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Hermosa Beach News for 2005
Top Stories on This Webpage: Starting December 29, 2005:
From the above news story: Lawsuit filed by - Committee For Responsible School Expansion
Hermosa police arrest carjacking suspects - Pair are suspected of robbing a 50-year-old woman of her car on Hermosa Avenue in Hermosa Beach. Earlier, they allegedly attempted to kidnap a woman and take her car on Faymont Avenue in Manhattan Beach. A young man and a 17-year-old boy, found riding in a car stolen at gunpoint from a woman in Hermosa Beach, remained in custody Friday. Rodney Gene Parker, 24, and the unidentified juvenile, both of Los Angeles, were arrested at 10:40 p.m. Thursday in South Los Angeles, police said.
Police search for suspects in car theft, kidnap attempt - Beach cities' authorities look for men who pulled off two crimes. One victim ran to safety, the other fled to her house after watching assailants drive her car away. Failing in an attempt Thursday to kidnap a woman and steal her car in Manhattan Beach, carjackers went to north Hermosa Beach and robbed a woman at gunpoint of her Mercedes-Benz. Neither woman was hurt in the crimes. One woman ran to safety. The other fled to her house after watching the assailants drive her car away. Police in both cities were searching Thursday night for two suspects in the silver 2001 Mercedes-Benz S500 sedan.
The Easy Reader December 29, 2005
It was the year of the punch
line, as Hermosans saw conclusions to tales that had begun long before and in
many cases seemed to be dragging along with no end in sight.
A years-long renovation of the city pier was brought to completion, a possibly decisive shot was fired in a lengthy and bitter land-use battle over a school gymnasium, and a years-long struggle to reopen a giant commercial mall ended in success.
Another punch line provided no laughs for city officials as the first of several lawsuits naming the Police Department was settled for $1.1 million.
And a potentially bankrupting lawsuit continued to hang over the municipalitys less-than-optimistic head, threatening to lay down its potentially dread punch line some time after 2005.
Hermosans far-flung - It was a notable year for Hermosans far afield, as various residents and former residents brought music to the troops at the controversial Guantanamo Bay military base in Cuba, fled New Orleans before the fury of Hurricane Katrina, and flew a chopper over Katrinas floodwaters to pluck survivors from rooftops. The war in Iraq was brought home with tears for Hermosa schoolchildren when they received news that a pen pal Marine lost his life in a grenade attack.
Setting sun - The citys police chief announced his retirement, a beloved educator ended her 37-year career, and Hermosa lost its foremost amateur historian, a well-known cookbook author and a beloved restaurateur. Followers of the towns funky, multi-candidate elections were stunned and saddened when a dedicated civic servant was rewarded with a seat on the City Council only to find the next day that his wife had been diagnosed with a medical condition that would claim his time and energy. Placing wife and family first, Howard Fishman resigned before he could be sworn in, and the remaining council members deadlocked through the end of 2005 on the question of appointing or electing his replacement.
Pier punch line - The last weeks of the year saw the completion of a 12-year project to refurbish the Hermosa Beach Pier, from the pilings underneath it to the deck and railings on top. In November hundreds of beach lovers flocked to the citys most recognizable landmark to witness the ceremonial opening of its last refurbished portion: a small, sparkling plaza area at the leeward end. The celebrants stood waiting in the brilliant midday sun as an 86-year-old financial donor, blind and sitting in a wheelchair, became the first person to go out onto the plaza, which the city renamed for his late twin brother. Real estate guru David Schumacher, who had given the city $1 million to help fund the renovation, ran a hand along a shoulder-level plaque honoring brother Paul. Then the hundreds including former and current lifeguards, political dignitaries, and police and firefighters in dress uniform flooded across The Strand. They crowded shoulder to shoulder to admire the plaza and the adjoining new lifeguard headquarters building, and witness the unveiling of a life-size statue of lifeguard and surfer Tim Kelly that was recast from aging fiberglass to bronze for the occasion.
