Council Meeting Notes: Goodrich Casts Lone Abstaining Vote

In only his second council meeting, Councilman Goodrich displayed a willingness to depart from the views of his much senior in age colleagues on the Council.  His dissenting vote came as the Council took up the issue of adopting a resolution in support of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP).  Goodrich’s vote, although not cast on a particularly significant matter as Torrance does not control the implementation of the BDCP, may have served as a signal to the other Council members that he intends to vote his conscience even if his opinion may not be the popular one.

Prior to casting his vote, Goodrich briefly explained his viewpoint.  He claimed that his research indicated that many organizations statewide were opposed to the BDCP.  He specifically cited the League of Women Voters and quoted that organization as stating that this “would be a bad deal for taxpayers.”  Goodrich then related his concern that creating a reliance upon water that comes from as far as 300 miles away could be a national security liability.  City Staff responded to that concern by stating that the City’s water currently comes from that distance and that we have had no saftey concerns to date.

Advocates of the BDCP claim that it will assure the state’s water security at a reasonable cost.  Key concerns about the project that have been raised include: 1) incomplete design with Project costs at a minumum of $25 billion; 2) it will not attain expected water reliability goals; and 3) it will degrade Delta water quality thereby harming the estuary’s farmers and acquatic ecosystems.

After a brief discussion, the Council voted to approve the measure in support of the BDCP with Goodrich casting the lone abstaining vote of the evening.  In the same meeting, the Council also unanimously approved a measure to limit criminal activity at massage parlors.

 

Will Torrance Crack Down on “Happy Endings” Hurt Local Businesses?

Massage Parlor Arrest PicTorrance is considering a new ordinance that is designed to curtail illegal activity that may be occurring at some of the 61 massage establishments currently operating within the city.  It could, however, end up harming local businesses.  The proposed ordinance would prohibit any new massage establishment from opening in a location that was closed due to criminal activity for a period of two years.

The staff report explained that the Torrance Police Department (TPD) has recently conducted successful undercover “sting” operations that have resulted in the eventual revocation of the massage establishment’s business license.  As reported recently by the Daily Breeze, these operations include the TPD sending male officers into the establishments to see if masseuses offer more than just a massage.  One of these operations resulted in the arrests of the two individuals pictured above, one of which allegedly performed a sex act on an undercover officer.

According to the City, these undercover operations are time consuming and expensive to perform.  The concern is that even when the city is able to shut down an offending establishment it is all too easy for the property owner to re-lease the premises to another massage business as all of the fixtures necessary to perform such an establishment usually remain in place.

Unfortunately, the ordinance also has the potential to have a negative impact on the business community.  The restrictions placed upon re-leasing could create further vacancies in an already challenging commercial real estate market.  In addition, it could create hardships for legitimate massage establishments as their entire operation can be shut down by one rogue employee trying to make an extra buck.

That was precisely the concern raised by the Miyako Hotel at a recent hearing on the subject.  A representative from that Hotel worried that the Hotel’s spa could be closed due to the actions of only one employee.  The representative also mentioned that the services provided by the spa were a major component of the Hotel as those services are an integral part of the Japanese culture – a key clientale of the Miyako Hotel.  Implementing the ordinance could serve another blow to the Asian business community that is already reeling after the recent announcement that Toyota will move its Torrance based headquarters to Texas.

Will this ordinance have the intended effect of limiting the growth of seedy massage establishments that are nothing more than fronts for prostitution?  Or will it further degrade the ability of legitimate businesses to operate within Torrance?  The City Council will grapple with these questions when they decide the issue at the Council meeting this coming Tuesday night.

This issue also raises another interesting question that is ancillary to the matter but worthy of debate.  With burglaries and car thefts on the rise in Torrance, is having the TPD officers go undercover soliciting and apparently receiving “happy endings” the best use of the TPD’s limited resources?

Mayor Furey Sets Priorities at Historic Council Meeting

It was a historic and emotional evening at City Hall last night as the community welcomed a new City Council and said goodbye to many very familiar faces.  Tears were shed by many of the outgoing members, including Mayor Scotto, as they recalled their many years of service to the community and thanked many of those in attendance who had supported them along the way.

Torrance might never again have so many years of accumulated service all leaving the chambers at the same time.  The combined years spent leading our city by Mayor Scotto, Councilmembers Brewer and Sutherland, as well as City Clerk Sue Herbers exceeds well over 50.   Their volunteerism goes far beyond that as each of them served in various capacities prior to assuming city leadership roles.  I couldn’t help but marvel at the time each of these dedicated community servants has spent in support of our community.  As evidenced by the standing ovations each one of them received, it’s clear their service has had a lasting effect and that their legacy will live on among many in the community.

The community also had the opportunity to welcome and hear from the new council.  Mayor Furey took the opportunity to outline his three initial priorities as he assumes office.  Those priorities are as follows:

1)      Conduct a Public Works Workshop: Furey tasked the Public Works Department to provide a report showing the 5 year infrastructure plan, current funding status, and planned Measure R projects.  The report will be presented to Council in the near future.

2)      Redesign of City Website:  This initiative will explore a redesign that will create visually attractive pages, adopt a user centric approach, and create search optimization and site usability.

3)      View Impairment (Tree) Ordinance: City Staff to research the issue utilizing models from neighboring cities and present a plan to council within 60 days.

During the meeting, Furey also took what appeared to be a veiled shot at Nick Green and the Daily Breeze.  Speaking with regard to what he termed as “gossip” in the community about the upcoming council appointment, Furey cautioned residents “to consider the source” claiming that the source in question was “generally incorrect.”  He then concluded by stating, “so don’t always believe everything you read.”

Former Police Officer and Planning Commissioner and now Councilmember Geoff Rizzo offered his sincere thanks to many in the community that had supported him and helped him get elected and promised to give it his best.

Tim Goodrich, the youngest councilmember by far, also offered thanks to many in the community.  He concluded his remarks by making a comparison to himself and the recently passed, local legend, Louis Zamperini.  He noted that they both had lived in Western New York, both ran track, went to USC, served in the Air Force, and made Torrance their home.  Goodrich then offered that he would be honored and consider his work done if, during his time on the council, he could live up to be half the man that Zamperini was.

It should be interesting to see what course these new leaders will follow as they take the torch from those experienced leaders that Torrance was forced to say goodbye to last night.

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