Letters to the Editor 8-25-22
Beach City down south
I just witnessed a cautionary tale in my hometown of Encinitas that is similar to the Verandas and AES developments (ER August 25, 2022). A developer wanted to shoehorn 277 units onto a three acre parcel. The Encinitas City Council, with community support, did not approve the project. The developer sued the city, citing SB 330 (the “Housing Crisis Act, of 2019). The council then approved a slightly modified development plan, which will still ruin the semi-rural nature of this part of the city. Let this be a lesson for the residents of Manhattan Beach and Redondo Beach. Fight hard for the quality of life, and residential living you have invested in. Challenge the Verandas and AES projects. Don’t be bullied by State legislators who have their own political agenda. Once the developers have made their profit, they will be off to another project, and then move to Montana for their own “quality of life.”
Unaffordable by any other name
This is not affordable housing, other than six units for very low income people (“Manhattan Beach Planning Commission rejects Project Verandas appeals,” ER June 16, 2022). 76 units are market value. If you can’t live in Manhattan Beach because you can’t afford it, you still won’t be able to afford it. This is a luxury building that’s allowed to be built on a postage stamp. Is it even safe to build and dig next to a major refinery? I’m guessing no, but the state doesn’t seem to care about runoff into our oceans and the health of residents.
Zeroing in on zoning
Earlier this year, many citizens across California collected signatures for a Zoning Initiative, which, had it been placed on the 2022 ballot, and passed, would have amended the State Constitution to allow city zoning laws to supersede state laws. Unfortunately, the signature gathering effort was stopped prematurely. A lot of people thought that the zoning initiative was strictly an “anti SB 9” initiative. (SB 9 is the bill that allows a single-family lot to be split, and then two dwellings put on each split; it became effective in January 2022.) In fact, the zoning initiative would have allowed cities to control zoning for other projects, such as Project Veranda in Manhattan Beach. There, the developer is trying to use density bonus laws to override Manhattan Beach zoning laws, regarding height limits and parking. Other recent zoning laws allow owners of existing apartments to get rid of some or all of their parking by changing apartment complex parking garages to ADUs (Accessory Dwelling Units). This is taking place as we speak, in both North and South Redondo, even on some of the narrowest and densest streets. Out-of-town apartment owners do not always care about the city where they own property. There is going to be another effort to get the local control zoning initiative on the 2024 ballot, starting some time in 2023. Please check out ourneighborhoodvoices.com to get educated.
There but for fortune
“That night at dinner, as I told this story to my family, everyone laughed and seemed surprised that I would think to buy some random homeless guy a coffee.” Well, after reading this 52nd Anniversary Writing contest honorable mention (“Homie,” ER August 11, 2022), I wish the author just hadn’t bothered. I don’t know the homeless man in this particular story, who was lucky enough to be the right type of homeless, unlike “the typical drunks and bums who congregated in the parks surrounding the Rescue Missions in downtown Los Angeles.” I do however know a man who is homeless. I’ll call him David. He walks the streets of Downtown Manhattan Beach, and at times he relies on the kindness of strangers to get him a cup of coffee and something to eat. He does usually have bags with him, though they aren’t plastic, and he has an iPhone for emergencies. An iPhone with a screen just as capable of “reflecting the delicate explosions” of MB’s Annual Holiday Fireworks show. He’s clean enough, though I doubt his wardrobe would be found in the author’s closet, as he’s not really the “striped polo shirt” type these days. Perhaps it would have been more difficult to tell them apart twenty some-odd years ago however, when David and I were just teenagers at Mira Costa High School trying to navigate the everyday stresses of adolescence with the rest of our classmates. Hoping we would get into good schools and have good lives. It happened for me, and for that I’m grateful. And it should have happened to David, too. He got into a great university, graduated with honors and started amassing the wealth that would keep him in the lifestyle he was raised in. Unfortunately, mental illness didn’t get the memo that people like David, rich people, were supposed to be immune. Years of untreated mental illness compounded by family tragedy left him homeless and at the mercy of people who use appearance and time of year to decide when to be kind and decent, only to turn the exchange into an anecdote to be laughed at around the dinner table. Or worse still, put it into writing and publish it. This piece by Judson Moore was a sad read. I don’t know if others felt the same way, but I felt compelled to write in, for David and others like him who didn’t ask for their lives but have to live them anyways. Hoping my words can serve as a reminder to show more compassion and less judgment to the people you meet.
