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Put Limits on Development

Leader of BBR addresses Chamber of Commerce “Save Redondo” Opponents

An Open Letter from BBR's Jim Light in response to comments made by the Redondo Chamber of Commerce and SAVE REDONDO Opponents

The Redondo Chamber of Commerce recently published its position on Measure DD, where they said:

“Measure DD's proponents are willing to sacrifice our safety, our children's education and our city's solvency. They want to dismantle our representative democracy ….”

As a former officer of the US Air Force, I served for over 13 years – dedicated to our national security and preserving our democratic form of government. To say that I am "willing to sacrifice our safety, children’s education, and city’s solvency" and worse, that I want to "dismantle our democratic form of government" – is a direct slander on my character and all I stand for. But that is not what gets me angry. I have been called worse by better.

What gets me fired up is that this insult and slander is aimed at over 6000 residents of Redondo who are fed up with overdevelopment and support Measure DD.

Let's look at the facts:

1. The Chamber, as well as SAVE REDONDO Opponents, say that we are willing to sacrifice our safety, children’s education, and city’s solvency. This relies on the assumption that DD will negatively impact our city revenues and that we knowingly want to reduce those revenues. But we do not believe DD will have a negative impact on City revenues.

One recent example in Redondo is Decron Corp. who has so far invested $10M in acquiring a harbor lease in Redondo knowing full well that Measure DD was on the ballot. DD hasn't stopped Decron from investing.

Another example is in Newport Beach, where they adopted resident voting requirements on zoning change approvals in 2000. From 2001 through 2006, Newport Beach saw their city revenues increase by 34%.

The Opponents for EE in the Chamber of Commerce do not want you to understand the basics of land use: Residential land use, such as dense condo development, cost us more in services than they produce in revenue. This was born out in several studies commissioned by the City!

The Taussig analysis of the City's failed Village Plan showed that revenues from the residential component of the Village Plan was negative! A UCLA study on the Heart of the City debacle stated that each resident costs the city $350 in services while bringing in $170 in revenues. A City-hired Consultant, Larry Kosmont, corroborated the net-negative costs of residential development.

By limiting the City's practice of converting business and public property to dense condos - Measure DD will protect Redondo’s revenues. But that is not the story that Measure DD opponents want you to know.

The Chamber and “Save Redondo” have produced zero evidence that DD would negatively impact our City revenues. Don't believe their fear-based literature.

2. The Chamber’s accusation that DD is an attempt to "dismantle democracy" shows their fundamental misunderstanding of democracy, and how our nation and democracy were established. Since the 1700’s towns from New England and into New Jersey and Pennsylvania relied on town meetings where residents voted on major activities in their towns including development and zoning.

It was when the King of England took away their right to assemble and make decisions for themselves, that the revolution began and gave birth to our democratic government. The practice of average residents voting in town meetings on zoning decisions continues to this day in most New England towns. Great Americans from Abraham Lincoln, to Teddy Roosevelt, to Ronald Reagan supported direct public voting. Over 30 cities in California and across the country require resident voting on land use changes. Our Chamber must think most of these American towns are undemocratic!

DD is far from an assault on American democracy – it is indeed the living embodiment of American democracy by allowing Redondo voters a say in large scale development.

Measure DD supporters continue the democratic spirit on which our country is founded. When our government does not execute the will of its people, it is up to patriotic voters to help establish checks and balances on those that abuse their power and neglect and ignore the will of the people.

"I believe in the Initiative and Referendum, which should be used not to destroy representative government, but to correct it whenever it becomes misrepresentative."
President Teddy Roosevelt

Since Heart of the City, the RB Mayor and Council have not put a single slow growth advocate on the planning commission. Our Council continues to approve zoning changes that increase residential density. Councilmen mock residents from the podium after they speak their limited 3 minutes of public testimony.

Our City planners continue to publish misleading statistics to downplay the impacts of overdevelopment on our quality of life. Now they are pushing high density development of 80 units per acre and more. Our City processes have failed the residents.

It is past time that the residents of Redondo put some checks and balances on Redondo’s pro-development City policies, processes and elected and hired officials. DD provides those checks and balances by requiring a vote of the people of Redondo.

"The further the departure from direct and constant control by the citizens, the less has the government the ingredient of republicanism."
Thomas Jefferson

DD is not anti-democracy. It is democracy in its purest form.

The accusations of the Chamber of Commerce and Save Redondo opponents do not surprise me. Remember, out of $84,000 spent by the opposition EE from April through Oct 6, 2008:

-- $50,000 was from California Association of Realtors
-- $13,000 was from MCL Marina Corp - the company that owns King Harbor Marina and directly benefits from the recent rezoning of the harbor adding over 400,000 additional square feet of development including timeshares.
-- $5,000 is from AES Corp. who fought for high density condo zoning in the Heart of the City until residents stopped it
-- $1,400 was from Redondo Council members, planning commissioners, school board members, the treasurer
-- Only $799 was from average residents

DD was written and funded by average Redondo residents without any vested interest in development - we just want a say in development that impacts our quality of life. I salute those who have joined us to stand up to what has become a corrupted system that has strayed far from its responsibilities to the residents of Redondo.

Learn more here

Jim Light is chairman of Building a Better Redondo.
Contact Jim at info@buildingabetterredondo.org

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