Editor’s note: This was the last week for letters in support of candidates for the upcoming Nov. 3 election. In keeping with our policy, next week's issue is reserved for 250-word statements from the candidates themselves. We'll accept these up until Tuesday, Oct. 27 at noon.
Hermosa Beach council decisions
I find it interesting that a judge has seen fit to declare a Hermosa Beach councilmember biased; kind of makes me wonder...
For the better part of a year, the residents in the area of 10th Street and Hermosa Avenue fought a parking variance proposal submitted by the developer who wants to add retail spaces behind a house on the southwest corner. During this time we attended several Planning Committee sessions voicing our displeasure regarding said proposal. In each instance, the Planning Commission agreed with the residents of the area, and denied the variance request.
Yet, just a short time after the Final Planning Commission decision, the issue ended up on the City Council agenda for a vote. Lo and behold, the Council ignored the residents and the Planning Commission findings, and overwhelmingly granted the developer his variance.
Hmm, wonder what went on behind the scenes there? Just more of what various iterations of the Council have enacted. Transparency, hah! After nearly 60 years of residing in Hermosa Beach, I remain astounded by these encounters with the folks who have "the best interests of the residents" at the forefront of their decision making.
Variances, by definition, go against existing code(s). It's basically... that's against our code, but if you pay a fee we will allow it; a sort of legal blackmail at times.
—Dennis Toomey, Hermosa Beach
Candidates for MB council
As a councilmember who has worked closely with Steve Napolitano and Richard Montgomery, I wholeheartedly support both candidates. I also support Grettel Fournell for my seat on the council.
Steve and Richard have shown incredible leadership in our current crisis and their experience has been invaluable. This is the time to embrace consistency in our council. As much as this pandemic has been difficult for our residents and businesses, it has been equally hard to run a city through this time. The competing interests of businesses and residents, public health and the economy, has created division in our community.
We need to keep a steady hand in the running of the city. Richard and Steve know how to do this. They will keep us safe, healthy, and economically as prosperous as we can possibly be. They know our budget inside and out, they know the importance of the city’s needed services, and they know how to keep our businesses running. I strongly encourage you to vote for both Steve and Richard.
I also encourage you to vote for Grettel Fournell. I have known Grettel for many years and she is smart, thoughtful and a consensus builder. When I was first elected in 2017, we were a smooth-running council getting things done by listening to all of our residents – not just those who voted for us. We did this with consensus, honesty and integrity. We need to elect a councilmember who understands this. Grettel is that person.
—Nancy Hersman, Manhattan Beach
Signs missing from yard
At approximately 11:45 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 16, my husband heard, then spotted, three teenage boys on skateboards heading north on Ocean Drive from 15th St. in Manhattan Beach. One of them was carrying a "Biden/Harris" yard sign. My husband then went outside to see if our "Biden/Harris" yard sign was still in place and it was not. This is really disrespectful and very disappointing to me. So, if you are a parent of a teenage boy with a skateboard who has mysteriously come home with a new yard sign (or you find it in your trash), would you please have a good talk with him and also reach out to me via The Beach Reporter to return it? Thank you.
—Suzanne Wiener, Manhattan Beach
Support for Calif. Proposition 16
Like so many others, my grandparents came to this country in search of the American Dream. Despite their humble beginnings, they live comfortably here in the South Bay. They achieved their success through rugged individualism and hard work, but for folks like them today, this is an impossibility.
My grandparents were able to succeed because our institutions invested in them and allowed them to gain a foothold here. Today, those very same institutions, including the college admissions process, are structured in a way that systematically locks people like them out of social mobility.
Whether or not we choose to accept it, nobody in this country makes it big on their own. Nobody. Individualism and grit are essential, sure, but wealth the likes of Jeff Bezos is not possible without the necessary services the rest of us pay for: things like education, police, and fire departments.
The same principle applies to college admissions. Wealthy folks, including myself, do not get into top colleges and universities all on our own. We need the support of a loving family and the resources to hire counselors, participate in extracurriculars, and get unpaid internships—all of which are highly inaccessible to underrepresented minorities. Until we recognize and account for our structural advantages in having these support systems, we cannot have a true meritocracy. This system abets the accumulation of wealth while locking out disproportionately black and brown communities who need this opportunity the most.
