Letters to the Editor 11-9-17
By the time this is published, the Hermosa Beach election will be over, and hopefully, the Council can get beyond the decisive issues of the election. A critical issue that has stayed out of the limelight is the proposed Strand Hotel on Hermosa Plaza. Many agree we may need improved use of the valuable land. Others seem to think that as long as local zoning allows for several stories on the Mermaid parking lot, and a takeover of Beach Drive, that is what will happen. Not true. City officials may have a hard time digesting the fact that the development must protect existing public views of the ocean. The California Coastal Act protects these views. This includes the views from Beach Drive and protection of that public right-of-way as a route for strollers, cyclists and others. Hermosa Plaza is a unique spot, where tourists, and the public enjoy a stark ocean view to the north. An outside dining area could protect that view, but not a three story structure boxing in the Plaza, and closing off public access. We expect a city council to only approve a project that complies with local and state laws. Public oceans views need protection for everyone for generations to come.
Next Thursday, Nov. 16 a Hermosa Beach Town Hall meeting will be held at city hall at 6 p.m. to discuss the future of Fiesta Hermosa. City leaders have received complaints from people who do not want this event or want to reduce it to only once a year. I have worked or managed this event for 30 years, on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce. Of course, I want this event to continue for selfish reasons, but I believe this event brings many benefits to Hermosa Beach that people may not be aware of. Here are some.
- The Fiesta brings many customers to the downtown, giving local businesses a boost. It also showcases the town to outside visitors.
- The Fiesta funds many of the Chamber’s other community events, including the Holiday Tree Lighting, the New Year’s Eve concert and the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
- The Fiesta offers fundraising opportunities and raises tens of thousands of dollars for local non profits.
Police have told me that the Chamber events help with crowd control on the big holiday weekends. Families feel safe on the Plaza during our events. I want the best for the Fiesta and for Hermosa Beach, but reducing this show to once a year or cancelling it would negatively impact all of these benefits. Many residents and businesses tell me they love this show. Please come to this meeting and voice your support for Fiesta Hermosa. The Fiesta’s future depends on your input and support.
Bell Event Services
I question the Beach Cities Health District’s concept for a Healthy Living Campus. They assert, based on studies of dubious origin, that Redondo Beach needs 400 elderly care units at this site. This is in a neighborhood of single family homes. A multi-residential complex of this scale would crush the neighborhood character, not to mention fly in the face of the BCHD’s mission statement: “To enhance community health through partnerships, programs and services for people who live and work in Hermosa, Manhattan and Redondo Beach.” The HLC plan is a money-grab that would benefit the relatively small number of residents who could afford these units, and have dire community consequences. The BCHD reps said at their Oct. 17 presentation at the Redondo Performing Arts Center that they are a public agency and each of us is a stakeholder. Our property taxes go into their budget and we have a say in what they do. We need to remind them that Redondo Beach gets denser every day. Since 1970 we have lost 15,000 R-1 lots. Ironically, BCHD wants to do a project that impairs our health by causing more density, noise, blocks sky views and light, and creates longer wait times in traffic. This site is mostly zoned P-CF — community facilities. It’s rare and precious zoning intended for the entire community’s use. It’s 11 acres that could be a flagship area befitting the BCHD true mission statement. We could finally have a community garden, an AdventurePlex of our own, a dedicated outdoor exercise area, an amphitheater for outdoor plays or concerts—these are ideas benefitting all.
Redondo Beach, CA
Enrollment at Hermosa Beach City School District has declined by 109 students from its high in 2014. Enrollment estimates sent to the California Department of Education predict an additional 92 student decline by 2019. California Finance Department demographics predict a significant decline in the birthrate and population in Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura counties through 2060. Hermosa Beach School Bond Measure S was passed based on a prediction of rising enrollment, which now seems unlikely. Current HBCSD plans call for the demolition and rebuilding of North School for 510 students. The estimated cost for demolishing and rebuilding North School is $38 million. According to the Facility Master Plan, the cost for all District facility plans is between $66.8 million and $77.9 million in 2018 prices. This includes demolishing and rebuilding North School, performing a major remodel of View School, renovating Valley School and adding a new District Office. The $59 Measure S bond will not be enough to cover the cost of current district plans. HBCSD may not need a brand new 510 student campus in the near future. The Juge Construction Company renovated Valley School in 1978 for $3.4M. Juge Construction has estimated a cost of $6.2M to completely renovate North School, which includes removing the brick Kindergarten building, adding other structures and numerous upgrades. North School already has a kitchen, is ADA accessible, meets strict earthquake requirements and is grandfathered-in to be used for public school students. The Hermosa School Board should rethink their plans and not continue to throw away good money on an unnecessary demolition of North School.
Let’s count the ways
Less than nine months after numerous offenses by CenterCal, the City of Redondo Beach terminated CenterCal’s 99 year proposed mall lease in our harbor. After reading CenterCal CEO Fred Bruning’s email response to his supporters, one has to ask if he’s now a comedian.
Let’s recap CenterCal’s actions as to why no one wants their mall:
- Left Redondo residents on the hook for over $1 million in expenses it promised to pay after begging to extend its Exclusive Negotiation Agreement.
- Spent over $600,000 on a divisive, fact-challenged campaign against Measure C.
Funneled over $50,000 in political donations through the Redondo Beach Firefighters and Chamber of Commerce PACs
- Filed a $15 million lawsuit against the city.
- Apparently supported surrogates who filed baseless personal lawsuits against private citizens, the mayor, and a council member because you’re still mad about losing to the Measure C campaign.
- Cherry picking Rescue Our Waterfront’s own community meeting minutes to try and make its mall look better.
A normal developer would call it quits and move on. But CenterCal continues to sue Redondo Beach. The city now has terminated CenterCal’s lease. It’s time they take their mall model and go elsewhere. Let’s Revitalize our Harbor not Supersize it with a 525,000 sq. ft. mall.
Stop and go fast
Finally, some sensible thinking in terms of improving traffic flow and reducing pollution and carbon emissions (“Redondo Beach Traffic circle divides N. Redondo neighbors,” ER Aug. 17, 2017). Few people understand that stop signs cause their own problems. They pulse cars out at 1.5 to 2 second intervals, making crossing the street or getting out of your driveway downstream very frustrating. The amount of pollution generated at every stop sign by brake and tire dust, as well as the huge energy waste of stopping and starting the movement of a 3,000 to 6,000 pound vehicle is ridiculous. Stop signs actually encourage speeding. Drivers accelerate to higher speeds after being stopped rather than cruise along at a leisurely pace. Every so called environmentalist who insists on stop signs for traffic control is an oxymoron.
by Judy Rae