CURRENT ISSUES & PROJECTS
February 2 6:30 - 8:30 pm Council Candidates Forum @ City Hall
Gelsons’ at Planning Commission Please Attend!
February 8 at 6:30 pm the MB Planning Commission will meet to discuss the planned Gelsons’ project. Most of the concerns of residents and neighbors were ignored by city staff who are now recommending, for example, a “widened shoulder” instead of the 246 foot deceleration lane that CalTrans recommended. Please consider attending and voicing your support for safe and sane development in MB.
February 24 - 9am Council Candidates Forum @ MCHS
Rooftop restaurant dining w/ full alcohol service until 11pm
Conditional use permits (exceptions to code) with only director approvaL
Intensification of commercial spaces including storefronts in alleyways for banks & offices
Two School Bonds going on Nov Ballot: $114 Million and $39 Million (see info in links below)
The plan does not mention any encroachment into Polliwog Park
City is in “Holding Pattern” on Gelson’s Project
by Tess Rikard-Ruiz
Manhattan Beach Residents for Responsible Development
March 14, 2016
Gelson’s Project Update from the City of Manhattan Beach Is no news really good news? Actually, I think it might be for those of us who are standing up for our rights as property owners in Manhattan Beach. Today, I spoke with one of the key engineers responsible for the Gelson’s development and simply asked him for a status update. He was very open and explained in some detail what is going on with the city, CalTrans, and Paragon Development at this time. The following are some key bullet points from our conversation:
• The Paragon plan was resubmitted to Community Development after
suggestions were made for improvements to the initial plan.
• The revised plan was deemed INCOMPLETE by the city, and returned
to the developer with specific instructions to revise the traffic and
• Paragon only submitted a partial Environmental Impact Report and this
did not address all the issues that concern the city.
• There has been no staff report, nor will there be until Paragon resubmits
the revised (3rd plan). This is one of the reasons why the Planning Commission
meeting has been cancelled for the past two months.
• Cal-Trans has not committed to the project yet, and will not until the
revised submittal is given to them. Encroachment permits CANNOT be issued
without Cal-Trans involvement and permissions. If the city opts to require / not
require a de-acceleration lane, Cal-Trans will have input on that decision.
• Paragon’s most recent submittal asked for a Mitigated Negative
Declaration which seeks to have traffic, parking, and environmental issues
declared as “under the threshold and NOT TO A LEVEL OF SIGNIFICANCE.”
• They are also asking that the parking lot is deemed “multiple uses”
(same spaces for banking and Gelson’s businesses).
• The extra restaurant that was proposed for the banking site has been
taken off the table; instead, the entire building will be used for banking only.
• It will be at least 4 more months before any action is taken by the city
in the Gelson’s/Paragon matter.
The City of MB just hired an Economic Vitality Manager who will "lead Manhattan Beach in strategic and innovative approaches to economic development and coordinate and support planned development of the Sepulveda Corridor. This position will also coordinate with the Community Development Department and support planned redevelopment of key focus areas; assist in implanting key ULI initiatives for the downtown area." The above map shows how de-acceleration / acceleration lanes might help support the increased traffic. As a member of Manhattan Beach Residents’ Association, as well as Manhattan Beach Residents for Responsible Development (facebook), I understand the vital importance of insisting that our voices be heard. Recently, MBRRD, hired a lawyer to oversee the progression of the Gelson’s project and advise us of its legal ramifications. Please go to our Facebook page (type in Manhattan Beach Residents for Responsible Development in search), and find out how you can help support our efforts to keep this project within code. Paragon is certainly stepping up their efforts to affect residents’ positive support by hiring a media public relations firm and sending out mailers to residents praising the “positives” of having a Gelson’s market in the neighborhood.
So…. Is no news, good news?
Bringing in during development tons of dirt to
Thursday, March 24th 2016 from
6:00 to 8:00 PM
in the Police/Fire Community Room
Informational Meeting to Discuss Gelson’s Proposed MB Store
On Wednesday October 21, Paragon Commercial and the MB Neighbors (Stop Gelsons Group) had a community presentations in our MB library meeting room. Video below.
