All posts by surfsidesam

Hermosa Beach Turning Away Tourists With Short-Term Rental Law

Busting Airbnb Hosts Chases Away Needed Tourism Dollars

Hermosa Beach Pier sunset
People gather to watch the sunset on the Hermosa Beach Pier.

Most beach cities – particularly in the slower fall and winter months – do things to attract tourists to its town.

It has specials on hotel prices, package deals that include things like golf or offers discounts on shopping and dining.

But not in Hermosa Beach, CA, which has basically tossed thousands of visitors per month out on the curb with its strict policy and questionable enforcement of a new short-term rental law.

It is now illegal to advertise short-term rentals in Hermosa Beach and in September the city issued some 300 citations to home owners, many of whom had tenants renting out a spare room.

The result is becoming a mess – the city’s stated policy was to issue warnings to “occupants” but never did, claiming that “occupants” are not the actual residents but the property owners – and there are several lawsuits in the works between the owners, tenants and, no doubt, eventually against the city itself.

And the fines are ridiculously expensive – $2,500 for first-time offenders!

But I’ll ignore that for the moment to focus on what this means for tourism in Hermosa Beach. It’s basically wiping it out like a big rogue wave rolling through the city.

There are very limited accommodations in Hermosa, especially near the beach. There’s only two hotels on the beach, the old Sea Sprite Motel and the plush Beach House. And neither of these is cheap; the Sea Sprite is around $250/night in the summer while the Beach House starts at around $350.

By contrast, you could get a room in a shared house (meaning the tenants are also in the house) for $75-125/night. For Airbnb’ers, this is the way to travel, for you get a comfortable place to stay and have interaction with locals who then send their visitors out to the shops, restaurants and bars, boosting the local economy.

Even by a conservative estimation based on the number of citations issued, Hermosa Beach is turning away 3,000-4,000 potential visitors per month.

Sure, there are other hotels, but they are up on Pacific Coast Highway, a half mile to a mile away from the Hermosa Beach Pier and the shops, restaurants and bars of Pier Plaza and Hermosa Ave.

The original objection to short-term rentals were property owners who were renting out their entire houses, then getting out of town. Those people were making several thousand dollars a week.

However, the city’s policy and implementation is missing that target and instead coming down hard on tenants who were simply earning a few hundred dollars a month to make up for escalating rent prices.

Hermosa Beach needs all the residents and visitors it can get, for Pier Plaza – once buzzing with activity – is now sometimes like a ghost town. Tourism dollars would help boost the economy and keep businesses in business.

So those tourists are going and spending their money elsewhere in the South Bay or even in other parts of Los Angeles. I just can’t understand why the city is turning away all these visitors.

Shocked By The High Price Of Flip Flops

Flipping Out Over $70 Beach Footwear

Flip Flop Prices
Yes, that is indeed a $70 price tag on a pair of flip flops.

I blew out my flip flops the other day.

They were flopping around as the bottoms began to unravel and already I was holding in the toe piece with duct tape (hey, I’m from the South!).

Finally, even the duct tape could no longer hold and the toe “assembly” for lack of a better word, came out of the socket. Done.

The flip flops’ last moments were spent at the San Diego OTL, so if they had to go out, that was a fitting ending to a fitting place for a piece of footwear that defines the casual beach lifestyle.

So the next week – dressed in tennis shoes – I went to the local beach stores looking for new flip flops.

And I was stunned at the prices.

Flip Flop Prices
A price of $60 is not uncommon for a pair of flip flops.

The first price tag I flipped over stated $55. Fifth-five dollars for flip flops!

But that was only the beginning. Still others were $60 and it didn’t take long to find some costing $70.

Eventually, store employee to come over to me but they should have sent a paramedic, because I was having a sticker shock heart attack.

After all, what’s a pair of flip flops anyway – just a simple, basic piece of plastic with a thin layer of cloth, between you and the ground.   The markup on these things has to be astronomical, even factoring in the manufacturing, labor, distribution and a cut for the retail outlet.

The best you can hope to get out for is $35 for a good pair that will last a few years. Fortunately, our local stores are also selling cheapo flip flops in the $20 range.

Since I need a pair immediately for the big beach bash known as Smackfest, the cheapos is probably the route I’ll go for now. This will give me time to mentally adjust to the cost of the good flip flops.

Then again, by that time, maybe even 70 bucks will seem like a bargain.

What Hermosa Beach Should Know About Short-Term Rentals

Residents In Shared Houses Are Helping Local Businesses

Hermosa Beach sign Hermosa Ave.
Hermosa Beach doesn’t know everything it should about short-term rentals.

Like many cities – especially along the Southern California coast – Hermosa Beach officials are holding heated City Council meetings to ban short-term rentals.

