The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors announced Tuesday, Nov. 5, their intent to create a new financing district that would help raise $93 million needed to turn a large part of the 1950s-era AES power plant in Redondo Beach into a regional waterfront park.
Th financing district would not raise additional taxes for the community at large. Instead, bonds would be issued to cover the cost of the new infrastructure.
A portion of the property taxes collected on a limited, new private development at the site would be used to pay the interest and debt on the bonds.
Under initial plans being floated by proposed buyer Leo Pustilnikov, the city would purchase nearly half of the 51-acre site for a park and wetlands restoration. Pustilnikov has also discussed a development — likely including an office park, retail, restaurants and a hotel — there, though no formal plans have yet been submitted.
But first, the natural gas-fired power plant must be demolished. A proposal coming from the California Public Utilities Commission staff in October, however, suggested that four Southern California power plants might be need to stay open beyond their 2020 shutdown deadlines to help the state meet its energy demands. The AES Redondo plant, the PUC suggested, would stay open for an additional two years. A vote at the PUC is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 7.
Earlier in October, the California Natural Resources Agency announced that Redondo Beach will receive $4.8 million toward the purchase of parkland at the site.
“This power plant is an eyesore and we have an opportunity now to transform this site into a massive regional park and restore some of the wetlands that this power plant destroyed,” Supervisor Janice Hahn said in a statement. “There is plenty of work ahead of us, but this is a major step in returning this prime piece of waterfront real estate to the people.”
Redondo Beach first publicly brought up the idea of an “enhanced infrastructure financing district” in November 2017 as part of a proposal at that time to purchase the entire site. The district “would help raise the $93 million necessary for land acquisition, powerline removal/undergrounding, circulation improvements, park amenities, and a parking structure,” according to a press release.
Redondo Beach Mayor Bill Brand choked up while talking about working for 18 years to get rid of the waterfront plant.
“This whole thing’s kind of surreal for me because we’ve been doing this for so long,” Brand said. “(The county’s support) just warms my heart to no end.”
City News Service Contributed to this report.