Monthly Archives: March 2013


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The World After Measure A

Measure A has come and gone. The real decision on zoning the AES property lies somewhere out in the future.

The property is zoned for a power plant or a park. No one who understands the reality of the situation believes it will remain that way.

The no power plant leaders will probably begin telling their followers to gear up for the big battle over approval of the AES re-powering application. There will be no big battle.

Remember, these are the same people who told you Measure A was crucial to the outcome of the war for control of the AES land. Now that they’ve lost, they’re very carefully planning how they will tell you it wasn’t as important as they told you it was.

You may hear about how important it will be for everyone to attend the California Energy Commission (CEC) hearings. Don’t forget, these are the same people who told you the world would end if Measure A wasn’t passed.

Think about it. Do you believe there’s anything new about a group of people in a community opposing a power plant? Do you think the CEC hasn’t seen placards, noisy people in the hall, unruly people in the hearing room and every other potential means of getting an opposing message in front of them? Anything NPP might attempt will be about as routine as morning coffee and it will have about the same impact.

The CEC will decide to approve or disapprove the AES application based on a set of criteria that will take little notice of public disapproval. There are really just two probable outcomes.

If the CEC Approves the AES Application, there will be little anyone can do to prevent AES from beginning to build their new power plant. Before Measure A there was a chance a legal argument could have been made that the community opposed the power plant and lawyers could have tried for an injunction to prevent construction.

Now, AES can rightfully say the community was given a chance to voice its opposition through Measure A and it did not. I can’t think of any valid or semi-valid arguments that NPP could use to prevent the bulldozers from going to work on the eastern portion of the AES property if they get their permits approved. But the Never Build Anything in Redondo people never cease to surprise me so there’s always a possibility they’ll come up with something.

If the CEC denies the AES application and AES exhausts its appeals and legal options for reversing or circumventing that decision, we end up with a humongous, obsolete power plant on a piece of property that can’t be used for anything other than a power plant or a park. So I guess the city will just build a park.

It turns out there are a few obstacles to that plan even though the current zoning is favorable. First, a public corporation owns the land. Public corporations have an obligation to deliver value to their shareholders. There would be no shareholder value to a park unless the land was purchased from AES at a price that benefitted the corporation.

I’ve heard about some conservation society or something that’s going to “help” the park people acquire the land. Remember, these are the same people who told you Measure A was essential to the future of the city and the same people who are about to tell you Measure A wasn’t as important to the war against AES as carrying placards in Sacramento.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Where’s the check to buy the AES property? Answer…there is no check. No one on this earth is going to pay AES fair market value for that property so they can build a park. No way, no how.

I’ve issued this challenge before. If the money’s there, buy it now. If not, please stop trying to get people to believe this fairy tale.

So if the permit gets approved, we’re at a stalemate. AES can sit and wait for someone to come along and give them fair market value for the property with the existing buildings and equipment. But the only thing anyone can use that property for is a park. How long do you think we’ll have to wait for someone to come along and offer to buy the land and remove the old power plant to build a park?

If the permit gets denied, we’re at a stalemate. AES doesn’t get to begin building its new plant but we still have a power plant on a piece of property that can only be used for a park.

I recently wrote that the reason why the AES property is currently zoned for a park is because of the contribution of the small group of people that became No Power Plant. They insisted on it and the city leadership acquiesced. No one else in the city wanted to restrict the potential uses of that property.

So regardless of the CEC decision, we’re headed for a stalemate that will guarantee the power plant remains where it is for the foreseeable future thanks to the people who brought you Measure A. They haven’t had a plan from day one and they don’t have a plan now.

They were right about one thing. Zoning of that land will have to change before the power plant is removed and the community gets to use the land for something else.

I’d love to see residential zoning for the property. Maybe this community could plan some affordable housing that would allow young couples to keep from having to move to Montana or to allow mom or dad to stay in the city once they’ve sold the family home. The possibilities are endlessly exciting and the defeat of Measure A gets us one step closer to having the community, not a small special interest group, decide what to do with that property.

Voters may or may not get to approve the new zoning that our city government ultimately produces for the AES property. City Charter Section 27.4, the result of Measure DD, states, “Each major change in allowable land use shall be put to a vote of the People.”

Who will decide whether changing the AES zoning qualifies as a “major change”? My guess would be high priced attorneys. Start saving your money now because we’ll all have to pay their fees.

If the zoning changes necessary to make something happen on the AES property end up on the ballot, those of us who fought and won Measure G and Measure A will find ourselves fighting for our city’s future once again. My gut tells me the momentum has shifted in our favor. We’ll see.

Why It’s Important for the Rest of Us to Vote in the March 5th Election

The material below summarizes my views on some of the items that will appear on the March 5th ballot. It gets a little long-winded so if you decide to jump into it, make yourself comfortable before you start.

Measure A

I believe Redondo Beach will get a new power plant with or without passage of Measure A. Passage of Measure A will only complicate the matter. I have said repeatedly that Redondo Beach has much to gain from working with AES and much to lose from working against AES. I can think of no more severe way to prevent a working relationship between the city and AES than passage of Measure A, with the possible exception of suing them, which the Measure A people have suggested they’ll do if other methods fail.

