Since 2004, the South Bay Parkland Conservancy (SBPC) has been committed to preserving open space and creating more parks in the coastal cities of the South Bay in Los Angeles, CA.  We are dedicated to helping make the community a better place by encouraging and assisting with the acquisition of Parklands. We work with residents, local and state government, and other like-minded organizations in our efforts to preserve parkland for today’s generation, and for generations to come.


Our Mission

South Bay Parkland Conservancy is dedicated to the restoration, preservation and public use of coastal land resources in the South Bay Region.

Our Current Focus

AES site and power lines corridor

AES site and power lines corridor

One of our primary interests is the restoration of open space on the AES power plant property located on the Redondo Beach King Harbor waterfront. We are advocating for parkland on the AES power plant site and the Redondo Beach waterfront by:

  • Working with private donors/government agencies/corporations/foundations to acquire open space.
  • Participating in local community events to build awareness and support for our efforts.
  • Sponsoring speaker events where experts and activists in other areas have been successful with similar goals.
  • Keeping involved and in contact with local issues and city officials.
  • Publishing an annual newsletter and monthly updates.

Board Members

Jacob Varvarigos - President

Barbara Epstein - Vice President

Dawn Esser - Treasurer

Dawn is a mother of two children attending school in the Redondo Beach School District and a resident of Redondo Beach since 1989. She is an active member of the Herondo Park Initiative, active in the schools as PTA Board Member, Chairperson and volunteer, and an active volunteer in Children and Student Ministries at her church. She hopes to improve the beauty and environment of Redondo Beach through the expansion of parks and green belt areas in Redondo. Dawn has a BS in Finance and MBA in International Finance and is currently a self-employed real estate investor, property manager and notary signing agent.

Melanie Cohen - Board Member

Melanie has been living in the South Bay since 1989. She was a member of the Torrance and Bellflower Chamber of Commerce where she was involved in recycling and open space projects. Melanie moved to Redondo Beach in 1993. She is working tirelessly to try and help Redondo Beach retain and develop open spaces for use in the South Bay.

Jim Light - Board Member

Jim is a founding Director of the SBPC. He has lived in Redondo Beach since 1989. A former Air Force officer, Jim is now an executive with a local aerospace firm. He has a degree in Aerospace Engineering and an MBA.

With a passion for water sports, Jim got his start in community service as an executive member of the local Surfrider chapter in the 1990’s. He led activities related to water quality, protection of the Ballona Wetlands, localism in Palos Verdes, and Pratte’s Reef. Jim became involved in Redondo land use issues after reading the Heart of the City Environmental Impact Report (EIR). Having worked EIR’s in his Air Force career, Jim quickly identified obvious flaws in the city’s EIR that resulted in dramatic understatement of the traffic impacts. Jim participated in the Heart of the City referendum drive after the City unanimously voted to approve the flawed document despite resident concerns with the impacts of the rezoning. Since Heart of the City, Jim has focused his energy on protecting and enhancing resident quality of life, public open space, parkland and waterfront recreational uses.

Dave Wiggins - Board Member

Dave is a founding Director of the South Bay Parkland Conservancy and currently serves as the Secretary to the corporation. Dave grew up in the South Bay and has lived in Redondo Beach since 1991. He has been active in conservation and land development issues throughout his adult life.

After a seven year career as a teacher, Dave began practicing law in 1985. He holds a B.A. degree in History fromPomona College, an M.A. degree in Education from Claremont Graduate University, and a law degree from the University of California Hastings College of the Law.

Dave periodically serves as a Judge pro term for the Los Angeles Superior Court. He also teaches law classes in the paralegal programs at UCLA and Cal. State Los Angeles. From 1999 to 2003, Dave served as a member of the Board of Education of the Redondo Beach Unified School District. He was elected by fellow board members to serve as their President from 2001 to 2002.

Samantha Iacobello - Board Member

Samantha has lived in the South Bay for five years obtaining her Master's degree in Archaeobotany from California State University Los Angeles. She is a farmer at heart with years of horticultural, agricultural, and botanical experience. She owns and manages a landscaping business, Terra Culture Designs, and has initiated Redondo Beach's first community garden, The Garden of Compassion

It is her belief that community gardening, place-making, and urban farming are some of the most vital ways in activating South Bay residents and businesses to sustain healthy lifestyles while serving as environmental stewards on a grander scale. She proposes to take empty and vacant lots, parkways, and rooftops and turn them into food forests. Using permaculture design elements, Samantha desires to see a community garden on every street corner.  

Rebecca James - Secretary

Rebecca became passionate about conservation while living on a barrier island, within a sea turtle preserve, at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. She started a journey of education and activism, inspired by disappearing natural habitats and wetlands and contributed through a project to conserve coastal habitat from overdevelopment. Meanwhile, Rebecca spent two decades of her career developing projects, acquiring funding, and as a project manager, developing collaborative working relationships with nonprofit and community-based organizations on diverse projects.

Recognizing the challenges that face small community nonprofits, in recent years Rebecca focused her efforts on capacity building with nonprofits lacking basic administrative and governance. By working to build stronger organizational frameworks, nonprofits achieved expanded effectiveness and have better served their causes. South Bay Parkland Conservancy’s reorganization began in March, 2017. Perfect timing, since the South Bay abounds in needs to protect and expand parks and open space! Rebecca’s goals include reinforcing SBPC’s governance, financial management, and identifying and working with experts and concerned residents in the community to pursue funding for South Bay parks projects.

Eugene Solomon - Board Member

Advisory Board:

Bill Brand - City Council Member, City of Redondo Beach
Steven Carey - former Board Member, South Bay Parkland Conservancy
Ted Lieu - California State Senator
Mimi Marrs-Andersen - Owner, Garden Magic Company
Cliff Numark - City Council Member, City of Torrance
Don Vangeloff - former Board Member, South Bay Parkland Conservancy
Wendy Weber - former Board Member, South Bay Parkland Conservancy
Christine Wike - former Board Member, South Bay Parkland Conservancy
Jillaine Force - former Board Member, Your memory will always inspire us                                 Bill Pettit - Native Plant expert