After a meeting that lasted more than seven hours, the Redondo Beach City Council decided to continue its discussion on whether to pass a resolution opposing the repowering of the on Harbor Drive until the July 10 Council meeting.
This will allow city staff time to hire an independent consultant to perform an amortization report on the current structure. Councilmen Matt Kilroy and Pat Aust both said they wanted to read such a report before making a final decision.
- Previous coverage: AES Redondo Beach Power Plant Debate
The Council voted 3-2 to continue the discussion, with Councilmen Bill Brand and Steve Diels dissenting.
The current AES plant on the harbor must be retired by 2020 to comply with state regulations banning the use of once-through cooling. Plants with once-through cooling use ocean water to cool the superheated steam that turns the turbines to generate electricity.
AES officials say the new natural gas plant will be smaller, run cleaner and provide a backup source of electricity when renewable resources aren't available. Opponents argue that the new plant will run more often, spew more particulate matter and continue to depress area property values.
Last Friday, Councilman Bill Brand announced the launch of a voter initiative that, if passed, will rezone the AES property for a large park with up to 40 percent commercial/institutional use if certain parameters for institutional use are met. The voter initiative is a sticking point for Aust and Councilman Steve Aspel, who both indicated that they didn't want the city's hands tied by new zoning.
In addition to continuing the discussion on the resolution, the Council also voted to continue its discussion on the process the city could take to rezone the area. City staff offered two options: an expedited timeline that calls for one meeting apiece of the Harbor and Planning commissions and seven months to complete an environmental impact report, as well as a more drawn-out timeline that calls for four meetings for each of the commissions and a longer period to complete the EIR.
Nevertheless, the Council did decide that the city would be an intervener in the California Energy Commission's permitting process, which enables Redondo Beach to participate in the CEC's process and present data and evidence.
City Manager Bill Workman told the Council that he expects to have a budget response report detailing the costs of participating as an intervener ready by the May 29 meeting. City staff initially estimated that it could cost Redondo Beach $100,000-$200,000 for an outside expert's assistance with the process.
For a more detailed recap of the power plant discussion, read the live blog from Tuesday night below. Entries are in chronological order.
6:28 p.m.: Even though the topic hasn't come up yet, someone just stormed into the Council meeting to yell that the councilmen should vote to oppose the power plant. His shouts are met with applause from the audience.
6:29 p.m.: The council decides to not move the power plant discussion to the beginning of the meeting.
7:44 p.m.: Council is hearing a presentation about how they could possibly fund a park in the harbor. Craig Hoshijima is explaining the different types of taxes and bonds. The presentation stems from a request during the March Strategic Planning Session.
7:47 p.m.: "We're certainly putting the cart before the horse here," says Councilman Bill Brand. He talks about the "Heart Park" proposal from several years ago—apparently, other cities didn't need to take out bounds. "We just have to look up at Palos Verdes." The Palos Verdes Land Conservancy used a variety of funds to purchase a property in 1995.
7:49 p.m.: Brand: "All these projects (e.g. Bolsa Chica, PV Land Conservancy, etc.) started with no money. They didn't proceed by finding the money and developing the project. ... You can't go raising the money or floating the bond if you don't have a project."
7:50 p.m.: "I hope we never have to use any of (these funding mechanisms)," Brand says.
7:53 p.m.: "What's really missing here is the project," Brand says. He wants a set plan before they start thinking about debt. "This is what happened with Mole B ... Mole B is a park down and out on the waterfront." Voters told Brand they wanted to upgrade the park, so a master plan was crafted, even though there was no funding. "All of a sudden ... Chevron came in" and said they want to use Mole B to bring in parts for their refinery because it's closer than the Port of Los Angeles. "When the money showed up when we were looking for it, we were able to fund it," Brand says.
7:55 p.m.: Brand wants the Coastal Conservancy to come speak here because they've donated a lot of money to other projects. He also keeps noting that City Manager Bill Workman lives in Huntington Beach.
Otherwise, he says the money follows organizations like the Coastal Conservancy.
7:56 p.m.: "There's a lot of bad blood between this Council and the Coastal Conservancy," Brand says. The rest of the Council disagrees.
7:57 p.m.: Brand thanks Hoshijima for his report, though he says he hopes that they never have to use any of those financing options.
8:01 p.m.: Aust to Brand: "Last Thursday, I could have agreed with you ... if, on Friday, you ... were there announcing the opening of an initiative to change the zoning at the AES power plant and designate that 30 percent of it would be commercial and 70 percent of it would be park. ... So there's the project." March 13 ballot would be the deadline. "I've seen some math and I've tried to talk to AES and get the exact numbers. I know what they paid for the property—it was $255 million."
