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. ;)