Rhapsodize, Theorize: Why MB, not Hermosa?

By Dave Fratello | September 29th, 2007
Discussion here at MBC of the lovely new castle at 45th/Highland took a surprising turn to a couple of downsides to Manhattan Beach. We were talking about the refinery, airplane flyovers, Massachusetts, and so forth.

Then someone asked a question that seemed poignant. To paraphrase: How did it happen that MB, and not Hermosa, became the dominant or "in" town around here?

Oh, there's no sense disputing it. The question is why things evolved this way. We'd like to hear your thoughts.

True story: Several years ago, your humble correspondent mentioned to an old family friend that we now lived in MB.

Response: Awkward silence, throat clearing, and a gently phrased, "Oh, do you like it there? Do you find it nice?" This was laden with the sort of bellyache and deep concern you might hear in response to "we've got a great new row house in a rapidly gentrifying hot new urban neighborhood. Don't worry, we have guns."

This person hadn't known MB since the '60s. A lot has changed, and the news hadn't yet hit everyone. (True follow-up story: Some time after, they visited, and we sent them to Mangiamo, and they drove all over town and later told us how blown away they were by how different MB was.)

By the time MBC landed here 10 yrs. ago, the transition was fully under way. First-ever rental house we looked at, the owner said, "The most common sound you'll hear in Manhattan Beach is a bulldozer."

But we digress.

Why MB and not HB?

MBC's first theory is that the initial zoning and development decisions for MB were better. (Better, not perfect.) Larger lots, more SFRs instead of MFRs. More walkstreets. More Hill Section – a nice signature. (The MB Historical Society has a couple of great books and nice pics if you want to look way back.)

Bonus: Refusing to provide adequate parking for out-of-town visitors probably enhances our town's value and cache for residents.

More recent bonus: Downtown has begun to flourish in the last few years, but even with Metlox and Shade and Towne, it's still pretty sleepy.

It's not MBC's style to diss Hermosa, but if you'll keep the comments clean, feel free, since this is a comparison.

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