Editor’s note: The Beach Reporter welcomes letters regarding candidates and issues for the upcoming November 2020 election. Letters will be printed on a space available basis. We will not print personal character attacks or comments that may be libelous and we limit letters from organized letter writing campaigns. We had previously offered candidates the opportunity to introduce themselves and some are still taking advantage of that. Our Oct. 22 issue is the last opportunity for letters supporting candidates (Oct. 19 deadline). Our Oct. 29 issue is reserved for 250-word statements from the candidates themselves.
Manhattan Beach is special, and I’m running for City Council again to keep it that way. I’ve lived here all my life and I’ve served our community for more than 25 years. I’m raising my family here and I’m fully invested in our community.
Four years ago, I ran to get our city working again, get things done and provide independent, common sense leadership—and I’ve done that.
Today the City has better relationships with our businesses and schools than ever before, and City Hall is once again open five days a week.
I’ve supported new flashing crosswalks and miles of new bike routes. I cut unnecessary city staff and saved millions of dollars in our budget. We fully funded our police and kept our fire department local. We installed new public art across the city and invested $1 million to keep our kids safe at school.
And of course, COVID-19 has been an unprecedented challenge for all of us. Now more than ever, we need balanced, experienced leadership to answer these challenges, keep us safe, and help us recover. I’m running to do that and keep Manhattan Beach the special place that it is.
Please join our campaign today by visiting www.stevenapolitano.com. Voting begins Oct 5 through Nov. 3. You have three votes and it would be an honor and a privilege for me to be one of them. Thank you!
—Steve Napolitano, Manhattan Beach
While serving as Manhattan Beach mayor and councilmember, we accomplished much for our community:
- Developed MBPD Automated License Plate Reader Security Camera Program
- For the first time in decades, hired more police officers
- Protected our residential character by banning short-term rentals
- Was one of only two cities in California to achieve a “AAA” bond rating
- For the first time, fully reimbursed our schools by adopting a Master Use Agreement
- Conducted city business in an honest and forthright manner
Consistent with my past record, my goals for moving forward are as follows:
Public Safety - Hire more patrol officers, expand MBPD’s ALPR Security Camera Program, increase MBFD’s Emergency Medical Services budget
Fiscal Responsibility - Reduce full-time employee positions to less than 300, eliminate city-funded deferred compensation for new management employees
Protect Our Environment - Approve storm water capture and recycling projects, reduce or eliminate plastics that pollute our Bay, support renewable energy programs, oppose the wasteful desalination project
Preserve the Residential Character of Our City - Support City’s ban on short term rentals, oppose the intrusion of Sacramento and Coastal Commission into MB policy decisions
Support Transparency and Open Government - Advocate for Council term limits, prohibit secret meetings behind closed doors
I am honored to have been endorsed by the Los Angeles League of Conservation Voters, BizFed and supported by the South Bay Association of Realtors. Humbly, I ask you to please vote Mark Burton, #1 on the ballot, for one of three open seats. Visit www.BurtonforCouncil.com.
—Mark Burton, Manhattan Beach
Shelters for the homeless
The Redondo City Council recently took a responsible step to study pallet shelters as temporary housing for the homeless – action intended to address the plight of the massive homeless community in LA County, and give our city the right to enforce anti-camping laws.
But we must heed the lessons of failed shelter experiments elsewhere. Venice’s recent experiment with a shelter near family homes, schools, restaurants, businesses, and parks had the unintended effect of attracting additional, extensive homeless encampments, an increase in crime, and plummeting quality of life for residents.
San Clemente, however, took a different, more creative approach. Rather than construct shelters they provided a vacant lot with tents, portable toilets, and handwashing stations. San Clemente required any homeless camping in the city occur only at that site—not parks, public right-of-ways, in front of homes or in store setbacks. Weapons, drugs, alcohol, and fires were prohibited, and proof of city residency required. It proved successful. Service providers worked with homeless at the site, and those who weren't residents left to utilize other county shelters, or were provided transportation to relocate and reunite with family or friends elsewhere. Soon, San Clemente no longer needed the site, and closed it down.
The South Bay cities should join Redondo by identifying a common-sense location for a temporary site to designate as the exclusive camping area for homeless residents, split the costs, and allow service-provider access. Only by acting together may we succeed with this homelessness tragedy.