He's doing math that comes out to $218.4 million for the city to buy the property. "That's the budget! That's the lowest budget basement price that we would have to pay for the land!" He says a "good estimate" would be at least $10 million per acre—and AES Southland President Eric Pendergraft has said AES won't give the land to the city.
"The money needs to be there ... we need to know where it's going to come from," Aust says.
8:05 p.m.: "It was a citizen's initiative that started it in Hermosa Beach," Aust says. He's comparing the situation the MacPherson oil lawsuit in the city next door, where a citizen's initiative banned oil drilling after the company signed a contract. The company sued Hermosa Beach for $750 million, and the lawsuit was only settled this year.
Two weeks ago, "we would go forth with the proclamation if there's no initiative," Aust said. He seems to believe the city needs the funding in case AES sues.
8:06 p.m.: "It is not putting the cart before the horse," Aust concludes.
8:10 p.m.: Kilroy sees similarities with this issue and other parkland. "The one glaring thing we have in common is we have no money. They had no money!" he says. "I don't really think this is putting the cart before the horse anymore than discussing the AES site is."
He said the citizen's voted for a park in the advisory votes. Measure G allowed for open space at the AES site. Kilroy said the South Bay Parkland Conservancy said it would raise money, but he hasn't seen a dime.
"I don't think it's too early to talk about this ... To me, this is an option," he said. The people should choose if they want to tax themselves.
Aspel: "This debate's putting the cart before the horse." The report is a receive and file.
8:12 p.m.: Brand notes that he started the South Bay Parkland Conservancy. He also notes that Mayor Mike Gin featured a quote from him in Gin's reelection materials.
"One of the reasons you haven't seen a dime, Matt, is that we haven't had the direction and the leadership from the Council to go down this road," Brand says.
8:16 p.m.: Brand says Palos Verdes and other cities didn't need bonds. He said he wants the Coastal Conservancy to come down and talk about grant funding and free sources of money.
"Frankly, Hermosa Beach should be funding it," Brand says.
Councilman Steve Aspel to Gin: "How old were you in this picture—like 12?"
Diels: "Never before have I heard that a lack of funds is a strategic advantage."
8:24 p.m.: Councilman Steve Diels brings up the Building a Better Redondo lawsuit regarding Measure G; he says the purpose of Measure G was to add park zoning to the AES site.
"We cannot have a park if we don't have the money. That's a fact," Diels says. He asks Workman if the Coastal Conservancy.
Workman says the Coastal Conservancy was going to deliver a report on funding options in 2005, yet the city has never received a final report.
Diels: "I have a vision. If we want to get this done—if we want to have park space and open space down there—my vision includes being able to control our destiny ... owning it is a no-brainer. ... If you want to buy the land, folks, we can control our destiny."
Diels asks Hoshijima about the cross-jurisdictional district. "I don't think it's fair that Redondo Beach should shoulder that load and Hermosa Beach get the benefit," Diels says, suggesting that Hermosa Beach also "share in the community vision of something better down there."
Diels says that if the Council does anything to devalue the land, AES will have no choice but to build a new power plant because the Council has no authority to permit a new power plant. Permitting power belongs to the California Energy Commission.
$50 to $500 million dollars is "probably a good range" of where the price of the property will fall, he says. An assessment district that requires a majority vote would probably be the best bet because those who benefit would pay more and people in North Redondo (who wouldn't usually benefit) would pay less. Hermosa Beach would also be included.
The motion to receive and file now also includes direction to staff to look into assessment districts and invite the Coastal Conservancy to speak.
8:24 p.m.: Diels: "It's prudent; it's proper; it's the right thing to do to look for financial opportunities to control our destiny."
Now it's Gin's turn to talk.
8:28 p.m.: Gin compares rezoning the AES site to rezoning someone's property to turn it into a parkette. He wonders why people are going for the rezoning initiative instead of trying to raise money to purchase the property itself.
"This is a good report because we need options," he says.
8:30 p.m.: Aust: "I'd like to clarify. I'm certainly not against parks. I like parks."
The inter-council sniping is getting a little nasty, and the audience's hisses and yelled out questions aren't helping.
"The only problem I have with parks is how do we pay for them? ... We don't have the money," Aust says.
8:33 p.m.: "We've got to have the money to do this stuff. ... I'd support your initiative completely, Bill, if it had a funding source to it," Aust says. Unfortunately, "we don't have any money," he says.
Aust says the Heart Park barely squeaked by with slightly more than 50 percent of the vote. "There was no 'none of the above'" option, he says.
8:34 p.m.: Brand: "Are we supposed to be polling the people who don't vote?"
He says the ballot language about the cost of the park in the advisory vote scared a lot of people away.
"Unfortunately, it was just an advisory vote," he says.
8:35 p.m.: "What isn't advisory is new zoning," Brand says. Zoning is usually phased in, just like the once-through cooling plants are being phased out.
