In his much-anticipated speech to the business community at the annual State of the City in Redondo Beach, Mayor Bill Brand made little mention of the political acrimony between himself and his host: the Redondo Beach Chamber of Commerce.
After all, the chamber spent more than $55,000 to support his opponent incumbent Steve Aspel and a slate of council candidates last March. They supported waterfront development. Brand opposed it.
After winning election, Brand stripped the visitor's bureau — managed by the chamber — of an annual $700,000 in Transient Occupancy Tax it used to market the city.
But when Brand took the podium Friday in front of nearly 300 people, he did not mention the rift in his roughly half-hour long address. Instead, he detailed what transpired leading up to the citizen's initiative Measure C, which scuttled the waterfront project last year.
He said the public workshops held by CenterCal Properties, the company that won a bid to redesign the waterfront—which Brand noted he did not vote for as a councilmember at the time—were a disappointment.
"Unfortunately those of us who went to the workshops felt they (CenterCal) weren't implementing what they were hearing," Brand said.
After Measure C passed he said he expected CenterCal to come back with a revised project that complied with the ballot initiative, but instead filed lawsuits against the city and him personally.
"Measure C still allows a great deal of redevelopment on our waterfront," Brand said. "It doesn't allow a three-story parking structure across from the Crowne Plaza, but it does allow for a lot of development. Unfortunately they filed three lawsuits right away."
He also said despite the opposition, it is still possible the project might some day become reality.
His speech was noticeably shorter than one he gave a week earlier in a State of the City he termed "one for the residents." That event, held at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center was free to attend, while the chamber event cost $40 per person, which included breakfast.
On the AES power plant, Brand said that while the future of the site is uncertain—the city has a letter of intent to buy the property—the reality is that it could be sold to someone else at any time. One thing is for certain, Brand said, "There is not going to be a new power plant in Redondo Beach."
Brand said he envisioned the AES site as mostly parkland with a small commercial and perhaps a residential component. He also cautioned any future developer to really listen to what the people are saying. Development other than a park or public utility would need voter approval for a zoning change. Two proposed projects for the AES property have already been defeated by voters.
"I think if you get with the community and actually implement what you hear, then when it comes to the ballot, it will have a better chance," Brand said.
UPDATE 3/1/18: This article was corrected to show the city signed a letter of intent to buy the AES property but had not submitted a formal bid.