Category Archives: AES Redondo Beach

A discussion of the future of the AES Power Plant in Redondo Beach


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Trojan Boat Ramp

Remember the story of the Trojan horse (nothing to do with USC)? The Greeks and Trojans were engaged in an epic battle. One day, the Trojans awoke to find a huge wooden horse standing outside their city gates. The Greek army was nowhere to be seen.

The Trojans figured their enemies had given up and honored Troy’s victory by building the horse, which was the ancient city’s mascot. They opened the gates and rolled in the statue.

The Trojans partied while the Greeks hidden inside the horse waited patiently. You probably know the rest. The Greeks piled out of the horse after the Trojans passed out and defeated them from inside, rather than outside the walled city.

The concept of a Trojan horse has become a metaphor for sneaking anything that’s disguised as something else past unsuspecting observers who choose to see what’s presented to them rather than what’s hidden inside. Measure C contains just such a Trojan horse in the form of a boat ramp.

Measure C supporters would tell you there’s nothing hidden about the boat ramp but I beg to differ. Granted, there’s nothing hidden about the fact the boat ramp could kill the CenterCal project all by itself.

By my estimate, the boat ramp would take 20%-25% of the land available for development. The ramp won’t generate any significant revenue. In addition to reducing the potential revenue-generating land, a ramp would cost the developer money.

One thing that’s hidden in Measure C’s language is the fact the ramp described in the initiative and the necessary space for parking and maneuvering vehicles could only fit one place, the area bordered by Samba, Captain Kidd’s and R/10.

Samba would get demolished to make way for the ramp. The entire parking area from the driveway behind the tollbooth to the water would be devoted to trailer/vehicle parking.

If you like the walkway between the fishing pier and South Bay Sailing, voting for Measure C may allow you to continue to enjoy a marina view from that long stretch of open sidewalk. Unfortunately, there will be a portion of that stroll that will tilt down to the water and require you to dodge boat trailers and trucks during your walk.

Measure C requires, “…safe launch and recovery in surge conditions…” I recently observed a surge of about three to four feet in the area of the Measure C boat ramp, on a fairly calm day. There were no waves breaching the breakwater, even at the lowest part near the harbor entrance.

The only way I can see to reduce surge in the area of the marina where surge is greatest (the boat ramp location) would be to build a detached breakwater inside the harbor. Can you imagine removing even more of the already tiny recreational space inside King Harbor? Probably not and it’s just as likely the state and federal agencies that would need to approve such an obstruction to navigation wouldn’t be able to imagine it either.

For that reason and others, it would be impossible to meet the boat ramp requirements written into Measure C. Measure C’s authors either didn’t think it through carefully or they didn’t care. Or…they want to add impossible requirements to our current zoning.

I have a boat on a trailer sitting in my driveway. I served six years as the Boater’s Representative on the RB Harbor Commission. Boats and boat ramps are important to me and many other potential beneficiaries of a King Harbor boat ramp.

That’s probably why it irritates me to see a boat ramp used by non-boaters to further their political agenda. A vote for Measure C is a vote for stalemate, more regulation and status quo. Allow King Harbor to become more than it is today. Vote NO on Measure C.

Vision and Opportunity, King Harbor’s Future and Its Past

A twenty-year career in recreational boating afforded me some insights into that industry and the places where people enjoy their recreational boats. I often called on that expertise during my two terms on the Redondo Beach Harbor Commission.

The boat business taught me many things, not least of which was to look for other examples of any endeavor I was about to undertake. So as I examine the inevitable conversations that have arisen around the Redondo Beach waterfront development plans, I find myself looking at other harbors for answers.

Recreational boating didn’t exist when most of the major U. S. harbors began taking shape. People, goods and commodities crossed oceans and moved along coastlines by ship. Harbors and bays were places where ships could load and unload their cargo and passengers. Warships used coastal harbors during and between wars.

Up and down the east coast, fortunes of places like Portland, Maine, Boston and New York ebbed and flowed with changing trends in transportation, war and society. Wooden shipbuilding, once the lifeblood of many northeast port cities, disappeared in the early 20th century. Steel hulls required a different set of natural resources, tools and skills. It was no longer necessary to set up shop near forests and logging operations to ensure the supply of lumber.

Railroads spread out like a spider’s web connecting cities and towns. Farmers discovered it was cheaper to send their crops and livestock to larger ports by rail instead of using smaller, local ports.