8:39 p.m.: Once again, Brand brings up his motion from more than a year ago to explore zoning options for the AES site.
"It's perfectly legal what the initiative is going to do," Brand says.
As for Herondo Park, Brand says the city didn't negotiate a reasonable lease with Edison, so the SBPC couldn't do anything.
He encourages people not to be discouraged about the funding.
8:40 p.m.: Brand re: Measure G and the Building a Better Redondo lawsuit: "The city got sued because they didn't put the zoning change on the ballot." His remarks are being punctuated by a few people in the audience.
8:44 p.m.: Hoshijima has been standing at the podium through this entire discussion. Brand has been giving a history of Measure G and the lawsuit that forced it on the ballot.
"You blame it on Jim Light and Bill Brand? Au contraire," Brand says, pointing out that handmade "We want a vote" badges were gone within 15 minutes of offering them.
8:46 p.m.: Aust: "Does this have anything to do (with the topic at hand)?" Brand says yes and continues with his speech about Measure G.
8:50 p.m.: Diels to Hoshijima after Brand's speech: "You have amazing stamina."
The councilman asks Hoshijima what would be involved in doing something crossjurisdictional—does the Hermosa Beach City Council have to get involved? Hoshijima indicates that the homeowners will have to approve.
8:53 p.m.: Aspel brought show-and-tell, too. He brought a transcript of the May 20, 2004 Planning Commission meeting.
To Hoshijima, he says, "Sit down, this could be awhile."
8:57 p.m.: Aspel says the Planning Commission in 2004 was ready to phase out the power plant.
9:01 p.m.: Brand: "Did I ever sue the city?"
City Attorney Mike Webb: "I've already answered that. Can I strongly suggest that we move on?"
9:06 p.m.: Time for public comment! First up is Jess Money, who's been listening in the lobby. He says he's reminded of the late sportscaster Jim Healy. "Man, we have heard a lot of bull-shoy tonight," he says.
"You're at the mercy of the regulatory bodies," says Money. "If that land is no longer legal for that purpose, too bad!"
"We're not talking about building a park there," he says. "We're talking about the power plant down there, tearing it down and having it mitigated."
9:08 p.m.: Aspel asks people if they want to hold their comments to the next agenda item. Jessica Hall of the SBPC says she wants to talk about funding.
"In the Dec. 19, 2011 Atlantic online journal, there was a mention made of Chicago's plan to acquire 140,000 acres of brownfields" for parks, she says.
9:09 p.m.: Lisa Rodriguez is asking about amortization plans in regards to the abandoned car wash on Torrance Boulevard. She wants the Council to use that property as an example.
She wonders if AES, as the owner of the property, will just leave the abandoned plant there if power generation is zoned out.
9:12 p.m.: Delia Vechi brings up eminent domain—she says don't use it. Webb says the city has not even considered it.
9:14 p.m.: Gary Ost is up at the podium. He says the current site is impaired, so it might not be as valuable as everyone thinks it is.
"Mr. Diels, I am not going to forfeit this game before it starts," he says.
9:19 p.m.: Joan Davidson: "There is such negativity from five people sitting at this Council." She says that if the city sets up an escrow account for the park tonight, she'll write them a $1,000 check right now.
The city will pay either way, whether through dollars or because the community is being poisoned by particulate matter, she says.
Melanie Cohen also wanted to give background. "Did you know that a state of California study has declared Redondo Beach critically underserved in park space?" she asks.
"This process isn't going to happen overnight—we know that," she says.
9:22 p.m.: The next speaker says he's talking to the Council on behalf of his two little girls who are breathing poisonous gas. He thinks that the Council should ask all of Los Angeles to pay for a park.
He also says they should build a mega parking lot on the land and make visitors to Redondo Beach and Hermosa Beach "pay an arm and a leg" to park.
Apparently, the power plant is a "wart on this community," he says.
9:25 p.m.: This speaker wants the city of Redondo Beach to "spend whatever it takes to get rid of that beast." He notes that he doesn't know who his councilman is.
Motion to receive and file passes unanimously.
9:26 p.m.: City Manager Bill Workman introduces the next topic: ways the city can participate in the CEC's permitting process.
There are three levels of participation:
- The city or an individual can sign up for a mailing list. This is an informational level.
- The city or an individual can be an active participant at workshops.
- The city or an individual can become an intervener, which allows them to provide data and evidence to the CEC. It's the highest level of participation.
9:33 p.m.: Workman says the review process takes about a year usually, but can go as long as two and a half years. He gave a broad overview of the process and what participation could entail.
Being an intervener could cost the city $100,000-$200,000, he says, but it would be the strongest way the city could participate.
9:37 p.m.: Diels is first this time. He asks Workman to reiterate his opening and closing statement.
