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Sunday, April 21, 2002

Local News

HB challenges RB development

By Dennis Johnson and Eddie North-Hager


Charging that the development would bring more traffic to crowded streets, Hermosa Beach filed a legal challenge against Redondo Beach on Friday over the proposed Heart of the City project.

The complaint, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleges that Redondo Beach failed to consider the full impact of the 922,500-square-foot development on neighboring cities. The suit asks the court to negate an approved environmental study and conduct a new one.

In approving a project that could allow up to 2,998 new homes and 657,000 square feet of commercial space, Redondo Beach would be inviting an additional 28,859 car trips a day in an area that already suffers rush-hour traffic all day long, the suit alleges.

A large part of the project would be built near the cities' border, close to the intersection of Pacific Coast Highway and Herondo Street. The complaint says much of the traffic would come through Hermosa Beach.

Hermosa Beach Councilman Michael Keegan said the city's goal is to get its neighbor to consider a less dense project.

“What I'm hoping to get out of this is some dialogue on the table for the residents of both cities,” Keegan said. “(To see) how can we keep traffic on Catalina and PCH, so it's not running into the neighborhoods in Redondo or Hermosa.”

Keegan said he would rather see the AES power plant remain or the area developed into a Home Depot or similar store.

“I think the area needs a harder look,” he said. “I couldn't understand why they were going to be building residential all the way up by Pacific Coast Highway.”

The lawsuit alleges that before approving the environmental study, the Redondo Beach City Council failed to consider how much traffic would bleed into Hermosa Beach, and ignored alternatives to the project, including one that would have had the least impact on traffic.

In agreeing to widen a portion of PCH near the project, Redondo Beach also failed to consider what would happen when the street bottlenecks into Hermosa Beach at Herondo Street, the suit says.

Redondo Beach Councilman Kevin Sullivan said Hermosa Beach's cries about density are hypocritical and ignorant.

“The densest city in the South Bay is telling us this is too dense while they continue to make their city more dense,” Sullivan said. “If Hermosa Beach is serious about not increasing density and traffic, they should place a moratorium on not increasing density in their own city. We spent thousands of dollars on traffic studies and are getting sued by people who have never read them.”

The Heart of the City plan is also facing a referendum threat, for which signatures are being verified.

“I think the position the city has taken can be defended by a ballot referendum . . . and in the courtroom for sure,” Sullivan said.

“I do think it's very unusual that one city would want to influence the direction and destiny of a neighboring city,” Redondo Beach Councilman Gerard Bisignano said. “The problem is Hermosa Beach has never told us exactly what they want. They have not started a round of negotiations to express what their concerns are — specific and exactly.”

If the attempted referendum on Heart of the City has gathered enough votes, it could give the cities time to negotiate, Bisignano said.

But if the referendum is certified, he expects it will go to a vote of the people.

“The Planning Commission and City Council unanimously approved this project,” Bisignano said. “I believe in it and will never waffle.”

Publish Date:Saturday April

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