For these reasons, I urge Californians to vote yes on Proposition 16.
—Justin Hong, Manhattan Beach
MB council candidate Fournell
My wife and I were Grettel Fournell's neighbors for over 15 years. She has the experience and leadership to bring people together and lead our city in a collaborative, empathetic and inclusive manner. Grettel has a ton of amazing qualities but two areas of focus are paramount for us.
For nearly 20 years Grettel worked with Ernst and Young helping companies large and small ensure their financial and customer service systems were sound. Grettel's business and financial experience will lead to more programs—similar to Local Love for Manhattan Beach—that will support our businesses while successfully monitoring our city's financial profile.
For 30 years Grettel has been working in our schools, serving on the executive boards of the PTAs of Grand View, MBMS, and Mira Costa High School, the District Advisory Council, as well as countless hours on committees and in the classrooms of her four children. Grettel has the support of the entire school board. She understands the importance of strong schools, and we can count on her for advocacy. As we can attest personally, Grettel "walks (literally) the talk" as she did on recent school-supporting initiatives like Measure C, Measure EE and Measure MB, all of which are having enormous positive impacts.
Finally, we support Grettel for council because she has the maturity to lead with compassion and grace. We watched firsthand how Grettel single-handedly cared for our ailing Alzheimer's stricken neighbor when unfortunately there were no family members to help. Vote Grettel Fournell.
—Jeffrey Serota, Manhattan Beach
Candidates for BCHD board
Bring balance to the Beach Cities Health District Board of directors — vote for Karen Komatinsky and Dr. Martha Koo.
For far too long we have had a BCHD board that is out of touch with the needs of the community and we saw this clearly in the candidate forum last week. One incumbent has served 25 years and doesn’t even know if the 40 programs they pay for are even cost-effective. Another claims the immune systems of volunteers is improved with these programs without any proof. The third claims vast business experience but hasn’t been effective in getting cost control mechanisms in place or even a line-item budget.
It’s time for change and to bring back balance to BCHD — Vote for Komatinsky and Koo.
—Wayne Craig, Redondo Beach
In favor of Burton
Manhattan Beach is currently dealing with extraordinary times and issues that go beyond the common alcohol license and building height debates. The community needs experienced leaders. As a former council member, Mark Burton demonstrated his commitment to the city, and more than that, his commitment to transparency. I found that when I want the facts, I can go to Mark.
Mark has a record of supporting public safety. He actively promotes government transparency. And, he works to preserve the small-town character of our community, serving, among many ways, by fighting short-term rentals, and as a director of the MB Historical Society.
Mark Burton gets my vote for Manhattan Beach City Council.
—Gary D. McAulay, Manhattan Beach
Beach Cities Health District candidates
The recent BCHD candidate debate gave residents a clear view of the similarities and differences between the candidates. All candidates agree that the district is an asset to the community. All candidates support its wide ranging volunteer program, and the programs and services donated to school districts.
The new candidates Karen Komatinsky and Martha Koo differentiate themselves from the others by offering a fresh perspective on BCHD’s future potential. They believe the district has not done an adequate job in reaching out to the communities it serves and would like to see robust efforts towards community engagement. In addition, both expressed commitment to ensuring the prudent use of our tax dollars, greater scrutiny on how money is spent, detailed evaluation of programs and services to show cost effectiveness and clear health impact to the community.
In terms of the Healthy Living Campus, they echo residents’ concern about whether a brick-and-mortar campus is appropriate for the community at this time. This fresh perspective is how I would like to see BCHD proceed into the future. In light of this, I give my full support to Karen Komatinsky and Martha Koo.
—Sheila W. Lamb, Redondo Beach
Preference for candidate Lyons
I wholeheartedly support Phoebe Lyons for Manhattan Beach City Council. So much, in fact, that I’ll cast only one vote in support of her.
Phoebe and I grew up here together. We were raised to be civically-minded, informed women. I never thought our childhood friendship would transform into a team on the (virtual) campaign trail, but I’m glad it did.
In recent months, MB’s youth have been vocal about their wants for our community. They’ve been listened to by council, but have they been heard?I’ve watched leaders in our community fumble to attempt to get the young people involved for years. Well… here we are. Fifty-plus year-olds cannot and will not properly represent the younger demographic of our town (one in six of us).
