Tag Archives: CenterCal

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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?

The Worst Laid Plans

We generally categorize ideas as either good or bad, beach volleyball – good idea, beach basketball – bad idea. Some ideas can be both good and bad. Bringing your laptop to the beach could be tempting. You could get some work done while you’re enjoying a day of surf, sun and sand. But laptops don’t like salt and sand. Plus, you’d probably struggle to see the screen on a sunny day.

The plan that’s currently underway for a boat ramp in King Harbor is just such an idea, good and bad. It’s good because people like me, who keep our boats on trailers, would have an easier way to get in and out of the harbor.

Any boat that’s too big to carry has two options for launching in King Harbor. The King Harbor Marine boat yard has a hoist called a Travelift that can get a boat in and out of the water. Redondo Beach Marina has a hoist that can take a boat off a trailer, put it in the water and retrieve it when it’s time to put it back on the trailer. Most trailer boaters use the Redondo Beach Marina facilities.

The idea of building a boat ramp in King Harbor is as good as the idea of bringing your laptop to the beach. Unfortunately, salt and sand are minor considerations compared to the problems facing a boat ramp. Lots of questions should have been asked before Redondo Beach embarked on the path it appears to be following toward construction of a boat ramp

The first question that should have been asked is whether or not the trailer boating public needs a boat ramp. Imagine pouring millions of dollars into a boat ramp and finding out no one wants to use it.

Why did the city of Redondo Beach skip this most fundamental step prior to making their decision to proceed with plans for a boat ramp? The city council seems to have interpreted a relentless barrage of repetitive requests for a boat ramp from a single individual as a substitute for facts.

To its credit, the city has commissioned studies about the best location for a boat ramp. In my opinion, the best location for a boat ramp would be the current location of the King Harbor Yacht Club. I like the KHYC and I’m not suggesting the city replace it with a boat ramp but if we were starting with a blank canvas, that’s where I’d put it.

A city couldn’t just start planning an alternate use for the parcel of land KHYC occupies while the club is still there and it shows no signs of wanting to leave. That would be wrong. However, the current plan for a boat ramp will remove Joe’s Crab Shack and eliminate that location as a place for a restaurant in the future. I’m not sure why that isn’t wrong.

There is no good location for a boat ramp in King Harbor. If there was, a ramp would already be there.

One of the biggest issues surrounding the boat ramp is parking. A boat with a trailer needs two spaces. One of the things the city council would have noticed about nearby boat ramps if they had studied them, would have been they have ample parking for anyone who shows up even on holiday weekends in the summer.

That is simply impossible in King Harbor. There has been talk about using the AES property but is that something that can really be incorporated into a plan at this time?  How long will the new King Harbor boat ramp remain successful when the word gets out that after planning their day, packing up the family and provisions, then driving to King Harbor, boaters couldn’t find any place to leave their car and trailer?

Even if there was some place to park cars and trailers like the power plant or the open space under the power lines up the hill on Herondo, having to hike a quarter or half mile back to your boat after launching it would have the same effect as having no parking. It would drive boaters away.

Traffic is always an issue but in looking at the half-baked plans for a boat ramp, it’s hardly the most compelling reason to abandon the plan. Boat traffic is a different story. The harbor is about to get 24 transient moorings. Almost every visiting boat will arrive with a dinghy, which doubles the number of boats at any given time. Stand up paddling continues to grow in popularity. The 1500 boats in slips need to move freely in and out of the harbor. Peddle boats are everywhere in the nice weather. KHYC has a very active youth program, which puts dozens of small boats with kids in the harbor. The list goes on.

In short, there are a lot of boaters vying for the limited space inside the King Harbor breakwater. I welcome them all but safety is a concern especially as the numbers increase. I wish the city had studied boating safety issues surrounding the plan it has undertaken to build a boat ramp and increase traffic density in the harbor. It hasn’t.

