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Council gets it right

A series of events that wouldn’t seem remarkable by themselves, have come together to create an opportunity to develop a considerable amount of property in King Harbor. It comes to about 15 acres, most of which is contiguous. There hasn’t been this much property available for development since the marina was built in the 60s.

The events that enabled this exciting opportunity have been recorded and reported but it hasn’t always been clear how they depend on one another and how they all fit together. The first event was the completion of the city’s asset management plan. A consultant named Larry Kosmont prepared a comprehensive report that outlined how the city should plan for the future of the pier/harbor complex. Kosmont presented his plan to the city council and harbor commission in January, 2008.

One of the most unambiguous elements in the Kosmont report was the advice that the city should aggregate existing leaseholds. At the time there were approximately 35 individual entities contracted with the city to control some portion of the pier/marina complex.

That patchwork of different sized properties controlled by different people and companies created one of the biggest obstacles the city faced if it wanted to encourage any kind of cohesive development. The Kosmont report provided some guidance for overcoming that obstacle.

Then came the business plan, which wasn’t really a business plan at all. It was more of a conglomeration of a bunch of existing documents. Having a business plan was a worthwhile goal. So generating the document the city calls the business plan had a purpose. The plan they came up with failed to lay out any comprehensive outline that included a timeline, benchmarks and budgets. Still, the city had a business plan that included all the elements of the Kosmont report. It was approved in August, 2010.

By then, the city was hard at work consolidating various disparate land use documents into one set of zoning regulations that would define the amount of development the city would allow in the harbor along with what types and where development would be allowed.

The amended land use document was approved by the city council. Measure DD made it necessary to give the voters the ultimate decision on any major zoning changes in the city.

Ambiguous zoning was as big of an obstacle to meaningful development as the collection of unrelated properties. That obstacle was overcome in November 2010 with the passage of Measure G.

At the end of 2011, the city announced it would acquire two leaseholds that comprise the entire upper deck of the main parking structure, where the courthouse was located and the boardwalk, the shops, restaurants and bars along the water in Redondo Beach Marina. Those two deals brought two parcels of property that were previously controlled by different, private companies, under city control.

In May the city of Redondo Beach signed an agreement with JJJ Enterprises, Ltd., the company that holds the master lease for Redondo Beach Marina. It gives the city the option to buy that lease for $12 million. The property lies immediately north of the boardwalk.

End to end, the city now controls a 15 acre parcel of property that stretches from Torrance Boulevard to Portofino Way. Redondo Beach also has a pretty clear goal to determine the best use of that property and do whatever it can to facilitate development.

Word had gone out the city needs a partner. It hopes to attract some of the best and brightest visionaries from the pool of potential developers.

It’s exciting to think that sometime in the foreseeable future; Redondo Beach might have a place beside the water that was designed and built according to the present and future interests and needs of the community. It will be a place where our friends and neighbors will want to spend more time. It will rival Pier Plaza and downtown Manhattan Beach in its ability to attract and retain people from the community. We’re looking at the possibility of getting a downtown in Redondo Beach after a half century of living without one.

So much has been done yet so much remains to be done. It’s a fantastic vision that’s been a long time in the making. The people of this community deserve to have the vision realized.

Past experience forces me to wonder, what could possibly happen to mess it up? The answer is, only what we allow to mess it up.

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