Editor’s note: The Beach Reporter welcomes letters regarding candidates and issues for the upcoming March 2019 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. Announcements of candidacy from candidates themselves will not be run. Please refer to our standard guidelines published below. Our Feb. 21 issue is the last opportunity for letters supporting candidates (Feb. 18 deadline). Our Feb. 28 issue reserved for 250-word statements from the candidates themselves.
Impact of negativity on elections
It seems like every local election becomes a civil war but it doesn’t have to be that way. We can do better than angry rhetoric and vicious attacks. We should expect more than ad hominem attacks and gross exaggeration or even outright lies. I want to hear what someone stands for and how they plan to accomplish (and pay for) their vision. What are their qualifications and experience and how will they work with and for the entire community (not just those that agree with them)? We should expect more depth than empty slogans and sound bytes, there are serious issues and incredible opportunities facing us but they must be approached with expertise and gravitas, not political expediency.
There will always be areas of disagreement and there should be, each of us has our own priorities and visions for how we want our community and our city to be. There’s no reason we have to be disagreeable in the process though because there’s far more that unites us than divides us and only by truly listening to each other will we be able to understand that.
The constant negativity and attacks are tearing our community apart. If we spent half as much time listening and engaging as attacking each other, think of the community we could build. I’m tired of the politics of divisiveness, we’re all neighbors here. It’s past time we acted like it.
—Dan Elder, Redondo Beach
Anytime I see a contest developing between those who view their property in Manhattan Beach as just a plot of dirt with a potential dollar sign in front of it and those who view their properties as part of a neighborhood and a lifestyle, I always put my money on those who chase the dollar signs.
As with the current proposal on short-term rentals before our City Council, I can guarantee you that any regulations adopted to keep short-term rentals under control will be weak and not enforced like our ordinances banning smoking and bike riding on The Strand and other sidewalks.
I know there are real estate professionals in this town who are against short-term rentals fearing what it will do to our neighborhoods, but I know there are others who seek only to monetize to the maximum extent possible every square inch of our city.
They will win. They always do.
—Gordon J. Louttit, Manhattan Beach
Supporting Mark Burton
Manhattan Beach has had the good fortune to enjoy the reputation as the finest city in the South Bay. However, we now live in a community where many times rules of fair play in politics have been put aside, values are turned upside-down and principles are replaced by greed and self-advancement. We saw this in the last City Council election where misinformation and half-truths were spread in order to defeat two candidates.
One candidate was Mark Burton, who feels so strongly committed to our community that he has entered the next March 5 election. It is not only his awareness of the job and the knowledge and detail he brings to the Council but also the benefit to the residents and the community as a whole.
In the next election, let’s support a candidate who will tell the facts and be honest with the residents, telling the whole truth not partial truths. Mark Burton believes correct and complete information is the greatest approach for all residents, enabling them to form an accurate opinion and express different ideas and opinions that affect their situation as well as those of others.
Most of the voters in town care about fairness and honest political practice and are concerned about what is fair to all candidates. Mark Burton will pursue a stable future for the generations to come. I support Mark Burton and urge my fellow residents to “Bring Burton Back” when voting on March 5, 2019.
—Jan Dennis, Manhattan Beach
I watched the Tuesday January 8 Redondo Beach City Council meeting the presentation by Treasurer Diels on how strong vendor partnerships helped put the department in the black along with additional annual savings of over $100,000 per year for our City by reducing role of the treasurer to part-time.
The concern Commissioner Solomon asking Treasurer Diels regarding obtaining multiple bids to explore further price reductions is respectable. However, given the annual fee of $18,000 which the vendor is paid (which is about 40% below market rate) and given that Diels cut his own salary by 70%, much needed savings were generated.
Diels began his service as a treasurer at a time of economic downturn, and given the economic upswing in California customers likely have to encourage productive vendor partnerships, as they now have much new business to choose from. I think City Manager Hoefgen explained well the difference between reviewing multiple bids in the initial phase of the project vs contract renewal for excellent work, and given the pareto analysis of a $100 million + municipal budget, our personnel likely have “bigger fish to fry” than a 10% to 20% savings reduction from a current $18,000 fixed rate.
Congratulations to our now part-time Treasurer Steve Diels, the treasury office and our city personnel for reining in spending. And hopefully the revitalization of the Galleria wisely decided by the Redondo Beach City Council January 15 will help balance our budget with much needed business tax revenues.
