Letters to the Editor 10/09/14
Old school schooling
In response to a letter from Chris Miller (“Built it and they came,” ER Letters, September 25, 2014) would like to clarify how the Hermosa Beach Community Center is being used today and how that relates to the School District. The City of Hermosa Beach owns the Community Center and fully utilizes the space for community activities, including hosting at-risk teen programs, disabled adult programs and various other recreational activities. To state that the Center sits empty all day is simply false.
As we have stated publicly, the City of Hermosa Beach and the Hermosa Beach City School District (HBCSD) have united efforts to alleviate the issue of overcrowding within school facilities.Over the past year, research and examination of the current properties available through the City for use by the District have been carefully vetted to examine resources available for short-term needs. Additionally, the City and School District are also involved in managing the long-term planning efforts currently being considered by the District to ensure the City goal of support for top quality schools.
Together with the Governing Board of the HBCSD, we have determined that the Community Center site does not satisfy California state legal requirements to be used as a school. There are many misconceptions about easy, cost-effective ways for the City and the School District to provide facilities within currently owned properties, but upon further review current properties once considered as viable options for school resources and additional office spaces are challenged by state laws and regulations, some of which include Exchange of Properties: Education Codes 17536, Education Section 17537 and Title 5 – California Department of Education Code of Regulations. In summary, these laws prevent the use of the buildings for school purposes.
Tom Bakaly, City Manager
City of Hermosa Beach
Q for questions
I just finished reading Measure Q, in which the Hermosa Beach Board of Education is asking Hermosans for $54 million. I was astounded to find that Measure Q is nothing but a slush fund. Every project mentioned in Measure Q is a project that might get done. Or, it might not get done. How much does each project cost? Measure Q does not provide a cost estimate for any project. Which projects will be done first? Measure Q provides no priorities. How did the Board of Education come up with the amount of $54 million? Why not twice that amount? Or half that amount?
Oh, and the citizens’ oversight committee? They don’t oversee anything. They don’t get to vote on anything. They are auditors. Their only job is to verify that funds were spent as the Board of Education planned. The citizens’ oversight committee will not prevent Measure Q from establishing a giant slush fund for the Board of Education.
I am very big on education. But if you are someone like me who wants to know what you are getting for your money, consider joining me in voting against Measure Q.
It takes a village
While it is a bit overwhelming and for sure faltering to be recognized in such a large way
publically for the work one does for their community, it can also lead to some misimpressions (“Climate control,” ER Sept. 18, 2014). While I am proud of the work I did in the late 1990s to eliminate the use of pesticides in our open space greenbelt, it was not an overnight process and wouldn’t have happened without the leadership of then Mayor Julie Oaks in garnering a majority City Council vote, or president Kay Gagnon of VOICE lending her considerable leadership skills and organizational resources to the cause.
It also must be pointed out that, while I did play a role in effecting a ban on smoking in our public spaces and the use of polystyrene food containers, Hermosa Beach did not and has not enacted a ban on single use plastic bags. The real unsung hero in the South Bay, as well as in the state in this effort remains Surfrider Foundation South Bay Chair Craig Cadwallader, an environmental leader I greatly admire and who has my full support. I also want to thank those people who contributed to this story for their thoughts and friendship and reporter Kelley Kim.
I found myself totally agreeing with the two men who had the misfortune of buying a house behind the Level 10 gym (“Neighborhood feud boils over in North Manhattan Beach,” ER Sept. 25, 2014). I drive down Highland Avenue every morning as part of my commute to work and I can hear the yelling and equipment in the gym from my car. Sometimes I have to close my car windows because of the noise. I can only imagine what is must sound like living next door to it.
I have seen a few businesses leave that area. It makes you wonder who yields the power. If there are noise ordinances, they should be enforced. If people look the other way because they are clients of the gym, then there is favoritism and that should be addressed.
Sorry these two men had to move because a business can not be more understanding. Hope they find a peaceful place to live with better neighbors.