—Zein Obagi Jr., Redondo Beach
Cross-Fit gym ruling
Re: Hermosa Beach must set aside its public nuisance designation of CrossFit gym, says judge," The Beach Reporter, 10/1/20
I disagree with Councilmember Armato’s actions relating to the CrossFit Gym nuisance abatement hearings, and her entire lack of concern that the court held that “’concrete facts’ in the record establish an unacceptable probability that Armato was biased against [CrossFit Gym]... Armato should have recused herself. Because she did not, [CrossFit Gym] did not receive a fair hearing and the council’s decision must be set aside.”
The court also held that the evidence shows “an unacceptable probability that, during the more than two years of City investigation prior to the abatement hearing, Armato became biased . . . against the Gym.” The Court further held that “Armato communicated directly with code enforcement officials . . . contravening [Hermosa Beach Municipal Code] section 2.12.080.”
These actions cost the City of Hermosa Beach more than $120,000 to date. Litigation between the City and CrossFit Gym will likely continue in federal court, which could cost the city hundreds of thousands more.
In the city’s 9/28/2020 press release, Armato neither expresses remorse for her actions nor a commitment to follow the Hermosa Beach Municipal Code requirements going forward. Instead, she merely states “I have read the court’s opinion carefully but believe that I did right by my constituents, and I was fair to CrossFit Horsepower.” In other words, Armato has no plans to change, will likely continue to violate the municipal code, and is willing to expose the city to further liabilities relating to same. That is not acceptable.
—Hany Fangary, Hermosa Beach
Support for Flemmings and Lyons
Looking at the Manhattan Beach City Council candidates, I find myself most impressed by the two youngest, Chaz Flemmings and Phoebe Lyons. What they lack in experience, both are making up for by studying the issues and the city's governing documents. Their virtual campaign meetings have shown them to be sharp and well-informed. I like their fresh perspectives and thoughtful ideas. I would also welcome younger councilmembers, to make our city government better match the age demographic of our citizens.
I think an excellent ticket would be the two of them plus the continued service of Richard Montgomery, whose broad experience and expertise have long been an asset to Manhattan Beach.
—Kay Gilbert, Manhattan Beach
Supporting Fournell in city election
I'm the owner of the Distinguished Speaker Series of Southern California and I’m supporting Grettel Fournell for Manhattan Beach City Council. I’ve known Grettel for over 25 years, and for the last six years she has worked for me. So, while much has been made of her admirable volunteer leadership and dedication to the school community, I’m supporting her because of her impressive professional business experience.
For 20 years, Grettel worked for Ernst and Young helping clients develop and implement budget, process improvement and customer service systems to save money and improve customer satisfaction. I’ve seen that professional skill set up close as she has helped my business. She streamlined and integrated much of my operations. As a local small business owner, every penny counts and Grettel understood that.
No other candidate brings this skill set to the council. Diversity of skills and experience will make our council more effective, especially when dealing with the financial challenges in the aftermath of the pandemic. Her ability to analyze and understand budgeting will be a tremendous asset to our community.
I hope you will join me in voting for Grettel Fournell.
—Kathy Winterhalder, Manhattan Beach
Supporting Franklin for council
My family has been privileged to live and work in Manhattan Beach for more than 35 years. With challenges all communities face today, I cannot think of a more important time to vote; and believe the result of the next City Council election is critical.
While there are many talented candidates, from my experience, I believe Joe Franklin is exactly the right person at the right time.
About thirty years ago, I was fortunate to be appointed to the council's 10-member Library Blue Ribbon Committee. The challenge at that time: how to respond to the county’s withdrawal of funding for a Manhattan Beach satellite library location? Starting with only two minority-report votes (mine and Bill Beverly's), in time, elements of the committee’s Minority Report (6 to 4 committee vote) became the cornerstone for enhancing library services in our community.
Twenty years ago, I worked alongside of incredible leaders of boards for community sports organizations to have the city acquire more park space. Each of these leaders worked tirelessly and unselfishly, as all of their children had grown. These were moms and dads but most importantly, they were leaders. Due to their passionate leadership, the city secured and built what is now the 7-acre multiple-use playfields on Marine Avenue.
Joe Franklin has demonstrated by his actions he has the same traits I have outlined. He is the right type of leader Manhattan Beach needs on council today.
—Bob Walsh, Manhattan Beach
In favor of Montgomery
With great pleasure, and as a lifelong resident of Manhattan Beach, I whole-heartedly endorse Richard Montgomery for Manhattan Beach City Council.
I've known Richard since 2002 when we were in Leadership Manhattan Beach together. He is one of the most exceptional people I have ever met.
