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Blog: Does Particulate Matter, Matter?

How much do we really know about pollution from the proposed AES plant?

The Jim Light/Bill Brand/Measure A Ticket in next month’s election uses a number of methods to convince voters to change zoning of the AES plant. One of their methods is the use of particulate estimates from the AES repowering application.

If the Light/Brand/A Ticket prevails, the city’s zoning will allow a park and limited commercial development on the AES property. Bill Brand has suggested 800 hotel rooms on the property could help fund his park.

Measure A is not a plan to build 800 hotel rooms. Neither were the zoning changes the Redondo Beach city council voted on in 2002 a plan to build 3,000 condos. But the people behind the Light/Brand/A Ticket want you to believe the city was on the brink of building 3,000 condos, and they saved us from it. Back then, they objected to the remote possibility zoning changes would translate into a project to build condos—nothing more.

Let’s say someone, like me, felt the same way about Measure A for the same reasons, it will allow for the remote possibility of 800 new hotel rooms in the city. And let’s say while I’m trying to convince you this is a bad idea, I use air pollution as one of the reasons I think you should support an initiative I’ll call Measure Munns.

I would tell you something like this. Bill Brand’s estimate of 80 percent occupancy would translate to 640 rooms rented every day. Each one of those rooms would require one car or van trip to check in and one to check out. That’s 1,280 car trips per day.

Then let’s assume the park attracts 200 visits per day. That’s one car trip in and one car trip out, 400 car trips for the park per day.

I’d also estimate the other allowed commercial uses such as a Birkenstock store, would need to get 500 visits per day or 1000 car trips. That turns out to be 2680 car trips per day, 365 days per year or 978,200 new car trips into and out of the city generated by Measure A.

We all know automobiles account for a vast majority of the air pollution we breathe. So on the basis of the facts above, I want you to vote for Measure Munns, which will change zoning to include absolutely no human use of the 50-acre AES property, because that’s really the only way to make it pollution free.

I know I’m right and everyone who opposes Measure Munns is wrong. But everyone other than a few of my closest friends might have a few questions.

You may want to know how much of that pollution is going to get into your lungs and the lungs of your family. You might want to see a model of how that pollution is actually distributed by things like prevailing winds and thermal air currents. You might also want to know how that increased pollution compares to pollution produced by alternative uses of that property.

The two biggest dots you might want me to connect for you are between the existence of an irrefutable increase in pollution and the effect on your health and the health of your family. I want you to agree with me and vote for Measure Munns but if I suggest everyone in the city will have emphysema in 5 years or your children will need to wear gas masks when they go to the beach, I’ll end up with no credibility and I’ll deserve no support.

So you, as a citizen, have a right to expect me to answer all those questions before you believe in Measure Munns enough to vote for it. Don’t you have the same right to get the same data from the Light/Brand/A Ticket before voting for Measure A?

The Light/Brand/A Ticket has invested considerable time and money to get your vote. What they haven’t invested in, is any kind of study that would answer all those questions about Measure A. If the Light/Brand/A Ticket is going to ask for your vote, don’t they owe you the most basic data on the effects of the pollution they’ve attempted to use to frighten you?

All I’ve seen so far is the particulate numbers provided by the AES application and statements by a couple doctors saying particulate matter is bad for our health. I think I can get the same doctors to say the same things about Measure Munns. If not, I’ll get some others.

Make no mistake, everything I mention above that you wouldn’t know about Measure Munns and that you don’t know about Measure A can be measured or fairly accurately estimated. Why hasn’t the Light/Brand/A Ticket spent some of its money providing you with those measurements and estimates?

