David Mendez

Mitchell facing removal following alleged threats

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Redondo Beach Planning Commissioner Marc Mitchell

 

by David Mendez

Redondo Beach Planning Commissioner Marc Mitchell may be removed from his position as a result of allegations that he threatened Mayor Bill Brand at a Commissioners reception at the Hilton Garden Inn last Friday. Brand said he plans to propose removing Mitchell from Planning Commission at the Nov. 14 Redondo Beach City Council meeting.

The allegations came to light during Tuesday’s council meeting when a member of the public entered her observations from the reception into the record during open public comments.

In a letter to the City Council, Christina Correa wrote that she was at the event with a friend who was recently appointed to a commission. She witnessed Mitchell “almost aggressively following [Brand] around,” observing what she believed to be discomfort on Brand’s face.

Brand confirmed much of her account from the dais, stating that he filed a report with Redondo Beach Police.

“Where I come from, people like you end up in strange places,” Brand recalled Mitchell saying. “Marc Mitchell did threaten me.”

Budget and Finance Commissioner Eugene Solomon said that he and Councilman Todd Loewenstein were approached by Mitchell at the same event.

“He didn’t threaten me, and I didn’t feel he was threatening Todd,” Solomon said. “But it’s my opinion that he seemed to be seeking confrontation.”

Loewenstein said that Mitchell has made him uncomfortable before, on two other occasions, and expressed dismay about the alleged threat.

“We can agree to disagree about political differences, but when you step across the border into physical intimidation, I don’t care what side you’re on,” Loewenstein said. “That’s beyond what most people would condone.”

Brand said that he spoke to City Attorney Michael Webb Saturday morning, and filed an incident report with Redondo Beach Police on Monday. That report has not yet been finalized, pending collection of witness statements, police said.

Brand has made no secret of his disagreements with  Mitchell. Mitchell is a Vice President of Cerrell Associates, a public relations firm that has represented developers CenterCal Properties and the Legado Companies. Both developers have attempted to build projects in Redondo Beach in recent years, and both have met with heavy public resistance that has halted or significantly changed those projects.

“He was clearly angry because I never approved of a Vice President of Cerrell…of someone like that being on the Planning Commission,” Brand said.

As Councilman, Brand attempted to block confirmation of Mitchell’s appointment to the Planning Commission by former Mayor Steve Aspel. A recent attempt to move Mitchell from Planning to the city’s Historical Commission failed due to lack of majority support from the City Council.

“He’s been angry with me for years,” Brand said. “I don’t mind people arguing and being angry…but I’ve never been threatened before. It’s time that people like this are held accountable.”

Mitchell said a complaint is currently being reviewed by Redondo Beach Police, but that he cannot comment further until that report is complete.

According to Webb, removal of a commissioner can be done with a simple majority of the City Council.

“After hearing about this, threatening the mayor, I would expect the Council will unanimously vote to remove [Mitchell],” Brand said.

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