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CenterCal Hosts 2nd Waterfront Meeting

CenterCal Properties is the chosen developer for multiple acres of the Redondo Beach waterfront.

CenterCal Properties and the city of Redondo Beach hosted their second workshop focusing on the Redondo Beach waterfront on Saturday at the Main Library in South Redondo Beach.

Residents were invited to attend the meeting to help craft a vision for the future of the waterfront property, which includes the Redondo Beach Pier and Pier Plaza, International Boardwalk, Redondo Beach Marina and Seaside Lagoon.

During the workshop, residents reiterated much of what was said at the previous meeting in November. Concerns included noise, obstruction of ocean views at the Village and nightclubs; however, people applauded CenterCal for listening to residents.

The next public meeting, scheduled for Jan. 17, 2013 from 6-8 p.m. at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, will focus more on specifics of the project.

CenterCal beat out finalists Lowe Enterprises and Pacifica Companies after a five-month selection process primarily because of its retail-first approach and strong financial backing, according to members of the city council.

Below is the live blog. Entries are in chronological order. Please forgive any typos or misspellings!

11:15 a.m.: Candidates for the March elections are milling around as people enter the room. I see Michael Jackson (District 2), Councilman Bill Brand (District 2), Jeff Ginsburg (District 1), Julian Stern (District 4), Councilman Steve Aspel (Mayor) and Kimberly Fine (District 1).

"The focus of this meeting is on the type of things you want on the waterfront," says facilitator Larry Lewis.

But first, a moment of silence for the Sandy Hook victims.

10:18 a.m.: "What do you want it to be?" Lewis asks after the moment of silence. He's explaining what the developers want to hear about with residents' visions for the waterfront. He also introduces Councilman Steve Aspel and Councilman Bill Brand. Brand's introduction is met with applause.

"The waterfront in many ways is the heart and soul of Redondo Beach as everybody knows," says Lewis.

10:30 a.m.: Time for speakers. Each person gets two minutes.

Lewis introduces Jean Paul Wardy and Fred Bruning of CenterCal.

"Thank you for spending your Saturday with us," says Wardy. "It's a very exciting project for us… We're very excited to bring an exciting project to the South Bay."

He wants to share what they learned from the last meeting. "Some of the things we learned are very general in nature," he notes, adding that he wants to hear more specifics this time.

Last time there were 32 comment cards and 32 speakers. People spoke about boat tie access, building heights and ocean views, community, noise levels, congestion, open-cafe style areas, a dog park, an ability to walk dogs, a new pier, small-local retail, beach living, no mall, parking, connectivity, bike access, hotels, no nightclubs, science areas, security and more.

Themes CenterCal wants to maintain (not complete):

  • Building heights that don't obstruct ocean views
  • Gathering place
  • Experience
  • Community events
  • Open cafe-style areas

Suggested improvements:

  • Accessibility/Bikeability/Walkability
  • Boat ramp
  • Traffic
  • Parking
  • Double-paned windows for condos
  • Creative art center
  • Boutique hotels
  • Small retail
  • Docking stations
  • Dog park

The feel should be hometown, welcoming, beach-y, reflecting long history but still moving ahead. The developers were told to take inspiration from Santa Monica, Fisherman's Wharf, Hermosa Pier Esplanade, Dana Point, LACMA, Laguna Beach, etc. but to stay away from the Fun Zone in Balboa and Marina del Rey.

(We're having a bit of trouble with the microphone. It's hard to hear.)

He shares some favorite memories of the pier from others.

The next meeting is Jan. 17, 2013 from 6-8 p.m. Once again, the word "charette" comes up. I don't know if that means what you think it means.

10:36 a.m.: Fred Bruning of CenterCal: "I think our first challenge with the project is to do no harm." He talks about the effect the project would have on boaters, residents,

They aim to improve access, improve people's experience and give a sense of happiness.

"If we can find a solution that does that, we're going to move forward," he says. "It's truly a remarkable place. ... It's a property that deserves to be cherished."

CenterCal's "sincere" desire and goal is to create an environment that's a benefit to the community.

"Nothing could be farther from the truth," says Bruning in regards to questions about adding a mall to the space. He says it would be comparable to the Promenade on the Peninsula in Rolling Hills Estates if they add a mall.

He emphasizes that most of the people on this project live in the area.

10:37 a.m.: Lewis notes that he met his wife in the South Bay.

NOW it's time for speakers. He's calling 10 at a time to line up.

10:41 a.m.: Clint Ally from the Village says many of the Village residents have hundreds of thousands of dollars invested in their views. "For that reason, heights and view corridors are extremely important to an awful lot of us," he says. He pleads with the developers to avoid a three-story building, even though it's allowed in the zoning.