Because while the Light/Brand/A Ticket hopes Measure A will be about pollution for you, it isn’t about pollution for them. If AES announced tomorrow that the new power plant would produce nothing but pure oxygen and Perrier, the Light/Brand/A Ticket wouldn’t skip a beat. They’d find a whole new set of reasons why you should let them plan our city’s future. A NO vote on Measure A is a YES vote for Redondo Beach.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Jim Light February 21, 2013 at 01:33 AM
Harry, Your numbers are off for trip generation for the uses you have cited. We ran some analyses but you can play whatever games you want to derive the numbers you want. But even with your evaluation the increase in annual traffic is less than 1%. Measure A allows more development for the uses that generate the least traffic. If we had 35 acres of all regional park, it would add about 20 peak hour trips per accepted trip generation tables. Each soccer field would add about 20 peak hour trips. The worst traffic would be if we built out at 100% maxed out restaurants, but that is one of the most restricted uses. None of the scenarios produce more particulate pollution than a new power plant. In the end, Measure A IS a compromise. While some prefer all park and open space with no development, we had to give AES fair value for their property. And we wanted the commercial portion to generate enough city revenues to pay for the sustainment of the open space. So we compromised. Besides all that, we get another bite at the apple. Any development project under Measure A will have to go through an environmental analysis prior to approval per CEQA. So we can decide then if the additional traffic and pollution is worth it. Yes Measure A adds a few percentage points of traffic, But we stop a polluting power plant from blighting our waterfront for the next 50 years.
Harry Munns February 22, 2013 at 12:04 AM
The fact remains Jim, two people, you and Bill Brand, neither of whom has a scrap of urban planning expertise, concocted Measure A. You then went out and lied to people to get them to sign your petition. You failed to do your due diligence in coming up with any connection between the new power plant, air pollution and public health. Your claim of evaluating other uses by saying, "we ran some analyses" is about a solid as all of the other evidence you offer. You often have lots of statistics to quote, but anything more than a casual look at what you offer as proof of your assertions turns up a complete lack of substance. If you guys would just be honest and tell people a vote for Measure A is a vote based solely on emotions, instead of offering deceptive and non-existant science, I'd probably leave you alone.
Jim Light February 22, 2013 at 12:23 AM
Harry - I have lied to no one. And we did due diligence in defining Measure A zoning. We started with the harbor zoning and kept the commercial density the same. We took view protection elements from Dana Point Harbor. We took horizontal zoning concepts now used in multiple thriving cities. Then we looked at the traffic using ITE Trip Generation Tables (which I am trained in using) and we added incentives and bonuses for those uses that would create less traffic. That is why Measure A allows substantially more hotel, office and institutional development than restaurant or retail development. We then took the State Coastal Conservancy's study results and chose the 70/30 to 60/40 split. We then developed the heights, setbacks, FARs and other elements to make sure we could fit the commercial development in the allocated land. We then posted the zoning on the web and held numerous public sessions over an 8 month period to get public input. We incorporated feedback from residents, businessmen, bicyclists, boaters, Commissioners and Councilmen. We then sat down with the State Coastal Commission staff and incorporated their inputs. We then turned over to one law firm specializing in land use law for the final language. And then we had another law firm specializing in land use law review it. There is no lack of substance Harry. This was a lot of work. And it was hardly a casual look.
mark schoennagel February 22, 2013 at 12:25 AM
Could you please spell out how voting against measure A is a YES for Redondo Beach Harry? Your article only points out that you do not personally believe pollution is harmful to your person. Ok fine, no problem. What then Harry is a positive for Redondo Beach? I see it on the AES paid for No on A signs "Protect Redondo Beach" perhaps you just read the sign? By the way, if AES does get to rebuild the plant they will surely further develop the remaining land, probably some easy to build and sell cookie-cutter condos. If that's the case we get AES's pollution plus all the added traffic pollution those new condos would bring. Sorry Harry, your argument just doesnt hold up. Regardless, hopefully in 20 years most of us will be driving pollution free electric cars further eroding your point. Truth is there is nothing positive for Redondo to gain with a new power plant. NOTHING. YES ON A! Its time for a better Redondo!!
Harry Munns February 22, 2013 at 12:49 AM
Jim, when you instructed volunteers to tell citizens the petition that got Measure A on the ballot would get rid of the power plant, you instructed others to lie for you. I call that a lie. By your own repeated admission, you and Bill Brand started with a park and worked backward. Your question was, how can we get the park we want. Then you set about creating a flimsy set of conditions that you hope will allow you to move forward with plans for your park. You can't argue with that one. You just admitted it.
Harry Munns February 22, 2013 at 12:50 AM
