Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi’s bill is nothing more than pork barrel politics designed to win him votes and financial support. If the state has $17.5 million of interest free General Fund money to throw around, there are many ways to spend it than bailing out an affluent beach city from its self inflicted, contractual mistakes. Schools, the alleged first priority for General Fund expenditures, should be the prime candidate. Hermosa will probably soon be looking for school construction funding. The state also has no shortage of much needed infrastructure projects that could use this money (just don’t put Jerry’s bullet train on the list).
Numerous ways exist for Hermosa to pay E&B if the voters say “no” to oil. Bonds could be issued, a term payment arrangement could be reached with E&B, or the state could lend us money, but all of these should include market interest rates.
Here’s a plan. We need $11.5 million. Hermosa has a population of 19,677 and 10,160 housing units. If each resident donated $585, we could write a check to E&B and be done with this. On a housing unit basis, the amount would be $1,132. The fairest way would probably be a one time assessment of $2.35 per $1,000 of assessed valuation on all the property in the city (current assessed value = $4.9 billion.) And finally, all those who are so hysterical over the possibility of oil drilling could donate some money to help pay off this debt and lower the burden on everyone else.
I am 13 years old. I recently read “Facing Toyota Fallout” (ER May 1, 2015). I am on the fence about multiple issues discussed in the article. For one, I feel that Toyota’s decision to leave is justified, as there are lower state taxes in Texas: but I also am feeling disgruntled because of the rippling impact upon the community. Businesses are losing regular customers, and Toyota workers are being forced to quit or relocate their families and possessions to Plano. Workers who are relocating will have to sell their homes for lower prices because they are selling in a hurry. Even though Plano has financial benefits, they don’t compare to the lifestyle of living in California. Ultimately, Toyota is making a business move, and the people of the community are just going to have to adjust to the changes.
NO STATUS QUO
I don’t know what these “Keep Hermosa Hermosa” people are thinking. Keeping Hermosa Hermosa is not really an option. There will be change. And there are only two options.
The first option is to allow the oil company to drill. A handful of people who live near the site will be inconvenienced for a year or two. But most of the people of Hermosa won’t, and the city’s coffers won’t be emptied. The $6 million held in reserve as a down payment toward the $17.5 million fine will be freed up to improve the city. This is the closest option to keeping Hermosa Hermosa that I can see. Hermosa will change, and for the better if oil drilling is allowed.
The second option is to ban drilling and pay the $17.5 million fine (more than half a year’s worth of city budget) with money the city does not have and will be forced to borrow. This will empty the city’s coffers and financially cripple the city. Hermosa will no longer be Hermosa. It will look the same initially, but the money available to fund city maintenance will be hugely reduced. All the property-owning residents of the city will eventually have to make up the difference, probably through increased taxes. Hermosa will change, and certainly for the worse, if oil drilling is banned.
Have we learned nothing from the mortgage crisis? Massive debt is not a good thing. Hermosa is debt-free now. Let’s keep it that way by allowing oil drilling.
CRY OR DENY
The anti-oil crowd is often labeled as “crying wolf.” I think it is the other way around. Based on all of the documented evidence of the health and environmental impacts of drilling for oil, it is quite clear that the pro-oil crowd is “denying wolf.” It’s easy to see why. E&B has done an amazing job of convincing them that the risks of oil drilling in our densely populated, 1.3 square mile town are negligible. I can’t help but think of vintage tobacco ads I have seen with slogans like “More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette,” or “Not one single case of throat irritation due to smoking Camels.” In drawing a parallel to the tobacco industry, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that these same tobacco companies defended themselves in liability lawsuits by arguing that smokers should have known the habit was deadly. I am crying wolf because there is a wolf in town. Don’t make the mistake of denying wolf.
FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN
We, the residents of Hermosa Beach, have a lucrative oil-drilling project in front of us that has the potential to provide decades of revenue to the city and schools. Unfortunately, some residents in town are quickly dismissing this project as they see only impending doom and gloom. Fear of the unknown is taking over rational thought and preventing us from seeing the tremendous benefits that this project will bring. I don’t see these people quoting statistics on car crashes, electrical fires, or even a meteorite crashing to earth and killing everyone in town. There’s no end to the list of things that could potentially harm or kill us. For example, we take driving our cars for granted. We grew up in cars and have been in and around them since the day we were born. We depend on them to help us go about our daily lives, without giving it a second thought. Yet we all stand a much greater chance of getting hurt or dying in a car crash than we do from an oil disaster. Like the automobile industry, the oil industry has also made tremendous safety improvements over the years. The Hermosa Beach proposed project in particular employs added safety features such as a pipe-in-pipe design to prevent leaks and a state-of-the-art closed-loop system designed to capture emissions. So let’s not pass up a once in a lifetime opportunity that we will profit from for the next 30 years on the basis of unfounded fears.
I have to agree with Sheila Douglas regarding your new format (“Letters, May 1, 2014). My latest issue — all rolled up and bound with a rubber band in my driveway ‘till I came home from work — was so permanently rolled I could not get it flattened to even turn a page, so I finally sent it to the recycle bin. Please continue with your efforts to improve things, this idea is not working.