Industries such as whaling boomed for a while then nearly disappeared. Harbors that were once home to whaling fleets, vibrant wooden shipbuilding industries and transshipment of agricultural products adapted and evolved to accommodate changing times.

History of west coast ports doesn’t stretch back as far as that of their east coast cousins but we see the same patterns. The Navy had a substantial base in Long Beach for nearly a century. It included a shipyard and shore side facilities including housing and a hospital.

Most of the Navy’s activities in Long Beach were curtailed by 2000. The shipyard, docking and land facilities have been converted to accommodate commercial shipping. Every harbor I know that has been used as a harbor for any substantial amount of time has undergone change due to the changing needs of the community that uses it.

Redondo Beach had a robust commercial harbor around the time the Navy began expanding in Long Beach. Mariners discovered the deep water trench leading up to what’s now King Harbor enabled them to bring in deep-draft ships laden with lumber and other materials needed to support a growing population.

A shift in commercial shipping to the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach forced Redondo Beach to repurpose itself. The 225-room Hotel Redondo helped the city transition into a popular tourist destination. Reliable rail and steamer service made it easy to get here. (For a much more rich and detailed account of Redondo’s history visit the historical society, www.redondohistorical.org)

The industry that had serviced commercial shipping moved south and a new industry devoted to tourism took its place. The embedded community grew along with the hordes of visitors.

The next repurposing of Redondo’s harbor came in the early 1960s when the current breakwater was built to accommodate recreational boating. It became King Harbor. The transition may not have been as drastic as the change from commercial harbor to tourist destination but it allowed the city to diversify.

Leisure time had become an important part of American Life. King Harbor gave people access to fishing, recreational boating and other water-related activities. Numbers of people who came to enjoy the shore-side attractions grew even bigger than those who used King Harbor for boating.

We’re lucky. We don’t have to figure out how to change from a commercial harbor to something completely different or even how to accommodate a new population of recreational boaters. The transition facing us will not alter the purpose of King Harbor. Our little man-made water feature will still provide access to Santa Monica Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Our harbor will still have a collection of shops, restaurants and other recreational attractions adjacent to the water.

Proposed development plans will consist of some fairly basic reconfiguring, some rehabilitation and rebuilding but that’s about it. The bulkheads that make up the shore-side contour of the harbor will remain the same. The moles that were created by dumping thousands of tons of fill behind concrete bulkheads will remain unchanged. The breakwater made from huge quarried boulders and arranged to define the outer contour of the harbor won’t change. When you look at harbors that transition from commercial to recreational or others that change due to quantum shifts in an economy or a society, the proposed changes to King Harbor seem more like redecorating than repurposing.

Those of us who support the Centercal plan believe it’s time to move from the harbor that served our community’s needs when it was built in the 60s, to something that’s more relevant to the world we live in today. Clearly, times have changed since the 60s. Someone cryogenically frozen in that period of history and thawed out today (Austin Powers?) wouldn’t recognize our travel, recreation, information and entertainment options. Yet, the South Bay’s premier waterfront complex hasn’t changed in any substantial way in the last half century.

You can visit harbors such as Mystic Seaport in Connecticut and see all the elements of a working harbor from a bygone era, the 1800s. They build wooden ships with hand tools that were forged by a blacksmith. It’s fascinating. I go there whenever I get a chance.

The people of Mystic Connecticut chose to use a portion of their community’s seaside resources as a museum. They entertain thousands of people every year and treat them to an education they couldn’t get otherwise.

Have the people of Redondo Beach chosen to use part of our seaside resources as a working museum that exhibits a southern California coastal waterfront from the 1960s? That’s what we have here and I can tell anyone who hasn’t been to Mystic Seaport, our 60s museum lacks all the charm and educational aspects of that wonderful place in Connecticut. Ours is just old and run down.

Even though the people of Redondo Beach have not chosen to make their waterfront a 1960s museum, the possibility exists it will remain exactly that. If the small minority of Redondo citizens who oppose the Centercal project were somehow able to derail waterfront development by making good on their threats of ballot initiatives and lawsuits, we could all bear witness to the continued decline or our city’s most valuable and unique resource, its harbor.

If you think that’s an unwarranted accusation against our progress-phobic neighbors, consider the defeat of Measure B. I won’t bother predicting what happens to the property that contains the AES power plant. I will predict that whatever ends up on that land will be a lot less desirable than the community that Measure B would have enabled. I will also predict Redondo Beach will host the current monstrosity for at least another generation.

