Tag Archives: AES Redondo Beach


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Supersized Regulations

You will see various Redondo city documents refer to the harbor area between Torrance Boulevard and Herondo as the Harbor Enterprise. Like most successful enterprises, the Redondo Beach Harbor Enterprise generates a substantial amount of money. Benefits of that cash are enjoyed by everyone in and around the city.

Lots of families pay their mortgages or rent, pay for their kids’ daycare, healthcare and much more with the money they make within the Harbor Enterprise. Their very existence comes from the work they do in that relatively small plot of land. Many of us derive great pleasure from the time we spend boating, fishing, swimming or just relaxing in and around King Harbor.

The Redondo Beach Harbor Enterprise makes enough money to pay all its own expenses and then some. Even those of us who don’t work in or even visit the harbor enjoy the benefits of that financial success.

Regulation is necessary to keep business from interfering with the public good. Elected officials at all levels of government spend a considerable amount of time crafting regulations that protect the public while enabling business to succeed and thrive. We expect them to find the balance between protecting the public’s interests and allowing businesses to succeed. Over-regulation upsets that balance. Business suffers as a result.

I recently read the proposed language for Measure C, the ballot initiative that claims it will “Revitalize not Supersize!”. The citizens of Redondo Beach are being asked to enact this extremely complex set of restrictive rules that I can only describe as the worst case of over-regulation I’ve seen in years. Every voter in Redondo Beach should read the document posted on the city web site before stepping into the voting booth. http://www.redondo.org/civica/filebank/blobdload.asp?BlobID=31297

You have to ask yourself, do I really care about most of this stuff? Do things like the type of keys used in hotel rooms matter to me? Do I really care about how long a hotel owner maintains records of room rental rates? Do I want to approve a boat ramp that will take away 120 parking spaces directly adjacent to the harbor without conducting a study to see if any of those parking spaces will ever be used by boat owners?

Perhaps the most important questions are, who thinks 27 pages of incomprehensible, new regulations are a good thing for Redondo Beach and why do they try so hard to sell it to us?

The citizens of Redondo Beach approved Measure G in 2010. It took years of hard work by city councils, mayors, commissions, city staff , consultants, and citizens to come up with that complex set of regulations. A majority of voters agreed, those land use guidelines were what we needed to move forward with reasonable redevelopment of King Harbor. An additional 27 pages of regulations was not needed then and it is not needed now.

The proponents of Measure C say it was “…written by residents for residents”. I’m a resident of Redondo Beach. I didn’t write this business-crushing set of unnecessary regulations. Did you?

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.

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.

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.

A Message to Redondo Beach Voters in Districts 1 and 2

When you do some things that no one ever did before, you may be considered innovative. Other times, you realize when it’s too late there was a good reason no one ever did what you’ve just done.

No other city anywhere in the state, the country or the world ever passed a ballot initiative that re-zoned the land under a utility while it was still operating and in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. If you’re thinking about voting for Measure A and it passes, I believe you will soon realize there’s a good reason why no other city passed a similar initiative. Passing Measure A would certainly make Redondo Beach unique, but hardly innovative.

There are other things that happen in Redondo Beach that don’t seem to happen elsewhere. In my experience, when you’re elected to serve as part of a legislative body, you make a pledge to work within the structure of that body. You forgo your right to work against that body. You accept the fact you have only one vote. You recognize that sometimes your opinion will be in the minority. You accept the times you get outvoted.

The process of majority rule actually makes the body stronger than the sum of its parts. The legislative body makes a statement, we’re a team and the goals of the team and the work we were sent here to do is more important than the opinions of any individual team member.

It’s a little different in Redondo Beach. In late 2011 councilman Bill Brand gave the rest of the city council an ultimatum. Either you pass a resolution stating the city is against re-powering the AES plant or I’ll go outside the structure of the council to make that statement. He made good on that threat. He co-authored the document and promoted the petition that led to Measure A.

In my experience, when a legislator feels so strongly that the legislative body has taken a course that violates his or her fundamental beliefs, the legislator resigns. He or she may choose to work outside the legislative body or even against it to satisfy some deeply held conviction the legislative body did not share. They talk the talk and walk the walk.

Not in Redondo Beach. Councilman Brand continues to sit on the council. He even pulled papers for a re-election campaign shortly after the process that led to Measure A was begun.

The city doesn’t have any guidelines to prevent this kind of disruptive action because it’s never happened before. When people believe so strongly that some government action is wrong, they take a stand against the government. Has anyone ever heard about someone standing with the government and against the government at the same time?

