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Blog: Hats Off to Volunteer Signature Gatherers

Volunteer signature gatherers follow the footsteps of our nation's forefathers.

For the past two weeks, about 100 volunteers have been giving up their free time to collect petition signatures to get the Power Plant Phase-Out Initiative on the ballot. These dedicated citizens have walked door-to-door or stood at Redondo grocery stores, farmers markets and other locations giving up their summer in the hottest conditions this year. While it it is great to meet residents who are supportive of the cause to rid our waterfront of the 's industrial blight and pollution, I don't think there is a single volunteer who doesn't have things they'd rather be doing. My hat is off to all of them.

What makes these volunteers tick? 

Most see this as a once in a generation opportunity. The last time Redondo had this opportunity was 1944. 

That opportunity was pushed to the wayside by the post World War II housing boom and the need for locally generated electricity. At that time the grid had much more limited transmission capability, plus ocean water cooling was much cheaper and at the time the area was already industrialized. But in 1960 construction of King Harbor was started west of the power plant... this represented a game changer and started the influx of incompatible residential and commercial uses. Fast forward 68 years, and we find a rarely used power plant that is non-essential to grid reliability tightly surrounded by high density residential, hotel and commercial development right up to its property lines. 

Many of the signature gatherers do not want to let this opportunity slide by again. 

Some are parents concerned about the impact of the air pollution on their children. Some are businessmen and women concerned about the negative impact on surrounding business revenues. Some just want a new waterfront residents can be proud of. 

And some signature gatherers were sparked into volunteering due to a sense of justice. These volunteers were so offended by AES' deceptive and heavy-handed marketing campaign that they felt something had to be done. Many residents have complained to us about the forcefulness of the AES phone survey where they felt the caller was trying to bully them into saying they support a new power plant. It has come to light that many of the pro-power plant speakers at the last council meeting that addressed the power plant issue, were treated to a cocktail party by AES at just prior to the city council meeting. And many saw right through the misleading AES mailer sent to about 10,000 residents. For example, AES' use of pollution statistics for the whole L.A. Basin and Orange County to try to imply a new Redondo plant adds little to our pollution. This marketing flies in the face of an AQMD official's testimony that in Redondo, the power plant and traffic are the two main sources of air pollution. And, that as a fixed source of pollution the power plant is a very substantial polluter for those in proximity to it. The deceptiveness of AES' marketing campaign drove these residents to take action.

And a large majority of the volunteers are appalled at the inaction of the city council. The bottom line is, if the city council did their job and fulfilled their obligation to represent the voters, there would be no initiative in the first place.

But regardless of their motivation, the signature gatherers follow in the tradition of our nation's forefathers. When the government ceases to adequately represent the people, the people take action. These signature gatherers are true patriots and represent the biggest force in democracy—the power of the people. They are what makes this country so great. 

A debt of gratitude

Redondo and Hermosa residents owe these signature gatherers their gratitude. Rather than sit around and complain about AES and our Council's refusal to act, they stood up and dedicated themselves to fight to get the issue in front of the voters. They voluntarily sacrifice their summer... their time off, time with their families, and time when they could be doing any of the other things that consume our time when we are not at work. 

These volunteer signature gatherers refuse to squander this once in a lifetime opportunity. And they are not afraid to take on a multi-billion dollar company from Virginia... a true David versus Goliath battle. And in doing so, their fight benefits the present and future generations of residents and businesses in Redondo Beach and Hermosa Beach. 

So when you see one of these crusaders at your door step, walking down your street, or standing in front of a grocery store, please consider stopping and giving them your thanks for their sacrifice and dedication. A little pat on the back goes a long way.

Oh, and also give them your signature if you are an eligible Redondo Beach voter who has not signed the petition yet. ;)  

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.

