Kevin Cody

Letters January 14, 2009

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Save Sand Dune Park
Dear ER:
On Tuesday, January 19, the Manhattan Beach City Council will decide the fate of the Sand Dune. As operator of the website, I have received literally hundreds of emails in support of keeping the Sand Dune open for recreational purposes. Perhaps most surprising, I have been heartened to learn just how many people value the Dune as a very important part of their lives and their family’s lives. 
While many are residents from neighboring cities, it seems reasonable that Manhattan Beach City Council should also value these voices. Yes, City Council should prioritize what their most organized constituents want, but these voices from neighboring cities should also be taken into consideration as we all continue to frequent their parks, festivals, and shops, as well
Those who support reopening the Sand Dune have offered many ideas to reduce the resident’s primary complaints and these should be given a chance. 
All of our local parks and recreational areas have experienced similar growth in usage, but none have been completely shut down.
Mitch Ward, the mayor of Manhattan Beach, is the only member to publicly support the permanent closure of the Dune. With due respect to Mayor Ward, I find it a bit disingenuous to ignore the overwhelming number of South Bay residents who want to keep the Dune open when he  may one day be soliciting their votes to become South Bay’s Congressional Representative for the 53rd district.
I encourage all to attend the January 19 meeting to lend support and witness for yourself if the Manhattan Beach City Council does the right thing for our entire community and keeps the Dune open, or succumbs to local pressure that represents less than five percent of the population of Manhattan Beach.
Bill Hory
Manhattan Beach

Health tax
Dear ER:
This weekend, while walking along the bike path, I passed no fewer than four boot camp/rah-rah/fire-hose/bouncy-shoe fitness groups. Seriously, every 200 yards along the beach from Burnout down to Avenue C stairs, there was a group of people listening to a loud, overly enthusiastic leader who was putting them through their paces. Mix that in with the beach photographers, and you have a less than enjoyable experience. I understand the draw for these companies, but when they interfere with everyone else’s usage, there is an issue.
I hope the City of Redondo Beach is receiving permit fees from these groups. At least that way the City and I receive the benefit of a healthier budget to improve my community.
Mickie Walters
Redondo Beach

You don’t know what you’ve got
Dear ER:
For all the talk about Manhattan Beach being a green city we were surprised to hear that our city council members had approved the removal of over 90 trees along Highland, with little to no citizen input, in order to “create a theme,” and to replace them with palms like those downtown and in North Manhattan Beach (although we have recently learned that North Manhattan will be putting in New Zealand Christmas trees).
The current carrot woods provide shade and natural cooling in the summer. They also give us some privacy from our three story neighbors across the street, who look down on our home. The palms will provide no such benefits. During the recent storms we noticed countless palm fronds on roads and in yards. Who will be responsible for the property damage from their debris?
Previously, we had questioned the Public Works Director about the city allowing a developer to remove three Carrot wood trees and replace them with two Queen Palms.  We were given the following list of reasons for replacing the established, mature trees with new palms:
The carrot wood trees obstruct trash trucks, street sweepers, and delivery trucks.
The city requires homeowners to maintain the street trees in front of their homes at their own expense (including the purchase of a $60 trimming permit!).  When there is a problem with low hanging branches, homeowners are notified. If they do not trim the tree, the city has it done and the homeowner is billed for the cost. 
The current tree canopy obstructs ocean views.
If you walk down Highland you will see that ocean views are not obstructed by the trees, they are obstructed by three story homes.  None of the existing trees are taller than any second story homes.
The current tree has a shallow root system that damages sidewalks.
We have not had any issue with the roots damaging the sidewalk (nor has our neighbor who owns the two properties to the north of us). We would like to know how often the city actually goes out to replace sidewalks that are being uprooted.  We walk along Highland frequently and damage to the sidewalks is minimal and certainly not enough to warrant the removal of over 90 trees.
We can understand replacing the trees in North Manhattan, in an effort to revitalize the shopping district, but to have over 90 additional trees replaced just to “create a theme” between North Manhattan and Downtown, seems wasteful and definitely not green.
Pete and Julie Grasso
Manhattan Beach