There’s also an issue with the seawall. It’s about 3 to 4 feet above the grade of the land where Joe’s Crab Shack and the Portofino Hotel are located. If you cut through it for a boat ramp, you might as well destroy the whole wall. The protection it provided will be gone.

We don’t know how much demand there is for a boat ramp. We don’t know how it will affect vehicle traffic. We don’t know how it will affect boat traffic. We do know that the very expensive seawall that protects the land where the boat ramp will go will become nearly useless in high seas if it’s cut down to grade.

It makes you wonder why the city of Redondo Beach would be spending money to develop plans for a boat ramp before they bothered to ask these critical questions. Every city official I’ve heard speak on the matter says roughly the same thing. The Coastal Commission requires it.

So what happens if no one uses it or so many people use it traffic in the harbor comes to a standstill or boats and paddlers become engaged in mortal combat or a big swell from the south wipes out the land where the ramp sits? What do you suppose the Coastal Commission will say if the city pins the blame for an ill-conceived boat ramp on them?

Does anyone believe the Coastal Commission wouldn’t amend their requirements if evidence was presented to them about impracticality or threats to public safety? That conversation doesn’t seem likely because the city has begun planning the project without examining any of those issues.

I don’t expect anyone to have all the answers. But is it too much to expect that our elected officials, at very least, ask the right questions?

Obamacare and the King Harbor Mall

Fox News viewers recognize Frank Luntz as a frequent commentator around election time. He has made something of an art form out of framing. No, he doesn’t wear a tool belt and double park his truck in front of your house, not that kind of framing. Luntz has become famous for framing words.

People like Luntz study how people like us react to different words and word combinations. If I want you to agree with me, I’m going to frame my words in a way that increases the probability of a positive emotional reaction.

Oil drilling conjures up images of grease covered men with hard hats wrestling with large pieces of machinery. What happens when it’s called energy exploration? It becomes exciting, appealing. I’d like to be involved in energy exploration – but oil drilling? I don’t think so.

Some framing isn’t quite as subtle. The Affordable Care Act is an example. The only way they could have framed it to get a more positive response would have been to call it the Don’t Suffer in the Emergency Room and Go Bankrupt Act.

Opponents of the Affordable Care Act weren’t about to let the law’s supporters get away with that. They nicknamed it Obamacare, rhymes with Welfare, Medicare. They attached the President’s name to an image of the impending big government apocalypse by inventing one word. Or at least that’s what they thought they did.

The plan worked brilliantly for awhile. Then one day during the 2012 presidential campaign, candidate Obama stood in front of the cameras and microphones in Denver and declared he liked the name Obamacare.

You could almost feel the outrage in the conservative press. After putting all that effort into creating a word that was intended to depict a fear-inducing image of a president destroying the country with his big government policies, it was taken away…poof…just like that.

The Obama administration and every supporter of the Affordable Care Act began calling it Obamacare from that day forward. And from that day forward, the intended negative impact from that made-up word was depleted. The word was no longer a weapon.

The campaign against Measure G, the 2010 ballot measure that changed zoning in King Harbor, used similar, yet less creative techniques.  Their messages intended to strike fear in the electorate with threats of timeshares and condos.

They didn’t make up a clever word to frame their position. Instead, they relied on a prejudice against timeshares and condos they hoped the voters shared with their small group. I remember getting beaten up by their messages about condos, Condos, CONDOS!

It turns out, the voters didn’t share that prejudice. Quite a few of them probably live in condos. I know some wonderful people who live in condos. How could I hate their homes?

I can think of some blighted properties that were brought back to life by building condos. Now the formerly vacant lots are beautiful homes for families and others. The only timeshares I can think of in the South Bay are at the Beach House in Hermosa, which happens to be the coolest commercial building on that part of the strand.

They’re at it again. The Opponents (I’ve given them a proper title) have begun calling the proposed development on the Redondo waterfront, the King Harbor Mall. This attempt at framing, at using our emotions to persuade us to agree with them, has a few obvious problems Mr. Luntz could have helped them avoid.

