Manhattan Beach Unified bond oversight

I am writing to thank reporter Tyler Shaun Evains for touring the new Mira Costa Athletic Complex with the Manhattan Beach Unified School District Bond Oversight Committee and others on February 11. Tyler’s article, ("Mira Costa's $38 million athletic complex nears completion," The Beach Reporter, 2/13/20), was very thorough and informative. For those interested to learn more about the Bond Oversight Committee responsibilities, reports and other information, please review Committee information at www.mbusd.org in the “Board” section.

Tim Flake, MBUSD Bond Oversight Committee member and Chairman of Measure C

Cost of Mira Costa athletic complex

There has been some misinformation circulating regarding the current MBUSD budget situation.

Some community members have pointed to the construction of the Mira Costa gym and rehabilitation of elementary schools as taking funds which could have been used to prevent layoffs.

Manhattan Beach voters voted in support of Bond Measures C and EE in 2016. These funds are dedicated to facilities construction and improvement and cannot be used for salaries or other educational services. Anyone stepping foot in the old Mira Costa gym would have recognized the need for an upgraded facility and the community will greatly benefit from its transformation. Unfortunately, the projected budget deficit will require reductions in personnel and programs and Superintendent Matthews forecasts approximately 30 layoffs for the next school year.

The MBUSD schools are a great source of pride for this city and I hope the community will be there to support them in this time of need. MBEF is the primary fundraising vehicle for our schools and we are working diligently to raise funds to help address this budget crisis. Please consider making a donation to MBEF today.

—Dan Rogoff, president of the board, Manhattan Beach Education Foundation 

California pension costs to MBUSD

As we work together to address the Manhattan Beach Unified School District budget crisis, it’s important to understand how state decisions regarding public school employee pensions have affected the district. California public school employees participate in state retirement funds (CalSTRS, CalPERS) instead of Social Security. School employees, school districts, and the state pay into these funds.

During the 2008-09 recession, the value of both retirement funds dropped significantly. That value has never been fully regained. Since, like Social Security, these defined benefit plans must pay a specific amount upon retirement, additional funds are needed to ensure the promised benefits remain available. In 2013, California initiated a program to stabilize the retirement funds. California school employees contribute a painful 10.25% of their salaries. But California school districts also bear the brunt; their CalSTRS retirement plan contribution rates have doubled, from 8.25% in 2013-14 to 17.1% in 2019-20.

For MBUSD, this increase represents over $3 million in additional annual costs to shore up the underfunded retirement plans. In 2020-21, California school districts must contribute 19% of district payroll to the plans; this could rise to 20.25% in 2022-23. These cost increases, in conjunction with the low per-pupil funding that MBUSD receives from the state (based on the state-established local control funding formula), are a key driver of MBUSD’s current budget crisis. Please join us at the Feb. 26 MBUSD Board meeting to learn more.

—Michelle McDonald, MBEF vice president and chair of the Measure MB Citizens Oversight Committee

L.A. County Measure FD

Measure FD on March 3 ballot affects property owners in 56 cities (Hermosa Beach, Gardena, Hawthorne, etc.) and unincorporated areas of L.A. County. The measure states, “Proceeds from the tax will not be used for unfunded workers’ compensation or pension liabilities."

Right – so the L.A. County Fire Department will just shuffle monies around and assure the public that they are not just trying to paper around their huge pension obligations. Check out salaries and pension data collected by Transparent California to see why extra monies must be collected by cities and counties to meet hugely generous pension giveaways.

Many parcel taxes exempt all seniors – not just those on a very low income like this measure. The measure would allow the fire chief to develop procedures for the senior exemption and the appeals process, a huge conflict of interest.

The measure has no sunset date and it builds in a yearly increase. In the first year alone, it will generate $134 million for the L.A. County Fire Department. This tax increase comes at a time when L.A. County revenue has increased more than 33 percent just since 2016, thanks largely to windfalls from current property taxes. Do not vote for this tax increase!

—Jacqueline Zuanich-Ferrell, Manhattan Beach

MB proposed vaping ban

I am writing in response to the letter from Eric Sugden, “Tobacco/Vaping Ban” The Beach Reporter, 2/13/20.

Manhattan Beach moves one step closer to an overall tobacco/vaping ban. The new law will prohibit the sale of all electronic smoking devices, vaping cartridges and all forms of tobacco including all flavors, cigarettes, chew and cigars.

Sugden agrees with MB Councilmember Steve Napolitano that “[tobacco] is the single deadliest consumer product ever sold," and with Councilmember Suzanne Hadley's [comment], "I think it's the purest form of modern government overreach to deprive the sale of tobacco within city bounds. It puts hard-working small businesses at risk." ("City one step closer to total ban on tobacco/vaping," The Beach Reporter, 2/6/20.)

Sugden also states that, “Next up should be banning alcohol sales in liquor stores and bars/restaurants.” The 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (1920), prohibiting alcohol, failed because of increased crime rates, business failures and enormous unforeseen costs to tax revenues.

Sugden and Councilmember Hadley are both dead wrong when they state that the ban puts hard-working small businesses at risk. The small businesses that sell tobacco products put the health of tobacco users at risk.

Tobacco is a killer. People who smoke or use other forms of tobacco are more likely to develop disease and die earlier than are people who don't use tobacco. (Mayo Clinic staff)

I have never used tobacco products, but have been exposed to second-hand smoke almost all my life. My parents and relatives all smoked and during my professional career as an aerospace engineer (34 years), I worked long stressful hours in a smoky environment.

—Robert Bush Manhattan Beach

Effective recycling practices 

Yesterday I toured the Waste Management site in Azusa with members of Grades of Green and Manhattan Beach City Council. I was stunned by the immensity of waste and the complexity (and dangers) of the process. I realize the need to stay educated so that less trash ends up in landfills and waterways.