The questions voters need to ask is how that piece of property, whether it's the 38 acres we're actually going to get to plan or the 50 acres in your fantasy, will best serve the future needs of this community. There are tons of demographic, economic and social trends that need to be analyzed before these kinds of decisions can be made. Shifts in population age, family size, income, energy prices and travel patterns and much, much more are the things that responsible communities study when they have an opportunity to do this kind of planning. Responsible communities don't rely on 2 guys too decide these things in a blissful late night meeting over a kitchen table. If Measure A passes it will just need to get fixed sometime in the future. It will cost us money and time to do that. I don't blame you for not understanding what's at stake. If Measure A passes. I will blame you for creating the mess that responsible leaders will have to clean up sometime in the future.
Jim Light February 22, 2013 at 01:12 AM
Now Harry, how could you have known what I instructed people to say? I have the briefing charts I used and it says it forces the CEC to analyze the power needs. You are inaccurate about the park as well. We started with the premise that the commercial must support parkland maintenance and must give fair value to AES. That is why we started with the Harbor zoning from the start. The conditions are not flimsy. Measure A is finely crafted and legally vetted.
Jim Light February 22, 2013 at 01:18 AM
Measure A has lots of flexibility to take into account all the trends you highlighted. That's the beauty of it. The commercial can go almost anywhere on the property. It can be all one development or it can be spread around the 50 acres. The recreational uses are wide open and undefined. There is the opportunity to craft entrances that best accommodate the specific traffic. I would bet Measure A is the most flexible and best balanced zoning in Redondo's zoning ordinance. Measure A lets future councils work with the future owner flexibly and it allows the future Council's to change it through normal city processes. From your statements it does not appear you've read Measure A. BTW you forgot to tell folks your 38 acre option includes an 80 foot tall blighting, polluting power plant for 50 years. Measure A is our only chance to stop a new power plant on the waterfront. And time is critical. If need be a future Council can change zoning. But once the power plant is approved, we are stuck with it for two more generations.
John Mirassou February 22, 2013 at 05:09 AM
Jim, when you say "our," to whom do you refer? Redondo residents will have many more chances to voice their opinions. The CEC process is 18 months to two years in length. Question, why did you include a giant 30 acre county regional park in Measure A if you're real goal is to get rid of the power plant? What's getting rid of the power plant have to do with a park anyway? If you are that worried about pollution why didn't you include zoning that AES would embrace? They then would be happy to sell. Could it be Measure A is just a shell game so you and Bill Brand can get your park?
Fred Reardon February 22, 2013 at 08:59 AM
I would not recommend listening to the people getting paid to write posts in support of a new polluting power plant. These paid pro power plant paid cheerleaders will write anything to scare you into believing their propaganda. Read Measure A. Visit nopowerplant.com and make a decision. There is no benefit to our community with a new plant. The pollution is real. All you need to do is look at AES's application to the California Energy Commission to see the drastic increase in particulate matter. Study after study shows the negative effects associated with particulate matter. It causes cancer, lung disease, asthma, headaches, autism, etc. Don't believe the politicians that hope for a revived "Heart of the City plan." They're still hoping their dream of a new powerplant surrounded by thousands of condominiums will come true. If you vote no on measure A that is what will happen. With the right wind conditions and this new powerplant running at higher rates and with lower smokestacks closer to the ground, we are sure to breathe in this toxic plume. Don't let these people, who don't care about our health, pollute our community. Vote Yes on Measure A.
Jim Light February 22, 2013 at 02:42 PM
We included up to 35 acres of parkland, open space and/or recreation. There is nothing in Measure A that requires a "regional park". Measure A allows for a variety of end results.... it good be all soccer, ball fields, tennis courts, etc. It could be a restored wetlands. It could be like Wilderness Park. The zoning is wide open on how we use the parkland, open space, recreational part of Measure A. We did that for several reasons: 1) The development density allowed by A is the same as in the harbor. It fits on land we set aside in Measure A. More development on this site is not warranted for a number of reasons. 2) It was the recommended mix in the State Coastal Conservancy's study fo similar successful projects. 3) It generates much, much less traffic. 4) It is listed as the highest preference of coastal land use in the California Coastal Act. This will be part of the Coastal Commission's deliberation. 5) IF we as a city decide to buy the property, organizations like the State Coastal Conservancy have committed to help. They would not help if it was a small park wedged in a large development project. Nor will they help build a small park in the shadow of a power plant. 6) The people of Redondo have twice voted for a park on this site. Our Chamber and City Council used is as a strong selling point for Measure G zoning. 7) Redondo has been deemed Park Poor by our ratio of parkland to residents.
Bob February 22, 2013 at 02:44 PM
Fred do you have any data at all that proves that the particulate from the Power Plant causes cancer or any other of your scare tactic hysteria to citizens of Redondo Beach? Do you have any data at all to support that the citizens of the City of Redondo Beach have higher incidents of Asthma, Cancer, Lung disease etc as opposed to citizens of other cities local to Redondo? If you can't prove these claims you should stop scaring residents. Please be specific in your studies that you show, and not just general?