Would you call Brand’s stand a semi-conviction? If he and his fellow insurgents picket outside city hall, will he have to cross his own picket line to conduct his city hall duties? If it turns violent, will he pelt himself with rocks and bottles?

The city conducts a portion of the business between itself and AES in closed sessions. Bill Brand has excluded himself from some of those sessions on the advice of the city attorney. So as business between the city and AES increases, we could expect a re-elected councilman Brand to be barred from fully participating in more city council proceedings because of his extracurricular legislative activities.

Along comes Bill Brand’s sidekick, Jim Light, who’s running for city council in District 1. He’s the co-author of Measure A so if he were elected, the same rules would apply to him in matters concerning AES.

So if Jim Light and Bill Brand get elected, the citizens of Districts 1 and 2 will send representatives to the city council who cannot fully participate in council proceedings. Anyone in Districts 1 or 2 who casts a vote for Light or Brand needs to truly believe that their representative can function effectively inside city government at the same time he’s fighting against city government. This doesn’t make any sense to me but like I said before, some things happen in Redondo Beach that don’t happen elsewhere.

This is their second initiative together, third if you count Measure G. Brand was on the council when he engaged in the actions that led to Measure A. Does anyone believe this is their last initiative? Does anyone in Districts 1 or 2 believe he or she will be fully represented by council members who invest so much energy in extracurricular legislative activities? If these guys got elected and don’t get their way, history shows us there will be more initiatives, more disruption, more wasted energy.

Read some of Jim Light’s blog post comments and you will see a person who’s so convinced he’s always right, he will spend endless amounts of time looking for little fragments of information that prove his arguments. Imagine that kind of a personality disorder in our city government. If you believe as I do the City Council accomplishes much less than it should accomplish, adding Jim Light will effectively paralyze the process.

I can’t think of an election for anything, anywhere in which two candidates could brag to voters about their work against the institution they want to get voted onto and stand any chance of winning the election. Add to that the guarantee they won’t be able to fully participate in council proceedings and the very real possibility they will create other disruptive initiatives during their council terms and you may feel what I feel when I think about the possibilities, fear.

I believe that in the end, the city of Redondo Beach will have to negotiate with AES. In the end, the city will need to compromise. If Measure A passes, it will do nothing but delay the inevitable and cause us to miss the opportunity to work with AES now, to get the best deal for the city of Redondo Beach.

Jim Light and Bill Brand have stated emphatically they will not compromise and they will not negotiate unless they get to define the basis for that negotiation. They’re willing to waste the taxpayers’ time and money pursuing a strategy that has very little chance of success. I’ve heard the Measure A camp state that under some circumstances, they will to sue the city . Are these the attitudes of people we want on the team that runs Redondo Beach? Can you really have a team with members who harbor deep resentment toward the institution they want you to vote them onto?

The city of Redondo Beach has big challenges ahead. We need leadership that understands and values cooperation over personal agenda and ego. I’m hoping the voters of Districts 1 and 2 will help Jim Light and Bill Brand continue to do what they do best, oppose, obstruct and disrupt. I’m just hoping the voters ensure they do it from outside Redondo Beach government rather than from inside and outside at the same time.

Does Particulate Matter, Matter?

The Jim Light/Bill Brand/Measure A Ticket in next month’s election uses a number of methods to convince voters to change zoning of the AES plant. One of their methods is the use of particulate estimates from the AES repowering application.

If the Light/Brand/A Ticket prevails, the city’s zoning will allow a park and limited commercial development on the AES property. Bill Brand has suggested 800 hotel rooms on the property could help fund his park.

Measure A is not a plan to build 800 hotel rooms. Neither were the zoning changes the Redondo Beach city council voted on in 2002 a plan to build 3000 condos. But the people behind the Light/Brand/A Ticket want you to believe the city was on the brink of building 3000 condos and they saved us from it. Back then, they objected to the remote possibility zoning changes would translate into a project to build condos, nothing more.

Let’s say someone, like me, felt the same way about Measure A for the same reasons, it will allow for the remote possibility of 800 new hotel rooms in the city. And let’s say while I’m trying to convince you this is a bad idea, I use air pollution as one of the reasons I think you should support an initiative I’ll call Measure Munns.

I would tell you something like this. Bill Brand’s estimate of 80% occupancy would translate to 640 rooms rented every day. Each one of those rooms would require one car or van trip to check in and one to check out. That’s 1280 car trips per day.

Then let’s assume the park attracts 200 visits per day. That’s one car trip in and one car trip out, 400 car trips for the park per day.

