Letters to the Editor 1-4-18
Roundhouse still running
I want to thank Easy Reader for the article describing the upcoming Roundhouse Aquarium renewal project (“Roundhouse renewal,” ER Dec. 28, 2017). The article acknowledges the involvement of the City and the Harrison Greenberg Foundation, which made the project a reality. I would like to make two additional points. The first is that the Aquarium will be operating from a temporary facility at the south end of the beach parking lot, adjacent to the pier during the project. We will conduct our classes in that facility and be open to the public during regular hours. The second is that Oceanographic Teaching Stations (OTS) is a third party involved in the project. OTS has operated the Roundhouse Aquarium Taching Center since 1980.
2017 served as a remarkable year for the City of Redondo Beach. Activists fought endlessly to rescue our waterfront and with the passage of Measure C prevented a mall from being built. We gained three new resident-focused elected officials — Mayor Bill Brand and Councilmembers Todd Lowenstein and Nils Nehrenheim. The city entered into conversations with LA County to fund the development of the AES plant, despite the fact that in 2015 our development friendly elected officials tried to sell residents on the belief that 600 condos was the only way out. There is still a lot work to be done in 2018 and I look forward to continuing to work with residents, members of the General Planning Action Committee (GPAC) and the resident-focused elected officials to create community driven policies to enhance our quality of life.
Candace Allen Nafissi
Redondo Beach Library Commissioner
Holiday school reading
Great points made by Chris Miller regarding Hermosa Beach’s North School campus (Letters to the Editor, ER Dec. 21, 2017. I agree with her — it’s a shame a city-hired historian didn’t acknowledge the architectural and historical significance of the Samuel Lunden-designed 1934 school. This same lack of knowledge, or more likely intentional oversight, carries into decisions of other South Bay areas. It applies to other schools, where a tear-down is rationalized when a remodel or green retrofit is the best solution and would make more fiscal sense. Sadly, the bonds that are usually attached to these projects involve huge amounts of money that lure contractors who know only to raze, then start from scratch. The common characteristic that drives all of these eventual teardowns is the lack of consistent maintenance on the existing structures.It’s true of the Redondo Pier, it’s true of the Knob Hill/PCH school site. Once this “run-down” state is accomplished, the people are easily convinced the only fix is to be saved by a fat bond, or piles of developer money. That our city and school district leaders allow it to happen is the biggest heartbreaker. The result is costly, often incongruous structures to the surrounding area, with weaker “bones” and far less character than the original.
Reporter Ryan McDonald mentions allegations of collusion between the Hermosa Beach City School District and their hired demographic consultants (“Study projects enrollment decline for school district in coming years.” ER December 21, 2017). The wildly fluctuating enrollment predictions before and after the Measure S facilities bond passed are suspicious. School Board members used the specter of imminent increased enrollment as the justification for passing a $59 million bond that would completely demolish and rebuild North School for 510 students.
Decision Insite’s May 2015 enrollment presentation inflated the actual enrollment figure of 1,460 by 35 additional students to report the incorrect total of 1,495 students at September 2014. Did HBCSD administration give inflated enrollment figures to DI or did DI decide to inflate them on their own? DI slides showed an inflated TK and K enrollment figure of 13 additional students which is significant in our small school district. This year, after the allegations of collusion, Decision Insite decided to declare 2016’s Kindergarten enrollment of 104 as a statistically outlier so that they could predict less decline in future enrollment since Measure S passed. So why didn’t DI regard the September 2014 Kindergarten enrollment of 170, which they reported as being 183 students on their reports, as a statistical outlier instead of using that figure to extrapolate 309 more students by 2019, right before a $59 million bond vote? This year, with an expensive rebuild of North School on the horizon, Decision Insite made a point to preface their declining enrollment projections as being “conservative 5 Year Projections;” meaning that future enrollment numbers were likely to be higher. However, DI also made the same claims of “Conservative 5 Year Projections” at their May 2015 presentation, which projected a large increase in enrollment right before the Measure S bond vote. After Measure S passed, DI completely retracted their “Conservative Projection” to report a significant decline in enrollment.
In addition, during the last several years some increase in the Kindergarten enrollment at HBCSD was likely due to changes in the Kindergarten start date. The Kindergarten start date changed from five years old by December 1, to five years old by September 1 over the last several years. DI vice president Dan Waldfogel has stated that DI only looks back four years for trends. Did DI purposely use this temporary increase in Kindergarten students to extrapolate high future enrollment numbers for HBCSD? The Department of Finance provides demographic predictions for the State of California. Since 2014, they have predicted a steep decline in the birthrate and population in coastal counties in California. In his article, McDonald mentions that Decision Insite handles the demographic predictions of 80 school districts in California. Dan Waldfogel said that he was aware of only one school district in the state forecasted to have enrollment gains in the coming years. Why then, given the State demographic information provided by the Department of Finance and DI own knowledge of California school districts demographics, would DI report that HBCSD’s enrollment would increase by 309 students right before a bond election? Considering all the misinformation that we have documented that was released by the District and their hired consultants during the 2016 Measure S bond campaign, I believe it is very likely that Decision Insite was colluding with HBCSD to deceive voters before the facilities bond election.
Brand owns it
The Redondo Beach City Council did their due diligence on November 21 by passing a plan to be in compliance with SB 415 by January 1, 2018, way before the California State mandated deadline. The reason, and the only reason that the City of Redondo Beach missed the deadline, is because Mayor Brand vetoed the plan five days later. Since then, there have been some attempts by the Mayor and his aligned city council members for a do-over, to restart the clock, but the game was over before it was finished. The Mayor is no longer negotiating: he was now dictating terms, without question. Personally, I hope the Redondo Beach City Council will continue to hold the Mayor accountable for his actions. Brand vetoed SB 415: he should own it. Mayor Brand is using the “California Voter Participation Rights Act” as a political football to suppress and infringe upon voting rights and voter participation in Redondo, by forbidding decisions made by duly elected city officials to establish fair voting rights: the very same constitutionally guaranteed rights that all public servants swear an oath to uphold, preserve, protect, and defend.
As a longtime community volunteer, I want to express my heartfelt thanks during this holiday season to all volunteers serving our community. I serve on the City of Manhattan Beach Senior Citizens Advisory Committee, the Beach Cities Health District Finance Committee and I’m a Board Director of the MB Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), MB Historical Society, MB Coordinating (Education) Council, Leadership Manhattan Beach and ‘P.S. I Love You’ Foundation, in addition to volunteering for many other local organizations/events. I know firsthand how volunteers improve our residents’ quality of life and public safety. I encourage everyone to make a difference and volunteer their time and resources to our many outstanding non-profit community organizations and our exemplary school organizations. Here’s wishing you and your family a wonderful holiday season and a happy, healthy and safe New Year! And to each, a great Manhattan Beach.