David Mendez

Supes back bid for parks and wetlands at power plant site

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An aerial view of the AES power plant. The L.A. County Board of Supervisors will back a new financing district plan to help Redondo Beach redevelop the site. Photo courtesy L.A. County

by David Mendez

Redondo Beach’s bid to own the AES Power Plant property was boosted on Tuesday, when the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors backed plans for a financing district that would help the City purchase and renovate the site into sorely-needed open space.

“This power plant is an eyesore and we have an opportunity now to transform this site into a massive regional park and restore some of the wetlands that this power plant destroyed,” said Fourth District Supervisor Janice Hahn, who represents Redondo on the five-seat board. “There is plenty of work ahead of us, but this is a major step in returning this prime piece of waterfront real estate to the people.”

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The Supervisors announced their intent to establish an Enhanced Infrastructure Financing District, a tax-overlay district that would capture property tax money otherwise earmarked for the County and redirect it to the City of Redondo Beach. The financing district is expected to generate at least $93 million, helping the City acquire the land and develop infrastructure and parkland at the site.

 According to a release by Hahn’s office, and proposals by Redondo’s real estate consultant Larry Kosmont, the EIFD would not raise additional taxes. Bonds would be issued to cover the cost of the new infrastructure. Funds raised by new development within the district would be used to repay the bond debt.

The plan is starting to come together for Redondo Beach, which was recently named the recipient of a total of $5 million in grant funding from the California State Coastal Conservancy and the Natural Resources Agency. Redondo also has a promise from developer Leo Pustilnikov, the man planning to purchase and redevelop the power plant site, to sell half of the nearly 50-acre site to the City for the purposes of parkland and wetland restoration.

The California Coastal Commission determined in 2015 that the power plant was home to nearly six acres of natural wetlands. More than a century earlier, the site was a renowned salt lake — and has been commemorated as such with a landmark just outside the power plant’s security gate.

“They haven’t finalized it, but they’re excited,” Brand said at Tuesday night’s Redondo Beach City Council meeting. “It’s an important step, a milestone. But we still have a long way to go.”

Until recently, plans were all but set in stone for the plant to retire at the end of 2020. But late last month, the California Public Utility Commission recommended AES Redondo stay open at least three more years to stave off a possible power shortage. That decision is not yet final, and is scheduled to appear on the CPUC’s Nov. 7 agenda.

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