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City council roundup: charging stations, late closings and response times

City council members unanimously voted to extend free parking and charging at electric vehicle stations through May 2014 at their Nov. 27 meeting. Since the four EV charging stations went live on May 22, 1,459 total sessions have been logged. Hermosa Beach already waives parking fees for electric vehicles parked at silver meters in the city, but when the chargers were installed, the council agreed to six months of free charging, too. Those six months have now turned into two years.

The 1,459 sessions have cost the city $128 in electricity costs and Public Works Director Frank Senteno estimated the city would spend $205 total in additional electricity bills by the end of this year. Council members and residents believe the city and its businesses took in far more than that in increased sales at local restaurants and stores while car owners waited for their vehicles to charge.

Council members elected to extend the free EV charging to promote and attract EV drivers to do their shopping and eating in town. After May 2014, the council members expect they will require a $1 per hour to charge a car, which will cover electricity and maintenance costs.

“I think it’s been extremely successful. It’s brought a lot of attention to Hermosa Beach,” said EV driver and resident Dency Nelson. “I’m really pleased that it’s not costing the city a lot of money. I’m glad that people are using them. It remains a great promotional item, consistent with the green idea city that we are.”

Currently, Santa Monica and Torrance offer free EV parking and charging at their city-managed charging stations. Senteno said several other cities in the region charge between $95 cents and $3.50 per hour.

Council to consider late closings for restaurants on New Year’s Eve

Councilman Peter Tucker asked his fellow council members to consider a temporary ordinance allowing restaurants in Hermosa Beach to stay open until 12:30 a.m. on New Year’s Eve. He made the request after one restaurant owner, who generally closes at midnight, told him it would make New Year’s Eve challenging for his business if patrons could not celebrate at midnight.

Restaurants with current restrictions for code violations would be excluded from the extended hours.

Mayor Pro Tem Kit Bobko and Councilman Howard Fishman supported Tucker’s request to add a discussion about the proposal to the Dec. 11 city council agenda.

HBFD response time good, but near capacity

Hermosa Beach Fire Chief David Lantzer presented an extensive report to the city council examining the HBFD’s response times and primary responsibilities as requested from Mayor Jeff Duclos, who wanted to openly discuss the emergency services statistics that appear monthly in council packets.

During his presentation, Lantzer said that the fire department is primarily used for EMS services, with only 3 percent of incidents being fire-related in 2012. EMS/rescue incidents comprised of 65 percent of HBFD calls. He also said that 21 percent of calls resulted in cancellations or non-emergency situations.

Lantzer said HBFD call volume is trending up, which he attributes to changing demographics with more young and old residents living in the city, and more visitors to the city as indicated by sales tax revenue. He shared a chart showing a correlation between sales tax and emergency calls. As sales tax revenue decreased in 2010, incidents decreased, but as revenue climbed back in 2011-12, emergency calls increased at the same rate.

For the most part, Lantzer said the department is able to respond to calls quickly, but they are near capacity.
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