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On Local Government 11-7-19

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Torrance neighbors versus Healthy Living Campus

by Bob Pinzler

At about the same time that the South Bay Hospital District was created in the late 1950s, a community of single family homes was developing just east and down the slope from the property the district had been granted by the voters of the three beach cities. 

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This Torrance community, mostly occupied by aerospace engineers and other professionals, remains very much as it was. Most of the residents have lived there for many years and have bonded as one would expect with longtime neighbors. So, when a challenge was presented to them, they did as one would expect. They talked to each other and decided on a response.

Two weeks ago, these Torrance residents decided that they would forcefully oppose the proposed Beach Cities Health District (BCHD) project to build over 400 assisted living units on the property that towers over their community. However, they are faced with a major dilemma. Torrance has no say in the running of the BCHD. Only the three beach cities do.

The problem facing this community is clear. Construction would be taking place on that property for over 15 years. They are downwind from the site. It seems ironic to them that this District, whose mission is promoting healthy outcomes, will be subjecting a neighboring community with a decade and a half of unhealthy air and stressful disruptions to their lives.

Aside from teaming up with people opposed to the project on the Redondo side of the border, the Torrance group has learned a few things that could put a “spanner in the works.” First is that the street that was a primary focus of construction activity, as well as an important entrance to the planned subterranean garage, Flagler Lane, does not belong to Redondo Beach. In fact, even part of the hill upon which the BCHD sits is also owned by Torrance. 

To get around that problem, it has been reported that the BCHD offered Torrance $10,000 for the right of access. Torrance turned it down. Now, the BCHD will have to revise their plan. Does this mean that the Environmental Impact Report, now underway, will need to be revisited, including opening up new public response opportunities? This would set the timetable for this project back many months.

In addition, the impact on Towers Elementary School, also in the line of debris fallout, would need to be dealt with by the Torrance school board and, possibly, the California Superintendent of Public Instruction. Possibly more delay.

An extra change on the Torrance side is that, in 2020, the city’s Council members will be elected by district. The voting core of one of those districts is the community which will be the most affected by the BCHD project. And, they vote.

The BCHD assisted living project has been problematic from the moment it was first presented to the public. They should revisit their plans and come up with a different process for delivering them from the mismanagement that got them into their financial predicament in the first place.

It is time for them to admit their blunder.

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