Letters to the Editor, 8/21/14
Peerless farmer’s market
In coastal cities all over the world, from Nice, France to Santa Monica, California, there are bustling Farmer’s Markets in the heart of the town. Farmer’s Markets serve the everyday needs of the residents, but the best ones actually influence what we eat. Chefs on the Westside of Los Angeles depend on the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market for fresh, locally sourced items for their menus.
Everyone in Santa Monica knows about the Farmer’s Market because it is right out in front of them. The Market is part of the City’s cultural identity.
The Hermosa Beach Farmer’s Market is fine, and the people who go enjoy its location near Clark Field. That said many residents know nothing of its existence. The Chamber of Commerce has voted to move the Farmer’s Market to Pier Plaza. The Chamber envisions a busy, diverse Farmer’s Market that brings out the whole community and makes downtown a weekday destination that will bring additional revenue to our local businesses.
The Plaza is a great asset that we should fully embrace; an effort should be made to make it more of a community gathering place that we can be proud of and that will attract business. Moving the Farmer’s Market to Pier Plaza is a key step in this process. As a Hermosa Beach resident with a young family, we look forward to enjoying the new location.
Hermosa Beach Resident
The farmers market that comes to Hermosa every Friday has an ideal location next to Clark Stadium. There’s a grass area with a shade tree where mothers with baby strollers gather. There are outdoor basketball courts surrounded by a high chain link fence where little kids ride tricycles and run around. There is free parking nearby because the city offices are closed on Fridays.
Some residents and the local firefighters just walk to the market. The kids from Valley School walk there as a group. Who would want to do away with a situation that works so well for the residents of Hermosa?
Some Hermosa Plaza business owners, through their Chamber of Commerce, want to do exactly that. And they have the power to do it because the chamber owns the farmers market. They want to move the market to the plaza and they want to have it on Wednesdays. They don’t actually care about the market itself. They just want to use it as a lure to increase foot traffic to their businesses. There’s no grass area with a shade tree there. There’s no place where little kids can run around in perfect safety. The school kids won’t be able to walk there. It’s tough to find a parking place near the plaza, even if you’re willing to put money in a meter. The market vendors are against the move. They and a large number of community members are the losers in this proposed scheme.
I’ve played in the Manhattan Beach Open Tennis Tournament for the past three year, at the lowest level, and have enjoyed it very much. The notion that the tournament is losing it’s “local flavor” because there are better players in the open division is silly (“City dismisses tennis tournament director,” ER November 7, 2014). No one wants to watch me play. I’m out there for the experience of playing in a real tournament. I think it’s great that there are much better players competing. They can bring out real crowds. Who knows? Done well maybe it could be grown into something significant. Do you realize there is not one professional level tournament, men’s or women’s, played annually in all of the Los Angeles region? This is ridiculous. LA is a huge tennis market.
The Manhattan Open Tennis Tournament was on the verge of folding before director Bennett Slusarz jumped in and revived it three years ago. It had become stagnant. Slusarz found sponsors, promoted it and ran it. Were it not for his efforts I doubt there would be an event today.
Are there any other big-time sports events in the Beach Cities run by the city rec depts? The AVP volleyball tournaments? Surf contests? The Chevron Grand Prix Bike Race? Aren’t they all run by professional organizations with the necessary skills and experience?
Lastly, it’s a cop-out for recreation manager Idris al-Oboudi to refuse to say why he canned Sluszrz. It leads me to conclude his reasons are weak and unsupportable and he’s embarrassed to state them publicly. At a minimum he owes Slusarz a closed-door meeting to tell him why he was terminated.
Driving to work Tuesday morning I hear about a fun event this Saturday at Hennessey’s Tavern on Pier Plaza just a few blocks from my home. On Saturday, I turn down an invitation to see long time friends in Pasadena. I arrive 30 minutes early and things seem quiet. Too quiet. A quick check on my phone reveals the explanation. The KLOS bikini contest has been canceled, one day in advance, by the city of Hermosa Beach due to concerns about crowds. Crowds? This is Hermosa Beach, crowds are what we do! And you cancel a quiet, indoor event one week after the horrific show that was the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week FinFest because of crowds? A few weeks after a man is nearly killed by a great white just next door? Speaking of sharks, have you stood outside Sharkeez on a Saturday night? There are bigger crowds there all summer long than you are going to see at any radio station event.
