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Newsletter No. 20, Jan. 8, 2023

  • Housing

  • City charter

  • Airport noise

  • City Council members' pay

  • Check out www.TakeBackTorrance.com

  • No Flagler Lane bike path

  • CERT training

  • How to reach City Council

Here is a look at a few of the hot topics for 2023. None are new, but all will be spotlighted in future newsletters:

Housing.

This is one of the biggies.

  • No housing – a.k.a. the unhoused. At its last meeting of 2022, City staff updated the Council on the Tiny Homes that are transitional housing for 40 people.

They heard stories about those who have successfully moved into permanent housing. The successes have come at little cost to Torrance because of outside funding. A tip of the hat to Supervisor Janice Hahn for her help. Viet Hoang, assistant to the city manager, said that more federal funds are being made available, and Torrance is researching how to take advantage of that opportunity.

With the exception of District 5’s Aurelio Mattucci, the Council and mayor recognized the staffs’ successes even while a couple raised their concern that the turnover wasn’t happening more quickly.

Mattucci complained that, because the complex is at capacity, police aren’t allowed to arrest the homeless. The ability to lock them up if they rejected an offer of housing was the major reason for his supporting the Tiny Homes.


In talking about why he might withdraw his approval for the complex, he launched into his story about a John Walker, who apparently got one of the units despite a criminal record in another state. Walker’s issues would have been horrendous if they had really happened. Later in the discussion, Mattucci said that Walker was a totally made-up person.

  • Affordable housing. Torrance isn’t meeting state goals and is in danger of seeing more than 200 units become unaffordable for residents of Skyline Mobile Home Park. They are continuing to ask the Council to pass a Rent Stabilization Ordinance.

District 3’s Asam Sheikh has pushed for an RSO to protect not just Skyline but the other nine mobile-home parks in Torrance. I am beginning to see the wisdom of his approach.

  • The Hillside Overlay. Many people are unaware that Torrance is a beach city. Two of its mayors even had Redondo Beach addresses. The area, known as the Hollywood Riviera, is about 100 years old and has mansions from that time.

It also has a post-World War II stock of starter homes that over the years have been enlarged and/or completely redone. To protect owners’ views, air flow, light and privacy during their neighbors’ remodeling projects, Torrance passed the Hillside Overlay Ordinance in the mid-1980s.

Since then, the Overlay has been under almost constant attack. The latest issue: two-story ADUs. While the City cannot ban them, they can put in certain restrictions that could include height. That’s what a group of Riviera residents is asking the Council to do.

  • SB 9/10. Under the guise of a much-needed housing boost, Sacramento has passed draconian legislation that upends cities’ zoning regulations. Yes, California needs more housing, but the heavy-handed, one-size-fits-all approach is being pushed by legislators, a number of whom have taken donations from developers. A leading example, according to CalMatters, is state Sen. Scott Weiner, who chairs the Housing Committee.

Our own assemblyman, Al Muratsuchi, has voted against these laws, but he has lost this battle.

District 6’s Mike Griffiths is among those leading the charge to rein in the law with a statewide November 2024 ballot proposition. That may seem a long way off, but in the campaign world it is the equivalent of the day after tomorrow.

Griffiths hopes to help people understand what actions are needed and what they can do to help. On Jan. 17 at 7 p.m., he will address the issue at a Riviera Homeowners Association meeting. The RHA is one of Torrance’s powerhouse neighborhood groups, and it is renting the Riviera United Methodist Church in order to accommodate a crowd. People from the entire South Bay are invited.

The church, 375 Palos Verdes Blvd., has a massive parking lot in back.

For more background on the problem, check out www.OurNeighborhoodVoices.com.


Revising the City Charter.


As 2022 ended, the Council pledged to update the City Charter. It requires a vote by residents. And State law dictates when it can take place: March 2024 if the proposals don’t include certain financial issues; November 2024 if they do.


One issue that Griffiths hopes to deal with is runoffs if City candidates don’t get more than 50 percent of the vote. In a field of four candidates, District 1’s Jon Kaji won his seat with less than 50 percent. He has agreed that a runoff would be a good idea.


But elections are expensive, and Griffiths said he would prefer to see runoffs be mail-ballot-only.


Meanwhile, Redondo Beach is looking at having ranked elections to deal with this issue without having to pay for runoffs. In a ranked election, voters name their first and second choices. It could save Redondo hundreds of thousands of dollars.


Airport noise.


The Council’s Transportation Committee, charged with coming up with solutions to Torrance Airport’s negative impact on residents, met Dec. 14.

Members listened as residents reiterated the issues enumerated in a petition signed by more than 900 people. They directed staff to return with specific proposals. I will alert you when they schedule their next meeting.


Before I go:

  • Raising Council members’ salaries was one point made in the City Charter discussion. Mattucci said the current $100 a month pay is a deterrent to having non-retirees willing to serve.

I think a bigger issue is how late the meetings run. Ever since the Council went from four meetings a month to only two, late nights have become an increasing norm. They have adjourned as late as 3 a.m. Some members have to show up for work several hours later. And not many constituents are going to stick around that late. Would three times a month solve the problem?

  • Wish you had saved a particular issue of the newsletter? Want to get on the subscription list? Check out www.TakeBackTorrance.com, which has a searchable database.

  • Flagler Lane residents were relieved to learn that Torrance has rejected a Beach Cities Health District proposal for a bike path that would have impacted their neighborhood. If you missed the back story, check out Newsletter No. 18 at www.TakeBackTorrance.com.

  • The Torrance Fire Department trains residents for the Community Emergency Response Team. These volunteers “are prepared to be self-sustaining for five days following a large disaster.” The next three-day course will be Jan 20-22.

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.

Jean Adelsman


Feel free to share this email. And if you email a response to jeanadelsman@yahoo.com, please indicate whether you are expressing a thought for my eyes only or whether I may share your comments with the whole audience.

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