The Hermosa Beach Neighborhood Association

  Home Page    HB Web Community    Surveys & Forums    HB History 

  City of HB Info    HBNA Photo Gallery    HB Crime Info    HB Weblinks 

Hermosa Beach News for 2007

Hit Counter

Top Stories on This Webpage: Starting March 15, 2007

The South Bay Harley Owners Group, otherwise known as the Hogs,

prepare to turn on to Pier Avenue in Hermosa Beach as part of the

city’s 13th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. (photo by Chris Miller)

The Beach Reporter - March 15, 2007

Hermosa Beach News

Annual St. Patrick's Day parade this weekend

Guinness anyone?

A longstanding tradition returns to Hermosa Beach this weekend - the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade and Festival.

Councilman Michael Keegan invited the community to attend the affair at the City Council's last meeting on March 14.

“Anyone who would like to see the parade (should) drop in,” said Keegan. “It's a great time.”

Bagpipers marching in last year’s St. Patrick’s Day parade. (photo by Chris Miller)



Mayor Sam Edgerton followed up Keegan's comments with additional high praise for the popular parade.

“I think the St. Patrick's Day Parade is going to be great,” said Edgerton. “It's going to be sunny this year.” Edgerton then added that his mother will also be there, coming in from the East Coast to attend the event.

According to the parade's Web site, the affair typically consists of 80 to 120 groups in the procession, including an array of marching bands, bagpipes, local dignitaries, civic organizations and various floats. The event begins at the intersection of Pier Avenue and Valley Drive, moving west along the busy thoroughfare to Hermosa Avenue. The parade then heads south until it reaches the end on Eighth Street.

The St. Patrick's Day Committee, a California nonprofit corporation, organizes the two-day affair every year with corporate sponsorships from the city; businesses such as Patrick Malloy's and Hennessey's Tavern, among others, participate in the event.


In June 2005, the committee reorganized and now comprises members from other Hermosa Beach-based groups such as the Kiwanis Club, the Rotary Club, Leadership Hermosa and the Women's Club of Hermosa Beach, along with the city, the Chamber of Commerce and the Knights of Columbus.

This year's parade begins at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 17. The festival itself continues on through the next day and includes a petting zoo, an international food court, at least 45 vendors, and a stage featuring Irish music and step-dancing. This year marks the 13th year of the parade.

The Beach Reporter - March 15, 2007

 Hermosa Beach - Crime Watch


PETTY THEFT. A resident noticed several checks were posted to his checking account, resulting in approximately $640 in unauthorized charges. The incident occurred between Sept. 29, 2006, and March 3. The victim resides with the owner of a property that has been on the market for the past seven months. He believes his checkbook was taken during an open house, which are held periodically on the weekends.


GRAND THEFT. Someone allegedly removed a mountain bike from a parking complex on 15th Street. A resident parked and locked her bike at approximately 8 p.m. March 11. When she returned at noon the next day, she discovered the bike, worth approximately $1,000, was gone. She did not know the make or model of the bike.


VANDALISM. An owner of a black 2003 Honda Civic noticed her vehicle was damaged after parking it on 14th Street. The incident occurred between 4:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. March 12. According to the report, the front quarter panel was damaged.


TAMPERING WITH VEHICLE. Someone allegedly entered an unlocked vehicle and tampered with its contents. The incident occurred between 4 p.m. March 11 and 8 a.m. March 12. The vehicle, a gray 2004 Chevy truck, was left unlocked in the 1200 block of Ninth Street.


VEHICLE BURGLARY. The victim returned to his car to find the trunk open and several items missing from the passenger compartment. The vehicle was secured and parked in the 1200 block of Ninth Street. The incident allegedly occurred between 1 and 5 a.m. March 12. Several items were taken, including a baton, a knife, a camera, 3 Glock magazines, an XM radio unit, binoculars and several bulletproof vests.


The Beach Reporter – March 8, 2007

Hermosa Beach – Crime Watch

GRAND THEFT/VANDALISM. Someone allegedly removed tools and damaged a truck bed parked in the 2200 block of Hermosa Avenue. The incident allegedly occurred between 2 p.m. Feb. 4 and 8:30 a.m. Feb. 5. The tools, which were unsecured, were worth $700.


VANDALISM. Someone allegedly put a large dent in a truck while it was parked on Pier Avenue in the parking lot at the Hermosa Beach Community Center. The incident reportedly took place between Feb. 25 and Feb. 26.


CREDIT CARD FRAUD. Someone allegedly charged various goods to a resident's credit card between Feb. 14 and Feb. 28 without her express permission. A resident living in the 600 block of Eighth Place recently received a package from New York. The purchase was listed to the resident's American Express business card. Upon learning of the charge, the resident notified her credit card company and filed a police report.


BURGLARY. Someone allegedly removed a mountain bike from a locked garage in the first block of 15th Street. The victim reportedly closed and locked his garage before leaving his home March 1. Upon returning several hours later, he discovered his garage was open and his mountain bike missing. The incident occurred between 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.


THEFT. Someone allegedly cut a lock securing two bicycles together in the 1200 block of The Strand between Feb. 24 and Feb. 25. A brown bicycle with a light brown seat and orange stripes was allegedly taken.


The Beach Reporter – March 8, 2007

Redondo Beach News

Time Warner contractors raise ire of residents

Last week, contractors working for the cable company caused an uproar with some South Redondo Beach residents who said they were not notified that workers would be on their property and in some cases drilling holes in their homes. When Time Warner Cable took over Redondo Beach's local Adelphia Cable franchise, city officials mandated that Time Warner bring all the cable lines into compliance with local, state and federal code. According to Assistant City Manager Maggie Healey, the city had been pressuring Adelphia for this work and was not going to overlook the system's inadequacy any longer.

“The project involves inspecting the wiring that goes to the customer's home and making sure it's grounded,” explained Healey. “It must have a ground wire that connects to the home's electrical box. Adelphia was out of compliance.”

This equates to checking every wire that drops from the main cables to a home, regardless of whether the resident is a customer or not. If wires are outdated, it also may include drilling small holes into the exterior of homes and hanging new wires.

The city set a deadline of June 30 for the work to be completed and also instructed the company to communicate to residents what work was being done throughout the project.

Healey claims she even drafted a letter for the company with a description of the project and her contact information for residents. Unfortunately, it seems the message did not get through to everyone affected by the work. Time Warner spokeswoman Patricia Rockenwagner said the company hopes to fix this problem.

“The first misconception is the project is not expanding but approaching completion,” said Rockenwagner. “So far it's been transparent to customers and we want to get things back that way.”

According to Time Warner, the company sent the letters and put out door hangers to notify residents of the work that would be done and when to expect contractors on their property. Rockenwagner fears that those people surprised by the project dismissed much of this material as junk mail or marketing and threw it away without reading the details.

“The last thing we want is to not finish on time and to negatively affect customers,” she said.


Currently, Time Warner has two groups of subcontractors working in Redondo Beach supervised by its own project engineer. One group began in the south end and one in the north. As work continues, they will converge toward each other and will meet in the middle of the city. They are on track to complete the project by June 1, ahead of the city-mandated deadline.

It seems that the work has gone much smoother in the north end of town than the south. Complaints have poured in from District 1, while District 5 remains content.

“I haven't had a single complaint,” said District 5 Councilman John Parsons. “They even did my home.”

Rochelle Kelley, a District 1 resident, came to the Feb. 27 City Council meeting and delivered a long list of personal complaints and problems her neighbors had reported. Her councilman, Steve Aspel, was limited in his ability to address the problem since it was not officially an agenda item, but did say that his phone had been “ringing off the hook” with calls from irate constituents.