I watched the Centercal video http://thewaterfrontredondo.com/ and came away saying what I was supposed to say. “I want to go to this place. I want to go there now!”

Watch the video then take a walk through the Redondo Beach Marina property and up the International Boardwalk. We will all be asked to choose between those two options multiple times before any construction begins.

Amateur community planners will try to convince us they know a better way, a more desirable opportunity. What they’re actually offering is what they were offering when they opposed Measure B., status quo…an opportunity to leave things exactly the way they are now. In my humble opinion, that lack of vision offers no opportunity whatsoever.

Pseudo-facts

The existence of conflicting truths and facts make parts of modern life confusing. It’s no wonder people disengage from important issues. They want truth and facts but instead they get opinions and interpretations that come disguised as truth and facts.

Take the issues surrounding Measure B as an example. I got an email with the subject; “Quick Facts Why NO on Measure B”. I love facts, so I was anxious to dig into the message.

One of the first facts stated, “Southern California Edison has made it clear they will not be awarding AES a long term power contract so AES will not build.”

I asked AES for their take on that fact and got, “Certainly over the next decade, while we are operating our existing units, there will be additional opportunities to get a contract to build a new power plant in Redondo Beach.”

When the fact from the email can be so clearly refuted by a credible source, it isn’t a fact at all. It’s an opinion. You need to ask yourself, why would someone try to give their opinions more credibility by labeling them as facts? The simple answer is, he wants something and he believes it’s worth sacrificing his integrity to get it.

It would be unfair to say self-serving messages like the Facts email don’t contain any facts. They’re just mixed in with opinions and it’s hard to tell them apart. For example, down near the bottom it says Redondo Beach should, ”…find a way to finance the purchase of the site for $200 million.” How could that be a fact?

The text leading up to that suggestion summarizes what the property might be worth. Not only is it a little vague about where the city will get the $200 million, it’s pretty vague about how the city will force the company to accept a purchase price that’s considerably less than the fair market value.

Granted, the value of the property is variable based on its zoning. But one has to wonder whether the city could be legally liable for withholding a zoning change that would be favorable to the owner if its motive is to force AES to sell out to the city at a lower price than it would have sold the property for otherwise.

There’s more to the message but when I add it all up, I see a set of opinions about future power generation in Redondo Beach, some opinions about the potential revenue to AES and the city and some opinions about what should be done with the AES property.

That’s all fine except the message was billed as Facts. There’s no way to sugar coat it. Calling the content of that email a set of facts is simply not factual.

Here are a few facts.

  • Passage of Measure B will set the city on a path that could and should lead to replacement of the power plant with a development the community can use and enjoy.
  • Failure to pass Measure B will put AES in a position where it needs to come up with some other plan for its property.
  • Failure to pass Measure B will retain the current zoning for a power plant and/or a park.

Look at the second and third facts on that list. If you ran AES and on March 4th you were looking at a failed initiative and your plans to develop your property were cancelled, what would you do?

I will admit there are a number of ways to run the various scenarios that result in AES surrendering to the will of the small group of people who oppose Measure B. But before that happens, years and probably decades of fighting will have taken place. Many thousands, probably millions of our tax dollars will have been spent in legal fees.

Here’s a fact you might not see elsewhere. If AES is going to be forced to lose, Redondo Beach is also going to lose. It isn’t a matter of “if”. It’s a matter of how much.

The people who oppose Measure B would probably call my predictions fear tactics. I disagree. I moved to Redondo Beach knowing there was a power plant on harbor Drive. I’ve lived here the past 20 years knowing the plant is there. I’m not afraid of the AES power plant nor am I afraid of it continuing to be here.

I just don’t like it. For the first time in my 20 years living here and the 15 years visiting before that, I can see a clear path toward a waterfront without a power plant. There’s no fear about the plant staying or going, just hope. Hope that the rest of the community will see what a growing number of concerned citizens see, a realistic, comprehensive plan for what can be the most exciting development in Los Angeles county in our lifetime. It all starts with Measure B.

Oh, by the way, everything I’ve written here is my opinion unless it’s labeled otherwise.

