Letters to the Editor 1-11-24
Thank you, Easy Reader, for acknowledging the closure of the AES Power Plant was, indeed, the Story of the Year (“2023 Story of the Year: A brand new Redondo future,” ER January 4, 2024). We now face the future with hope.
We did it
As a longtime community activist, it was with great pleasure and pride that I participated in the New Year’s Eve ceremony commemorating the shutdown of Redondo Beach’s AES gas power plant (“2023 Story of the Year: A brand new Redondo future,” ER January 4, 2024). The unproductive plant with limited output was engaged in outdated technology, polluting and hovering over the residents of Redondo Beach and Hermosa Beach. Many years ago, on a dark and cold dreary evening for Redondo Beach, a city council out of touch with its residents approved a massive development proposal on that land, telling us that this was the only way we could get rid of this monstrosity of a power plant. The events of last week proved them wrong.
In the approval on that dark day, many of us who were city commissioners and community organizers pleaded in front of that City Council to come up with a better plan, but it fell on deaf ears. Citizens expect our elected officials to set sound policy so they can maintain their quality of life. Occasionally, citizens react in outrage when councils are not in touch with their residents. Fortunately, so many people appeared after that dark day, the city council rescinded the plan. What emerged was a flurry of new community members to strengthen our fight against highly developmental interests. One leader who emerged was Bill Brand, now the Mayor of Redondo Beach. He had led the charge with a strong spine and a tenacity to never give up. This is a shared legacy that no one can take away, but there’s still a lot more work to decide what is going to happen on this large piece of valuable real estate. Since those dark days, we’ve seen an increase in community involvement throughout the South Bay. I encourage everyone to stay involved in this process as we come up with a great plan. Funding is on its way to create some form of park, wildlife area, and wetlands restoration. County/State officials, the Sierra club and other environmental groups are eager to work to make this happen. A big congratulation goes out to Bill and all of the many individuals who, over many years, had a part in this. Don’t go away, stay involved.
Mayor Pro Tem
City of Hermosa Beach
No you didn’t
Much is being made by local elected officials and their supporting Political Action Committee regarding the end of operations at the AES power plant in Redondo Beach (“2023 Story of the Year: A brand new Redondo future,” ER January 4, 2024). The truth is no local elected officials, or organizations had anything to do with the end of operations at the AES site. In 2010 the State Water Resources Control Board ruled the power plant would close on January 1, 2020. Then the State Water Resources Control Board revised their decision, and extended power plant operations until the end of 2023. While local officials disagreed with the ruling, it was painfully obvious they had no influence on the decision. Now, no elected official or organization has a solution or realistic vision for the property in collaboration with the owner. Local elected officials are also celebrating the removal of the power lines along 190th Street. What they are not telling the public is there are expensive infrastructure changes that must be made in cooperation with the plant owner before any of the power lines will come down. The most likely future for the AES site is a shuttered eyesore for years to come while the property stagnates in decades of litigation.
Yes we did
In 2002, AES worked with the City for condo zoning and a smaller power plant footprint (“2023 Story of the Year: A brand new Redondo future,” ER January 4, 2024). That resulted in Heart of the City, which was ended by a resident-led referendum. In 2005, on an advisory vote between a mixed use plan for the power plant and one that is largely parkland the voters of Redondo preferred the park by a very healthy margin. In 2008, in a nod to the advisory vote, the City Council added parkland as a use at the power plant site, which then had to go to a vote of the people. In 2010, the public voted to make parkland a permitted use for the site, and public utility a “conditional use.” In 2012, AES announced it would apply to build a new power plant that would not use ocean water for cooling to comply with the Water Board’s December 31, 2020 compliance date. Residents drafted what would become Measure A. It called for 60% to 70% parkland and 30% to 40% commercial uses at the power plant site. It was narrowly defeated by a $625,000 campaign by AES, which threatened power outages and suing the city into oblivion. But AES showed their true colors when less than a year later they admitted their power plant was no longer needed and rolled out what would be Measure B — 600 condos, 85,000 sq ft of commercial, a 250 room motel and no requirement for any park. Despite a $1 million campaign, the voters voted against AES’s plan. In 2018, AES sold its property to a developer, who has since defaulted on payments, and was foreclosed upon by AES. He filed for bankruptcy the day before the scheduled auction of the property. In parallel, due to Governor Gavin Newsom’s recall-induced panic after some power outages in 2020, the Water Board extended operations of the remaining ocean cooled power plants, including the Redondo plant, to Dec 31, 2023. We anticipated another extension, but Redondo is the only remaining ocean cooled plant that was not extended to 2026. It was also the only plant whose extension was highly protested by residents, cities, and state elected officials. So yes, continued activism by the residents of Redondo through organizations such as BBR, SBPC, NoPowerPlant, Residents for Responsible Revitalization, and Rescue Our Waterfront, along with actions by the City of Redondo, the City of Hermosa Beach, and our state legislators, did save us from a new power plant and from yet another extension. Those who attended the New Year’s Eve decommissioning ceremony heard our state representatives, Senator Ben Allen and Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi, confirm the impact of local activists. As to the power lines coming down, yes there are costs to reconfigure a substation near the 405. But SCE has concluded that they would fund the change. The substation on the AES site is still owned by SCE. So they need no action from the bankrupt and defaulted developer.
