One Sunday afternoon, I needed an ocean fix so I walked along the beach for about an hour. I spent most of that time looking down to avoid stepping on dead sea animals, industrial trash and a variety of other flotsam and jetsam that had been allowed to accumulate as far as the eye could see.
I accepted that risk, the risk of stepping on something sharp and picking up some flesh-eating bacteria or virus, to get my ocean fix. There was no place else to get it.
Sunday of Memorial Day weekend I got a strong flashback to that day on the Black Sea beach. This time, I was right here in Redondo Beach. I started to walk down the beach from Yacht Club Way right beside the breakwater.
Within about 50 feet I was surrounded by fast-food packaging and household trash, much of which was woven into a tapestry of seaweed. Someone with a greater aesthetic sense might have seen the beauty in the various colors and shapes strewn all over the beach. I just saw trash.
It got there as a result of the storm drain a hundred yards or so up the beach on the border of Hermosa and Redonodo. It stayed there long after the winter rains because of neglect.
At first I thought to question whether the elected official who represents the district where that short stretch of beach is located bears some responsibility. In fairness, even if he was more focused on the day-to-day needs of his district instead of the power plant, there isn’t much he could do about it.
Redondo’s charter prevents any elected official from giving instructions to city staff. That means, if the mayor or a city councilman wanted to get some trash picked up or some copies made, he has no legal authority to instruct a city employee to carry out his orders.
Those orders must come from a department head but only with the approval of the one individual who has any real power in Redondo Beach, the city manager. As a practical matter, a majority vote of the city council could remove the city manager. So each city councilman is 20% of the city manager’s boss but otherwise he has no boss. If you think he works for the people of the city, think again.
If the mayor or a councilman wanted something done, I’m pretty sure the city manager would get it done, within reason. However, if the city manager decided not to respond to such a request, there would be nothing short of voting to fire him that a city councilman could do to get any city employee to carry out his wishes.
Some readers might question the accuracy of these observations. Spend some time with the Municipal Code and you’ll probably see what I see. Most people who live here have an inaccurate or incomplete understanding of how things work in the city. It makes me wonder whether anyone else sees this as a big, fundamental problem with how the city is governed.