Bob February 22, 2013 at 02:47 PM
Jim, I am asking this respectfully, are you and the No Power Plant People ready to assist the City of Redondo Beach with the lawsuits that will come down from AES? I have ready many different posts on the "taking of Property issues" and that is fine, but when AES begins the lawsuits, will you and the No Power Plant folks share the costs with the City of Redondo Beach? Theoretically, they should not be able to have these lawsuits until 2020 and I know by then many people will be gone. But I do think it is a valid question.
Jim Light February 22, 2013 at 02:52 PM
We already have attorneys in the Community who have volunteered to help defend against any lawsuit...that is how strongly they feel about the No On A fear mongering on this point. To the extent that BBR and NPP have funds availalbe we have offered our attorneys. We would fund raise to maximize this support. Residents have been very supportive.
Bob February 22, 2013 at 03:00 PM
Thanks Jim, although I am not in favor of this issue at all, I have always found your responses to be very respectful and filled with content. I am not in favor if dirty air, but I am also not in favor of taking an established business away. I believe that there will be million of dollars in expenses if this passes. And I just don't want that expense to go to citizens needlessly. I have heard comments that AES can't sue. That is simply not true. Any business can file a lawsuit, and there is always expense to defending yourself, even when you are right! That being said I appreciate your passion for your beliefs and wish you good luck on March 5th.
Jim Light February 22, 2013 at 04:08 PM
Bob - the City could have and should have ordered a health study. They did not. The residents can't fund everything. But if you google particulate pollution and health and then read the AES air pollution projections, it is not rocket science to conclude a new plant running more will pollute more and that is bad for anyone downwind.
Jim Light February 22, 2013 at 04:52 PM
Very flattering Bob - thanks. You are absolutely right, anyone can sue for anything. But we built Measure A to withstand legal challenge. And while aES can sue anytime, our legal analysis says they do't really have a case until 2020 or they come forward with a development plant that the city denies. I am hopeful that once A passes, AES will come to the table to negotiate rather than plunge into lawsuits that would be a waste of money and time for both sides. We built flexibility in Measure A... our number one intent is to get the CEC to deny the AES application.
Alexander Starr February 23, 2013 at 02:40 AM
Munns - The link below shows the study the City of Chula Vista (a city that won their fight against a new powerplant and Feb. 3 demolished the plant!) commissioned to show the health impacts of a power plant on their waterfront. http://aesredondomustgo.blog.com/files/2011/05/AQImpacts2PowerPlants.pdf Highlight: "The maximum cancer risk estimated for the 650 MW plant was 2.98 cancer cases per million and for the 65 MW plant was 1.14 cancer cases per million. For both plants,polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) contributed most to the cancer risk. The location of the maximum cancer risk impacts was at the nearest residence located 350 meters from the site to the east. A number of federal, state, and local regulations identify cancer risks above 1 in a million to be significant." Munns- is this study enough for you? You keep writing you need studies to prove that pollution from a powerplant is bad for our health. Well, here it is!
mark schoennagel February 23, 2013 at 03:01 AM
Very interesting read Alexander, thank you for posting. I noticed it was well referenced with no wikipedia references which apparently is bad. Included as a reference was this link from the United States Environmental Protection Agency: http://www.epa.gov/ttn/oarpg/naaqsfin/pmhealth.html According to the EPA our residents that are most affected by the pollution from the AES plant will be children and the elderly. I guess you people who actually want a power plant don't see that as the "taking" ones health do you? Remember the new plant will put 15 times more pollution in our air on top of it. Ya know, I see the word "Protection" in Environmental Protection Agency. I think we all know what the EPA "protects" us from, definitely one of the good-guy government agencies. I also notice the tag line for No Way on A is "Protect Redondo Beach." Of course AES paid for the the slogan and signs- its printed proudly on them right under Protect Redondo. Now I've asked a few times but no one wants to answer, what exactly is AES protecting us from? They certainly are not protecting our children and seniors. Anyone from AES care to enlighten us? There are several paid AES people commenting here so maybe one of you??
Alexander Starr February 23, 2013 at 09:26 AM
What the No on A "Protect Redondo Beach" slogan really means: "Protect AES Redondo Beach"!
Fred Reardon February 24, 2013 at 08:11 PM
These Judas Iscariot like characters (paid AES spokesmen) know AES would not come to the table with any solution that did not involve polluting our families lungs with additional particulate matter. Everything about this company is poisonous including the way they mislead our community. Vote Yes on Measure A.
Tim Sole February 25, 2013 at 12:55 AM
Not sure about Judas, I am sure I just paid for the second tire on my SUV, that has been ice picked since I stood up against Measure A. The first one two weeks ago, I wrote off as stupid kids doing stupid things, two in as many weeks, not so much. Upside, the Firestone store in Redondo Beach got to sell me two more tires, I also them rotated, adding evening a few more dollars to the local economy, the downside, I DON'T RUN OR HIDE.........

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