Saturday, May 31, 2008

Civic Duty, Part I

Tuesday is Election Day. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Voters will decide two state ballot measures and elect candidates for Congress, state Senate, state Assembly, Los Angeles County district attorney, county supervisor and Superior Court judges.

The LA County Registrar-Recorder can answer basic questions, locate polling places and display sample ballots.

To help voters make informed decisions, the Los Angeles County Bar Association has published biographical information and ratings of the judicial candidates.

Civic Duty, Part II

Voting continues locally in San Pedro the following week.

The Northwest San Pedro Neighborhood Council election is among the many civic activities coming up in mid June.

Here’s a preview of the busy calendar:

Monday, June 9: Regular monthly meeting of the Northwest San Pedro Neighborhood Council. 6:30 p.m. at Peck Park Auditorium, 560 N. Western Ave., (310) 732-4522,

Tuesday, June 10: Special program in conjunction with the Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council monthly meeting. TV station ABC7 is conducting a town hall meeting to hear from the community about newsworthy local issues. The meeting is open to the public, but seating is limited. See our full story below for information on reserving a seat. 6 p.m. at the Port of Los Angeles High School, 250 W. Fifth St.

Wednesday, June 11: The Los Angeles City Planning Department invites interested parties to a meeting regarding the San Pedro Community Plan. It’s San Pedro’s turn for a head-to-toe evaluation of land-use needs and your opinion is sought. The community plan will address housing, parks, transportation, economics, business and other related issues. This meeting will focus on land use along Gaffey Street and Pacific Avenue. 6:30 p.m. at the San Pedro Municipal Building, 638 S. Beacon St., Room 452. Contact Debbie Lawrence at (213) 978-3034 or

Thursday, June 12: Northwest San Pedro Neighborhood Council election. 1-7 p.m. at Peck Park Auditorium, 560 N. Western Ave., (310) 732-4522,

Your Turn to Deliver the News

Senior managers from TV station ABC7 are coming to listen to San Pedro.

The station is holding an “ABC7 Listens” town hall meeting on June 10 to hear from residents about local issues and stories.

The meeting is one in a series of dialogs between Channel 7 news executives and community leaders throughout Southern California. It is free and open to the public.

Community members will learn how to submit news to ABC7, request sponsorship of non-profit events and access job openings.

During the “open mic” segment, people will have the opportunity to tell the station about newsworthy local issues.

“If we don’t know about it, we can’t consider covering it,” said community relations manager Diane Medina.

The Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council is hosting the town hall meeting.

“We invite the community to come out and learn how to become part of local government and access the newsmedia,” said Central communications officer Joe Donato.

The meeting takes place from 6 to 8 p.m. on June 10 at the Port of Los Angeles High School, 250 W. Fifth St.

Seating is limited and RSVPs are advised. Contact (818) 863-7238 or to reserve a seat.

For more information, call Diane Medina at (818) 863-7231.

Business News from 25th and Western

New businesses are opening in the shopping centers at 25th Street and Western Avenue in coastal San Pedro.

Here’s a look at recent developments:

South Shores Flowers and Gifts is opening on Sunday, June 1. The shop is located between Sorrento’s restaurant and the Village Pub in a space that a computer repair shop briefly occupied. It will hold a grand opening on Saturday, June 7.

Three-month-old Tobacco Leaf is holding a grand opening party on Friday, June 6. The shop specializes in cigars at discount prices and features an in-store cigar lounge.

It also carries a wide range of gifts and accessories. The grand opening party begins at 7 p.m. at 2470 S. Western Ave., Suite C, next to Starbucks and around the corner from Cox Communications (where Fantastic Sam’s used to be). Call (424) 772-6400 for more information.

Ship N Mail Express is under new management following the May 15 death of owner Creig Sharp. Sharp’s wife, Leyta Fuentes, is running the shop and maintaining the services and hours previously in effect. (Fuentes could not be reached for comment.)

Aloha Ice Cream and Coffee is “coming soon” to the former Billy Baker’s location between Chicago for Ribs and Hollywood Video.

A few doors down, the Remax real estate office has closed and relocated to the Terraces on Western Avenue.

The former Dick’s Hallmark in the Vons center is now Enchanted Eve Cards and Gifts, under new ownership.

Malaga Bank has opened in the former South Shores Hardware building across the parking lot from Vons.

Corporate has mailed a notice that the Vons remodel is almost done, but the shorter hours remain in effect for the time being.

Go Down and Meet the Neighborhood Pizza Man

Just downhill from 25th and Western, Pavich’s Brick Oven Pizzeria has opened.

The six-week-old pizzeria serves whole pizzas, Croatian barbecued sausage (cheyapi), sandwiches, chili with Polish kielbasa, Caesar salad and a few side dishes. There is no dining room, just the take-out counter.