Here is what I learned:

  • Reduce your takeout, food and package delivery.
  • Do not bag recyclables. Throw them in your recycling bin loose and dry or else they will end up in landfills.
  • Do not throw anything wet in recycling—water contaminates.
  • Plastic film and bags cannot be recycled at curbside. Use reusable bags or return clean bags to the supermarket. Vegetables do not need to be bagged in plastic.
  • Shred paper at an official site that sends it to the appropriate plant. Do not put shredded paper in curbside bins.
  • Aluminum foil can be recycled if it's clean and dry.
  • Styrofoam is not recycled—it pollutes. Do not order takeout or package delivery from companies that use styrofoam.
  • Empty liquid from plastic bottles and then screw the tops on.
  • Batteries and gas canisters cause frequent fires at the plant, endangering the lives of workers. For free pickup of batteries and other hazardous waste, Manhattan Beach residents can call Waste ’Management’s At Your Door, 800-449-7587.

Above all, we need to reduce consumption through reuse and repair.

Come to the South Bay Eco Festival, Metlox Plaza, Manhattan Beach, April 25, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. to learn more. Live music and eco shopping! www.southbayecofestival.org

Beach Cities Health revenue plans

Beach Cities Health District (BCHD) tells the public that by 2022 they will be financially in the red and need a new plan to generate revenue. Due to its track record as a lucrative investment vehicle, an assisted living facility was chosen as the solution to increase revenue.

As many of us know, past performance is no guarantee of future results. Are they gambling with our public land and property tax money?

Recent realities challenge the notion that dependence upon an assisted living facility as a consistent money maker is a risky assumption. For example:

  1. Assisted living occupancy rates are currently at the lowest levels ever recorded, impacting potential income. (National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care)
  2. Due to low interest rates, the number of new senior living facilities has increased, creating an over supply of facilities. (Senior Housing News)
  3. The current model of big box facilities are not the product that Baby Boomers, the target consumer, are looking for. Like big box stores, their time has come and gone. (Senior Housing News, Welltower REIT)
  4. And, that Silver Tsunami? Many Boomer retirees are cashing out and moving to low tax states such as Arizona, Idaho, Texas and Washington. (Curbed - blog)

What if the promised revenue never materializes and the investment loses money? Will the assets be sold to a private investment company or REIT? Will we be faced with decades of empty buildings as litigation drags on? BCHD must rethink its “need” for additional revenue and abandon this RISKY investment strategy.

—Sheila Lamb, Redondo Beach

Taxes for BCHD

We pay $3.8 million in annual property taxes to BCHD, while BCHD takes another $8.7 million annually from the “trust fund” we gave them in the form of the South Bay Hospital District’s assets of the campus, the hospital building and business, and bond proceeds. BCHD also charges $2.8 million a year for programs (like gym memberships).

All together, that means for every $1 in property taxes that we give BCHD, they add $2.29 in “trust fund” proceeds and charge 74 cents for programs. BCHD has a total of $4.03 to spend per dollar of property taxes we pay.

BCHD has a propaganda line that goes, "… for every $1 in property tax we take from you, we give you back $3.48 in services." OK, but you take $4.03 in revenue per $1 in property tax. Where’s the other 55 cents?

Data shows that BCHD pays 47 cents per $1 of property taxes they collect from us to [its] top ten paid employees, according to Transparent California. That goes a long way to closing the gap of what happens to our property taxes paid to BCHD.

We cannot let BCHD build a 430-unit senior apartment complex that’s sized for 80% tenants from outside the three beach cities. We cannot suffer the environmental injustice of 15 years of construction chronic stress (Bluezones.com’s silent killer) and 50+ years of operation.

Should we take away their trust fund and stop property taxes until they listen?
 
—Mark Nelson, Redondo Beach

MB city charter

Isn't it time for our Manhattan Beach City Council to consider adopting a City Charter? Historically, our city has been a general law city and, as such, bound by our State’s general law, even with respect to our city’s municipal affairs. That doesn’t seem smart, especially now with our State’s overreach into areas that were traditionally municipal affairs such a land use and zoning.

The California Constitution gives cities the power to become charter cities. This provision in the our State Constitution is known as the “home rule” provision and grants cities supreme authority of the city’s “municipal affairs”. Simply put, a city charter maximizes a city’s local control. Isn’t that exactly what Manhattan Beach needs?

Lately, in the legislation adopted by the State that clearly overreaches into local, municipal affairs, the legislation sets forth their intent that the legislation preempts a local law since it is a matter of statewide concern. However, the State Legislature’s intent when enacting a specific law is not determinative. Importantly, the courts have consistently classified as municipal affairs most land use and zoning decisions or how a city spends it tax dollars. And, charter cities are well positioned to make such legal challenges, while general law cities are not.

The City Council can draft it’s own Charter and then submit that Charter for approval by the voters. So, residents get to decide if they want a City Charter.

The Manhattan Beach City Council should explore adopting a City Charter. It makes sense!

—Mark Burton, Manhattan Beach

Lifesaving CPR/AED/First Aid class offered

Learn lifesaving adult and pediatric CPR, AED (heart-start defibrillator) and first aid. The Manhattan Beach Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and Fire Department is offering a free 2-year certification Red Cross CPR/AED/First Aid class to residents of Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach and Redondo Beach.

The class is limited to 30 students and is held on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Joslyn Community Center in Manhattan Beach. Upcoming class dates are April 4th, June 6th, August 1st, September 26th and December 5th.

Residents outside of the beach cities can attend the class for $55. To register send an email to 1CERTtraining@gmail.com with your name, street address, phone number and email address.

Wayne Powell, Manhattan Beach

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

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