Manhattan Beach City Council Questionnaire

As you probably know, there will be an election on March 8th for two city council positions.  Each of the winning candidates will serve four years, rotating one of those years at the position of Mayor.  Unlike larger cities, these are not what we would consider salaried positions and specific income information can be found here

Why vote?  Believe it or not, your vote actually matters as only 43 votes separated last city council elections.  Not only does City Council decide upon the most important issues affecting our city, once elected, incumbents typically seek and win a second term – extending their service to the year 2019!

CORE offered six question to three candidates, Amy Howorth (contact), David Lesser (contact), and Kathleen Paralusz (contact) regarding some of the issues that are relevant to CORE members (#4 & #5 relate to the Sand Dune)

We would enjoy hearing about your comments so feel free to contact us direct or post a comment .


Question #1 – During the next four years, how would you support making Manhattan Beach a more bikable and pedestrian friendly city?

Amy

Manhattan Beach has the natural qualities to be a very bike and walk friendly city.  It’s good for the environment and good for our health to encourage such activities.  Vitality Cities is currently conducting a walkability survey, which will provide data that help us make some improvements. Information such as traffic light timing, location of crosswalks, and peak traffic routes will help determine safe and accessible walking routes.  Encouraging bike use is a complicated topic as our roads are pretty narrow here in the city.  I support painting “sharrows” on major thoroughfares to alert drivers to the presence of bikers.  Another partner in these endeavors is the South Bay Bicycle Coalition. They are doing great work that will help guide our council’s bike policies.  Of course, I support putting more bike racks in the city so it is easier to secure your bike once you ride it.

David

As a Council member I would actively support the work of the South Bay Bicycle Coalition  and South Bay Cities Council of Governments to make Manhattan Beach a more “bikable” city.  For the past seven years as a City of Manhattan Beach Parking and Public Improvements Commissioner and Planning Commissioner I have repeatedly urged our city leaders and staff to be more proactive in developing interconnected bike routes beyond our beach bike path.  My family and I are avid cyclists.  A preliminary network could allow our city to qualify for funds to develop additional bike routes.  Our city has an extraordinary pedestrian-friendly infrastructure based on our Strand and Veterans’ Parkway.  We need to continually explore ways to encourage residents to take advantage of opportunities when possible in their busy lives.

Kathleen

I’m pleased to be supported and endorsed by Todd Dipaola (former Environmental Task Force member and co-founder of the South Bay Bike Coalition) and have had frequent discussions with him and other residents about how to make Manhattan Beach more bike and pedestrian friendly.  I’ve been an enthusiastic supporter of the SBBC since they formed.  As we all know, change starts at the grassroots level.  SBBC has given Manhattan Beach a huge edge by obtaining a $240,000 grant from the LA County Dept. of Public Health to pay for the South Bay Master Bicycle Plan for the South Bay, I plan to work closely with SBBC and strongly support and advocate on behalf of their efforts to develop and implement a bike-network not just for our city, but our neighboring cities as well.

Being bike-friendly and being pedestrian friendly go hand in hand.  Once you bike to your destination, you need a place to park so you can then walk (rather than drive).  Another priority must be on installing additional bike racks around the city, including on public property (our parks, and our downtown and North Manhattan Beach areas, as an example).  I would also strongly encourage our local businesses to include bike racks, including Manhattan Village Mall.  The Mall is planning a renovation (which has been on hold for some time now due in part to the economic downturn).  I would like to see a design that not only includes bike parking but a plaza-type arrangement similar to what El Segundo did with Plaza El Segundo, only better to encourage more foot traffic.

A third item which does not get as must attention as say, bike lanes, is the continuity and upkeep of our current sidewalks.  Anyone who tries to walk around town knows that there are sections where there simply are no sidewalks or just as bad, there are streets where the sidewalk suddenly ends or is interrupted.  This makes walking more of a hazard and therefore discourages residents from walking at all.


Question #2: How concerned are you about safety for cyclist and pedestrians?
David
Safety for cyclists and pedestrians is an ongoing concern, particularly as we explore interconnected bike routes.

Kathleen

Very.  It’s one of the reasons the city needs dedicated bike lanes and sidewalks, particularly along our main arterial routes.  I’ve already had initial discussions with Jim Hannon of the Beach Cities Cycling Club, which not only leads bike rides but trains cyclists on safety.  They need to be a part of the conversation when the Council begins evaluating and implementing the Master Bicycle Plan.