Light rail, dark future
Our property on Fisk Court, in Redondo Beach, is halfway between 182nd and 190th Street, and only feet away from the existing railroad tracks that are elevated 35 feet above us (“Crowd opposes Green Line extension in North Redondo,” ER April 29, 2022). Metro is proposing to move those tracks 12 to 15 feet west, and closer to our property line to make room for the proposed two line, light rail on the east side. 100 feet was considered safe over 100 years ago in case of a derailment. And now Metro thinks compressing 3 rail lines into the same space is okay. This is not acceptable. Each day, locomotives are hauling 13 to 30 black tankers, each carrying 31,000 gallons of highly volatile fuel only feet from our property. The track curves near us and if those tankers were to derail and plummet down on our homes we would not survive. The proposed schedule of light rail would be running from 4a.m. until 12 midnight, 19 hours every day, every 6 to 10 minutes past our homes. Imagine yourselves living with this nightmare. The constant noise, vibration and loss of privacy. Our quality of life, our health, disturbed sleep causing far-reaching effects on brain function, physical health, and emotional well-being. Not to mention the years of noise of construction if they are heinous enough to use the right-of-way. Do the right thing. Build the elevated light rail down Hawthorne Boulevard, through the commercial district, not our backyards.
Sparring with danger
I have seen all of the conditions mentioned, many times and to varying degrees throughout my boxing travels since the journey began in 1971 (“KO’d: Schwartz was a beloved Manhattan chiropractor, with passion for boxing,” ER August 18, 2022). I love the sport, hate the business and certainly do not care for the long-term effects. It’s been many years since I read “The Medical Aspects of Boxing, ” by Barry Jordan, MD, MPH, but I believe his thesis seemed to prove that the main damage to a fighter’s brain comes from innumerable hours of sparring. I used to spar when I was recovering from a cut, or had a headache, and we would concentrate on feinting and body blows. No easy answers, but minimizing sparring hours, and having knowledgeable, caring trainers, would be a start.
Is this legal?
While tipping a few at our favorite watering hole, my husband and I learned that the Hermosa Iron Man Contest, (AKA Beach Vomit Fest), is not approved, authorized, sponsored, or sanctioned by the city. This means the city council allows outsiders to come into our wee town, and charge others money to use our beach. Tis shocking to us. Maybe we should organize a beach dodge ball game for St. Pat’s Day and pocket $50/person for an entrance fee. This is very, very disappointing, and poor city management, and it exposes the city to serious liability. Our friends in Palos Verdes tell their kids if they want to act up, get drunk, and party into the wee hours, then go to Hermosa, where the party houses are abundant. How many short term rentals (party houses) can we accommodate? How many more volleyball courts on the beach can we tolerate? How many more activities on the beach must we absorb? Our neighboring villages are more resident friendly, and more environmentally wise. Let’s be smart at our next city election and vote for people with the guts to do what’s right for our city, and who will protect our beautiful beach.
Based on existing California law, this project clearly cannot be approved (“Manhattan Beach delays Veranda’s project decision,” ER August 18, 2020). First, since CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) applies to this project, a full environmental impact report is mandated. This project is clearly not an exempt “ministerial project,” like the “issuance of business licenses,” or the “approval of individual utility service connections or disconnections”. There isn’t one council member naïve enough to think so. Second, since the project is in the coastal zone, this project is not eligible for four stories, 79 units, or waivers, or concessions related to our local development standards contained in our municipal code. State law specifically exempted sites in the coastal zone, the wetlands, and other sensitive areas. It’s time to end the Highrose folly.
