By Rebecca James, Secretary
South Bay Parkland Conservancy
Many Redondo Beach residents have spent much of the 21st century successfully fighting off dense residential development proposals for the AES power plant site in favor of plans for a future park. After all, the site was once home to a salt lake, and the emergency pumping permit recently issued to AES may be evidence that the wetlands are making a comeback.
Recently elected mayor, Bill Brand, founded the South Bay Parkland Conservancy (SBPC), a 501(c)3 nonprofit in 2004. SBPC drew pro-parks neighbors to the cause of preventing dense residential development on the AES property in favor of parks and open space. Through Brand’s leadership and vigilance, SBPC became the grassroots champion of the need throughout the South Bay region to create and maintain parks — work that continues today.
Now members of SBPC and residents of Redondo Beach finally have progress to cheer on the parks front. In addition to a recently elected pro-parks mayor and council members, they have SB 5—state parks legislation—awaiting the governor’s signature. It contains language that will provide grant opportunities to support the wetlands restoration and parkland conversion of the AES property.
This step forward highlights the work of local slow growth/more parks movement proponents—perhaps none more so than Mayor Brand. Brand met recently with Senator Kevin de Leon, author of SB 5, to discuss the AES site as an opportunity to convert the fossil-fueled power plant for use as a park. SB 5 passed with grant provisions for such a project included.
With only 3.3% currently budgeted in Redondo Beach for Parks, SBPC still works to increase park assets and contribute to something exceptional for the city on the AES site. They will need the support of the community, grant resources of Measure A, Los Angeles County’s Parks funding approved by voters, SB 5 and foundation grants to make real progress.
As SBPC gears up for that ambitious effort, they are working alongside community members and local professionals to identify native plant restoration projects for area parks. They started by introducing community members to Wilderness Park through a tour. “Bill Petitt, an advisory board member and owner of Green Heart Native Landscapes is an example of the reservoir of knowledge and depth of talent that are available in our community,” according to Jacob Varvarigos, SBPC’s president. Visit SBPC at www.southbayparks.org to be updated on the organization’s activities and follow SBPC on Facebook at www.facebook.com/southbayparklandconservancy