Pavilion punch line - After a half-dozen years hulking vacant along Pacific Coast Highway, the hugely remodeled Hermosa Pavilion mall reopened with its centerpiece, an appropriately big 24-Hour Fitness facility with a swimming pool and basketball court. The 100,000 square-foot mall just north of Pier Avenue also houses executive-type, ocean-view offices, a Glen Ivy Health Spa being built to rival its nationally known sister spa at Corona, a childrens dance studio, mortgage broker, real estate firm and coffee house.
Biggest punch line - Near the end of 2005 the city school board moved to break ground on a gymnasium at Hermosa Valley School, mounting what could be the decisive charge in the communitys bitterest land-use battle in years. The board had been battling opposition, including a lawsuit by school neighbors and others, for years, and the moment of decision was a pensive one. Board members knew they were running out of money for the project and agreed to hire contractors only after determining to exhaust the small school districts reserve funds if need be. And they approved the $10.8 million project with only a gym and a library in the building for certain, although six additional classrooms had originally been envisioned. Contractors will be asked to erect two science classrooms in the building if the money can be found; if not they will be asked to leave the two classrooms unfinished shells that can be completed later. If gym opponents continue to lose in court and the project is built, it might please nobody entirely. To many gym supporters the project represents a dream diminished and to opponents the objectionable element, the gym itself, continues to survive. The opponents lawsuit contends that the school board did not properly address concerns such as excessive noise and overcrowded traffic and parking in the neighborhood of the school on Valley Drive north of Pier Avenue.
Punch line hanging - In September the city suffered a stinging setback in a lawsuit that could lead to municipal bankruptcy, when an appeals court refused to reconsider the case of a spurned oilman who seeks as much as $500 million. The next month the California Supreme Court surprised nobody with another ruling against the city, tossing Hermosa back onto the tender mercies of a trial court. The lawsuit by Macpherson Oil of Santa Monica claims the city breached a contract calling for a slant-drilling project from the city maintenance yard way out under the ocean. The city council had leaned on a ballot measure in which Hermosa voters banned drilling, but that logic got kicked around the courtroom hard in 2005.
Police punch line - The first of several lawsuits naming the Police Department came to a conclusion with a $1.1 million settlement for a former club owner who accused police of harassment and excessive force. The payment to the Roberts family, former owners of the former 705 club on upper Pier Avenue, will be made by the citys insurance carrier after the citys $250,000 deductible was exhausted in the courtroom. The Roberts family in 2004 filed an administrative claim stemming from three incidents in which officers were accused of beating up a club patron and harassing, shoving and falsely arresting the clubs part owner. In the claim the family sought $7.6 million in damages. The department also faces a civil rights lawsuit alleging that two men were falsely arrested, subjected to excessive force and maliciously prosecuted in an incident that was videotaped by a bystander on the Pier Plaza July 4, 2003. Criminal charges against the men did not stick. Another lawsuit claims false arrest and excessive force by officers in a May 2004 misdemeanor arrest of three people on the Pier Plaza. The three were later exonerated at trial. The FBI began investigating alleged civil rights violations by Hermosa police in two accusations of false arrest, and near years end an officer was fighting his firing for allegedly trying to sneak a handgun past airport security while off duty, and lying about it. He has denied any wrongdoing and is seeking to appeal the firing.
The Easy Reader December 29, 2005
Fire line -
The Fire Department was not
spared controversy as Chief Russell Tingley received a vote of no confidence
from the 18-member rank and file. Poor leadership abilities, weak management
skills, and questionable dedication to the Hermosa Beach Fire Department is what
the Hermosa Beach Firefighters Association sees from Chief Tingley, the
association stated in a letter. Association president James Crawford cited what
he called a failure by Tingley to follow up on a budget proposal by the
association addressing staffing, medical billing and hospital transportation
Rock the troops - The year saw a second Hermosa-to-Guantanamo Bay musical tour as producer Al Bowman brought rock and country acts to the controversial U.S. Navy base where hundreds of detainees are held in a desert fastness on Cubas southeastern edge. On the way to a rugged outdoor amphitheater musicians vans stopped at armed checkpoints, passed over tall metal speed bumps that can be raised from the roadway to form taller metal walls, then slowed to slalom between berms set up to prevent suicide bombers from getting a running start. The musicians gaped as they passed the guard towers and razor wire of Camp Delta, where detainees are held on a bluff overlooking the Caribbean Sea, then played and sang their hearts out at the amphitheater a stones throw away. The next day they joined the fairly few civilian Americans to have seen the sun-baked, tower-guarded line between American Cuba and Cuban Cuba.
