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AES and Chamber: Deceit, Deception, Thinly Veiled Racism

Shame on our Chamber for being the mouthpiece of AES' deceptive propaganda

Rather than focus on how to keep Nordstrom’s in Redondo, our Chamber of Commerce instead wasted their energy on a mailer supporting a cause that threatens the success of our harbor revitalization.

Last week the Chamber teamed with their platinum sponsor, AES, to put out a mailer that stoops to deception, hypocrisy and now a new low—thinly veiled racism. No wonder some Chamber members are leaving the organization. The organization has become an embarrassment to our City.

The front side of the new mailer compares the conversion of all of El Toro Marine Base (runways, hangars, fuel depots, base housing, operations buildings, and more) to a 1,347 acre park to Measure A’s rezoning of AES’s 52 acres. That’s right. The Chamber thinks we are dumb enough to buy their comparison of a project the size of a third of our whole town and 26 times the size of the AES property to Measure A’s mix of commercial and recreational land uses. I don’t think Redondo residents are as stupid as our Chamber seems to think.

The inside of the mailer is filled with factless, fearmongering and deceit and is signed by six of the Chamber leaders. One line in particular sinks to a new low:  thinly veiled racism. It describes the recreational open space element of Measure A as:

“a regional park that would attract users from throughout the Los Angeles area—adding costs for... litter control, police patrols,... and vandalism repair”

It does not take much to see they are trying to imply that the “users throughout the Los Angeles area” mean inland minorities. This is an unfounded, despicable, and desperate tact. 

First off, the recreational zoning includes sports fields, wetlands, jogging and bike trails, etc. Go to Aviation, Alta Vista, and Perry Park and you will see hundreds of Redondo residents and their kids making good use of these parks. We need more. Redondo Beach is below the State threshold for “park poor.” And, yes that includes the beach. And no, you can’t play soccer, baseball or basketball in the ocean—so it doesn’t replace our lack of parks.

Second, let’s look at the crime statistics. Over the last 90 days, Veteran’s Park had 6 police reports. No violence, theft or vandalism. On the other hand, Riviera Village had 32 police reports. And the area around the Galleria (they don’t report crime at the Galleria) had 137 police reports. Both these areas had crimes that included assault, theft and vandalism. Perhaps the Chamber should focus on improving these statistics rather than attacking the recreational element of Measure A. 

Third, the Chamber is hypocritical. When the Chamber wanted us to vote for Measure G they made a big deal that the zoning added parkland uses to the AES site. A Chamber website post: 

“Why you should vote YES on Measure G on November 2......Parks, open spaces and recreational facilities as future uses of the AES power plant site

The Chamber supported Measure G. The Chamber used parks to sell Measure G. They implied parks would replace the power plant. Now they use the park element to attack Measure A. How hypocritical can our Chamber get?

Here’s another blatant attempt to deceive residents without any regard to facts. The mailer says Measure A "eliminates a vital source of tax revenue". 

Today, according to AES, their taxes and fees account for about $400K of Redondo city revenues. That is less than 4/10ths of 1 percent of the annual city revenues. For comparison, harbor and pier parking brings in $1.8 million for the City each year. I would hardly count $400K as “vital.” But beyond that, the Chamber deceptively neglects mentioning the 430,000 square feet of commercial development included in Measure A. 

Measure A is not just recreational open space, it includes up to 430,000 square feet of commercial development. This element was built into Measure A for two reasons. The commercial zoning gives AES ample residual value for their property. In addition, the commercial development will more than cover the cost of park maintenance. 

Measure A includes the same commercial density that the Chamber-supported Measure G zoning allows in the harbor. Certainly City revenues from this commercial element would blow away the paltry revenue the City realizes from the power plant.

Perhaps the worst assault on our sensibility is the Chamber’s total disregard for the risk a new plant would represent to our Harbor revitalization. The City and CenterCal are just starting to work together on what is touted as $100M+ in investment in the harbor and pier. 

City studies call the power plant “the major blighting influence” in the harbor area. The studies show that over a nine-year period harbor businesses grew at just 10 percent the revenue growth of businesses throughout the rest of the City. Any reasonable person would draw the conclusion that the Chamber should oppose the new power plant because of the impact and risk it represents to this $100M harbor revitalization. But then, AES IS a Chamber Platinum Sponsor. Could that money influence Chamber Leaders?

