Published February 21, 2008

A light from the east
Dear ER:
I work at a real estate company in New York that specializes in investment sales and retail store leasing. I stayed with two friends in Hermosa Beach over New Years and I could sense change was occurring (“Gallery C ends, Mermaid in escrow,” ER Feb. 7). There was a condo being developed right down the block from their beachside house. And now, large plots of land are being bought along the beach. For what? Probably retail. Hermosa seems like the perfect combination of people and location. Even an old girlfriend of mine from Westwood said she could see herself living in Hermosa Beach. With all of these changes, gentrification seems imminent. With gentrification comes great real estate opportunities. Instead of a development trend downtown toward the Staple Center, which is what I usually hear about, will there instead be a trend toward these beach communities? Is this is a good time to buy real estate in Los Angeles? Do you think the Hermosa Beach buyers bought at the right time?
Zach Fox
New York

A wealth distribution problem
Dear ER:
Manhattan Beach School Board Trustee Amy Howorth claims, “Our property taxes do not stay in Manhattan Beach. They go to Sacramento and are divided throughout the state. We need the ability to keep some funding local.” Ergo, we need to pass a parcel tax or bond (“School board weighs new bond, property leases,” ER Feb. 14).
What is wrong with this statement? Well, it is just wrong. Property taxes help fund the City of Manhattan Beach, which, according to Bruce Moe, is flush with cash, with a General Fund increase in the last fiscal year of $2.91 million, due largely to surging property tax revenue.
The real problem is that the city won’t share its bounty with the School District. Our neighboring cities are not such scrooges. Santa Monica provided $7.2 million to its schools in the last fiscal year. Beverly Hills provided more than $8 million. Meanwhile MBUSD is wringing its hands over a loss of less than $1 million in funding from the state for the next fiscal year.
You’d think councilmembers Nick Tell, Jim Aldinger, et al, would give MBUSD a generous gift to show appreciation for excellent schools and rising property taxes. Providing funding for local schools is a smart investment. And we know the city can spare that $2.91 million increase in revenue — neighboring cities give their schools so much more.
Maybe our City Council needs a wake-up call. Parents of school-age children should call Tell, Aldinger, Cohen and the rest of the council and nudge them to pitch in a few bucks for the schools.
Olivia Stinson
Manhattan Beach

The gospel according to Paul
Dear ER:
In reading your article on the recent election (“Obama, McCain win Beach Cities,” ER Feb. 14), I noticed you failed to include Ron Paul in either the table of vote tallies or in the text of the article. This seems to me to be either a case of sloppy journalism or bias. In either case, I expect more from the Easy Reader. Ron Paul has garnered a significant segment of voters nationwide who are fed up with the current state of constitutional abuses going on in this country. I voted for him to register a protest vote against this state of affairs. I didn’t expect him to win but I did expect to see Ron Paul votes to show up in the newspaper accounts of the election. I plan to vote for Barack Obama in the general election and trust my vote will appear in your tallies after his victory in November.
Norm Heske
Hermosa Beach

A pat on the back of Barack backers
Dear ER:
On behalf of all of the South Bay Precinct Captains for Senator Barack Obama, I want to thank the residents of Manhattan Beach and Hermosa Beach for strongly supporting Senator Obama during our recent primary election. I talked with many of you over the past few weeks preceding the election and was again reminded why our cities are such fantastic places to call home. For all of you who requested yard signs, hosted an event, passed out literature or helped in other ways, we thank you.
Senator Obama’s margin of victory in the South Bay was historical and impressive — Manhattan Beach (56 percent), Hermosa Beach (58 percent). This shows that his message of hope, strong respect for the constitution, and his call upon all of us to help him set a new course and direction for this nation is exactly what we need in this incredible and unique moment in our history.
Stay active and involved. I look forward to seeing you all at the polls in November
Mitch Ward
Manhattan Beach Councilman
Precinct Captain, Barack Obama ’08

Fiscal flu
Dear ER:
The PTA, The Educational Foundations, community assets, and the hearts and souls of the generous people of Manhattan Beach will once again be asked to give to the MBUSD budget. Are we just downright too sentimental, stupid and foolish? School Board Trustee Bill Eisen is right.
The demise of fiscal common sense in Manhattan Beach is much like the seasonal flu: every year a new strain. The radical rage of 2004 that promised to knock heads, shake things up and put MBUSD back on a fiscally conservative, reserve oriented, prudent financial path, is already dying, along with the flames of our recent construction inferno. Excepting the moral argument for adequate teacher salaries, the rising cost of education is due primarily to entitlements, waste, incompetence and a leadership vacuum. Education is becoming re-segregated by socio-economic class. This is a sinister but effective exclusion of the most needy.
The expected budgetary savagery, either this year or next, this buzz saw approach to solving gross errors is the unfortunate legacy of the Jerry Davis, Mary Rodgers, and Gwen Gross era.
To exclude seniors from the burden of a parcel tax is an attempt to buy my vote, and that is morally/legally wrong. I stand with the two-thirds regardless of the outcome. Rewrite this recipe for disaster or it will repeat itself. Please, show us one ounce of socio-economic common sense.
Donald A. Sellek
Manhattan Beach

RB zoning in peoples’ hands
Dear ER:
Hooray, the people of Redondo have spoken. The petition to change the city charter has passed a pivotal first step. At some point, the people will have a chance to vote for this initiative and create an amendment to the city charter that allows for a public vote on any major land use changes. In the coming months, you’ll hear the city say things like: “This will blight our community by scaring away developers;” “You’ll need a vote to fix up your house;” “The city can’t survive without adding density and new development.” All of which are designed to sidetrack the good people of Redondo. This initiative will only affect “major land use changes,” not small lots and home projects. Developers will still flock to Redondo to build, but now we’ll have a say in what they can do. Don’t believe the city can’t survive unless we create high density on every open corner. Look at Monterey, Santa Barbara, and Newport Beach. All these cities have very strict zoning regulations. The property values in those cities are higher than here in Redondo. Creating an urban, high density beach city will do nothing for your property value or your quality of life. Don’t buy what the city is about to sell you.
Ben Schumacher
Redondo Beach

Hermosa’s tax-itis
Dear ER:
Why does the Hermosa Beach School District, with parent support for their children, need to provide approximately $1.2 Million through a parcel tax? In recent years there was Measure J, a $13.6 Million bond to build a gym and library for Valley School that was approved. Then there was Measure A, a $13.1 Million bond measure to pay the remaining costs to finish building the gym and library that the first bond didn’t cover that was turned down. Now they want us to approve a parcel tax for money to cover school programs such as class-size reduction, science, music, art, and physical education that may only fund these programs for approximately five years. Will the Hermosa Beach School District attempt another parcel tax in 2013? What about struggling families and people who are in the 40- to 65-year-old range who can’t afford an increase in their property taxes? The City of Hermosa Beach has tax-itis. When will this stop? Attempts have been made recently by the City of Hermosa Beach to impose increases in the business license tax, street light tax, park tax, and utility tax; to establish a new landlord commercial square footage tax; and to pass a pay increases for city council members, thanks to Michael