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Junior high memories
Dear ER:
I attended Pier Avenue Junior High School while growing up in Hermosa Beach. I remember Mr. Boston as a commanding yet kind man who oversaw an incredible faculty that, as I remember, included Mrs. Wilson, Miss White, Mrs. Nelson, Mr. Manuel, Mr. Anton and, of course, who could forget Mr. Dana (“Boston was principal of Pier Ave. Junior High”). Thank you Mr. Boston for all of your kind, diligent, professional and compassionate years as a principal and educator.
Tony Alftfeld
Pacific Grove
Editor’s note: Alftfeld is a former Hermosa Beach police officer

Holiday pay
Dear ER:
 Michael Ude is missing the big financial picture in his letter regarding the Redondo Beach School District deciding if Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur should be on the school calendar (“Religious holiday holiday,” ER letters Jan. 7, 2010). Last year, on September 28, 207 students were absent, costing RBUSD more than $7,500.
RBUSD takes off December 25th for a winter break holiday, not a Christmas holy day, because there would be too many absences to conduct school on that day.
By taking Rosh Hashanah and/or Yom Kippur off the RBUSD would save thousands of dollars. The kids do not “get these days off” since there would still be 180 days of school. Just like in Manhattan, Hermosa, LAUSD and thousands of other school districts across the country, a day is added to the beginning or end of the school calendar, thus equaling 180 days.
Ude also failed to notice there is now a “ski week” in February, not because everyone goes skiing, but because it became too costly for the district to take off those two Mondays in a row for Lincoln’s and Washington’s birthdays.
Any educator will tell you that having summer break does not help our children learn and is a reflection of a farmer’s calendar. Since I don?t know too many farmers in our community, perhaps our school calendar should reflect the people living in our community.
By the way, if more than 200 children went to private schools, as Ude suggests they do, that would cost RBUSD in excess of $1.4 million dollars a year.
Linda Hatakeyama
Redondo Beach

Good holidays
Dear Editor:
Please tell Michael Ude to get his facts straight (“Religious holiday holiday”, ER Letters Jan. 7, 2010). No matter what the Redondo School District call breaks — winter break, spring break, holiday break — make no mistake about it…school districts created breaks because of this fact: missing money due to missing kids.
As for lawsuits — the school district shouldn’t be vulnerable to one, because I’m assuming they’ll be smart enough to simply call it a teacher in-service day, or whatever other label they have — floating holiday, perhaps, which is literally what Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah are.
As for other holidays having to be honored if we honor Jewish holidays (Good Friday comes to mind), Ude can rest assured that if enough children start missing on that day, or it becomes significant enough, either financially or to the community, there will indeed be some sort of “holiday/teacher in-service” that would be added to the calendar. Because when all is said and done, really (kinda sadly), our education system is a business with the children being the product. If we aren’t producing enough product on any given day, the factory is shut down for that day.
Lastly, for Ude to suggest that Jewish families reimburse the schools for when our children miss because we are observant, religious and choose to worship in these United States how we see fit — well, that is the most ridiculous, out-of-line comment I’ve heard in a long time. Or that we should attend private school? I might consider it, if there was a Jewish K-12 school locally, assuming I could afford the exorbitant amount it would cost. However, it’s a moot point since there are not any K-12 Jewish day schools here in the South Bay. 
Whether or not the RBUSD school board decides to have a non-school day that falls on Yom Kippur/Rosh Hashanah each year makes no difference to me. Since we live in America with freedom of religion, my family will continue to observe our holiest of days by attending services, not school — and no, I will not be reimbursing the school district for my two children’s absences.
Erika Snow Robinson
Redondo Beach


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6 Responses to Letters January 14, 2009

  1. Mark Kemple January 14, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    I am amazed by Mr. Hory’s unethical suggestion that Manhattan Beach Mayor Ward should make decisions for the City based on his supposed personal aspirations to represent a more broad constituency. Mayor Ward is man of integrity who would never do so. But more broadly, Mr. Hory’s comment reinforces my conclusion that those few who advocate that this City spend huge dollars during this recession — the worst since the Great depression — to create each month a man-made river of sand so that non-residents many have their “preferred free workout,” are not grappling with priorities, any of the opposing points, or even reality. They just want what they want. How many teachers could Manhattan Beach hire if the City just left the dune alone, without the monthly cost of sand relocation, park workers, and police presence necessary to create this dune-workout-facility for these duners in a neighborhood wholly unequipped for this use? A little knowledge, context and perspective go a long way. Mr. Hory’s letter lacks each.