Eye of disaster - Hurricane Katrina touched the lives of Hermosans and former Hermosans including local native Jill Gottesman and her husband who fled their drowned New Orleans home to the twilit hell of a Louisiana Superdome that rang with the eerie screams of unseen evacuees. It was like being in a military zone, said Gottesman, 45, of her days and nights in the Superdome when Katrina ripped sections of the roof off of the indoor stadium, knocked out lighting and threw portions of the stadium into a semi-lawless dark. We were living in our own little hell in the Superdome, she said. When the couple returned home they found it choked with toxic mold and mud and Gottesmans beloved garden dead. But the couple counted themselves fortunate, and planned to move back into New Orleans where their hearts remained. Were way better off than 90 or 95 percent of the people who were left with nothing and have no way to rebuild their lives, Gottesman said. Everything we lost in our house we can buy again.
Savings the victims - Hermosa native Kevin Crecy spent four nights in the thick of the hurricane rescue effort in New Orleans helping to hoist about 100 survivors to safety from his pilots seat aboard a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter. Im from California, I dont see a lot of hurricanes, the 27-year-old Coast Guard lieutenant said in a telephone interview at the time. There are RVs and cars pushed up on top of roofs. You cant believe water can have that much force. Copilot Crecy and the rest of the crew had to maneuver their orange HH65 Dauphine chopper between cell towers, trees and power lines to make their rescues. Peering through night vision goggles the flight engineer told the pilots where to position the chopper, and then lowered a 180-foot long rescue line usually with the rescue swimmer attached to people waving flashlights from their rooftop islands. Were taking them to safety but were also taking them away from their homes and everything they know, he said. Crecy said his training in New Orleans prepared him for the worst case scenario of a severe hurricane. Everything they said would happen came true.
Students mourn Marine - Hermosa Valley School students were among the many residents raising money and donating supplies to the victims of Katrina. They donated school supplies to rebuilding efforts in Iraq as well, and about summertime they received the news that their official pen pal Major Ricardo Rick Crocker of Redondo Beach, a reserve U.S. Marine, was felled in a rocket propelled grenade attack in the province of Al-Anbar. In a schoolyard ceremony under dark clouds, the kids said a formal goodbye to their 39-yar-old friend and presented a $3,400 check to officers of the Santa Monica Police Department who worked with the Marine in his civilian life. Crockers partner described the Marine as an unconventional police officer, serving on the SWAT team but preferring Police Activities League duty, serving fulltime at a community center visited each day by about 200 kids. He was his own man, Officer Matt Rice said.
Top of the world - Ten home-schooled students with Hope Chapel Academy in Hermosa Beach piloted a robot called Beach Bot to a world championship in March, sharing a prestigious robotics title with Michigan students that were part of their competing alliance. The Hope Chapel students and their Michigan partners bested almost 1,000 other teams made up of more than 24,000 students from 49 states and seven nations in the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition in Science and Technology) tournament. Hot Bot proved best at the tic-tac-toe-like competition, scooting around the floor and using its arms to pick up objects laid out in rows and columns.
The Easy Reader December 29, 2005
Most years pass in Hermosa without a murder but in March a worker was shot to
death and another was wounded at a residential construction site on 10th Street
just west of Pacific Coast Highway. Prosecutors issued an arrest warrant
accusing a 26-year-old man who, sources said, shot the construction workers
because his wife allegedly slept with one of them. Investigators believed that
the man fled to Guadalajara, Mexico, joining his wife, whom he had taken there
prior to the shooting. The next-to-last murder took place in March 2003 when a
25-year-old man was shot late at night as he sat behind the wheel of a car at
the intersection of Pacific Coast Highway and Pier Avenue. That crime remained
Sirens and pedals - On the lighter side of the law, Hermosas finest began ticketing speeding bicyclists on The Strand, at the behest of the City Council. A Redondo bicyclist fought his $351 citation in court but a judge told him to pay up for exceeding the Strands 8 mph limit. However, the judge did cut the fine down to $114.