“We serve thin crust, brick-oven pizzas made to order by hand,” said Zdenko Pavic, who co-owns the pizzeria with his wife, Mirela.

Pizza by the slice will be added to the menu in mid June. Delivery will also be offered in the coming months.

Pizzas go beyond the familiar pepperoni to include American with roasted pork and barbecue sauce; Croatian with smoked beef, roasted peppers, feta, mozzarella and garlic sauce; 4 Gusti with artichokes, ham, mushrooms and mozzarella; Latina with jalapeño peppers; and Hawaiian with ham and pineapple.

More than a half and half, this pizza is one-fourth of four house specials: Hawaiian, Croatian, 4 Gusti and American (clockwise from bottom).

The Pavics live three houses from the pizzeria with their daughter Maya, 14, and son, Antonio, 10, students at San Pedro public schools. This is the Pavics’ first business since moving to San Pedro in 1999.

Antonio, Mirela and Zdenko Pavic next to the brick oven.

Pavich’s Brick Oven Pizzeria, 2311 S. Alma St., (310) 519-1200. Open daily 11 a.m.-8 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays until 9 p.m.

Friday, May 30, 2008

New Month Brings First Thursday

San Pedro’s monthly artwalk takes place on Thursday, June 5 from 6 to 9 p.m. in the downtown district.

The community will welcome Joanne’s Closet with a 6:30 p.m. ribbon-cutting. The contemporary women’s clothing and accessories boutique moved from Western Avenue to be part of the downtown scene. 389 W. Sixth St. at Mesa Street, (310) 514-3219 (just down from Niko’s Pizzeria).

The grand opening of the Boardroom Gallery will be held at 7:30 p.m. at the San Pedro Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, 390 W. Seventh St., (310) 832-7272.

Following last month’s debut, the Crowne Plaza hotel will again present live music and refreshments. 601 S. Palos Verdes St., (310) 519-8200.

D & D Gallery will also stage a repeat performance, holding a fundraising preview reception on June 4 and showcasing Part II of its San Pedro photographic exhibit for First Thursday.

For a complete overview of First Thursday, visit the website, print this one-page map or take a closer look using the interactive maps of galleries, restaurants and shops.

Go Off Limits at Ft. MacArthur

Learn about the underground tunnels and the off-limits areas of Fort MacArthur at the annual Upper Reservation walking tour on Saturday, June 7.

The four-hour guided tour traces the history of the former Army post, which protected the Harbor Area coast from 1914 to 1974.

The tour begins at 9 a.m. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased online or at the Fort MacArthur Museum.

Participants must wear comfortable, closed-toe shoes and long pants and bring a flashlight. The tour is not recommended for children under 14 years.

Shoulder to Shoulder at Croatian Festival

Members and friends of San Pedro’s Croatian community ate, danced and celebrated in the streets over Memorial Day weekend at the annual Croatian Festival.

The day-long event at the Croatian American Club included food, music and dancing by dozens of youth in national costumes.

Organizers estimate that 3,000 people attended the festival, creating a shoulder-to-shoulder crowd at peak times.

The festival pays tribute to Croatian independence, achieved in 1990 during the fall of Eastern European Communism.

“It was very, very festive,” said Croatian American Club President Vladimir Lonza. “Everyone enjoyed themselves, especially the young people.”

San Pedro is home to one of the largest Croatian populations in the U.S.

All photos by Robert Matesic of San Pedro.

Mouse at Sea via SP

The Disney Magic arrived in San Pedro on May 25. The ship will sail from the World Cruise Center to the Mexican Riviera and back this summer.

‘Spring for White Point’ Home Tour Sunday

As reported last week, a self-guided tour of unique San Pedro homes is taking place on Sunday, June 1. The event is a fundraiser for the White Point Nature Preserve. It includes a wine and cheese reception following the afternoon tours.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

First Look at Drafts of Port Redevelopment

The Port of Los Angeles is preparing to release a draft report on waterfront redevelopment from the Vincent Thomas Bridge to Cabrillo Beach.

The report will assess six options for the San Pedro waterfront project, a multi-phase revitalization to enhance recreational and commercial activity along the waterfront.

The study, formally known as a draft environmental impact statement/environmental impact report (EIS/EIR), will be released in early July for public comment.

Port officials have been presenting the plans to neighborhood councils and other civic organizations.

Highlights include proposals to create a pedestrian promenade, build water cuts along the Main Channel, add as many as three cruise ship terminals, develop a conference center at Ports O Call Village, realign streets, de-industrialize some areas extend the Red Car routes to Cabrillo Beach.

Additional details about the proposed project can be found in these port documents (posted to our sister site).

Distinctive Harbor Homes on Display for Fundraiser

Some people read high-brow books and magazines to see stunning, avant-garde, historic and architecturally significant homes.

Others know about the annual opportunity to see these works of art in person.

