Letter to Murastsuchi re: Healthy Living Campus 

An Open Letter to the Honorable Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi:

I recently learned that you are not aware of the nearly 400 pages of opposition comments to the BCHD (Beach Cities Health District) Healthy Living Campus significant impacts that were filed in July by residents.

Neighbors are aghast at a 10-15 year construction project that is two-thirds the size of Staples Center (600,000 sq. ft). At 60-feet tall, built on the far perimeter of the 30-foot tall BCHD "hill," it is anywhere from 70 to 120 feet taller than surrounding homes. Its windows look into bedrooms, bathrooms, and yards of approximately 1000 surrounding homes.

It's been objected to by the local neighbors for a year now. Walled cities like this are from 800 B.C. and were invented to be visually offensive. The BCHD design is imposing on the local neighbors.

I am a member of the BCHD Community Working Group and I filed formal comments in April to the board when it was clear that they were ignoring the neighbors.

One of the largest issues is the fact that BCHD is planning to serve a 200 square-mile area from Marina del Rey to Compton to Long Beach to San Pedro. That's a huge area, and this compound will burden the "beach cities" of Hermosa, Manhattan and Redondo, especially the surrounding neighbors, with the environmental impacts of any area 10 times our size. Again, the BCHD board of directors is indifferent to its "owners," the "beach cities."

—Mark Nelson, Torrance, Member, BCHD Working Group

Hermosa Beach Police pay negotiations

The City of Hermosa Beach places a priority on protecting our community’s safety, and we value our police officers and all our city employees. Our team has negotiated with the police officers’ union, the Hermosa Beach Police Officers Association (HBPOA), since April 1 and has met with them 16 times. The city’s proposals have not included any proposal for a substitute police force, such as the Sheriff’s Department.

The city’s last, best and final offer to the HBPOA includes a base pay increase of 13% over three years.  The city also offered several other enhancements aimed at overcoming the challenge of officer retention and recruitment. These include retention bonuses of $7,500 for officers in their early years with the city and recruiting bonuses of up to $10,000 for “laterals,” qualified officers from other law enforcement agencies who join the Hermosa Beach police.  The city’s offer has a value of approximately $1.8 million.

The city also offered a new tuition reimbursement incentive, for police officers seeking to advance their educations, and bonus pay for officers working overnight and as watch commander.

The HBPOA rejected the city’s offer. It is seeking a 30% pay increase over three years – which is in excess of what it initially sought in negotiations.

We are a small city with finite resources. We dedicated 41.2% of the 2019-20 budget to police and a total of 57% to firefighting and police. We have stepped-up recruiting efforts, but law enforcement agencies around the country are facing recruiting and retention challenges.

We will continue to ensure we have sufficient officers on duty to protect public safety and adequate resources to provide the many other services for which the city is responsible.

—Suja Lowenthal, Hermosa Beach City Manager

Leadership needed on stormwater pollution

Heal the Bay’s Stormwater Report should be a clarion call to our city council on stormwater. Our city’s stormwater outflows to the Santa Monica Bay continue to pollute and we are doing little to address this! In fact, Manhattan Beach and the Beach Cities were last in meeting their goals to reduce stormwater pollution.

Our past city councils have been a leader, sometimes “the” leader, in protecting our environment, never afraid to have a difficult public discussion or to take bold action to reduce pollution and protect our environment. This legacy of leadership in protecting our environment is one our community supports, one they are proud of.

So, why hasn’t the council discussed and taken action on stormwater capture, recycle and infiltration projects? And, why the apparent reluctance to discuss the proposed desalination project or take a position opposing the building of a desalination plant directly adjacent to our neighbors in the El Porto section of our community?

With hundreds of millions of dollars of L.A. County Measure W funds available, the time is now for the Manhattan Beach City Council to take action, to demonstrate its legacy of leadership by identifying and approving stormwater capture, recycling and infiltration projects.

With a new stormwater permit expected in 2020, one that promises stronger and more forceful mandates on our city, the urgency is even greater. After all, we were given a chance and failed to make it a priority. It’s not even on the city’s Work Plan.

—Mark Burton, Manhattan Beach

Thanks to community volunteers

As a longtime community volunteer, I want to express my heartfelt thanks during this holiday season to all volunteers serving our community. I know firsthand how volunteers improve our residents’ quality of life and public safety.

I encourage everyone to make a difference and volunteer their time and resources to our many outstanding nonprofit community organizations and our exemplary school organizations.

Here’s wishing you and your family a wonderful holiday season and a happy, healthy and safe new year (decade)! And to each, a great Manhattan Beach!

—Wayne Powell, former Manhattan Beach Mayor

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

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