March 2021 Meeting Minutes

Beach Cities Democrats
March 31, 2021 Meeting Minutes
Taken by Andrea Valcourt, Secretary

Tony Hale, Vice President, opened the meeting and Bob Pinzler led the Pledge of Allegiance.  Then, Tony said this is another endorsement meeting.  This time for Hermosa Beach City Council candidates.  He reviewed the agenda and it was unanimously approved.

Next, he asked for new members/visitors.  Don Bramhall, who graduated from the University of Michigan, introduced himself and said he worked on the Biden campaign and was an organizer.  He lives in Riviera.

Connie Sullivan asked if he wanted to run for City Council in Torrance.  Don replied that he would consider running and that he wanted to get more involved and keep California Blue.

Andy Stabile said he is husband of Tara and is also an alum of the University of Michigan.  He would love to support the Democrats here.  Adding that he got interested when he heard Bill Clinton talk, while he was at the university.

Tony thanks the new folks for being here and asked for announcements.  Todd Lowenstein replied that he wanted to thank us for our support and will work to implement our Democratic agenda.

Zein Obagi also thanked us and said he was getting sworn in the next day.

Vanessa Potter said she put the Beach Cities Health District’s EIR link into the Chat Box.  BCHD is vaccinating educators and have started the second round.  If you know someone, who needs a shot, call us.  We are going to homes with the extra shots.

Tony said that we’re moving to the endorsements and Paul Seo is going to conduct this portion of the meeting because I am representing one of the candidates.  Remember that only paid-up members can vote Ashley Tull will monitor the voter names.  Edna Murphey, Treasurer, added that all the people attending are paid up.

Paul reviewed the process rules.  We have three Democratic candidates for one seat, so you can vote for one candidate or no endorsement.  Each will give a two minute opening statement and a two minute closing statement.  The question/answer period will be about 30 minutes and each candidate will have one minute per question.  Use the voting button on the right side of your screen.  An endorsement requires 60% of the votes and Ashley will tally the secret ballots.  We will rotate between candidates so no one always starts first.

Dean François said that some of you may know me from my local work and as president of this club.  I’ve served on several campaigns over the past 40 years, been active in local government, and have been on the Sierra Club board.  I worked on Federal government budgets professionally.  I’m endorsed by a long list of local government officials.

Dan Rittenhouse stated that he is a South Bay native and graduated from Harvard, majoring in government.  I’m qualified because I run an investment company that invests in green environmental energy.  I’m asking for your endorsement because I believe I’m the best choice for everyone.  Climate change is real and women should have a say over their own bodies.  I think we need younger people in office to bring a new prospective.

Tara McNamara Stabile agreed with Dan on these things.  I’m a journalist.  There are many environmentalists on the City Council.  I’m a life long Democrat.  This is the only endorsement I’m seeking.  I want to create a critical thinking app for the city to use to help get input from many people.  The app will ease the tension between groups.

Paul then said now I will read the first question, which was submitted.  Please remember these will be one minute answers.

Hermosa Beach is the most densely populated city in the area and the citizens here are concerned about adding more density and more traffic and overwhelming our city’s resources and capabilities.  However, Governor Newsom and some legislators are determined to increase housing to meet the State’s housing shortage without regarding to how densely populated an area already is.

To address this, the State legislature has passed or is working on passing laws to increase housing unit production to meet the lack of housing units in the state.  One such law proposes that a contractor can supersede city zoning laws and build 4 units on a single family dwelling lot.  A recently passed law relaxes requirements for an auxiliary or granny unit on certain single family dwelling lots and allows multi-unit/multi-story buildings along transit routes despite zoning height and density limits.

In addition, the California Department of Housing and Community Development has determined that Southern California must add 1,344,740 housing units by October, 2029.  This number triples the last 9 year allotment.  SCAG, or the Southern California Association of Governments, voted 64 – 1  on March 4 to accept the allotment and divide the 1.3 million housing units among the 6 counties and 197 cities it oversees.  This number is more than the existing units in Orange and Ventura Counties.  Some cities have seen their allotment go from 2 or 3 to thousands of units and some city officials say the plan is pie in the sky.