Workman: "The California Energy Commision has the sole, exclusive authority in making decisions in regard to the AES application." He also notes that the CEC can override zoning.
"Based on our knowledge, the CEC can make those findings to override zoning choices locally," he said, noting what happened in Carlsbad. "The commission has been very clear that they want to listen to local officials and the local community and they look very hard at inconsistencies."
"So going down the zoning path does not allow us to control our destiny," Diels said. He also notes that they should participate as interveners.
Can the Council choose to be an intervener now? Webb says yes, but it's premature because AES hasn't filed its application; however, it's not too early to start the process by coming back with a budget report and finding experts to use.
9:40 p.m.: Diels makes the motion; it's seconded by two members of the Council. Brand notes that he's spoken with the City Attorney in San Francisco, and she said that being an intervener is "absolutely important."
Being an intervener doesn't necessarily mean the city will do anything, he also says. "I don't think becoming an intervener is really committing us" though the money should still be set aside.
He noted that he met with the CEC executive director, who said that zoning is taken into consideration. It's not often overruled.
"My point is, it's really very important that we do set the tone and direction of policy," he says.
9:43 p.m.: Kilroy suggests they not use the people from Carlsbad as they weren't very successful. Webb said he suggested the people from San Francisco come down, but they weren't exactly receptive to the idea.
"My approach to many problems is trying to solve them from a variety of angles," Kilroy says. "Intervener strategy is truly a no-brainer in my mind."
Aust also supports the motion; however, he wants to know how much money it will cost to be an intervener.
Aspel also supports the motion.
"I think this is a good process and a good step," Gin says.
9:43 p.m.: Time for public comment! ...But there's no comment, and the motion passes unanimously.
Workman says he hopes to have a budget response report ready for the May 29 City Council meeting.
9:48 p.m.: Now it's time for the report on options, process, time frame and cost for a zoning plan for a power generation station "of which there is only one in the community," says Aaron Jones.
Land-use amendments and everything would have to be completed by December 2012 to get it on the ballot. There would have to be one meeting each of the Harbor and Planning commissions; 7 months of environmental review; and a total cost of $160,000-$250,000.
The 18-month process would be complete in November 2013. Four meetings each of Harbor and Planning commissions; 9-12 months of environmental review; total cost $220,000-$400,000. The cost of the environmental impact report would be the same for both processes.
Gin says there hasn't been much public comment about other, non-industrial uses on the site.
"I think this is a rigorous process here," he says.
9:50 p.m.: "We want to work collaboratively with the property owner, AES," Gin says. He notes that he's pretty sure the No Power Plant initiative didn't have input from AES.
Gin says he wants to go through the more comprehensive process "to really get the framework of ideas together for what really could be some fantastic uses on that site."
He also wants AES to offset at least some of the costs of rezoning the land.
9:53 p.m.: Kilroy calls the zoning "a moving target." He doesn't think he's ready to pursue a path that leads to expense of an EIR and SEQA report. He doesn't want the debate to get twisted because of zoning issues.
"I do think it's important that we talk about what's happening on that site," he says.
9:58 p.m.: Now Kilroy brings up the Redondo Beach Unified School District's property at 320 Knob Hill. Though the property was zoned as a school, that didn't stop developers from bidding on the property with the intention of getting it rezoned.
Aspel: "I'd rather have initiatives than workshops." Still, he says he doesn't like the initiative on the table. He calls it a "veiled way to supersede Measure G."
"I'm really not going to support workshops like this because I don't see the results come out and everyone's going to be in consensus," he says. AES officials "are not developers—they're power generators."
10:02 p.m.: Aspel says the money for the workshops could go toward the intervener.
Gin says he understands what Aspel is saying, but he thinks these will be different because AES will be involved.
Brand wants to know when Webb will have a report on zoning options available? Webb says it depends when the Council wants it, but it will be a memo covered under attorney-client privilege.
10:04 p.m.: "I'm not responsible for the shareholders of AES, I'm responsible for the residents of Redondo Beach," Brand says.
10:08 p.m.: Brand favors the expedited process. "It's cheaper, it's quicker," he says. He doesn't want the Harbor Commission involved (possibly because of its chair, Harry Munns).
He also says he favors the initiative simply because it gets rid of the power plant.
10:16 p.m.: "Well, I'm not in favor of sending it to the planning commission and all these commissions," Aust says. He says most of the emails he gets are about whether the power plant should go away—not the zoning.
He says the initiative should be "We don't want this power plant!" The CEC looks at community sentiment.
"I do get a lot of emails from people who say, 'Keep it,'" says Aust. "Maybe they're fictitious; maybe there's one person sending them all."
He says he just wants to do what the majority wants to do, and there won't be a majority if there are too many choices there. "We don't need to cloud the issue. That's what we were talking about earlier—the Heart Park plan ... What we really need to decide is do we want the power plant here or not?"
