top of page
  • jeanadelsman4

Newsletter No. 18, Nov. 18, 2022

  • Residents fight Flagler bike lane proposal.

  • Chen scoreboard.

  • Council shoots down gun store appeal.

  • Council agrees that late meetings are problem for residents.

  • Suggestion for Transportation Committee on Airport issue.

The history is clear. The Redondo Beach and the Beach Cities Health District have long wanted to impact Torrance’s section of Flagler Lane. Now, the BCHD is at it again, proposing a seemingly beneficial bicycle lane. But look carefully, the proposal is fraught with deceit.


At a Traffic Commission meeting on Nov. 7, Public Works Director Craig Bilezerian and Deputy Public Works Director Steve Finton received public input on the project. Between the people present and the comments sent in, the opposition to the lanes was more than 2 to 1 – 76 to 34.


The back story: A dozen years ago, the South Bay Cities Council of Governments asked its members for possible transportation projects to take advantage of Measure M funds.


BCHD is not an SBCCOG member, so it had Redondo Beach propose a project that started and ended in Redondo Beach but needed a section of Torrance’s Flagler Lane. The project was approved only as a concept.


This is not the first time Redondo Beach pitched a proposal involving Flagler, which starts in Redondo and ends in Torrance. Fifty years ago, it wanted to connect the street to Diamond, which is entirely in Redondo, and it didn’t give up the fight till the late 1980s.


Fast-forward to around 2019 when BCHD made the specific grant request to Metro. Its packet included Redondo Beach’s letter of support.


The packet not only didn’t have a letter of support from Torrance, but BCHD didn’t even tell Torrance it was applying for a project that required Torrance to approve the use of its property. The Engineering Division of Public Works discovered it while reviewing some Metro material.


Then on Oct. 31, BCHD advertised the project to contractors, the Torrance Public Works staff has expressed its dismay with some unorthodox elements of the bid request. The construction’s desired start date is Jan. 27, 2023.


Many residents suspected that BCHD was trying to use this project as a back-door to get control of Flagler to connect it to its campus. The City had earlier rejected that prospect and reportedly would insist on certain conditions to forestall that possibility.


The City also has concerns about liability and the maintenance that it would take on if the bike lanes were built. Other worries include environmental issues with the soil.


Bilezerian has assured residents that the Nov. 7 meeting is only the first session to let the public share its concerns. A City report indicated that “no such construction will occur without:


“A thorough and transparent public review process by the City of Torrance, and


“Approval by the Torrance Public Works Department.”


BCHD CEO Tom Bakaly attended the Nov. 7 meeting and warned Torrance that he was looking at the Jan. 27 date as a deadline to start construction and, if Torrance didn’t cooperate, he will build the bike lanes entirely within Redondo Beach and bypass Torrance.


Now that’s a good idea, Tom.


Scoreboard:


Does Mayor George Chen deserve a second term? It’s a tad early to ask that question, but in 2026 the answer will become apparent when we look back at how he has used his leadership position. Has he done what’s best for residents or what fits his own interests and/or ideology?


The tally begins with his ill-advised attempt to strip his colleagues of their roles in the commissioner selection process. His colleagues made clear that they weren’t ceding that power to him.


It continues with his Nov. 8 vote to allow a two-story plan that violated the Hillside Overlay Ordinance. The community came out strongly in opposition. He was the sole vote for it.


Look for Scoreboard updates in future newsletters.


Before I go:


· The Council shot down the appeal to allow a gun store in Downtown Torrance. Bridgett Lewis moved to deny the appeal, and Mike Griffiths seconded. The lone vote for permitting the shop came from Aurelio Mattucci, who has called himself a proud member of the NRA and who, a couple of years ago on Facebook, posted a photo of his young son holding an assault rifle.


Asam Sheikh pointed out that he had gotten a lot of mail on the issue. Those opposed mentioned where they lived, and they were local. Those favoring the store, however, didn’t indicate where they were from, so he emailed them back with that question. Their response: crickets.


The stars of the session were the students who spoke against the gun store. They were eloquent, as were those who appeared at the Planning Commission.


· The Council meeting started at 6:30 p.m., but the gun shop appeal didn’t begin until 10:15 p.m. One anti-gun-store speaker chided the Council for allowing high-interest issues to appear so late on the agenda.


Lewis clearly agreed with her. During the second orals, she asked to have public hearings moved up to an earlier slot on the agenda so that the public would find it easier to participate. Chen agreed and said he would talk to the city manager and city attorney.


The public hearings are No. 10 items. Administrative items are No. 9s. At the Nov. 8 meeting, the airport noise issue was No. 9I and didn’t start until after 1 a.m. The City recently moved 9A to an earlier slot. I hope that when shifting items, the City moves up any issue that has attracted public comment.


During the review of dark nights for the first half of 2023, Mattuci – to his credit – suggested adding meetings when agendas start getting overloaded, and City Manager Aram Chaparyan promised to develop options.


Chen recalled lengthy sessions even when Council sessions were weekly. No one reminded him that back then speakers had three minutes; now they each get one minute, and the microphone goes dead as the clock strikes 0.


· When Chaparyan saw how late the Nov. 8 meeting was running, he moved some agenda items to the 15th, including ones on the new tax and a report on the budget’s first quarter. That discussion ran an hour – and caused the gun store’s late start. (The topic deserves its own newsletter, and I will get back to it in a future edition.)


· Fixing Torrance Airport’s noise issue is a big assignment for the Transportation Committee. Before the Nov. 8 Council meeting, Dave Brent was one of many residents who sent in his public comment.


Unlike the others, however, Brent is also a well-known noise and acoustics expert who has worked as an independent contractor for the City on hundreds of acoustics concerns. He has offered to help the committee pro bono. Chair Mattucci, Lewis and Jon Kaji would be wise to take him up on his offer.


· Want to tell the City Council your opinion on an agenda item or any concerns? Send it to CityCouncil@torranceca.gov; in the subject line put the agenda item or the topic.


If you also want your comments to appear in an agenda item’s Staff Report, send it as well to CouncilMeetingPublicComment@torranceca.gov. Make sure that you have sent it by 2 p.m. on the day of the meeting – earlier if you want it included in the agenda’s first posting, which can be a week ahead.


· One last thought: Happy Thanksgiving!



Jean Adelsman

44 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Newsletter No. 49

Kalani vs. Chen Flaw in Taiwan push Boon for local control Tributes for Griffiths Mattucci recall update George Chen has the title of mayor, but three members of the Council are showing they prefer wh

Newsletter No. 48

Revitalization for Downtown Torrance? Updates on commissions Plug pulled on electronic billboards Mattucci loan questions Creating a Business Improvement District might be what Downtown Torrance needs

Newsletter No. 47

Chen's candidates lose. Follow the money. Council backs Metro extension. Kaji's newest ploy. Recall updates. Changing the City charter. Beach Cities plan challenged. Ambulance expenses. Mayor George C

Comments


bottom of page