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Protecting Residential Neighborhoods from BCHD’s Commercial Development

According to surrounding neighbors of BCHD, they have worked with BCHD since 2017 attempting to shape the project. Over 1,200 petitioners submitted their objections to BCHD and the City. There have been hundreds of comments to BCHD. The project is too big, too tall, too close to homes, and being built for over 80% non-residents that have made no financial contribution to the South Bay Hospital or BCHD over the past 60+ years.

Hundreds of local homes have yard signs warning of the coming neighborhood damages from the developer owned and operated project planned for the BCHD site on Prospect Avenue. But why are residents concerned about BCHD’s impacts on their neighborhood character, safety and property values?

Surrounding residents have lost faith in BCHD’s efforts to protect their neighborhoods based on their 5 years of experience with BCHD and have taken their message to the streets. They say to watch what BCHD has actually done, not what it claims in press releases.

They can demonstrate that since 2019, BCHD has raised the height of its proposed commercial development from 60-feet tall to 76-feet (2020) to 103-feet (2021). During the same time, BCHD claimed it reduced the size of the project. BCHD may have removed some of the assisted living rooms because it couldn’t fill them, but overall, BCHD raised the height and added an 8-10 story parking ramp as it also removed 160,000 sqft of out-of-sight underground parking from the proposal.

As they see it, BCHD’s project today is both taller and has more square feet of buildings above ground than it proposed in 2019. It’s also closer to surrounding neighborhoods than proposed in 2017. Residents see this as a clear sign BCHD is not listening, or, BCHD simply isn’t concerned with its damages.

The Redondo Beach Municipal Code (RBMC) requires the City Planning Commission to evaluate project consistency and damages and then modify the project to protect the surrounding neighborhoods. But so far, that hasn’t happened. BCHD continues to move forward with a project that 8-times the size of the original Hospital built in 1960 that was predated by all the residential homes west of Prospect Avenue.

So what’s the fix according to surrounding residents of Redondo Beach and Torrance that have been impacted for between 50 and 65 years already and object to another 50-100 year lease to a commercial developer/owner/operator?

The largest share of residents that have commented to BCHD want no project, and have made that clear with their 1,200+ signature petition and consistent comments to the BCHD Board and the Cities of Torrance and Redondo Beach. The group generally wants the land given back and converted to true public use, not leased to a developer. The group largely consists of lawyers, engineers, and other professionals and seem very much aligned to fight the project at the City and perhaps beyond.

There’s another group that has made a consistent call for smaller, shorter and further from homes, and they’ve not only feel ignored by BCHD, but have seen larger, taller and closer to homes as BCHD’s response to their comments. Their solution for getting BCHD into RBMC compliance on safety, character, and property value protection is to reduce the size of the project to serve taxpayers and residents of the beach cities that own and have funded the District since the 1950s. The current plan for 80%+ non-resident assisted living and 90%+ non-resident “allcove” youth services and PACE makes BCHDs project far too large for area.

Neighborhood character is the size, height, mass, style, and visual impact of the project. Phase 1 is about 110-feet above Beryl and Flagler Streets and 300,000 sqft with an acre footprint and is taller and bigger than any definition of consistent or compatible imaginable.

Neighborhoods worry about safety issues both from the 5 years of construction and from ongoing operation. They have commented to BCHD about the construction traffic, worker traffic, parking structure backups, flaggers stopping traffic on Prospect Avenue, high speed neighborhood cut through traffic, and toxic emissions. And that was before BCHD announced it was placing a locomotive sized electric generator and fuel tanks next to Diamond Street.

RBMC’s Design Review requires protection of property values. Based on statistical models using BCHD’s marketing study’s data, homes in Redondo Beach within half a mile have $50M in reduced property value. Those homes that are more than 1,000 feet from BCHD predate the Hospital and have lost more than $25M. There’s little doubt that expanding the campus to 110-feet tall and 800,000 sqft feet will drive values down even more.

Given BCHD’s lack of cooperation with the neighborhoods over the years of Community Working Group participation, Board meeting participation, a petition and EIR comments, residents feel this project requires the impartial venues of Torrance and Redondo Beach to seek fair resolution.

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