An Open Letter to Voters in Redondo Beach District 3

Dear Neighbor,

Unless you’ve ignored all the mail, the doorbells ringing, the TV ads and the phone calls, you know there’s an election March 3rd. I’d like to ask for just a few minutes of your time to tell you who I am and why I believe this election is so important.

Like you, I live in District 3. I’ve lived here for more than 20 years. I served two terms on the Harbor Commission. I was both vice chairman and chairman of that commission. I also write a column about our harbor for Easy Reader. It’s called Harbor Lights.

I support Measure B, the initiative that will rezone the power plant property but I’m writing to you for a different reason. Passing Measure B is only the beginning of the process that will replace the old, ugly power plant with a vibrant community we can all use and enjoy.

We also need a city council that will make the dream of a beautiful, exciting waterfront into reality. If our community is really committed to the process of replacing the power plant, we need to band together behind our shared vision.

Contrary to rumors from some corners, the community will decide what will be built, how much open space will be set aside and most of the details of the final project. See for yourself. There’s a full text version of the initiative on my blog, www.buildingthebestredondo.com.

Measure B isn’t the end. It’s just the beginning. That’s why it’s so important to elect city council members who will help move us toward the goal of a waterfront that serves the needs of this community and makes us even more proud we live here.

We will elect a new city council member to represent our district from a field of five candidates. It isn’t my place to suggest which candidate to choose on your secret ballot. I would simply ask you to consider voting for a candidate who supports Measure B.

You may need to tune out some of the noise to realize that our new council member will have plenty of opportunities to act on our concerns about traffic, revenue and other issues that will arise down the road.

Voting for the candidate who opposes Measure B will guarantee division and obstruction on the city council. We deserve better. We deserve a representative from District 3 who wants to work toward our shared goals, not stand in the way of our dreams.

Once again, I won’t try to tell you how to vote. But I have listed the four candidates who have shown some degree of willingness to move ahead with a comprehensive plan to help our waterfront reach its full potential. It’s up to you to decide.

This election is incredibly important. Vote March 3rd!

Sincerely,

Harry Munns

www.horvathforredondo.com

www.marchese4redondo.com

www.samforredondo.com

www.colemanforredondo.com

 

Measure B

The No on Measure B (the Redondo Beach ballot initiative that will re-zone the AES power plant property) campaign doesn’t seem to be gaining the momentum it would need to succeed. My years of immersion in the issues and interacting with the personalities on both sides of the seaside development debate, lead me to a few theories that might help explain the apparent lack of energy behind opposition to Measure B.

My first theory has to do with Measure A, the 2013 initiative that proposed rezoning the AES property to exclude power generation, among other things. The petition that put Measure A on the ballot got thousands of signatures by asking a simple question. Would you like to get rid of the power plant?

My second theory came to life immediately after the reelection of District 2 councilman, Bill Brand in the same election. I concluded his decisive victory was attributed to a number of factors, chief among them his success in convincing property owners he was their champion in the fight to rid their neighborhood of the big, ugly, old power plant.

According my theories, thousands of residents showed their support for getting rid of the power plant by signing the petition. A majority of the people who cast votes for District 2 city council, in 2013 believed Bill Brand could help remove the power plant from our waterfront.

Those two theories lead to a third theory. The reason we aren’t seeing any ground swell of enthusiasm for opposing Measure B is because the core supporters of Measure A and councilman Brand see a clear path to the goal they all share with many of the rest of us.

Memes like reducing air pollution and removing the power plant for the good of the community have been used to shield the ambitions of a very small group of people. They successfully seduced thousands of citizens into supporting their campaigns but this one seems different.

AES drew the curtain back by offering a realistic, comprehensive plan to give them exactly what they claimed they wanted, removal of the power plant. Now, the same people who brought you Measure A want their fellow citizens to follow them in opposing Measure B.

Only this time, they can’t offer voters the chance to reduce air pollution and rid the waterfront of the power plant because that’s exactly what Measure B offers. In addition, Measure B offers a way to get it done that would benefit everyone.

So what’s left for the opponents of Measure B when AES has taken the pollution and monstrous power plant arguments away from them? Their yard signs say, Big Traffic, Big AES Profit$ and Big City $ lo$$e$.

Nobody likes traffic but if you want to avoid it, you’ll need to move somewhere lots of other people don’t want to live, like the desert. That just isn’t going to happen so traffic will be a reality with or without Harbor Village.