What will you do to protect Hermosa Beach from further overdevelopment, while working withing the constraints of these law?

Tara–we are densely populated.  We want to be a city where the people working here can live here.  I’d like to talk to PCH business owners about making some buildings mixed use.

Dan–60% of our residents are renters and I’m the only renter running, so I bring that perspective.  I think we should look to mixed use.

Dean—I don’t know the details of the laws, but I don’t think the city council is supporting them.  Mixed use is a way to go, but we don’t really have places for low income housing.

Paul asked what are your views on the AES plant?

Dean—I have been working with the Sierra Cub and want to work to get the plant converted to a park.  Redondo has had a long history with this.

Dan—the State Water Board ruled to extend it.  I think we need someone, who understands the grid, and having me on the council would be good because I have expertise in this area.

Tara—it’s in my line of sight at home.  I believe we need to get rid of this.  I’d like to collaborate with other cities to develop a campaign and get Governor Newsom involved.

Paul asked what specific plan do you have to engage renters.

Tara—my app will help with this.  Renters and owners are affected by the same issues and can give input via the app.  The Council can give input why or why not they agree with recommendations.

Dan—young voters are not engaged and my campaign is focused on younger residents.  Owners are faced with different issues.

Dean—I am a renter and a rental property owner.  Renters do need more accessibility to the council.  It’s sad that renters are being forced out because the prices keep going up.

Paul asked does Hermosa Beach do enough to make it safe for pedestrians and cyclists.

Dean—they have done a lot for cycling.  Enforcement needs to be visible to make it safer.

Dan—Hermosa Ave has been made safer for bikers.  I think we should partner with BCHD for crossing guard money and enforcement down by the pier.

Tara—I’ve been concerned about pedestrian safety.  Cyclists and drivers don’t stop at stop signs.  We could make art to make stop signs more attractive and draw attention to the stop.

Paul asked Hermosa pulled out of the filtration project.  What should Hermosa do next?

Tara—I think we need more filtration.  I think we should work with other cities to achieve this.

Dan—I know Redondo is looking to Hermosa to recover money.  I think we need to work with Redondo to get this done.

Dean—I’ve been actively involved with the filtration project.  I think it wasn’t handled very well with adverse effects to citizens.  I think there is a lot we can do.

Paul asked did you vote for Prop 15?

Dean—No.  It’s unfair.  Prop 13 won’t go away.  We can do more to make it more fair to new property owners.  We can try to influence what the state does.

Dan—It makes property tax stagnate.  I didn’t vote for it.  It didn’t do what was required.

Tara—I don’t believe I voted for it.  I’m running for things to make Hermosa Beach better and my app will help do that.

Paul stated Hermosa Beach is a small city and asked how can it work with larger cities?

Tara—I think we need my app to understand our needs and to work together.  I’m a mom and bring that perspective.

Dan—I think we can learn from the other cities.  Manhattan has good online services.  We can collaborate with cities on problems like the AES and the Torrance refinery.

Dean—We can work with neighbors on getting the CCA and resolving homeless issues.  We could develop another dog beach with other cities and work to ban HMS.

Paul said this is the last question.  What is your opinion on access to the Green Belt by all?

Dean—There’s a lot of hysteria by some.  We need handicapped access to all city areas.  I believe the Green Belt can be kept green and allow handicapped access.

Dan—I’m open to the Green Belt change.  I want to look at the EIR.  I want to make sure the Green Belt stays as a park.  I’m open to it.

Tara—To Dean’s point, there’s a lot of distrust.  I think my app would be good here.  Hard packed dirt would work and is used in parks.

Paul said it is time for the two minute closing statements.

Dean thanked everyone.  It’s time to build trust and help our unique businesses to recover.  I’ve been an active member before the council and I’ll be respectful of citizens coming before the council.  I will work on density issues.  Many have endorsed me.  It would be a great honor to be endorsed and as a past president.

