In Hermosa Beach, I soon became familiar with the small-town politics and biases. Jeff is a candidate who 1) has lived in Hermosa for many, many years and knows the city 2) has taken its issues to task by listening to the people 3) cares about the environment and 4) is well aware of the issues of living in a beach city and plans to implement the change Hermosa deserves and needs. It's not a stretch to say I recommend Jeff as a teacher, city leader, and friend.
An open letter to Hermosa Beach residents
As I begin my term as Mayor of Hermosa Beach, I want to thank outgoing Mayor Howard Fishman for his inspiring leadership of the City Council. Under his watch, our city has adopted several new initiatives that will forever improve the health of our community and environment. It is a remarkable achievement.
Throughout my service on the City Council, I have also been inspired by my colleagues who preceded Mayor Fishman, and the projects they have championed:
• Council Member Tucker for his leadership in Hermosa’s successful bid to win the Wyland Foundation’s Challenge for Water Conservation.
• Council Member DiVirgilio for his commitment to carbon neutrality and energy conservation. I hope that this will be an effort we can pursue together in conjunction with the County’s new programs to re-invigorate the process.
I was also pleased by the presence of so many school children at the instillation ceremony. As we move forward, my goal of building on Mayor Fishman’s record of achievement includes ensuring a better future for the young people of our city.
We need to continue to let them know their presence is valued here. They are the future, reminding us of what our priorities should be and of whom our policies should be designed for. They remind us to base our decisions not on the interests of the moment, but in the interest of ensuring the kind of future we want for our children. The kind of city they deserve.
When we think of them, we on the City Council need also to be reminded that our responsibility to them as civic leaders: to lead by example. We need to remember that it is the five of us who set the standard for behavior in this chamber. Many of the issues we weigh here arouse strong emotions in supporters of either side. It is incumbent on us to conduct our deliberations with rationality and mutual respect.
Fear and anger may be an important part of awakening the consciousness that change is required -- of making us aware of the kinds of challenges we face, but these emotions are not the best fuel for making change.
Our schools, like others around the country, are confronted increasingly by the problem of how to prevent and protect young people from bullying. This culture of bullying and the threats it poses are not limited to school children. They are front and center in virtually all areas of adult behavior today. We cannot expect or demand that teenagers and children stop bullying and tormenting one another if we ignore such behavior – or embrace it --- in conducting our own business, whether in City Hall or elsewhere in the community.
The combined efforts of all of us may not be enough to change the world when it comes to unkind or threatening behavior, but we can still choose to make a difference in our small corner of the world. We can make a conscious decision not to be carried away by the wave of anger in which this entire country is so immersed.
But to do so in today’s Hermosa Beach will not be easy. We are about to start the process of hiring a new city manager and chief of police – arguably the two most important staff positions in the city. We are also in the midst of contract negotiations with our employees. It will not be long before we take the first steps toward conducting a comprehensive environmental review of the proposed oil drilling project. Working with our City Treasurer and Director of Finance, we must soon begin the process of exploring our financial options for meeting our obligations under the recent settlement.
These are not stress-free times ahead. Even the settlement of the Macpherson lawsuit, while eliminating forever the threat of a catastrophic judgment against the city, at the same time raises other uncertainties. But there is a vast difference between the uncertainties generated by the lawsuit and the uncertainties we face today. The difference is this: the future of our community is now in the hands of the people of our community. It no longer rests on the authority of others. We need to be ever mindful of that difference.
As difficult as it may be, we can make the choice not to conduct this debate regarding oil drilling with the enmity that has characterized the debate here in the past. We can build a bridge to span our differences and pledge allegiance to the old public virtue of respectful disagreement.
But, for a bridge to be serviceable, it needs constant inspection and sometimes requires repair. I believe this to be true of the Council’s relationship with many of the employees who work so hard for our city, as well as with those citizens who so freely volunteer their time to do work for us.
In my new role as your mayor, I am committed to doing all within my power to see that those repairs are made.
Lastly, I’d like to discuss the possibility of building an actual, tangible bridge: as a gateway; as a physical connection across the highway that divides our city; as a means of making desperately needed improvements to pedestrian and bicyclist safety and as an alternative to motor travel.
Consistent with the financing of other major infrastructure improvements in Hermosa Beach, a bridge or bridges can be constructed over Pacific Coast Highway with little or no city funding. Other cities, Dana Point, for example, have accomplished this. As our Interim City Manager can attest, Santa Monica has constructed four bridges over its stretch of Pacific Coast Highway.
One of the sources of funding often used for bridges is Safe Route to School funding, a source of funding we currently enjoy. But I submit to you that when a school crossing guard, in a reflective jacket, holding a “Stop” sign, gets hit by a car in broad daylight, we have to admit that Pacific Coast Highway is a less than safe route to school. We have to acknowledge our responsibility as a city to see this situation is corrected.
I pledge to everyone in our community who has expressed concerns about this public safety hazard, that in the months ahead I will explore this concept of bridging the highway and will do my best to identify those in the community who might want to join me in this effort.
I recognize this will be a challenging project that may take years to complete. But I am happy to take the lead to get the discussion started, without any initial investment of staff time or city funding.
I thank the community for this opportunity to serve you as mayor.
Mayor, City of Hermosa Beach