He asks for a study to figure out how to minimize the impact on people who live in the Village. "I'm sure that kind of a thing could be done in order to affect as few people as possible to the minimum extent that you can," he says. He wants peace and quiet: "We live here and we don't want people out at 2 o'clock in the morning yelling."

He hopes the music establishments will stick to the International Boardwalk and where Brixton is.

10:42 a.m.: Christian Horvath of District 3: "I love Redondo and I love living here." He says he can't take his kids to the harbor, so he's hoping that this becomes similar to the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica.  "It really just has a great community feel and I'm hoping that we get that same feeling from the north end of Harbor Drive and all the way down." (He hopes CenterCal will work with the other leaseholders to improve all of Harbor Drive.)

10:44 a.m.: Linda Akyuz, an architectural historian, wants to know where they are in the environmental process in regards to CEQA. "I would like to see the correct environmental review done" and that correct preservation happens in the areas where it applies, she says.

"We're seeing a lot of cumulative effects of views along the waterfront being blocked by new buildings," she says, referring to a build-up of new buildings so they can't even see the water anymore.

10:46 a.m.: Ms. Zimmerman (I didn't catch her first name) is part of Redondo Beach Art Group. She wants an art gallery on the pier—it would "add a little class."

"For me, it's a matter of quality, not quantity, so the renovation should be with care and thoughtfulness and not something that looks like it's been thrown up or patched over," she says. She also asks for reduced parking for locals. "Quality is again what I'm asking for."

10:49 a.m.: Judith Opdahl, the executive director of the Cancer Support Community - Redondo Beach, is at the microphone.

"We are truly part of this community, and the Cancer Support Community has that name because we truly are a community," she says. She explains what the organization does. "We wanted to just say that we now have 4,000 square feet and that's good for us ... We are a nonprofit but we are a strong nonprofit."

They're interested in being a part of the new development. They want to meet with the developers.

10:50 a.m.: Mark Hansen of the King Harbor Boater's Advisory Panel is up to remind CenterCal about the boat ramp that they've been recommending for 12 years. They want the ramp in the south turning basin.

He talks really fast.

10:52 a.m.: Lea Shrigian (I'm pretty sure I spelled that wrong) is a business owner in Riviera Village who wants what's best.

"I think we all agree that it's not the buildings that make the place," she says. "I think that we need to really concentrate on providing more for families on a regular basis."

She emphasizes crafting and music for kids. "You want to go back there and back there because of the feeling—that builds," she says of the feeling she aims for.

10:55 a.m.: Scott Krohl in District 1 says the Redondo Landing entrance "looks fantastic. For once, I felt welcome on the pier." He wants community rooms, dining, entertainment and restrooms.

"I don't want to see nightclubs," he says. "You get a live band in there, you run into problems ... Look at Pier Avenue, we don't need that here."

He wants restaurants that will cater to all price points, and as for shopping, he calls them "the tourist crap stores." He wants stores that are more than T-shirts, visors, sunglasses, etc. "I just hope that we don't go too far overboard with the pier revitalization."

He also wants to limit fishing on the pier.

Bruning says he's in agreement about the nightclubs and late-night activities.

10:56 a.m.: Steven Sammarco of District 4 says his wife and he were married on the pier. There's applause. "The one thing that I want as a potential council member ... is to push back the March deadline for the vote of the council," he says.

This is a campaign speech. He's told people to visit his website.

10:58 a.m.: Susan Willi of the Redondo Beach Art Group reiterates that art should be brought out into the open at the pier. She wants the pier to stay local, but to have locals be able to take out-of-towners there. I'm not sure

"I would love to see this whole upper pier ... I think that would just be a little wonderful community in of itself with galleries, an art center, beach cafes and bistros," she says. No big box stores.

11:01 a.m.: Steve Shumaker of the Fun Factory says he wants to see more fun things on the pier. He's very excited about Barney's Beanery. "It's a very, very exciting kind of place," he says. He also is trying to promote a carousel and a small public aquarium. He had one back in the '60s that drew a lot of people.

One problem you have with art is the "city's rent structure does not promote businesses above the sunglasses and the T-shirts" because they want a certain percentage of the gross. "That's what keeps the pier from having the places that sell rather expensive things," he says. "I think as a landlord you should look at that."

Also, "the handicapped parking is really atrocious," he says.

11:04 a.m.: Dr. Andrew Lesser, a 20-year homeowner of South Redondo and a termed-out past chairman of the preservation commission and a current president of Southern California Labrador Retriever Rescue, says his two interests are history and dogs.