I’d also estimate the other allowed commercial uses such as a Birkenstock store, would need to get 500 visits per day or 1000 car trips. That turns out to be 2680 car trips per day, 365 days per year or 978,200 new car trips into and out of the city generated by Measure A.

We all know automobiles account for a vast majority of the air pollution we breathe. So on the basis of the facts above, I want you to vote for Measure Munns, which will change zoning to include absolutely no human use of the 50 acre AES property, because that’s really the only way to make it pollution free.

I know I’m right and everyone who opposes Measure Munns is wrong. But everyone other than a few of my closest friends might have a few questions.

You may want to know how much of that pollution is going to get into your lungs and the lungs of your family. You might want to see a model of how that pollution is actually distributed by things like prevailing winds and thermal air currents. You might also want to know how that increased pollution compares to pollution produced by alternative uses of that property.

The two biggest dots you might want me to connect for you are between the existence of an irrefutable increase in pollution and the effect on your health and the health of your family. I want you to agree with me and vote for Measure Munns but if I suggest everyone in the city will have emphysema in 5 years or your children will need to wear gas masks when they go to the beach, I’ll end up with no credibility and I’ll deserve no support.

So you, as a citizen, have a right to expect me to answer all those questions before you believe in Measure Munns enough to vote for it. Don’t you have the same right to get the same data from the Light/Brand/A Ticket before voting for Measure A?

The Light/Brand/A Ticket has invested considerable time and money to get your vote. What they haven’t invested in, is any kind of study that would answer all those questions about Measure A. If the Light/Brand/A Ticket is going to ask for your vote, don’t they owe you the most basic data on the effects of the pollution they’ve attempted to use to frighten you?

All I’ve seen so far is the particulate numbers provided by the AES application and statements by a couple doctors saying particulate matter is bad for our health. I think I can get the same doctors to say the same things about Measure Munns. If not, I’ll get some others.

Make no mistake, everything I mention above that you wouldn’t know about Measure Munns and that you don’t know about Measure A can be measured or fairly accurately estimated. Why hasn’t the Light/Brand/A Ticket spent some of its money providing you with those measurements and estimates?

Because while the Light/Brand/A Ticket hopes Measure A will be about pollution for you, it isn’t about pollution for them. If AES announced tomorrow that the new power plant would produce nothing but pure oxygen and Perrier, the Light/Brand/A Ticket wouldn’t skip a beat. They’d find a whole new set of reasons why you should let them plan our city’s future. A NO vote on Measure A is a YES vote for Redondo Beach.

Does the Truth Matter?

If you want me to vote for a person or an idea, you better tell me the truth. Because as soon as I find out you aren’t telling me the truth, not only do you lose any chance of my support, you guarantee my opposition.

I’ve expressed my opposition to Measure A in the past for a number of reasons, it’s a stupid idea, it’s unprecedented, it isn’t supported by any public officials other than a few locals who may well see their property values increase substantially by removing the power plant.

So for me, misrepresenting facts is just one more reason to oppose Measure A but it’s also an important reason. Taking liberties with the truth says a lot about the nature of the argument and the integrity of the people making the argument.

Here’s an example. I got an email plea to support Measure A that included this statement. “Around 2000, AES worked with the City to squeeze zoning for 1,500 condos on their property. The City released this as the Heart of the City plan in 2002. Shockingly, our Planning Commission and City Council approved this plan unanimously despite strong resident opposition. “

The truth is that Heart of the City was never approved by the city council. In fact, it was never voted on by the city council. The truth matters.

Here’s another example. City council re-election candidate Bill Brand sent a message to potential voters that included this statement to support his claim that Measure A will produce $8.4 million in revenue for the city. “Do the math, it’s easy! 800 hotel rooms x $300/room x 365days x .8 (80%occupancy) x 0.12 = $8,409,600/year just from bed tax on the hotel rooms… “

Well, here’s the real math. Redondo Beach currently has about 1000 hotel rooms. They get about 75% occupancy. That means on an average night 750 hotel rooms are paid for and occupied.

Most informed observers agree Redondo Beach doesn’t need 800 new hotel rooms. Do you know why? We can only rent 750 of the 1000 we have now. Do the math, it’s easy!

If we were renting somewhere near the 1000 room capacity on a consistent basis, an argument could be made to add some more but probably not 80% more. Unless something changes like they move the airport or Disneyland closer to Redondo Beach, we will host approximately 750 hotel room renters per night for the foreseeable future.

Bill Brand and Jim Light don’t understand these basic facts yet they want you to allow them to guide our city’s policies for the next 4 years as council members and for much more than 4 years by passing Measure A. Suggesting Redondo Beach needs 800 new hotel rooms can only be one of two things, ignorance or an attempt to mislead.

