Beach Cities Health District expenditures

The BCHD board of directors assert that in the next 15 years in order to continue to provide the current level of services to the community, a new Healthy Living Campus must be developed at the cost of $530 million. But this over the top plan to keep popular programs functioning is unnecessary overkill.

When we think of BCHD, the Life Span Services are the programs and services that we see implemented in our community. They include direct grants to organizations, youth services, Blue Zones, volunteer programs, school programs, research and other community services. The 2018 cost of these programs was $4 million, just slightly above the revenue received from local property taxes. The other popular program is the Fitness Center/Adventure Plex costing $3.3 million in 2018 and which was almost entirely covered by revenue from user fees. These two programs account for $7.3 million out of a budget of nearly $14 million. The balance of $6.5 million is spent on administrative services and property operations. This amounts to 46% of the budget expenditures. The general non profit expenditure standard is a ratio of 80% expenditures on grants to the community and 20% spent on administrative expenses.

The realistic solution is for the BCHD board of directors to adopt the non profit 80/20 standard practice and reduce administrative and property operation costs to 20% of the total budget. This over-development is completely unnecessary and should be vigorously opposed by Redondo Beach residents.

—Sheila Lamb, Redondo Beach

Environmental impacts of desalination 

Re: "Water district certifies desalination plant Environmental Impact Report, The Beach Reporter, 11/21/19: I commend the West Basin Municipal Water District board of directors for certifying the environmental impact report on the proposed desalination plant to be located in El Segundo at their May 18th meeting and moving it forward to the next planning stage.  The report clearly showed that the plant would not damage the ocean.  We live in uncertain times with projected longer and more severe droughts and the danger of an earthquake cutting off our supplies of imported water from the Colorado River and Northern California which are already being reduced due to increased demand elsewhere.  West Basin has done an amazing job with their recycling and conservation programs.  But you can’t recycle what you don’t have in the first place and  desalination is the only possible source of locally controlled drought proof water as more than 120 countries have found.

One disappointing aspect of the meeting was the no vote by commissioner Carol Kwan.  She has spent tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars travelling around the world to exotic places learning about desalination.  She has always been a strong proponent and signed a pro-desalination letter written to the Manhattan Beach City Council.  It is a fact that on controversial issues the opponents come to protest and proponents often stay home.  In my opinion, Ms. Kwan played the political game of appeasing the opponents who attended the meeting by voting no because she knew there were four votes in favor.  To me that is very unprincipled behavior.  Also she should not forget that she represents all the people in her district, not just the 25 or so that are yelling at her at the meeting.  The polls taken of Ms. Kwan’s beach city constituents show that about 83% favor ocean water desalination.  

—Russ Lesser, Manhattan Beach

West Basin Board meeting votes

The following are my reflections on the West Basin Municipal Water District November 18th Board Meeting, where the desalination EIR and future of the proposed desalination project were considered ("Water district certifies desalination plant Environmental Impact Report, The Beach Reporter, 11/21/19).  Two things stand out vividly in my memory: first, the passionate, articulate and well-reasoned arguments presented by the many desalination opponents; and second, how the relative few supporting desalination all seemed to have a financial interest, loosely cloaked in supposed advocacy for water supply diversification. These supporters included a number of union members, whose interest was jobs project construction would create (and who were allegedly bussed in and paid to attend) and a former Manhattan Beach council member, who has taken out several paid ads promoting the desalination project and who has a current business purportedly receiving West Basin support.

Sadly, despite clear and convincing evidence presented by opponents that desalination is inferior (more costly, more energy-intensive, less environmentally friendly) to several alternatives, the West Basin Board still voted to support vested interests against those of the residents/consumers they are there to serve. The only Board vote against this ill-considered project was our South Bay representative, Carol Kwan … who is up for reelection next year. Charitably, I hope Ms. Kwan really believes what she said in opposition to desalination and didn’t just vote against it, knowing that it would help her in next year’s election, but wouldn’t affect the outcome of the Board’s vote. Carol, I wish you could have convinced two other Board members to join you.

—Paul Beswick, Manhattan Beach

Support for desalination

We should all thank Russ Lesser for his desalination advertisement (The Beach Reporter, 11/14/2019). It helps to have a second opinion on matters of this importance. I agree with Russ that there are no environmental problems that cannot be solved. In my view, construction of this water plant is an insurance policy for the future. I doubt that many homeowners would skip fire and liability insurance yet some seem to think there are better solutions for a drought. Politicians and environmentalists have done little to help capture or use our precious rain water in Southern California and the future looks just as dire. Talk recycle and conservation all you want, if our delivery system fails, there is little left to recycle.

—Tracy Johnson, Manhattan Beach

Contact Lisa Jacobs or follow her on Twitter @lisaannjacobs.

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