He is a man of great character that has dedicated himself to our town through various roles from The Hometown Fair Committee, Planning Commission, Chamber of Commerce, Beach Cities Toy Drive, and Rotary Club to name a few. He has demonstrated his strong leadership while serving on the council during two of the most difficult times our city has gone through in recent history: the Great Recession and the current COVID-19 crisis.
He is a thoughtful, caring leader that supports small business and residents alike. He has added $5 million to the city's cash reserved over the last three years. He cut $500,000 in annual costs and invested $1 million in our schools for for added security.
Our city needs someone with Richard's experience and knowledge to guide us through what will certainly be a challenging next few years as we recover from the economic and social/emotional effects of this pandemic.
—Ashley Adams, Manhattan Beach
California Propositions 15 and 16
Californians do not need Proposition 16 (allows diversity as a factor in public employment, education and contracting decisions) to divide us by ethnicity. I have done the research that compares the racial makeup of the over 107,000 LA County workforce versus the 10 million residents. Blacks make up 19% of the county's workforce while being only 7.8% of the population. This suggests that the hiring is done by diversity already. Each applicant should be judged on merit, not the color of skin.
We do not need to pass Proposition 15 either, to raise property taxes on most businesses during this pandemic whereby health and government officials have picked and chosen which businesses will go bankrupt. How is it that LA County’s newest budget doesn’t show a single layoff or cut in spending, yet the county needs more tax revenue? The county’s property tax revenue increases every year due to an automatic 2% increase, older properties being reassessed upon sale, and new residential and business properties being added to the rolls.
—Jacqueline Zuanich-Ferrell, Manhattan Beach
Beach Cities Health District leadership
The Beach Cities Health District (BCHD) continues to provide much needed resources, benefits and support to residents of the beach cities, despite COVID-19 and misleading representations of its Healthy Living Campus proposal.
What started 60 years ago as a hospital district has been transformed into a forward-looking organization designed to meet today’s public health needs.
Rather than rest on their laurels, the district took on the challenge of becoming a nationally certified Blue Zones Community in 2016, the largest community in the country to achieve that goal. Not stopping there, BCHD was placed among the elite of America’s healthy communities on the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being index with successful programs aimed at reducing smoking, obesity and stress. In 2019 The District’s Center for Health and Fitness (CHF) became California’s only fitness center certified by the Medical Fitness Association, one of only 45 such centers in the country.
When faced with the pandemic, BCHD jumped into the fray, providing more than 57,000 COVID-19 tests, and working with our local chambers of commerce to develop protocols to re-open safely with their Safe in the South Bay program.
Improving public health is the target. An active and well-led BCHD is one of the ways to achieve it. Before November 3, 2020 I plan to vote for Vanessa Poster and Jane Diehl for seats on the BCHD’s Board of Directors. I urge you to do the same.
—George Schmeltzer, Hermosa Beach
BCHD board performance
Taxpayers rightfully expect elected officials to hold public agencies such as Beach Cities Health District (BCHD) accountable. BCHD directors have botched that, and none should be re-elected.
The South Bay Hospital District failed long ago, renamed itself BCHD, and continued merrily along on the public dole, including renting out the public land set aside for the hospital, Now BCHD wants to subsidize a risky private real estate development on public land (originally set aside for a hospital), in hopes of satisfying their insatiable thirst for revenue. The Board arrogantly ignores massive public opposition, and needs to face voter accountability. Their job is to keep the agency in line, not be its puppet. Replace them with new blood in this election cycle.
—Michael Martin, Redondo Beach
In favor of Burton for council
I support Mark Burton for Manhattan Beach City Council. Full disclosure, Mark is my brother-in-law and that has provided me with the opportunity to really get to know our former mayor.
Mark is of the highest integrity and character. He is well-versed in city government. He has tremendous experience in dealing with local issues and public safety. Mark believes in the rule of law and his professional career is testimony to that.
His tenure on the council and time as mayor is proof of his transparency while governing. Mark is a responsible public servant. I have witnessed the depth of study Mark invests in all decisions concerning our amazing city. He constantly reaches out to all types of individuals, community groups and organizations to learn of their thoughts on the issues at hand. Mark Burton cares for our community and the citizens that call Manhattan Beach home. I Trust Burton for council.
—Duke Dulgarian, Manhattan Beach
Reminder to register and vote
This is an important election. The League of Women Voters of the Beach Cities encourages everyone to vote on November 3.
Starting October 5, LA County is mailing all registered voters, a vote-by-mail ballot. You can put your ballot in the mail or place it in any of the 398 Drop Boxes across the county. In-person voters can vote at any LA County Vote Center. Select centers open Saturday, October 24 with all locations open by October 30. Vote early to avoid lines. All centers will follow state/county public health and safety guidelines.
