The Hermosa Beach Neighborhood Association

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Hermosa Beach Downtown & Pier Plaza

News Reports for June and July of 2004

HB Downtown March to Jan. of 2005        HB Downtown Dec. to Aug. of 2004

HB Downtown July to June of 2004        HB Downtown May of 2004

HB Crime 2005   HB Crime 2004    HB Crime 2003    HB Crime 2002    HB Crime 2001

1998-2003 HB Crime Stats    HBPD Community Policing   

1998-2003 HB Crime Stats Compared to Manhattan Beach

HBPD Crime Prevention Info

The Daily Breeze – July 30, 2004

Suspected carjackers arrested after police chase vehicle onto beach in Hermosa

By Larry Altman Daily Breeze

Suspected carjackers raced through Hermosa Beach early Thursday, driving onto The Strand and the sand, where their stolen Mercedes-Benz became stuck.  Police arrested three suspects, including one who ran toward the ocean in a misguided escape plan, while officers in Manhattan Beach captured a suspected accomplice speeding away in a sport utility vehicle taken at gunpoint in Hermosa Beach, Sgt. Paul Wolcott said.

The arrests apparently solved a July 16 carjacking in Beverly Hills, and the SUV robbery around 2 a.m. in a public parking lot near Pier Plaza, Hermosa Beach police said.  The suspected robbers apparently were waiting in the parking lot in the stolen Mercedes-Benz when a disc jockey finished a job at a Pier Plaza nightclub and was loading his equipment into his Chevrolet Tahoe, Wolcott said.

One suspect, identified later as Marcus Ramsey, 23, of Gardena pulled a gun, approached the DJ and threatened to kill him. Ramsey demanded his keys to the sport utility vehicle, police said.  At about that moment, Hermosa Beach police officer Michael Frilot drove by. As he approached, the Mercedes-Benz and the carjacked SUV sped away. Three men were in the Mercedes and one in the Tahoe.  Frilot, alerted to the crime, chased the Mercedes, which made its way to 14th Street and onto The Strand -- Hermosa's beachfront pedestrian walkway. The Mercedes-Benz raced south toward Pier Avenue.

Just after the pier, the car turned onto the beach.  "The Mercedes was immediately bogged down in the loose sand of the beach," Wolcott said.  One passenger, Danuyel Ezikiel Bryant, 23, of Los Angeles jumped out of the car and fled on foot toward the ocean. Frilot chased him and arrested him.  Bryant, however, threw what was believed to be a gun into the water.

Hermosa Beach officer Jonathan Sibbald held the other two suspects in the Mercedes. Police identified them as William Leander Jones, 22, of Pacoima and Tyrone Maurice Ramsey, 24, of Gardena.  Manhattan Beach police, meanwhile, spotted the stolen Chevrolet Tahoe and gave chase. The pursuit went east along Century Boulevard until officers bumped the car from behind, spun it around and surrounded it.

Marcus Ramsey, Tyrone's younger brother, was taken into custody. A handgun was found on the passenger seat.  "The (disc jockey) was transported to the termination of the pursuit, where he identified Marcus Ramsey as the suspect who had threatened his life and carjacked his SUV," Wolcott said.

Beverly Hills police Lt. Mitch McCann said the Mercedes-Benz E320 was taken July 16 from a woman at gunpoint. Some men surrounded her in an alley behind her home, robbed her of money and jewelry and drove away in her car.  The four men were held at the Hermosa Beach jail on suspicion of carjacking, auto theft and evading police. They are scheduled for arraignment Monday.  Lifeguard divers searched the water for the gun, but could not locate it.

The Easy Reader – June 10, 2004

HB City Council mulls more fee increases

Although city officials have refused to put an estimate on the cost of maintaining the downtown, a close look at the city’s financing puts the cost at about $2.6 million. The figure considers that 30 percent of police, fire and road repairs are spent on the downtown scene, which raises an estimated 15 percent of the city’s property, sales, hotel and utility users’ tax.

by David Rosenfeld

The Hermosa Beach City Council took steps Monday toward doubling the fee bars and restaurants pay for patio space on city land while backing off from imposing a sewer use fee.

The council did not conclude discussions but appeared likely to increase encroachment fees from $1 to $2 per square foot and possibly $4 per square foot for establishments that stay open past midnight. Most heavily hit by such a move would be Hennessey’s Tavern with more than 12,000 square feet of patio space on Pier Plaza.

The effort to raise fees on nearly two dozen establishments would pump more than $100,000 -– if fees are doubled -– into the city’s $18.8 million General Fund.

Although city officials have refused to put an estimate on the cost of maintaining the downtown, a close look at the city’s financing puts the cost at about $2.6 million. The figure considers that 30 percent of police, fire and road repairs are spent on the downtown scene, which raises an estimated 15 percent of the city’s property, sales, hotel and utility users’ tax.

