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Adelphia aces cable transfer

by John Tawa

The Manhattan Beach City Council Tuesday night approved the transfer of the city's non-exclusive cable television franchise from Century-TCI California L.P. to Adelphia Communications Corporation, effective immediately, but not before securing several concessions from the new operator that should enhance cable service to the city and resident subscribers.

Among the items negotiated by the city are free public internet access at various public facilities, including City Hall, the library, Joslyn Center and Manhattan Heights; a two-hour customer service window in effect by January 2000; and the provision of equipment and personnel to televise the meetings of the School Board at no cost to the district or subscribers.

Adelphia also agreed to fulfill the commitments Century Cable made during the last transfer agreement in 1995 and to refund, over a 12-month period starting Jan.1, 2000, $111,809 that Century overcharged subscribers for Educational and Government fees.

Councilmember Steve Napolitano raised the issue of open access to the internet by third parties using the cable system. To date, Adelphia has resisted the open access idea, wanting to bundle access to the internet with the internet service provider of its choice. The city's agreement, however, gives the city the right to require Adelphia to provide open access should Adelphia provide it in any of its other service areas or should the courts rule that monopoly access is illegal.

In other council news:

By 3-2 vote, the council agreed to install stop signs on Marine Avenue at Palm Avenue and Elm Avenue, a first step in efforts to slow traffic on Marine between Sepulveda Boulevard and Pacific Avenue. The installation of painted crosswalks at the intersections having stop signs and changing signage at the entry points to Marine to reflect its residential character received unanimous support.

In deciding to install a stop sign at Elm instead of one block further west at Pine Avenue, the council discounted the recommendation by traffic engineer Richard Garland, who expressed both safety and traffic management concerns about a stop sign at Elm. Instead, the council adopted the position of the Marine Avenue Neighborhood Association, many of whose members spoke at the meeting, which advocated the stop sign at Elm rather than Pine.

Mayor Linda Wilson and Mayor pro tem Tim Lilligren voted against the immediate installation of the sign at Elm because of timing, preferring to wait until the narrowing at Sepulveda was accomplished before deciding where the stop sign should go.

The stop signs and crosswalks should be installed within a week or two. In November, the council will consider the remaining Marine traffic measures in an implementation plan currently being developed.

The council also heard from its financial analyst Kathy Head on the economic viability of the new Tolkin Group proposals for the Metlox site. Head concluded that the projects, which include a 40-room inn, some commercial, restaurant and office space and parking, either below ground or structured above ground, would generate approximately $300,000 to the city per year in tax revenue.

However, under the scenarios presented, any hope for recovering the $5.5 million the city paid to buy the land was all but gone.

"The land value if you consider a ground lease at this size of development is all but gone," she said.

The council will conduct a study session to discuss Metlox in depth Oct. 26 at the Joslyn Center beginning at 6:30 p.m. ER



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