Aspel and Kelley both believed that Time Warner had also been responsible for an electrical blackout on Avenues A and B that coincided with the project. Southern California Edison has yet to confirm what did cause the power outage with either the city or the cable company.

Moving forward, Time Warner plans to increase its communication efforts and continue to distribute letters and door hangers as the project moves through the area. Rockenwagner also encourages residents to call the dedicated project cell phone line for more information, (310) 925-9316.

According to Healey, the city staff will return with an update on the project and the complaints for the City Council to consider during its next meeting March 20.


The Beach Reporter – March 1, 2007

Hermosa Beach News

City seeking input on Aviation improvements

Although a citizen committee was recently formed by Hermosa Beach to come up with ways to improve Pier Avenue, local officials are simultaneously working on a similar project to revamp another main thoroughfare - Aviation Boulevard.

City planners have already conducted two meetings as part of the “Aviation Corridor Study,” one last October and another on Feb. 1. A 20-minute PowerPoint presentation was prepared and presented to members of the public at both meetings. But attendance at the first meeting was sparse and only a dozen people attended the second workshop. Local officials conceded that the major study has not yet received as much publicity or sparked as much interest as the Upper Pier Avenue Committee. Community Development Director Sol Blumenfeld hopes to change all that in the coming weeks and months.

“We did a public flier, notified all the businesses along the corridor and we did a mailed notice prior to that,” said Blumenfeld. “Maybe we'll try to do a combination of that, or maybe we'll do a display ad. We just need to try and get as much public input as we can.”

According to Blumenfeld, the study's main goal is to improve the conditions of the busy street by “trying to look at physical issues along the corridor.” These include, among other things, adding streetscape improvements, and reconsidering land-use issues like rezoning property and changing development standards.


In recent months, the city has already moved forward with at least one major change to the street. In December, town leaders were invited to a ceremony marking the installation of palm trees along the busy street, a beautification project spearheaded by local businessman Roger Bacon. Once installed, the sidewalks will be lined with more than 60 queen palm trees. Following the trees' installation, the street will also receive a new “slurry seal” to be installed by a pavement and asphalt company.

But neither a new slurry seal nor the addition of the palm trees will solve the underlying concern of several of the street's business owners - the velocity and flow of traffic. According to notes taken at the city's second workshop that were compiled into bullet points by a city employee, “the predominant issues raised” by those attending the meeting were the “lack of off-street parking” and “the high rate of vehicle speed along Aviation Boulevard.” One of the bullets read in large, boldface print, “Got to slow traffic down!”

Eddie Talbot, who owns ET Surf, located in the 900 block of Aviation Boulevard, attended the workshop and reiterated the need to slow traffic down along the busy street.

“I think it's a great idea that Hermosa Beach is trying to do something with the street,” said Talbot. “But I believe that the most important thing is to somehow slow down the traffic because it's a very dangerous street.”


Local officials may have been unaware of Talbot's concerns last fall when they proposed several changes to the intersection of Pacific Coast Highway and Aviation Boulevard. (see “Officials consider changes to PCH and Aviation” Oct. 31, 2006). City officials proposed adding another lane of eastbound traffic on Aviation Boulevard, adding another left-turn lane for southbound traffic on PCH and slicing off a portion of the park on the northeast corner of the intersection. However, several residents appeared before the Public Works Commission to vociferously oppose the changes because many viewed them as an attempt to divert southbound traffic onto Aviation Boulevard and Prospect Avenue.


Bacon fired off a two-page letter to the City Council warning them that any idea to alter the park or remove an entrance to his shopping center was “unacceptable,” while another resident warned the commission to “think hard” before moving forward. On the heels of the large backlash facing officials after Pier Avenue was reduced from four to two lanes, the commission was wary of tinkering with any of the city's other streets and declined to pursue any of the changes.

As a result, Blumenfeld is hoping to gather more public input before moving forward with any substantial changes to Aviation Boulevard. For Talbot, that is all well and good, as long as the primary concern is to reduce the speed of traffic along the busy corridor. “Before they do anything else, that should be our No. 1 concern,” he said.


The Beach Reporter – March 1, 2007

Hermosa Beach – Crime Watch

BURGLARY. Someone allegedly burglarized a home in the 1200 block of 11th Place. A resident left for a walk on the morning of Feb. 11. After returning, the resident noticed a side gate was open. The resident thought nothing of it at the time. He later discovered that several items were missing, including a green nylon Mira Costa bag, an HP laptop and an iPod. He believes someone entered the residence through the doggy door and took the property along with the gym bag. The incident allegedly occurred between 9 a.m. Feb. 11 and 7 p.m. Feb. 14.


PETTY THEFT. Someone allegedly stole a Palm Trio from an individual between 10:30 and 11:10 p.m. Feb. 15. After parking his car in a parking lot on 13th Street, a resident placed his cell phone in his pocket. Upon returning to his car later that evening, he discovered his cell phone was missing. He does not know how the phone was taken.


GRAND THEFT. Someone allegedly removed a purse from an establishment in the 1300 block of Hermosa Avenue that had been left on a table by its owner. The victim reported that she left her purse on a table and when she returned it was gone. Several items were in the purse, including a cell phone, driver's license, and various debit and credit cards. The incident allegedly occurred at 3 a.m. Feb. 19.


VANDALISM. Someone allegedly broke two west-facing windows of a newspaper business in the 800 block of Hermosa Avenue. The incident occurred sometime between Feb. 14 and Feb. 15.


Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach Crime Close-Up.  Years 1998 to 2004 Crime Stat Comparison

The Beach Reporter – December 29, 2006

Hermosa Beach News

2006: The Year in Review

Several stories reached the headlines throughout the past year in Hermosa Beach. At City Hall, a new member of the City Council was sworn in and local officials selected a new police chief. One of the city's most popular bars burned down and several of the city's former leaders died. All in all, here are some of the more interesting and urgent stories to take place within the community in 2006.

Special election

Following an announcement in November 2005 by recently elected City Councilman Howard Fishman that he would not take his seat on the City Council due to family obligations, the council decided in January to hold a special election to choose who would fill the fifth seat.

Following a three-month-long campaign that saw four candidates vie for the council's remaining open seat, local resident and attorney Patrick “Kit” Bobko emerged victorious in the June election with 1,287 votes.


Pier Avenue was converted from a four-lane road to a two-lane road this year in an attempt to allow more space for parking and sidewalks. Public outcry prompted officials to return it to four lanes.



Sharkeez fire

Flames engulfed Aloha Sharkeez on Pier Plaza early on the morning of May 9, leaving local residents without the use of one of the city's most popular bars. The bar's owners, Ron and Greg Newman, quickly vowed to rebuild, but soon ran into roadblocks following a determination by local officials that more than 50 percent of the structure was destroyed by the fire. The finding, disputed by the owners, would have required them to bring the newly constructed building up to current code standards. Because the property located at 52 Pier Ave. did not conform to the downtown district's parking requirements, any new structure would technically be required to partake in the city's “in-lieu parking program.” The program was created in the late 1990s with the hope of alleviating the city's parking needs by requiring property owners to submit funds “in-lieu” of providing parking.

But following a 4-1 vote at the council's Nov. 28 meeting to amend the city's zoning code, the negotiations between local officials and the property owner became a moot point. The council's decision “grandfathered” nonconforming commercial properties into the exemption clause, allowing the owners to rebuild without placing them on the hook for the city's parking fees.

The discrepancy ended up stalling the Fire Department's investigation, too, which was halted shortly after the fire due to safety concerns about the structure's stability. To this day the investigation into the fire remains open, with the origin and cause of the fire listed as undetermined.


New police chief

Following the departure of former Police Chief Michael Lavin March 1, city officials began the process of searching for Hermosa Beach's next chief of police.