A David vs. Goliath Battle is Taking Shape
By Eileen Neill
We have seen a stepped up PR campaign by Paragon Commercial trying to garner support for their Gelson’s Superstore project. They distributed a glossy mailer to all residents and have procured the support of the Chamber of Commerce. It is clear they have the financial means and the intent to garner as much support for their project as they can. What they seem not to be able to address, however, are the neighboring residents’ concerns regarding traffic and parking congestion and noise as well as safety.
Manhattan Beach is increasingly under siege with outsized projects that pose a real threat to our culture as a quiet, laid back beach community. Whether it is the Mall, Polliwog Park, Gelson’s or Metlox, the common thread of these projects is further encroachment upon the many residential neighborhoods that comprise Manhattan Beach. Unfortunately, as we have seen from the letters to the editor in favor of the Gelson’s project, these development proposals are winning the support of residents because there appears to be a perception that bigger and newer is better.
Our group, formerly Manhattan Beach Neighbors, is working
vigorously to oppose this development. One of our goals is to
provide other Manhattan Beach residents with regular information about this project and hope to increase opposition so that together, we can have an impact on whatever commercial project is ultimately developed on the site, which is located on Sepulveda bordered by 6th and 8th Streets on the South and North and Larsson Street on the West. Below is a summary of the key points regarding this project:
1. Under Manhattan Beach city code, the 27,500 sf grocery store should have about 35 more parking spots than are currently provided for in the proposed plan. They are asking for a parking variance of about 30%, which is huge. . . . . . to read more
Declaration of Rights of the Residents Manhattan Beach, California
Inasmuch as the present priorities and practiced mission of both the governance and administrative bodies of the City of Manhattan Beach are in deference to the stated mission (2012) of the City: "The City of Manhattan Beach is dedicated to providing exemplary municipal services, preserving our small beach town character and enhancing the quality of life for our residents, businesses and visitors.”
we, the residents, in light of the present profusion of construction activities and associated
inconveniences within its 3.9 sq. mile area that are inconsistent with its mission, hereby ask affirmation and adoption of the following amendments to building/construction practices.
There be no more than two active construction sites within a one block area
Hours of construction and construction-related activity during the week be restricted to 8:00 am-5:00 pm Monday-Friday and in accord with other worksites, there be no construction-related activities on Saturdays.
Building plans should be reviewed in accord with strict guideline that minimize obstruction of views and flow of ocean breezes to existing homes – those very elements that define Manhatta Beach as a “small beach town.”
City, in accord with established safe subterranean building guidelines, to establish and strictly enforce rules about how deep subterranean excavation can safely be allowed in our sandyearthquake-zone community. These rules may vary from one district to another, based on natura soil/sand characteristics of District.
Builders are responsible for clean-up and for restoring streets and neighboring properties to preconstruction condition or better upon completion of the project.
6. Contractor will repair all damages caused to neighbors' homes due to construction. This will
include cracks to drywall or stucco due to vibration and pounding. It will be the responsibility of the
contractor or representative to document pre-construction condition of neighboring houses and
related structures in a form mutually agreeable to both parties.
7. Noise levels generated throughout the construction process be in compliance with local, state
and federal standards
8, City to inspect, insure and certify that dirt/soil is not added to any part of a site to allow illegal
circumvention of height limitations
9. Contractor must have a designated representative on site to assure that worker’s vehicles are
not parked in the immediate construction area on a regular or daily basis.
10. All of the above rules and existing local, state and federal codes will be vigorously enforced by
Manhattan Beach police and city staff.
11. That City certified architects photos of finished project be posted at the proposed site for at
least 1 month prior to granting of building permit to allow for resident input re compatibility with
neighborhood and community.
