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A Call to Action

Those who oppose or as I call them, The Opponents, are at it again. They held a press conference recently announcing their intention to get an initiative on the ballot that will propose scaled back development (I’m paraphrasing. I wasn’t there). I don’t really feel obligated to supply the details here. You can get them pretty easily elsewhere.

This initiative should be stopped before it gets approved for the ballot. As a community, I believe we have the ability to do exactly that.

If you look deeper into the backgrounds of the people who lead the charge for the status quo you will find they work for big companies like American Airlines and Northrop Grumman. They work for companies they did nothing to build. Their jobs were just there when they applied. All they had to do was get someone in the company to tell them they were hired. No one among them knows the least bit about business or community planning yet they believe they should be allowed to dictate to this community what it will and will not do with its most valuable resource.

I do believe they understand that if they can thwart a project that is capable of supporting itself financially by promising to scale down development, they can eliminate development altogether. The beauty of that plan is that they can create an environment in which no developer would touch King Harbor, then come away saying, “we were all for development, just not as much as the city council approved.”

The most important thing the people of this community can do now to ensure we get a waterfront we can all use and enjoy is to get out and stand side by side with the paid operatives they will have collecting signatures for their initiative. We need to talk to our neighbors while the people from out of state holding clipboards pretend to know our city and try to get them to support yet another plan…to have no plan.

We need to mobilize. We need to stand in front of Von’s and Whole Foods and go one-on-one with their paid operatives. Before our friends and neighbors provide their signatures, we need to have a few seconds to explain to them why an initiative would scuttle the CenterCal plan and leave us with no plan and little hope of transforming our waterfront to match the needs of this community in this century.

I’m ready to sign up to pull some shifts around the city and to help educate my fellow citizens. Are you?

9 thoughts on “A Call to Action

  1. Frank

    “They work for companies they did nothing to build. Their jobs were just there when they applied.” As opposed to whom—CenterCal project cheerleaders? Let’s see, we have a former State Farm insurance salesman, a wealth management bean counter, a job-hopping IT guy, the son of a restauranteur who inherited his “job”…opponents are every bit as qualified as project proponents and have every bit as much right as supporters to take appropriate resident action.

    1. funbooker Post author

      I”m not really sure who the people you described are but I’m going to stick my neck out and say the following; State Farm agents are generally considered independent business operators. Wealth management sounds like a business owner to me. I’d have to know more about the IT guy. Running a restaurant, regardless of how you came by it, is one of the most risky, cut-throat small businesses anywhere.

      None of that really gets to my main point. We have an elected city government. We seem to have an unelected, “shadow government” that is simply never happy with much of what our elected government does. Two of the people quoted in the article I read about the press conference failed to convince their neighbors they were the best choice for city council seats. Honorable people get over it and if they’re that sure they know better than the people that got elected, they run again next election cycle.

      1. Carol sommers

        Well, the reason none of it gets to your main point is none of i It is relevant. How dare you degrade the members of our community because you have decided a job at Northrop or any other employer somehow devalues their opinion. Let’s be clear, every single resident of this community has a voice in this process. We, the standard employee you disrespect are the tax base and source of funding. It is a logical fallacy and ignorant for you to try to persuade residents through fear and assertion of ridiculous false choices. The city council and developers have been tone deaf to the wants and needs of the tax paying residents thus a ballot initiative is needed. What are you afraid of? The fact is the residents don’t want a mall or the traffic that comes with it. We can all take the one mile stroll to DelAmo when the need to shop consumes us. The rest of the time we have clearly communicated a desire to enjoy our city sans massive strip mall like atmosphere.

        1. funbooker Post author

          Carol, I apologize if my original post implied I believe there is something negative about having a job at Northrop or any other company. I have nothing but respect for anyone who goes to work at ANY job and contributes to our society and our community. If what I wrote originally implies anything else, I’m tempted to edit that post but hopefully, anyone who interprets those word the way you did, will read this.

          I believe everyone who lives in this city, regardless of their background, has a right and an obligation to contribute opinions on our city’s future direction. Everyone should weigh in on topics such as aesthetics, traffic and quality of life. I understand the Opponents have plenty of issues with these aspects of the project. I also know there have been multiple opportunities for citizens to offer their input. The project has been modified as a result of that input.

          My point about business owners relates only to the business aspects of the project. Make no mistake, the relationship between CenterCal and Redondo Beach is about business. I believe people who have met payrolls, paid employee withholding taxes, managed vendors and employees and carried all the daily burdens of operating a business, have an insight into business other people do not have.

          So when people without this background make suggestions for altering a fairly substantial deal whose success depends on sound business decisions, I feel justified in suggesting they are not qualified to lead this community away from the deal we have with CenterCal.

          I have issued the following challenge to the Opponents in the last few battles over waterfront development. I’ll do it again. If you want to do something other than just oppose a plan that has a strong chance of succeeding, if you have a plan that INCLUDES financing and believable financial projections for sustaining the plan you envision, lay it out for us and let us choose between your plan and the CenterCal plan.

          I would take that one step further. Rather than promoting an initiative that just reverses the progress we’ve made toward waterfront development, why not place a detailed development plan, one that is as complete as the CenterCal plan, in your initiative?

