Editorial Dramamine might have helped. The swings in the C ity Council conversation, the way discussions went back and forth, the whip-sawed audience members who were un-see-worthy and witness to the number of back and forth, completed or incompleted exchanges, found these difficult to follow during some recent Council meetings. The issue of Undergrounding has not been curried. Its history is replete with some questionable decision-making processes, with residents on both sides of the equation equally sincere ins their perceptions and statements, in wanting what each feels is the best answer to what too often, is imponderable. Seven districts have been dissolved and six have been approved. That is the flat statistic. Inherent in this is the quest for some to attain improved aesthetics in their immediate neighborhood or make effective change where wires are uncomfortably close to residences. But there is, too, the fear generated by the many who do not have the portfolios and assets others take for granted, and for whom their home equity is their only asset which is designated tor life-caring resources, for family and themselves. Districts 12, 14 and 15 have been discussed during several recent City Council meetings. An article in this issue effectively explains some of the proceedings. Two current councilmembers were not seated during the earlier years of Undergrounding and whle they know some of the history, we find even the long-term councilmembers who have had to read and wrestle through countless other agendas, may forget some of these details. We, at MBRA, having followed this sine the earlyo pilot program in mid-80’s have the advantage of less diversified and more undergrounding material. To this end, it is not a matter of ‘that was then and this is now’. What transpired five or more years ago, directly impacts the direction now taken. It is not too late to go back; one former council member frequently asserted “Council can do whatever it wants.” And does. It is incumbent here to cite two Districts. Which, many feel, should have been dissolved without the present ongoing controversy. First: The November 21, 2005 proceedings, generate some questions with particular emphasis on what was then District 4 (later 4A and then 15). The vote results then showed that 86% (!) of households submitted their votes; the tallywas 69 (or 47.5%) in favor in undergrounding, and 76, or 52.5% opposed. This was the raw vote, one referred to by then Mayor Pro Tem Ward that “the true meaning of a society or community is how the less fortunate, the young or the elderly, are treated”. When counted, District 4’s raw vote did not meet the threshold; Council, as required by Prop 218, went to the weighted vote (and that takes some understanding), which then was 51.1% voting Yes and 49.9% saying No to Undergrounding. These figures and the resulting comments should have dissolved the District. Then Mayor Fahey saying “WE are free to c onsider anything we want, including the raw vote.” It should be noted that Councilman Tell, who lives in District 4, did recuse himself from voting. However, he did not ( as he has done in subsequent related discussions) leave council chanbers. In stead, he remained seated, did not vote, but did “I will be abstaining to vote on District 4. I live in the District and I feel, even thought the City Attorney believes it is not a conflict of interest, I believe it is too much of an appearance of a conflict. So I will be completely abstaining from any specific discussion relating to District 4.” That was commendable and we appreciate the stated position. It was now inevitable, based upon council statement made, there would be a split 2-2 vote resulting in District 4 not going forward. However, after the vote, at the very beginning of the discussion, it was Councilman Tell who spoke first and came up with the idea of seeing whether they could get the other 14% votes not turned in. His participation was specific and persuasive; eventually council voted to modify the district borders which led to District 4A and then to expanded boundaries and the formation of District 15 with 13 additional homeowners supporting undergrounding. And the initial majority vote of 76 vs.69 seems to have been laid to rest. It was the Procrustean approach—cut off what won’t fit or stretch to accommodate. Again, in District 12, a Final Validation Survey requiring 60% of returned surveys, responded with 58.4% in favor of undergrounding. This failed to reach the required majority threshold and dissolution seemed to be in order. Instead, the color of a paper expressing opposing views to undergrounding and hand delivered to District 12 residents—yes, the color!—was accused by proponents as a deliberate use of city-associated color to mislead. Councilperson Fahey chose to back this preposterous allegation, using terms like “underhanded” and “outrageous” instead of acknowledging Manhattan Beach residents can read and think and make decisions based on content, not color. The façade exploited by some proponents (they may even have believed the assertion, worked. One councilmember who pften refer to “rules” and the need to go with the, voted not to recognize the 60% recommendation based on the Certificate of Sufficiency; another member of council stated that “58% is close enough to 60”! On these two pretexts, District 12 was moved forward. A backward look at the realities of a majority vote, or one not reaching a required 60% threshold and were perceived as warranting dissolved status, should not be an exercise in futility—but perhaps could clarify, in pentimento fashion, what lies beneath.

Source: http://www.manhattanbeachresidentsassociation.org/the_observer/article/editoria1.pdf

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