Local officials appointed David Barr in the meantime as the interim police chief, a position that lasted for approximately five months before a decision was made on Lavin's eventual successor. That decision occurred July 12, when Capt. Greg Savelli of the Modesto Police Department was selected as Hermosa Beach's next chief of police. Savelli was officially sworn in at a change-of-command ceremony held Aug. 5 at City Hall.

In interviews with local newspapers, Savelli indicated that his immediate goals included learning what the organization's history and culture were, and “working with command staff” to evaluate where the department should be.

Centennial celebration

A committee charged with planning and coordinating events to commemorate the city's 100-year anniversary is moving full-steam ahead. Though several events have already taken place, the Centennial Committee's main event is scheduled to take place early next year.

The festivities will kick off on Sunday, Jan. 14, at 2:30 p.m. with a ribbon-cutting ceremony to commemorate the opening of the Historical Society's newly expanded museum. The event, held at the Community Center, will include food and drinks for those in attendance. Later that day, Mayor Sam Edgerton is scheduled to speak to residents at the Beach House Hotel at 5 p.m. and give the annual “State of the City” address.

Smoking ban

The Hermosa Beach City Council agreed to ban smoking on the beach following a vote taken at the council's first meeting in June. The vote was 3-1, with Councilman J.R. Reviczky casting the only vote against the measure.

Pier striping project

Following a decision in January by the Public Works Commission to reduce Pier Avenue from a four- to two-lane road, many residents were taken aback after the changes were eventually implemented in early June.

After the lane reduction, local officials received an onslaught of complaints excoriating the city for making the changes. In addition, public safety vehicles from both the Fire and Police departments were negatively affected by the changes to Pier Avenue. As a result, the council agreed to move the westbound merger of traffic past Bard Street in an effort to address these issues.

Then in September, the city invited the community to attend a public meeting held by the Public Works Commission to receive testimony about the entire striping project. The commission heard from a packed house, most urging the body to return Pier Avenue to a four-lane road. Bowing to public pressure, the commission voted unanimously to do so, save for a stop sign located at Bard Street.

The council subsequently agreed with the commission's recommendation and by a 4-1 vote moved to return the street to its original configuration. Mayor Sam Edgerton was the lone vote against returning the street to its previous state.

But because the council asked for plans before completing the work, the street remained a two-lane road for several weeks after the vote. Local residents began appearing at council meetings voicing opinions both for and against the two-lane configuration. Faced with the issue's re-emergence, the council once again voted 4-1 Nov. 28 to return the street to its original configuration.  The work was eventually completed during the week of Dec. 18.

Man and Woman of the Year

A wide swath of Hermosa Beach's political and business community gathered in Redondo Beach to honor this year's recipients of the Man and Woman of the Year award. The awards were bestowed upon two well-known figures within the Hermosa Beach community - J.R. Reviczky and Jean Cullen. The honorees received the award at the Chamber of Commerce's annual Installation Luncheon, held on Oct. 27 at the Portofino Hotel and Yacht Club.

Hermosa Pavilion

After months of maneuvering through the city's planning bureaucracy, the owner of the multiuse facility known as the Hermosa Pavilion was granted approval by the City Council to move ahead with the Stillwater Contemporary American Bistro.

Over the past year, Pavilion owner Gene Shook spent hours before the Planning Commission and City Council urging local officials to green light the project. Shook's presentation included comments from several people affiliated with the project, including an architect, restaurant designer and chef. After continuing the matter for several months, the City Council finally approved the project by a unanimous vote Dec. 12. A car wash and wine-tasting area were also approved in addition to the restaurant.

Surfer's Walk of Fame

Building upon a recent tradition in the city of Hermosa Beach, 10 new members were inducted into the Surfer's Walk of Fame at a ceremony held July 30.

Mike “Bones” Bright, John Baker and eight other “pioneer members” were inducted at the event held last summer. Hosted by the city, the event is an annual affair that honors the area's most notable surfers and watermen.

A committee comprising individuals associated with the city's surfing community chose the inductees. This year's committee included Roger Bacon, Stephen Canella, Bill Sigler, Mike Purpus and Scott Kerwin.

CRSE v. Hermosa Beach School District

A longstanding dispute between the School Board and a group of citizens opposed to its use of funds was put to rest after the California Supreme Court declined to review a trial court's ruling in favor of the Hermosa Beach School District.

“Obviously, we are very pleased with the outcome, but disheartened by the delays and costs associated with this lawsuit,” said board President Cathy McCurdy.

The dispute arose following the approval of a $13.6 million bond measure in 2002 known as Measure “J.” At issue was the language of the bond measure appearing on the ballot versus the formal resolution adopted by the School Board. According to the Metropolitan News-Enterprise, the formal resolution had “two exhibits attached,” one which “made no mention of the gymnasium” and one that did.

Construction on the gym itself began in January and is expected to be completed in May or June 2007. District officials held a tour of the partially constructed building in late November to provide members of a citizen's bond oversight committee the opportunity to view the progress made on the site.

Measure ‘A'

The Hermosa Beach School District requested the approval of Hermosa Beach voters to raise money through the issuance of more long-term debt. The proposal, dubbed Measure “A,” called for the extension of the terms of a bond issued four years earlier.

The proposal sought to raise an additional $13.1 million for the School District to make up for a shortfall encountered by escalating costs incurred during the construction of the facility at Valley Elementary School, in addition to unforeseen legal fees associated with the CRSE lawsuit.

The measure, which required an affirmative vote of 55 percent, received only 1,620 votes (49.9 percent) in favor of the proposal in the June 6 election. The School Board briefly considered placing another bond measure on the ballot in November and convened a special meeting at City Hall June 28 to receive input from the community. But after further consideration, the board declined to do so, citing the need for more time to pass before asking residents to approve more long-term debt.

Kiwanis clock

Local officials briefly considered constructing a wall along the east edge of the Pier Plaza as a means to mount a clock donated to the city by the Kiwanis Club. But after a mockup of the wall was placed along the plaza, several residents appeared before the City Council to oppose the idea, citing the plaza's openness as one of its primary attributes. The council eventually agreed and scrapped the wall in favor of mounting the clock by itself on the east edge of the plaza. According to Public Works Director Rick Morgan, local officials are planning to install the clock sometime in February.

Teenager struck by car

While crossing Pacific Coast Highway at 16th Street, a 15-year-old resident of Hermosa Beach was fatally struck by a car on the afternoon of March 16.

Ian Wright was riding a Razor scooter across the intersection when he was struck by a vehicle traveling southbound in the No. 3 lane (closest to the curb). Wright was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident.

Though the case was presented to the district attorney's office, prosecutors declined to file charges against the driver, a 25-year-old resident of West Covina.

Following Wright's death, local officials moved swiftly to prevent any further accidents and with the help of Pavilion owner Gene Shook installed a traffic light at the intersection of 16th Street and PCH.

Wright's parents subsequently hired a Beverly Hills law firm in September to pursue legal action against the city and state. A claim was submitted to the city on behalf of Wright's parents that named both Hermosa Beach and Caltrans as respondents in the case.

In Memoriam

David Schumacher

Author, real estate magnate and philanthropist David T. Schumacher died July 26 at the age of 86. Schumacher was born in Bakersfield in 1919. His career focused primarily on real estate, and included positions with the appraisal and valuation firm Marshall and Stevens. He would go on to work with the company for 20 years, holding various titles like appraiser, district manager, and vice president in charge of training and research.

Schumacher amassed a sizable number of properties throughout the South Bay and authored two books about being successful in the real estate field.