Bikinis are what the beach is about, folks. If you disagree, you need to have the HBPD to start enforcing a new dress code in an evenhanded manner and stop singling out groups you disagree with.
Name withheld by request
El Redondo thanks
The residents of El Redondo Avenue, a historic street in south Redondo Beach would like to say thank you to our District 2 councilmen Bill Brand, public works director Tim Shea, and urban forestry manager Joe Lodinsky. For the last few years El Redondo residents have been requesting that the city repair our street and the medium. El Redondo Avenue is one of the few cement streets remaining in south Redondo. The cement was poured in 1926 and through the years it has become a patch quilt of utility repairs, large cracks and potholes. The medium needed an irrigation upgrade, dead shrubbery remove and the large eucalyptus trees maintained. The cement on surrounding streets has replaced with asphalt. But El Redondo is now 88 years old and because the street is historic the city would like to keep it cement. However, cement is costly to replace. Bill, Tim and Joe along with the past public work director Mike Wysocki met with the residents and repairs have been made to the street, our large eucalyptus trees topped and work started on the medium. They also made a commitment to look at future funding to replace the cement. They have all lived up to their commitment to the residents and should be commended for their efforts.
David and Fatimah Diers
El Redondo residents
Get schooled on oil
I cannot believe how many people are misinformed about the Hermosa Beach Maintenance Yard Oil Recovery Project. The Health Impact Assessment says there are no substantial impacts on health. It provides additional information, as well, relying on information in the City’s Environmental Report, which also noted that E&B is putting in more safety features than required by law.
I encourage everyone to make an educated decision based on facts. All documents are online at hermosabch.org.
We all would like to stop our dependence on oil. But that isn’t going to happen. Oil is here to stay, even if we all drive electric cars, which by the way, are pretty much made out of petroleum by-products,
Petroleum is embedded in our lives. Eyeglasses, cell phones, insulation on wires, artificial heart valves, surf boards, flip flops — look around your house and ask yourself, “Can I really live without oil?”
So saying “no” to a project that can be operated safely and provide us with revenue that would vastly improve our quality of life in Hermosa because you think you want to “protect” your environment rings hollow. You want your oil, but you just want it to come from someone else’s town and you want to scare your fellow residents into agreeing with you.
This project has been studied and found safe. The revenue will help our city and our schools. Voting “Yes” on oil drilling is a vote to protect Hermosa’s future.
In the interest of full disclosure, I teach at Mira Costa High school — A.P. Environmental science — and Honors UCLA Earth science. During the last school year we invited Keep Hermosa Hermosa and E&B Natural Resources into the classroom. After hearing both sides of the story I wanted to educate myself more on oil drilling since I was already familiar with the environmental side, so I asked E&B oil for a summer internship.
It would be foolish not to recognize that drilling for oil carries with it some rewards. But, it would also be foolish not to recognize that the same activity also carries many risks — especially in a small city like Hermosa Beach.
First, we have seismic issues. After what we have seen in Oklahoma, I have to wonder why we would invite even more shaking under us. Then we have the infrastructure issues, which will arise from the increased traffic generated by the oil drilling activity — some 18 heavy rigs per day.
Spills are another risk. There are spills happening everyday somewhere in the US. Then there are the health risks. Cancer anyone?
Then there is the risk of catastrophic incidents — explosions and fires — that to plague the oil industry and the people who live around drilling sites.
Let’s face it, the risks are unavoidable. And the benefits? They will be blown away with the first explosion. Is this what we want here? Maintain the ban — Vote no on Oil!
There is an oil island roughly the same size as the one proposed for Hermosa directly across the street from Cedars Sinai Hospital. If the oil island was built first, as I suspect it was, why was Cedars Sinai built right across the street from it? The most logical explanation is the oil island must have been considered completely harmless. But if the hospital was built first, why was an oil island allowed to be built across the street from it? Again, the most logical explanation is the oil island must have been considered harmless. And it must still be considered safe since it is still in operation.
