Let it happen here… Be Wise – Vote High Rise (?)

If you live anywhere around Redondo or Hermosa Beach, you will be rewarded by taking a close look at this very interesting picture. I’ll give you a few minutes…

This is a newspaper advertisement promoting two Hermosa Beach ballot measures in November 1962, which would change zoning in the city to allow high-rise residential buildings to be developed. The specific project being promoted is at 2nd street and Valley Drive, stretching to Herondo – and take a close look at the rendering: the buildings look very, very big indeed!

Obviously Hermosa Beach voters rejected this proposition, despite the many attractive benefits described (“Bring Quality Co-op Apt. Owners”). Presumably Hermosa voters rejected this because they wanted to preserve the small beach-town character they were enjoying, and they didn’t want the crowding, congestion and traffic this would bring, not to mention blocked views of the ocean.

Now imagine what Hermosa Beach would be right now had the voters approved this change in zoning. Had the voters approved this, would Hermosa Beach now look like Miami Beach, downtown Long Beach, or Santa Monica beach – or worse?

This is an extreme case of overdevelopment, but almost more insidious is the death-by-a-thousand-cuts progression of multiple projects – 300 residential units recently approved on the Southbay Galleria site, 650 residential units on the Power Plant site (thankfully defeated), 3300 units in the “Heart of the City” plan (defeated), 180 units promoted by Legado in the Hollywood Riviera (thankfully reduced via public activism), etc. Each high-density residential development compounds traffic, congestion, and strained public services, on top of that caused by the frequent conversion of single-family properties into 2- and 3-on-a-lot developments.  And we may soon have yet another fight ahead to keep high-density residential off of the Power Plant site.

The Galleria development alone is estimated by the developer’s own Environmental Impact Report to boost local traffic by 33% (it’s probably more, given the baseline assumed in the analysis – think 50%). This causes not just longer, more frustrating commutes, but there are two schools within blocks of that development – it’s also a pedestrian safety issue, which is already a problem in our neighborhoods.

As residents, preservation of our quality of life is entirely our own responsibility. The North Redondo City Councilmembers, the Redondo Beach City Attorney and some city staff have continued to promote high-density residential development projects – they are essentially working against the residents, concealing their efforts. They are aware that the residents don’t want more density, so they undermine them as secretly as they can, telling voters what they want to hear, but supporting the developers with their votes, commission appointments, plan approvals, and other efforts. For example, the Redondo Beach City Attorney secretly took a team over to lobby the Lawndale City Council to try to keep them from appealing the Galleria project. This effort was kept secret from the Redondo residents, the City Council, and the Mayor.  Thankfully, the effort failed…for now.

Residential development generates enormous profits for developers.  The developers funnel money to the political campaigns, and who knows where else.  I’ll let you decide the motivations, of some in government, to favor the developers.

Unless we make some changes on the City Council this next election, increased residential density and more traffic will be our reality over time. It’s up to us to preserve our town and quality of life as best as we can.