He wants everyone in the community to vote, and then the city would take the results to the CEC to show community sentiment.
"That's a lot better than a resolution that was drafted up," Aust says. He keeps adding that the resolution is tied to the initiative; however, the initiative isn't tied to the resolution. They're separate except for the fact that both are aimed at getting rid of the power plant.
"I'm not an appraiser," he says. "I'm an ex-fire chief."
10:17 p.m.: "The question is: Do we want a power plant?" Aust says. "We can't pick the bones until there's a body!"
10:22 p.m.: It's Diels' turn. He wants to know what the "magic number" is for AES. "How can we help you achieve your goals somewhere else?" Diels asks. He says that AES wants to repower because they don't have any other options for the site.
"The reason the iniative is so errant is because it actually is a taking because it's tied to Measure G zoning," Diels says. "It's not unthinkable that Measure G could get built out, so there's nothing else for AES."
Diels wants to have a collaborative discussion with the property owner. "So how do we get there? I think that going through all of the planning commission steps is not the process," he says. "The path we're going on ... I think virtually assures there will be a power plant in our future." His statement is answered with several "Whaaaat?"s from the audience.
Webb says there are several ways to work with AES. It could be a Mayor-Council subcommittee (one was ).
10:26 p.m.: "There's a lot of discussion about cart before the horse ... I'm not sure which is the cart and which is the horse," Webb says, because the price of the land is related to the zoning.
Kilroy says he doesn't have a problem getting a consultant to tell the city what the present-day value of the land would be. "Keep in mind ... there is this third option out there that none of us want to have happen and that is the existing plant stays there the way it is," he says.
10:31 p.m.: Gin agrees with Kilroy about working with AES on nonindustrial uses for the site.
Brand: "We should not be asking AES what we want them to do with our waterfront." He says none of the other areas worried about how they would buy the land when they were fighting the power plant.
"They'll probably sue because whatever we give them, they'll probably think they can do better in front of a judge," Brand says. "Collaborating with them just means there's going to be a power plant ... Collaboration's going to mean a power plant."
It's 10:35 p.m. Time for public comment.
10:35 p.m.: Brand moves to defer the decision for a couple of weeks.
"Second!" Aspel shouts.
10:40 p.m.: Ost suggests that the initiative be changed to "We don't want a power plant!"
Now Zein Obagi Jr. is coming up. Did you know he's running for Congress?
He says the Council is not exhibiting leadership by worrying about AES wants.
Mark Hansen from the King Harbor Boaters Advisory Panel says that he prefers the more in-depth process. He talks really fast.
10:44 p.m.: This speaker is worried about what will happen to the land under the power lines if the plant is decommissioned and not repowered.
He asks why would the lines stay, and Kilroy tells him that they connect the switchyard to the grid.
10:47 p.m.: "They are the worst neighbor I have," says one man regarding AES.
10:49 p.m.: People are talking about the health concerns regarding the power plant. This man wants the Council to tax the plant. Aust says they can't.
"I'm hearing way too much about poor AES and not about my daughters," the speaker says.
Delia Vechi is back up.
10:53 p.m.: "It's hard for me to stay up late, and you folks do this all the time," says a woman. Actually, with the exception of Mole B last May, the majority of the meetings that have gone this long have involved the power plant.
The woman says her daughter developed exercise-induced asthma from participating in sports at .
11:02 p.m.: The Council votes 4-1 to table this discussion until next week. Diels opposes. Aust says he wants the meeting to end by midnight. Kilroy seconds.
Brand: "I totally disagree. This is why we should have had L4 at the beginning." He says it's OK if we stay until 2 a.m.
The Council briefly goes off-track to discuss the fireworks, but now is back on the power plant resolution.
11:05 p.m.: Aust: "We made the position that we would back the resolution, but not if there was an initiative that was brought forward ... I can't back the resolution if there's an initiative that's brought forward that's tying our hands. ... It's voodoo math." He doesn't like the initiative's 70 percent park (though it could be 60 percent park with the right combination of institutional use).
He wants the initiative to basically ask if people want a power plant.
11:07 p.m.: "Well, there's no guarantees on anything, that's for sure," Brand says. "But this isn't about zoning; this is just about our position, our policy about whether we want to have a power plant or not."
Time for public comment!
Richard (didn't catch the last name) says he's very confused. He wants the Council to ask AES the plant's pollution footprint in micrograms per cubic meter.
11:11 p.m.: Jennifer Didlo of AES is at the podium now. "Should I say good morning?"
"No, not quite," Gin says.