Sunset at seaside - Police Chief Mike Lavin announced that he would retire in April 2006, fulfilling a personal pledge when he took the job to call it quits after five years. The 49-year-old Lavin, a Hermosa native and three-decade veteran of the police force, was elevated from captain to chief to replace his mentor, Val Straser. In turn Lavin has groomed a potential successor, Capt. Tom Eckert. Lavin said he expects City Manager Steve Burrell to look at applicants from within and without the force before hiring the next chief, as he did before he promoted Lavin to the post.
Kris Basua, who spearheaded
decades of musical theater productions at Hermosa Valley School, announced her
retirement after 37 years as a music teacher in the citys public schools.
Ill miss the children the most, she said during a rehearsal for her final
musical, Way Out West in a Dress. When I look at the little kindergarten faces,
I know I wont see those faces grow up. Ive been teaching the children of
children I taught before, Basua said.
School cuts - As the city schools continued to reel from state budget cuts, Basuas position was axed over the summer of 2005 along with those of an assistant principal, two teachers and three teachers aides. The cuts totaled $344,000.
Not forgotten - In September Hermosa lost its foremost historical chronicler, John Thompson Hales, at age 88. Civic leaders crowded into the Hermosa Playhouse theater to honor Hales, the communitys definitive amateur historian and an avid runner who died of prostate cancer.
Hermosa Beach Historical Society President Rick Koenig eulogized Hales as a shining star and announced that one of his exhaustive projects, a chronology of significant events throughout the communitys century-plus history, would be housed in an honored place within the Historical Societys museum. John has run the good race, as the Scriptures tell us, and now he rests in the everlasting grace of Gods embrace, said Chaplain Charlie Lopez of Little Company of Mary Hospitals Trinity Hospice.
Hales legacy can be seen in the city seal he created, which stands on the walls of City Hall, appears on official city letterhead and stands etched in granite 14 feet across at the foot of the city pier.
Betty Evans, author of nearly a dozen cookbooks and an Easy Reader staff writer for nearly three decades, died of cancer at age 78. She was named Chamber of Commerce Woman of the Year in 1981 for community activities including work with the Hermosa Garden Club and the nonprofit Friends of the Library.
Jean Margarette Lick, the first female desk officer of the Hermosa Beach Police Department, has passed away in Orange County four days short of her 87th birthday. She was just a lovely lady. We used to lovingly refer to her as Mama Jean. She used to sort of baby everyone, especially the younger officers, said retired HBPD Sgt. Wally Moore.
Beloved restaurant figure Hanneh Mama Habash passed away at age 81. She was cook and mother confessor at the former Habash Café on Pacific Coast Highway in Hermosa for three decades. That was her ministry. Being in the restaurant was her way of being of service to people. She cooked for them and she heard their stories, daughter Fatina Johnston said in a 2000 interview.
Triumph to tragedy - Toward the end of the year the contentious pleasure of a municipal election turned to shock and sadness when longtime civic leader Howard Fishman won a seat on the City Council only to learn the next day that his wife had been diagnosed with a serious medical condition. Voters also had reelected JR Reviczky and Michael Keegan. Fishman, 52, resigned before he could be sworn in.
As 2005 came to a close the remaining council members deadlocked over whether to appoint or elect Fishmans replacement, moving ever closer to the legal default of a fresh citywide vote. While they disagreed on how to replace Fishman, the remaining council members were united in praising his decision to place wife and family first. I commend you for this decision, Mayor Pete Tucker told Fishman from the council dais. God bless you. ER
The Easy Reader - May 12, 2005
A mistake that omitted a
proposed gymnasium from a 2002 citywide ballot measure can be traced to a
resolution approved by the Hermosa Beach City School Board, according to
documents on file at the Los Angeles County Registrars Office. Two School
Board members said the mistake was not caused by the board, however.