In the later part of his life, Schumacher donated $1 million to the city of Hermosa Beach to help fund the reconstruction of the pier, which reopened in November 2005. In return, the city named the entrance to the Pier “Schumacher Plaza,” in honor of his brother, Paul.

Schumacher is survived by his wife, Margaret.

Jack Belasco

Known as “Mr. South Bay,” Jack Belasco died Sept. 11 at the age of 88. A former councilman, teacher and tireless public servant, Belasco is known for being one of the founders of the 1736 Family Crisis Center and for helping to create Hermosa Beach's Sister City program.

Roger Creighton

Activist, longtime Hermosa Beach resident and former councilman Roger Creighton died Aug. 17 at the age of 68. Creighton was born in 1938 and attended Redondo Union High School. He was first elected to the City Council in 1987 and served until 1991. Creighton was known among the community as a fierce champion of maintaining open spaces and spearheaded an initiative in 2004 to rezone the beach as such to protect it from any future development.

A king palm tree was dedicated in his honor earlier this month at Noble Park. Approximately 70 people attended the event to hear stories about the longtime resident.

Bruce Gelb

Youth basketball and soccer coach Bruce L. Gelb died Dec. 15 after a five-month battle with cancer. Gelb was born on Oct. 20, 1951, in Scranton, Pa., and graduated from the University of Pittsburgh. He later attended law school at Temple University and moved to Hermosa Beach in 1978. Soon after, he married his best friend, Winnie. After practicing law for many years, Gelb decided to open a small business and founded All-City Computers, which has offices in Camarillo and Manhattan Beach.

Pete Mangurian

Local resident, property owner, restaurateur and retired doctor Pete Mangurian died Sept. 18 at the age of 79. Mangurian owned several properties located directly to the south of the Hermosa Beach Pier and operated the popular restaurant Scotty's on the Strand for a number of years. Named for his stepson, Mangurian eventually relinquished ownership in the restaurant to another restaurateur.

In addition to real estate and medicine, Mangurian was active in local politics. He ran for a seat on the City Council in 1991 and again in 1993.



The Beach Reporter – December 29, 2006

Manhattan Beach News

2006: The Year in Review

Although the year started off with one of the most massive sewage spills in memory and ended with a fire that destroyed five beloved downtown Manhattan Beach businesses, 2006 also had several bright spots. From the completion of the long-anticipated Police and Fire facility to Mira Costa's symphony and choir heading to New York to perform at the famed Carnegie Hall, there was plenty happening throughout the year. Here are some of the stories that made headlines in Manhattan Beach this past year.

Sewage spill

The year did not start off too well, when on Jan. 15 brown muck rising through manhole covers and seeping onto the sandy shore and into the ocean caused authorities to close local beaches from Palos Verdes to Manhattan Beach where the sewage system malfunction occurred.

Some areas of the beach were closed for more than six weeks.

Fire crews work to quell an early morning blaze that destroyed five downtown businesses. (photo by Chris Miller)



The sewage system failed at a pumping station near 27th Street and The Strand. An estimated 2 million gallons of raw sewage escaped, but only several hundred thousand gallons made it directly into the ocean. Sanitation workers caught most of it in two large basins that were created by sand-moving tractors at 21st Street and the beach where the major spill occurred.

At first the basins were thought to be a good way of containing the sewage, and most of it was removed using pumps; however, the sand where the sewage sat for days proved too difficult to clean and the area had to be closed again after testing showed high levels of bacteria.

Although crews were able to control the sewage from reaching the ocean rather quickly by moving sand and creating large berms, workers were not able to stop the spill until about 1 a.m. the next day, Jan. 16.

After the initial spill, the beaches were opened to the public on Jan. 19 after ocean water tests showed normal bacteria levels. However, a few days later authorities decided to test the sand where the raw sewage had sat for days, discovered high bacteria levels and once again closed several portions of Manhattan Beach. The beach areas were closed for more than six weeks, opening in mid-March, while the contaminated sand area was treated with a chlorine and water solution.

New police chief

Manhattan Beach also started the new year off with a new police chief, Rod Uyeda. His first day on the job was Jan. 9.

Prior to coming to Manhattan Beach, Uyeda spent his entire law enforcement career with the city of Pasadena. However he is familiar with the South Bay, having lived in Rancho Palos Verdes for eight years with his wife, who is a Torrance Police officer, and his two young children.

Uyeda, 50, replaced Ernest Klevesahl Jr., who retired just before Christmas after running the department for six years. Uyeda has a bachelor's degree in criminal science and a master's degree in public administration from Cal State University Los Angeles. He graduated from the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va., and the Police Officer Standards and Training Supervisory Leadership Institute.

School money misused

Former Superintendent Jerry Davis and former School Board member Mary Rogers admitted to the misuse of public school funds.

Davis, who retired as superintendent and moved to Florida citing health problems shortly after voters failed to approve a bond measure, pleaded guilty in March for misappropriating funds for personal expenses. He was sentenced to three years probation, and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine and more than $6,000 in restitution.

Davis spent public money on various personal expenses such as a plane ticket for his wife, hotel rooms and designer glasses. Davis was also barred from holding further public employment.

In a separate case, former Manhattan Beach School Board member Mary Rogers pleaded guilty to illegally using public money for political purposes.

Rogers, who did not run for re-election in 2005, was given three years probation and ordered to pay $1,027 in restitution, fines and penalties. Rogers' offense was to use money to buy thank-you gifts for people who worked on a campaign for construction bond and parcel tax measures.


The battle between those who want to underground the utilities, the process of burying utility wires underground and removing the poles in their neighborhoods via individual tax assessments, and those who do not want to, rages on.

From demonstrations outside of City Hall to lawsuits, the controversial infrastructure project that is pitting neighbor against neighbor continues to be a source of contention.

Since 1999, 15 Utility Underground Assessment Districts have been proposed. Five of the districts - 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6 - have been approved by both the City Council and voters within the districts. The other districts are in various stages, from dissolution to moving forward with the engineering process needed to garner enough information to create a ballot for people within a district to vote.

Thus far, the assessments have ranged from $8,100 to $44,900, depending on property specifics. There have been parcels with higher assessments than $44,900, but the proposed districts did not garner enough support from voters or the City Council to be approved.

Carnegie Hall

Mira Costa High School's choir and orchestra headed to New York's Carnegie Hall to perform in April with much local fanfare.

Mira Costa was one of about 15 California school groups heading to the famous concert hall to perform during the year, including a group from El Segundo High School and Dorsey High School in South Los Angeles. Talented schools from every state are selected to perform at the famous concert hall by the Mid-America Productions company, which works with Carnegie Hall to produce the shows.

Libia Cabrera

The 2005 murder of housekeeper Libia Cabrera in a Manhattan Beach residence remains unsolved, despite authorities arresting a man in connection with the case earlier this year.

On April 11, 2005, Cabrera's body had been bound and gagged and then set on fire inside the second-story unit of a residence in the 100 block of 28th Street where she had been working. Her body was found after firefighters doused the blaze. The home's occupant was at work.

Authorities arrested Herbert Orlando Gonzales and charged him with murder, residential burglary and residential robbery in January in connection with Cabrera's death.

But on July 20, Torrance Superior Court Judge Cary H. Nishimoto dismissed the case against Gonzales when prosecutors decided not to move forward after the judge dismissed the evidence collected by the detectives during the interrogation of the suspect.

The Manhattan Beach City Council has offered a $50,000 cash reward for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the murder of Cabrera.

Couple brutally beaten

Four people brutally beat a Manhattan Beach couple in a home invasion-style robbery March 2.

The victims, Kevin Scannell of Manhattan Beach and Sheila Becker of Redondo Beach, met two women while at a bar in Hermosa Beach and invited them to Scannell's Valley Drive home late that night. Sometime after the group arrived at Scannell's home, two males wearing some type of face covering, who knew the women from the bar, arrived at the home.