City Hall Update
Three-Foot Buffer the Rule
As more people opt to forego their cars for bicycles, a new law will assist motorists and cyclists in safe road sharing. A recently passed California Law requires drivers to maintain a distance of three feet when passing cyclists. Passing at a safe distance has long been instructed by the California Department of Motor Vehicles and three feet was
recommended as a safe distance. Now it is the rule.
It is hoped that the South Bay Bicycle Coalition discussed this during their meetings about ideal locations for bicycle parking.
It has been suggested that there might be some confusion among bicyclists and drivers: how to determine the specific three feet separation; if there is a problem due to traffic or other road conditions which leaves a driver unable to maintain the three feet distance; how to explain violation fines. Currently, there is a base fine of $35.00; if there is a collision and injury to the bicyclists, the fine then is $220.00.
The initial step will be an emphasis on educating drivers on the law. Cyclists must also be held accountable. In due time, they will all feel more comfortable with the Three Feet for Safety Act.
The Turkey Mall Massacre
By Michelle Murphy
On Tuesday December 2 the City Council voted 3 to 2 to allow Deutsche Bank to redo our Village Mall into a much denser, bigger regional attraction for shoppers. Opponents of the planned supersizing of the mall objected not just to the approval but to its method which was characterized as “sneaky” by some. Mayor Wayne Powell and Councilmembers David Lesser and Amy Howorth saw no problem . . . . . . to read more
MANHATTAN BEACH POWER GAINS (GAMES) Sept. 2014
By Alita Rethmeyer, Ed.D.,RD
What a great and hot summer we have had here in Manhattan Beach. For years I have been complaining about the fog in the summer and our cool evenings. But, not in 2014. This summer. I have wished for fog and our traditional ocean breeze to come back. Our 2001 updated home does not have air-conditioning and in the past I have been so smug to our Valley friends that in MB we do not need air-conditioning. Well, I ate my words this summer.
I have often felt that global warming is due to how we condition our air. Be it refrigeration for food or
air condition for comfort. This is how a modern world lives. Feeling good all the time and getting what we want, when we want it. But, I do not want the new power poles and all that goes with them, so I am asking if you do or if you even care.
Starting in mid-September Manhattan Beach is scheduled for a major upgrade in our electrical infrastructure. Did you get the notices from Southern California Edison about the upcoming power changes? Before getting the notice about
the higher voltage power lines and replacement poles, I had noticed and questioned why so many power poles were getting extensions and extra bracing. I have also noticed that most of the City facilities and major avenues are void
of overhead power lines, but my two lane Tree
Section street has become a major electrical and
communications transmission avenue, and now,
it is going to get bigger.
I ask you to take a minute and just look up. Look
around at the power lines in other neighborhoods.
What should a residential power pole look like?
It certainly should not be, as it has become,
an environmentally ugly rental station for any
communications company that wants to tag on
and attach their boxes and cables. I do not have
the answer to this question. But, I do know it is
not fair for residential areas to bear the burden
of these large power/communication lines and
City leaders need to work in the residents’ best
interest at all times. I have asked many question
of Edison , and as of now I have been unable to
contact any person that can give me meaningful
answers. I did ask about the quality of the new
poles and transformers as I know there are
differences. No one knew the answers. Are
there electrical meter for the communication
boxes? Do they pull power from the lines? Why
not underground the new utilities? There seem
to be many consultants and contractors involved,
but how do we get answers from these people
who, as in the past, pass the buck back to Edison
whose representative never seem to be able to
give definitive answers. With a project this big I
believe that our city needs to demonstrate that
they are supporting the interests of the residents
and taking an aggressive stance with Edison
in insisting on an environmentally pleasing and
safe approach to the details. One way to
accomplish this would be to appoint a city
employee as liaison representing the residents,
city and Edison.
You might ask about undergrounding. Do major
transmission lines need to be underground
or rerouted to larger areas and streets, like Valley Drive, Rosecrans, Sepulveda and Manhattan Beach Blvd? Why does City Hall mandate
undergrounding for all its projects thus passing the costs on to its residents, but will not support in any
manner undergrounding in residential areas. We've recently learned of the overwhelming cost of the
decommissioning of the San Onofre Power Plant. Who will pay for that? - Edison's executives and
employees, Edison’s stockholders? No, it will be all of Edison's rate payers. The cost of replacing
existing power poles with underground utilities pales by comparison.