—Jeff Gaul, Redondo Beach
Redondo Beach,District 5 is having elections in March 2019. This is mail-in ballot only. Please take the time to think about what you want to see North Redondo accomplish in the coming years. Our mall? Go big or work with the character of the neighborhoods. The Green Line? Blasting through our neighbors backyards or find alternatives that won’t destroy their quality of life. Traffic on our major streets and the impact coming through our residential areas. Artesia, how do we help our businesses make this more dynamic and fun. Can our parks develop exciting activities and concerts like others? How do we address the increase in airplane traffic that is growing significantly. Are you ready for progressive development or prefer community involved development? Busy and vibrant or serene and beachy? Who will work hard and the best for us? You have two choices. The incumbent or, there is a new candidate, Mel Samples. Who will “go to bat” for your homes and streets? Who will listen, take action, make phone calls, send letters and address your issues? I trust Mel Samples will be honest, strive to help solve concerns, work with all that comes forward and will listen to both sides of the issues and work as a team. I respect one with integrity, dedication and the qualities to at least make an effort and the willingness to try. It is hard work and Mel Samples has my full support. Please consider giving him your vote, too.
—Ash Redford, Redondo Beach
North School EIR
You may have seen the recent news flash from the Hermosa Beach Unified School District: The Final Environmental Impact Statement for the North School Project was approved!!
Sounds like a major accomplishment, doesn’t it. Well, consider these two facts. First, who paid for, and who set the parameters for, a contractor to write this EIR? The HBUSD. Second, who approved this EIR? Some state agency, some city agency? No, the HBUSD approved it. Yes, they virtually wrote it and then they approved it.
Yeah, the “fix” was in on the entire EIR process for the North School Project. But not to worry, it’s all perfectly legal, and besides, there is not a darn thing we can do about it.
—John Williams, Hermosa Beach
More on STRs
Manhattan Beach has been unable or unwilling to enforce illegal Short Term Rentals (STRs). Now the current city council, one of whom allegedly received a campaign donation from an Airbnb PAC, are proposing a complex set of rules allowing STRs in residential zones, ignoring the input from residents, and virtually ensuring it will be impossible to enforce.
Research looking at just two of the approximately 40 sites that advertise STRs (Airbnb & Homeaway) shows the following:
Approximately 326 illegal STRs are operating in Manhattan Beach, the greatest density in the Sand Section. The city’s proposal ignores any caps on STRs within a specific radius.
68 of illegal STRs advertise they sleep 8 or more. US Census data for 2013-2017 states the average persons per household is 2.64 and 68.9% of homes are owner occupied. The city’s proposal ignores restrictions on the number of renters per square foot at a given time.
Approximately 35 of the 326 listings were hosted, therefore 290 would continue to be illegal under the proposed regulation of allowing hosted-only STRs in residential zones. Why does the city think that these 290 homes currently illegally listing STRs will suddenly stop breaking the law? The city has not proposed anything that ensures these 290 illegal STRs cease operation.
The proposed regulation is unacceptable. The city should keep the municipal code as it is and create fines for homeowners that advertise for less than 30 days. Fines pay for software that can monitor illegal STRs and make enforcement easier.
—Tami Zamrazil, Manhattan Beach
STRs as intrusion
Do you support policies to ensure the preservation, distinction and enhancement of Manhattan Beach’s core value as a California coastal jewel while protecting its “small-town character?” If you do then why ever consider short term rentals (STRs) in Manhattan Beach.
Previous short-term rental experience confirms a negative impact to our community.
It’s an intrusion of true community life and values. It benefits a small percentage and impacts a greater percentage negatively.
We are not currently enforcing conditional use permits today (I invite you to join me on any given day in the downtown for you to see first-hand the effects of the failure of voting policies and the failure of enforcement). How will we ever know that we are effectively enforcing and monitoring the proposed permitting process on short term rentals?
The negative impacts greatly outweigh the city revenue opportunity
It opens doors for investors to circumvent the process to purchase multiple homes with the sole purpose of weekend rentals.
It creates a potential for “hotel strips” to open up shop in the middle of residential neighborhoods.
Such areas are not zoned or intended for such “commercial” enterprise.
In conclusion, the effect of short-term rentals is decidedly negative, and is substantial. Is this what we want for our Manhattan Beach community? To allow a short-sighted policy of short-term rentals to substantially and negatively impact and devastate the fabric of our Manhattan Beach community and small-town character. Please vote a resounding No on short-term rentals!