Shame on our Chamber for throwing residents and harbor businesses under the bus. Shame on our Chamber for using unsubstantiated fear mongering. Shame on our Chamber for deceptive statements and comparisons. But worst of all, shame on the Chamber for playing the race card—a desperate and despicable tact.

Perhaps the Chamber should focus more on keeping Nordstrom’s in Redondo, and let the residents decide whether we want an unneeded, blighting, polluting eyesore on our waterfront.

Measure A is our ONLY chance to rid our waterfront of our unneeded, ill-used power plant. If we fail, we will have another blighting, polluting eyesore through 2070.  

Measure A is written by residents for residents. Measure A is good zoning and it is fair zoning. Measure A is good for AES, good for harbor businesses, good for residents, good for our our kids and generations to come, and good for City revenues. 

In March, Vote "Yes" on Measure A.  

Go to www.nopowerplant.com and http://aesredondomustgo.blog.com for more information.

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.

Robert Keane December 09, 2012 at 07:10 PM
"But worst of all, shame on the Chamber for playing the race card—a desperate and despicable tact." You sir, are the despicable one. I don't see any reference to race anywhere in your quote from the mailer. That is your own personal hate and bias coming through. It is a fact, that people from outside the city will use a park at that location and anywhere there is a concentration of people (not just minorities), there is more litter,vandalism and the need for more police. Take a look at our beaches during the summer. Your refusal to stick to the issues and instead try your hand at fear mongering and hate has truly told me the type of man you are. You have hurt this cause and not helped it one bit with your hate filled, race baiting article. Herr Goebbels would be proud. I only wish I lived in council district 1 so I could VOTE NO FOR JIM LIGHT.
Bruce Szeles December 09, 2012 at 10:06 PM
Jim, Have you done any projections or models on what the revenues would look like with a new power plant vs. the commercial establishments that could go on the rezoned AES land? I agree that both the Chamber and our do nothing councilmember from district 4 have done little to address crime around the Galleria or the growing empty store fronts on Artesia Blvd. and yet both areas still draw in big dollars for the city. In fact those big dollars are spread through the city with very little coming back to the area that generates the revenue. Yesterday I was walking home from Neighborhood Grinds along Vanderbilt Lane and I came upon a young lady hitting a tennis ball against her garage door. Do you know there are zero tennis courts in district 4? Do you also realize that while city leaders already have plans to build an aquatics center right next to the beach there is no place to swim in district 4? Maybe when you get elected you can help the people of district 4 and all of North Redondo get some park amenities here in the North end of town.
Jim Light December 09, 2012 at 10:13 PM
I've done a number of approximations, but it all depends on the final mix of uses. But just putting a parking lot in place of the power plant would generate more city revenues than the plant. And don't forget the negative impact on harbor area businesses and property values. Eliminating the power plant would increase city revenues from both these sources. Bruce - you know I am for the expansion of recreational facilities throughout the city. Even with the new park at the power plant, we will be park poor, but we will be moving in the right direction. We've had unbalanced zoning since 1992. It is time to get more balance in the City's zoning decisions. A balance between developer profits and resident quality of life. I am dedicated to balanced development. And I have a vision for our town that reflects our seaside village roots and attracts quality development.
Jim Light December 09, 2012 at 10:31 PM
I did not write the flyer; the Chamber and AES did. So if it is the concentration of people that drives the results as you state, then why did their flyer highlight "users from throughout the Los Angeles area"? Why not just say a park would drive those results???? Hmmm? Your argument falls through. And it falls through even more if you look at the actual crime statistics. As I pointed out in the article, Redondo commercial areas have more crime than Veterans Park. If the park is a mix of sports fields, wetlands restoration and bike and jogging paths, it won't have the impacts cited in the flyer. I do stick to the issues. I responded to their mailer - which tries to divert resident attention from the real issues with unsubstantiated fear mongering. Here are the facts that they refuse to address : 1) The new plant is not needed. Two new plants coming online next year will more than meet our requirements for the future. 2) The new plant would pollute more than is currently reported based on AES' own environmental report. 3) The power plant has negative impacts on business revenues. Why allow a new plant when we are just starting a $100M revitalization of the harbor across the street? 4) The power plant generates less city revenues than commercial areas with the same footprint. 5) The site is tightly surrounded by high density residential and other incompatible uses. Opposing the power plant is a no brainer. The Chamber is conflicted by AES donations.
