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Sandbox: Measure C will prevent the Redondo waterfront from turning into another Santa Monica [OPINION]

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The proposed CenterCal Waterfront Redondo marketplace.

by Bill Brand

Bill Brand is a Redondo Beach Councilman and candidate for mayor

Measure C does not require a $25 million pool by the ocean, or for the City to suddenly spend $200 million fixing infrastructure needs all at once – by ourselves.  These numbers were cooked-up by our current Mayor and City staff who have never brought any other option to the residents except “do nothing,” or turn our waterfront over to a mall developer to build a risky, overdevelopment project that will convert our waterfront into a Santa Monica-like area.  We can do much better.

Everyone agrees, the Redondo Beach waterfront needs a major upgrade,.  But the CenterCal project is too big. The surrounding population, demographics, geography and proposed infrastructure changes cannot support 524,000 sq.ft. of new development.  It’s going to fail as planned, and the City will be left with empty buildings and storefronts right on our coast for years to come.  It will actually become a drain on City resources instead of the financial windfall predicted.

This project is 105,000 sq.ft. of retail, 183,000 sq.ft. of restaurants, a 700 seat movie complex, a 120 room hotel with 63,000 sq.ft. of office space – all south of Portofino Way.

A development of this scale should be at the center of a densely populated area. King Harbor is bordered 180 degrees by the Pacific Ocean.  Fish don’t shop or go to the movies.  So right out of the gate this project is severely constrained by simple geography.

Development increases by 130 percent, yet parking is only increasing by 7 percent. Traffic is going to more than double to 25,000 car trips per day with no new access except two roads through their development.  The Long Beach Pike was a much smaller project on their coast and it failed, even though the 710 freeway empties right into it. We have Beryl and Torrance Blvd. – both 20 minutes from the nearest freeway.

Putting the ‘dining’ component into perspective, 183,000 sq.ft. is equivalent to 15 Kincaids – all between Torrance Blvd. and Portofino Way.  Who believes this area can support 15 more Kincaids, in addition to all the restaurants like Cheese Cake Factory, Blue Water Grill, Chart House, Riviera Village, etc.?

The City lease with CenterCal is for 99 years!  Rates are expected to quintuple, from $2/sq.ft. to $10/sq.ft. This will limit success to high-end stores and restaurants. Redondo Beach has a median family income of $85,000/yr, and less as you go inland.  The demographics just can’t support this level of high-end development.

It’s important to note that no one will be held accountable for this colossal failure, and they know it. Mayor Aspel will be gone, the City Councils who made these decisions will be gone, the City staff will be gone… the developers, consultants, attorneys and political hacks will ALL be gone.  The only entity that will be held responsible and left holding the bag are the taxpayers.

While we must first stop this disaster from unfolding by approving Measure C, you have a clear choice March 7th. Roll the dice on what I consider a risky overdevelopment plan that is certain to fail, or a more measured approach that combines the 50 acre AES property with the 30 acres under the Edison power lines to create an integrated approach to the incredible opportunity we have before us.

Approving Measure C and electing slow growth candidates like myself, Todd Loewenstein, Nils Nehrenheim and Suzy Royds for City Council will bring common sense redevelopment and revitalization to an area that sorely needs it.  And not just this area, but also the failed Galleria mall, Artesia Blvd. and areas like PCH south of Palos Verdes Blvd.  With the right leadership we can move quickly.  

Revitalize not Supersize. YES on C!

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