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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 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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