I haven’t seen any realistic projections of the amount of money AES stands to make from the proposed Harbor Village development. It’s probably a lot. I just don’t get the logic behind the argument that if AES, a public corporation, makes money, Redondo Beach loses something. They aren’t stealing the money they make from the city. They’re exercising their right to sell what they own and use it to do what corporations do, make money.

I won’t claim to speak with any authority about the economics but I will make a personal observation. I paid about $6,000 in property taxes per year for my modest house in North Redondo. Based on what I would expect to be much more valuable residences in Harbor Village and the number proposed, there should be a ton of money generated in property taxes. And that’s just one source of revenue. There will be others.

In my humble opinion, any voter in Redondo who doesn’t vote for Measure B is nuts. If the measure fails, you can expect to live with the power plant for a long time to come. If you like the power plant, vote NO on Measure B. If you don’t, you know what to do.

AES Redondo Beach Announces a New Plan

This is the most exciting news from Redondo Beach since Fifi Maloof’s brothel appeared on the national news (look it up). AES, the energy company that owns and operates the Redondo Beach generating plant, announced it will voluntarily cease generating electricity in Redondo Beach and remove the plant if the city passes an initiative that allows mixed use development on the 50 acre site.

There will be plenty of time for lots of conversation and debate over a project that will take more than a decade to complete at best and probably more like two or three decades if past experience is any indicator. Right now, I’d like to speak to the good people of the community who have expressed their desire to get rid of the plant.

Some of you voted for Measure A. Others carried signs, signed petitions and attended city council meetings. Some of you did all of it.

Throughout it all, a few very vocal and visible individuals made some claims that probably spoke to you and made you think they were aligned with your interests. They weren’t.

Watch what they do next. Remember when they told you they wanted clean air for kids? Remember when they told you they wanted to improve the community and get rid of the ugly power plant? If that was all true, you could expect them to take a victory lap and celebrate the good news with the rest of us.

They won’t. They will reveal their true agenda in the moves they make next. Watch very carefully because they will have to craft future messages in a way that will continue to deceive you into thinking they want what you want. Don’t get fooled again.

Strange Bedfellows

I’m wondering if anyone else noticed strange and confusing political winds blowing since the March election in Redondo Beach. I’m guessing most of it has something to do with the timing of the next election May 14th. Items on that ballot will include a runoff for council seats in districts 1 and 4, and the mayoral race. Voters will also decide who will become the city treasurer.

The first thing that confused me was an editorial by former District 1 council candidate Diane Prado who claims to be a lawyer. I can’t figure out how an attorney could make public accusations against a mayoral candidate based on her interpretation of a single conversation. They call it hearsay on cop shows.

It appears Ms. Prado made no attempt to discover whether there was another side to the story before publicly declaring the information she wrote was fact. I always thought the concept that there are 2 sides (at least) to every argument was something law students learned right after the pronunciation of habeas corpus. It’s confusing.

The next thing that confused me is why a candidate for city treasurer would place her position on a highly charged, local political issue front and center on the material she uses to try to get Redondo voters to elect her. Supporting NoPowerPlant was definitely Ms. Esser’s right as a Redondo Beach resident. But what does it have to do with her qualifications to execute the duties she would assume as city treasurer? Why not enumerate her views on global warming or who she supported in the last presidential election? Her support for NoPowerPlant should be no more relevant to the treasurer’s job than those things.

I’m assuming Ms. Esser knows the city treasurer’s office doesn’t take positions on local political issues. Maybe she plans on changing that.

Until now you might say that other than being an elected position, the city treasurer is apolitical. I assume Ms. Esser has many political positions and opinions. Why emphasize this one, a position upon which the city treasurer cannot and should not exert any influence? See why I’m confused?

That leads me to one other confusing occurrence after the March election. Why did city councilman and mayoral candidate Matt Kilroy champion a re-vote on a council resolution opposing the power plant after the same issue was summarily defeated by the council in July 2012? The council made a statement at that time. It refused to bend to pressure from a special interest group.

Voters made a similar statement when they rejected Measure A. From where I stand, that issue was dead, twice. Yet right after the March election put Matt Kilroy into a runoff with an opponent who beat him head-to-head in the March election, he began pushing the rest of the council to revive the twice dead issue of an official statement saying Redondo Beach opposed a new power plant. For the life of me, I couldn’t understand why he’d do such a thing.

I’m lying. I saw the reasons for all these peculiar occurrences as clearly as the view of the power plant from King Harbor. So did everyone else I’ve spoken with about any of it.