The mistake has been seized on by residents who are suing to halt construction of the gym at Hermosa Valley School. The residents claim that the gym cannot legally be built because it was not among the construction projects listed on the Measure J ballot in 2002, when Hermosa voters approved $13.6 million in school bonds.
In the resolution, adopted in July 2002, the school board directed the Registrars Office to include only a brief summary of the construction projects with no mention of the gym on the November 2002 ballot.
The School Boards resolution, received by county election officials July 25, 2002, did include an itemized list of construction projects including the gym that the board labeled Exhibit B. However, the resolution did not direct the Registrar to include the Exhibit B list on the ballot. The resolution did direct the Registrar to include Exhibit A, which was the shorter summary without the gym.
The resolution, signed by the boards then-President Cathy McCurdy and then-Superintendent Robert Duffy Clark, is on file at the Registrars Office in Norwalk.
School board members contend that despite questions over the ballot, voters knowingly approved a gym. They point out that the gym was mentioned in the ballots arguments in favor of the bond measure signed by McCurdy and others and the gym was mentioned in ballot arguments against the bond measure. Board members also point out that the gym project was frequently discussed at school board meetings, in the pages of local newspapers and in the election campaign for Measure J.
Mix-up - Current School Board President Lance Widman has blamed the mistake on a mix-up between the school districts former bond attorney and the Registrars Office. This week Widman said his view of the mix-up came from a comment made to the School Board. Some time ago that comment was made, and frankly I cant recollect who said it, Widman said.
But Widman and McCurdy said they believe the bond attorney, the firm of Stradling, Yocca, Carlson and Rauth, was responsible for seeing that the resolution was proper before it was passed along to the Registrar. We hire people to do that work, we hire consultants, Widman said. The [school] district did what it was supposed to do.
Neither Widman nor McCurdy had reviewed the resolution after questions were raised about the wording of the ballot measure. McCurdy said the resolution was among documents that the School Board has requested from the Registrar, to help answer questions about the ballot.
An attorney for Stradling, Yocca who worked on Measure J was not available early this week.
Full steam ahead - Despite the lawsuit by the roughly 30-member Committee for Responsible School Expansion, Widman said the school board plans to seek a construction contractor and stay on course with the gym project.
The lawsuit seeks to block the project and force the school board to consider changes in the gyms size and location, but the lawsuit does not ask for a temporary halt to the project while those issues are thrashed out in court, Widman said. Thats right from the lawsuit itself. Theres nothing in there that says we cant pass go, Widman said. We are proceeding with what weve got to do.
Gym not important - A pre-election survey by a school district consultant found that the gym was not viewed as important by residents.
The consultant, Evans/McDonough Incorporated, suggested that the district split Measure J in two, asking voters to approve new classrooms and the gym separately. The consultant also advised that possible opposition to a gymnasium could cause problems with the passage of a bond measure, according to official minutes from a June 26, 2002, meeting of the school board.
Enough money? - Meanwhile, a construction consultant has estimated that the school district has fallen about $1.3 million short in revenues needed to build the $6.3 million gym building, said Sam Abrams, chairman of a committee that oversees how the bond money is spent. That estimate, released in late March, followed an estimate three months earlier by the same consultant that the gym project was falling about $1 million short.
The school district started out with $15.6 million in local and state bonds for new school buildings and for an overhaul of plumbing, electricity, safety features, handicapped access, heating, air conditioning and technology-lab features at the 3-8 Valley School and the K-2 Hermosa View School. The upgrades cost nearly $10 million, leaving the district with $5.8 remaining for the new buildings at Valley School.
The gym building, as planned, would be placed near the southwest corner of the campus on Valley Drive. The 34-foot-tall, 26,000 square-foot building also would include a new science lab, library and classrooms. ER
The Easy Reader - May 12, 2005
Somebody came in through an
open bathroom window May 2 and swiped more than $16,000 worth of stuff from a
house on Bayview Drive. Taken in the daytime caper were a 50-inch plasma TV set
that had been mounted to a living room wall, a 42-inch liquid crystal display TV
set, designer clothes, a computer, camera, camcorder and paintings. A second
Bayview home also appeared to be targeted, as police found signs that someone
had tried to get in through a window there as well.
