Added on March 23, 2017 David Mendez Redondo Beach
Measure C architects and champions Candace Nafissi, Bill Brand, Jim Light, Wayne Craig, Martin Holmes and Rob Gaddis celebrate on election night. Photo by David Mendez
by David Mendez
Early on Wednesday, March 8, when it became clear that Measure C was becoming the law of the land, the once-still parking lot outside of Samba Brazilian Steakhouse began to rattle.
Cheers were erupting through a back door leading to election watch party jointly held by supporters of Measure C and a slate of candidates with similar views on development in Redondo Beach.
With election results projected on the wall behind the candidates (and in some cases, on their faces as they stood in the images path), de facto campaign manager Rob Gaddis held the microphone.
Im proud to live in such a beautiful, wonderful city, Gaddis said to the supporters who stuck around late into the night. As residents, we are now in control of what happens with our waterfront.
That night, the leaders, supporters and volunteers who dedicated their time to defeating CenterCals waterfront revitalization project felt vindicated.
What it boils down to is that Redondo people did not want a mallthey didnt want to lose the small seaside town charm that the pier and the waterfront has, Gaddis said.
The key to the victory of Measure C was two-fold: First, it was an outright rejection of everything CenterCal, from the project itself to the mailers and tactics they offered.
Second, passion paved the way.
AES and CenterCal proved that mailers and brochures dont win elections, said Mayor Steve Aspel, who was defeated at the polls on March 7 as Measure C won. What they were up against this time was a group of very passionate activists who were out banging on doors, it seemed, 24/7.
When the sun rose on March 8, Rescue Our Waterfront co-founder Martin Holmes woke up on Cloud Nine, a welcome change from the weeks leading up to the election.
Before January, there was maybe an overall mood of depression about the Yes sidewe were so far behind in fundraising and advertising and getting things done, Holmes said.
What it came down to in the end, Holmes said, was guerrilla warfare.
Rescue Our Waterfront formed in late 2015, when Nils Nehrenheim and Candace Nafissi met Holmes around his dining table, brainstorming to stop CenterCals Waterfront: Redondo Beach redevelopment project.
The group eventually produced the King Harbor Coastal Access Revitalization and Enhancement (or CARE) Act, which became known as Measure C, a fine-tuning of existing voter-approved harbor zoning. In essence, it was a response to what they described as an overdeveloped mall development proposed for King Harbor.
CenterCal planned to add 19 buildings over 36 acres of project area, proposing 523,939 sq. ft. of development, with a net gain of 312,289 sq. ft., under the zoning development cap.
But many residents were concerned by the projects size; ROW quickly gathered 7,000 resident signatures to force the measure onto the March ballot for voter approval.
In turn, CenterCals No on C campaign gathered quickly. Three members of the City Council, as well as Mayor Steve Aspel, opposed Measure C. CenterCal eventually funded $525,000 into the campaign to defeat the ballot measure, making Holmes concern well-founded.
Theres no way we can compete with money, and no way to compete with bland, boring messaging, Holmes said. We needed to catch peoples attention in order to have them pay enough attention to research the issue and understand the issue.
Thats where longtime music teacher Jeep Suddeth came in. When a ROW volunteer showed him the size and scope of the CenterCal project, he was shocked, joining the cause.
One morning, he woke up with the melody to Joni Mitchells Big Yellow Taxi humming in his head, eventually stumbling upon the words you never know what youve got til its gone/if you ruin the Lagoon and put up a waterfront mall.
I went up to [Holmes] and told him that Ive got a song, Suddeth said. And then another guy walks up and said I can do video, I can help.
On February 22, Suddeths music video for Dont Ruin the Lagoon was posted on Rescue Our Waterfronts Facebook page, earning thousands of views within days. It was the first in a series of viral videos that sold ROWs views in funny, digestible formats.
People came forward with the things they can do, coming forward with ideas for literature and, of course, we had to focus that all down, Gaddis said.
As the election rolled along, ROW began feeling that they had the No on C campaign on the ropes. By early March, No on C mailers shifted tactics, claiming that the development wouldnt produce excess traffic, and that Measure C would raise taxes.
But their efforts were in vain. After all votes were counted, Measure C won 9,229 votes in favor to 6,925 against.
Phil Sanchez, a representative for the No on C campaign and former Redondo Beach Planning Commissioner, couldnt help but wonder if the national climate had an effect on the election.
I think there is election fatigue, rhetoric fatigue, Sanchez said. Given whats gone on since November, and whats continuing to happen now, I wonder if people are throwing their hands up in the air.
His reasoning came from what he perceived to be a lower turnout than anticipated or indicated from supporters.
But even in my neighborhood in North Redondo, people said I got busy, I couldnt make it, Sanchez said.
Fear, Aspel said, made the difference even in his election.
People were intensely worried that their harbor would be overrun by people that werent from around here. It was particularly disconcerting with senior citizens, Aspel said. They were afraid CenterCal wasnt for the residents, but to bring people in.
Interestingly, the Measure C election may have been avoided, Aspel said.
As mayor, I could have easily changed the date of the Measure C election to later in the year, and I was advised to lobby the council to just adopt Measure C outright, Aspel said. But you cant act as an ethical mayor or councilperson by trying to worry about your next election.
He paid the price, however, losing to anti-CenterCal candidate Bill Brand.
Now, as Rescue Our Waterfront lobbies Redondos incoming leadership to send the Measure for approval by the California Coastal Commission, theyre hedging their bets.
On Wednesday night, the group announced that they are raising funds for a lawsuit to prevent CenterCal from moving forward with the project and ignoring the will of the people, Holmes said.
It came down to their side having the money and our side having the passion, Holmes said.
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by David Mendez
David Mendez is the beat reporter for Redondo Beach. If you’ve got tips, questions, or just want to talk, feel free to reach out on Twitter, via email or by phone, at 424-269-2834.
Originally posted here:
Anatomy of an election: How Measure C won Redondo – Easy Reader
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