Amy

Public safety is a top concern


Question #3: Do outdoor festivals like Concerts in the Park and Volleyball Tournaments need to be rolled back, expanded, or maintained as is?

Kathleen

The short answer is yes but it depends on the nature of the event, whether we can afford to add more events, and whether they would put the public safety of our neighborhoods at risk.  Ideally, it would be great if we could have more events like Concerts in the Park or Movies on the Beach, which are truly community and family-oriented events that everyone can enjoy.  However, the nature of those types of events is markedly different from and poses less public safety challenges than say, the Six Man Tournament, where we’ve seen tens of thousands of people converge in recent years – sometimes irresponsibly – on the beach and downtown neighborhoods.

The other challenge will be paying for the events – including Parks and Recreation personnel dedicated to staff and clean up afterwards – at a time when the City will be looking at additional ways to cut expenditures.  One option will be to solicit more private support to pay for the events (much like the case with Movies on the Beach).  It will likely be easier to obtain such support where the event is more community and family-based.

Amy Howorth:

Concerts in the Park is wonderful summer tradition for our city.   Downtown businesses are pressuring Council to limit outdoor events downtown because their revenues suffer during events like the Fireworks and the Pumpkin Races.  I love all those events and want to see them continue, but we need to manage them well so they don’t negatively impact residences (Concerts in the Park) and businesses.  I would not roll them back, but I would think carefully before adding more.

David Lesser

Concerts in the Park are terrific and should be maintained.  The Manhattan Open volleyball tournament is the subject of ongoing negotiations with a new operator and sponsor following the liquidation of the AVP.  I am excited by the opportunities.  The six-man tournament was properly policed last year to maintain a classic community tradition.


Question #4: Now that there is a fence and quota of users for the Sand Dune, would you support increasing the morning, evening & weekend hours to accommodate those working Manhattan Beach residents that must commute to work and currently cannot use the Dune?

David

I would like to have data for a full year of usage at the Sand Dune, including the summer months, before taking a position on increasing quotas. As one who used to love using the dune freely for exercise when I was not commuting to work, I am receptive to the issue.  But I would want to carefully consider changes to current use restrictions with solid data to avoid the circus of two years ago

Kathleen

Yes, I think it’s a reasonable request and I support reviewing the current system and making tweaks that make sense.  This includes exploring an increase in hours to allow residents to access the park but not pose additional burdens on the neighborhoods.  I think that’s one of the reasons why the quota is so important – it limits the number of users and minimizes the impact during the hours of operation.

Amy

The Sand Dune compromise has brought relief to the homeowners who live nearby. Council must take into consideration their quality of life. However, it seems that a working group  or committee made up of a few homeowners and few representatives of CORE could get to  an understanding whereby people who exercise could have limited expanded time before or after work. It’s a delicate balance.


Question #5: Given that city staff has determined that the local neighborhood can handle 50 Sand Dune users, would you be supportive of increasing the current quota of 20 if there is more demand?

Amy

As I said above, it’s a delicate balance.  50 is more than double the current amount of users, and I would say that if any discussion of upping the amount of users began, doubling the number would not be the place to start.  I would need to see all the data to fully understand the problem

.

David

As with my earlier response, I would like to have data for a full year of usage at the Sand Dune before taking a position on increasing the quota.

Kathleen

Possibly.  I am not opposed to it but this I think will be a more difficult issue to address than increasing hours.  We know from the previous usage pre-closure that the demand far exceeded 20 so I don’t think that’s the issue.  The issue is whether and how an increase could be implemented without having a negative impact on the adjacent neighborhoods.


Question #6: Following on the success of the inaugural event, as a city council member would you support the continuation of the Operation Jack Marathon half/full marathon which starts and finishes in Manhattan Beach (no public funding required)?

Kathleen

Yes, especially as a former marathoner myself (including San Diego, LA, NYC and Marine Corps). but I don’t agree that no public funding is required.  We’ll still have public safety costs associated with monitoring and ensuring the safety of the event.  However, I think the City has a great opportunity to support and add a fun, healthy, positive addition to the list of annual events that our community enjoys together.

Amy

In general, I’m supportive of charity events (marathons, walks, etc).  Many organizations apply for permits to use the Strand and so we have to look at the whole picture.  We can’t have an event every weekend, because again, that affects local businesses. Frankly, I was shocked to see that our businesses suffer as a result of these types of programs.  I guess not everyone eats a large breakfast at Uncle Bill’s after the Pier-to-Pier like I do…..

David

It sounds like fun!

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