Letters to the Editor 5-31-18
You have heard again and again that funding for our schools is inadequate. But few people understand why. California ranks 44th in the nation in school funding and 35th in education. New York and New Jersey average over $20,000 per pupil. Last year, the Manhattan Beach Unified School District received roughly $9,600 per pupil, putting our funding level at the bottom of the country — yet California has the fifth largest economy in the world
The formula to allocate property tax dollars is based on spending levels in the 1970s. In 1971, California was court ordered to equalize funding across districts. At that time, MBUSD was a K-8 district we are now a K-12 district.
In January, the Governor proposes the annual budget, which designates school funding. In education, the majority of the expenses is salaries. MBUSD is required to make yearly, binding, teacher hiring commitments by March 15. But in May, the Governor issues a revision to the budget, which may or may not include cuts. That is after hiring commitments are made
Apparently, state officials do not fully recognize local matters; if they did, they would fix the funding model. I am voting Yes on Measure MB because I believe in local control for school funding.
There are many flaws with Measure MB, which should preclude passage of this unnecessary tax on June 5. For example:
- The parcel tax is only being assessed to property owners in Manhattan Beach and not to property owners in Hermosa or Redondo who also use the MBUSD school system.
- The tax is being assessed to property (parcel) owners and not to those who directly benefit from the school system, those families with children in the schools. There are numerous rentals in Manhattan, whose residents would not be assessed the tax while still benefiting from the funding for the schools.
- Support for the tax is being actively sought from seniors who have the option of opting out of the tax via an exemption form. So they may benefit from increased property values (a “selling” point of the tax proponents) without incurring any cost. Sounds like Representation without Taxation.
- The tax is being sold as temporary, only for six years. Yeah, right. How many other “temporary” taxes are we still paying?
- With the recent increase in the gasoline tax, the recent MBUSD bonds we are repaying through increased assessments and the loss of property tax deductibility of California taxes on our Federal returns, we have reached the point of too much taxation
- Recent ads in mailers and the local papers list supporters of the assessment; many of whom do not live in Manhattan Beach. Special interests should not be deciding additional taxes should be placed on our shoulders.
- MBUSD administrators have a habit of crying wolf. Almost every year they complain about budget shortfalls that never happen. They have misled us in not providing a clear picture of the District’s finances too many times to be trusted now.
Naples of Southern California
While I applaud Manhattan Beach for addressing the open gray walls of our parking garages, I would hope that more attention would also be extended to our general environmental aesthetic (“Beach City Renaissance,” ER May 24, 2018). For a town of our wealth and aspirations to be the “Florence of Southern California,” our park benches are uninviting, our public trash cans are ugly and dog-pee stained, we have stalag-fencing in Sand Dune Park, and our bus stops lack empathy. We need a better sign ordinance for Sepulveda Boulevard, fewer advertising banners and fewer of the excessive city signs. We need to keep The Strand better cleaned of dog mess. Veterans Parkway needs in-fill shrubbery at the least, and for some reason the city finds it difficult to do supplemental Parkway planting even when grants are received. We need a tree planting and proactive tree preservation program. We need to address bulk/density of our homes and develop a unifying architectural consistency to our public buildings, instead of just throwing up our hands as if the task is impossible. Few of these areas cost much at all. There is no reason our community could not be more beautiful than it is with the right focus. There is more to aesthetics than art.
Why desal recycled water
West Basin Water District is a nationally recognized leader in recycling water. This is true, in part, because they have an abundant supply of treated water to draw from. The Hyperion Plant treats more than 250 million of gallons of water a day, with West Basin recycling more that 50 million gallons of that treated water. The rest of that treated water is released into the Santa Monica Bay, almost at the exact location where the proposed desalination plant would draw sea water from. Why not recycle more of that treated water?
When I attended West Basin’s “Water 101” class, I learned that West Basin’s recycled water is better than the water coming out of our taps. Yes, desalination plants do make sense in certain locations in the world. But, when you have more than 150 million gallons of treated water available that could be recycled, common sense tells you that this is the best alternative available. For this reason, all three beach cities, as well as well respected environmental groups such as Heal The Bay, Surfrider and many others, oppose the proposed desalination plant.
I do find it interesting that many of those who support the proposed desalination plant in our South Bay, also supported drilling for oil in Hermosa Beach and offshore drilling along the California Coast. The South Bay’s most precious natural resource is our Santa Monica Bay and our beautiful beaches. Let’s protect that precious natural resource.
There was a deal, there is a deal and the city should honor it (“CenterCal floats downscaled project,” ER May 24, 2018). The harbor area has been purposely allowed to run down for years and the city can no longer take care of it. Personal suits be damned, I want a nicer, safer, cleaner Pier and Harbor.
We all want revitalization. The plan CenterCal showed in this article should have been the original starting point (“CenterCal floats downscaled project,” ER May 24, 2018). The only reason CenterCal is rolling out Plan B is the residents they chose to ignore refused to get their mall shoved down our throats. And this plan has some big flaws: No access to the hand launch boat ramp. A bike path that dead ends. Insufficient parking for Seaside Lagoon alone, much less the rest of the development. And of course, CenterCal does not have the authority to move the boat ramp location or define its configuration. This is a new project and must be reviewed from scratch.
If the Redondo Beach City Council had just asked for a smaller Pier/Harbor project, CenterCal would have conceded (“CenterCal floats downscaled project,” ER May 24, 2018). This is what CenterCal’s Fred Bruning asserted in last week’s article. Does he mean I and others could have saved endless amounts of money and effort trying to keep CenterCal from building their monstrosity on our pier? It refreshed my memory of the day that will live in infamy: October 18, 2016. That was when the City Council not only denied the Build a Better Redondo appeal of the Harbor Commission’s 4-2 decision to pass the EIR, but also approved the entire CenterCal project — in spite of continuing questions about the safety of the boat launch location, Seaside Lagoon opening to the ocean, and destroyed views. Our Council essentially said, “Sure, let’s do this, but just modify a couple of the 19 buildings and let’s take some water samples at the new Seaside Lagoon opening to the harbor.”
A couple of months later I saw CenterCal’s PR rep Mickey Marraffino, at Councilmember Horvath’s District 3 meeting. I thought it was a little odd she was there, but not really, since she had knocked on my door campaigning for him. I approached her and asked if she was still with CenterCal and when she said yes I said, “Mickie, it’s just too big. Don’t you understand that? It’s completely inappropriate to have at our pier.” To which she said that it had to be that big to make their financials work out, and I was to just look at their website for the detailed explanation.
Well, it turns out, they can make it smaller, as CenterCal’s Fred Bruning announced last week. But it’s too little, too late and time to send them packing. Why our city staff ever bought into such a ridiculous deal to begin with is a mystery. It’s a 100 year lease, for peanuts. I’ll be dead, you’ll be dead. What is the end game of our city handing over our pier? Yes, Redondo Beach owns the harbor and pier. So here’s a concept — how about we pay a more cooperative, less sue-happy group to fix up our pier, in phases. Then it will be nice, draw people, and the city will actually reap the profits of the improvements — the way a homeowner benefits after you pay a contractor to fix up your house. This is the main point even the good people at BBR and Rescue our Waterfront don’t address nearly enough.
by Judy Rae