Hermosa has ‘sticker shock’ from special election cost, electric bike riders shocked, too

“A sign of the Times.” Photo by John Post (JohnPost.com). Hermosa Beach police issued 28 citations over the past weekend to electric bike riders who were riding under power on The Strand. The bikes may only be pedaled on The Strand.

by Daniel Blackburn

City taxpayers will be hefting a higher cost than previously expected for a May 11 special election to replace council member Hany Fangary, who notified colleagues of his resignation on Christmas Eve.

City Clerk Eddie Sarmiento told the council Tuesday that the county’s estimated costs for assisting in the election will run around $100,000. City officials had expected the county’s price tag to be in the $60,000 to $80,000 range.

Nevertheless, the council agreed unanimously to approve a resolution asking the county to “provide specific services.”

Sarmiento, who had communicated with the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk, said he “had some sticker shock when I saw that,” referring to the county’s Jan. 8 letter.

Council member Stacey Armato said she also was “surprised the cost was so high,” and wondered, “What can we do to lower that cost?”

Sarmiento said he would negotiate with the county to seek a reduced fee, adding that the city might be able to economize “by using our resources.” 

The cost might go even higher, the county’s Albert Navas said: “Changes in election factors and unanticipated increases in labor and/or operational costs may result in a significant variance from this estimate.”

The county will provide for the city a list of county precincts, voter records, voter signature verification services, and election equipment and assistance “as needed.”

Additionally, city officials want to “to expand election services provided by the county to include the procurement and furnishing of any and all official ballots, notices, printed matter and all supplies, equipment and paraphernalia that may be necessary in order to properly and lawfully conduct the election.”

The county board of supervisors has been asked by the city “to consent and agree” to permit county officials to provide those “specific services.”

Sarmiento said that council candidate papers have been pulled by six individuals, but that none have yet been returned. Deadline for submission is Feb. 12. That’s a Friday when city offices are usually closed, but papers can be returned by candidates by 2 p.m. that day.

Electric bike riders on Hermosa Strand cited

On Sunday, Jan. 24, a “bike and pedestrian safety operation” resulted in 28 citations and numerous warnings to people riding electric powered bikes, scooters and skateboards on the Hermosa Strand, Police Chief Paul LaBaron told the city council.

Mayor Justin Massey said those areas create “a combustible mix of people walking, and on wheels.”

“Overall, it was very successful,” said LeBaron, “and we will do it again monthly. And next time we will not be so forthcoming about location and times.” Those details were provided this time in advance of enforcement.

In other action, the council:

— Left for another day further discussions of a proposal to eliminate from council agendas written communications from the public that do not address specific agenda items. The idea was suggested by City Manager Suja Lowenthal in December, and drew immediate opposition from numerous residents. City Attorney Michael Jenkins dismissed several Brown Act complaints, asserting that the council had “taken no action” on the proposal, and thus there is “no reason to “cure or correct.” He said Brown Act violation assertions are “ill advised.” The item remains on the “future agenda items” list.

— Approved an extension of the city’s prohibition of residential and commercial evictions during the pandemic, through March 31. Jenkins told the council they can extend the protection longer if the state and county alter current regulations freezing evictions;

— Agreed to a year-long extension of a $6,000 monthly contract for public relations services provided by Laura Mecoy. Several individuals wrote to the council objecting to the contract, but Mayor Justin Massey dismissed them, saying they were “not well informed.”

Armato said Mecoy, who started her assignment in 2018, “saves us money” and helps to bring “transparency to city business.”

“It takes so much pressure off the city manager’s office,” she said.

Resident Dean Francois told the council, “This is a function of the city manager’s office,” he said, objecting to the Mecoy contract. “It’s really a part time job.”

— Approved unanimously a recommendation by the Parks, Recreation and Community Resources Advisory Commission to place a number of “large and impactful” special events on the 2021 Special Event Calendar. The events, most of which attract large crowds, are contingent on county health orders, said Kelly Orta, the city’s community resources manager.

If health orders do not permit gatherings and events are canceled, only application fees will be lost, said Orta.

The Level III events and dates approved: 

* CBVA Tournaments on Sunday, May 30-Monday, May 31; Saturday, Aug. 14-Sunday, August 15; and Saturday, Sept. 4-Sunday, Sept. 5 on the volleyball courts located north of the Pier;

* Beach Tennis Tournaments on Saturday, June 5-Sunday, June 6; and Saturday, Aug. 21-Sunday, Aug. 22 on the beach tennis courts north of the Pier;

* Hermosa Beach Triathlon on Friday, June 11-Sunday, June 13 on Pier Plaza, the beach south of the Pier, and various roads;

* JVA and BVCA National Beach Championship on Thursday, July 15-Tuesday, July 20 on the volleyball courts north and south of the Pier and the beach tennis courts;

* AAU Junior National Beach Volleyball Championships on Wednesday, July 21-Sunday, July 25 on the volleyball courts north and south of the Pier;

* AAU Junior Olympic Games on Monday, July 26-Thursday, July 29 on the volleyball courts north and south of the Pier;

* AAU Southern Pacific Series on Friday, Aug. 6-Sunday, Aug. 8 on the volleyball courts north of the Pier; and

* Skechers Pier to Pier Friendship Walk on Sunday, Oct. 24, on the pier head and The Strand north of the Pier.

* Two Nothing Weekends on the 2021 Special Event Calendar on Friday, June 25 to Sunday, June 27 and Friday, Aug. 27 to Sunday, Aug. 29. ER

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Written by: Easy Reader Staff

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