Jane August 27, 2012 at 01:55 AM
Somewhere I read that if this were a church, and not AES, this rezoning would be illegal on its face. It's too bad that a group of people in Redondo, whether Nazi, Socialist, Facist, or just plain misguided think they can curtail property rights FOR FREE by engaging in the spot rezoning of this parcel. The easist analogy I can give is, if Jim Light or Bill Brand had rental property in Redondo, and a group of citizens decided to write an initiative to ban rentals at the addresses of those specific properties. That would be NO DIFFERENT than this. Another example would be to say that the conditional use permit for Church XX that's in an R-1 area will be withdrawn effective immediately, thereby banning any future use of the area other than for R-1 without any CUP. Those are both very close examples to what we're seeing right now.
Jim Light August 27, 2012 at 04:25 AM
I wouldn't expect them to. That's what we paid the lawyers to do.
Jim Light August 27, 2012 at 04:41 AM
Jane, In 1992, the City downzoned much of the residential property in the city. It wasn't illegal. Under your arguments the city would never be able to rezone because it would be a "taking" impacting someone's property rights... and that just is not the case. Your examples of the church and the rental property are way, way off. First, the power plant must either be rebuilt or undergo substantial refit due to new environmental law. They cannot rebuild the plant as is. Second, power generation is already a conditional use. A new facility or major upgrade is subject to a new conditional use permit in addition to state requirements for power plant and air pollution permits. AES has no "right" to a new power plant...not just by local ordinance but by multiple state regulations. Third, there is ample evidence in city and state documents showing the negative impacts of the plant on the environment and on the health and welfare of the surrounding community. Forth, the new zoning gives AES ample economic value for their property. And fifth, the initiative leaves the property in the hands of AES. Hardly like either of your examples. Mayor Gin vetoed a mixed use project that conformed with zoning requirements simply due to the fact that the development was out of character with the neighborhood. In this case the reasoning is backed by overwhelming and undeniable data.
Jane August 27, 2012 at 03:20 PM
Jim Light completely makes the point - you can downzone MUCH OF THE PROPERTY, what you cannot do, is downzone ONE PARCEL. Jim Light intentionally ignores and redirects the valid arguments - but I would expect less from some spearheading an initiative that will ultimately cost the city millions if it chooses to defend it, which, it does NOT have to. That precedent was set by Prop 8 and the State - no defense is required by the City, so perhaps our tax money will be safe.
Jane August 27, 2012 at 03:23 PM
By the way, the fact that AES will have their permit process underway in September will much bolster its claim that this is a legal taking.
Jim Light August 28, 2012 at 01:25 AM
52 acres, four parcels, spot zoning? Get real Jane. That is one huge spot.
Jim Light August 28, 2012 at 01:28 AM
They have zero claim if the CEC denies their permit. The fact that we posted our notice of intent and are now collecting signatures bolsters our claims. Your argument doesn't stand scrutiny.
Dan Buck September 03, 2012 at 12:12 AM
Hi Tim, Maybe this will help... http://www.aqmd.gov/webappl/fim/default.htm Click the Red “Start Searching…” Select “Facility Number” enter 115536 Click on Emissions Tab Click on pull down for the year desired or go directly to http://www3.aqmd.gov/webappl/fim/prog/emission.aspx?fac_id=115536. Interestingly these numbers don't correspond to the EPA Clean Air Markets website which shows much higher numbers for NOx in 2011. Most importantly, read what the California Air Resources Board has to say, "“We’ve long known particulate matter is a major component of California’s air pollution problem,” said ARB Chairman Mary D. Nichols. “These new studies underscore the need to eliminate the threat from California’s air.” http://www.arb.ca.gov/newsrel/newsrelease.php?id=268 Jut the facts here..
Jim September 03, 2012 at 01:40 AM
Just rode bikes back from Fiesta Hermosa, and was thinking how much more beautiful it would be without that horrible edifice! Just imagine a park, mixed use restaurants, shops. Maybe a true city center! A place of pride and and a draw for business and pleasure. We're fools if we don't make this happen!
Fred Reardon September 26, 2012 at 03:44 AM
