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Newsletter No. 39, Nov. 2, 2023

  • Sling Pilot Academy losing business license.

  • Andrew Lee needs a law lesson.

  • Gambling comes to Torrance.

  • Ongoing cell tower concerns.

  • Update on recalls.

The City has served Sling Pilot Academy, the largest of 10 schools based at Torrance Airport, with the notice that it will not renew its business license starting Jan. 1, 2024.


Sling with its 30 planes has drawn the wrath of residents because of the repetitive noise from the touch-and-goes performed by its student pilots.

At the Oct. 17 City Council meeting, residents cheered when the vote was 5 to 0 to ban all touch-and-goes. (Mayor George Chen was absent; District 4’s Sharon Kalani had to recuse herself because of a conflict.)

In the past, pilots defended the practice as necessary for student pilots. But Judy Brunetti, co-president of the Riviera Homeowners Assn., emailed the Council this message: “Pilot training schools such as Sling are not required to have student pilots earn their licenses by doing touch-and-go training. According to Aviation Safety magazine, Sept. 22, 2017, the complexity of having students land and then quickly take off again ‘makes for a busy time on the runway . . . an opportunity for mistakes.’ ”

Chuck Costello, who heads the Coalition for Torrance Airport Reform, reminded the Council that 74 percent of the pilots don’t live here.

While the pilots pitched their importance, in the end the Council didn’t buy it. District 2’s Bridgett Lewis acknowledged the City’s income from the airport, but added, “There is no revenue stream that is worth the peace and tranquility of the residents that have to live with it every day.”

Sling should never have gotten its business license in the first place. City law limits the number of flight schools to six; Sling was No. 7. The three other much smaller schools – Hikari Aviation Ltd., Giving Kids Wing Flight Academy and Pradhan Aircraft Works, Inc. – will also have their licenses revoked because they were the next three to exceed the limit.

Don’t break out the champagne yet, however. Governments move like turtles, not hares, and this situation will not be an exception. Some things to keep in mind:

This process started at the July 25 meeting when the Council approved a slew of measures, including landing fees. Most of them require ordinances that staff has yet to present for Council approval.

City Attorney Patrick Sullivan said the touch-and-go ban would require CEQA review. That’s an environmental review often required by the state. When asked what triggered CEQA, Sullivan said it was because of the impact on the region. COTAR’s Costello, a retired lawyer, questioned his statement and said his group will push back on that.

When Sullivan predicted the process would take 8 to 12 months, Lewis shot back that in “government time” it will actually take more than a year.

Griffiths is intent on pressing the City to move more like a hare. He said residents can monitor progress at https://www.trendingintorrance.com/airport-noise.html and the City staff has agreed to keep the site updated.

“Resolving this nuisance that the airport has become is my personal No. 1 concern and priority. I am burning all my bridges with staff to do everything I can to ensure that all the items the Council has approved so far . . . are making progress toward solving this problem once and for all,” Griffiths said, adding, “Council’s done their part, and now we lean on staff, legal counsel to make things happen."

Andrew Lee needs a law lesson:

The District 2 Council candidate was knocking on doors. When residents weren’t home, he put his flyers in their mailboxes or through their mail slots. Someone needs to tell him this is against the law; the U.S. Postal Service takes a dim view of scofflaws . . . .

Gambling comes to Torrance:

The City Council has approved charitable gambling. Until now nonprofits holding fundraisers couldn’t legally have games of chance. Now they can, but the list of “cant’s” is lengthy and even some Council members were confused by how it will work.

Ongoing cell tower concerns:

Cell phones are our lifelines, but the cell towers themselves are often the center of controversies. An example is the one at 2124 Redondo Beach Blvd., which has been discussed at the last three Council meetings.

The tower had burned down. The company that owned it got permission to rebuild it, but residents appealed that decision. The Council appeared to understand their fears and concerns and seemed to be on the verge of granting the appeal and turning down the rebuild request.

Seeing where this was going, City Attorney Sullivan requested a closed session. When they returned, only District 1’s Jon Kaji voted for the appeal.

The problem, as Sullivan explained it: Cell towers are governed by federal laws designed to deny city regulations. Sullivan told the Council the business would sue the City, the business would win, and the City would spend at least $1 million to no avail.

I learned that, in the closed session, Kaji told his colleagues that he also recognized the reality, but he would vote for the appeal. He said he knew his colleagues would ensure that it would fail – and this would allow him to look good to his constituents.

During Orals at the next two meetings, residents asked the Council to reconsider. Evidently, they are so desperate that they are considering their own litigation. Before they spend their money, someone needs to explain to them that they can’t win. And if Kaji, instead of grandstanding, had voted against the appeal but prefaced it with an explanation of the federal stranglehold, he would have done his constituents a service.

The recalls:

The group organizing the Recall Kaji 2024 effort now has its team in place and is creating the forms that will require 60 signatures to start the process. I have been funneling names and contact information from readers interested in being involved in the effort. The contact info should go to jeanadelsman@yahoo.com.

The Recall Mattucci 2024 effort has its initial signatures and is waiting till the first of the year to start the process. Both groups are intent on avoiding a special election so their timelines are designed to make the Nov. 5 ballot.

How late was it?:

The Oct. 17 Council meeting adjourned at 11:01 p.m., but the Oct. 24 session ran until 12:35 p.m., ending their roll of quitting before midnight.

Before I go:

Want to tell the City Council your opinion on an agenda item or address 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.

Jean Adelsman

Feel free to share this email -- or tell friends about www.TakeBackTorrance.com. 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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