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Council Kills Centennial Beach Ball

The centennial committee will merge two events into one to save money and stay within budget, at least that's the plan, for now.

After nearly four-and-a-half hours of discussion Monday night, the Manhattan Beach City Council squelched the centennial committee's hoped-for, planned-for and apparently promised Sept. 22 beach ball in favor of a different, less-costly event.

During a special meeting held to determine what events of its planned schedule the centennial committee should stage and how those events would be paid for, Council members heard from more than a dozen individuals who took issue with the beach ball. 

In the end, council decided to move forward with the committee's parade and historic picnic on Saturday, May 19, followed by another event that could be some sort of mixture of the committee's vision for its July 7 open house downtown/pier event and the beach ball.

Mayor Nick Tell, who is the centennial committee's vice president, and council member Richard Montgomery, who is its president, would have preferred to have a beach ball but it was not in the cards Monday night.

Formed in June of 2010 and charged with planning and executing centennial events and securing sponsorship funding to cover the costs, the centennial committee, which registered and operated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, had created a list of events and secured funding from the likes of Chevron, Manhattan Beach Country Club, Anheuser Busch, Providence Hospital, Carlye Group-Raleigh Studios, Skechers, Body Glove, Northrop Grumman, dealer.com, DeWitt Petroleum, Grow, Belamar, Continental Development Corp., Chic Canvas, Waste Management, Metlox, So Cal Gas, So Cal Edison and Local Yolk.

As of April 27, the committee had raised $207,000 in cash and $87,800 in in-kind donations toward payment for the scheduled events, however, the beach ball alone was estimated at $254,000, with in-kind donations of $30,500, bringing the cash needed for the ball to $219,500. 

Much to the ire of several residents, the committee's Taste of Manhattan Beach event in March cost some $133,000, and only offered 350 tickets for sale to the public.

Many residents questioned the appropriateness of the plans for the Sept. 22 beach ball, saying that it, too, would once again be limited to far too few members of the public while providing cabanas and a catered dinner with music on the beach for centennial sponsors.

The committee's plan to stage a free public concert before sponsors took to the beach to dine in a cordoned off area didn't work for those who wanted a "community" and "all inclusive" event.

Monday night, council determined that the centennial committee will use about $12,000 of its $43,000 in the bank for the historic picnic at Polliwog Park that follows the parade on Saturday, May 19, and the city will spend $3,000 on barricades for the parade and $2,000+ for the city's float.

The estimated remaining $31,000 [which could be lower if council asks the committee to re-pay $27,151 spent on costs associated with staging the Taste, including electrical upgrades] will be used to stage an event that replaces the beach ball and July 7 downtown open house/pier event. 

Council member Amy Howorth will take Montgomery's spot on the committee and will work with the committee to design the new event created by council's vote Monday night to merge the downtown open house/pier festival with the beach ball.

Monday night's meeting grew contentious about 90 minutes into it, with Mayor Tell calling for a break after Councilwoman Howorth asked the centennial committee to move from seats behind her back, where she couldn't see them, to an area where she could. After the committee refused, Howorth moved to a seat in the center section of council chambers.

The issue was resolved by committee members moving one section toward the center of the room and Howorth returned to her council seat.

Throughout the meeting, centennial committee members had a handheld microphone to speak into to address city council and Howorth wasn't able to see them unless she turned completely around. Once they moved, she could see them without having to turn around.

Montgomery was called out by a resident 30 minutes into the meeting for not facing forward in his seat and for having his head turned away from the speakers at the podium in the center of the room during public comment.

Duke Noor May 01, 2012 at 03:19 PM
The concept of the Beach Ball was a good one, but the MB City Council did make the right decision by burying the Ball in the sand. Bordering cities to California beaches sometimes believe that they control what happens on the "sacred sands". They say they own the beach, but the beaches should be considered a "birth right" of regional taxpayers from all areas, not just local residents. California beaches are the best in the World. That didn't just happen. Past efforts of the California Coastal Commission, The Coastal Act, The Local Coastal Plan and many concerned citizens continue to prevail. To exclude anyone from fenced or ticketed areas of the sandy beach, in my opinion, would of been just wrong.
Gary D. McAulay May 01, 2012 at 05:27 PM
Couldn't agree with you more, Duke. The 100% paid admission dinner on the sand was not in keeping with the free, open, public beach ideal. Perhaps the Ball was a cute concept, but it had far-reaching implications that, intended or not, must be recognized. And the idea that we were going to get an exemption, or pass a special law, so we could have alcohol on the beach, while telling everybody else they cannot, was a very bad idea. Thanks to Councilmembers Lesser, Powell, and Howorth for rejecting that "do as we say, not as we do" plan. Thanks, Duke, for your many years of vigilance.

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