Letters to the Editor 3-9-23
Metro has refused to support their proposed Green Line costs with details (“Opposite sides of the track,” ER March 2, 2023). But more importantly, construction cost estimates are the wrong metric for judging cost effectiveness. Cost per rider, including operation and maintenance costs, is the correct metric. Due to the higher ridership forecast for Hawthorne Blvd path, the cost per rider would be less for the Hawthorne Boulevard path than for the backyard (North Redondo Beach path). But do we really want to spend $2 billion to $3 billion of taxpayer funds to tear up our cities for five to seven years of construction for trains to an oil tank farm in Torrance?
In the 1990’s, Metro bought up as many railroad right-of-ways ( ROWs) properties as possible, in anticipation of future uses (“Opposite sides of the track,” ER March 2, 2023). They were not bought with particular routes in mind, Green Line project leader Georgia Sheridan remarked in an answer to a direct question at a recent Torrance City Council meeting. However, what may have seemed like a “perfect fit” for an extension to the Green Line has not turned out to be practical, for two key reasons: the varying width of the ROW and the number of pipelines. The ROW, nominally 100 ft wide, narrows in Lawndale to only 75 ft wide. There are seven high pressure pipelines on the ROW, some of which will have to be moved. It is extremely difficult and potentially dangerous to fit three sets of tracks among the seven high pressure pipelines (some of which were not even known about in 2018 when Green Line work started up again in earnest). Two and one-half years ago, digging to fix a pipeline revealed problems with the soil, where settling caused foundation damage to a property in Redondo Beach at the Ruxton place condos. (The damage has still not been fixed.) An examination of Metro’s drawings reveals they still have not fixed the “75 ft. wide problem.” Their sketches of that area change every time they reveal new drawings, with statements that the drawing is “still preliminary.” Still “preliminary” after five years? Metro tries to cover its bases by statements such as “no residential property acquisitions are anticipated.” The people of Lawndale, and Redondo can “anticipate” problems with the ROW. Metro should abandon their ROW options and use one of the alternatives.
Cell Tower of Babel
I was deeply troubled by the fact that people speaking at the February 28 Hermosa Beach City Council meeting about the cell tower at Manhattan Avenue and 26th Street in Hermosa Beach were so glibly dismissed by some of our councilmen. The city notice failed to alert our local residents about the potential impacts on residential property values. The notice failed to provide the radiation maps or a list of alternate locations. The city essentially swept the risks and costs of this project under the carpet in hope residents wouldn’t notice. And assuming a mailing notice was sent, that’s what happened. Only one resident spoke and one resident wrote to the council raising concerns during the June 15, 2021 council meeting when the cell tower was approved. In 2014, the National Institute for Science, Law and Public Policy (NISLAPP) concluded that homebuyers and renters are less interested in properties close to cell towers and antennas. “Documentation of a price drop of up to 20 percent is found in multiple surveys and published articles,” that report says.
Residents near a cell tower are required to disclose this fact to prospective buyers. We have it from multiple credible sources that a large cell tower may cost nearby residents hundreds of thousands of dollars when they sell their property or get it appraised for a loan. But the city didn’t see fit to inform residents of these possible complications. Then we have the radiation dispersion maps that indicate exposure levels from 21 to 100 percent of FCC maximums. Don’t you think nearby residents would appreciate a little bit more information on the exposure levels. Are their bedrooms exposed to 21 or 99 percent of FCC allowed maximums?
Dismiss the DA
With Council’s expansion of our MBPD force, it is now time for our Council to consider having its own City Prosecutor to prosecute misdemeanors, the quality-of-life crimes that are the foundation for law and order. Here’s the problem in that regard. Misdemeanor crimes in Manhattan Beach, such as theft, trespass, disturbing the peace, criminal threats, public intoxication, loitering, and resisting arrests, are not being prosecuted by the Los Angeles County District Attorney. Over time, this failure to prosecute will erode law and order. We are talking about hundreds of misdemeanors every year. Under existing state law, general law cities, such as Manhattan Beach, need only to obtain the perfunctory consent of the District Attorney to hire their own City Prosecutor for the prosecution of misdemeanor crimes. I think the time has come for our City Council to formally make a request for such s consent from the DA. Last year, the prior City Council delegated two of its members as a subcommittee to meet with the DA to seek the DA’s consent for MB to contract with the Redondo Beach City Prosecutor. At that time, the DA withheld its consent, stating “…having our office handle these cases would result in better outcomes that advance public safety.” The problem is the DA is not handling these cases. Under DA Special Directive 20-07, misdemeanors are no longer being prosecuted. The DA’s withholding consent would probably be an arbitrary and capricious abuse of discretion.
To whom much is given…
A lot of folks come into our shop, Hermosa Pie & Cake, and talk to us about local issues. One customer is a great guy who works in the emergency room of an area hospital. From my friend I’ve learned of the astonishing increase in hospitalizations for trauma, critical care and gang violence. The need for medical services is overwhelming the existing care facilities. Beach Cities Health District, under CEO Tom Bakaly, is stepping up to assist regional facilities provide the medical care that’s needed. Maybe opponents of the BCHD Healthy Living Campus will never become senior citizens. Or perhaps they have enough money to move into Kensington on Knob Hill in Redondo should the need arise. But for many of us 50-plus folks in the South Bay, we hope there will be an expansion of BCHD. Many people use the “non-resident” services argument to belittle BCHD’s efforts to expand their services. Let’s remember that if we are in a better economic position to help, then we should. I know opponents of the BCHD Healthy Living Campus don’t want a “big building next door.” But, proper tree planting, green areas and stone walls can do much towards keeping their private space quiet. I often read that people think of Bakaly. But from what I hear from hospital managers, ER managers and South Bay hospitals, he’s doing a good job..
Baker Dave and Son