He wants to see Pacific Avenue extended as a themed walk street from Catalina Avenue to Torrance Boulevard. He wants a downtown area where Pier Plaza is. He also wants to be able to walk his dog.

He wants the city to build an entrance on Catalina Avenue to Czuleger Park. Dogs should be able to walk through the park to the project. He wants restaurants with dog-friendly outdoor patios.

"There are no restaurants with a walk-up window where you can order a slice of pizza and a hotdog with your dog," he says.

Though he's run out of time, he says he has one more thing to bring up: rising sea levels. The International Boardwalk used to be a city park, he says. They need to create a real boardwalk and have a real beach restored.

11:07 a.m.: Shirley Cabean from the Village and Residents for Appropriate Development is concerned about the timetable. "We can't really comment on what we haven't seen yet," she says. "We haven't seen any designs."

She says that the Village is the residential portion of the project, even though it's already there. "We want to be your customers. We want to be dining and shopping down there, especially as women," she says. She requests the developers come to the Village and visit, in addition to a longer timeline.

Her remarks are met with applause.

11:10 a.m.: Dean Francois says the "stepped-up, fast" process needs to be slowed down. He calls the deadline "ridiculous" and says there's "no reason for such a fast thing."

He wants to talk about the bike path. "The bike path gets a lot of good lip service early on, and when it comes down to what's going to happen, it ends up back on the street, butted up against some signalized intersections," he says. (Is he speaking against the Class I bikeway?) He wants to encourage people to take their bikes, pedicabs and public transportation.

He wants the councilman who represents the people in the area to have more "credibility" than the others.

"You'll have challenges with Portofino Way," he says. Maybe he's not totally against the cycletrack.

11:18 a.m.: It's Nadine Meissner again to speak about Residents for Appropriate Development. She thanks CenterCal for listening last time. RAD has its own Creative Visioning session. She asks all the RAD members to stand up. (They're all wearing RAD badges, too.)

A development should preserve views and view corridors, and possibly add view corridors, she says.

Now her husband, Al Meissner, is up to finish his wife's comments.

He says a business park at Pier Plaza could work. He reiterates what they've suggested before—bike paths, water features, low-scale development with non-chain restaurants and stores, small- to mid-sized theater with live performances, water access, the current police substation and possibly another one.

RAD feels like the city should hold more meetings like theirs.

He ignores warnings that his time is up and continues talking.

Bruning tells Meissner that he agrees. "I think if CenterCal and RAD get together, we can really come up with some RADiCal ideas," he says to groans. Bad pun!

11:21 a.m.: Mayoral candidate Eric Coleman is up. He's not even speaking to the developers. He's speaking directly to the camera.

"I remember it when the F word as in "fun" wasn't banned," he says.

He's implying that the city's palms were greased with this... and a lot more. I'm pretty sure some of what he's said is just false. (The city didn't have anything to do with the fish dying. They may have been influenced by the domoic acid neurotoxin, which is naturally occurring, and then ran out of oxygen.) He also says the pier doesn't require revitalization. I think most of the people who got up and spoke today disagree.

"I'm Eric Coleman and I'm running for mayor to save Redondo," he says.

11:23 a.m.: "My name is Bryce Furnell. I am NOT running for mayor."

11:23 a.m.: I didn't catch this person's name. He thanks the developers for coming out themselves, and not sending underlings, as well as not coming up with a plan until they're done listening.

"This process is NOT being rushed in my opinion," he says. He calls the area "blighted." "This process that we find ourselves in now has been going on for about 5-7 years."

11:28 a.m.: Joy Corradetti says hello to her neighbors. She's a 25-year resident. "Redondo Beach is L.A.'s best-kept secret," she says. "This is my home, and I'm very passionate about my home."

She has a business on the International Boardwalk. She wants the pier and the boardwalk to be more integrated, as she said at the last meeting. She also wants a promenade and/or strolling area to connect with the boardwalk.

"It's been very much neglected, and as a business owner there ... I would like for you to take that into consideration," she says.

11:29 a.m.: Janet Johnson notes that she stopped in at Mystical Joy recently. "If it's really good for us, we'll tell other people and they will come," she says.

She says "California modern vintage" should be the theme that they're going for, not just the modern vintage of the Redondo Landing. It should be inviting to locals—"If we love it, other people will love it, too."

It should be more family-oriented: "Manhattan Beach is perhaps more shopping-oriented. Hermosa Beach is drinking-oriented. We don't need to be that."