These meetings are filled with anti-short term residents who complain (wrongfully, in most cases) about “wild parties” and such taking place while the owners are out of town.

But here’s something that Hermosa and other cities should know about short-term rentals: in most cases the owners or tenants are not out of town while the place is being rented.

If you look on Airbnb, for instance, you’ll see dozens of places in the South Bay that are shared rentals. This means that the residents are there while the renters are there, and they impose strict rules on how their guests must behave during their stay.

Yes, the residents are there with the guests. They are renting out either a spare room or are even giving up a room and sleeping on the couch.

The reason they are doing this is not to make a fortune – the only people doing that are the ones renting out entire houses – it’s to make up for skyrocketing rent prices. One house was hit with a $1,000-a-month rent increase and the tenants simply use short-term renting to make up for that huge increase.

The tenants are there the entire time and have reported to Surfside Sam they have had very pleasant experiences and have met new friends from around the country as a result of this situation. More importantly from a Hermosa Beach standpoint, not one neighbor has make a single complaint to the residents or to the city.

So not all short-term rentals are vacated properties; several are still occupied by Hermosa Beach residents and those residents make sure their visitors respect the house, the city and the neighborhood.

Those tenants are also helping Hermosa Beach businesses by recommending local restaurants, bike shops, shopping spots, Happy Hour and nightlife spots and events.

This positive experience for the visitors leads to good reviews, which leads to more visitors coming to Hermosa Beach and spending their money.

Hermosa has very few hotels and needs tourists. Without Aribnb and other shared short-term rental properties, people coming to Los Angeles would be staying in Torrance (for business), by LAX or out of the South Bay entirely in places like Santa Monica or downtown L.A.

Hermosa Beach’s City Council needs to keep all this in mind as do those vocal anti-short term rental residents.

10 Rules For Tourists Going To The Beach This Summer

How To Make For A Perfect Summertime Coastal Vacation

Hermosa Beach activities
People enjoy spending time on the beach, especially in the summertime.

In the USA, the arrival of the good ‘ol summertime means vacations at the beach.

Americans head to the beaches across the country by the millions, packing the shores, hotels, shops, restaurants and bars (good for them on that last one!).

And to make it a pleasurable experience for everyone, Surfside Sam proposes these 10 rules every town should immediately enact for people who go to the beach.

1.) Men Are Not Allowed To Take Off Their Shirts Unless They Are Actually On The Beach Or Within 5 Feet Of The Water

The biggest eyesore at the beach is men who walk around town without their shirts. Many of these men are older, have gray hairy chests, big beer bellies and other physical traits that are best kept hidden under a shirt.

Others have chests pumped up by a mentality of lifting lots of weighs (and possibly digesting several illegal “pump up” pills), often covered with tattoos. These men like to show off their pecs but it’s an ugly sight.

From this point forward, men are required to be wearing a shirt at all times unless they are standing on the sand or are in the water. This includes hotel pools.

Those who violate this rule are required to go immediately to the nearest t-shirt shop. Repeated violations will result in having to sit in a dark movie theater on a perfectly sunny beach day.

2.) Women Must Disrobe At The Beach In Less Than 1 Minute

Women are, from this point forward, required to be undressed down to their bikini in one minute from the time they set foot on the sand.

No more of this procedure that takes 20 minutes, leaving us men when we see a particularly attractive female screaming “Just take off your danged shirt for cryin’ out loud!!!

When women get to the beach, they make a production of it. They put their towel down on the sand and continually adjust it so that it’s just so perfect.

Then they stand in one place staring into space for at least 10 minutes before finally reaching down to wiggle out of their shorts. This takes another five minutes. Then they seem to be waiting for a band to be playing before they FINALLY reach up and – always cross-armed – remove the shirt covering the bikini top.

Any women (well, the attractive ones anyway) taking more than one minute to strip down to her bikini is now ordered straight to the bar where she will have drinks with Surfside Sam.

3.) Kids Must Stay Within 10 Feet Of Their Parents At All Times

Kids are no longer allowed to run freely along the beach, bumping wildly into other beach visitors and otherwise annoying those visitors. This rule particularly applies while the kids are in the town.

Parents who let their kids run wildly and unsupervised along the beach or in the town are required to spend their afternoons listening to condo sales presentations.

4.) People Playing Games On The Beach Must Keep Those Games To Themselves

It will no longer be allowed for people who are playing games at the beach to yell at the top of their lungs, fling objects into the path of strangers or otherwise disrupt the peaceful beach activities of others on the beach.

This rule is to be particularly enforced when Surfside Sam is taking a power nap.

Violators will have their toys taken away from them and ordered to take a “time out.”

5.) Anyone Who Is Caught Littering Or Leaving Trash On The Beach Is Expelled For The Entire Summer

Not much else needs to be said on this matter.