The city of Redondo Beach has perhaps the most well vetted, professionally crafted set of waterfront zoning regulations of any city in the region. There is absolutely no reason to change it.

The debate about harbor zoning goes back decades but the heavy lifting occurred over a 10 year period. Passage of Measure G brought years of work by consultants, city staff, elected officials and the public to a close. The land use document that voters approved cleared the way for long overdue improvement to the pier/harbor complex.

If you weren’t paying attention, rest assured the Jim Light/Bill Brand/Measure A people had plenty to say about harbor zoning. They were allowed to contribute to the conversation and I feel the final land use document reflects their opinions…way more than it should but that’s just me.

That’s how democracy works. No one gets everything they want, unless of course they’re willing to engage in alternative methods of legislating like the initiative process.

Current zoning of the AES property allows for a power plant or a park. No one else in the city wanted that much restriction but in the end, we all bent to the will of the Light/Brand/A Ticket. That wasn’t good enough for the Light/Brand/A Ticket. Barely two years later they were back, trying to force a new version of their no growth agenda on Redondo citizens with Measure A.

We voted for Measure G and that vote reflected the will of the people. The people’s will hasn’t changed in less than two years. The population of Redondo Beach wasn’t screaming for new zoning but two of our residents seem to have been upset by the fact they didn’t get everything wanted with Measure G. Vote for some or all of the Light/Brand/A Ticket and you can expect these kinds of tantrums to become business as usual.

The zoning development process enabled everyone in the city to contribute to the final zoning. Take a look at the evolution of Measure A. The Light/Brand/Measure A camp made no attempt to include anyone who might have offered any opposing opinions.

In fact, they bragged about doing it all themselves. Bill Brand wrote, “In a bizarre twist of timely fate, Jim Light and I exercised our First Amendment rights yesterday and petitioned our government to phase-out that big eyesore on our waterfront for good! “ Later in the message he says, “We could not have done this without the financial support of all our contributors. “

if I were scoring an inclusiveness and fairness competition between the Light/Brand/A Ticket and the city government they criticize so vociferously, I’d have to award all the points to our city government.

In fairness, while the Light/Brand/A Ticket showed no interest in including any outside voices in their master plan for the waterfront, they were willing to let everyone else pay for it. Thanks Jim and Bill.

Mayor

I know and have worked with three of the four candidates for mayor. I know almost nothing about Mr. Coleman so I have no opinion about his qualifications.

I can say from first-hand experience, Mrs. Aust, Aspel and Kilroy have served the city honorably as council members. They are all good men.

I believe they all have their own strengths and would probably execute the duties of Mayor somewhat differently. I don’t think the city can go wrong with any of them.

District 1

I’m sorry to admit I haven’t taken the time to learn about the three non-Jim Light candidates in this race. I don’t like having only a negative opinion to share but Jim Light gives me little choice.

A number of Mr. Light’s supporters have written posts extolling his knowledge of issues and equating what they’ve observed with intelligence. I disagree.

I’ve seen a person who has strong opinions and spends a lot of time looking for information that supports his opinions. Intelligent people see all sides of an issue. They have enough confidence in their positions to allow for opposition. Truly intelligent people can argue the other side as effectively as they can argue their own side, and they often do argue the other side to show their true mastery of the facts and issues.

Has anyone ever heard jim Light even acknowledge the possibility that an opposing opinion has the smallest shred of validity? I haven’t.

I’ve seen him memorize obscure bits of data and repeat them. I’ll admit that’s a valuable skill in school but it’s hardly an indicator of true intelligence. Remember Rain Man?

Two things distinguish Jim Light in an argument, his willingness to read and interpret lots of material that’s beneficial to his position and his reasonable expectation no one else in the argument will have read the same material. He knows his supporters will just chalk up his ramblings to superior knowledge and his opponents will not have the benefit of having read what he read.

Then he’s free to twist the information in any way he chooses. And unless you’re prepared to do the same amount of research, you don’t have as much to say about it.

Here’s an example. Jim recently wrote a reply to one of my blog posts in which he said, “The passage of Measure A does have a binding affect on the CEC process. Without Measure A, the CEC does not have to do a power needs assessment and it does not have to verify that the power is essential and that it cannot come for anywhere else. With Measure A they do.”

I knew he had information to support that claim that I did not have. So just this once, I contacted the California Energy Commission to see what they had to say.

I got a reply from a staff person who asked me not to use his name. He said, “…the Commission needs to determine whether “the facility is required for public…necessity” in order to override LORS (laws, ordinances, regulations, and standards), which may be necessary if Measure A is adopted. Public necessity could, but does not necessarily, mean the facility is needed for energy production.”

Regardless of how you interpret the CEC response, it’s a whole lot different from Jim’s absolute factual assertion which turns out to be neither absolute nor factual. In a world where someone like me isn’t always prepared to uncover the truth, Jim Light might appear to have lots of answers. What I see are lots of excuses.