She calls the waterfront "the best waterfront." She wants a marketplace with good parking that's not so expensive, a creative arts center and an ocean sports center. "We could become more than we are, and I know that you're going to help us make it," she says.

Bruning says that art will be a focal point of the project to applause from the audience.

11:32 a.m.: The chairwoman of the Redondo Beach Roundtable reads a statement emphasizing a "collaborative" involvement. She emphasizes the city's brand of "More to Sea."

11:36 a.m.: This woman didn't speak at the last meeting, though she was there. She thanks the developers for listening to everybody. "This is very important for all of us, and we're very excited, very positive about this whole project actually," she says. She's a resident of the Village and member of RAD.

She wants water features, a dog area, etc.—most of what she's saying has been said before.

Quality of life is a "huge issue" for her. She wants a courtyard like Shoreline Village with live music ("and I'm sure Brand and Aspel just fell off their chairs because I said live music.")

"Live music—not concerts after 10 p.m.," she says.

11:37 a.m.: Tim from the Village and RAD member calls the Meissner's "our fearless leaders." He wants to reiterate some of what they said—noise abatement is important (he wants cafes, not restaurants), cultural center and art galleries, limited retail ("if we have retail, I'd like to keep it along the lines of Riviera Village").

11:38 a.m.: The president of the board from the Village association says the council (except Brand) owes CenterCal an apology for trying to rush the process. "It's unfortunate that the current members of the city council and mayor want to have a part of this before they're forced out of office, and I think that's unfair," he says.

"Noise is extremely important," he says. He doesn't seem like he's happy to have Barney's Beanery, Brixton and Starboard Attitude near his home.

11:40 a.m.: Georgette Gantner says walking destinations are "super-important," as are local businesses and local merchants. "I also think that there should be night places."

She says the residents of the Village should deal with noise from places since 10 o'clock, seeing as the pier was there first; she lives near Eat at Joe's and Pitcher House, so she deals with the noise from there.

She also notes talk of the "element" of people that residents didn't like at the last meeting.

"The 'element' is keeping the city vibrant, it's keeping us diverse," she says. "I don't think March is too soon."

11:43 a.m.: Paul Schlicting lives on Broadway. "This is a great opportunity," he says. "I would like to see this economically accessible to the locals. I know people on my street that could not afford to buy their homes now."

Boutique hotels and high-end restaurants would serve profitability, but not the community, he says.

He wants a building for low-rent or rent-free community resources, e.g. the arts and the Cancer Support Community.

"I believe this is a public space. It should be used for public," he says, disagreeing with RAD's assertion that there should be a business park.

11:46 a.m.: Sharon Ritums from the Redondo Beach Historical Commission asks the developers to be thoughtful and to "capture the original historic essence that made our pier attractive to thousands and thousands of people."

She encourages them to continue the "Path of History" project. A boardwalk would be a good idea, too.

"In 20 years, when I've retired my roller skates, and I'm in my motorized wheelchair, I want to recognize my pier," she says.

11:47 a.m.: A member of RBAG and Redondo Beach Historical Society wants to see the architecture and design stick with the craftsman approach. She also thinks March is too soon.

11:48 a.m.: A woman whose name I didn't catch but who identifies herself as a Hispanic writer and poet asks for public art "beyond the galleries, beyond the museum ... in every corner available."

"I am here to request the consideration for poets," she says. "We can make our art be visible on the walls of the city."

11:49 a.m.: "My concern is that whatever you build, will survive," says Don Szerlip. He says they'll need to attract people from elsewhere, too, and directs them to Monterey.

He wants a conference center that allows for conferences of up to 500 participants, like Monterey's. The center would attract groups twice per week that will spend money.

"Conference attendees ... spend their money and their time locally," he says. "We need to amend the local clientele in order to have enough money to attract the kinds of businesses that the community desires."

11:52 a.m.: A RAD resident of Seascape II is "very excited about the opportunity for redevelopment as well"—but views should still be protected! He likes the eclectic mix of viewpoints. "This is a gem of a property that we have here, and the delicacy of bringing it all together is your charge," he says.

11:54 a.m.: Theresa Tokar expresses her support of the project and CenterCal. (She also starts speaking right after Lewis asks for a moment to call more people up.)

"I really think (city councilmen) need to revisit the timeframe. I think it's in the public's best interest, and it seems to be the city council is just looking at their own best interest in this case," she says.

11:55 a.m.: Julian Stern would "just like to express my excitement for this project." He's excited about the boat ramp. He wants to see a community square and the incorporation of the South Bay Bicycle Master Plan.

He's also the youngest candidate for council. He's running for District 4.