—James Quilliam, Manhattan Beach
STRs benefit the wealthy
Manhattan Beach is about to change for the worse. On Tuesday, Jan. 29, City Council will vote to open every neighborhood to short-term rentals. Only Mayor Steve Napolitano has dissented.
Under the current total ban Manhattan Beach has hundreds of illegal short-term rentals. When the ban lifts we will have many many more. A New York city report found that 45 percent of all 2017 New York Airbnb reservations were illegal and two-thirds of rents come from illegal listings. Hosts are often not widows and orphans but corporations. Large commercial ventures profit the most. In NYC the top 10% of hosts earned a staggering 48% of all revenue, while the bottom 80% earned just 32%. I have heard that multi-bedroom “homes” are already being built in MB to accommodate tourists and rake in cash. Airbnb, like all the big players in this game, spends sizable sums lobbying (like their alleged campaign donation to a current city councilmember) and suing cities to ensure their cash flow is not slowed. Once you open the door it is hard to shut it. (Anaheim tried and couldn’t.)
Proponents claim vetting will cure all problems, but no. You can’t refuse to rent to minorities because you believe they would be noisier. Neither can you only rent to quiet retired folks. Many folks come to the beach to party. Vetting is fake news not the solution.
Council should put off this vote until after the March election so the people of MB can have a voice in this extreme change.
—Michelle Murphy, Manhattan Beach
STR not enforced now
The Manhattan Beach City Council’s recent decisions on second-floor dining and short-term rentals, with Mayor Steve Napolitano dissenting, seem to share the same disregard of the significant opposition from residents who want to preserve the broader vision of a small-town, family-friendly community. Instead, council simplistically reduces these issues to that of noise abatement that council assumes they can control, instead of recognizing the more uncontrollable damaging spillovers that result through a city-wide intensification of use and the ultimate erosion of what we value.
Council asserts that their proficiency with regulatory enforcement and orientation only to those directly impacted will solve any problems. History suggests otherwise. During the October second floor dining review, the council directed that regulations be developed through meetings between interested groups. Meetings were never scheduled, and instead of hard regulations we got soft staff-proposed and on-the-fly guidelines. Council asserts their regulations will solve the myriad cataloged problems of short-term rentals, yet were previously unable to efficiently enforce a 100% ban. We have no assurance that enforcement will not wane as future City Halls find reasons to deploy funds differently.
We will never be able to recover our uniqueness once lost. On the other hand, if ever there is a compelling reason for sacrifice in the future for either of these changes, we know we have those in our back pocket. It is hubris to suggest we can sufficiently control all impacts. The best solution for preservation of what we hold dear is not to allow such unnecessary change.
—Gary Osterhout, Manhattan Beach
I am writing to endorse Wayne Powell for Manhattan Beach City Council. He boasts considerable accomplishments during his two prior terms on the Council. He also has an extensive record of exemplary volunteer service and leadership.
I support Wayne because he is an honorable, hard working, sincere man who loves Manhattan Beach and is truly dedicated to serving the community. He is thoughtful, careful and financially prudent. He listens to the concerns of our citizens and will work well with the rest of the Council, as well as with our neighboring cities, so that Manhattan Beach and the South Bay continue to be a great place to visit and a great place to live.
Please vote for Wayne on March 5.
—Irene Guimera, Manhattan Beach
Despite a decline in enrollment of 128 students in Hermosa Beach, many parents of Transitional Kindergarten through third grade feel that Hermosa View School is unacceptably overcrowded. They support the need for the district to build another 510 student campus at North School, even as enrollment is predicted to decrease by another 48 students by September 2020.
The severe overcrowding of View School starting in September 2015, before the Measure S $59M vote, was the result of school board members moving the entire third grade class of approximately 150 students from Valley School to View School severely overcrowding View School in order to increase the support for a new bond vote.
In the past, in order to not overcrowd one particular campus, school board members would temporarily split third grade between Valley and View campuses. As a neighbor of parents whose children attended HBCSD during those years of a split grade between two campuses, I have heard these parents say that it was actually no big deal to have students of the same grade split between two campuses. For some reason, school board members now are opposed to splitting up grades between the campuses to reduce crowding at one campus. In the past parents could choose which campus their third grader would attend. For third graders living closer to Valley School it makes more sense to attend that campus.
School board members could and should better allocate students between our two campuses to reduce overcrowding at View School.
—Jackie Tagliaferro, Hermosa Beach