A small army of volunteers got some smart and responsible people to sign the petition to place Measure A on the ballot by asking them if they wanted to sign a petition that would get rid of the power plant.

The truth is, Measure A will change the zoning of the AES land. It has absolutely no power to shut down the power plant nor does it have any effect on the process AES has embarked on to get a new permit from the California Energy Commission. The truth matters.

In other words, Measure A does not get rid of the power plant. After 7,000 Redondo residents were tricked into signing the petition, Bill Brand stated these facts in public testimony in front of the RB School Board.

If you were one of the citizens who was duped into signing the petition or if you’ve been following the war of words over Measure A, that has to be extremely confusing. Did you believe Measure A would shut down the power plant? If so, why was Councilman Brand telling the school board Measure A will not shut down the power plant?

Here’s a question for my fellow Redondo Beach voters. If the truth matters to you as much as it does to me, don’t you have to wonder why it doesn’t matter as much to Bill Brand and Jim Light?

Praise for the Redondo Beach Board of Education

My first contact with the Redondo Beach Board of Education  (school board) occurred a few years ago when my son and a few of his 4th grade classmates were invited to present a dramatization of some California historical events. I was a Harbor Commissioner at the time. I found the environment very familiar, citizens like us giving up their evenings to sit in a meeting room and try to do things to help the community.

My next visit to the school board came a year later when some Jefferson parents sent an email requesting volunteers to speak at a meeting. Jefferson was the last RB grammar school to have 6th grade. The others had all begun sending their 6th graders to middle school. The parents I joined wanted one more year of 6th grade at Jefferson.

I spoke briefly in front of the packed room. Jefferson is a great school run by people who care about education. Like me, the other parents wanted as much of that as they could get for their kids.

The school board ignored me and the other parents and voted to discontinue 6th grade at Jefferson. I couldn’t understand how our eloquent arguments could have received such a cold reception. I was sure this would prove to be a bad decision by the school board.

I was wrong. My son went to middle school and he absolutely loves everything about it. He has me wake him up early because he can’t wait to get to school.

When I look back and remove my ego, (you know, the voice inside that tells me I’m right no matter how much evidence I see to the contrary), I recognize what happened. The board members knew things I didn’t know. They knew the trend in education was for 6th graders to migrate to middle school in preparation for high school and beyond. They spent time like I did as a Harbor commissioner, gathering information and examining the issues.

They did what we elected them to do, make rational, informed decisions to help guide the city’s education system and produce the best results. Even though I disagreed at the time, I know now they got it right.

They got it right again in December when they refused to bend to pressure to endorse Measure A, the misguided ballot imitative that asks Redondo voters to change the zoning of the AES power plant and make it illegal to generate electricity on their property. I admire the courage and wisdom they exhibited in the face of pressure from the loud and ever-present zealots who have attached themselves to this issue.

We elect and appoint people with the expectation they will look rationally at the issues that come before them and make the right decisions. That’s what the school board did with the Jefferson 6th grade decision and that’s what it did when it chose not to support Measure A.

The whole idea behind a ballot measure is to circumvent the city council. So the RB council won’t vote as a group one way or the other on Measure A. But they did vote against passing a resolution denouncing the power plant.

I’ve looked at the no power plant information online, I can’t find an elected official other than councilman Bill Brand who co-authored Measure A, who supports it. Look closely at any responses to this statement. You may see something like, Ted Lieu said the citizens should be able to vote on a power plant but that’s not the same thing.

I’m talking about an elected official making a public statement that he or she supports Measure A. I’m pretty sure you won’t find one.

In fact U. S. Congressman Henry Waxman wrote, “I’m submitting my statement, I explicitly told Councilmember Brand that I was not endorsing the ballot proposal. I think it is unwise and will lead to a great deal of litigation, even though I am sympathetic to their goals.”

So if you hear someone who supports Measure A say they don’t have politicians endorsing the iniatiave because they haven’t asked them for their support, it’s pretty clear from Congressman Waxman’s statement they have all been asked for an endorsement and they have all declined.

As a voter, you should ask yourself why? It sounds like such a good idea to vote against the power plant. Why would the Redondo Beach School Board, the City Council and every other elected official refuse to support Measure A?

I can’t speak for them even though I’m pretty sure the answer can be found in Congressman Waxman’s statement above. I will say our other elected officials, like our School Board and City Council, have taken the time to look closely at Measure A and the potential damage it will cause the City. Their refusal to support the short-sighted ballot measure is the equivalent of a unanimous vote. No on Measure A.