Letters to the Editor 8-6-2020
Electric bikes, skateboards and scooters are becoming a real hazard on the Hermosa Beach Strand. The bikes are whizzing by walkers sometimes at 25-30 miles per hour. There are many pre teens and teens using these bikes, most without helmets. I am dreading the day a toddler gets mowed down by one of these motor vehicles. It is my understanding, based on posted signage, that these vehicles are illegal on The Strand. Is it really a law if it is never enforced?
A positive school report
Thank you for the opportunity to once again share the results of the LiveWell Kids program and the childhood obesity decrease from 20 percent in 2007 to 6.4 percent in 2019 among Redondo Beach Unified School District elementary school students. We’re proud of this outcome. We invite you to read the report, “Los Angeles County Department of Public Health in partnership with Beach Cities Health District,” authored by Paul Simon, MD, MPH, Chief Science Officer and Rashmi Shetgiri, MD, MPH, Chief Epidemiologist, at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (DPH), at BCHD.org/SchoolHealthReports.
This was an independent evaluation supported by a UCLA epidemiology masters’ level candidate. More than 30,000 height and weight measurements (to determine Body Mass Index – BMI) were collected by BCHD staff and volunteers from 2007 to 2019.
The report was not the result of a financial arrangement, as implied by a letter writer’s Public Information Request to BCHD, on July 3, requesting “any documentation regarding payments made to UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, Dr. Paul Simon or any individual or group associated with the Los Angeles Department of Public Health and UCLA Fielding Schools of Public Health.”
There’s no blurring the line of the outcome of thousands of Redondo Beach students being prepared for a lifetime of healthy habits, and the unprecedented results of this local partnership.
“The findings are particularly impressive because they were sustained and observed across all public elementary schools, grade levels and demographic groups. In addition, the findings suggest a reduction in disparities in child obesity prevalence across racial/ethnic groups, a result that has been rarely, if ever, achieved in other locales,” Dr. Simon stated at the June 24 meeting of the BCHD Board of Directors:
Tom Bakaly, CEO, Beach Cities Health District
Dr. Steven Keller, Superintendent, Redondo Beach Unified School District
Wild West zoning 2020
Senate Bill, SB 1120, if passed, would allow all single family lots in neighborhoods in Hermosa, Manhattan and Redondo to be split, with two houses on each of the split lots? This is a bill backed by real estate interests, developers and mega-corporations, who hope to gain more houses to control the rental market. In 2004, well before the last recession, 58.6 percent of California single family homes were owner occupied. After the recession only 53.6 percent of homes were owner occupied. Speculators bought up the homes that went into foreclosure, and kept them for rentals. We are in now at the start of another recession. This time, it is the state legislature that is going to help speculators take control of single family lots. SB 1120 allows any residential (R1) lot to be split, and two homes built on the split properties, for a total of 4 dwelling units. There is effectively no minimum lot size that restricts splitting. A token limit is that the lot after splitting must be at least 1,200 sq ft. On this 1200 sq ft, a developer would be legally allowed to squeeze two dwellings. Furthermore, no parking would be required if the dwellings are within one-half mile of a bus stop. All of Hermosa, Manhattan and Redondo meet this criteria. If there are four dwellings where one used to be, that could be a total of eight cars now on the street, if each dwelling is occupied by two people with cars.
Scott Wiener, the state Senator who authored the failed SB-50, is behind this. The bill, as originally introduced in Feb., 2020, did not have any of these considerations. Several quick last minute modifications, starting in May 2020, introduced changes of which most senators were probably unaware. The bill passed on the consent calendar (that is, automatically) with a 39-0 vote. The Senators must have been asleep at the wheel, for no one even pulled it for discussion.
The developers and speculators behind this will make a killing if they can buy some of the older properties and up-zone them. They will also be able to push aside any young buyers seeking a single family home by making all cash offers. SB 1120 is now in front of the Assembly. All of us need to get in touch with South Bay Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi and request that he vote against it. The bill is coming up for a vote next week. We need to stop SB 1120 now.
Racism’s knock-on effect
I can’t believe I am having to write this letter in 2020, but here we are. I don’t know if former Manhattan Beach Mayor Russ Lesser was being willfully obtuse or just plain ignorant in his editorial on July 23 (Sandbox: Should white families who owned 25 of the 30 Bruce’s Beach lots in Manhattan Beach also receive reparation?” ER July 30, 2020). One of the many things Lesser seems to ignore is the idea that reparations are exclusively a monetary issue. He repeatedly questions the logistics of the petition–who gets what? What will Manhattan Beach homeowners (a group that includes my parents) possibly do if their property taxes go up? Did you know some of the money might go to white people? And while certainly those issues would need to be hashed out, focusing solely on them avoids more important questions, such as why people are calling for reparations in the first place, and what we, as the benefactors of years of racism and exclusion, can do to repay the people upon whose backs we built our success on.
I had an idyllic childhood. My parents bought their first house in Manhattan Beach in the early ‘80s and my two siblings and I grew up attending great public schools, hanging with friends at beautiful beaches (our street was 6th, my brother’s Marine St.), and generally being raised in what would have been the textbook definition of privilege. In fact, it is a childhood I imagine Russ Lesser would be eminently familiar with — his nephew was an elementary school classmate of mine, a friend with whom I went to Chucky Cheese and watched Laser Discs. We always thought it funny that we shared a last name but no relations, a fact I was grateful for all over again upon reading the editorial. I bring all of this up only to make this point: one of the most insidious tactics that gets trotted out time and again in arguments like this is a narrowing of the victim pool. Lesser points out that even if the city agreed to pay reparations, to whom would the money go? The Bruces whose land was taken from them are long dead and gone from the community. Yes, it was wrong, Lesser wants us to say, but it is in the past. Why can’t we just move on? But that argument only works if you limit your idea of harm to those directly affected, and not those harmed by the knock-on effect. White Supremacy doesn’t just hurt the oppressed, it hurts the generations of people who follow the oppressed. It also hurts the oppressors. And while our pain and loss is but a drop in the bucket compared to the Bruces’, these actions now hurt me. They hurt my siblings. They hurt Russ’ nephew and all of our classmates. You can draw a line (perhaps a redline) directly from the actions of both George Peck (who sold the Bruce’s the property) and Russ Lesser to my “idyllic” childhood, in which I spent seven years at Pacific Elementary and two at Manhattan Beach Intermediate. During that time, I knew one Black family. I, my siblings, and all of my friends were deprived of the experience of growing up with any sort of diversity. We were both the benefactors and the victims or the kind of White Supremacist policy that led to the seizing of Bruce’s Beach in the first place, and continues through the pen of Russ Lesser as he decries the idea of reparations. Obviously, our loss pales in comparison to the Black families that weren’t allowed to do what Lesser’s family was: buy and keep property in a sleepy beach town that would one day become one of the most desirable communities in California. The Bruces, the other Black families who lost their land, and their children and grandchildren should have had the same opportunity to grow up the way I did. The way Russ Lesser did. Maybe I would have played at one of their houses. Maybe one of them would have been mayor. Maybe not. But the fact that they never got the opportunity to find out is a crime committed by the white people of Manhattan Beach in the 1900s, and from the plaque on Highland to the pages of the Easy Reader, it is a crime whose legacy is continuously propped up by the white people of Manhattan Beach today.
Are reparations the answer? I don’t know. As a white person, it is my belief that it is not for me to say. I could always be wrong.
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