Torrance opts out: work begins on BCHD bike path

This BCHD rendering shows the work on Diamond Street as it leads into the Redondo Beach side of the bike path project. The work will stop as the path crosses the city borderline with Torrance. Courtesy BCHD

by Garth Meyer

Conversion of a 10-foot-wide, 450-foot stretch of alley connecting Diamond Street and Flagler Lane into a bike path has created controversy due to its cost, and that the City of Torrance declined to participate in the project.

The bike path improvement, which will stop at the Redondo/Torrance border, is to be paid for by a $1.83 million grant from Metro (Measure M funds) to the Beach Cities Health District.

A construction crew started work July 10.

It was delayed by the pandemic, and then by drawn-out negotiations with Torrance. The Torrance stretch of the alley will remain in its current condition.

Along the alleyway, a six-foot-tall retaining wall is being built, and the adjacent hillside regraded. The Beach Cities Health District property is above the hillside.

The project also includes repaving part of Diamond Street and putting in bicycle video sensors  at the intersection of Prospect Avenue. 

After Torrance declined participation, $300,000 originally meant for the Torrance section of the path was reallocated to construction of the retaining wall and $190,000 meant for Torrance was reallocated to Diamond Street improvements requested by the City of Redondo Beach. 


Torrance view

The Torrance Public Works Department turned down the bike path proposal after a city traffic commission public hearing in November 2022 drew negative input. 

“It’s done at the department level first,” said Torrance city councilmember Bridgett Lewis, who represents the area adjacent to the BCHD land. “The council would not go back and review it because the over-arching BCHD project, the Healthy Living Campus, is so contentious.”

Lewis cited residents’ concerns about the proposed size, height and shading of the Campus plan for the top of the hill, which is separate from the bike path work. 

Torrance Mayor George Chen said 14 speakers at the November 2022 Torrance traffic commission meeting opposed the path and three supported it. Of 115 email comments, 79 were opposed.

Torrance Public Works Director Craig Bilezerian noted concerns about maintenance costs for the bike path, and that no CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) process was considered for Torrance.

BCHD filed a notice of exemption from CEQA with Redondo Beach, which granted permits for the project two weeks ago.

“The bike path is exempt, because it is currently being used by bicyclists,” said Bakaly.

Torrance officials also alleged poor communications as a reason it was not taking part.

“BCHD did not approach the City of Torrance to request a letter of support for their grant application. In fact, there was no outreach from BCHD to Torrance Public Works Engineering Division prior to BCHD preparing and submitting its grant application,” Bilezerian wrote in his report for the November 2022 public hearing. 

Bakaly countered that a Torrance city representative on the South Bay Council of Governments’ transportation subcommittee recommended the grant, and a Torrance city councilmember was on the Council of Governments board that voted to approve the grant application.

“We asked (for their support) in a letter and never heard back,” said Bakaly. “In our mind, they definitely knew about it.”

As for the views of Torrance residents about the bike path, Councilmember Lewis described them as construction concerns and more.

“It may be mistrust between residents and BCHD. They have connected it to the Healthy Living Campus,” Lewis said.

“The Healthy Living Campus is a separate project,” Bakaly said, “And the number of units have been reduced, and units along the eastern edge have been taken out of the plans due to input from Torrance residents.”



With Torrance out, as construction costs in general have spiked since 2018 – when the grant was applied for – the original total for the whole bike path will now be used for half of it, adding the retaining wall and Diamond Street work.

The 450-feet total distance for the revitalized path includes Diamond.

“This infrastructure improvement will encourage people to be more active while making the route safer for young people traveling to Redondo Union High School or the beach,” Bakaly said. “Our (previous work with other BCHD programs) has shown that improvements in the built environment can deliver benefits that enhance life for residents.”

Why is this a BCHD project instead of a city project?


A crew works on site July 26 near Diamond Street. The end of the fence in the background marks the extent of the project at one end, where the existing alleyway crosses into Torrance. The hillside at left, owned by Beach Cities Health District, leads to where the Healthy Living Campus is proposed to be built. Photo by Garth Meyer


“We applied as a public agency committed to improving bicycle and pedestrian access. We wanted to move forward with implementation of the (South Bay) bike Master Plan on the adjacent right-of-way to our campus,” Bakaly said. 

The South Bay Bicycle Master Plan was adopted by seven cities in 2012. 

“We’re making Diamond safer for bikes, which is part of the bicycle Master Plan,” Bakaly said.   

“I don’t want to speak for BCHD, but essentially, BCHD is trying to enhance the larger bike network, by allowing one agency to do two cities’ work,” said David Leger, senior project manager for South Bay Council of Governments. 

The Torrance portion of the bike path, if ever done, Bakaly estimated, would cost another $1.1 million. 

“We’d love to have a better understanding of Torrance’s position,” said Vanessa Poster, BCHD board president. “I think it’s unfortunate, and I look forward to a time when they can finish the bike path.”

“This is the most expensive bike path in the history of anywhere,” said Candace Nafissi, a member of the Redondo Beach General Plan Advisory Committee.

Cornerstone Construction Group, Inc., is the project contractor.

“It’s not as simple as a dollar-per-foot calculation on the path,” said Leger. “There is a lot of support, because it fills in a gap in a larger route that goes to the beach.”

“Walkability” and “bikeability” are championed by BCHD through its other projects. Its “Living Streets” philosophy incorporates people-friendly street designs “to provide increased safety plus health, economic and environmental benefits.”

“Redondo Beach Council PTA supports Beach Cities Health District’s efforts to revitalize the Diamond Street and Flagler Lane Bike and Pedestrian path,” wrote Sondi Kroeger Foley, Redondo PTA president, in an Easy Reader letter to the editor. “The mission of the California State PTA is to positively impact the lives of all children, and any effort that is made to allow our children to move about the community in a safer way is truly welcome.”

The project has drawn further positive accord.

“This will create an important connection for the cycling community,” said Jim Hannon, president of the South Bay Bicycle Coalition Plus, a nonprofit focused on making city streets safer for all users. “During a series of outreach meetings to develop the South Bay Bicycle Master Plan, this particular route was identified by the residents of Redondo Beach and Torrance as vital for the safety of children trying to get to school, families trying to get to the beach and other local, popular destinations in the Beach Cities.” 

The bike path project is expected to be finished in October. 

“We’re really excited,” said Bakaly. “We think it’ll be a nice amenity for the community.” ER


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