Hermosa Beach City Council backs homelessness measure
by Ryan McDonald
The Hermosa Beach City Council unanimously endorsed Measure H, a county-wide sales tax proposal to fund services for the homeless, at its Tuesday night meeting.
If passed, Meausre H would add a quarter cent to the existing sales tax rate. Hermosa Beach’s rate currently stands at 8.75 percent, and would rise to 9 percent if the tax were approved.
Such an increase would cost the median family about a dollar a month, county actuaries estimate. The measure would raise an estimated $350 million per year to fund mental health and substance abuse treatment, job training and more.
The measure comes amid increasing concern with homelessness across the county. A homeless census for 2016 conducted by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority counted 46,874 unsheltered people in the county, a 19 percent increase from 2013. In November, voters in the city of Los Angeles, which has about half of the county’s homeless, approved a plan to build housing for the homeless, but that money cannot be spent on services.
Hermosa does not have any local matters accompanying the county measure on the March 7 ballot. In endorsing the measure, Mayor Hany Fangary urged staff to reach out to residents to remind them about the election.
Measure H requires a two-thirds vote for passage.
Solar slated for community center
Later Tuesday night, the city issued agreed to issue a call for bids to install photovoltaic solar cells on the roof of the Community Center.
In previous discussions, the council had selected the Community Center as the building most amenable to carrying solar panels for energy generation. The city’s historic resources consultant indicated that additions could be made to the building so long as they do not obscure its appearance to a person at street level, which the solar cells would not do, according to Environmental Analyst Kristy Morris.
The plan to add solar cells, however, heightens the need to repair sections of the center’s roof. A portion of the roof covering the theater stage was damaged in a recent storm, requiring repair, according to a staff report. The remainder of the roofs on the center’s buildings would need to be repaired to support the cells.
The city has appropriated $500,000 for the project, causing some to question the efficiency of the plan; the center’s annual electricity bill is about $37,000, according to a letter to the council from former mayor Pete Tucker.
But the $500,000 figure includes both the cost of installing the panels and the cost to replace the roof, previously identified as a priority. A breakdown for two portions of the job was not available. Solar cells donated for the project by the company handling Trans Pacific Cable project are valued at $10,000 and would constitute about 10 percent of the project, according to a staff report.