The city managed to balance its 2004-05 fiscal year budget – set to be approved later this month -– despite an estimated 18 percent reduction in sales tax revenue due to the likely move of the BMW dealership in September. City Manager Stephen Burrell said the car dealer might decide to keep a scaled down sales lot in its place. City officials discussed plans for a new hotel, which would make up some of the tax loss.

The city also faced a downturn in the amount of money expected from the state, by more than $360,000, as well as a $1 million shortfall in the state’s retirement plan to city employees.

Councilmen and city staff both expressed concern that not enough money was left in the capital improvement fund to pay for much needed street improvements and sewer renovations.

Also left out of the equation are two vacant police officer positions and nine other jobs in various departments.

The council was presented with different ways to find more funding including a sewer use fee, which the group turned down in part because of a recent uproar in Redondo over the same issue and because some councilmen felt the public would assume the Utility Users Tax would cover such costs.

Currently, $700,000 of the $2.4 million to be generated by the UUT is allocated for sewer improvements. The rest goes to the General Fund.

While backing off of the proposed sewer use fee, council members expressed consensus in implementing an ordinance that would require grease receptors under restaurant sinks. The public works department has increasingly been called on to address grease buildup in the city’s sewers, officials said.

In a meeting two weeks ago, the council agreed to raise parks and recreation fees across the board, a decision that put some parents back when they found the price of some of this year’s summer camps nearly doubled.

As for capital improvement projects, city officials offered a list of streets scheduled for resurfacing including Second Street, Pier Avenue, 11th Place and 20th Street, adding that many other streets also need work.

More than half of the $2.1 million Capital Improvement Fund – some $1.2 million -- is earmarked for upcoming pier renovations.

Additional public works expenditures are set to include $160,000 to upgrade sewer line pump stations, $150,000 to the Hermosa Playhouse, $80,000 to remodel the upstairs of the fire station, $80,000 to renovate the public works yard, and other allocations for various park upgrades. All total nearly $6 million.

Finance Director Vicki Copeland said the city’s top four revenue sources represent 65 percent of the General Fund -– $10.9 million -– nearly half of which comes from property taxes. Sales, Utility Users and hotel taxes account for the remaining $5.7 million.

Parking meters and fines are expected to bring in $1.2 million after expenses. The city may look to increase that figure by installing “smart” parking meters, which give a standard five minutes free and reset any time when a car vacates a spot. The move is estimated to bring in an added $1 million. One of the first sites to implement the meters will likely be in lot A south of Pier Plaza. ER

The Easy Reader – June 3, 2004

On Local Government

We have met the enemy

by Bob Pinzler

There has been much gnashing of teeth recently as some residents of Hermosa Beach reconsider the decisions regarding how Pier Plaza was developed. How is it, they ask, that this beautiful plaza has become the epicenter of nightly drunkenness? Why has it become the magnet for every alcohol-eligible (and some not) young person within driving distance?

It is that way because the same people who are now complaining, at least those living in Hermosa at the time, didn’t raise their voices while the decisions were being made. After all, these decisions were made in public. But the few who did protest looked over their shoulders and found no one behind them. The City Council and commissions saw this as supporting their ability to do as they saw fit.

They can’t really be faulted for doing so. Hermosa Beach is in a particularly difficult Proposition 13 bind. The large percentage of the population consists of renters. This means that while the residents of the city may change, the ownership of the buildings doesn’t. The city is stuck in a property tax time warp as it cannot take advantage of much of the growth in property values as other nearby cities do.

The city also is too small to have the kind of retail base that provides sales tax revenues to its coffers, such as Redondo and Manhattan have with their malls and Torrance has with its car dealerships. Hence, the interest in the revitalization of lower Pier Avenue from the dismal, dark home for bikers it was to the bright, open pedestrian mall it now is.

The discussions of what to put on Pier Avenue went on for a long time. The history that Manhattan Beach had with its short, sad foray into the youth booze scene might have been instructive, but it was overwhelmed by the desire to take advantage of a market that none of the other South Bay cities seemed to cater to. The few voices raised in protest did so with little community support or interest.

On top of this lack of interest on the part of the public was the election and reelection to the City Council of people who were clearly in favor of what has occurred on Pier Avenue. In these elections, turnout is dismally low, indicating indifference on the part of the populace. To a viewer from the outside, this provides justification, not condemnation, for what occurs every night as the police pick up the detritus of an evening at the various watering holes.

If the people wish it, they can make it so. They could attend meetings and make their concerns known. City Councils respond to people who show up. They tend to be more impassive about those who don’t. The people can change the City Council so that it has a majority on it that would not, for example, approve a new bar as one closes, or would be more proactive in approaching higher-end retail stores that might serve its upscale residents.

But my guess is that things will remain status quo. Maybe it is because most Hermosans aren’t really all that put out by the goings on at Pier Avenue. Most don’t live anywhere near it, anyway and aren’t affected all that much by it on a daily basis. And, most people aren’t all that interested in getting involved. Their own lives are too busy and becoming active is inconvenient.

They’ll leave all that “cleaning up” to the police. After all, they’re getting well practiced at it. ER

The Hermosa Beach Neighborhood Association

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