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State of the City is 'Stronger Than Ever'

Feb 27, 2019 09:30PM ● By Jeanne Fratello

Manhattan Beach Mayor Steve Napolitano unveils the city's new logo at the State of the City Event on February 27.

Is Manhattan Beach ready to face the challenges of the future? It is, according to city leaders who spoke before a packed house on Wednesday morning at the Manhattan Beach Chamber of Commerce's annual State of the City event.

"The state of our city is stronger than ever. That’s no exaggeration," Mayor Steve Napolitano told the crowd at the Joslyn Community Center. "It's not that we don’t have our challenges, but we’re in a better position to deal with them than ever before."

Napolitano led with the issue of short-term rentals, which has been a topic of debate among residents and in the current city council election. While there is currently a ban on short-term rentals, "the issue has been enforcement – the lack of it," said Napolitano. He said the city is working on a contract with Host Compliance, a company that will assist the city with finding violators and enforcing the policy. "We're going to have those 'teeth' in place very soon," he added.

Regarding the hotly debated issue of homelessness in Manhattan Beach, Napolitano said, "We're making progress."

"It is a regional problem; everyone is trying to solve this," continued Napolitano, who noted that the city had put together a plan, created a homelessness task force, and received a $150,000 grant along with other beach cities to tackle the issue. "We want to get these folks services and shelter, but we want to hold everyone accountable to the same standards. We’re going to enforce the rules," he added.

Regarding Measure A, the proposed Transient Occupancy Tax or TOT on the March 5 ballot, Napolitano noted that the city's current hotel bed tax of ten percent is lower than neighboring cities like El Segundo, Hermosa Beach and Los Angeles.

Napolitano added that if voters approve Measure A, the hotel bed tax rate will remain at ten percent for the first year and then will increase to 12 percent. After April 2022, the city council may consider increasing the hotel bed tax to a maximum of 14 percent, but there can be no increases beyond 14 percent without additional voter approval.

Continuing through a list of issues, Napolitano added that the city would be returning to being open five days per week every week; that a new fire chief would be named shortly; that no decisions have been made about turning to L.A. County for fire services (a study is forthcoming in the next few months); and that the city was pursuing a fiber optic plan that would increase speeds up to one gigabyte.

Napolitano also unveiled a new city logo, which he said would be used for branding in all city materials (although it would not replace the city seal).

"Local government impacts your life every day," he said. "We’ve got a great community, but to keep it great it takes all of us."

Speakers from the city also included City Manager Bruce Moe, Director of Public Works Stephanie Katsouleas, Director of Community Development Anne McIntosh, and Police Chief Derrick Abell. 

Manhattan Beach Unified School District Superintendent Mike Matthews spoke to the group to give the schools' perspective. "We’re here because we’re so closely tied to everything associated with the city," he said. "We love the partnership we have."

Matthews noted that in the recent case of the sinkhole on Artesia Boulevard outside the high school, "Stephanie [Katsouleas] and Bruce [Moe] texted me immediately when it happened. We have amazing communication."

Kelly Stroman, the president and CEO of the Manhattan Beach Chamber of Commerce, received  applause for leading the popular event during what is just her seventh week on the job.

"This is an amazing community that everyone wants to be a part of," Stroman told the group. "You all make it happen."

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