Strand fight - A Hawthorne man was taken to an area hospital following a fight at the beach about 5 p.m. Saturday, April 30, police said. Despite the trip to the hospital, no serious injuries were reported. According to witness accounts, a bicyclist pedaling by on The Strand brushed the 21-year-old Hawthorne man with one of his handlebars, words were exchanged and the Hawthorne man challenged the other to fight, police said. The cyclist, along with at least one fellow cyclist, beat up the Hawthorne man, police said. The cyclists, described as heavily tattooed men between ages 20 and 30, pedaled away, police said.
Retiree ripped off - A retired Manhattan Beach woman lost $160 while shopping in a Hermosa grocery store April 30, police said. The woman believes it happened when a person engaged her in conversation, distracting her as her purse sat in her shopping cart. She believes a second person lifted the money from her purse during the conversation, police said. Before shopping, she had withdrawn the money in $10 bills from a bank. ER
The Easy Reader April 21, 2005
Valley School neighbors who have filed a lawsuit to block construction of a
gymnasium at the school are contemplating an amendment to their suit that calls
into question the districts plans for a host of other bond-funded, school
construction projects. We didnt mean to, but weve opened a bees nest and
the bees are coming out, said Gerry Compton, one of the neighbors behind the
The school construction projects are slated to be paid from a $13.2 million bond measure approved by voters in November 2002. The suit, filed two weeks ago, challenges the adequacy of the gymnasiums environmental impact report. The contemplated amendment, Compton said, would challenge the districts authority to spend bond money on the gym. State law restricts the spending of bond money to projects listed on the ballot and the 2002 ballot didnt mention a gymnasium, Compton said.
Nor did the ballot mention many other bond projects that are underway, or contemplated, including new restrooms, new computers, and upgrades to the cafeteria. Compton said that he and his fellow plaintiffs support bond project improvements, with the exception of the gym, and if their suit interfered with projects other than the gym it would be an unintended consequence.
Board member Lance Widman said this week that it had been the boards intention to list the gym as well as all other proposed bond projects on the ballot. But a mix up between the school districts former bond counsel and the Los Angeles County Registrar/Recorder resulted in only an abbreviated description of the proposed bond projects appearing on the ballot.
Widman said the district has been assured by its current bond counsel that despite the ballot mix-up, expenditures of bond money on the gym, as well as other projects listed in the bond resolution attachment, were legal.
The school districts attorney Rob Anslow, of Bowie, Arneson, Wiles and Giannone, said this week, If voters needed every scrap of data to make an informed decisions, ballot pamphlets would look like telephone books. He added that the law regulating bond expenditures cannot be understood solely by reference to the single section of the State Constitution on which Compton and other plaintiffs are basing their challenge to the gym expenditures.
The plaintiffs attorney Douglas Carstens of Chatten-Brown and Associates said this week that he is still doing research on a suit amendment that would seek to block expenditure of funds on a gym, and potentially on other bond projects. ER
Read the lawsuit referred to in the above news story:
The Committee For Responsible School Expansion v. The Hermosa Beach School District
The Easy Reader April 14, 2005
Lawsuit filed against Valley School gym
Neighbors of Hermosa Valley School have filed a lawsuit seeking to halt
construction of a gymnasium on the campus. The lawsuit seeks a fuller review of
alternative sites for the gym building which also would include classrooms and
teachers offices, and possibly subject the project to a fresh public vote.
The lawsuit, filed Friday in Superior Court by the Committee for Responsible School Expansion, claims that the city school board did not take adequate measures to ease excess noise, traffic and parking congestion in the surrounding neighborhood.
Health District angle - Two elements of the lawsuit a claim that the gym project would eat up too much of the campus open space and a claim that the gym would be too tall hinge upon a joint use agreement the city school district signed with the Beach Cities Health District. Under the agreement, the Health District would be allowed to use the gym after school hours for yoga classes and the like, and the school district would be able to seek about $1 million in state funds that are set aside for joint-use projects.