The four suspects beat the victims with a golf club and other blunt force objects, inflicting numerous cuts and contusions. The suspects then stole multiple items such as personal electronics, a computer and cash, reported authorities.

Earlier that night, bar patrons had taken pictures of the suspect women, and authorities were able to identify and arrest them. However, the two male suspects remain unidentified.

7-11 committee

A committee, made up of School Board appointees, was formed to study and deliberate the future of the School District's property, possibly recommending some of it to sell and raise funds for the cash-strapped district.

The committee has been meeting since April and has also solicited input from the public at several meetings.

The committee was the brainchild of former Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Steve McMahon who retired in October to take a position with a school district in Orange County.

The properties the committee has defined as “surplus,” which means “is not or will not be needed by the School District for classroom buildings,” according to the district, are: portions of the former MBI site, portions of the Ladera school site, the School District's maintenance and operations yard, the Botanical Gardens, the School District office building's west parking lot and a lot on Second Street adjacent to Pennekamp Elementary School.

The district, which has approximately $17 million in debt, is still recovering from a time when it overspent. From about 1999 to 2003, district officials dipped into the reserve funds to balance the budget, spending an average of $3 million more than incoming revenue, eventually totaling about $10 million rather than make cuts. Along with spending too much, the district had also accumulated approximately $17 million in debt to modernize schools and build new district offices after construction cost overruns and mismanagement made the projects too costly to be covered by two voter-passed bonds that were intended to pay for the construction projects. The district, which spends about $1 million a year servicing the debt, has whittled the loan amounts down to about $13 million.

The committee is expected to make its recommendation to the School Board in the new year.

Superintendent resigns

Manhattan Beach School District Superintendent Gwen Gross resigned in August and took a job heading up a school district in Orange County.

Gross, who was the district's top administrator for three years and who lives in Long Beach, said that she was not looking for a new opportunity and was quite content in Manhattan Beach when a head-hunting firm contacted her.

Gross, whose husband recently retired as the superintendent of Irvine's neighboring school district, Saddleback Union, also spent five years as a school principal in Laguna Beach, and said that she and her husband have a lot of friends and colleagues in the Orange County area.

Gross left just prior to the new school year and at a time that the district and teachers union were at an impasse over salary negotiations.

Although the School Board has just recently hired a head-hunting firm to find a permanent replacement for Gross, board members almost immediately appointed well-known local educator and Manhattan Beach resident Beverly Rohrer as the district's interim superintendent.

School teacher union contract

After often combative negotiations and a stalemate, the Manhattan Beach teacher's union and district officials finally reached a contract agreement in September shortly after Superintendent Gwen Gross left the district to take the helm of a district in Orange County.

In the three-year agreement, teachers receive a 3-percent increase for part of the 2005-06 school year, retroactive from Feb. 1 and have the opportunity to renegotiate salary increases for both the 2006-07 and 2007-08 school years. Negotiations have already reopened for this school year. One of the main points of contention before an agreement was reached was the length of the contract, with district officials wanting a two-year contract, offering teachers a 3-percent raise for the 2005-06 school year and a 1-percent raise for the 2006-07 school year. The teacher's union wanted to agree to the salary increase for 2005-06 and renegotiate for 2006-07, hoping that the budget would allow for more than a 1-percent raise.

Bill Eisen

School Board member Bill Eisen's long and entangled legal history, including more than eight bankruptcies and filing false claims, came to light several months after his November 2005 election to the office and he was asked to resign by a group of parents in a letter that was publicly read at a School Board meeting at the beginning of this school year.

Since his past has come to light, Eisen, who before being elected was known for constantly questioning the actions of elected officials, has said little about his personal situation.

Eisen's legal battles are complicated; several involve his Crest Avenue duplex and date back to the mid-1980s. Eisen has been accused of manufacturing fake documents, such as a foreclosure against his Manhattan Beach home, as well as falsifying signatures, including that of an attorney.

According to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court documents available on the court's Web site, Eisen, who represents himself mostly, has been involved in at least eight lawsuits and countless legal maneuverings to delay proceedings.

Parque Culiacan

For the third time in the little park's history, the sloped hillside south of Highland Avenue between 26th and 27th streets has undergone a name change. Most recently, the City Council voted to change the name from Parque Culiacan to Bruce's Beach after an African American beach resort that the city shut down in the 1920s.

The name change came about in an effort to make amends and recognize a not-so-pleasant part of Manhattan Beach's history. Before the park was called Parque Culiacan after the city's first Sister City, it was given the descriptive name of Bayview Terrace.

The controversial name change had been brewing for about three years when the City Council finally moved forward and voted for the change in July.

In 2003, the Leadership Manhattan Beach class proposed changing the name to something more meaningful and erecting a plaque that explained the park's history as its class project. At that time, the City Council chose not to change the name; however, an historical plaque was erected and donated by the class.

In 1912, African Americans Charles and Willa Bruce purchased shoreline property and started a business first known as Bruce's Lodge and then later as Bruce's Beach. The resort was similar to a beach house, with an overnight lodge, café and a room for dancing along with other amenities specifically for African Americans who were not allowed on other parts of the beach. When the city was incorporated, founder and developer George Peck “broke with customs of the day and set aside two blocks of land fronting the Pacific Ocean for African Americans to have the opportunity to purchase it,” according to a written history.

Although the city began eminent domain proceedings in 1924, the African Americans living there had been harassed for several years prior to that in an effort to push them out of town. After the inhabitants left, the area was left untouched and basically a sand dune until the 1960s when the city built a park. It was officially named Bayview Terrace Park through a community contest in 1962.

Facilities Strategic Plan

The City Council hired an urban planning and architecture firm, MDA Johnson Favaro, to create a Community Facility Strategic Plan in June for an amount of $385,000, plus an additional “not-to-exceed” $85,000 for reimbursable expenses.

The consultants agreed to solicit community input and create a strategic plan or road map that will guide the city as it embarks on future infrastructure projects. The strategic plan is meant to prioritize projects, such a new swimming pool, library or community center, and create a cohesive plan for every community facility throughout town.

The City Council also created a steering committee made up of about 20 residents, which meets once a month with the consultants to give feedback and provide direction.

First farmer's market

Fresh seafood, monster blueberries, buckets of flowers, organic olive oils and crispy baguettes were just some of the treasures found at Manhattan Beach's first farmer's market.

Organized by the Downtown Manhattan Beach Business Association, the much-anticipated market had its grand opening in July. The market is a mix of local vendors, such as Manhattan Beach's Becker's Bakery and not-so-local vendors, such as the seafood company based in Irvine selling everything from live mussels to smoked salmon. The state-certified market features “many small family farms with reputations for high quality, high values, specialty crops and foods,” according to a farmer's market press release at the time of the market's grand opening. Along with produce stands, there is also prepared foods such as tamales, Brazilian barbeque, salsa, honey and pupusas.

The market is held every Tuesday from noon to 4 p.m. on 13th Street between Morningside Drive and Valley/Ardmore.

Strand reconstruction

The $4.5 million Strand reconstruction project is almost finished, the concrete is poured and the entire length of the walkway is open to the public. Only the final details remain.

Manhattan Beach's two-mile portion of The Strand was originally built prior to 1920 and underwent partial renovations in the 1970s. The current Strand renovation project is the first time the walkway has been completely repoured. In addition to a new concrete walkway, 136 light posts have been replaced with new electrical wiring and conduit. There are also 46 new alcoves for benches and trashcans that have been created to allow for better Strand sweeping and maintenance. The project also includes the addition of 12 new water quality catch basins.

