Monthly Archives: June 2013

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The last election?

Three elections in five months should be enough to sort out the business of a city of 65,000 people. That should give us about two years of election-free recovery time, that is unless some group of citizens decides our elected officials aren’t paying enough attention to their interests and they write another ballot initiative.

The one remaining election will consist of a mail-in choice between two candidates for city treasurer. How many people know what the treasurer does to earn a tidy sum, well over $100,000 of our hard earned tax money every year? It’s probably worth taking a few minutes to search the city’s municipal code for section 11.1 to find out.

What you’ll discover is that the city treasurer doesn’t really do much. He or she oversees money coming in and money going out. It seems we have a treasurer so we have someone to blame if our money is mismanaged by other city employees. Nevertheless, we need a city treasurer and we will all get to mail in our votes for one of two candidates in July.

You don’t hear that much about Measure A now that Redondo Beach voters have exercised their power of self-governance by rejecting that ridiculous piece of legislation. We need to remember there was an organization called No Power Plant. No Power Plant was Measure A and Measure A was No Power Plant.

A number of candidates attempted to leverage their association with or sympathy for No Power Plant/Measure A to get elected. The citizens of Redondo Beach rejected all but one of them the same way they rejected Measure A.

City treasurer candidate Dawn Esser is the last remaining person seeking elected office in the city who has attempted to use her association with No Power Plant/Measure A for political advantage. I join many of my fellow citizens in hoping she will experience the same fate other aspiring politicians who attached themselves to the divisive, misguided ideas that brought us No Power Plant/Measure A have had to suffer, defeat.

My real interest in this election isn’t to see one candidate lose but to see a more qualified, extremely bright candidate get elected. Steve Diels won’t need to study the city budget to figure out how to perform the duties of treasurer. For the past eight years he has had direct personal, responsibility for that budget as a member of our city council.

Everyone who serves on the council brings his or her own talents and abilities to that work. In eight years of working with the council as a commissioner, I often found myself considering what the council was doing on some issue or item on its agenda. Before I jumped to any conclusions about the wisdom or absence of wisdom of any council action, I always found myself asking one question. What did Steve Diels have to say about the matter?

That doesn’t mean I agreed with him. I probably disagreed more often than not but I knew his opinions would always be thoughtful and represent his genuine interest in doing what’s best for the city. I believe the city is better for having had Steve as a council member. The city has an opportunity to continue benefitting from Steve’s knowledge and experience by electing him our next city treasurer. Check out his qualifications at .

Harbor Drive improvement?

The strand provides an ideal hard, flat surface and picturesque, seaside environment for bike riding. It would be a fluid, uninterrupted ribbon of beachside bliss if it weren’t for one thing, the Redondo Pier and Harbor complex.

Parking lots, boat basins and buildings occupy the former beach that most certainly would have accommodated a bike path if the harbor wasn’t built first. With no beach between the strand in south Redondo and the strand in Hermosa, the only place for a bike path was on both sides of Harbor Drive and through the pier parking lot.

Mingling with car and truck traffic adds an element of danger and inconvenience bikers don’t experience elsewhere along the strand. The city has a plan it believes will address those problems called the Harbor Drive/Herondo Street Gateway Improvement Project. It’s hard to tell whether the plan will improve safety and traffic flow or just reshuffle a deck full of unattractive options.

Taking down the block wall at the south end of the Hermosa Strand and running the bike path diagonally through what’s now a metered, parking lot is by far the biggest improvement to both safety and traffic flow.

To compensate the city for reduction in parking meter revenue, the plan will reconfigure parking along Herondo Street. The plan calls for diagonal, parallel paid parking on both sides of the street.

Drivers will back into those spaces. They will cross a bike lane going backward after stopping to block the single lane of traffic. This part of the plan is perhaps, the dumbest idea the city has every seriously considered and definitely the dumbest thing the city ever approved.

Parallel parking is hard enough looking straight ahead, moving forward. The skills necessary too backward, parallel park aren’t taught in driving school nor are they acquired through experience. When’s the last time you backed into a parallel parking space (I mean sober)? Imagine a 17 year old new driver doing it in reverse looking over one shoulder. It looks like this plan has traded the risk of hitting a bike rider while backing out of a parking space for a higher risk of hitting a bike rider while backing into a space.

The only reason this hazardous parking plan was incorporated into the plan was because the transition from the strand to Harbor drive eliminates part of a revenue-producing parking lot. The revenue loss had to be offset somehow.

The plan moves the northbound bike lane to the south side of Harbor Drive so bikes moving in both directions will pass beside each other the way they do on the strand. That doesn’t change conditions much for bikers riding south.

Curbside parking along the north side of Harbor Drive will move to the south side. Looking across Harbor Drive from the north side of the street, the new configuration will begin with a northbound vehicle lane, then a southbound vehicle lane, curbside parking, a 5 foot wide sidewalk-style buffer zone, 2 way bike traffic and a pedestrian sidewalk.

Northbound bike traffic doesn’t have to cross Harbor Drive any more but those riders now have to deal with traffic in and out of Yacht Club way and 6 parking lots they were protected from on the north side of Harbor Drive.

Any way you look at it, it isn’t a net gain, especially when you consider curbside parking will obscure the view between the bike lanes and vehicles turning into parking lots. People who get out of cars in those spaces will now have to cross 2 lanes of bike traffic. Bikers will see people pop out from between cars every 25 feet or so. Some of the pedestrians will have no clue bikes are speeding by in both directions until they step off the curb.

Every benefit this plan will provide is offset by some new problem or increased risk. Harbor Drive will probably look better and the city will get some money from the state but calling the plan an improvement project is a misrepresentation of the facts. Maybe it should be called a movement project as in move this over there and that over here.

There’s one clear winner in this plan. Auto body shops in the South Bay stand to reap huge benefits by repairing all the dented doors that result from hundreds of people backing into parallel parking spaces on Herondo Street. Maybe it’s time to invest in a body shop?