Two taxes measures, different rules
Any election to increase taxes should be held in a general election and require two thirds voter approval. In fact, that’s what the Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act (TPGA) requires. It specifically restores two thirds voter approval for all local tax increases. The TPGA is sponsored by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and has qualified for the November ballot. In Manhattan Beach, there are two tax elections. In the March general election Manhattan Beach Schools will be asking voters to extend the current parcel tax for six more years, saving 20 teacher positions. Manhattan Beach schools are drastically underfunded by the State. This election requires a two-thirds approval by voters, so it will not be impacted by the adoption of the TPGA in November. In contrast, the City of Manhattan Beach is conducting a mail-in ballot election that began during the holiday season and only requires fifty percent voter approval. The City is seeking to impose a second stormwater tax when Los Angeles County already has a storm water tax that will raise $7.5 billion for stormwater projects. Manhattan Beach has already been awarded $51 million from LA County. This second stormwater tax is “in perpetuity,” a forever tax. Importantly, it’s legally suspect because the City may not have complied with the State Constitution. This election will be rendered null and void if the TPGA two thirds requirement is approved by voters.
Hermosa SCE utility customers: You should have received a 10” x 18” folded glossy, “Official Notice #1,” from Clean Power Alliance (CPA). This is the bureaucracy created by essentially self-appointed individuals to make electricity decisions for you, right or wrong. In the case of Hermosa Beach, the prior and present City Councils clearly do not trust you, the SCE utility customer, to make the right decision for yourself. In fact, they seem to have done all possible to take residents out of the loop and make decisions for them as to whose electricity is to be supplied to SCE. Because SCE will still deliver power to homes, residents’ bills will necessarily be higher. Opting out of their CPA boondoggle at this time is paramount and simple. Dial the CPA number 1-888-585-3788 (24/7) and follow the voice menu. You need speak to no-one. When you reach the menu option for opting-out, enter it (4). Then follow another prompt by entering (2). It then will ask you for your 12-digit SCE customer account number (found in the upper left corner of your SCE bill). Enter it via your phone’s keypad, followed by # sign. It will then confirm same to you, and ask for your service zip code. Enter 90254 and # for Hermosa Beach. That’s it! It will give you a confirmation #. It will also ask you a series of questions as to why you are opting-out. Choose one of them or 7 indicating “other reason”. You can always opt in later. Do not put this off. Your SCE utility service is not broken! Don’t let them break it and increase your monthly SCE bill.
Thanks for the gifts
On behalf of the Beach Cities Toy Drive, I want to thank everyone who helped out at our wrapping party on December 16. We wrapped over 4,000 new toys for distribution to 10 charities then distributed the gifts to underprivileged kids in LA County. In partnership with the Manhattan Beach Fire Department and Hermosa Beach (County) fire department, we collected new toys. The toy drive culminates with a wrapping party, which alternates annually between Hermosa and Manhattan. This one was special because we were back at the Joslyn Center where we had not had a wrapping party since 2019 (before Covid). A week before, Jeremy Buck put on his benefit concert on the Hermosa Plaza, appropriately called, “Rock for Tots.” His event raised over $2,000 for new toys. We also received $1,300 from the King Kiwanian, Lucas Cammiso basketball tournament. But the undisputed King of Toys was once again Hermosa Cyclery. They donated two dozen new bicycles. This amazing cyclery store in Hermosa does this act of charity every year. Then, box king Greg Tucker, sent us scores of toys on pallets that he rounded up from his packaging company. Whether the donation was a bunch of somethings or just one toy, we are so appreciative. Thank you, and God bless. Our success in this community endeavor is a result of your heart felt generosity. Next year our wrapping party rotates back to Hermosa at the Community Center gym. See you there.
Beach Cities Toy Drive
I am so sad to hear about Vince Rae’s passing (“Ray shared the surfing stroke,” ER January 4, 2024). He brought joy and positivity to all of us. He always had a kind word and a smile for everyone he met. What he did for kids in the South Bay — teaching them to find a life-long love of surfing was a huge gift. Being Surfing Santa for so many years was icing on the cake. We love you and miss you Vince.
ER News comment
Oh Vince. You were a surfing icon in the South Bay and I was happy to know you for many decades. You were also an accomplished photographer and videographer who captured many of the surf culture events here in the South Bay. Now you are surfing light waves in Heaven. You will be truly missed. Aloha My Friend.
Dennis Duke Noor