Mayor Bill Brand Redondo Beach state of the city

Mayor Bill Brand gave updates on Redondo Beach during the 2021 state of the city address hosted by the Redondo Beach Chamber of Commerce. (Screenshot from virtual state of city)

Redondo Beach has lost $15 million in revenue since the coronavirus hit last year, with declines in the transient occupancy tax — because hotels largely shuttered for months — comprising $8.5 million of that, Mayor Bill Brand said last week during his annual State of the City address, which mostly focused on the seaside town’s finances and its post-pandemic future.

While the bleak economic reality of the pandemic framed Brand’s discussion of the past year, his outlook for 2021 and beyond was more optimistic, focusing largely on multiple development projects.

Redondo Beach used several strategies to balance its budget, Brand said, including:

  • Eliminating nine full time positions and laying off two employees;
  • Tapping into rainy day funds;
  • Using federal, state and Los Angeles County grants;
  • Cutting expenses at the department level; and
  • Settling six long-term labor negotiations.

Despite the economic hardship, however, the city still found ways to help the community, Brand said.

Redondo Beach, for example, gave more than $100,000 in grants to local businesses during the pandemic and helped restaurants stay afloat with an outdoor dining program. The outdoor dining, Brand said, also created a new vibe in South Redondo’s Riviera Village.

During the April 29 online address, hosted by the Redondo Beach Chamber of Commerce, Brand also spoke about the city’s efforts to combat homelessness.

Redondo Beach erected a Pallet shelter in December near the South Bay Galleria. Earlier this month, the City Council extended the shelter’s operations beyond its planned June closing.

The city’s homeless diversion court program was also extended. The court program offers services such as mental health, addiction care, employment and housing to rectify criminal charges related to living on the street.

“We’ve been able to at least make a dent in (homelessness) in Redondo Beach,” Brand said.

What’s upcoming for Redondo

Brand also used his Thursday, April 29, speech to look forward.

The South Bay Galleria’s redevelopment plans, which the council initially OK’d in early 2019, will be released again to the public in June, Brand said. The mall’s owners, QIC Global, has partnered with private equity firm L Catterton, which Brand said could bring more luxury retail brands to the project.

Also on tap for redevelopment is the Artesia/Aviation Boulevard commercial corridor. The city is relaxing some zoning issues, adjusting parking and looking at creating public parklets in the area, Brand said. Improvements along the Artesia corridor will receive a $2 million boost as part of the city’s approval of the Galleria’s plans with owner QIC.

“We really need to remake this area,” Brand said. “We’re working with the businesses trying to find ways to incentivize them to reinvest in their property.”

The eventual shutdown of the AES power plant, meanwhile, continues to be a challenge. It changed owners in 2020 and was set to close later this year. But the state water board will consider, in the fall, whether to extend the plant’s operations until 2023 to help protect the electrical grid during summer heat waves, when power demands skyrocket and threaten to overload the system — resulting in blackouts.

But when the plant does finally retire and Southern California Edison removes its power lines, Brand said, the city hopes to license the land from SCE for public open space.

Along the waterfront, Brand said, leasing is open for new business tenants. And the city, the mayor said, will host a Swim Across America event in October at Veterans Park, yet another showcase as Brand tries to persuade the 2028 Olympic organizers to hold events in Redondo Beach.

“It’s an exciting opportunity to breathe fresh life into the waterfront post-COVID,” Brand said, and “to showcase Redondo Beach as an ideal location for Olympic events.”

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

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