Objects of bigotry
All the controversy about racism in Manhattan Beach in the 1920s and in the 2020s, whether Manhattan Beach is a “racist city” or whether individuals are “racist,” leads me to ask a rhetorical question:
Why is it that people who are not the objects of racism (or sexism) feel entitled to minimize or deny the feelings and experiences of people who say they are hurt by bigotry, whether that bigotry is overt or subtle?
I am not a person of color, but I'm a Jew. Although I have never experienced the virulent antisemitism that caused my grandparents to escape Europe, and which my American-born parents often experienced in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s, I’ve had many experiences with comments that I felt to be antisemitic from people who considered themselves friendly to me, and who would have vigorously denied any prejudiced belief or intent. Yet, I have felt surprised, shocked, hurt, and even wounded.
It’s those who feel wounded who should be entitled to identify their injury and the bigotry, not those who minimize the pain they have inflicted, even if the pain was not intentionally inflicted. If I step on your toe by accident, it’s still my fault, and I can’t deny the reality of your pain.
—Richard W. Merel, Hermosa Beach
Conversations about racisim
On February 25th, I attended the Bruce’s Beach Task Force’s excellent Community Forum presentation, which was particularly outstanding because of the well-documented, clearly presented history by Kristin Long, based on deep research. (Due to COVID-19 restrictions and a flood at the Los Angeles Hall of Records, additional information the BBTF has requested is forthcoming.)
Cities across the country have begun to shine a light on similar troubling incidents in their histories.
It is hard to face the fact that our own city forced families out of this community because they were not white. But this is how Democracy works: we learn the truth. We change the systems that created the troubling conditions, we teach new ways of co-existing, and then we change those systems. And in the process, we, too are changed.
I agree with the words of two MB residents: “I don't think that adding a new plaque to the property is sufficient to right this wrong...," and, “One common narrative is that MB has been or will be labeled a 'racist city' if the task force is allowed to continue. I think the opposite is true. Addressing this racist incident in our past is complicated. It deserves time and nuanced thought, not a rush to completion.”
To this end, I urge the city council to support the continuation of the BBTF, a healthy conversation about racism and the underlying practices that support it. This is how we become a civilized society. And decent human beings.
—April Wayland, Manhattan Beach
Words from police Chief LeBaron
Moving into the less restrictive red tier last week was great news for our businesses and residents. But with the re-opening of indoor dining at downtown restaurants, the Hermosa Beach Police Department (HBPD) had to resume its practice of devoting more police resources to Pier Plaza. On St. Patrick’s Day, for instance, we had two officers on the plaza. They wrote 14 citations for alcohol violations, smoking, urinating in public and other violations.
For much of the past year, demand for police services on Pier Plaza declined as COVID-19 closures and restrictions eliminated or significantly reduced the late-night party atmosphere there. From 2019 to 2020, calls for service in downtown declined 58%. Public drunkenness arrests decreased, and assault and assault with a deadly weapon arrests dropped.
The reduction in alcohol-related disturbances and crimes made it possible for us to increase our efforts to target crime in other parts of the city, including vehicle break-ins, package and bicycle thefts and drug violations. We were also able to address quality of life matters and launch crime prevention initiatives, including Project Secure to remind residents to lock up valuable property to prevent thefts. HBPD has added seven new officers in the past year and has five training at the police academy.
As our staffing increases, if officers can be freed from enforcing alcohol-related crimes on Pier Plaza, we will implement strategies that reduce crime throughout the entire city, while maintaining a safe, family friendly environment on Pier Plaza.
—Paul LeBaron, Hermosa Beach Police chief
Mira Costa principal retiring
RE: Mira Costa High's principal announced retirement, surprising Manhattan Beach community," The Daily Breeze, 3/16/21
In a Daily Breeze article, Shawn Chen MBUSD teacher's union president, made a disparaging comment regarding Dr. Dale's retirement announcement. This disrespectful, divisive and unprofessional behavior is uncalled for at a time when leaders are working through complex issues under unprecedented circumstances. Her punitive words are not representative of the teacher body at Mira Costa, nor on behalf of the MBUSD teaching community. This was a personal punch and ‘no comment’ to the media would have been a better option, Ms. Chen.
Dr. Dale’s MBUSD accomplishments and leader successes are appreciated and highly respectable. From integrating technology, expanding curriculum, hiring new teachers, supporting ideas, and juggling multiple construction projects, Dr. Dale has been an outstanding leader. He has always led with ‘what about the student’ and his unwavering commitment helps him make tough choices, have hard conversations, and explains why green will be his forever favorite color.
As former trustee, I worked with Ben for 10 years and thank him for his support and hours of shared conversations. If you don't know Ben, please note these words to describe him: integrity, willingness, commitment and loyalty. He has a ‘service’ based mindset and is all about doing what is right. He has played a significant role in helping strengthen our community of students, staff and alumni. He (literally) leaves big shoes to be filled and a lasting mark on our Costa family.
Please, let’s all come together, give our thanks and wish Ben and his and family all of our best.
—Karen Komatinsky, Manhattan Beach
Ideas about Bruce's Beach
RE: "Race relations in Manhattan Beach," The Beach Reporter, 3/18/21
I'd like to commend last week's letter writer, Jennifer Salem, for her thoughtful letter regarding race relations in Manhattan Beach. She ably communicates her concerns and thoughts on a highly charged issue with nuance and without the use of inflammatory language that only serves to divide. I'd like to see more TBR letters like this one.
