Q and A with City Council Observer and Local Craft Beer Promoter Lloyd Brown
With his long gray beard and gruff demeanor you might find it easier to picture Lloyd Brown riding atop a Harley Davidson than speaking from behind the podium at City Council meetings. Nevertheless, Lloyd has become a familiar face on Tuesday nights at City Hall as this “man of the people” has sacrificed his time to speak rather effectively on behalf of the public on a wide range of issues ranging from money spent on AYSO to the dangers of permissive yellow blinking lights at intersections.
At one meeting Lloyd queried why the Council and City staff were allowed to have water, but not the public. He was initially rebuffed by City Staff as they claimed it was against a City ordinance to allow the public to have food and drink in the Council Chambers. Undeterred, Lloyd returned the next week claiming he researched it and could find no such ordinance. The Council relented and the next week water was made available. It was a trivial matter, but represented a symbolic victory for the people and offered an important reminder that the Council is there to serve the public, not the other way around.
Lloyd is a 5th generation Californian and resident of Torrance since 1964. He graduated from Seaside Elementary and Bishop Montgomery High School and has owned his current home in Torrance since 1985. He does Internet marketing and event photography and has recently been using his talents to promote the burgeoning local craft beer movement with his website CraftBeerGuy.com. He was kind enough to respond to my request for a Q and A session and for that I thank him wholeheartedly as I think he offers some valuable insights.
Q. What do you enjoy most about living in Torrance?
A. The weather; having had the opportunity to travel fairly extensively I can state with no reservations, there is no place like home when it comes to the weather.
Q. What motivated you to initially start attending Council meetings and what has kept you coming back?
A. I started attending City Council meetings sometime in the middle of 2013. There were a couple of issues that were going on at Columbia Park that I found ridiculous, such as the posting of new signs saying you cannot do this and you cannot do that, and making it illegal to feed birds. On top of that, the City kept closing up the park which was a place I used to walk my dogs. I did some research and saw that the City had authorized the park to be closed for 30 days beginning May 2013; the park was closed to everyone until September 21 and when they reopened it had signs all over it saying we had to have a permit to play on the fields. The thing was, you could not get a permit unless you were affiliated with AYSO.
It was things like this that irritated the heck out of me, so I kept returning so the council would not forget that there was an outstanding issue that needed to be resolved. Additionally, various issues are presented at the council meetings that I feel it is important to make comments, even if it is not going to sway the council one way or the other. I keep reminding myself that the squeaky wheel gets the grease, so I keep squeaking away.
Q. As a close observer of the City Council, how you would rate the job the Council is doing on scale of 1 to 10. Why?
A. I wish I could say they are a 10 but I give them a 5. It is a new council so we will see if anything earth shattering happens before we get a new one.
Q. What is one thing the Council does well in your mind?
A. They are very good about spending money and supporting AYSO.
Q. Is there anything specific you would like to see the Council do differently?
A. I do not like the fact that they jump on every grant available, whether we need it or not. Just because the federal and state levels of the government like to hand out money they don’t really have does not mean we have to encourage them by taking it. If you had a crazy uncle, would you take his money if he could not really afford it? I wish budget was used as a verb instead of a noun.
Q. You were an outspoken supporter of Mayor Furey during the election? Are you pleased with his leadership of the City as Mayor thus far? Why or why not?
A. As stated above, we have a new mayor and council; I do not expect to see any major sweeping changes any more than I expected Obama to close Gitmo. The wheels of government turn slowly. I will say that it is obvious that Mayor Furey is becoming more comfortable in his position and more at ease in running council meetings.
I was looking forward to the fireworks that people like Daily Breeze writer Nick Green seemed to imply would happen with this “divided” council but 99% of everything put up for a vote before the council is unanimous in the decision.
I do look forward to seeing what they do with the new city website, even if I am not sure the people in charge of it have enough Internet experience to ensure the desired results, but only time will tell. Mayor Furey mentioned a new transportation initiative at the last State of the City address and I am looking forward to hearing more about this.
Q. You have advocated before the Council on a wide range of issues. Is there any one of those in particular that you would really like to see the City address or treat differently?
A. There are a couple of things I would like to see addressed; 1) litter and 2) cooperation between city departments.
The city plans to implement no parking days for street sweeping in our residential neighborhoods; I have no problem with this minor inconvenience. However, we walk around Torrance quite a bit and I notice a ton of trash on the major streets (think Hawthorne Blvd) and I never see street sweepers on those thoroughfares. I understand that this could be due to the fact that streets like Hawthorne are state highways but if Torrance is at risk for being fined for too much trash in the storm drains something must be done.
Part of the problem are the businesses that seem to have no concern with aesthetics. I always am astounded when I am walking around large strip malls and cannot find one single trash can. Very few businesses seem to care about all the trash sitting in their bushes; heck, some won’t even trim their weeds back unless forced to (I’m looking at you Chase Bank). The City of Redondo has crews made up of mentally challenged adults to help clean sidewalks and other areas off the street. I would like to see Torrance do something like that or possibly use residents of the Torrance City jail or those assigned to community service to help clean up this mess.
As far as the cooperation between departments, I am thinking primarily about the food truck issue for the microbrewery tasting rooms. It seems like the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing and the small business owner is the one that suffers. Under the current ordinance the breweries are only allowed to have 1 food truck on premise 26 times a year, so essentially 1 day every two weeks. The brewery must obtain a permit at the cost of a little over $200. They also had to present all 26 dates at the time they applied for the permit. When the council decided to pass an emergency ordinance to allow up to 5 food trucks to be at the 555 Maple Toyota sports complex I decided I had to get involved.
I am close with the brewery owners so I hear what their concerns are. When I talk to members of the council they agree with us that food trucks should be allowed as they are not taking away from brick & mortar food providers (no restaurants are around the breweries). We (the brewery owners and I) have been informed that the city will be coming out to meet with the individual brewery owners but we were told that a couple months ago. So far, nothing has happened and the breweries lose business every week as a result.
Q. When you think of Torrance’s future, what is your biggest worry? Or are you not concerned at all?
A. I guess most of my concerns are financial. With a governor like Brown it is tough enough to keep money in the State; with the way Torrance spends money I can see this becoming a major issue.
Q. You have spoken several times before council on Biotinidase Deficiency. Why is this cause so important to you?
A. My fiancée Tanya was misdiagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) for close to 10 years at a cost of about $500,000. A little over a year ago we accidentally discovered that she did not have RA but was actually deficient in Vitamin B-7 which is found in just about anything you eat. It turned out that she carried an enzyme that prevented her body from separating the B-7 from the protein it is attached to, so her body could not absorb it. Through research we discovered that this is a condition that many people suffer from, and most do not even know it. The only reason we found out Tanya had the deficiency is because these days newborns are tested for genetic issues, her sister’s grandson was found to be a carrier so Tanya went and had a vitamin deficiency test done only to discover she was profoundly deficient. It is our opinion that anyone that has been diagnosed with any chronic disease/illness should immediately have a vitamin deficiency test done; you will have to request the B-7 test done because it is not normally included since most doctors do not seem to think it is a problem.
Q. I know people have approached you about running for Council. Have you thought about it or do you have plans to do so in the future?
A. I doubt it. I spend enough hours just attending the public portion of council meetings; council members have executive sessions, committee meetings and obligatory photo ops to attend. I work pretty cheap, but they are making $100 a month or something like that. I go to meetings for free but I do not have to show up if I do not want to; council members are pretty much roped into it for several years. I would need to see a much better ROI before I would really consider it.