The mayor calls Hermosa Beach's aging downtown a sewer. A consultant hired by the city politely describes portions of it as unattractive.
The city's business district has taken its lumps, but officials plan to improve it with a $6-million face lift.
Plans approved unanimously by the City Council last week call for doubling the width of some downtown sidewalks to accommodate outdoor dining and closing a portion of Pier Avenue to eastbound traffic. Palm trees will be added, newspaper kiosks may be installed, and lights may be strung canopy-style down a portion of Pier Avenue.
It's all part of the city's plan to attract strolling shoppers and new businesses.
In recent years, shops in downtown Hermosa have lost business to nearby malls and cities, officials say. Manhattan Beach, for example, attracted many shoppers and businesses after officials spruced up the city's downtown area years ago.
Now, Hermosa Beach wants a piece of the action.
"We're not trying to become Manhattan Beach," said Councilman John Bowler. "We're just trying to emulate its business success."
Last year the city established a commission to consider improving the area, and officials worked with a Canadian consulting firm to develop the latest plan. Improving the area is more important than ever, Bowler said, because dwindling state funds to local cities have forced Hermosa Beach to become more reliant on tax dollars from merchants.