11:57 a.m.: Melanie Cohen from District 2 is grateful CenterCal is having the meetings, and she agrees with almost everything. She wants them to make sure they do a proper EIR and to follow SEQA. She lives a few blocks from the pier, and she walks there frequently. "Czuleger Park is a fabulous area for that entryway," she says. She also supports art and the "wonderful farmer's market" in the area on Thursdays.

She wants them to respond to her emails. "I don't want to be a downer and end on a bad note, but those who forget their past are condemned to relive it," she says. She also says that they should take as much time as they want, regardless of what the outgoing council wants. (Actually, if incumbents are reelected, there will only be two new council members.

12:01 p.m.: Last speaker? John says, "Remarkably, we are a community that goes outside ... but there are very few places to just sit outside and enjoy a cold beer and a glass of wine." He likes New Orleans—not Bourbon Street—but the restaurants off Bourbon Street of all different price points.

"As far as the process, we've been waiting 25 years—so go as fast as you possibly can," he says.

Noon: Greg has lived in the Village for years, and "it's a very nice development." It sounds like he was involved in the Pier Plaza development. It needs to be safe for women to visit, shop and do business. "If that element isn't taken care of, I'm told it's a dead duck," he says. "We would like to retain our views. We fought hard for them for the Coastal Commission."

12:05 p.m.: Elaine Friedman, a part-time resident of the Village, says she was initially excited about Trader Joes' plans to build a store there. The store was never built. Her favorite thing was Cattlemen’s, a moderately priced steakhouse on the pier. (It burned down in the big fire.)

"We never took our car out of the garage (when we first moved here)," she says. She also says she loved to stop in the library at Veterans Park and look at the ocean. "We could have a reading room or a bookstore with a reading room where you could sit there and look at the ocean and do that kind of thing," she says. She liked the greeting-card store.

"I would love to see a T-shirt or sweatshirt store that doesn't say Redondo Beach, California on it!" she says.

12:08 p.m.: Lewis: "It really speaks well of our community that everyone can come here and express themselves."

He reminds people that the Harbor Drive/Herondo Street redesign meeting will be Wednesday 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. here at the Main Library. There will also be more meetings. The next one is in January.

Bruning thanks people for coming. "We're going to do our best at CenterCal to match the schedule we've been given," he says. In March, they'll have a high-level plan. "Our goal is to give you the best possible project that we can. We don't see a magic date in March."

Nicole Mooradian December 16, 2012 at 07:05 PM
Thanks for including the link! You talked a lot faster than I could type.
Bruce Szeles December 17, 2012 at 08:50 PM
Mr. Coleman. You stated that North Redondo needs revitalization. Can you mention how you plan to achieve that revitalization if elected. Thank you.
Mizz Terri December 17, 2012 at 10:34 PM
Perhaps you should report exactly what was said without interjecting your own opinions/comments and semi-factual information. This information should be available from the transcripts of the meeting if you were not able to get it all.
Eric Coleman December 17, 2012 at 11:11 PM
North Redondo is the elephant in the room and giving 200 million dollars to land developers to redo the pier is like building a metaphoric wall seperating North Redondo from South. I think to revitalize North Redondo we should first reutilize North Redondo. Undoing the street festival freeze would be a good start; in addition to encouraging block parties and special events. Anything to bring people together; you'd be amazed at what a dog park, movies in the park, or a local coffee shop can do to strengthen a community. As far as business, I plan to cut red tape and offer incentives for buisnesses to start up or relocate in Redondo Beach, and much of that commercial space is in North Redondo. I thank you for your question and will have more information about specifics in an upcoming post on my website. My campaign is continually evolving as I speak with multitudes of people everyday, mosty door to door, to get their take on what they would like to see done in their community. However; unlike the land developers, I do not have ulterior motives. Thank you again for your question Mr. Szeles.
Laura Thomas December 18, 2012 at 12:36 AM
Hi all - and Mr. Coleman: As a resident of North Redondo Beach, thanks for laying out some of your ideas for our area. I have to agree with one of your comments - that pushing all the money towards So. RB just builds a wall between these parts of the city. I guess my concern is that the north and south really are different - the zoning is different, the property values are different and so on. So thanks for bringing this up! We in North RB should be able to have street festivals and be encouraged to do neighborhood activities to bring the folks together. I will say that Neighborhood Grinds on Artesia (as well as Starbucks) is a great example of a bringing together type of place. I am also heartened by Catalina Coffee settling into the Mysterious Galaxy bookstore near the Galleria - the only issue is getting to there, but once there, it's great. I think that's a great campaign slogan - Re-utilize to Re-vitalize.

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