My guess is they want to tap into our hatred and fear of malls so we will join them in opposing the project. That’s a problem for me because I don’t hate or fear malls. I kind of like them. Like condos and timeshares, I don’t want one on every corner. And like condos and timeshares, there are large malls, small malls, boutique malls, theme malls and lots of other variations.

So from this point forward, I intend to call the waterfront project the King Harbor Mall. I invite all my fellow supporters to do the same. Now if I could only get that web site to let me sign up for Obamacare…

The Regressive Agenda

I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to call the people in Redondo Beach who speak out against any and all development, extremists. They hold extreme views, opinions outside the mainstream. They are also willing to back those extreme views up with actions intended to disrupt the things they oppose and draw attention to their agenda.

In fairness, I’m not aware of any illegal activities conducted by our local extremists aside from destroying an occasional political yard sign. So they don’t really compare to some of their counterparts who cause physical harm and property damage but they’re always looking for opportunities to put a stick in the spokes of progress, metaphorically speaking of course.

They’ve taken aim at the CenterCal project in the harbor. One of the regressives hopes he sees an opportunity to sabotage harbor development by writing to an organization that has funded CenterCal projects in the past. The tactic seems to be to supply this organization with a distorted picture of Redondo Beach and hope they decide not to fund the CenterCal project.

It would appear they hope an inaccurate letter or two will cause enough doubt to scuttle the whole harbor revitalization project. I doubt that will be the case but I decided to write my own letter just to make sure any future discussion had a little balance. Here’s my first letter.

“My name is Harry Munns. I served on the Redondo Beach Harbor Commission for eight years and served as its chairman for one year. I have also written a local newspaper column about our harbor/pier complex for six years. I recently discovered (your organization) had been contacted by some or our fellow citizens about the revitalization project Redondo Beach and CenterCal Properties have been working on for the past year.

“I won’t take up much of your time painting a picture of the struggle between the small group of citizens who insist on obstructing and interfering with any form of local improvement or development and the forward-thinking majority of the city’s population, represented by our city council. I’m sure you will figure out who’s who and what’s what without much effort.

“I’d like to inject a few facts into the discussion. The last local election cycle offered voters five opportunities to cast votes in support of the no-progress agenda. The citizens chose the alternatives to that agenda in four of five elections. Any claim that any group other than our city council represents the will of the people is simply not borne out by the election results.

“You should also consider the fact there has been some form of seaside recreation available to the public in Redondo Beach for more than a century. By nearly anyone’s appraisal, our waterfront is tired and outdated. Yet, people still visit by the thousands. Come take a walk on a Saturday or Sunday in the nice weather. You will see people young and old, couples, families and everything in between enjoying a little time off in our delightful seaside community.

“Those crowds are likely to double or triple when the amenities and attractions are improved. That’s what excites me and most of the city’s residents about what CenterCal plans to do here.

“In short, the CenterCal project is coming to a place where most of the local people will welcome it with open arms. Additionally, the Redondo waterfront has a 100 year track record attracting visitors. The modernized, revitalized waterfront CenterCal proposes is guaranteed an instant flood of visitors, eager to experience the next generation of seaside relaxation and recreation.

“I spent more than 20 years as an association executive. I’m guessing I grappled with many of the issues that challenge you day in and day out. One thing I learned is that while all constituents deserve to have their voices heard, you can never please everyone.

“CenterCal has gone to great lengths to listen to everyone’s comments and include their suggestions in the early planning stages of this exciting project. We can’t avoid the inevitable pockets of dissatisfaction but in the end, our city’s leadership and most of its citizens want the CenterCal project.

“It’s probably worthwhile for your organization to take a close look at Redondo Beach, its people and its politics. I believe you’ll find much more support than opposition and much more good than bad. I’d be happy to show you around if you decide to come for a visit.”