Dan thanked the club for all it does.  I think Democrats are the best and we need to get younger voters involved.  It is important to get Democratic issues implemented.  I’ll be engaged with younger voters.  I can bring enthusiasm for the best town and keep is vibrant and fun.

Tara said we need to collaborate more and my app will help do that.  My ideas are to create more art, which will be free advertising as people take pictures, and open a Punk Rock Museum.  We need to make it convenient to come and shop and eat here.  We can create a parking app to see where spaces are available.  There are opportunities to be more neighborly.

Paul thanked the candidates for participating.  Now Ashley will run the poll and you’ll see the poll on your screen.  Select your choice and press submit.  Remember, only one selection.  One person phoned in and will text his choice to Ashley.

Ashley stated that no one met the 60% threshold and therefore no endorsement will be given.  The count was Dean 38%, Dan 33%, Tara 4%, no endorsement 24%

Paul thanked Ashley for running the tally and turned the meeting back to Tony.

Tony said the officer’s reports were next.  He said that we need to prepare for the Recall Vote and be united to not allow the Republicans to deny the will of the voters.  We need to get out the vote to protect Governor Newsom.

Edna gave the Treasurer’s report.

Next came the electeds reports with Todd Lowenstein, Councilman for Redondo Beach.  He reported that Redondo has an RFP out to revitalize the Harbor with a consultant to help with this . . . rebuild slips, the park, the sea wall.  Look for that in the next 9 – 12 months.

AES impacts the entire South Bay, even Manhattan Beach is affected, when the wind blows north.  I spoke to the governor about why it should be shuttered.  It was extended another year and the other three were extended for 3 years.  Hermosa has stood with Redondo.  After meeting with the governor, the State Water Board Advisory Committee met and barely listened to us.  This is a scam and we had experts to testify.  It is very hard as Democrats to have the governor shove this down our throats.  We can reach the governor, but he’s focused on the recall.  The state is selling energy to other states.  You should be angry because this was promised 11 years ago.  The Water Board will meet soon, but will probably extend AES.

There’s a pending law that will allow 10 units on a single house lot.  Please stay on top of this land use bill.  Al Muratsuchi is introducing legislation to limit land uses.  Hermosa Beach is the most densely populated and Redondo is second.

Mike De Toy, Hermosa Beach Councilman, said Hermosa has big news with its election.  He added that we definitely need to keep the pressure on the AES issue.

Vanessa Potter, BCHD Board Member, reminded us to get whichever vaccine is available.  It will be difficult.  Keep wearing a mask.  We may be facing another surge.  Our gym will be opening soon.  Keep washing your hands, wearing a mask, and keep social distancing.

Brad Waller, Redondo Beach School Board member, said there was a special meeting yesterday and we gave the go ahead to open schools—elementary first, then grades 6 – 12.  If you travel, quarantine for 14 days.

Tony then congratulated Zein and said we look forward to your reports in the future.

Sergio Carrillo, Regional Democratic Party Chair, thanked the elected for serving and Vanessa for being on the BCHD board forever.  Also, thanks to Brad for serving on the school board, which was one of the hardest jobs this past year.

He then thanked the candidates saying that Dean has been an activist forever and that he appreciated Dan and Tara for being willing to put themselves out there.

He added that it is difficult to support all of governor Newsom’s positions, but we need to fight against the Republicans’ recall.  The latest poll says that Californians are against the recall.  This will be a grassroot movement to stop it.

Todd said that he supports the governor, but the land use issue is critical.

Sergio added that this year there will be a virtual four day convention.  We’ll be asking for volunteers.  There is $100 fee, but volunteers get access to all areas

Tony said he will address the governor.  There are powerful people, who work against us.  We need to unit and be clear and concise, express our values and grow our strength.  With that we can adjourn the meeting.  Diane Wallace so moved and Edna gave the second.

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