The hit a new low in Redondo politics.
After months of deliberation and multiple Council meetings, our Council refused to pass a resolution opposing a new . They did nothing despite data presented that the California Energy Commission has denied new power plant permits in 97 percent of the cases where local governments voiced opposition. There is only one case where the CEC denied a permit without public opposition. So their lack of action plays right into AES' hands. Our City Council voted to be an "intervener," but how do you be an intervener if you have no position?
We were priveleged enough to have Peter Brand, a senior project manager from the California State Coastal Conservancy, come to the council meeting to talk about the potential to turn our blighted power plant site into public open space and parkland and commiting his agency to help make it a reality. Mr. Brand has worked dozens of similar projects up and down our state an has brought millions to communties that surround us. He has already paid for a study that demonstrates Redondo is park poor and identifies opportunities to expand parkland. The report concludes that the AES site is the number one opportunity to add parkland and open space in the whole South Bay.
How did our council receive him? Our council who has actually decreased public parkland and open space during their tenure? Our council who has never worked a project like this in their lives? They scoffed and laughed at him. Our council brought shame and embarassment upon our city. Their performance was appalling. Mr. Brand told the council over and over again, our city is not ready for funding until they set the vision, the zoning and policy to create the conditions where a large park is possible. He put it in very elementary terms. Yet certain of our pea-brained council asked repeatedy: "Where is the money?" Shame on these councilmen.
On a second agenda item, Mayor Gin stated his opposition to rezoning the AES property to parkland and commercial zoning equating it to changing your residential property zoning to a parkette. Really? Let's dig into this a little.
Firstly, he seems to forget that even the current zoning for the AES property makes power generation a "conditional" use. AES has no "right" to assume they can build a new power plant. Rebuilding a power plant already requires City Council approval under current zoning.
Secondly, Gin ignores that the AES plant has become tightly surrounded by uses that the City has deemed "incompatible" with the power plant. Many of these "incompatible uses" were approved by Mayor Gin in previous actions.
Thirdly, Gin ignores that the power plant has a negative health and fiscal impacts on all its neighbors. Isn't the city trying to repaint our harbor as a "resort destination"? Why would Gin throw residents, surrounding local businesses, and vision for a reinvigorated harbor under the bus for AES, a company based in Virginia? AES takes the profits, we get the pollution and blight. Nice. Perhaps Mayor Gin forgets that one of the main responsibilities of City government is to protect the health and welfare of its residents. Sorry, but rezoning a residential lot to a parkette is apples and oranges to this situation.
Finally, Mayor Gin seems to conveniently forget that he has voted for rezoning property to different uses on multiple occasions in the past. For example he supported the conversion of commercial property on Catalina Avenue to residential zoning. Why all of the sudden this change of heart? Mayor Gin's rant at the council meeting seems hypocritical.
But perhaps the most revealing part of the proceedings was the incongruence between the statements of AES and their actions. Mayor Gin asked AES Project Manager Jennifer Didlo their plan on engaging the public. AES's slick marketing piece mailed to 10,000 residents states: "As state and local agencies review our plans, we invite you to do the same." Yet Didlo's answer to Mayor Gin was "we are still working that out." To add insult to injury, a developer testified they were working with AES on what they could do with the excess property.
Apparently, AES is very proactive on working with a developer but behind the power curve on engaging the public. But this should be no surprise. Remember, they filed their plan with the State Water Resources Control Board before telling the public or even our city council. They are preparing more documents for the state and they are working with developers, but they are just working out how they engage the people who will have to live with the plant for the next 50 years. We are last on their list as we represent a minor speed bump to their plan to build a new power plant and develop the rest of their property. I am sure they will throw in a postage stamp sized park to say they listened to the public. AES states that they care about communities they have power plants in, but if they really cared, why do they still operate coal-fired power plants?
I had hoped the city council would actually pass some resolutions with teeth opposing the power plant. Sadly, it looks like once again, if residents want to preserve our health, welfare and quality of life, we have to take matters into our own hands. As one supporter pointed out, the inaction of our council renders them the irrelevent city council.