Jane, Steve, Bob and Tim, obviously your more concerned about defending a polluter than you are  concerned about the overwhelming evidence related to the increased odds of getting cancer, lung disease, asthma, heart disease, pregnancy complications, etc. when living in close proximity to a power plant toxic plume. I guess your hoping that, because the toxins released from smoke stacks are invisible, people will think it's ok for AES to pollute the air we breathe. We have a legal, moral and ethical right to oppose any new pollution that can harm our families. You and AES do not own the air we breathe. You have all these concerns about AES's rights. What about RB citizen's rights to clean air and our right not to be exposed to chemicals that can make us sick. You oddly make the argument that you are so concerned about rights that profit a Virginia based company at the expense of our health. Your so concerned about costs. Therefore, factor in the costs related to economic development and quality of life diminished via noise and landscape pollution and adverse health costs inflated via air pollution. While your evaluating the costs, don't leave out the most important costs in the equation.
Bob Boren September 26, 2012 at 03:49 AM
Fred, stuff it you leftist. This isn't about "pollution". It's about liberty and capitalism. You may be too stupid to realize that, but those you are blindly following know it very well. You are their pawn. Enjoy that, dummy.
Tim Sole September 26, 2012 at 03:59 AM
Fred, do you protect the second amendment, do you believe in the first amendment. Do you even know what they are? I despise the sight of that plant when I drive over the hill to the beach. What I really despise is losing "LIBERTIES", we can't take some of theirs (AEG) without losing some of ours. It is simply time to "MAN UP" and reverse the slippery slope of the loss of "LIBERTIES" in this country.
Jim Light September 26, 2012 at 05:35 AM
If facts don't support your cause, just resort to name calling - the tool of bullies with no defendable position.
Jim Light September 26, 2012 at 05:46 AM
Tim - there is no right to build a power plant. If you are saying zoning restrictions are a loss of liberty then we started losing our liberties even as the country formed in town hall votes on land uses. Redondo has defined allowable land uses from the time it was formed. The argument that a company has a "right" to build whatever it wants regardless of impacts to its neighbors or community is ludicrous.
Tim Sole September 26, 2012 at 02:22 PM
Good Morning Jim, this country wasn't created for "Collective Rights" , it was created for each person to define his or her own choices. We have slowly destroyed that by telling our neighbors what they may or may not do. This is simply another case of that. And as I said, I despise the look of that power plant just like most other people.
Jane September 26, 2012 at 02:27 PM
This move undermines property rights through spot rezoning.
Mike2 September 26, 2012 at 02:44 PM
Fred, the plant has been there for 100 years and used to be 100 times as dirty and there is not one known case of cancer. BBR says scare tactics this is horrible, praying on the fear of kids not being be able to play outside (BBR propaganda brochure). How's that Kook-Aid.
Jim Light September 26, 2012 at 04:05 PM
Jane - Get real... 52 acres and four parcels is hardly spot zoning. You are cracking me up.
Jim Light September 26, 2012 at 04:06 PM
@Tim - Well, you are partially correct our founding documents defined individual rights- but not the rights of a corporation to impact the rights of people. The country was also built on measuring and executing the will of the people. And this was used on land use changes from the start. In New England some towns still use the method our forefathers used to determine land use changes, especially controversial ones - votes at town hall meetings. AES is a corporation not a person. The rights of people to health and welfare should trump the purely profit-driven desires of a company when there is a conflict between the two. ...
Mike2 September 26, 2012 at 04:49 PM
Mr. Light, you call the fear of a lawsuit fear mongering but look at you. The plant has been there for 100 years and there is no known case of disease caused by it. Yet you show pictures of kids with a gas mask on. You should be ashamed of your double speak. Please provide "legitimate" examples of people sick from living near the plant. On the other hand, you don't think it's a taking of private property. There's a whole lot of people that disagree with you. If there is a lawsuit a court will decide. Potential cost to the City is conceivably in the hundred of millions of dollars. Residents will have to pay. We only have to go next door to Hermosa for an example. This is a real and legitimate concern and you dismiss it with a simple wave of your hand because it does not fit with your views. You spin facts to force your "Opinions" on our community. That's what you do. No matter how much you rant and rave. That's what you do! No wonder you are accused of fraud
Jim Light September 26, 2012 at 08:17 PM
