Rescue Our Waterfront challenges harbor revitalization project as too large.
REDONDO BEACH — The fate of Redondo Beach Harbor’s redevelopment could come into focus on July 18, when the city’s Harbor Commission is expected to vote on a recommendation of how to move forward with CenterCal’s Waterfront project.
Just the same the fate of the harbor revitalization project could be up in the air until November if a local interest group gains enough support for voters, not city leaders, to decide how CenterCal’s Waterfront proposal should take shape.
Rescue Our Waterfront, or ROW, reportedly filed a ballot initiative on June 28 to challenge CenterCal’s $300 million plans for a new waterfront adjacent to Redondo Beach Harbor.
The filing, which is formally called King Harbor Coastal Access, Revitalization and Enhancement (CARE) Act, coincides with a series of Harbor Commission meetings and public forums in the past few weeks specifically designed to flesh out CenterCal’s proposals and the project’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR).
Fred Bruning, CEO of CenterCal, said the ROW initiative, if successful, could result in more harm than good.
“The ROW group has thrown a group of disparate things into the initiative, and if it should come to reality I think it would effectively shut down any redevelopment on the waterfront for decades, leaving the city with daunting financial obligations with no means to pay for them,” Bruning said.
One of the main topics still a point of contention is where – and whether – local boaters can access the harbor via a boat launch ramp.
Redondo Beach city staff most recently proposed a single-lane boat launch ramp with 22 parking spots, according to Nils Nehrenheim, a co-founder of ROW.
He added only some of the 22 parking spots are for double-length trailers.
“During current operations, off-season the hoist experiences 10-12 launches per day on the weekends. During high season, summer, the number balloons to 20-plus per day,” Nehrenheim told The Log in an email, questioning how the city expects current plans for the boat launch ramp to handle summer traffic.
Nehrenheim also questioned the timeline residents and boaters were given to review the Draft EIR, which is expected to be voted on at the Harbor Commission’s July 18 meeting.
“The Draft EIR is being finalized, with over 700 comments [the document] will not be available until 10 days before the expected certification, which is July 18. The Harbor Commission and the public will only have 10 days to review the final EIR with comments,” Nehrenheim said. “Additionally, CenterCal has made significant changes to this project, which are not included in the Draft EIR.”
Bruning disagreed with Nehrenheim’s statement, saying all changes proposed by CenterCal are within the EIR.
“The changes that we have agreed to are all covered within the EIR, as we did not change the square footage of the project nor the mix of uses,” Bruning said.
Another point of contention raised by Nehrenheim is whether CenterCal’s Waterfront project properly balances revitalization with recreational uses of the harbor.
“Why is it we can find space for over 500,000 square feet of commercial development and over 260,000 square feet for a new parking structure, but we can’t save 40,000 square feet of Seaside Lagoon or build a realistically-sized boat ramp,” he asked.
The question is a microcosm of the larger intent of the King Harbor CARE Act initiative, which challenges CenterCal’s proposal as unbalanced. Nehrenheim and his colleagues at ROW stated their proposed initiative would honor the intent of Measure G, a zoning initiative approved by Redondo Beach voters in 2010.
Measure G opened the door for an additional 400,000 square feet of development to the harbor area. The measure also aimed to protect coastal views and limit development in certain areas of the city’s waterfront.
“Residents voted for the zoning contained in Measure G with the promise of balanced revitalization that would protect and enhance recreational use of the waterfront, protect Seaside Lagoon from development, and protect public views of the ocean, harbor, and coastline,” the ROW group said in a released statement. “The current project prioritizes commercial development that could be built anywhere, while negatively impacting every recreational use of the harbor.”
ROW hopes the King Harbor CARE Act, among other goals, would result in a two-lane boat launch ramp with parking space for 30 trailers and ample maneuvering space for vehicles with boat trailers.