FILE PHOTO: The Redondo Beach AES power plant site. (Scott Varley / Staff Photographer)
FILE PHOTO: The Redondo Beach AES power plant site. (Scott Varley / Staff Photographer) (Scott Varley)

Redondo Beach's Measure A, which could determine the fate of the waterfront power plant that dominates the city skyline, was narrowly defeated at the polls Tuesday.

However, with just 383 votes separating the yes and no votes and 1,600 late and provisional ballots still outstanding, the tally could shift.

Measure A failed with 51.7 percent of ballots containing a "no" vote.

City Clerk Eleanor Manzano said the late vote-by-mail and provisional ballots will be counted beginning Monday.

A late voter turnout was responsible for a slow vote count that didn't wrap up until after midnight, the City Clerk's Office said.

"All the precincts didn't come in until 9:30 p.m. or so," she said. "They were inundated, they had a lot of lines."

Turnout was just over 25 percent.

The two precincts in District 2 - where the seaside AES power plant is located - overwhelmingly voted in favor of the measure. But that turnout failed to offset the "no" votes elsewhere.

"Got a huge grin on my face," wrote Trina Rbbeachmom on the No on Measure A Facebook page.

Measure A was intended to rezone the 50-acre power plant site and phase out the generation and transmission of electricity by 2020, when the plant must be rebuilt anyway. Up to 60 percent of the site would convert to open space, with the remainder devoted to commercial and light industrial uses.

The rezoning itself would not have killed the power plant; that's a decision for the California Energy Commission. But the commission rarely overrules local planning decisions.

That set the stage for a spirited campaign over the power plant, long a source of debate within the community.

The vast majority of the city's political establishment opposed Measure A, not necessarily because they supported a rebuilt plant, but because the citizen-written initiative took any decisions regarding it out of the hands of the municipal government.

AES, which has already applied to rebuild the plant, had heavily outspent proponents of the measure in an effort to sway voters, a campaign backers of the measure said relied on fear-mongering.

Both AES and Southern California Edison let it be known lawsuits or other potentially expensive legal battles were possible if the measure passed.

That was much the same argument promulgated by a group called Redondo Beach United, which espoused the City Hall view that residents could be on the hook for millions of legal fees or other costs.

Edison, just days before the election, told the Daily Breeze it would seek to recoup the tens of millions it would cost to reconfigure transmission lines from the city should the power plant go away.

City Attorney Mike Webb had expressed skepticism at the claim before the election, while land use attorneys hired by the measure's backers similarly poured cold water on any possible legal repercussions from AES.

Measure A opponents also said the open space that would result from the rezoning could saddle the city with a big bill to develop a park, although it was similarly unclear whether that was really true.

The campaign over whether to rezone the land the power plant sits on came just as the city embarked on a plan to redevelop its concrete-intensive pier and surrounding parking lots just steps away from the power plant site.

The AES plant itself must be rebuilt because the way it cools steam that produces electricity - by using seawater - is environmentally harmful and will be banned by 2020.

nick.green@dailybreeze.com

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