speed Vehicles (golf carts), solar panels, a handicap ramp and a parking meter system that allows smartphone alerts and payments.

In deference to pleas from Hill and his neighbors, Councilman Justin Massey urged the city staff to expedite the project. But city environmental analyst Kristy Morris advised the council to await the outcome of a Countywide November ballot measure that would raise $400 million annually for stormwater reclamation. Presently, only one-fifth of County stormwater runoff is captured, according to proponents of the measure. The rest empties into the ocean. The measure would impose a parcel tax of 3 to 4 cents per square foot of “impermeable surfaces,” such as roofs, parking lots and driveways. The tax will cost the average homeowner $73 per year, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The 14th Street parking lot, known as Lot D, should qualify for funding from the parcel tax, if voters approve it, Morris said. She added that before construction can begin on the parking lot, the final design must be completed and approved by the city council, engineering plans drawn and construction bids awarded.

“I don’t imagine all that happening before November,” Morris said.

Despite the prospect of another year before improvements are completed, Hill said he was pleased with the council action.

“My neighbors and I want to thank the council for resolving this issue and are keen to see improvements to the landscaping and safety begin as soon as possible,” Hill said. ER

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