Editor’s note: Mark Burton is a candidate for the Manhattan Beach City Council in the November 8 election
Changing of the guard
The Hermosa Beach City Council candidate filing has closed, and it is becoming clear that change is coming. With the exception of incumbent Raymond Jackson, the entire candidates’ field is populated by potential first-time council members and predominantly first-time council candidates. The Justin Massey, Stacey Armato-dominated council of the last several years has led to repeated, expensive debacles, out-of-control control spending, and declining transparency. It is difficult to find any issue since 2015 that saw a significant level of debate at a council meeting. We are stuck with Massey’s dictatorial arrogance for two more years but, perhaps, with a change in the three open seats, he will not have the automatic voting block he has wielded like a cudgel for the last seven years.
Hermosa Beach, CA
Bold move by Leo Pustilnikov (“Pustilnikov files for 2,320 housing units at AES,” ER Aug 25, 2022). He seems to be timing his preliminary application with the upcoming Redondo Beach recall election. He has also leased office space to the outside cannabis campaign. The next few months will be a pivotal time for Redondo voters. The city should review the 1990 Housing Accountability Act’s “builder’s remedy,” which states cities may block a project at 20 percent low-income housing only if the city’s housing element is compliant. The project is also in the Coastal Zone, which has its own limits on development. I look forward to the day the power plant comes down and the area is remediated. If done right, the city can boost transit and bike access to this site (while hopefully minimizing parking requirements that work against our climate goals), and we can welcome new neighbors, community spaces, and an extensive climate-appropriate and native habitat. Would it be possible to see a net-zero development that, instead of polluting our air, creates needed housing and draws down carbon in a regenerative way? That would be a cool solarpunk future.
Costly (ballot) move
The Redondo Beach Cannabis Initiative was initially placed by the city council on the March 7, 2023 ballot. District 4 Zein Obagi’s recall would initially have been on the November 8, 2022 ballot, at a cost to the city of $36,000. Councilmember Nils Nehrenheim made a non-agendized motion, to have a special election on October 19, 2022, for the Cannabis Initiative, and include Obagi’s recall. The cost for the city will now be between $217,000 and $297,000 for a Special Election, instead of $36,000. Obagi voted for moving the date of his own special election. He is a patsy for Mayor Brand, and councilmembers Nehrenheim and Todd Loewenstein. Council challenger Tonya McKenzie will represent District 4 while working to enhance Redondo Beach’s shared community and commerce. Vote for Tonya McKenzie District 4 City Council Member.
It is obvious out of town businesses are trying to gain control of the Redondo Beach City Council. Hopefully District 4 residents voting on Councilman Zein Obagi’s recall will see through the thinly veiled smoke screen being thrown out by the Long Beach pot dealer’s campaign (Lewis rents S.E.A Lab for Campaign HQ,” ER August 4, 2022). Just to get the recall on the ballot, the Long Beach pot dealer has spent nearly $300,000. Not one dime of the campaign was funded by a Redondo resident, much less any residents of D4. It will be interesting to see who funds challenger Tonya McKenzie’s campaign or whether the Long Beach pot dealer will just run a shadow campaign advocating for her. You can already see the Long Beach pot dealer does not give a crap about the community. There are dozens of vacant businesses along Pacific Coast Hwy., and Artesia Boulevard that he could have used for his campaigns (the pot initiative and the Councilmember recall). But he chose a spot that puts a Redondo Beach educational non-profit on the street.”
Redondo Beach District 4 City Council Candidate Tonya McKenzie has the experience, intelligence, fortitude and leadership qualities needed to make an amazing Redondo Beach councilmember (“McKenzie files to run against Obagi,” ER August 25, 2022). She cares so deeply about our community that she is bravely willing to step into the cesspool that Redondo Beach local politics has become. She is exactly who we need on the City Council right now. District 4 and all of Redondo Beach, specifically North Redondo, would be lucky to have her on City Council.
Alisa Trapp Beeli
All of our responsibility
Thanking all who had this vision, and brought it to life, but I’m saddened that the State of California and the Beach Cities School Districts did not fund this wonderful project (“Friendship Campus breaks ground,” ER August 25, 2022). We need more than contributions and bake sales to fund our schools. Excellence will never come to education until we go all out for our public schools. Put education as the highest national priority like we did the Space Program years ago.
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