The city also plans to renovate many of the stairways leading from The Strand to the beach bike path and has hired a consultant to determine what needs to be done to make sure the stairs comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Police and Fire Facility

Almost a year to the day after its original scheduled completion date, Manhattan Beach's new police and fire facility opened to the public in July.

The approximately $40 million project included a town center and parking connecting the 60,000-square-foot safety facility to City Hall and the library with a walkway leading to the Metlox shopping area.

The project was originally scheduled to be finished in July 2005. Everything from inclement weather and wrong utility maps to two small construction fires and disputes with project contractors led to the long delay.

A 1994 public safety needs assessment was conducted by the city and it determined that the main firehouse and police building needed to be replaced. At that time, a bond measure to finance the structures was put on the ballot, but rejected by voters. So the city used $20 million it had saved and put off other public works projects in order to finance the project.

Along with a dog kennel for stray dogs, workout room for city employees and a fire training tower, the facility offers employees more room. Several conference rooms and a new firefighters kitchen with patio and common room should make the move from portable trailers for the police and firefighters to the new facility an easy adjustment.

Downtown fire

Approximately 70 firefighters battled a five-alarm blaze that ultimately destroyed five popular downtown Manhattan Beach businesses in the 1000 block of Manhattan Avenue Nov. 28.

At about 2:30 a.m., the Manhattan Beach Fire Department was called to the scene. It took approximately four hours to quell the flames, with firefighters from neighboring cities, including Los Angeles and even an engine company from Long Beach working on the blaze. Local firefighters worked into the afternoon to douse lingering hotspots.

The blaze started in El Sombrero, a Mexican restaurant, when an electrical short caused by a refrigerator mistakenly left sitting on top of a power cord ignited.

No one was inside the building at the time of the fire; however, one Hermosa Beach firefighter's hand was severely injured and required surgery and two other Hermosa Beach firefighters suffered minor injuries.

The building, which occupied the entire block, was originally a grocery store; however it was converted long ago into five storefronts. The businesses shared a common attic space, making it easy for the fire to spread throughout the entire stucco building. Due to its age, the building did not have a sprinkler system, authorities reported.

The five popular businesses - Old Venice restaurant; El Sombrero; Riley Arts, a framing shop and art gallery; Manhattan One Hour Foto; and Mona, a clothing boutique - were known to many and are considered a total loss.

Community responds

Residents and the business community began gathering across the street in the predawn hours, watching the flames and firefighters in disbelief. The crowd that slowly gained in strength as the day wore on instantly began to show support, not just through tears and hugs at the scene but through their pocketbooks.

The 10th Street Fire Fund to help the employees of the family-owned businesses was started by the Downtown Business and Professional Association and more than $40,000 has been raised. One installment has already been given.

About a week prior to the downtown fire another fire broke out in a four-unit strip mall on Aviation Boulevard; however, the building is not considered a total loss and several of the businesses kept operating using portable storage pods in the parking lot in front of the building.

It took firefighters approximately 15 minutes to extinguish the Aviation blaze and no one was injured.

The Manhattan Beach Chamber of Commerce set up a fund for donations to help the victims of the Aviation fire.


The Beach Reporter – December 29, 2006

Redondo Beach News

2006: The Year in Review

As 2006 draws to a close, here are some of the events that shaped the year in Redondo Beach.

Local legend

In many ways, the greatest change to the city of Redondo Beach in 2006 was the loss of a local legend from the surfing and business community. Bill Meistrell, who had been battling Parkinson's disease, died in July at the age of 77, leaving behind a legacy in the South Bay that included induction into the surfing and diving halls of fame.

Partnered with his twin brother, Meistrell gave the gift of warmth to surfers, paddlers, scuba divers and water sport enthusiasts around the world by designing and innovating wetsuits under their Body Glove International brand for more than 40 years. The company, run out of their Dive N' Surf location on Herondo Street, made Redondo Beach one of the epicenters of West Coast surfing. Meistrell's passion for the ocean and the community similarly drawn to it led to a fitting memorial off the Redondo Beach shore.

Officer Kristina Ripatti was shot and paralyzed following the pursuit of an armed robber last June, but people from all over the community, along with ABC’s ‘Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’ came together to renovate her family’s home.



His surviving brother and business partner, Bob Meistrell, led the ceremony to commit Bill's ashes to the deep. Hundreds of friends and admirers, many surfing legends themselves, paddled out from Redondo Beach and met boaters off the shore early in the morning of Oct. 2 for a touching ceremony that included joyful remembrances, thousands of flowers and a 21-gun salute.

Amgen Tour

On Feb. 26, Redondo Beach hosted the final leg of the first Amgen Tour of California. The organizers of the bicycle race designed the course to mirror the Tour de France, professional cycling's most prestigious crown, and this year the two events shared the same champion. Though Olaf Pollack of Germany won the final stage of the race, Floyd Landis won the overall title of the tour that finished before thousands of enthusiastic fans along Harbor Drive.

The eight-day bicycle race began in San Francisco; wove its way through Monterey, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara; then terminated in a 10-lap loop of Redondo Beach. Professional cycling teams participating in the race included the world's No. 1-ranked Team CSC, and the Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team of retired seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong.

Councilman Steve Diels, a cycling enthusiast himself, originally contacted race presenter AEG about featuring the city at some point during the race.

“I did not think Redondo Beach was going to host an entire stage,” said Diels. “It's bigger and better than I even imagined - and I have a pretty big imagination.”

Though all parties involved saw the race as a huge success, some felt slighted in July, when Amgen announced that the 2007 edition of the race would not return to Redondo Beach.

Councilman Steve Aspel was not pleased with the news.

“If you read about what they said before, you'd think Redondo Beach was the next messiah,” said Aspel. “Now we are being tossed out with the garbage.”

Maintenance fee denied

A property tax increase to cover street landscaping and lighting costs proposed to homeowners in Redondo Beach faced criticism from all sides. Public officials, residents and community associations all questioned the process undertaken to bring the measure to a vote.

The Supplemental Street Landscaping and Lighting Assessment District lost in the end with 57 percent of property owners who responded to the ballot answering “No” to the request for an additional $680,000 per year.

The public debate over the issue also included a disagreement about Proposition 218. The competing perspectives came to a climax the final night of the vote, Nov. 7, at the City Council's public hearing on the matter.

New superintendent

The Redondo Beach School Board unanimously voted to make Steven Keller the new superintendent of the Redondo Beach Unified School District in May. The search for a new leader for the School District began after the controversial departure of Carol Leighty in December of 2005.

“I am humbled by the confidence the board has shown in me,” Keller said at his first board meeting in June.

Keller, 42, is a South Bay native who for the past five years has worked as the assistant superintendent of instruction for the Laguna Beach Unified School District. He entered the new job on a wave of unrest among School Board members after Leighty was forced to resign in a 3-2 vote in December of 2005.

Arlene Staich and Jane Diehls, the minority bloc in that decision, went as far as to support an unsuccessful recall petition against School Board President Carl Clark.

Despite the past controversy, Keller approached the district's colorful past with a savvy understanding of local politics.

“Every community believes that their district has more politics and problems than the next one,” said Keller. “I came from one of the most progressive, high-paying and respected districts in the United States; and we had problems and some of the same issues.”

Turmoil at Club Moxie

The tumultuous existence of Club Moxie on the Redondo Beach Pier came to a close this year after repeated violent confrontations between patrons requiring elaborate police responses as well as sanctions from the City Council. In September, the council revoked the entertainment permit of the popular nightclub by a unanimous vote after labeling the business a public nuisance.

Club owner Shadoe Gray said that revoking its entertainment permit effectively shut her down since they would no longer be able to host DJs or any other live entertainment at the club.

