Over the past year, the City of Hermosa Beach committed to improving our infrastructure, protecting our environment and the health of our young adults, and working alongside our schools and businesses.

I recently ended my year as mayor, and the City Council nominated Mary Campbell as our new mayor. She graciously agreed to have me write this article. I am certain she will do a wonderful job as mayor and build on the many achievements of 2019.

Capital improvements move forward

A walk or drive along Hermosa Avenue reveals some major changes on one of the City’s busiest streets in 2019. The City’s staff and contractors worked together to resurface Hermosa Avenue between 10th and 26th streets, create more accessible sidewalks and add an attractive intersection at the entrance to Pier Plaza featuring our “Hb” logo.

We also installed new bollards, benches, tree wells, landscaping and lighting Downtown, which has made it more appealing to residents and visitors alike and helped protect the public’s safety.

In addition to the Downtown improvements, the City’s team and contractors installed much-needed sidewalks on 8th Street to make it much safer for pedestrians and more accessible. The Fire Station remodel is also underway and is expected to be completed in the Spring.

Our crews have completed a repainting and repair project at our historic Community Center, which was overdue for an update, and more projects are in the pipeline for 2020 under the guidance of our Public Works Director Marnell Gibson, who joined the City this year.

Our commitment to reducing ocean pollution caused by stormwater runoff led to the proposal for the Stormwater Infiltration Project on the Greenbelt, in partnership with our neighboring cities that contribute the bulk of the stormwater runoff. But after the community helped us realize the proposed project wasn’t appropriate for the proposed location, we have re-assessed our path to comply with state mandates and are in the process of re-imagining the project going forward.

We told our partner cities that we will move ahead with a smaller project, which more closely resembles the City’s contribution to the stormwater runoff, unless we are able to develop a project, with our partners, outside the City of Hermosa Beach. The State Water Resources Control Board has encouraged us to apply for grant funding for a future project.

Protecting the environment and community health

To reduce waste and pollution, our City Council voted in November to phase out single-use plastic and polystyrene by June 30, 2020, matching Manhattan Beach’s state-leading efforts.

To combat climate change, we continued to offer several incentives for alternative fueled cars, including free charging stations and free parking, and encouraged businesses to be more environmentally friendly through special programs that acknowledge and honor their efforts.

To reduce teen nicotine addiction and address the growing epidemic of teen vaping, the City Council also approved an ordinance this year prohibiting the sale of flavored tobacco products at all retail establishments in the city.

Seeking solutions for homelessness

We heard the community’s concerns about homelessness and have been working to find housing and services for homeless individuals. We were the first South Bay city with a comprehensive homeless plan, and we will host a count of homeless individuals on Jan. 22 to ensure we have accurate information about individuals experiencing homelessness in our community.

Hermosa Beach is working with neighboring cities, South Bay Cities Council of Governments and People Assisting the Homeless (PATH) to provide life-changing services to homeless individuals throughout the South Bay community.

As a result of this collaborative, regional effort, homeless individuals in our community have access to local and tailored services through an outreach and dispatch hotline, housing assistance, mental health care and employment placement services. 

Our Police Department often interacts with the homeless, and they have been able to help house some homeless individuals.

If you see someone in need of help, please contact the hotline: (562) 457-0205, southbay@epath.org. If you see someone engaging in criminal activity, please call the police, as you would for anyone.

Collaborating with our schools

Hermosa Beach has great schools, and our dedicated teachers, administrators and school board deserve our thanks for making our schools among the very best.

To address safety concerns related to increased neighborhood traffic once our new North School is operational, we worked with the School District to develop a neighborhood traffic management plan. The plan will determine the best way to get students safely and efficiently to and from school. Residents recently attended community meetings to provide input, and we hope to have the draft plan completed in early 2020.

Seeking the right mix of entertainment and community activities

Our parks and recreation staff continued to host great community events this year, including movie nights, a sand snowman building contest and so much more. We expanded the Hermosa Beach Summer Series with a new producer, who offered a variety of activities and terrific performers for our community to enjoy. We are continuing to work on making this the best possible event for the community.

AVP returned to Hermosa Beach after a few years away and will be here again this summer. We also celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Lighthouse Café with a concert by jazz great David Benoit, a Hermosa Beach native.

We celebrated the 25th Anniversary of the Veterans Memorial on Veterans Day with the men and women who served our country and created this special monument to honor our veterans through the years.

We sponsored the 2nd Community Wide Garage Sale in March, which brought the community together and helped free up space in garages to get more cars off the streets. We will be sponsoring another one Jan. 25, 2020.

After hearing concerns about the impact of the Teen Choice Awards show on local businesses in August, we re-committed to having a closer dialogue with our local business owners before approving events on the beach.

We look forward to a community survey to determine what events people want in Hermosa Beach. We have changed the annual event schedule to include two weekends with no beach-front events during the Summer of 2020.

Working with our business community

We continued working with our business community, through the City Council’s Downtown Subcommittee, focusing on addressing safety, aesthetic lighting, trash removal and general cleanliness in the City’s core.

At the request of business owners, the Hermosa Beach Planning Commission is studying bringing the Cypress District—home to artists, surfboard shapers and other creative businesses—into alignment with the creative light industrial use as envisioned by PLAN Hermosa.

Committed to public safety and our local police department

We remain committed to protecting public safety, and our police and L.A. County firefighters do a great job. This year, among many emergency responses, they responded in minutes to a fast-moving blaze at a Strand construction site and quickly extinguished the fire, limiting its damage.

We value our police officers and remain firmly committed to having our own police department.

Our team began negotiating with the Hermosa Beach Police Officers’ Association (HBPOA) on April 1 and has met with them 16 times this year. The City's proposals have not and will not include any proposal for a substitute police force, such as the Sheriff's Department. 

The City presented the HBPOA with its last, best and final offer which included 13% in base pay raises over three years, retention and recruitment bonuses of $7,500 to $10,000, education incentives and bonuses for working overnight and as watch commander. The City’s offer has a value of approximately $1.8 million.

The HBPOA has rejected the City’s offer and is seeking 30% in raises over three years.

For more information about these negotiations, please see the Frequently Asked Questions posted on www.HermosaBeach.gov.

Please also visit our newly improved website to keep up with the City’s latest news by signing up for the City’s e-newsletter and other alerts, reading the City manager’s reports on City Council meetings and much more.

Also, please follow us on social media and download the GoHermosa app to report potholes and other problems that need the City’s attention.

Hermosa is fortunate to have residents, commissioners, volunteers, business owners and staff who care so deeply about our community.

All of us at City Hall want to thank each of you who worked with us this past year to shape the future of our great town. We wish you all a wonderful holiday season and a healthy and happy New Year!

Contact Lisa Jacobs lisa.jacobs@TBRnews.com or follow her on Twitter @lisaannjacobs.

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