The homeowners who have large power poles with 16kv, AT&T, Verizon/fios, T-Mobile, Time Warner,
and Google Fiber will never be able to undertake the cost of undergrounding. Does anyone really
care? How do all the big power poles and power pole bracing fit into the City’s Mobility Plan? Baby
Carriages and wheel chairs cannot pass safely on some sidewalks.
The final questions is how safe is all this and are there any health issues especially to children? Look
at the caution and high voltage warning signs on some of the poles. Edison will tell you there is no
health issue, but do we really know? Did you see your last Edison bill? Did it tell you to research
electromagnetic fields (EMF’s)? Was this a CYA? You be the judge. We now know how bad transfats
and hydrogenated oils are and everyone once told us they were safe. We ban plastic bags,
smoking and dogs on the beach. Why not consider power poles? Does it always have to be about
the money or can it be “what is right for City Hall is right for the Residents”???
THE GOOD AND THE BAD
by Madonna Newburg
MBRA Senior Liaison
On Wednesdays the Joslyn Community Center is crowded with seniors enjoying all kinds of activities. If you arrive at noon, you will notice the Women’s Discussion Group, the Chess Club, the Ping Pong players, Income Tax Assistants and the Joslyn Senior Club’s potluck folks all finishing up their activities.
By 1 PM seniors are arriving to view the special “Movies to Enlighten.” At the same time, the Mah Jong players are setting up, the Craft Club is getting out their projects and Shuffleboard is underway. Many are enjoying the coffee,
reading newspapers and magazine and talking in small groups in the Oasis.
The part-time staff has been busy coordinating these activities from 8AM until 5PM. Each room has to have the furniture and equipment needed. Arranging and rearranging all of this keeps them working all day. They also response to special requests and needs. Our Older Adult Program would not be successful without them.
However, when we learned the hourly wage these part-time persons are getting, we were appalled, shocked and disappointed. Many of them have not had a pay raise since 2006. Why can’t this city pay at least the $10.10 that has
been ordered by our national government? They certainly deserve more than the lower rate they get now and working without any benefits. How about an immediate increase in the hourly rate for our hard working part-time staff????
An Informational Public Meeting
On Thursday July 28, Manhattan Beach School District has a $326 million Master Facilities Plan which will raise property taxes and change Polliwog Park into a regional sports & entertainment complex. Video of this meeting is above
by Bob Douglass
Yell “property rights” and you’ve hit a nerve close to the heart. Whether it is commercial or residential property, owners’ perceptions will differ. Some will hear it in the context of living in a democracy, while for others it triggers an alarm, warning of rights threatened and entreprenuerial options being “taken away”.
To understand these reactions is to recognize two basic classes of property owners. The first, and by far the largest, consists of homeowners who have settled in, and are committed to Manhattan Beach for the long haul. They buy their homes, pay taxes, send the kids to local schools, get into Little League or church functions, or whatever. They are, in a word, residents. What happens to Manhattan Beach happens to them because this is their Home Town, their community.
For these people, property rights are rarely an issue. Those who decide to add the fence or build the barbecue, do run into the bureaucratic process, but in the overwhelming majority of cases, the outcome is satisfactory. They like being on good terms with their neighbors, so mediation and compromise are frequent in dealing with questions of exercise of “property rights”. This kind of attitude arises from residents’ sense of community and commitment. For them a reasonable appreciation of their property over the long term is anticipated, not the prize of quick profit that motivates speculators.
Speculative investment is elemental to the second group: real estate investors. “Investors” see Manhattan Beach less as neighborhood and more as marketplace. Protection of “property rights” is more related to protection of profit. The archetype of this group is the speculative developer, who actually owns property for only as long as it takes to develop and sell it. Frequently he is syndicated, with partners, even corporate backing. And while they certainly are entitled to free enterprise, residents must realize that in pursuing their goals (profit), conflict with the goals of residents (preservation of neighborhood atmosphere) is likely, even probable.