The plant has been there since the 50's not 100 years. A salt lake was there in the 40's and before. As to the health impacts. BCHD has stated there is no local study to document any health impacts to Redondo. Heck the AQMD hasn't even tested the air here. They derive it from monitors that are miles away. These models assess regional not local impacts. It IS well documented that particulate and ozone exposure have dramatic health impacts and there is NO lower threshold of safety. The AQMD rep testified to that in the last City Council meeting. There are a number of kids with asthma in the area. Even Aust said he had it as a kid. Because there is no lower theshold, the more we lower the pollution, the better for the health of those living in its footprint. As to the lawsuit argument: The Hermosa debacle is a red herring. Hermosa broke a contract for oil drilling. Here we are rezoning after AES' contract expires. Apples and oranges. We've never said AES couldn't sue. We have stated we have legal opinions from multiple firms saying this rezoning is legal. We have said we should not stand by and do nothing just because the threat of a lawsuit. The positive fiscal and health impacts of ridding ourselves of the plant outweigh the hypothetical cost of a lawsuit. I don't force my opinions on anyone. Please tell me how I do that. And please point out exactly what I have done that is fraud. i can back everything I say up with documented references.
Mike2 September 27, 2012 at 06:10 PM
Force your opinions: The initiative is your opinion of what the waterfront should look like then you twist facts to fit your opinion. Then spread lies, like below, to sell your point of view. Fraud: By your own definition above "there is no actual study to document health impacts in Redondo." Your facts: "there are a number of kids with asthma in the area." Yet, you strongly insinuate in your brochure that kids can't go out and play. There are a number of kids in the area overweight. Should we blame that on the powerplant because kids cant go outside and play? Regarding the lawsuit: Apparently you are willing to risk hundreds of millions of dollars that you are right. That is one hell of a risk to place on the residents of Redondo Beach for your opinion of what the harbor should look like. At the very least instead of claiming "scare tactics" should you not publish a statement: "Yes, there is a potential lawsuit. Our legal team believes we will win the lawsuit. However, if we lose there could be a large settlement that the City will have to pay and may have to raise taxes to pay the settlement." Should you not say that BBR has sued the city twice and lost once so your expert legal opinion and crack legal team are 1-1 when it comes to the validity of lawsuits. Since you seem to dismiss the threat of a lawsuit so quickly I wonder if you have even considered the implications if you are wrong.
Jim Light September 27, 2012 at 08:55 PM
Mike 2, Forced Opinion: While I drafted the initial initiative zoning, the end product was much changed from public input. The initial draft was based on our harbor zoning and then incorporated elements of zoning from Dana Point Harbor, Marina Del Rey harbor area, and horizontal mixed use zoning methods from the east coast. We went through 8 versions over six months of public input. This is far more than the city does . Our zoning incorpoarates specific comments from: - residents - harbor businessmen - current and former commissioners - multiple City Councilmen and the mayor - boaters - bicyclists - the State Coastal Conservancy - State Coastal Commission Staff This is hardly my opinion. It is the product of a variety of stakeholders. And no one was forced to sign the petitions. So Mike2, there is no forced Jim Light opinion. I could not force this on anyone. But someone had to write it down and I served that role until we turned over to lawyers for the final legalese.
Robert Greene September 27, 2012 at 09:00 PM
I love watching Jon Stewart. He is especially great at calling people out as hypocrites in presidential campaigns. They are so busy spewing their own agenda, they don't seem to realize they are doing the exact same as the other party. It is truly funny. If you haven't watched, you should. Dem or Rep ...he doesn't leave anyone out. Jim Light. Every time you make a comment about people "drinking the AES Kool-Aid" I laugh out loud. I guess you can only drink one Kool Aid. The AES Kool Aid or the BBR Kool Aid. Don't be such a hypocrite. You're feeding your people the anti AES kool aid and just can't take it when someone wants the other kind.
Jim Light September 27, 2012 at 09:14 PM
Mike 2- Fraud: There's no fraud. The mailer cites facts and references our sources. Here are the main facts we provide evidence for: 1) the pollutants from power plants are bad for people's health 2) In particular children are susceptible to impacts to the development of lung function by exposure to pollutants produced by power plants 3) the proposed AES plant would produce tons of these pollutants - more than reported from today's plant 4) there is no safe threshold for some of these pollutants like particulate matter So you tell me Mike2, would you really want to allow a new plant that would increase pollutants that could impact your child's lung function development? AES' mailer called natural gas clean burning and the new plant would be even cleaner, we provided a different perspective. Lawsuit: You pull "hundreds of millions" of dollars out of thin air with zero substantiation. What will AES' land be worth if they don't get a permit to build the new power plant? From that perspective our zoning provides more value for their property. 15 to 20 acres of waterfront commercial zoning with a 430,000 sq ft development cap next to a park is very valuable property indeed. Sure AES can sue, anyone can. We have had multiple lawyers independently look at the zoning initiative and they feel it is legal and very defendable. Should we cower and do nothing? AES is running scared or they would not have made their latest concession.
