In mid-August, the city’s harbor commission voted 4-2 to certify the environmental impact report for CenterCal Properties’ $300 million waterfront development. After the announcement, a public forum was held – one that lasted for over seven hours. While the comments varied from those expressing their support to those voicing their dissatisfaction, we are encouraged that so many Redondo Beach residents felt strongly enough about the well-being of our home town to participate in the open conversation.
Though this CenterCal proposal is relatively new, one of the most contended issues raised has been a well-argued problem for over 50 years – where to place the boat ramp. Mole B, which the commissioners have tentatively voted to be the location for the boat ramp, sits next to Moonstone Park near the Harbor Patrol station. Interestingly enough, this location was presented as an option several times in the 1980’s and was turned down each time. Among the dissenters for this option were members from both the Lanakila and Nahoa outrigger canoe clubs who argued that there is simply not enough room at Mole B to host 100+ boats, necessary equipment and the launch ramp. As city staff scrambles to investigate three other potential sites (one of which is Mole C where the Portofino Hotel and Joe’s Crab Shack currently sit), dissenting commissioner Kari Keidser comments, “I find it disappointing we’re choosing commercial development over recreational uses. I can only hope this will be corrected by the City Council or Coastal Commission.”
While there are still a few obvious hiccups in the proposed plan, a majority of the development is completely finalized. Currently, a 16-by-7 foot exact replica of the 36-acre project lives in the El Segundo CenterCal office. Each inch of the replica represents 16 feet and the development includes all of the planned recreational and commercial facilities, including a 20-foot-wide boardwalk, 120 room boutique hotel and movie theater. CenterCal Properties, the waterfront developer, hopes that allowing the public to visit the model in person will help residents to better visualize the finished project and ultimately garner more support for the proposal.
Although a level of objection to the changes remains active in the community, it is impossible to ignore the ongoing (if slow!) progression of the waterfront project. With construction expected to commence in 2017, the proposed dramatic makeover of Redondo Beach’s waterfront is becoming a more realistic and necessary reality. According to a recent report released by the Redondo Beach City Council, the current waterfront infrastructure is failing and in dire need of repair. The study quoted the repair cost of at over $100 million. As Commissioner Michael Jackson put it, “We can’t afford the infrastructure that’s falling apart with or without CenterCal. It has to happen.”