Fred Reardon December 10, 2012 at 05:53 PM
Should we boycott Redondo Beach Chamber of Commerce Member Businesses? Regretfully, it appears we should boycott Redondo Beach Chamber of Commerce Member Businesses until they choose to change their position related to supporting a new power plant? The Chamber’s shortsighted agenda, related to misleading the public and endorsing a new power plant, will pollute and threaten the health and safety of our families and neighbors for generations. Study after study is being released outlining the harmful effects related to living in close proximity to a power plant’s toxic plume. Why is our own business community supporting increased levels of deadly particulate matter? If you want to send them a message, here is a link to the website: http://www.redondochamber.org/allcategories I am strongly considering taking my business elsewhere. Should we do business with people that kowtow to AES and support a plan that allows AES to pollute our families while making a bunch of money at our expense? AES and the Redondo Beach Chamber of Commerce do not own the air we breathe. If the Redondo Beach Chamber and Visitors Bureau receive public funding, perhaps it should be our mission to see their funding cut off? Could this bizarre endorsement of pollution by the Chamber be a result of AES & Desalination supporter’s contributions? I can’t imagine that all of the great businesses in the RB Chamber are really supporting this new pollution? This is insane!
sheri patterson December 10, 2012 at 06:36 PM
The Chamber mailer paid for by AES most definitely wanted to spark an element of fear within residents. They are suggesting inlanders would come to this park. They cited "users from throughout the los angeles area"--they did not say users from Torrance and Hermosa Beach. I appreciate Jim's research because as it turns out, commercial areas should be the bigger concern. Facts do matter. Thank you, Jim. 430,000 sq feet of development is roughly 2-3X the size of the Metlox/Shade Hotel development in Manhattan Beach. To characterize Measure A as one giant park is very dishonest. Here we have the Chamber of Commerce and Visitor's Bureau pushing for a polluting power plant that will most definitely continue to characterize Redondo Beach as the step child of the South Bay. A parking lot would bring in more revenue than the peanuts AES pays and we won't have the additional expense of increased absences from school, increased illness and disease from 500% more deadly emissions. Redondo would also be able to host a hotel that has more than a measley 3 STAR rating! Just the increase in TOT tax alone would be reason enough to support Measure A. The business reasons to support Measure A are numerous and the fact that the Redondo Beach Chamber is on the wrong side of this critical issue, has for me, made them not only irrelevant in any future political campaign, but also an embarrassment. I will never trust the Redondo Chamber again. Future mailers from the Chamber = Trash!
Jim Light December 10, 2012 at 07:00 PM
I don't support a boycott of Redondo businesses. I don't think it their fault. I think the leadership of the Chamber is misguided and conflicted by AES platinum sponsorship.
Robert Keane December 12, 2012 at 11:57 PM
Typical fringe group behavior. Defending racist rants and refusing to denounce unacceptable behavior. When will people just deal with facts and leave race alone
Jim Light December 13, 2012 at 01:51 AM
Robert, You fail to address the hypocrisy in the Chamber's fear mongering. Why did they tout the park in Measure G and now attack it in Measure A? AES paid thousands for this mailer. I am quite certain every word was heavily scrutinized and targeted toward the results of their phone surveys. The mailer is unsupported fear mongering. And the statements are not born out by evidence in our own city records. It is an insult to the intelligence of Redondo voters.
Jane December 26, 2012 at 04:26 AM
It's pretty clear that Light is grasping at straw when he pulls the race card.
Jim Light December 26, 2012 at 06:37 AM
On the contrary, it is AES and the Chamber that are grasping at straws. Note their latest fear mongering propaganda dropped that line.
Jim Light December 29, 2012 at 08:12 AM
Bruce, We recently analyzed a similar study of revenues from a power plant or alternatives. Based on that study, we could conservatively expect City of Redondo revenues of about $8.5M per year from a mix of commercial and hotel development under the square footage allowed by Measure A. Right now, the City gets less than $400K per year from AES. This will go up with a new plant, but without UUT taxes, the revenue would be dwarfed by the commercial revenues allowed under Measure A.

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