Even though Measure A failed, you couldn’t help but notice there were a lot of people who took up the No Power Plant cause. They are motivated and active. When you consider they’re being told by councilman Bill Brand to vote for Jim Light, Dawn Esser and Matt Kilroy it’s easy to understand why Ms. Esser advertises her devotion to the no power plant cause and why Mr. Kilroy pushed to revive the resolution the council had voted against just a few months earlier. If you’ve seen the CBS show Survivor, you’ll understand. Contestants make alliances they think will keep them in the game longer.

Voters in Redondo need to realize the importance of the May 14th election. It could result in a relatively small group of people taking control of some large chunks of our city government, the mayor’s office, city treasurer, two seats on the city council and a fighting chance of gaining control of a third. I’m not exaggerating.

It’s fair to say most Americans find the political climate in Washington toxic. Two opposing groups of stubborn Ideologues pledge their allegiance to their set of beliefs and the relatively small group of people who share their extreme views. They refuse to give an inch on any idea the other group supports.

Voters in Redondo Beach better take notice of what could happen on May 14th. A small group of ideologues stand a very good chance of taking over our city’s government. If you think the power plant is the only thing they want to control, think again. If you thought Measure A was about a power plant, you were half right. It was about power. The power a small group of people would like you to give them so they can gain control of this community.

I believe Matt Kilroy is a good man and I don’t think his play for the No Power Plant vote will change that. I also believe that in politics, if you get favors eventually you will have to repay those favors. Repayment may not be overt or unethical but the debt will be recorded and repayment will be expected.

l had a discussion with a political operative from San Diego about some changes I’d like to see to the Redondo charter. At the end of our conversation he said, “The people of Redondo Beach will get the government they deserve.”

I believe electing a group of people who have professed their inflexibility and predisposition to support one another would damage our community. If you agree, then you need to go to the polls on May 14th and vote against them. If the independent citizens of Redondo Beach lose control of their city because they didn’t take this threat seriously, then the political operative was right. We deserve the government we get.

Measure A and District 1

It would be inaccurate to say people who voted for or against Measure A in the March, Redondo Beach election, were voting for or against the AES power plant. A majority of the votes cast were against Measure A but I really don’t believe those voters were saying they want a power plant. More likely, the No voters recognized it was a poorly written law that was destined to cause the city more harm than any good it might do.

The Yes voters were a different story. I think most of them believed they were voting against the power plant.

61% of the voters in District 2 voted for Measure A. These are the people who live closest to the plant, people who have to look at it. The other 4 districts in the city voted against Measure A. In fact, there wasn’t another district with as much as 50% support for Measure A.

At 47% each, Districts 1 and 3, the next closest to the plant, were the highest ratio of votes cast for Measure A. Districts 4 and 5, representing the furthest parts of the city from the plant, both came in at just above 40% for Measure A.

Understandably, the people in District 2 were voting their self-interest. It’s safe to say a majority of the District 2 residents who voted for Measure A were property owners. If the power plant goes away, their property becomes more valuable.

It’s ironic that proponents of Measure A whined after the election about the results being determined by money. AES spent considerably more money on advertising. They complained that money was the only reason Measure A lost.

From where I stand, money is the only reason Measure A got 61% of the vote in District 2. No matter what anyone tells you about the rest of the city, the AES plant doesn’t influence property values anywhere except the parts of the city where you can see the plant, District 2 and small portions of Districts 1 and 3. Voters in Districts 1, 3, 4 and 5 were unwilling to vote for a bad law to increase property values in District 2.

District 2 city councilman Bill Brand was re-elected with about the same percentage of votes as Measure A got in his district. He got 56% of the votes cast. Councilman Brand convinced voters in District 2 his crusade against the AES plant would help them. He may have been right.

District 1 voters are being asked to vote for a Bill Brand clone next month, his sidekick Jim Light. Brand and Light have spent countless hours and invested tremendous energy over the last ten years fighting to get rid of AES, fighting to increase property values in District 2.

That raises an interesting question. Will voters in District 1 elect a councilman who, by his own admission, will continue devoting time and energy to increasing property values in District 2? They rejected the idea of voting for a law that was intended to have the same effect. Will they elect a city council candidate who will invest his time and energy working for a cause whose greatest benefit will be enjoyed outside District 1? We’ll know soon enough.

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.