In May, things seemed to be improving when the City Council voted to cut back the weekday entertainment hours of the popular pier nightclub and required it to station five additional security guards in the parking lot Friday and Saturday nights. That decision came after residents in the neighboring condominiums complained that hundreds of exiting patrons incessantly honk their horns, play loud music and shout at each other. Residents said they could not sleep and police say the often-volatile situation forces them to send in extra officers from other parts of the city.

The council reviewed the club at its July 11 meeting and found that there had been no complaints since it ordered the changes. Despite the positive results, the council proceeded cautiously extending the permit but requiring another review in 45 days to consider reinstating a long-term entertainment permit. At the time, Gray thought the second review was unnecessary calling it “overkill.”

“They put conditions on us and we rose to them, but they still want to stay on top of us,” said Gray.

However, the peace only lasted a few more days. On July 15, every police officer in the city responded to a fight near the entrance of the club where two women exchanged punches encircled by a massive cheering crowd. Then as the club approached its second review, another large disturbance occurred in the early morning of Aug. 27. During this melee, patrons assaulted security guards and police officers. About 30 officers responded to the area and arrested six people.

Two days later, Police Chief Joe Leonardi suspended the club's entertainment permit because the department did not have enough resources to handle potential problems there during the Labor Day weekend. Leonardi also recommended that the council revoke the permit at that point.

“The repeated, although inconsistent, acts of violence by customers of Moxie Nightclub continue to interfere unreasonably with the common right of the general public to enjoy the health, safety, peace and comfort of the community,” Leonardi wrote.

At the ensuing City Council meeting two weeks later, the city did just that and closed the books on Club Moxie.

Recently, the City Council did approve the lease for a new Harvelle's jazz club in the same space that once housed Club Moxie. The city will consider the terms of the new tenant's entertainment permit early in 2007.

Morrell House

The 100-year-old Redondo Beach home nearly became the new office for the Chamber of Commerce this past spring, until Mayor Michael Gin exercised his veto of a City Council vote for the first time.

For the last year, the home has lived in a state of flux, completely restored by volunteers but without a full-time tenant or a view to the next stage of its life.

After a historic vetting of competing options, the City Council embraced a clear vision of the home's future as a living museum run by the Redondo Beach Historical Society and available for some use by residents at its last meeting of the year.

The city and Historical Society will work out the specifics of how the home will be run early next year.

Port calls

Two very different and equally stunning ships moored themselves in Redondo Beach this year. In March, the U.S.S. Bunker Hill parked at the marina March 30 to provide the crew with a chance to visit Los Angeles, play baseball and mingle with locals. Residents met the crew during a Saturday picnic at the Seaside Lagoon for a barbecue and live entertainment, while JROTC cadets from area schools toured the war vessel that had just returned from the Middle East. According to Capt. Charles Gaouette, the cruiser fired the first missile on Baghdad as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Known as the “Sword of the Fleet,” the Bunker Hill, manned by a crew of 400, was an impressive sight and a welcome guest to the city's waterfront. After its stay in Redondo Beach, the ship then returned to the Persian Gulf as part of an expeditionary strike group.

A ship that could have been mistaken for the original Bunker Hill, which fought in the Civil War, came to King Harbor over the summer as well. The Black Pearl, a tall-ship featured in the movie “Pirates of the Caribbean” filmed portions of the third installment of the movie franchise in the harbor. Johnny Depp, one of the stars of the movie, spent time with residents between takes signing autographs and was also seen wetting his whistle at a few choice marina locations.

Seaside Lagoon

The Seaside Lagoon continues to fail water quality tests, renewing questions about the future of the popular recreation spot. The city has hired a design firm to look into a major redesign for the site.

The lagoon uses saltwater that it periodically spits into the ocean. A state board monitors this discharge and sets limits for acceptable amounts of bacteria, chlorine, grease and other contents in the water. The lagoon exceeded the limits for bacteria and suspended solids four times in 2006. It has struggled with similar problems for years. Although the city reports that the lagoon passes tests 95 percent of the time, and the failures pose no threat to human health, the city could be saddled with more than $100,000 in fines for violations since 2001, according to a report.

The prospect does not bode well for the lagoon, which operates three months out of the year with a $350,000 subsidy, according to Assistant City Manager David Biggs. Other options have been suggested including partnering with groups such as the Beach Cities Health District, the Redondo Beach School District or Mar Ventures - the private leasehold at the marina - to build a new community aquatics center at another location. It is doubtful that Seaside Lagoon will reopen as is for another season.

Small boats protected

The California Coastal Commission blocked attempts by the Portofino Hotel to eliminate 53 smaller and medium-sized slips in order to build larger slips for boats of 50 feet or more. The commission ruled that the hotel must maintain all 66 slips for boats 30 feet or less when as it completes renovations on its area of the marina. The boaters who were forced to leave protested the change, but both the Harbor Commission and the City Council approved the plan. The Coastal Commission had the final say as to whether the hotel could proceed. Its decision to deny the reduction in slips came as a surprise to both advocates and opponents of the change.

A staff report states that the commission has been concerned in the past regarding the trend in marinas toward eliminating small slips. The reduced number of small slips and the higher price of longer ones can push out small boaters, according to the report. Although its staff recommended approving the changes at the Portofino Marina because their impact would be “short-term and insignificant,” the Coastal Commission chose not to.

The reduction of slips would bring the overall percentage of slips less than 30 feet in King Harbor down from 48 percent to 46 percent.

Although the change may have seemed miniscule, the boaters who were forced to leave were affected.

Extreme generosity

ABC's “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” special two-hour episode featuring the story of how Redondo Beach and people from all over Los Angeles County came together to renovate the home of injured Los Angeles Police Officer Kristina Ripatti, aired Dec. 10. Ripatti is confined to a wheelchair after being shot in the pursuit of an armed robber last June. Several other fund-raisers were held to assist Ripatti and her family. The mayor and City Council also awarded her the keys to the city not only for her sacrifice in the line of duty, but for inspiring the community of Redondo Beach to show its full potential for caring for each other.


Despite problems at nearby Club Moxie, the Redondo Beach City Council approved an entertainment permit for a new restaurant and bar opening at the pier in March. The vote was split 3-2 mostly due to public concerns of more noise and additional safety issues.

Kilkenny's occupies a second-story space on Fisherman's Wharf, and offers live music and karaoke. Residents of the nearby Village apartments protested the decision but now have embraced the pub as their own.

Kilkenny's Irish Pub opened its doors July 4 and at the time filled the last empty space at the Redondo Beach pier. This was the first time since major storm damage 14 years ago drove many businesses off the pier that the area returned to full occupancy.

New police chief

A would-be priest, literary scholar and aircraft mechanic took over as chief of the Redondo Beach Police Department this year.

Joe Leonardi, 51, worked at the department for the last 24 years and replaced Chief Robert Luman who retired in March.

North Branch Library

Fund-raising to build a new North Branch Library continued throughout the year. According to Library Director Jean Scully, the Redondo Beach Library Foundation has raised $620,000 to date from the community for the project. The goal of $2.5 million on behalf of the community will augment city funds and grants for the building. For about three years now, the foundation has gathered money to replace the existing library at Artesia Boulevard and Green Lane. The library was built in 1949, was only updated once in 1960 and has since continued to deteriorate. Many feel the library is no longer large enough to service the growing number of residents with children in the area. Initial plans for the new facility, drawn up to pursue grants for the project, estimates that the cost will be around $4.2 million total, but that number is expected to go up.

Aviation Field

It looks like grass, yet somehow is not.

The rundown soccer field at Aviation Park was replaced this summer with a synthetic one good for year-round use.