School construction is generally exempt from city requirements for height and open space. But if the gym is used for non-instructional purposes by an agency such as the Health District, it would not be exempt from those requirements, said Douglas Carstens of Chatten-Brown and Associates, lead attorney for the citizens group.
If subject to city codes, the lawsuit claims, the 34-foot tall gym building on the Valley Drive campus would stand nine feet too tall, and the 26,000 square-foot building could not be erected without a vote of the public on the open space question.
Carstens said the city school board could possibly resolve the height and open space questions if it can back out of the joint agreement with the Health District. But, he said, questions of parking, noise and alternative gym sites would remain.
The neighbors - Carstens declined to say who had retained his legal services for the lawsuit, citing freedom of association of people seeking legal representation.
He said he did not know how many people belonged to the citizens group.
We dont have a membership list, he said. At the meetings Ive attended there have sometimes been dozens of people.
Carstens said some members want the gym project halted entirely, but a large contingent of the membership simply wants the school board to make the project less burdensome on the neighbors.
School neighbor Douglas Robins said he believes an overwhelming majority of the neighbors want the gym project modified, not halted. He said the neighbors filed the lawsuit to make sure their concerns would be addressed, adding that the statue of limitations for such a lawsuit would have soon expired.
Robins, who also is an attorney, said he envisions an agreement in which the school district would be required to address noise and traffic concerns, and the neighbors would drop the lawsuit.
For the defense - The day before the lawsuit was formally filed, school district Superintendent Sharon McClain said she feared that further delays in construction could doom the project, as building costs continue to skyrocket. She said costs have tripled over the course of an overall school construction project set to include the gym that is funded mostly by a $13.6 million school bond approved by Hermosa voters in November 2002.
She said she was saddened by what she sees as continued opposition to a construction project that voters long ago approved.
Ballot snafu - The 2002 citywide election also has been called into question. School board members last week acknowledged that the ballots in the polling places did not contain the full text of Measure J, which asked the public for the school bonds.
School district officials and the districts current bond counsel were trying to determine how that happened, McClain said.
Some critics of the gym project have claimed the election should be considered invalid, but the districts bond counsel its legal representative in the matter shrugged off that contention. Rob Anslow, a partner in the firm of Bowie, Arneson, Wiles and Giannone, said the statute of limitations to challenge such election results runs only days or weeks, and any challengers would be years too late.
Some critics have also said that because the ballots official analysis and summary did not mention a gym, the building of the gym might not be legal. McClain said Anslow was looking into that, and Anslow declined to comment in detail, saying he would not share advice he might give his client in fighting a potential lawsuit.
Struggle continues - Some neighbors and other residents have long insisted that proper steps have not been taken to mitigate the effects of noise and traffic. In February residents put their comments in writing as the school board sought state approval for the gym project.
The district had predicted that noise from the gym would have a less than significant impact on neighbors, and that traffic congestion would not significantly worsen. A district report did predict that parking problems in the neighborhood would be significantly worsened, and stated that the school district can offer no relief from those problems.
Resident Jerry Compton, an architect whose home stands near the school, urged the school board to consider building the gym next to Valley Drive instead of on the Southwest corner of the campus.
Compton complained that the boards current plan would result in catastrophic parking congestion.
School neighbors Earl and Kristine Keegan wrote that the noise and activity level in the surrounding residential neighborhood will be substantial once the gym is in use Currently there is no nighttime use of the school facility.
The Keegans urged that the gym doors remain closed whenever it is being used, to muffle excessive noise, and asked how the district plans to protect adjoining classrooms from gym noises such as bouncing basketballs and referees whistles. The Keegans also urged the school board to study ways to ease traffic on an overburdened Valley Drive when after-school games are played from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. ER
The Daily Breeze - April 9, 2005
Hermosa police arrest carjacking suspects
Pair are suspected of robbing a 50-year-old woman of her car on Hermosa Avenue in Hermosa Beach. Earlier, they allegedly attempted to kidnap a woman and take her car on Faymont Avenue in Manhattan Beach.
A young man and a 17-year-old boy, found riding in a car stolen at gunpoint from a woman in Hermosa Beach, remained in custody Friday.