          We know that won’t happen because the purpose of the initiative is to ensure there is NO major development in the harbor, not scaled down development. Scaled down development sounds great during the 20 seconds most people will consider whether or not to sign the petition for an initiative on the ballot. Unfortunately, the argument for passage of the proposed initiative will never point out the fact there is no viable, alternative plan.

          1. Anneke Blair

            I am sorry but I think perhaps you have never worked in a large corporation or a management role in one. I have worked for several large corporations and have managed annual payrolls over 25M, mutimillion dollar P & L’s, been responsible for multimillion dollar sales budgets, and lead large scale projects that include both systems integration as well as reductions in force. SO not only do I understand business process but I also understand the impact it has on people & communities.

            Your point about not being able to present an alternative is irrelevant because the city of Redondo Beach has an ENA in place. This mean that no one can negotiate on the project. No developer will touch this and anyone engaging in negotiation in this would likely put themselves at risk for legal action. The only way to truly know if there is no viable plan would be to open it up to proposal which cannot be done at this point.

            Your point about an initiative is also intriguing since the initiative hasn’t been drawn up yet. If the initiative hasn’t been drawn up yet how can you say it’s about NO development? This type of statement is really divisive and drives the fear mongering that you also berate the opponents for.

          2. funbooker Post author

            Anneke, thank you for your participation in this debate and your contribution to this discussion. You opened the door to the subject of money so I feel compelled to open it a bit wider.

            First, I need to correct your assertion that your tax dollars support the harbor. The Harbor Enterprise is financially self-sustaining. NONE of your tax dollars go to support it. In fact, thanks to some clever accounting by city officials, money from the Harbor Enterprise actually supplements the city’s general fund. (Don’t tell the state of California. They think it’s their money.) If you’re interested in more detail on this topic, see my earlier post, http://buildingthebestredondo.com/2014/01/11/the-miracle-in-redondo-beach/

            If this is news to you, you might ask how the people who claim to be leaders of the no-growth movement managed to overlook mentioning this fact when they were getting everyone all riled up about over-development. I know for a fact, at least two of the so-called leaders of that movement know these financial realities as well as I know them. Facts just don’t fit their narrative.

            So your, mine and everyone else’s ticket to the discussion of the future of the harbor doesn’t come because of our tax dollars. It’s our residency in the city that gives us a vote. Regardless, we still get a vote.

            Here’s another financial fact that really needs to find its place into this discussion. When cities, states, counties and other government entities want to fund expensive projects, they borrow money. One way to get that money is to sell bonds. Bondholders give the city money now to get the project built. In years to come, the city pays back the money with interest.

            If Redondo Beach floated bonds for harbor development, we could get some nice stuff down there in the not-so-distant future. Unfortunately, our kids and their kids would have to pay that money back, with interest. Other things like police, fire, roads, sewers and a host of tax-supported necessities would probably have to be sacrificed.

            One of the main reasons why I support the CenterCal plan, is because, as I understand it, the project doesn’t rely on public debt for completion. Opponents might argue that deferred and suspended lease payments constitute public debt.

            True, there will be a price to pay for $100 to $200 million in investment in our harbor. Did anyone think we were going to get new parking structures and an updated waterfront for free?

            Here’s the main difference between the CenterCal plan and the Opponents’ non-plan. The Harbor Enterprise will absorb any loss of revenue from rent deferral and suspension. As mentioned earlier, this does NOT negatively impact the general fund. There are plenty of other sources of harbor revenue.

            If, as I believe, the revenue model of a scaled down development, including parking structure replacement, fails to attract private developer/investors, how will the non-plan get funded? Public debt of course.

            Guess what? The Harbor Enterprise can’t legally float bonds so the Harbor Enterprise won’t be paying back those loans. Here’s where being a tax-payer comes into play. You, me and everyone in the city will be liable for that debt. We will either pay more to the city or get less from the city.

            You mention fear. I’m not afraid of any of this. I fear things like global warming and an unsustainable global financial system.

            I’m going to pay taxes. I’m going to enjoy living and raising my kid in Redondo Beach. I love King Harbor. I can live with the power plant and the run-down, 1960s conditions at least until the parking structure collapses on top of me.

            What I’m hoping to accomplish by injecting facts into the discussion, is the opportunity to continue along the path of thoughtful, well-planned harbor development. When you examine the CenterCal plan and see that it’s not really going to put you, me and the rest of the city into debt, it should make you want to give your current and recent-past city council members big hugs when you meet them (with a couple exceptions).

            They have listened to all the arguments. They have deliberated, researched and followed a step-by-step path to a feasible, exciting opportunity that will benefit this community for many years to come. They have avoided making decisions based on hysteria. The Opponents are trying to get the city on a path to nothing…no development…no progress. Listen to what they say with an open mind. Take time to get the facts.

  2. Arnette Travis

    Well said! This post encapsulates the reality of the opposing faction that once again threatens to cost the City more money and delay the much-needed revitalization of our waterfront. Count me in!

  3. Paul

    If you are going to put something up, put up the facts and make a case. Judge Judy would rip you a new one on the OP. p

    1. funbooker Post author

      If this comment is directed at me because the section Carol cites in the original message was easily interpreted the way she interpreted it, I’ll plead guilty. My only defense is that as a blogger, I have no editor. Things that seem clear to me at the time they’re written may not be as clear as I thought they were when others read them. After people comment, I won’t edit the original post unless it contains something that’s clearly erroneous.


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