The City Council approved a deal with South Bay Sports in which the company would install and maintain the $650,000 field in exchange for reserved hours of use. The company, which runs soccer and other sports leagues, had to apply for use permits each season up until now. The new field opened Nov. 13.

School bond

In a controversial move, the School Board approved taking money out of the Aviation Fund to pay for the completion of its districtwide modernization efforts. The $6.4 million fund, which the district acquired from the sale of Aviation High School, was to be spent only on capital projects. Vince Madsen, district facilities director, gave a report to the board at its June 27 meeting, on the need to gain access to more money for the project but failed to convince all members.

“I'm a little (ticked) off that it was 3-2,” Madsen said. “I hate 3-2 votes.”

In 2000, residents approved a $56 million school bond to fund the modernization project. With the help of the additional Aviation money and more than $30 million in state matching funds, every classroom in the district is slated to be upgraded by the end of 2007. School officials blame skyrocketing construction costs, which have doubled since passing the bond, for the shortfall preventing all the original plans from being completed and the need for more funding. In December, the School Board voted down a proposal to seek another $92 million in funds from residents to begin another wave of School District upgrades. On the list of new projects were new athletic facilities and the completion of various administration facilities originally proposed in the 2000 master plan. Though the board voted down the new measure, it expects staff to return with a more thoroughly vetted bond proposal this spring that could be presented to voters on the November 2007 community college trustee ballot.

Teacher of the year

Parras Middle School language arts teacher Janet Barker was named one of 16 Teachers of the Year by the Los Angeles County Office of Education.

Barker, 50, was honored with the other teachers Sept. 29, at the Universal Sheraton. Honorees were selected from 80,000 applicants after an exhaustive interview process.

“It's a thrill to be considered good at what I'm doing,” said Barker. “It's also a humbling feeling because there are so many teachers who are better than I am.”

Parras Middle School Principal Sallie Tahajian nominated Barker for the honor. Barker has been a teacher for four years. She was previously a news writer, and her experience covering schools, as well as being a parent, attracted her to education.

Last year, state Sen. Debra Bowen named Barker Woman of the Year for her district.

Barker insists that although she has received recognition, she is not unique in Redondo Beach.

“In Redondo, we have 1,000 Teachers of the Year - I'm just one of them,” she said.

Pot dispensaries blocked

After first blocking the operation of a medical marijuana dispensary on July 27, the Redondo Beach City Council upheld an administrative decision in September not to permit the business to operate at 201 Herondo St.

The city originally denied the application because there is no provision in the zoning ordinance for such a business. The dispensary, however, opened in June anyway and an attorney for the owner argued that his client was entitled to operate under state law. The city ordered the business to cease operations and placed a moratorium on any medical marijuana dispensary, officially banning them until the city could study the appropriate regulations and form a policy.

Councilman Don Szerlip said that although he favors the medical use of marijuana, the city simply does not have the regulations in place to allow one yet.

“If you want the privilege of operating in Redondo Beach, then you must exhibit an appropriate respect for the laws,” said Szerlip.



The Beach Reporter - February 3, 2005


Hermosa Beach News


Annual police report cites 2004 crime stats (2/3)


By Whitney Youngs


According to Hermosa Beach's annual statistical report for 2004, major crime in most categories exhibited a downward direction compared to 2003, but just like in 2003, there was a continued upward trend in the category of the number of adults arrested. 


According to the report, of the major crimes reported - murder, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, theft and auto theft - the police documented 714 crimes in 2004 compared to 752 crimes reported in 2003.


"It's always been described to me over the years that our crime rate is somewhat flat and I think this year's report is still somewhat characteristic of that," said Hermosa Beach Police Chief Mike Lavin. "We are up in a few categories, we are down in a few others. There are no real significant changes."


Police reported no murders this year compared to one last year while sex crimes declined from 11 cases in 2003 to seven cases in 2004.

The murder reported in 2003 was that of Hermosa Beach resident Joel Bues, 25, who was killed in his car at the intersection of Pier Avenue and Pacific Coast Highway in March 2003 at approximately 12:45 a.m.


Bues was shot to death while driving his BMW, which he pulled up to a red light at the intersection in the outside left-hand turning lane. Police were never sure if the shooting was a random act of violence or if Bues knew the suspect.


According to the report, robbery rose slightly with 20 cases reported in 2004 compared to 13 in 2003.


Assaults increased by only three cases from 140 in 2003 to 143 in 2004. On the other hand, burglary reports declined by three cases from 143 in 2003 to 140 in 2004.



Theft, which includes grand and petty thefts, and auto theft also declined in 2004. In the area of theft, police reported 388 cases in 2003 compared to 359 in 2004; and in auto thefts, police had reported 80 in 2002 and 56 in 2003, which are both up from 2004's 45 reported cases. DUI reports also decreased from 285 in 2003 to 164 in 2004.


"I not sure exactly why we have seen a drop in DUIs," said Lavin. "We still participate with the South Bay DUI Task Force which deploys every month. In addition to that, we are still out there doing our own thing."


Police continued arresting more people this year with 1,388 adults arrested. The figure continues to grow each year, setting new records in more than a decade. Police arrested 1,315 adults in 2003, which had already constituted the highest number of arrests since 1991.


"I think the large number of arrests is a result of the activity downtown," added Lavin. "It brings us an awful lot of business.


I'm not sure if we are necessarily seeing larger crowds. My impression is that the size is very much the same over the years. What we are seeing is a very transient crowd - a lot of different people who are circulating through just in the different people we arrest. People who are in the area have heard about Hermosa Beach and want to come check it out."


Juvenile arrests in 2004 were reported at 20 compared to 28 in 2003.


Police once again reported no fatal traffic accidents in 2004, 2003 or 2002; and reported 60 injury traffic accidents in 2004 compared to 88 in 2003. In the downtown area, the Police Department has had to staff foot patrols in the downtown area virtually every night of the week, which is an indication that the area has become more active during the week as well as the weekends.


"It remains busy on the weekends, in particular, but even now during the week it's busy, busy enough where we would never staff foot patrols down there at night we are now staffing them about six nights of the week," explained Lavin.


"We almost have to maintain a presence down there to kind of keep things under rein. People get intoxicated and start fighting, and if we weren't down there to stop it, we would see our misdemeanor batteries escalating into felony assaults with deadly weapons.


Someone could even go to the point of killing someone else just because they are in a drunken stupor and they're doing something really stupid. So really one of the real basic missions of the officers down there is to try and stop those disturbances from getting out of hand."


The number of police calls for service decreased this year from 32,241 to 30,215 while the number of disturbance calls rose from 3,025 to 4,201. The number of parking citations also increased from 46,800 to 51,137.

Hermosa Beach Crime Statistics - 1998 to 2004

                                                                                                                      Criminal        Adult       Total Calls     Disturbance

           Burglary    Robbery      Assaults     DUI       Citations        Arrests     For Service    Calls            

1998 --     113            17                77          150           562               608           19,951            3,199

2004 --     140            20              143          164         1,419            1,388           30,215            4,201


Crime Categories That Have Shown an Increase from 1998 thru 2004

                                                                                                Criminal        Adult       Total Calls      Disturbance

             Burglary    Robbery    Assaults      DUI       Citations       Arrests     For Service     Calls               

                Up            Up             Up           Up           Up               Up             Up               Up

              23.9 %   17.6 %       85.7 %     9.3 %    152 %        128 %       51.4 %        31.3 %


Source: The Hermosa Beach Police Department Activity Reports



The Hermosa Beach Neighborhood Association

  Home Page    HB Web Community    Surveys & Forums    HB History 

  City of HB Info    HBNA Photo Gallery    HB Crime Info    HB Weblinks