Does the turbulence surrounding the proposed development of the Manhattan Village Mall symbolize a malady potentially culminating in the demise of our City Council’s stated mission “to preserve our small beach town character?”

Lapses by prior city councils – by failing to establish the necessary principles, parameters, and practices for our sustainable economic growth and land use development – are primarily responsible for this threatened outcome.

It is not an issue of “pro-growth” or “anti-growth,” but “smart growth.” Principles reflecting smart growth are if the mall modernization strengthens our distinctive unique community identity; protects our neighborhoods; recognizes the symbiosis between economic viability and quality of life; and, promotes our city’s commitment to safeguarding our environment.

Our Manhattan Beach City Council must provide the leadership to ensure incorporation of these principles into the various elements of a revitalized mall. Public hearings have produced more heat than light. (“Manhattan Village expansion project makes small progress,” ER, November 14)

Consequently, it will require extraordinary public engagement, deliberation, and consensus building by our councilmembers to generate the necessary innovative collaboration to produce win-win results rather than compromised principles ending in outcomes that are lose-lose.

Is the envisioned Manhattan Village Mall our “line in the sand” challenging our community’s integrity? If it fails, is it a point beyond which it opens up a floodgate of inappropriate business development inconsistent with the mainstream interests of our residents rather than narrow special interests? The effectiveness of the Manhattan Beach City Council’s principle-centered leadership will determine the outcome of these fateful challenges.

Edward C. Caprielian, Ph.D. Manhattan Beach

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