  2. Toni Gray January 14, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    I do not live in Manhattan Beach anymore, but grew up all over the South Bay area and now reside in Illinois. But everytime I come here, I am amazed at all the history of these neighborhoods that have been lost, and now Sand Dune park, that as children we have so many memories sliding down, and crossing through the paths to get to the ocean, it was a pretty site on the way to another beautiful destination, our beaches. I have lived at the bottom of Sand Dune park and above it as well. I am oppossed to the loss of this beautiful park that also harbors the home of many beautiful parrots that have made their home there as well, what will happen to them? Please leave the park, I hope the next time I come to Los Angeles, I will still get to visit “Sand Dune Park” and I am sure there are others that grew up here, that want it to still be here when they come as well!

  3. Mark Kemple January 15, 2010 at 11:32 am

    Toni, No one has proposed closing the park, or the dune. The park and dune will remain, and the children will be permitted to play on the dune. At issue is whether the City should spend huge amounts of resources in a recession, deploying enormous, noisy and polluting trucks to create a river of sand on the face of the dune each month. This is a rather recent development, caused by tremendous spikes in usage by atheletes that have destroyed the dune by scraping sand from its face and pushing it to its bottom. To maintain that usage, huge trucks are deployed each month to scoop up sand from the bottom, transport it through the neighborhood to the top, and then dump it at the top, each month. This erodes the underlying dune, pollutes, and costs a fortune. We should save the dune, and stop turning it into a wholly unnatural manmade work out facility, in a neighborhood totally unequipped for this usage. That manmade usage is destroying the dune, and the neighborhood. We need teachers, and books, not this expensive and polluting “facility” which robs us of our park, dune and enjoyment of it and out neighborhood. Sand Dune Park will be waiting for you when you return.

  4. Bill Hory January 15, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    Hello Mr. Kemple,
    Mayor Ward’s integrity has never been in question. However, you are free to spin the letter however you would like. The simple point was to express how South Bay is a community and that the majority of residents frequent various parks and beaches in adjoining communities. Accordingly, yes – local issues can be evaluated with this idea in mind.
    Moreover, since we all agree on that something needs to be done to reduce usage – there have been plenty of ideas offered that do not cost any additional funds (reducing park hours and establishing a quota are just two simple, zero cost ideas). Since there already is a park attendant desk there, all that is required is actual enforcement. With the resulting reduced usage, all other legitimate grievances also decrease
    Using Mr. Kempler’s own numbers of peak usage, this still only averages to 21 people per hour and I am not so sure that justifies total closure.

  5. Don Trucker January 15, 2010 at 6:56 pm

    Mr. Kemple,

    First off, you must be unaware of the very large amount of money provided to Manhattan Beach Park & Recreation by Los Angeles County in a grant “to maintain and operate in perpetuity the property developed, rehabilitated or restored”. A significant portion of that grant was used on the dune at Sand Dune Park. South Bay residents are clearly part of Los Angeles County and therefore those residents have a legitimate financial vested interest in that park. Actions taken by Mayor Ward most certainly reflect his commitment to an obligation to them. A suggestion by Mr. Hory for South Bay residents to hold Mayor Ward accountable is totally ethical and appropriate even if Mayor Ward had no further political aspirations.

    Second, the money spent at Sand Dune Park has never been shown to be disproportionate compared to that spent at the other major Manhattan Beach parks. Even so, the answer to the question “How many teachers could Manhattan Beach hire” if any monies were saved by dune closure is exactly zero. The Manhattan Beach School District is an entirely separate and distinct entity from the Manhattan Beach City government. Any savings from park operations would not belong to the school district.

    Third, the park workers are there whether the dune is open or not and the police get paid whether they are on a call or not. So the extra cost for that is zero. As far as the sand replenishment cost, how does that compare to the analogous event of mowing at Polliwog Park. How does it compare to the millions of kilowatt-hours of electricity used to provide park night lighting? The reasonableness of the maintenance costs at Sand Dune Park can’t be determined without such context.

    Finally, I find it ironic that residents who chose to live in the Sand Dune Park neighborhood, that is just a few hundred yards from the noisy and toxic spewing El Segundo oil refinery, would complain about the noise and smog from some sand replenishment trucks six or seven times a year.

  6. SEO January 17, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    Great Post. I’ll be back for your next piece

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