Phoebe knows, firsthand, what it’s like to grow up here. She is not a transplant who decided to spend her adult life here. Phoebe is a product of our MBUSD schools, a point of pride for our city.
As a recent college grad, Phoebe is still in the mode of studying and researching, a skill she'll bring to council. She’ll ask purposeful questions with the intent of learning and examining all relevant facts. Phoebe will not use emotion as a metric, but rather analyze data to reach meaningful conclusions.
Diversity of experience is key on council. It’s time to look to the future, Manhattan Beach. Let’s vote for a fresh voice. Vote Phoebe Lyons by November 3.
—Madeline Taylor, Manhattan Beach
Support for candidate Fournell
Note: This letter was originally written in Spanish.
Starting in 2005, a group of American students began visiting Santa Rosalia, Baja California Sur, Mexico.
The idea was to learn about the natural landscapes and the greatness in gray whale sightings. From this visit sprung the idea to form a student exchange group. Since then, several generations of students have participated, many of whom have strengthened and maintained this bond of sisterhood and brotherhood over the the years.
During these last years, Grettel Fournell has been an important person to the program as she planned and executed activities between the students in both cities (Manhattan Beach and Santa Rosalia). She organized and actively participated in the Student Exchange Program, planning cultural activities as well as the living arrangements for the students.
Grettel Fournell is a good person and is recognized in Santa Rosalia for her particular way of being, her charisma and generosity. She is a gift to our residents. She has a prominent place in our city when she visits and has earned the hearts of all.
It is an honor to have her as an integral member of the Student Exchange Program between Santa Rosalia and Manhattan Beach.
—Mireya Camarena Monreal, student exchange director for the Manhattan Beach Sister City program
Supporting Burton in MB
I have known Mark Burton for over 12 years and have known him to be an honest, trustworthy, high integrity and loyal man. I believe that Mark is the type of individual we need on city council at this time as we move forward with trying to rebuild Manhattan Beach and regain and strengthen the trust of residents.
I am having a hard time understanding some of the statements that have stretched the truth about past history. I was sitting in council meetings for almost all of those discussions, and know for certain that the facts were inflated as currently being expressed by some of the correspondence that I have seen lately.
I believe it's time to break from the wishes of a few and elect the people who are capable of making Manhattan Beach the great city that it has been in the past.
It is time to finally have a representative who listens and responds to the community and actually does what the residents want.
This is a critical time for our city and I hope that you will join with me and vote for Mark Burton who has earned our trust before and will earn it again now.
—Steve Packwood, Manhattan Beach
Support for candidate Komatinsky
I’m supporting Karen Komatinsky for a seat on the Beach Cities Health District board. I’ve known Karen for over ten years and respect her tremendously. Her experience as a public official, professional career as a health consultant, and compassion and character are exactly what the BCHD board needs.
As a ten year MBUSD trustee, she was responsible for students' success and well-being, the budget, and contract negotiations among many other things. Throughout everything, she sought public input even if the topic was controversial.
Karen also has a lot of construction oversight experience, which would be invaluable to the BCHD community if they move ahead with the proposed new campus. The Mira Costa campus transformation occurred on time and on budget on her watch. She understands how critical it is for board members to be involved in every step along the way, as well as how necessary it is to involve and collaborate with stakeholders at every step.
She brings over 20 years of professional experience as a healthcare consultant, as well. She is an independent thinker and an excellent communicator. She isn’t afraid to ask difficult questions, and is creative about consensus building.
She’s earned my respect with her intelligence, her integrity and her commitment to good public governance. I hope she earns your vote. She would be a terrific asset to the board.
Please check out komatinskyforbchd.com/ to get to know her a bit better. I know you will be impressed.
—Amy Howorth, Manhattan Beach
Favoring Burton for council
We are very fortunate in Manhattan Beach. Not for the obvious reasons but because we are lucky to have someone running for city council that has the perfect qualifications and experience that we need at this time. We have a candidate that has the know-how, drive and nonpartisan attitude that we so needed now. The candidate I am talking about Is Mark Burton.