Call to Action!
by Tess Rikard-Ruiz
Several months ago another Watch Group was formed in Manhattan Beach. The goal of Manhattan Beach Neighbors is to keep up with the status of Paragon Development’s new
project between 6th and 8th Streets on the west side of Sepulveda. Their proposal includes a 27,500 sf Gelson’s Supermarket, mezzanine area of 1,812 sf, two more retail spaces of over 7,000 sf, and a parking area of only 158 spaces. Gelson’s will employ over 50 people at each shift and they have requested parking variances on our neighborhood streets for the overflow (there are 15 spaces currently slotted for employee parking). This number does not include the employees for the remaining retail spaces. The impact to our quiet Hill Section streets and the lovely neighborhood areas east of Sepulveda will be tremendous.
Another huge concern is the traffic problems this development will create on Sepulveda which is a main artery for commuters. There is no turn lane on Sepulveda for this huge development. The effect will not only create a traffic nightmare, but it will also create a major safety issue. There have been five deaths in five years at the intersection of Sepulveda and 6th Street. We are still waiting for the report from the Manhattan Beach Police Department for 8th and Sepulveda. A member of our group, Mark Shoemaker puts it best, “The more I look at the traffic flow, the more I can't see how existing streets can handle limited entries and exits. Northbound Sepulveda having to turn left at 8th. Southbound Sepulveda turning right at . . . . . . to read more
When Legacy is Troubling
By Jan Dennis
The community development’s legacy in the last 20 years is that it eliminated the ambiance of a small town’s atmosphere and charm. Residents have seen a progressive, massive, overtaking of neighborhoods by overdevelopment.
Some of the architecture has been designed to fit into the seaside of landscape; however, most of the architects and contractors have lost the integrity of the lots by adding more soil to the original grade in order to enhance views by putting living space underground, and by over-building the lot.
Over the years the Community Development staff and City Council has tried to lead the community to believe that mansionization has been held in check; but as we can see it has been exactly the opposite. Many times the explanation to a construction question does not hold true in the finished project.
Yes, prices of homes have gone sky high because outrageous construction has been allowed. This
has destroyed the character of neighborhoods, views and tranquility! Below are examples of what is happening. Look at the pictures NOT because you like or dislike the
architecture but what has been done to the aesthetics and integrity of the “laid-back atmosphere” of a proud four-square mile town.
Manhattan Beach needs a Community Development Department which, when putting their stamp of approval for development, will take into consideration the impact on the neighborhoods. Let us hope the coming years provide a more restrained development future.
And a more pride-filled legacy.
Original: 1992 Terrain
Finish: Note level of roof almost reaching palm tree.
Raise lot and get view.
Facts Dispute the Myths…..Mark Neumann
The residents of Manhattan Beach are moving closer to being steamrolled by the Manhattan village Mall Expansion.
What is worse—City Staff, other city official and some of the City Council members are (unwittingly?) helping to make it
happen. The Manhattan Village Mall Expansion is currently on a track for approval despite confusion and smokescreen
of the facts. Several of the Council Members have admitted on record that City Staff has not provided the promised
answers to many of the specific questions that have been asked, yet the council recently voted 3-2 to proceed with
an approval that relieves the developer of its most important obligations and asking for the most modest concessions in return.
There are a lot of misconceptions and confusion surrounding the project, so let’s address some of the myths
surrounding the project:
MYTH: Apple is moving unless the expansion is approved
FACT: FALSE—RREEF (the developers) has made a deal to move Apple into the Pottery Barn space. Apple is not
Myth: Residents believe that more parking is being added
FACT: FALSE---Phase 1 adds large 3-story parking structures. BUT also adds a greater amount of retail space,
resulting in a decrease in parking ratios! Straight from the developer’s statistics: the current ratio of 4.1/1000/
If you look at the area near the Mall, where all the construction is planned, it is worse with parking being reduced from
3.7/1000 to 3.2/1000. This is a 15% reduction in parking!