I was very happy to read that the Hermosa Beach Farmers’ Market would remain on its current location on Fridays. For the past 18 years (since moving here), I have shopped at the market and I love its current location and selection. However, I notice more and more people ignoring the very clear No Dogs sign and strolling through the market with their dogs. When they are reminded that dogs are not permitted at the market, most of them remove the dogs more or less willingly. The current market is contained and easy to control, but how will this be controlled at the Pier Plaza Market? So many people walk their dogs on The Strand now. What will happen when they are told they cannot stroll through the market with their dogs? I believe this is a Board of Health violation and I would hate to see the markets get shut down.
Pay up or vote yes
There is a way to estimate what each property owner’s share of the $17.5 million cost is if oil drilling is banned in Hermosa. The city website states the assessed value of all the properties in Hermosa is about $5.1 billion. This equates to about $300 for every $100,000 of assessed value. So if your home is assessed at $1 million dollars, your share of the fine is about $3,000. You should be willing to write a check for $3,000 the day you vote against oil drilling to pay your share of the fine.
I would like the city to send out a supplemental tax bill to every property owner billing them for their share of the $17.5 million. The tax bill should state if drilling is allowed you don’t have to pay it. But if drilling is banned, you have to pay it immediately so Hermosa can truly stay Hermosa.
But the city did this, I think the oil opponents lose by a landslide. I believe this is why they don’t want the city to address the issue of how the cost is going to be paid if drilling is banned. Would you buy a car without knowing its price?
The ballot measure for the oil issue in Hermosa Beach has yet to be officially worded for March 2015, yet there are elements in this city that are at odds and splitting this city apart. Fringe elements, on both sides of this issue, have acted unethically by stealing, defacing, vandalizing, intimidating, name-calling, and trolling on social media sites. Both sides are at fault and it is time to call for civility from all parties involved in this issue. It is time for this educated community to begin the process of differentiating emotion from thought and verbalizing the later and containing the former.
Let’s be tough on the issues, and empathic of our fellow community members. We will all be living in and sharing this beautiful beach community after the campaign is over. It will be a lot easier if we are kind to each other now…rather than ask for forgiveness of each other later.
Co-Founder Keep Hermosa Hermosa
From fixer-upper to waterfront star
I have lived in the South Bay for over 30 years, and have spent the last 16 years in the city I truly love: Redondo Beach. But over that time, I have watched a deteriorating waterfront and pier that few residents visit, and a parking structure that is barely safe to park on. We unfortunately own a “Fixer Upper” in our own backyard. We all know that revitalization is essential, and yet some people – I believe a small, but vocal minority — are still against a perfect solution: Private Investment. The CenterCal plan is a good example of communities with limited resources partnering with private enterprise to create a truly “Win-Win” solution.
Does everyone realize that the cost to replace the Pier parking structure is $50 million dollars. If we proceed with the CenterCal plan, they will cover this cost. But there’s more: A new Seaside lagoon with year round access, a beautiful waterfront promenade, outdoor dining by the Sea, and more. This plan will transform our “Fixer-Upper” into a dynamic world class waterfront that can rival beach cities like Santa Barbara, Newport Beach, or La Jolla. The vocal opponents like to call this project a Mall. Hogwash. It is anything but a Mall! The “misinformation” machine is out in full force. Beware. Redondo Beach will either be the envy of the South Bay (if we go forward with the project), or the laughing stock if we let the vocal minority stop it.
Thomas A. Gray
Smooth sledding on Sepulveda, briefly
For a short time, everything was smooth and not a bump in the road. Until recently. Like many, I have a love/hate relationship with Sepulveda Boulevard. It improved recently when Sepulveda was repaved. Crossing Rosecrans southward it was beautiful. The new paving was a pleasure to be on and made the whole area look new and fresh. But, that new relationship is over.
Now Sepulveda is starting to look and feel like the old Sepulveda. Construction crews are cutting the new paving, digging and leaving incredibly rough patches for all of us to drive on.
