Mayor Stacey Armato touted the city's balanced budget, discussed public safety, among other issues, as well as praised the efforts of residents and businesses to make the city of Hermosa Beach a better place to live, at the State of the City address last week.
“Things get solved when people voice their opinions and get involved,” Armato said. “All of us in Hermosa can celebrate some significant accomplishments over the past year and we can celebrate a strong future for Hermosa. Our city is on solid financial footing and it's as well positioned as it has ever been in recent history to tackle some of the challenges that lie ahead.”
Public safety has been a top priority of the city, Armato said.
“We are working on creating a safer, cleaner and more desirable downtown business district with improved lighting, security, cleaning services, parking and signage,” Armato said.
Acting Police Chief Milton McKinnon said his department's limited resources are aided by private security that as as “second eyes and ears.” McKinnon said recent improvements to help families and residents feel more secure are “crime prevention through environmental design.”
“That's talking about lighting, that's talking about pathways, it's about making sure things are clean so people don't feel like, 'Oh this is a dirty area'... it's about how you feel there,” McKinnon said. “I liken it to Disneyland. When you go to Disneyland and you just feel good, you don't want to make it dirty, you're enjoying yourself.”
McKinnon said there is “no easy fix” when it comes to the homeless people in the area, but the police have teamed with groups of experts from People Assisting the Homeless (P.A.T.H.) and Harbor Interfaith to address the issue and to help build relationships with those in need.
“You have to build up a relationship, you have to connect with these people because often times they're scared, often times they don't trust... they don't necessarily want to interact with our officers,” McKinnon said.
Armato said the city listened to the community when there was concern about 8th Street sidewalk improvements and the Greenbelt Infiltration Project that went back to the drawing board when the city lost more than $3 million in grant funding. The city will reapply for more grant funding for the project late summer or early fall.
“We heard you on this project,” Armato said. “You helped us to realize that it wasn't appropriate for where it was proposed. Because of you, we're moving forward to reassess and re-imagine this project. We've told our partners that we're ready to move forward with a smaller project that more closely resembles Hermosa's contribution to our stormwater unless we're able to develop a project with our partners outside of the city of Hermosa Beach.”
Armato also discussed city projects that are completed or set to begin in the near future.
Some of the projects completed aside from downtown improvements geared at safety included renovations of the Hermosa Beach Community Center and the Hermosa Avenue Improvement Project, among other projects.
Improvements in police and city facilities might be completed in the fall, while a new fire facility is looking at an early 2020 completion date.
The city is also waiting completion of the Strand and Pier Hotel Environmental Impact Report process.
Armato praised local businesses for their engagement in the community including Gum Tree, Spyder, Comedy and Magic Club, Hermosa Cyclery, Bottle Inn, Kinecta Federal Credit Union, Uncorked, Skechers, among many others.
Armato also honored City Clerk Elaine Doerfling, who is retiring later in the year after serving nearly 30 years with the city. In January, the City Council voted to put a resolution for the November General Municipal Election to change the city clerk's position to an appointed office. The city manager will appoint the position. Doerfling supported the council's vote.
“Making the position appointed would ensure that we have a person with the qualification and abilities to successfully fulfill the increasing demands on the office,” Armato said.