6.) Anyone Over The Age Of 16 Is Not Allowed To Be On A Skateboard

This is punishable by taking the skateboard away from the adult followed by a lecture that includes these words: “it’s time to grow up, son.”

7.) The Tour de France Wanna-Be Bicyclists Must Switch To Strand Cruisers While At The Beach

Those riders in the sponsor-covered outfits and helmets speeding through town on expensive lightweight mountain bikes who think they are in the Tour de France are required to put on beach clothes – down to the flip flops – and switch to a beach cruiser while in beach towns.

Failure to do so will result in the city running over the expensive lightweight mountain bike and person’s riding clothes with a garbage truck.

8.) Every Beach City Is Required To Have A Least One Bar On The Sand – Ideally With a Thatched Roof

I’m talking  to you to, LA Beach Cities!

Failure to have this will result in the city buying one round of drinks for every beach-goer every sunny Saturday afternoon at the city’s existing bars.

9.) Motorcyclists And Drivers Who Gun Their Engines Are To Be Punished

They will be made to sit on a kiddy ride for one hour for each infraction.

10). These Things Are Immediately Illegal At The Beach

Men in Speedo and thong-type bathing suits, overweight women in bikinis, super-pale people walking on the beach with no shirt (they must be required to get some semblance of a tan before going out in public), dogs that pee on sidewalks and walls and especially – especially – dog owners who do not pick up after their pets.

Violators of any of the rules of #10 will be banished from every beach and beach town on the planet for life.

5 Ways To Tell I’m Not A Native Californian

These Top Lifestyle Differences Stand Out To  A Southerner

Hermosa Beach sunset volleyball Goodyear blimp
In California, they play volleyball on the beach, sometimes under the Goodyear Blimp.

Despite living in California for 20 years, there are way to tell that I am not a native of the state.

I am from the South and there are just certain differences that to me – and others who know these things –  always make it apparent that I  am definitely from somewhere other than here.

1.) I Don’t Clean My Porch With A Water Hose

This is one thing I’ll never understand about Californians. They clean their porches and decks with a water hose.

They bring out the hose, spray the deck over and over, side to side, get everything wet within a half-block radius, then roll it up and do it again the next week. This, in a drought-stricken state where water is at a premium, mind you.

I’m not a native Californian. I use a broom.

2.) I Don’t Eat Avocados Or Guacamole

Californians consume avocados – and guacamole in particular – the way Canadians consume beer. Which is to say a lot.

They put avocados in salads and dishes at house parties and serve it as a side dish. Eating guacamole with Mexican-style chips is a true element of California lifestyle and people also put blobs of it on things like burritos.

When you mention the fact that avocados and guacamole are fattening, a native Californian will look at you as if you should be locked up in an insane asylum. Then they will say, in a low breath but definitely defiantly, “well it’s GOOD fat.”

3.) I Don’t Eat Artichokes (Especially The Raw Leaves)

Soon after I moved to the state, I got a girlfriend who was a true native Californian. When we went to restaurants, sometimes all she would order would be an artichoke. It’s a big, leafy thing that looks not unlike the big onion thing they serve at Outback Steakhouse.

She would pull off the leaves and scrape off something from the inside of them with her front teeth. This would be her entire meal.

That’s one of the first signs I knew that no matter how long I lived here, I would never be a true Californian.

4.) The Beach Is Used For Exercise Not For Partying

In California, people go to the beach to exercise. They run on it, play beach volleyball, even do yoga. They party after all this activity.

Not so in the South. There, the beach is for partying! Taking coolers full of beer and drinking in the sunshine. Hitting the dive beach bars after drinking on the beach.

Of course, in the South it’s legal to drink on the beach and not so anywhere in California.

5.) I Know About And Care About College Football

People in California have too much to do rather than to worry about  and follow their college football team on a year-round basis, as do people in the South. Why, they are scarcely aware there’s even a recruiting season, let alone spring football.

And when their teams play, they think the Pac-12 is the greatest conference in every sport, has the best football teams and always point out that it has won way more national titles than any other conference.

True on that last point, but how many other conferences play spots like water polo?

Trying To Fix An Annoying Chirping Smoke Alarm

Frustrations With Manufacturers, 9-Volt Batteries & The 5:30 Wakup Call

Smoke detector alarm
The non-mechanical blogger is at the port of indecision with a beeping smoke detector.

I  recently used space in this blog to cover my mechanical fix-it shortcomings when it came to replacing a door lock in an old rented beach house.

Well here’s another one for you: the annoying chirping smoke detector.

It is a fact that a smoke alarm’s battery will always go out in the middle of the night and only when you are in one of those super-deep sleeps you’ve not had in weeks.

