Hermosa Mayor Jackson State of the City a celebration of the city

Superintendent Jason Johnson, Valley School muralists Emily Tanaka and Armelle Ngo, and Mayor Raymond Jackson
Story and photos by Kevin Cody

State of the City addresses typically resemble wonky workshops featuring power point presentations about the previous year’s council legislation and capital improvements.

Hermosa Beach Mayor Raymond Jackson’s State of the City Thursday night, September 14, took its cue from Porky Pig’s classic, 1942 Loony Toons, “Who’s Who in the Zoo.”

Instead of a long, self congratulatory talk, Mayor Jackson welcomed to the Community Theater stage a “who’s who in the zoo,” as he described the evening’s speakers.

Among them was Hermosa Little League president Mark Mamber. 

“Little League baseball is a very good thing because it keeps the parents off the streets,” Jackson said, quoting Yogi Berra, as Mamber took the stage.

Mamber began his talk by proudly claiming the Hermosa Little League sold 2,000 baseball hats this year, “40 percent of them to the mayor.”

Jackson handed out HB baseball caps to each of 20 or so people he invited to the stage Thursday evening.

Hermosa Little League’s most recent highlight, Mamber said, was hosting a Japanese Pony League team at Clark Stadium last month. 

“It would be a better story if they didn’t whoop us. The Japanese know their fundamentals,” Mamber said. He noted that Hermosa Little League’s founding in 1951 made it the oldest in the South Bay, and that this year a quarter of Hermosa’s Little League-age kids played. He also said the Hermosa Little League plans to submit plans at an upcoming City Parks Master Plan meeting for improvements to the Clark Stadium.

Hermosa Schools Superintendent Jason Johnson talked about working with Police Chief Paul LeBaron on e-bike safety. He said Hermosa Valley is the first school he knows of that requires students complete an e-bike safety course before being allowed to bring their e-bikes on campus.

Johnson introduced local artists Armelle Ngo and Emily Tanaka, who recently completed a 2,000 square-foot mural inside the Hermosa Valley Gym. The gym’s cinder block walls previously resembled a prison, Johnson said. Ngo thanked the superintendent for giving her free license to paint what she wanted in her signature, wood print style. The mural is a brightly colored interpretation of a wave, the pier and a lifeguard tower. 

To underscore Hermosa’s relationship with the Los Angeles County Lifeguards, the mayor invited Southern Section Lifeguard Battalion Chief AJ Lester, and retired lifeguard chiefs Shannon and Scott Davey to speak. All three live in Hermosa Beach, as do 47 other Los Angeles County Lifeguards, Lester said. Lester pointed out that almost 1,000 of the 4,000 kids in Junior Lifeguards last summer were from Hermosa Beach.

Over the past five years, Lester said, lifeguards in Hermosa Beach made 606 ocean rescues, and reunited 29 children with their parents.

Another community group the Mayor introduced was Hermosa Hermanos, led by resident Liz Tyndorf. The dozen Hermosa Hermanos ninth graders, who were recognized on stage, volunteered over 1,000 hours to 30 local charities last year, Tyndorf said.

The Mayor began his State of the City address by introducing what he called “the engine that drives Hermosa. The engine included City Manager Suja Lowenthal, Police Chief Paul LeBaron, Parks and Rec Director Lisa Nichols, City Clerk Myra Maravilla, Community Development Director Carrie Tai, and Public Works Director Joseph DeSanClemente.

Lowenthal said the city’s $89 million, 2023-24 budget is “focused on basics — personnel, technology and infrastructure.”

Police chief Paul LeBaron emphasized, “No call is too small.” In the past year, he said, officers helped residents find their house keys, fix flat tires, and carry seniors’ groceries into their homes. To fight crime, he said, the city has deployed crime fighting “multipliers,” including Automated License Plate Readers (ALPRs), drones, and crime prediction software.

Jackson ended the evening by remembering community leaders who passed away this year, among them musician and psychotherapist Kevin Sousa. 

A video was shown of the paddleout held for Sousa following his death from melanoma in May. Sousa’s wife Patti thanked the city for helping to arrange the paddleout south of the Hermosa pier, attended by over 500 people.

“Whatever you do for our community, channel Kevin,” Jackson said. ER


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