As to the immediate subject at hand, here are my thoughts:
- Do not disband the Bruce's Beach Task Force or create a substitute that can serve an ongoing role in enhancing and developing DEIB (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging) initiatives in Manhattan Beach, just as many organizations have been doing over the past year or so.
- Rather than additional plaques or new artwork, could we not spend the same amount of money on something more tangibly beneficial? For example, how about scholarships to an HBU (historically Black university) in the Bruce family name? (I would, of course, involve descendants of the Bruce family in this discussion and decision-making.)
- There's been talk of putting up a hotel at Bruce's Beach. I would be okay with this if: it is of a boutique nature; a fair portion of the park can remain (it's nice to have that green space!); and a portion of the profits can go to descendants of the Bruce family.
—Suzanne Wiener, Manhattan Beach
Proposed Green Line extension
Re: "Metro rail line extension from Redondo Beach to Torrance tracking closer to possible 2028 opening," The Beach Reporter, 2/18/21
I’m writing this letter in an attempt to inform Redondo Beach residents on a very important issue. Metro is proposing having the green line extension right in the back yard of peoples homes. This will decrease home value, bring noise, vibrations and traffic, and can cause an increase in crime. The alternative puts the extension out on Hawthorne Boulevard where people can access shops and where ridership will be maximized. We have until March 29 to share these thoughts with Metro. Please email your opposition via
For reference, Manhattan Beach opposed this and they now have a beautiful wood chip pathway to jog on. We can not allow Redondo Beach to become run down, full of noise and crime.
I’m urging Redondo residents to please voice the concerns. There are several groups forming to oppose this horrific idea of running a train near schools and homes. Please support our city — say no Metro in Redondo.
—Julie Iffland, Redondo Beach
Support for candidate Stabile
Regarding candidates running for Hermosa Beach City Council: Jackson takes action and Randy Balik’s pragmatically approachable, but Tara McNamara Sabile has got my vote. Her campaign to build a Hermosa Plunge is brilliant. A Swimnasium is exactly what this city needs.
Neighborhood forum critics have mercilessly attacked Tara’s cement pond claiming there isn’t a site big enough for a swim stadium. I say these nattering nabobs of negativism are all wet. Here are three excellent sites to build the Hermosa Aquatorium.
1. The land used by the Hermosa Lawn Bowling Society. Throw some used astroturf over the tennis courts next door and the keglers won’t notice the difference. Plus, consider the tax dollars saved on lawn care.
2. South End of the Greenbelt. After all the money wasted on a cess pool underground aquafier, we know the land is perfect for a water slide. And the once argumentative neighbors won’t mind. Who could resist a daily parade of speedos right outside their front door?
3. Pier Plaza. This is a no-brainer. Rest rooms, showers, plenty of parking already available. Snacks abound. Just picture Lou Giovannitti singing Splish Splash on New Years Eve next to the sparkling water of the new HB Natatorium. And a special added benefit, the pool will drive out Tony Hawk wannabes, X games bike tricksters, and e-bike polluters currently scaring the hell out of seniors taking advantage of half-price Taco Tuesdays.
Let’s all vote Stabile and dive right in.
—Jim Stevens, Hermosa Beach
Beach Cities' proposed campus
RE: "BCHD's environmental review: mitigating impacts," The Beach Reporter, 3/18/21
Beach Cities Health District, a public health district, is selling something. Something big. But you wouldn’t know it by looking at splashy articles on their project dubbed the “Healthy Living Campus”.
It’s a $374M endeavor with a nearly $8M budget just for pre-development. What does that money buy? Artistic renderings — with a “hey, look over here” feel — that distract the public from seeing but a glimpse of the massive Assisted Living Facility that makes up the bulk of the HLC.
A Draft EIR produced by their consultants looks more like a sales document than a CEQA-required technical report to disclose environmental impacts.An Executive Summary seemingly designed to give a reassuring nod to officials and the public to go no further. But with any EIR, the devil is in the details.
The critical mass of the project’s Phase I is a 6-Story, 103-foot tall, Assisted Living Facility that stretches across two city blocks, atop a 30-foot hill. You must dig deep to find in the DEIR, that it would be the tallest structure in all the Beach Cities, save two apartment buildings built in the early 1970s. Phase II is not seen in any visualizations.
Look behind the curtain. This is blatant overdevelopment disguised in sheep’s clothing. It’s time for the residents of the Beach Cities and Torrance to learn more and take action. Participate in public meetings, share concerns with elected officials send DEIR comments before times up.
The more you know, the more there is to oppose.
—Ann Wolfson, Torrance
Traffic signal enforcement
Perhaps the Manhattan Beach City Council can direct their crack contracted code enforcement officers to begin issuing citations to all the people flagrantly crossing the downtown scramble cross walks against the crossing signal.
In the spirit of the town who fined people $1000 when they walked into Polliwog Park (not roped off), in the early days of the pandemic, I would suggest a similar fine. This enhanced revenue could then be used to install no-right-turn-on-red signs for cars so the intended safety improvements of this crossing configuration (no mixing of pedestrians and cars) might finally be realized.
Perhaps city staff could take an all-expenses-paid trip to Hermosa Beach to observe the correct implementation of this concept.
—Randy Steinberg, Manhattan Beach