Since I have known Mark (46 years) I have admired his nonpartisan stance on issues. He has been hugely successful with his career and has just the know how we need. You can check his credentials online. He’s not a developer and has no special interest groups behind him. He is the real deal who will be fair and honest. He is one of us, willing to take on the task. We are very fortunate to have a person like this. Vote for Mark Burton.
—Bill Sheehy, Manhattan Beach
Support for Lyons in MB
We live in a democracy with a representative model of governance where elected bodies are meant to be representative of their constituents. We have seven candidates for three open seats on our Manhattan Beach City Council. If all seven candidates were equal in all other ways, the measurable gap in representation of all five current councilmembers being aged between 55 and 66 should most definitely be addressed, especially considering that one in every five Manhattan Beach residents is aged between 18 and 35.
But it’s fairly obvious the seven candidates are definitely not equal in all other ways.
Phoebe Lyons has greatly elevated this campaign discussion at every opportunity – in her topical campaign videos, in her weekly virtual chats and particularly in the candidates forums where she consistently displays clear focused thinking and straightforward effortless communication.
Phoebe’s youthful energy, her studied yet open-minded approach to fact-based problem solving, her focus on listening to voices historically unrepresented, and her deep commitment to brightening the long-term future of her hometown for the benefit of all clearly make Phoebe a uniquely qualified candidate.
By giving just one of your three available votes to Phoebe Lyons, you will be effecting a significant positive change to our public decision making process while at the same time broadening the makeup of our city council. (You may even consider voting only for Phoebe in this race to greatly diminish chances that mere incumbency and/or simple name recognition will again rule our election.)
—Lisa Scalia, Manhattan Beach
Support for Lyons in MB
Preserving our environment is critical. Our town has already taken steps to clean the beaches, filter storm drains, and recycle water for irrigation. But we need to continue and enhance our work in this area.
Manhattan Beach City Council candidate Phoebe Lyons puts environmental concerns front and center in her platform. She will take steps to encourage homeowners to use renewable energy sources like solar power, and to incorporate gray water systems in both municipal and private new development.
As a young person growing up in Manhattan Beach, she has developed a strong sense of duty when it comes to saving our natural resources and protecting our environment. For her generation preserving the environment is not an afterthought. It’s their focus because they’re the ones who will be dealing with the long-term ramifications of the actions we take today.
Please vote Phoebe Lyons if you care about our environment.
—Loralie Ogden, Manhattan Beach
Supporting candidate Burton
Mark Burton has consistently, and without hesitation or wavering, advocated for the residents of Manhattan Beach which is why I'm supporting him for city council. We can never know the specific issues that may come up going forward, so we need to judge candidates based on who they are, how they have previously behaved, what they believe in and what their platform provides.
Years ago, Mark was on the council when the Downtown Specific Plan was being drafted. As the representative of the Downtown Residents Group formed pursuant to that plan, I had multiple opportunities to speak with Mark and understand his thought process. And what I learned about Mark is that he listens — really listens — and if what is being proposed makes sense he will be fair and help to craft a workable solution benefitting the entire community.
Mark worked to help retain the small town character that makes Manhattan Beach so special, while still being on the cutting edge of advancements that enhance life in our community.
Mark is for expanded police patrols and security; enhancing our fire dept. and emergency response; is strong on protecting our environment; believes we must exercise and enforce our rights of local control (including against short term rentals); has very strong economic proposals which would save Manhattan Beach lots of money; and is for transparency and open government.
His career as a government lawyer gives us all his expertise without the cost and he really, really cares.
—Carol Perrin, Manhattan Beach
BCHD board election
In the Beach Cities Health District election, it’s disappointing to see little emphasis placed on the proposed massive construction development of the campus. Suggested questions went unanswered during the candidates’ forum, even a lack of answers from the two challengers.
Neighbors are outraged with the three incumbents supporting the proposed $500 million Prospect Ave. construction project. It’s partially funded by investors. When investors get their return, there isn’t much left for the taxpayer. Meanwhile, the project can be scrapped, and funding can be obtained for only $70 million to retrofit existing buildings.
The two challengers in this campaign must step up and tell us what they're going to do to change the course of this project. Will they support remodeling existing buildings? If they don’t have more to say, they will not get the support they need to win an election.
—Dean Francois, Hermosa Beach