Judy Rae

On Local Government: Reunite Redondo

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The Redondo Beach waterfront. Photo by Brad Jacobson


It is 1998. An idea gets presented to the City Manager of Redondo Beach. Why not try to resurrect the lost downtown of Redondo Beach? Why not try to create a “civic space” which could unite a city in which the “bottleneck” that connects the north to the south could become less of perceived nearly impenetrable border.

From that simple concept came “Heart of the City (HOTC),” which morphed into a mixed-use housing/commercial/industrial complex containing more housing units than the infrastructure (and the neighborhood) could stand. The reason for its bulking up in size was, in simple terms, greed. Greed of a city looking for immediate revenue and seeking to use an increasingly scarce seaside treasure, the oceanfront, in ways that would make it less and less usable by the general population.

The citizens reacted not only negatively to that project, but they became hyperaware of any ensuing project that smelled of the same elements that doomed HOTC.

So, now twenty years later, yet another attempt…the third…to get an overly dense, ill-conceived revenue generator built on the city’s waterfront has been rejected.

It is time to get back to the original idea…a simple, gradualist solution to a problem of civic discontent with the management of the harbor area that has persisted since 1988, when the horseshoe pier was gutted by fire and rogue waves.

The voters of Redondo Beach made their opinions clear on March 7. By a substantial margin, they have once again said that bigger is not better. It is time for gradualism.

Much has been said about the nefarious ways of city managers seeking to coerce the citizens to accept their views of the world.

Much money has been squandered, and, if truth be told, suspiciously diverted from the harbor area to cover issues of city finances elsewhere.

Much hot air and bile has been expended to promote position that, in the end, were unpromotable.

The voters have said, time and again, that enough is enough.

The new Mayor and City Council, which could include three rookie members, must completely rethink not just the what, but the who will be a part of that decision-making process. That ritual cleansing may need to start with the city’s administration itself, which has expended far too much effort on this losing proposition rather than thinking of ways to renew the harbor realistically.

The Harbor Commission, whose reputation is sullied by their promotion of this failed effort, needs to be completely replaced with people for whom a tabula rasa is offered to them. They should start from scratch, or, if they need a starting point, think about how and why this whole thing was started…to regain a downtown.

Other cities have done it. We already have done the homework.

It will take a while…well beyond the term limits of any individual. But, it is in the best interests of all of us that we achieve it.

And it will make our stewardship of this extraordinary piece of real estate…our oceanfront…a legacy rather than a continual point of contention.


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