REDONDO BEACH — Critics of so-called "overdevelopment" suffered two crushing defeats this week when voters overwhelmingly elected three pro-growth candidates to the City Council and county officials disqualified a ballot initiative that called for severe restrictions on development in the harbor.
North Redondo incumbent Archie Snow, real estate dealer Kay Horrell and county planner John Chapman swept to decisive victories Tuesday in an election that Mayor Barbara Doerr last week predicted would determine the character of Redondo Beach for years to come.
None of the three candidates endorsed by Doerr, who was reelected two months ago on a platform critical of what she called "overdevelopment," was able to survive the onslaught. All were heavily outspent by the victors.
Snow defeated school board Trustee Valerie Dombrowski by a 26.6% margin in District 4, Horrell ousted harbor-area incumbent Ray Amys by a 21% margin in District 2, and Chapman downed City Treasurer Alice DeLong by a 12% margin in South Redondo's District 1. The turnout in the three districts averaged 17% of registered voters.
Doerr 'Greatly Disappointed'
"I am greatly disappointed," Doerr said Tuesday night as the final election returns arrived at City Hall. "Maybe there was some confusion in understanding what the candidates really stood for."
The election results became all the more significant Wednesday after City Clerk John Oliver confirmed that the Los Angeles County registrar had disqualified the Preserve Our Waterfront initiative because more than 800 petition signatures were invalid. Some signers listed old addresses and others were not registered to vote, he said.
Oliver said the initiative fell 238 signatures short of the 3,589 registered voters required to qualify it for the ballot.
The initiative had been promoted by Doerr, Amys, Delong and Oliver in an effort to impose new development standards at King Harbor. The City Council, even with Amys as a member, has been unwilling to adopt the restrictions.
The proposed ballot measure would have severely limited construction near the harbor and probably would have spelled the death of the planned hotel and sports complex, Inn at King Harbor, which Doerr and her allies have long opposed.
"It is over," a disheartened Oliver said. "I don't see anyone going out and doing this again. In light of the election results, everyone involved in the city is going to have to stop and reassess the situation."
Doerr was somewhat more optimistic about the initiative, saying that she hoped the new council would place it on the ballot anyway in deference to voters who signed the petitions. The mayor said that she intended to work with the council during the next four years despite the lack of any clear ally on the five-member panel. Doerr has veto power rather than a vote on council issues. Vetoes can be overridden by a 4-1 council vote.
But Doerr got off to a rocky start in her reconciliation bid Wednesday when she announced that she will ask the state Fair Political Practices Commission to investigate an Election Day post card mailed by Horrell. The commission has authority to investigate complaints from state and local officials or to refer them to a district attorney's office. The commission may impose a fine of up to $2,000 for violations and ask government prosecutors to file suit.
The post card featured photos of Doerr and Councilman Jerry Goddard, who unsuccessfully attempted to unseat the mayor in March, as well as statements by each of them praising Horrell's contributions to the community.
Doerr said she never gave Horrell permission to use her photo and complained that the statements attributed to her were extracted from a routine city proclamation that was given to Horrell last year for service on the Board of Realtors.
"I have never imposed my personal position or feelings about an individual into the proclamation process," said Doerr, explaining that part of her ceremonial role as mayor is to sign and read such proclamations. "Kay Horrell has exploited this process and tainted it through her deceptive use and misrepresentation of a city proclamation. . . . It appears that Kay Horrell will do anything to get elected. Where is her respect for the residents?"
In an interview Wednesday, Horrell defended the post card, arguing that Doerr used a similar tactic in March when she featured photos of President Reagan and Gov. George Deukmejian on a post card endorsing her reelection bid. Doerr said she had the endorsements and said the card was not sent out by her campaign committee.
"I quoted her directly," Horrell said. "If she didn't mean what she said, she shouldn't have said it in the first place."
Horrell denied that the post card was deceptive and somehow misled the voters into believing Doerr was endorsing her candidacy. "We liked the idea that the two mayoral candidates did agree about one thing: that I was a pretty neat person," she said.