It appears that whenever a road in the South Bay is repaved, within weeks, it’s a signal to tear it up again. Who schedules this work? I own a construction related company and have worked in the public right of way, so I have a good understanding of what is involved with roads and pipes. This is a true waste of money.
Maybe, a little coordination and planning could be used so we, the ones who fund these roads, could enjoy that “New Road” feeling months, not weeks!
Driveway parking problem
I recently received a warning letter from Hermosa Beach Police stating that vehicles blocking the sidewalk will be ticketed. My 1952-built house is a legal, nonconforming structure with a one car garage. I’ve tried to park cars in the garage, but I literally cannot open the car doors. The setback in front of the garage is too short to park a car without encroaching on the sidewalk.
The limited street parking in my neighborhood is occupied seven days a week, all day long by employees of local businesses such as Floyd’s, Casey’s and the Hermosa Car Wash.
I’m currently serving on the City of Hermosa Beach General Plan Working Group and grew up in the Beach Cities. I understand the need for walkable streets and support the idea. However, I believe the police giving the citizens a month to change their behavior or face expensive tickets is short-sighted and heavy handed.
This is a planning issue, not just an enforcement issue. I believe there are at least a few 100 properties that will be affected. Previous councils have tried and failed to fix the parking problem. Maybe you remember the mandatory residential garages inspections?
That did not go over well.
The city should look into more options, such as expansion of the residential permit parking programs and requiring businesses to have a parking plan for employees,with a long term goal of walkable streets as part of our general plan. Don’t punish the residents.
We finally have the opportunity to get rid of the power plant in Redondo Beach and
have something much more beautiful on our waterfront. The Harbor Village Plan is
the fairest plan I have seen presented in my 43 years of living in Redondo Beach. And
after so much angst surrounding this issue for so long, I’m amazed that there are still
a few people willing to risk keeping the power plant just to fight over some very non-
essential details. Shame on them. All of Redondo Beach should be voting YES on the
Harbor Village Initiative.
Devil or angel
Before you vilify E&B Natural Resources, remember that they entered the scene by offering to save Hermosa Beach from a potential $700 million legal judgment that would have bankrupted the City. As many of you are aware, E&B asked that the issue be resolved by an open and fair election of the residents instead of through a lawsuit where lawyers, judges and juries will make the decision. My view is that the offer and the request were, and still are, reasonable. The history is all there for everyone to read: E&B Natural Resources stepped in and helped settle the Macpherson lawsuit. Based on jury expert “Mock Trials,” the City was expected to face a judgment of hundreds of millions of dollars.
If voters do decide to reject the proposal in March, Hermosa Beach will be required to repay the $17.5 million loan with interest. But if the project is approved, E&B will forgive $14 million in addition to allowing for the remaining balance to be paid from the City’s royalties.Let’s remember that E&B came in to help the City of Hermosa Beach avoid bankruptcy and in return, all E&B is asking for is an open and fair election.
Save the Riviera
Have you heard that Legado Companies plans a mixed-use development at 1700 Pacific Coast Highway (corner of PCH and Palos Verdes Boulevard) in South Redondo Beach. The proposed project calls for 180 apartments (four stories), more commercial/retail space, a remodeled Palos Verdes Inn, a massive underground parking garage and a new access road at this already busy and dangerous intersection.
This over-sized, high density project will change the character of the neighborhood and raises many environmental and safety concerns. Pedestrians and bicyclists crossing this major intersection will be at greater risk because of the massive traffic increase. The size of this project will require two years or more of construction. Noise levels will be a major disturbance for the residences and businesses near the site. Removal of hazardous materials will be required when demolition of the existing structures take place. Many infrastructure changes will be required. Caltrans and the City of Torrance will also get involved as changes to the intersection will be made.
If you have had enough with over-development, traffic, noise and pollution and are concerned about the quality of life in this area, please join me and my neighbors at the Planning Commission’s Public Hearing on November 20 at 7 p.m. at the Redondo Beach City Council Chambers.