For me, this happened at 5:30 in the morning.

I was startled by a loud beeping sound, so I did what every American does when this occurs: I looked around confused until I got my bearings, got out of bed to try and locate the source of the annoying noise,  then discovered with dismay tho hardly surprise that it was located on the ceiling in a far corner of the room.

So I had to stumble out in the darkness to another part of the house until I literally tripped over something I could stand on to barely reach the detector.

On my tip-toes, I reached up, yanked out the battery and crawled back into bed. Thirty seconds later the dang thing beeped again.

How did it beep without a battery? Furthermore, the battery these things use are 9-volts!

So I stumbled back through the dark and located a junk drawer where my roommate has the world’s largest collection of AA batteries. But not one 9-volt. Who the heck has 9-volt batteries anyway!?

No  American device has used 9-volt batteries since the transistor radio.  Yet the manufacturers of smoke alarms use them for the exact purpose of frustrating people like me, and ideally at 5:30 in the morning.

I then recalled we have another required detector device – this one is for chemical detection, I believe, even tho we live nowhere near a chemical plant – because it recently fell off the wall (it was held on by adhesive stickers). So I pulled out its battery– yeah, a 9-volt! – installed it and crawled back into bed.

I cracked a small smile at my ingenuity until, 30 second later, the smoke detector beeped again.

So I got back up on the stool, ready to yank the alarm from its moorings, only to discover there were half a dozen wires attached to it going up into some mysterious place in the ceiling. WHAT!?!?

By this time it was 6:30 in the morning. I crawled back into bed and put a pillow over my head. Although as anyone knows who has tried the pillow sandwich, this never works for getting back to sleep.

I thought about calling my wonderful ex-girlfriend who is good at fixing things (and whom was mentioned in the story about the door knob) in the hope that, after giving me a brief but spirited lecture on my mechanical shortcomings, she would be able to walk me through a process to get the alarm to stop beeping.

But without her physically here I figured it was doubtful even she would be able to help, so all I would likely receive for my efforts would be a brief but spirited lecture on my mechanical shortcomings.

Then I came up with a brilliant idea – call the fire department! Surely they deal with this issue all the time. Maybe they would even dispatch someone over to fix it because, well, it’s in their best interest to have working smoke alarms in the community.

Alas, all the guy could do was tell me that the battery I put in is likely also bad and if that doesn’t work then the detector is faulty and if that’s the case we will have to get an electrician to cap all those wires.

What I would LIKE to do is rip the danged thing off the ceiling and take a hammer to it. It’s not like we need it; this is a small house, the hallway alarm is two feet away and so loud it rattles our neighbor’s wine glasses. (I know this because it’s as sensitive as a mother’s hearing and goes off whenever we turn on the oven.)

Yet in America, it is the law that every room must have a smoke detector, and it is also law that the battery in them must go out sometime at around 5:30 in the morning.

Furthermore, the manufacturers of smoke alarms are required to make sure the devices use batteries that are 30 years old and impossible to find, and that any instructions are in tiny print, white paint on white paint (why not put the wording in black for cryin’ out loud!?), therefore rendering any information it may provide useless.

If I ever meet someone who works at a smoke detector company, I’m going to yank them by the ear to my place, have them put in a brand new battery and disconnect any wires attached to it.

And then, maybe I can get a good night’s sleep.

Big Waves Can Make Standing On A Seawall Dangerous (And Deadly)

Four Rescued And One Person Perishes At Redondo Beach Jetty

Redondo Beach big waves
Spectators watch from rocks by the Chart House.

Nature can be beautiful, peaceful yet also powerful and awe-inspiring to the soul.

And it can also be dangerous.

Four people found out about the latter while watching the former, and it’s a waning to those who want to see nature up close: don’t get too close to it.

A swell of waves were crashing into a jetty in Redondo Beach, CA, on a late February night and those four people got too close to it; they needed to be rescued while one– sadly – died.

Surfside Sam was in the vicinity but was watching from beyond the beach; apparently those people were actually on the jetty. And this is a warning to everyone – respect the awesome power of Mother Nature!

Don’t go climbing on a jetty when big waves are crashing onto it. Don’t stand on the edge of a rocky cliff that’s unstable, don’t walk out onto a frozen pond or lake just to test the thickness of the ice, or do other foolish things because they can be dangerous and even deadly.

Big waves can be particularly deceiving because initially they may not appear to be a threat to where you are standing.

But then suddenly, a much bigger swell can hit without warning and suddenly you are swept up in a rush of water and sometimes out to sea. Then there’s a huge current pulling you away from the shore and you’re overwhelmed by the situation.

So when you go observe nature, do so from a safe distance.  Get close enough to see and admire, but not so close that you’re literally caught up in it.