HBforum01014 (ran 10-11-01)

Candidates support chamber, lambaste two ballot initiatives

by Robb Fulcher

Council candidate Michael Keegan looks out at the forum gathering at Sangria Restaurant. Photo by Robb Fulcher

In their first pre-election forum before the voters, candidates for three seats on the city council expressed polite agreement on a broad range of topics, opposed two much-discussed ballot initiatives and supported the local chamber of commerce.

Responding to criticism of the crowded Fiesta Hermosa street fairs that fund the chamber of commerce, the candidates told more than 100 people gathered at Sangria Restaurant on Friday that the fairs should continue, or the city should give the chamber one percent of the hotel bed tax it collects.

City council incumbent JR Reviczky said Hermosa’s chamber is rare in receiving no city funding, and the proposal to use part of the bed tax "has some merit."

"The chamber has asked for one percent of the bed tax and I think that would be a fair thing," city school board member Mary Lou Weiss said. "The chamber needs to either continue with the Fiesta or receive other funding."

Candidate Brian J. Murphy agreed.

"Seeing one of the Fiestas eliminated would be silly. They provide 99 percent of the chamber’s funding," Murphy said.

"I am not opposed to using some of the bed tax to fund them," said Public Works Commissioner Michael Keegan. "We need a viable chamber," to promote and support local businesses, he said.

"I do not support eliminating one of the Fiestas," said Art Yoon, who used to serve as an aide to U.S. Rep. Steve Kuykendall. The Labor Day weekend street fair creates a "family-oriented" environment for the summertime beach-area crowds, he said.

Two candidates suggested reconfiguring the chamber’s fund-raising events.

Planning Commissioner Pete Tucker, making his second run for a council seat in two years, suggested moving the Labor Day weekend street fair to February, and perhaps involving restaurants in a "taste of Hermosa" event.

"The downtown is real viable in the summertime, but they need something to rejuvenate it in the winter," Tucker said.

Planning Commissioner Ron Pizer said he "suggested the chamber use more creativity" in its fund-raisers, perhaps spreading them out more throughout the year.

"I didn’t get a warm reception," Pizer said.

The candidates jumped all over two initiatives that will appear on the Nov. 6 ballot: Measure H, which would repeal the city’s 6 percent utility users tax, and Measure F, which would place additional restrictions on events in a wide swath of coastal Hermosa.

"Measure F would be a very dangerous initiative to pass…We don’t need more government in our lives," Keegan said. "Is anyone for it?" he asked, looking down the row at his fellow candidates.

"I signed the ballot argument against it," Reviczky said.

"It’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing," Weiss said.

"If Measure F was in effect today, we wouldn’t be able to have this forum. We’d have to go to Sacramento or somewhere to get a permit," Tucker said.

"If you’re trying to require youth soccer to get permits to take pictures out on the pier, I think you’re going too far," Yoon said.

"Measure F would take away control over our coastal area. I think it’s ridiculous," Murphy said. ER