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Community Garden to Sprout in South Park

The Hermosa Beach City Council decides 3-2 to allow space for a community garden in the northeast corner of South Park.

Hermosa Beach’s will remain in South Park, the City Council has decided.

It was about two years ago when the council approved a renovation plan for the park, and then in August a temporary garden was planted as a demonstration until construction commenced.

In a meeting Tuesday night, the council voted 3-2 to now allow space for the garden in the northeast corner of the park.

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Councilmen Michael DiVirgilio and Kit Bobko voted against the idea, arguing that other locations in town would be more appropriate for the project, such as vacant commercial land, secondary municipal property that’s not being used, or an empty rooftop.

"Having a garden is green, but having a garden on underutilized property is greener," DiVirgilio said in the council meeting.

Bobko argued that allocating space for gardening is making private use of public land.

"This to me isn’t about gardening … it’s about public property, and what we’re doing is we’re going to take property, we’re going to expropriate property, from the public and we’re going to give it by legislative fiat to a few people," Bobko said in the council meeting. "I would find property like Mr. DiVirgilio suggested that is unused or underutilized if this was truly an important thing for this group."

But as the city aims to increase greenery, Mayor Howard Fishman responded, "it has to start somewhere and that somewhere is tonight. The , if you want to use percentages, we’re not talking a huge piece of park. We’re talking 2.7 percent of park space [used for the garden], which to me is not a significant number."

Councilman Peter Tucker mentioned that to have a community garden in town was a goal set by the council, and now, as it comes to fruition, it will bring the community together as both adults and children can garden in the space.

DiVirgilio, however, said the garden was "the least senior goal" and yet given "serious traction" and "preference" over more pressing matters that impact the whole community.

"We are , we are soon going to be ," he said in the council meeting. "We’re focusing on the issues of a few, and it precludes us from focusing on the issues that affect everybody."

Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Duclos pointed out that residents made the community garden issue a priority and really helped push the project forward.

"You have to give a lot of credit to the effort put out by members of the community that came together and stayed together for over a year-and-a-half, meeting monthly on this issue of trying find the appropriate space," he said in the council meeting.

Some of those same residents spoke at the council meeting Tuesday night in support of the garden. "I’m not a gardener myself but I do think that this is an important part of our big puzzle of wanting to be the green city that we are," said Hermosa Beach resident Dency Nelson.

Residents also told the council they plan to donate extra bounty from the garden to local nonprofits and charities, such as the Salvation Army and , where volunteers help feed the homeless in the South Bay. Tucker called the donation effort a "win-win."

"What a wonderful opportunity for different parts of our great community to work together to make our city stronger and healthier," wrote Rev. Rachel Anne Nyback of St. Cross in a letter presented before the council (see accompanying city staff report under photo.)

Joe Galliani February 16, 2012 at 03:45 AM
This is great news for Hermosa Beach and kudos to Mayor Fishman, Councilman Duclos and Councilman Tucker for understanding the importance and priority of this essential project for a town where residents don't have enough space to garden or grow healthy foods. You can't call yourself an environmentalist and vote against this project. And you can't claim to be a green idea city and keep kicking the can down the road on green ideas.
H. Schwartz March 16, 2012 at 04:06 AM
How is this news, there have been private roped off gardens on public land for years right at Clark field along the west end.

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