Letters to the Editor 10-12-23
Stand by your neighbor
Hermosa City Manager Suja Lowenthal stated at the September 26 Hermosa Council Meeting, “The ROW (Right of Way) option allowed for members of the South Bay to take a one-seat ride to LAX or Downtown.” (“Hermosa Beach to review Metro Line stance after Redondo Beach council complains,” ER September 28, 2023). That statement was grossly negligent, or intentionally misleading. The Metro C-Line extension to Torrance does not change the route of the C-Line north of the existing Redondo Beach station on Marine Avenue. Hermosans have no dog in the Metro extension fight since it is unlikely that any Hermosan would ever ride the C Line from the new station in Redondo — be it on Hawthorne Boulevard or down the ROW — to the Torrance Transit Center in the Torrance Refinery District. That the City of Hermosa Beach sent not one, but two letters to Metro without consulting its Redondo Beach neighbors is similarly astonishing. Once must wonder why the Hermosa city staff, and council members like Justin Massey push for ROW C-Line alignment that is so harmful to the lives of so many Redondo Beach residents, and gets far fewer riders then sending light rail cars down a commercial corridor in front of the new South Bay Social District (the South Bay Galleria after its $500 million renovation). I’m aghast. Please stand with us, Hermosa Beach.
Zein Obagi, Jr.
Redondo Beach Council Member, District 4
Hermosa Councilmember Justin Massey, City Manager Suja Lowenthal, and Mayor Raymond Jackson overstepped their authority again, this time in sending a letter to Metro on behalf of the city without the support of the full council or the residents. They should not have decided the issue regarding the Green Line, in opposition to Redondo’s interests. Ours should not be a two-person council. It’s time for this council duo to step back and allow their fellow councilmembers to participate in all city oversight and positions. Thank goodness Councilmember Dean Franois called them out on this matter.
Deep dig into light rail
Yes, a grave marker on the Metro Right of Way (ROW) is not necessarily a grave: that is to be determined (“Newly discovered graves may haunt Metro train,” ER Sept. 28, 2023). Meanwhile, Metro’s Green Line Project Objectives are to increase mobility while reducing traffic congestion, and air pollution, and “to provide a cost effective project,” meaning lowest cost/rider. Lowest cost is not a project objective. These objectives are best achieved by the Hawthorne Boulevard option. But you have to dig deeply inside the DEIR to understand that Hawthorne Boulevard ridership is 35 percent higher than ROW, but will cost only 14 percent more than Hybrid ROW. Note that all train options will require Caltrans approval (typical of freeway/highway-interacting projects), and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review. ROW path advocates have fallen for Metro’s version of Halloween: Trick (ROW) or Treat (Hawthorne Blvd).
Dismount and live
I realize I’m an old man yelling at clouds (h/t grandpa simpson), but walking to the Manhattan Beach pier while bicyclists zoom past, and around me when there are at either end of the pedestrian entry to the pier, under flashing lights, signs that clearly states “pedestrian zone – walk bike when flashing” (there’s even a graphic of a person walking a bike, and as far as I have seen over the past few years the light is always flashing). However, I can count on both hands the number of bicyclists who have dismounted and walked their bikes during those same years. The vast majority of cyclists just power through, flashing lights, signage and any sense of consideration, and community be damned. Mothers with babies in strollers, older people, children — all of society’s most vulnerable — must watch for the next cyclist or pack of same heading straight for them. There should be an actual barricade at either end that would force cyclists to dismount. The flashing lights and signage have scant effect. Ride and/or die? More like dismount and live.
A safer Redondo
Thanks to the Redondo Beach City Council and Staff for improving the traffic flow on Manhattan Beach Boulevard during their October 3 meeting. Given the tragic fatality we recently experienced on Artesia Boulevard, and Rindge Avenue, we should look at all options to improve traffic flow, and reduce accidents at all of our intersections. Also notable at the meeting was the compensation talks between public safety dispatch, jail, and the City. With the two minute response time, which Redondo Beach Police and Fire offer residents and visitors to our City, we should be attracting and keeping the best talent in dispatch with a market competitive package. Given the lax enforcement by our Court System on low-level crimes, these lesser offenses are still offensive to our community, and quick responses by the police to these issues is enormously helpful in preventing more significant issues. Dispatch is on the front line for saving lives.
Blue zone is golden
I attended the Beach Cities Health District (BCHD) half day event featuring Dan Buettner, most famous for his work regarding Blue Zones. Buettner commended residents and BCHD stating, “I don’t think you guys know how special you are.” Thanks to BCHD and Buettner, the South Bay was named one of the eight healthiest places to live in the U.S. in Parade magazine. BCHD was given accolades from the offices of State Senator Ben Allen, Congressional Representative Ted Lieu, and Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi along with the mayors/city councils of Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach. Several elected leaders from RBUSD attended, including recently retired Dr. Steven Keller, who is credited with implementing the “whole child” focus at RBUSD. Several residents provided testimonials on the positive impact BCHD has had on life in the South Bay. As a Redondo Beach resident I am so happy to see so many giving formal and public kudos to BCHD.
Stormy water taxes
Manhattan Beach Schools will be asking voters in the March general election to extend the current parcel tax for six years only, without any annual cost of living adjustment. That extension is sorely needed and will save over 20 teacher positions. For this reason, I, and many other Manhattan property owners, will be supporting this extension. In contrast, the Manhattan Beach City Council approved an irregular “Holiday Season,” special election to increase the City’s property taxes to pay for stormwater projects. This election is to be held during the upcoming Holiday Season, when MB voters won’t be paying much attention. Quite frankly, this irregular “Holiday Season” special election is disrespectful and inappropriate. The City’s proposal would raise the current City tax for storm water projects by 500 percent, with annual cost of living increases and no sunset clause. Yes, that’s a forever increasing tax. I’m not in the habit of writing blank checks. Manhattan Beach property owners already pay a forever parcel tax to LA County for storm water projects. In fact, our Manhattan property owners paid $1 million last year alone, and will pay millions more in the years to come. Incredibly, the City wants to “double tax” our property owners for stormwater projects. With LA County having hundreds of millions of dollars available for storm water projects in our City, any increase in the City’s stormwater tax is not needed.
Dress for respect
Perhaps it is time to return to in-person interactions and participation in civic politics. The call-in opinions during Hermosa Beach city council meetings are very hard to hear, and they certainly interrupt the flow of meetings. Also, Keep in mind that in the past, council members showed respect to residents by wearing suits and ties and by actually being attentive to problems presented to them. In the past, the council persons were model citizens who respected their position, set a good example for the youth, and actually tried to help the residents. One would certainly not expect an officer or gentleman to be wearing a hat or cap throughout the council meeting. Let’s get back to some minimal standards.