My question to the oil opponents is: why would an oil island in Hermosa that is surrounded on three sides by industrial buildings and a wide greenbelt on the fourth side be considered hazardous to a healthy population when one directly across the street from a hospital full of sick people is not?
I’ll be waiting for your reply. But I think I will be waiting a long time.
Better than baby oil
Coming up on March 3rd next year, Hermosa Beach residents will have an opportunity to vote yes or no on a proposed oil drilling project that will be housed at the City Yard. Besides the benefit of earning hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue for the city, there is another huge benefit to this project—a cleaner ocean. You know that sticky black tar that shows up in clumps on the shoreline and often ends up on the bottom of your feet? That is oil. It is oil that is found naturally beneath the ocean floor and underground in onshore areas. Natural oil seeps are present in the Santa Monica Bay off our coast. They are a natural geological occurrence and are not caused by any human activity such as oil drilling from offshore platforms, onshore drilling or from oil tankers. The oil from the seeps comes up through cracks in the ocean floor and washes ashore onto the sand where many beach goers step in it. How can we get rid of this tar on the beach? The answer is to drill for oil. Drilling for oil will essentially suck up all that oil from the very place where it is coming from, underneath the ocean floor. This is great! We now have another benefit to the proposed oil recovery project here in Hermosa Beach—a cleaner ocean! Who can argue with that?
Mutually exclusive developments
I bought my first boat and a house in Redondo in the mid ‘70s and have lived in District 2 near Dive N’ Surf for over 20 years. Few things bother me as much as the proposed development at the Pier and AES locations. Former mayor Mike Gin and former councilman Chris Cagle wrote over 25 column inches pushing over-development at the AES site (“Support needed for pan to rid city of power plant,” ER August 14, 2014). On the two following pages were a color ad for the over-development in ‘King Harbor’ by CenterCal. Who else is sane enough to realize that these proposed developments are mutually exclusive?
I missed the February meetings to discuss an unfeasible boat ramp paid for by the citizens of Redondo and not CenterCal, as was originally promised. And what does 30 years free rent vs. a 10 percent ROI really mean? Please local people, start drilling your public officials for details rather than hot air and campaign slogans. Hermosa and Catalina Avenues, Harbor Drive, Torrance Boulevard, and Beryl and Herondo streets cannot possibly handle the traffic necessary to make both these developments viable. Why can’t Redondo’s current mayor and city council do some proactive planning for the benefit of our local residents? Why veto input from those same residents?
Bringing down the roof
Hermosa Beach’s commercial downtown has long-needed a four-foot height-reduction measure, from 30-feet to 26-feet, similar to Manhattan Beach’s downtown 26-foot limit.
Developers are squeaking in overly-dense, out-of-scale, poorly-parked, architecturally sterile designs for Hermosa’s downtown, due to its 30-foot height limit. They’re proposing three or more stories for parcels where two-story architectural designs are more appropriate.
This happened with the 96-unit Beach House condo-hotel at 14th Street and The Strand and more recently with the big-box Clash Hotel approval for 15th and Hermosa Avenues. These two unremarkable hotels are being followed by the even more maxed-out and under-parked Mermaid-properties hotel, the Mangurian estate-properties hotel along 11th Street and the Strand, and a likely Sea Sprite properties hotel on the Strand.
Manhattan has one 38-room, two-story hotel (the Shade) in its downtown. Hermosa already has 160 downtown hotel rooms operating or approved. The Mermaid developer is proposing to increase that total to 271.
With the Mangurian and Sea Sprite estate properties developed, the number of room-units could escalate to 480, some 13 times the number in Manhattan’s downtown. They would bring over 1,000 hotel guests and workers, traveling in and out of Hermosa’s downtown 24/7, increasing late-night bars activity, trolling for taxicabs, and creating parking headaches and additional residential impacts.
To preserve the character of Hermosa Beach there needs to be a coherent plan, ensuring an appropriate mix of properly-scaled developments and uses, along with a 26-foot downtown height limit.