Jim Light September 28, 2012 at 12:53 AM
If someone makes an attack on those who oppose the power plant by namecalling or opinion without any basis in fact or in denial of the facts, I call it out. When the argument parrots the same unsupported or misleading rhetoric used by AES then I call it "drinking the AES Kool-Aid". For example AES uses LA Basin and Orange County-wide statistics on pollution sources to try to fool us into believing how little AES contributes to our air pollution. But, the AQMD rep testimony to city council verified what we have been saying... in Redondo Beach our main contributors to air pollution are cars and the power plant...and as a stationary source, the power plant impacts can be more critical. That is an example of how AES has published misleading facts to fool the public. When we publish a number or fact about the power plant and its impacts we have a reference and in most cases we have posted that reference for any of the public to make their own assessment. Actually, I might be more accurate to label it "drinking the AES cocktail". It is now well known that the one Council meeting that had a number of pro-power plant speakers was immediately preceded by an AES sponsored cocktail party at Chart House.
Robert Greene September 28, 2012 at 05:05 AM
Again you take the facts and skew to suit yourself. An event was hosted by the RB Chamber before the Council mtg. to which you refer. It was not a "cocktail party" nor was it sponsored by AES. The people who spoke later at the meeting did so because of their beliefs. It was a gathering of people who supported the compromise position that AES offers. No one was coerced into speaking after a cocktail. They're adults. They make their own decisions. BBR and NoPowerPlant hold meetings and rallies all the time. So, according to your logic from above, I guess that all people who've attended Council meetings and spoke pro initiative must have been at a BBR Kool Aid party. Otherwise, why would they get up and speak? They must have really been persuaded by the Kool Aid to voice their opinions against AES because the Kool Aid was soooo good and sponsored by BBR! YOU'RE A HYPOCRITE! You continue to finger point while doing the same thing you accuse AES of doing. I called you out on it and you just turned around and did it again. Hey, you should run for office! Your double speak will make you a great politician. It is insulting that you continue to insist that people are "on the AES payroll" or "drinking the AES kool-aid or now as you so claim, cocktail" if they support a compromise position that differs from your own. BBR and newcomers to your organization were entered into a raffle to win a trip to Hawaii to join on and gather signatures.
Jim Light September 28, 2012 at 05:45 AM
The difference between NPP's parties and the AES party is that at NPP parties, people donate to fight the power plant. A supporter donated time at their condo in Hawaii. Supporters bought tickets. The winner is responsible for their other expenses. NPP did not put out any money to fund the prize. We had residents, a councilman, and a reporter give us a different account of the pre-Council party. I never said people were not there of their own free will - you said that. Are you saying AES was not there? Who picked up the tab? The Chamber is a joke in this case. With AES as a Platinum sponsor of the Chamber, the chamber's position is conflicted. Several of their members have voiced their opposition and disappointment that the Chamber never even polled their members before taking a position. The division of the Chamber members was highlighted in an LA Business Journal article. AES does not offer a compromise. They want a new power plant AND mixed use development on the rest of their property. They engaged developers and have yet to hold a public input meeting. Residents get more traffic, more power plant blight, more pollution... AES gets even more profit. You call that a compromise?
Alexander Starr September 28, 2012 at 05:49 AM
"Resident reports AES compensating/incentivising residents to do community outreach" Read details at: http://aesredondomustgo.blog.com/page/4/
Jim Light September 28, 2012 at 05:55 AM
It is funny that out of a dozen City Council meetings regarding the power plant, the only one that any real turnout (about 30 people) of supporters for the power plant was the one where the party preceded it. It is also funny that the Council railed when one of the 70 some power plant opponents at the meeting commented the supporters must have bused in. We now know the Council was aware of the pre-party. Perhaps they should not have been so indignant as they knew the truth was not far off.

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