Another one of Jim’s recent blog posts took to task the no on Measure A people for not allowing his comments to appear on their Facebook. I wouldn’t attempt to interpret what goes on in Jim’s mind but my impression was that he assumed someone was preventing information from getting to the public.

Shortly thereafter, I went looking for a reply Jim had posted to one of my old posts. I was surprised to find it was no longer posted. I can’t say for sure why the post wasn’t there any longer. But it sure looked like Jim decided sometime after he wrote the post that there was something in it he no longer wanted attributed to him. Isn’t it ironic that censoring the conversation is wrong when the other guys do it but it’s OK for Jim.

The only explanation I can find for the volume of comments Jim Light makes on other people’s opinions is that he sincerely believes that no one other than Jim Light could possibly figure out what people like me have written. The regular people couldn’t understand all this stuff without Jim Light to explain it to us. And to get you go believe it too, he’s going to spout off all kinds of obscure information he has found that he’s almost 100% sure you haven’t found.

Jim Light cites working on a traffic committee set up by the mayor and council as proof he can work well and cooperate with others. I can’t comment on that. But I can tell you that committee wasn’t an arm of the government, authorized by the municipal code.

The Public Works Commission, on the other hand, is an arm of city government. Jim light was appointed to serve on that commission. He quit after only a few weeks.

I could go on and on about Jim Light’s tactics and behaviors and how much damage electing him to the City Council would cause the city.

Unfortunately, with 4 candidates in the District 1 race, it’s unlikely anyone will get the requisite 50%+ votes necessary to win. If District 1 goes to a runoff, I promise I’ll leave all my blog posts up so voters can review them. That is, unless Jim sues me and a judge forces me to delete them.

The last time I suggested he might sue me, Jim posted a reply in which he laughed it off assuring me it wasn’t worth his time and effort. Guess I better go make sure that post hasn’t been deleted.

District 2

I’m happy my opinions on this race aren’t as heavily negative as they are for District 1. Michael Jackson is such a breath of fresh air.

Early in his campaign, Michael told me he had conducted research that ranked the issues local voters cared about most. Guess where the AES power plant ranked? Tenth, far below things like police, fire and paramedic services, the local economy and the integrity of city leadership.

Ask yourself the same question Michael Jackson asked. Forget about all the passion around Measure A for a minute. In your everyday life, how important is the AES power plant? Most honest people will agree with Michael Jackson’s research. It ranks far below a long list of more important issues.

Councilman Bill Brand has a different list than the rest of us. I know this because I get his emails. Prior to the election season, I can only remember one set of emails that had any subject other than the AES power plant.

That flurry of non-AES messages culminated in Bill calling one of the master leaseholders on the pier a liar. I took him to task for that. Not because he disagreed with the leaseholder but because he sent the messages to every city official and some local residents who were likely to see his actions as beneficial. Election season was coming up and he was looking for votes.

I called it what it was, a sucker punch.

Here’s another example. Do you know where District 2 ends and District 1 begins when you drive south on Prospect Avenue? I can always tell because my car stops bouncing and crashing on the pitted road surface when I hit District 1.

During his last term, District 1 Councilman Steve Aspel managed to help get the part of Prospect Avenue within his district repaved. Why wasn’t the councilman in District 2, Bill Brand, able to do the same for the people in District 2 and the rest of the city? I can’t answer that question but I’m sure it wouldn’t be hard to figure out what was keeping Mr. Brand from tending to the business of his district.

Take a walk down the Pier and you’ll see signs for Michael Jackson everywhere. Those small business owners have already endured four years of Bill Brand and they want it to end.

The same goes for the Police Officers Association, the Fire Fighters Association, the Daily Breeze, members of the city council who served with Bill Brand and a long list of other Michael Jackson supporters. They believe as I do, Bill Brand was an experiment that failed. I’d say District 2 needs new leadership but it’s more accurate to say District 2 needs leadership. Elect Michael Jackson.

District 4

Again, I don’t have enough information about these candidates to offer an informed opinion. I believe the voters will elect the best candidate.

As I look over my comments I realize much of what’s here is negative. I think that’s unfortunate because it really isn’t in my nature.

I just can’t see all the things I see and remain silent. I don’t want to live in a city whose duly elected government is constantly second-guessed by a shadow government most of the city did not choose. In the last few years, the Light/Brand/A Ticket has been directly or indirectly involved in 5 ballot initiatives. That’s no way to run a city.

I have a lot of negative things to say about Jim Light and Bill Brand because they show me a lot of negative things. I’ve been criticized for personal attacks. I would tell anyone who makes such accusations against me the character and other personal qualities of the people who run this city are very much an issue in this or any election. It’s extremely personal.

According to one city official who has much more experience working with these people than I do, “Light/Brand’s leadership/management style is coercive (May I say corrosive?). That is, victory through conflict. Light exposes his low level of leadership ability. The Council is collaborative. Collaboration requires dialogue, cooperation, common ground, trust, mutual benefit and so on.”

I couldn’t agree more.