Didlo has two things to put in the record, including a series of renderings to show the existing power plant against the proposed plant. She wants to share an actual project description
"Since we spoke to you in November, some things have changed as we said they would," she says. The new plant would be 538 megawatts. It would have three stacks that would be 100 feet shorter than the current ones, and other equipment would be about 90 feet tall.
"I would suggest that the most significant improvement (is) probably the acreage ... including the switchyard, it's about 12 (acres)," she says.
She says that once the air modeling is completed it will become public.
11:14 p.m.: One thing that everyone can agree on: "We all want the existing structure demolished," says Pendergraft of AES. The new plant "completely and dramatically improves the skyline," as well as gives the company the
"I think it's wise for you to think about the consequences of other alternatives that will be considered," Pendergraft says. He notes that the alternatives "increase the likelihood" that the old plant will stay.
"We're not required to shut down; we're not required to retire," he says. They only have to significantly reduce the amount of ocean water used.
"Our solution would not cost a penny of taxpayer money," he says. He also says that it will help the city avoid significant legal battles.
"We think it is premature to pass a resolution opposing us," Pendergraft says.
Kilroy wants to know the earliest possible date for the CEC application. Pendergraft says no sooner than August.
11:16 p.m.: Walt Hyneman shows off his poster with the councilmen's faces and a picture of the stacks spewing steam and particulates.
He says if concrete were poured down the stacks, he would decorate them with Christmas lights.
"AES is sending the message that they are more interested in their financial gain and their shareholders profits than ... the health of the people who live here," he says.
11:19 p.m.: "I've always thought that Redondo had one huge blight"—the power plant, says this speaker. She asks the Council to stand behind its word because every councilman has indicated that they don't want the plant.
11:22 p.m.: Dan Buck is back to talk about the health effects of fine particulate pollution.
11:24 p.m.: This speaker says he'd be willing to pay more to get rid of the power plant.
11:26 p.m.: Joan Davidson brings out charts and data about air pollution.
11:28 p.m.: "It's pretty much a basic common sense thing to me. It needs to go," says the next speaker.
11:32 p.m.: Greg Simmons, a 30-year resident of the Beach Cities, says, "This is a gateway to Redondo Beach ... It just seems like it's a no-brainer." He mentions the view of the welcome sign and the power plant from Anita/190th Street.
The next group of speakers has already gone home. A woman steps up to the podium to read an article about AES' defeat of the utility users tax measure.
11:35 p.m.: More absent speakers, but Vechi is still here!
Diels: "You can't say you didn't want to speak this time because you put in a card."
Vechi tells the councilmen that they're lucky a lot of people left. Otherwise, they would have got an earful.
11:42 p.m.: The next speaker says he needs to wake up at 4:30 a.m., so he'll be brief. He's "embarrassed" to say that he didn't know about the air quality issues surround the plant when he bought his home.
Richard Bans (I may have misspelled the last name) says we don't need the power and it doesn't need to be in Redondo's back yard.
"Consistently, we're hearing that there's a strong consensus for getting rid of the plant if we have the opportunity to do so," John McGanty says. He brings up the campaign contributions AES made to Diels' campaign. (AES donated $3,000 to his council campaign multiple years ago.)
"We all know that corporations spend lobbying money on campaign cont for one reason and that is to influence (the politicians),"
He accuses Diels of not being objective. "How are you going to vote on the resolution?" McGanty asks.
"I've never had a more expensive job than this job, and I've never behaved unethically in any way," Diels responds. He says that McGanty is projecting his feelings and notes that when he ran for reelection, he did not take campaign donations from AES.
He also points to his comments against AES on the UUT issue several years ago.
11:45 p.m.: The next speaker addresses Kilroy and comments he made in the Beach Reporter's Letters to the Editor section.
11:49 p.m.: School board member Todd Loewenstein, who lives "right up the street from the plant," announces his opposition to a new plant. His main reason is the health of the number of children nearby. He thinks a new plant would devalue the land in the vicinity.
"How many hours would the plant have to run to pay back, to break even for AES?" he asks. "What happens if the price of natural gas goes up? ... What does the city get out of this?"
"I can't fault AES," he says—they're in business to make money. "I leave it up to you to figure out how best to ... extricate AES."
11:54 p.m.: "I'm incredulous that the ... best use of this coastal property is for a power plant," says the next speaker.
And Money's back. He says there are a lot of "mights" with the initiative. "I think that's all a smokescreen," he says. "I'd like to tie the council's hands. I'd like to end up where we have no power plant and we have a park."
He says, "This is where the bear goes through the buckwheat." I've never heard that expression before. "This is all about who's going to wield the big hammer."
11:56 p.m.: Dawn Esser from NoPowerPlant.com says the initiative is "a work in progress."
"We are having another public meeting at the Crowne Plaza on May 5 from 2 p.m. - 5 p.m. at the Ocean Room," she says. "Nothing's set in stone, so we look forward to working with you on this initiative and on this zoning."