Rodney Gene Parker, 24, and the unidentified juvenile, both of Los Angeles, were arrested at 10:40 p.m. Thursday in South Los Angeles, police said.
Los Angeles police officers on patrol spotted the silver 2001 Mercedes-Benz, ran its license plate and learned the car was stolen and the occupants were armed and dangerous, Hermosa Beach police Sgt. Paul Wolcott said.
Officers pulled the car over and arrested the occupants. A gun believed to be used in the carjacking was recovered.
The pair are suspected of robbing a 50-year-old woman of her car in the 2700 block of Hermosa Avenue at 6:50 a.m. Thursday. About 15 minutes earlier, they allegedly attempted to kidnap a woman and take her car on Faymont Avenue in Manhattan Beach, police said.
The woman ran. The suspects took her purse and drove away. They abandoned their car and went on to take the car in Hermosa Beach, police said.
Parker, held on a parole violation and on suspicion of carjacking, was booked at the Hermosa Beach jail. The teen, who turns 18 on April 15, was taken to Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall in Downey on suspicion of carjacking.
The Daily Breeze - April 8, 2005
Police search for suspects in car theft, kidnap attempt
Beach cities' authorities look for men who pulled off two crimes. One victim ran to safety, the other fled to her house after watching assailants drive her car away.
Failing in an attempt Thursday to kidnap a woman and steal her car in Manhattan Beach, carjackers went to north Hermosa Beach and robbed a woman at gunpoint of her Mercedes-Benz.
Neither woman was hurt in the crimes. One woman ran to safety. The other fled to her house after watching the assailants drive her car away. Police in both cities were searching Thursday night for two suspects in the silver 2001 Mercedes-Benz S500 sedan.
The first crime occurred on Faymont Avenue in Manhattan Beach as a woman walked to her car to go to work at 6:35 a.m. One man approached her and pointed a gun at the woman and told her to get into her car, Manhattan Beach police Detective Eric Eccles said.
"I guess they wanted her with the car," Eccles said. "She got spooked and she took off running. For whatever reason, he took off running also and left the scene."
Before leaving, the robber grabbed the woman's purse from inside the car and took off with it, Eccles said.
About 15 minutes later, the same man, this time with an accomplice, approached a 50-year-old woman in the 2700 block of Hermosa Avenue. She was just leaving her Pilates class, police said.
"The suspects produced a handgun and threatened the victim," Hermosa Beach police Sgt. Paul Wolcott said. "They demanded her car, a silver 2001 Mercedes-Benz S500 sedan. The woman gave the suspects her keys and watched as they fled in her car."
The woman hurried to her Hermosa Beach home and called 911. Police officers from Manhattan Beach and Hermosa Beach began searching the area and notified other South Bay police agencies about the crime. The carjackers eluded them.
During the search, Hermosa Beach officers found a car with its engine running. The first victim's purse was inside it, Wolcott said.
The abandoned car, which police did not identify, was registered to a location at a housing project in South Los Angeles. "Anyone with information about these crimes is encouraged to call the police," Wolcott said.
Police believe the crimes were committed at random. "I think they are trying to get the property," Eccles said. "I really don't know how far they were going with the kidnapping."
The Daily Breeze - April 8, 2005
Hermosa Beach Police seek help in finding suspect
Police in Hermosa Beach sought the publics help Thursday to find a transient suspected of stalking and threatening to kill his former wife.
Michael Rhodes, 43, is wanted on a $170,000 warrant seeking his arrest on felony charges of stalking and making criminal threats, Hermosa Beach police Sgt. Paul Wolcutt said.
Rhodes frequents hotels and bars in the beach cities. Rhodes is considered to be violent and dangerous, Wolcutt said. Do not approach him. Call the police.
Rhodes former wife, who obtained a restraining order to keep him away from her, told police he approached her in March while she was on a date and threatened to kill her, Wolcutt said.
Anyone with information about Rhodes whereabouts is asked to call Detective Dean Garkow at 310-318-0348.
Anyone who sees him should call 911, Wolcutt said.
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