If you are not registered, register online by October 19. After that you can register and vote in person at any of the centers. You must bring a California Driver’s License or Identification Card, and know your last four Social Security Number digits and your birthdate.
Important resource sites:
- Check your own registration online: LAVote.net
- Vote Center locations and hours: locator.lavote.net/locations/vc
- Vote by Mail drop boxes: locator.lavote.net/locations/vbm/
- Voter's Edge (information about candidates, judges, propositions and who is funding the campaigns): votersedge.org/ca
When you get your ballot, make your plan and vote early. Remember to sign your envelope. Your vote matters.
—Dale Petrulis, Redondo Beach
Support for Burton
I was privileged to serve alongside Mark Burton on the MB City Council from 2013 to 2017. Simply said, there is no one I trust more than Mark with the issues facing our city today and in the future. Mark is a man of impeccable character and integrity, who consistently demonstrated he only serves the residents of Manhattan Beach.
No one was more prepared at the dais or in closed session. No one led and fought harder for public safety initiatives, foot patrols, automated license plate readers, security camera registration, and more. Pressing on every aspect of staff's annual budget proposals, pressing for reform of our unfunded and runaway pension liability, on wasteful and ill conceived capital projects. These are real fiscal responsibility actions, not a “balanced budget” or AAA rating that others take credit for, but actually come from city staff, not the council.
Mark is a proven leader on environmental issues and 100% opposes the desalination plant on our northern border. Mark has a wealth of knowledge on how city government actually works. His years of experience as an LA City Attorney and prosecutor allow him to help protect our city from settlement mistakes and bad judgment on litigation issues. I witnessed Mark save us millions of dollars while on council.
Transparency, responsibility, character and integrity… I trust Mark Burton. We need him on council. You deserve him on council. Please vote Mark Burton.
—Tony D’Errico, Manhattan Beach
Preference for Lyons and Burton
I am writing to support two of the candidates for MB City Council: Mark Burton and Phoebe Lyons. Although completely different demographics, both candidates have exhibited the most intellect and have articulated best their positions and the actions they would take in office to best address the interests and concerns of residents.
I am tired of the good ole boy/gal network which has dominated our council and city commissions for the two-plus decades I have lived here. We have had too many former school board members on the council and from what I have observed, they have not, as a cohort, demonstrated a positive track record with regard to managing our educational resources. In fact, the opposite is true. Additionally, I have seen the council consistently roll over for developers and businesses in a quest to increase sales tax revenues to the detriment of adjacent residents. They also rubber stamp everything staff proposes despite informed residents' positions.
When Mark Burton last served, he was a good watch dog that focused on checks and balances of the city staff and always came down in the support of residents. He was not in bed with developers.
Phoebe has the benefit of not being in anyone's pocket at this point and has fresh ideas and perspectives, which I believe those of us that care about our quality of life and preservation of a friendly beach community should welcome. Please join me in supporting these two worthy candidates.
—Eileen Neill, Manhattan Beach
Supporting Burton for council
I will be voting for Mark Burton for Manhattan Beach City Council. In these times more than ever, I have come to appreciate the importance of honesty and integrity in those serving in public office. It has been my privilege to get to know Mark over the years. We know that he can do the job and serve with distinction, as he has already done so as a council member and mayor in the past. His many endorsements from those he has worked with, underline this point. He is a man we can trust with the future of our city.
—Paul Konwiser, Manhattan Beach
MB council issues and candidates
As a former mayor, now retired, I suspect I pay more attention than most to the Manhattan Beach City Council. I've been critical in the last few letters about some of its machinations and decisions. It's crucial that the council pay more attention to residents and less to special interests. Understood that the real estate tax is the most important source of city funding, but that doesn't mean that developers and realtors should drive decisions causing long-time residents to leave. Continuous construction and the desalination plant are just two example of the many cases where the council has listened to special interests or individuals beholding to the DWP.
We can also wonder about the amount of money being spent on full-page campaign ads and flyers. Done properly and honestly [serving on council] is a volunteer position paying $500/month (no more than a few dollars/hour). Why spend many tens of thousands of dollars to obtain it?
All that said, in addition to Burton there is one more person I'd ask you to vote for: Steve Napolitano. I've known Steve for three decades, Napolitano has a long record of openness, and service at both the city and county levels. He's an extremely effective leader endorsed by many groups. I'll be voting for Napolitano and ask you to as well.
—Dan Stern, Manhattan Beach