This is starting to sound like a commercial for NoPowerPlant.com.
12 a.m., May 2: An AES official who I haven't met before is up here. "Every single person that came up here tonight is up here for the right reason," he says.
Obagi is back up. It's midnight.
12:02 a.m.: Obagi says that if AES leaves the property and it becomes blighted, the city can use eminent domain to take the land away if they don't have the money to buy it.
"I don't urge you to vote in favor of this resolution, I urge you to vote in favor of this resolution unanimously," he says.
Al Sattler from the local Sierra Club chapter presents a letter that he says shows the power plant is not meeting.
12:04 a.m.: Gary Thompson says Aust and Brand are "joined at the hip" on the idea that the plant should be stopped first, then they should decide what should go on the land.
12:08 a.m.: Marna Smeltzer from the Chamber of Commerce just gave the Council the Chamber's position on the plant.
"I know ... how much you all do, and we appreciate it, so thank you," she says.
The Chamber of Commerce supports a reliable energy program, according to the statement; however, they say that adopting a resolution against the power plant is premature at the time. The resolution can always be revisited.
Westin Labarre from the Chamber says the city should be an intervener in the process.
Sherri Patterson is next: "I just wanted to say, big shocker, the Chamber is coming out supporting the power plant. ... Residents will decide the fate of our city, not AES."
12:10 a.m.: "Please don't waste the city's time negotiating an option that includes a power plant," Patterson says. "Please don't stall—no excuses—let's unite the community and find a solution together."
Vincent DePaulo says he feels swayed... then makes it clear that he's being sarcastic.
"It's lipstick on a toxic, filthy pig," he says.
12:15 a.m.: Kelly Charles says, "I am so tired right now and angry that you gentlemen put this off until 11 p.m. in the evening." A lot of people don't seem to realize that lots of time was also spent on power plant-related issues.
"I think the issue really is—power plant, yes or no? I think the issue really is no," she says.
12:19 a.m.: More talk about particulate pollution.
12:22 a.m.: Jim Montgomery wants to respond to Pendergraft's response two weeks ago to Montgomery's accusation that Pendergraft and AES' role in the California energy crisis. He reiterates what he said before.
12:26 a.m.: Andy Lesser's turn. "This issue is apples and oranges if I'm going to compare it to some of the big moments in Redondo's past history," he says. He starts talking about the demolition of downtown, blight and people that weren't allowed to rebuild their homes in North Beach.
"Obviously, AES' point is we're not going to give you the land for nothing," Lesser says.
12:28 a.m.: "Gary Ost, District 2, I am not a former mayor."
He says he's surprised that the Chamber is not opposing the power plant because many business owners have said they would be more successful if it weren't there anymore.
12:30 a.m.: Melanie Cohen: "This is the most important action that the City Council will face in its tenure."
12:33 a.m.: Rob Coda is "super disgusted" at the Chamber's decision to ask the Council not to oppose a new plant. "It may be news to them, but that power plant's not bringing tourism in and it's definitely not helping commerce," he says.
Chris Cagle says he prefers the Council take no action because he wants the dialogue to stay open. "I've never supported industrial uses in that area and I don't think anyone has," he says. He wants compromise language—something less than formal opposition but more than taking no action. He presents his own compromise resolution.
His resolution is received and filed.
12:35 a.m.: David Williams steps up to the podium. He reads the resolution the Council will be voting on. "If you are truly interested in giving people 'More to Sea' then a vote in favor of that resolution is mandatory," he says.
12:36 a.m.: Public comment is over! Gin thanks everyone for "staying until the wee hours of the morning here." I'm so tired that I've been writing "p.m." instead of "a.m." next to the time.
12:40 a.m.: Gin says we need to understand the impacts, alternatives and consequences of the decision. "There's no question there's been some issues with the existing power plant," he says. He also says the statements weren't directed at what AES may propose for its power plant. "We still don't know exactly what AES is proposing on that site."
"I think zoning does matter because ultimately there's going to be, I believe, a change in zoning on that site," Gin says. He adds that this is the greater question—"What do we want to see as the vision for that site?"
"This discussion tonight is not in a vacuum," he says. "It's not simply yes or no on a new power plant."
He notes that the Council still doesn't know what AES is proposing. There are murmers of disgust in the audience when he says this.
12:45 a.m.: "I believe the initiative is the wrong way to go," he says.
He doesn't think it's right that "certain" councilmen (read: Brand) say they should disregard any potential lawsuit.
Gin thinks the existing plant has got to go; however, the new plant is an unknown. "This is an amazing opportunity to perhaps transform that site as well," he says. He doesn't want to take a position until he knows what AES is proposing.