Plaza El Segundo has 5.42/1000 parking—60-% More Parking.
MYTH: Traffic studies state that traffic on Sepulveda and Rosecrans will not be materially impacted.
FACT: FALSE. Adding 300 parking spaces will add more traffic. Be on the lookout for the tricky way the EIR and
developer state it, though. They like to use technical jargon and say that “no significant impacts” will be added to the
traffic. In this case that basically means that because the adjacent intersections around Rosecrans, Sepulveda, and
Marine are so extremely terrible already---the traffic the Mall adds will just keep it extremely terrible.
MYTH: The existing mall will be refreshed and updated.
FACT: FALSE. No mention or requirement to upgrade the existing mall is included in the approval.
The Council has been hesitant to denote any specific requirements of the developer. No requirements currently exist
to ensure any upgrading of the existing mall or what “UPGRADE” even means.
MYTH: Pacific Theaters decided to close and move out with no input from the developer, RREEF.
Fact: FALSE. The developer made a deal and agreed not to have a movie theater for 15 years, in exchange for
Pacific Theaters terminating their lease early, so the developer could expand the mall. The developer chose to
terminate the low-rent paying Pacific Theater’s lease to allow them the opportunity to build something paying more
rent to replace the theaters.
MYTH: The approval process of the Mall project has been dragged on for the developer to get out of its way and
allow it to improve the Mall for years; the city owes it to the developer to get out of its way and allow it to improve the
Mall however it see fit.
FACT: FALSE. The developer, RREEF, would not get Macy’s approval and that is what caused the delay. The mall
is a developed site that is 100% occupied. This property is not vacant land and therefore the City is not required to
grant the developer additional development rights. In fact, over the past 30 years, the City has already allowed the
mall to expand twice by over 24,000 sq. ft. How many times must the residents endure expansion? Furthermore, the
developer’s request is not self-contained. Their request also requires variances, adds to traffic and congestion and
violates property rights of neighboring property owners.
MYTH: If we don’t allow the developer to expand the mall, it is guaranteed to fail and end up as a boarded up strip mall.
FACT: FALSE. The developer has perpetuated this scare tactic and fear can have a most powerful affect on people.
The truth is a small expansion will still allow the developer to upgrade the existing mall (some have encouraged taking
the roof off of the existing mall).
MYTH: The Mall provides millions in tax revenue to the City each year. By allowing an expansion, the City coffers will
grow even more.
FACT: FALSE. Per the chart presented at the City Council meeting, the City earns $2,700,000 in tax revenue
from the mall. Sources cite anywhere from $400,000 to $700,000 generated from the Fry’s store. (It is important to
note that while Fry’s large tax revenue is a boon to the City, FRY’s low rent is a losing proposition to the developer).
Furthermore, nobody has provided an analysis of the decline in tax revenue, $2 to $3 million dollars, that will most definitely occur during the 31 months’ construction of
MYTH: The developer wants what is best for the
residents and the City.
FACT: FALSE. The City’s motives and the developer’s
motives are NOT 100% aligned. It is important to note
that while Fry’s generates large tax revenue for the City,
FRY’s low rent is a losing proposition for the developer.
The developer only cares about the rent it receives.
WHAT IS GOOD FOR THE CITY MAY NOT BE GOOD
FOR THE DEVELOPER.
Myth: The only people that are against the project are
the curmudgeon antidevelopment types and the nearby
neighborhood groups who always seem to complain,
even though they bought their property knowing they
were next to a mall---what do they expect?
FACT: FALSE. A petition has been signed by about
1,500 residents of Manhattan Beach from all parts of
the City. The overwhelming complaint is that the mall is
expanding too much in such a small amount of space.
Neighboring residents and businesses have suggested
that the mall only be expanded an amount that could be
accommodated by ground, plus one story garages and
have asked that the upgrades to the existing mall be