June 1 is this year’s Spring for White Point event, a self-guided home tour and reception to benefit San Pedro’s White Point Nature Preserve.

The home tour is a first-hand look at San Pedro’s hidden gems. The luxurious and noteworthy homes aren’t movie sets but the everyday – if extraordinary – living spaces for fortunate San Pedrans.

Homes on the tour include:

An impressive Art Deco loft at Eighth Street and Pacific Avenue. The museum-like home was a Montgomery Ward store in the 1930s. The current owners completely gutted and reconstructed the space, decorating it with antique collectibles and Art Deco relics. It features a curved glass/wood/brass revolving door, cast bronze elevator doors from the downtown LA Cooper Building, an old Wurlitzer jukebox, an Otis birdcage elevator and many other captivating elements.

A New Orleans-style French Colonial on Sepulveda Street, with a Palos Verdes rock wall built by the Sepulveda family that originally owned the land. The home is decorated with museum-quality antiques collected through five generations.

A remodeled contemporary owned by a couple with the credentials to create a masterpiece: he’s a contractor and she’s an artist.

An historic home inside the Fort MacArthur military base. (Tour guests must show ID to enter the base; drivers must also show car registration).


The event concludes with a 4:30 p.m. reception at the Plaza at Cabrillo Marina, featuring wine and appetizers, live music, a raffle and a silent auction of works by local artists.

Organized by the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy, the event raises funds to restore and improve the White Point Nature Preserve, the last non-beach open space along the Los Angeles coast.

The home tours are from 1 to 5 p.m., followed by the reception. Tickets are $50 per person in advance. They may be purchased online or by calling (310) 541-7613.

Woodies Bring Blast from Past

San Pedro hosted the 20th annual LA Wood car show on May 17 in Ports O’ Call.

Here are some of the oldies but cuties, all dolled up for their admirers.

Farmers Market Rounds the Corner

The San Pedro farmers market has moved around the corner.

Now operating on downtown Sixth Street between Pacific Avenue and Mesa Streets, the market has more room to spread out and accommodate more booths.

The market is open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Friday. It is sponsored by the San Pedro Peninsula Chamber of Commerce.

Summer Fun All on 1 Page

The San Pedro Peninsula Chamber of Commerce has launched a website to bring major summertime events together on the same page.

Summer in San Pedro is a cheat sheet for months of high-profile activities.

Note the dates of Taste in San Pedro (Aug. 2-3) and the lobster festival (Sept. 19-21) , plus – surprise! – the Tall Ships are here this year (Aug. 15-17) and the Warner Grand Theatre is getting into the act with nautical-themed films.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

From Vandalism Comes Activism

San Pedro residents from north to south are looking for answers – and solutions – to last week’s vandalism spree that damaged as many as 100 cars.

The morning of May 9 proved expensive and frustrating for dozens of San Pedrans, who awoke to find their car tires slashed or stolen.

A Los Angeles Police Department spokeswoman said police have no leads, suspects or a total number of cars vandalized.

Residents swapped stories at American Tire Co. on Western Avenue, which was overwhelmed by the volume of business.

Cars were vandalized in Pt. Fermin, the Palisades, Vista del Oro and north San Pedro neighborhoods bordering Western Avenue.

Vandals struck nine of the 10 cars along Eileen Barrett’s stretch of Via Sebastian, located east of Western Avenue between Park Western Avenue and Capitol Drive.

Barrett was at home on the night of May 8 when she heard voices outside at approximately 11:30 p.m.

Barrett said it sounded like young people in their late teens laughing and using some type of rolling object such as a shopping cart or skateboard.

If there’s a silver lining to the costly inconvenience Barrett and her neighbors faced, it’s that the incidents were “one way to get this side of the street together.

“It was a good opportunity to meet [Northwest San Pedro Neighborhood Council President] Dan Dixon and to become more active,” said Barrett.

Galvanized by the experience, Barrett intends to get involved in the Northwest council. The grassroots governing body is holding its board election in June and has ongoing openings for committee members.

The Automobile Club of Southern California advises vehicle owners to take preventive measures reduce risks to their cars. Tips include:

  • Put your car in a locked/closed garage. Often, drivers who have accessible garages just leave their cars in the driveway.
  • Install an anti-theft device, whether it’s an alarm or a tracking mechanism
  • Park in a well-lit area
  • Seek out the safest possible place to leave your car

In addition to neighborhood-specific residents associations, community members can take action through San Pedro’s three neighborhood councils. Police officers and aides to Councilwoman Janice Hahn attend the councils’ monthly meetings to answer questions and help advance solutions to crime and other community issues.

Project, Pipe, Politician Play to Palisades

The auditorium at White Point Elementary School was jammed Tuesday for the Palisades Residents Association annual meeting.

The proposed high school at Angels Gate Cultural Center drew an overflow crowd of skeptical neighbors who peppered Los Angeles Unified School District officials with questions.