12:54 a.m.: Aspel talks about his visit to AES' headquarters in Virginia. "They didn't want to come out and say this before ... but if that power plant was just staying the status quo, they could install new cooling towers," he says. "They could be there, no matter what we say."
He repeats that he sees the initiative as a plan to subvert Measure G.
"I think we're going to have to table this thing," Aspel says. "We can vote no, shelve it ... and not go out and argue against it" but that would be a hollow action.
He wants to continue the discussion and direct staff to bring back a proposal to bring back an outside consultant for an amortization study.
(He says this is "kind of torture" because everyone will be back and it will be another long meeting.)
12:57 a.m.: "I think it's a travesty that we didn't get to this until 11 p.m. at night and I'm embarrassed," Brand says. He adds that he thinks it will be difficult to get the rest of the council to oppose the plant.
"I'm angry at AES to come down here and hurl threats at us that they're going to squat on their property and that they're going to build cooling towers ... everybody should be very unhappy with AES."
He points out a letter that AES sent to the Council in November about particulate emissions.
1:02 a.m.: "It's not going to be cleaner, there's going to be more pollution," Brand says. Though the new plant will be more efficient, it will run more often and release more particulate emission, he says. Lower stacks mean increased exposure to particulate pollution.
The Carlsbad person told Brand to "kill (the plant) while it's young."
Passing the resolution would set the tone for "everybody," Brand says.
1:03 a.m.: "You guys, you really shouldn't be heckling," Brand tells the audience.
He moves to approve the resolution opposing the plant. "I think it's clear what the community wants, and if we're not going to act, we've got the initiative going," Brand says. "I don't want to do an initiative."
There's no second.
1:07 a.m.: Aust says he's been in Redondo 63 1/2 years—"the longest of anyone in this room." "There isn't a person in this room that was in this city or alive when this plant was built," he says.
"Do I think that AES is the polluter that's going to kill me? No, I don't," he says, but he does believe the plant pollutes. "Do I want a power plant here? No. But I'm not going to try to find something grasp for a rationalization or an excuse that that is the reason that kids are sick and that that is the reason that things are happening."
He reiterates that he would not vote for the resolution if the initiative is still on the table.
1:13 a.m.: He wants to be able to definitively say that 70 percent of the people in Redondo Beach are against the power plant.
"I think we could do a mailout ballot ... and we don't have to wait until March ... it could be done," he says. "A clear, definitive thing—not tied up with this much park, that much commercial and all these other things."
"I'll give you a check tonight for that initiative," Aust says.
He also says that he wants a park for kids to play with basketball courts, barbecues, soccer fields and park benches—not a "treehugger's" version of the park. "A wilderness preserve is not what the people of this city want, I can attest to that," he says. "They don't want a wilderness preserve; they want a park."
He's also not going to apologize "one bit" for going late. "From 7 p.m. until now, the only time we didn't spend talking on this subject was about 5 minutes talking about the fireworks," he says. "You're hear because this is what you wanted to talk about. ... And we're not going to be done tonight."
"It's a valid reason, in my opinion, and I get to have that at least," he says.
1:14 a.m.: Brand "forgot to mention" that Congresswoman Janice Hahn unconditionally supports retiring AES Redondo Beach. He reads part of the letter.
I will be very surprised if we're out of here by 2 a.m.
1:21 a.m.: "People don't trust this council to do the wrong thing, and I don't blame them," Brand says.
Kilroy says that he didn't want to put the community block grant speakers to the end because they would have had to wait for everyone else.
"I think it's important to get consensus," he says. He also says that his brain is too foggy right now to wordsmith a new resolution.
"I want to work with the initiative process ... I'm willing to sit down and talk with them," he says. "The initiative that I've seen at this point raises some real concerns."
1:27 a.m.: The issue "really has to do with the city and the state usurping city authority," Diels says. "Many of the arguments we've heard today are environmental- and health-related."
"I think that (these arguments) are ineffective at the state level. We do not have the permitting authority or the authority to overcome the AQMD," he says. He details the environmental justice argument; however, he says it's hard to portray Redondo Beach as a poor community or a community of color.
He doesn't think the initiative will get past state mandates to clean our air.
"I have as much disdain for Sacramento as Councilman Brand has for this council," Diels says.
1:29 a.m.: Aust moves they continue the discussion to the next week; however, they want the amortization report, and Workman says that will take at least 60 days.
1:31 a.m.: Aust and Gin decide there should be a dedicated meeting July 10 on this issue. That will give the city manager time to get the amortization report.
1:31 a.m.: "When we talked at L3, hours ago..." Webb says. It's been a really long day.
1:36 a.m.: The city will prepare to be an intervener before the CEC, Gin reminds everyone.
Aust's motion passes 3-2, with Brand and Diels dissenting.
"Thank you again for spending the night here," Gin says.