Redondo wants Hermosa to pay back money for Herondo drain

by Dan Blackburn

Hermosa Beach city officials are bracing for a lawsuit in a years-long spat over an unpaid bill allegedly owed to neighboring Redondo Beach. The lawsuit centers around a faltering flood control project.

Ted Semaan, Redondo Beach’s public works director, sent a “notice of default” earlier this month to his Hermosa Beach counterpart, Douglas Krauss, noting payment of $267,963.33 needs to be repaid by early November.

In a closed session Tuesday, Hermosa Beach council members heard from City Attorney Michael Jenkins that the city faces a “significant exposure to litigation” over the matter. No action was taken by the council, according to Jenkins.

The dispute involves plans for a rainwater diversion project originally envisioned for construction under the Greenbelt in south Hermosa, near Second and Valley streets. It would have captured runoff generated during rainstorms from the Herondo Storm Drain to an underground filtration system yet to be constructed.

Redondo and Hermosa are part of the Beach Cities Enhanced Watershed Management Program in association with Manhattan Beach, Torrance, and the Los Angeles County Flood Control District. The cities are required to comply with federal mandates governing the number of days that bacterial counts can be expected to exceed established targets at local beaches.

The project would have been unobtrusive after completion, according to a spokesperson for TetraTech, an environmental engineering firm hired to work on the project. In an April 2018 Easy Reader article, the spokesperson asserted that “when completed, the project should be all but invisible. The only above-ground feature would be a covering used to access and change filters.”

The plan encountered significant opposition from local residents upon learning of the construction plans. Those residents, many of whom occupy condominiums directly adjacent to the planned construction, claimed they heard of the plans only after reading of them in Easy Reader. Following a lengthy series of public discussions, the Greenbelt concept was shelved and an alternative is now being sought.

Semaan informed Hermosa officials that “to date, the city has paid nothing of its $267,963,33” obligation to the agreement approved by the Hermosa Beach City Council.

If Hermosa Beach “fails to pay its obligated contribution as invoiced, then the city shall forfeit its rights to work completed, and be responsible for the payment of fines, penalties, and costs incurred because of this non-performance of the (agreement) implementation.”

Hermosa Beach resident Howard Longacre called the council’s closed session on the issue “extremely odd. It would seem like it should be discussed in open session to have the public hear what it is all about.” 

Redondo Beach officials have been trying, unsuccessfully, to recover the funds for more than a year.

Hermosa at one point offered to return about three-fourths of the money conditioned on certain changes in project administration. Redondo “sternly” rejected the offer, according to a 2018 news article.

Manhattan’s Semaan did not respond to a request for comment. ER



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