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Newsletter No. 29

New overlays proposed for housing.

A Pride proclamation.

Flagler Lane bike path.

Street vendors.

$70,000 set aside for travel to Friendship Cities.

The City of Torrance fulfilled its obligation by meeting the state’s approval for getting its Housing Element approved. Unfortunately, developers have shown no interest in building in those locations.

But developers will be able to build whatever they want wherever they want if the City doesn’t meet the state’s Regional Housing Needs Assessment mandates to add 5,000 units to Torrance’s housing stock.

To get a jump on the issue, Torrance’s Planning Commission held a workshop at its last meeting. The ultimate goal: Create seven overlay zones where housing developments could sidestep some current restrictions.

If you want to see what it looks like and how close any of the proposed overlays are to you, here is the link:

The process set off some alarm bells because of the lack of notice to the community.

Officers of the Riviera Homeowners Assn. were initially concerned that this was a back-door approach to approve a Butcher Hill proposal. They were relieved to learn this is not one of the overlays.

But the project has raised some eyebrows. Marc Danziger noticed the agenda item and immediately understood its significance. Danziger, president of the Southwood Riviera Homeowners Assn., told the Planning Commission he wasn’t speaking for the HOA but would be discussing it with his board.

I fully understand the drivers of the City’s policy. I believe there are better ways to respond to these pressures overall, and I believe that there are meta-issues the City should be analyzing and preparing for,” he told the City in a follow-up to his comments at the commission meeting.

He fears some of the proposed projects resemble the structure at Lomita Blvd. and Crenshaw. That project is in Lomita, but it impacts Torrance traffic. In the last two weeks of the 2022 election campaign, its developer and his associates contributed $6,000 each to Mayor George Chen and District 5’s Aurelio Mattucci.

Danziger pointed out, “Projects like this have a variety of negative impacts – local parking and traffic impacts (no data supports the notion that residents near transit corridors use transit more and drive less), impacts on local infrastructure (power, water, sewer), social and cultural (less well integrated into neighborhoods) builders, and lenders.

“A more dispersed model that permitted scattered 3- and 4-unit residences through the city would be less impactful (disperse impacts), more impactful on the local economy, and less likely to evolve into future slums as the buildings age and move down-market.”

He acknowledged that state law is forcing the City’s hand, but “we’d better be prepared for the impact on services, and on the infrastructure that is nearing the end of useful life, and the economics of both that this level of growth will bring.”

To ameliorate the parking problems that will arise, he suggested city parking structures within each overlay.

“Set a parcel aside for a multistory parking structure, charge for monthly parking and set a portion aside for visitor/transient parking to minimize the parking load on the adjacent streets. Santa Monica and Beverly Hills have city parking structures in their core downtown which enable the downtown to thrive and pay for themselves through parking charges. It would be a valuable experiment to see if one of these adjacent to an under parked large structure would succeed,” he said.

A proclamation for Pride:

Torrance has traditionally supported Pride Month with a proclamation. Mayor Chen, however, has told people that he doesn’t want to support the LGBTQIA+ community.

Despite entreaties from a variety of local people, he initially refused to allow the proclamation. So, the Downtown Torrance Assn. voted to do an end-run around him and unanimously approved a proclamation written by Adam and Isabel Schwartz.

They plan to read the proclamation during Orals at the June 6 meeting. Since the document will take more than one minute to read, the Schwartzes have lined up people to read the document, one “whereas” per person.

A similar situation arose earlier this year, when District 2’s Bridgett Lewis had to push to get Black History Month finally onto a revised agenda.

Normally the proclamation is printed out and given to an appropriate representative. In this case, Lewis read a statement that was not printed out, which meant Chen did not have to sign the document. Those of us listening to her didn’t realize Chen was sidestepping normal protocol.

As it turns out, I’m hearing the mayor may have caved under the pressure and grudgingly agreed to celebrating Pride Month; tune in on June 6 to see how this one plays out.

Flagler Lane bike path:

Redondo Beach is proceeding with its plans for the bike path, and its backers are acting as if it still thinks Torrance will join in.

While the project is being handled by the City of Redondo Beach, the Beach Cities Health District has been a key player.

Last Nov. 7, the district’s CEO Tom Bakaly attended a Traffic Commission meeting and warned Torrance that he was looking at a Jan. 27 deadline to start construction and, if Torrance didn’t cooperate, he would build the bike lanes entirely within Redondo Beach and bypass Torrance.

The audience cheered his statement.

Apparently Bakaly was bluffing. He has no intention of running the path through his campus.

On May 15 the BCHD put out a press release that ignored Torrance’s turndown: “We’re optimistic this bike path project will be completed in its entirety,” said Bakaly.

“We continue to communicate with officials in Torrance and look forward to working with them to complete this important link between the beach and inland communities.”

Street vendors:

Kathy Cohen, who has long served on Torrance commissions, emailed me her thoughts on this topic:

“The vendors are just trying to make a living, to support their families. They are very neat, polite. and clean. And the fruit the vendors sell are better than the stores’ and the food is delicious.

"I would hope that the Council Members would purchase some fruit or Unique Mexican cuisine in hope that they will see how hard working and time consuming it is for them.

"Most of the vendors are at night; perhaps Ms. Lewis and Mr. Mattucci should look into hiring security to protect them from hoodlums.

“If the Council Members want to pursue this matter maybe there could be an easier way the City could compromise and help these hard-working people out.

“Aren't there more pressing issues in Torrance to spend their precious time on. I will give an example, the parking lot of the old Sears. It is a campground.”

Budget talk No. 1:

When Chen pushed for three new Friendship Cities, he said he was just testing to see what benefits there could be for Torrance.

He said it wouldn’t cost anything but staff time. And when he visited two of our new Sister Cities in his native Taiwan, he paid his own way.

Evidently the next time he travels there, it will be on Torrance’s dime because the projected two-year budget has a $70,000 line item for him and others to visit.

Budget talk No. 2:

Where does the mayor think the money might come from? He has suggested taking it away from the Torrance Cultural Arts Foundation. (Full disclosure: I am on TOCA’s Advisory Board.)

Someone should share this New York Times May 30 article with him:

How late was it?:

When did the May 23 City Council meeting end? 8:30 p.m. No, that’s not a typo. After months of post-midnight adjournments – as late as 3 a.m. the next day – the meeting ended at 8:30 p.m. Could this be the beginning of a trend? Fingers crossed.

Before I go:

Want to tell the City Council your opinion on an agenda item or address any concerns? Send it to; 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 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 -- or tell friends about And if you email a response to, 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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