The meeting also included a report on a new sewer pipe slated for the Harbor Area and remarks by Councilwoman Janice Hahn.

School opponents have organized a group called NOISE to voice concerns about traffic, parking, noise and safety issues potentially associated with the school.

“We want a partnership with you,” LAUSD Region 8 superintendent Linda Del Cueto told residents.

In addition to the required public hearings, district officials have appeared before the Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council and convened a “focus group” of community members.

LAUSD facilities official Rod Hamilton spoke about the proposed high school ...

... while skeptical community members listened intently.

Until Tuesday’s meeting, though, officials had said the planned school at Angels Gate would be a separate facility, not affiliated with San Pedro High.

At the Palisades gathering, Del Cueto said, “a ninth-grade academy is a definite option … magnet programs can be considered.”

District bureaucrats have proposed that the school serve roughly 1,200 students, an idea that doesn’t sit well with the Harbor Area’s school board member.

David Kooper, chief of staff for board member Richard Vladovic, said “Dr. Vladovic is saying no to 1,215 (students); 500-800 is what we’re looking for.”

The environmental review process continues to contemplate the larger school, although LAUSD has said it will build classrooms to accommodate only 810 students.

Councilwoman Janice Hahn, who spoke prior to the LAUSD representatives, said she opposes the 1,215-seat alternative.

Hahn indicated she would “support a small learning academy at Angels Gate with an emphasis on cultural arts.”

Assessing the battle ahead, Hahn told the crowd, “I will listen to you loud and clear. I will advocate for your position.

“But, I will warn you, they (LAUSD) never listen to me.”

Councilwoman Hahn addressed the meeting.

Sewer to Meet Sea Somewhere at Shore

Palisades Residents Association president Terry Miller opened Tuesday’s annual meeting with a presentation about the proposed “clearwater” project.

The Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County are preparing to construct a pipe to carry treated wastewater from the agency’s plant in Carson.

Two large-diameter outfall pipes (one built in the 1930s, the other in the 1950s) serve most of Los Angeles County, but not the city of L.A.

Both of these pipes run from the plant on Figueroa Street next to the 405 Freeway south through San Pedro to White Point, where they extend out into the ocean.

The Sanitation Districts need another to keep up with the growth in population over the last five decades.

Sanitation officials gave a presentation about the new Harbor Area sewer.

Possible locations for the new pipe include Western Avenue, Gaffey Street, Pacific Avenue and several other sites.

To construct the underground tunnel, an access shaft and as many as eight acres will be needed for above-ground construction equipment.

Among the areas being considered for the shaft and equipment staging are Point Fermin Park, White Point Nature Preserve, Royal Palms Park, Angels Gate Park, Friendship Park, Averill Park, Peck Park, Cabrillo Beach and the LAXT site on Terminal Island.

The project is expected to take six to eight years to complete. It is estimated that 50-100 trucks a day will be hauling materials and dirt to and from the access shaft site.

Though the formal environmental-study process will get underway later this year, clearwater program representatives are encouraging the public to comment now on the proposal.

For more information, view the clearwater program section of the agency’s

Vinegar Hill, Pacific Avenue Targeted for Clean-Up

The nonprofit group Clean San Pedro has received a government contract to clean Vinegar Hill and north Pacific Avenue.

The $24,999 contract is a pilot program within a multi-faceted redevelopment plan underway in downtown and eastern San Pedro.

The program was created and funded by the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles.

The agency is overseeing San Pedro’s Pacific Corridor redevelopment project, which encompasses the areas that Clean San Pedro will target over the course of its six-month contract.

Clean San Pedro leader Steve Kleinjan during a Pacific Avenue clean-up on May 10.

Cleaning Pacific Avenue is a dirty job.

Vinegar Hill before: Eighth Street eastbound from Centre Street.

Vinegar Hill after: Southbound Centre Street from Eighth Street.

Tools of the trade: James Johnson prepares to hit the streets on a new custom crafted three-wheeler.

Influence the Future of Knoll Hill

The Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council is accepting applications to serve on a new committee to study future uses of Knoll Hill.

The committee, sponsored by the Port of LA, will consider what should happen on the scenic land after Eastview Little League’s three-year lease expires in 2010.

The property is located within the Central council, which will have six representatives on the committee. San Pedro’s other two neighborhood councils, Coastal and Northwest, will have two representatives each.

To represent the Central council, applicants must be constituents or “stakeholders” of the council.

A stakeholder is defined as a person who lives, works, owns property or is otherwise active in the council’s area.

The council’s boundaries run from the Vincent Thomas Bridge south to 18th Street, including the areas east of Leland Street.

Applications are due on May 28, when the council’s planning committee will meet to review the candidates.

What’s Happening with Waterfront Redevelopment? Update Monday at Coastal Council Meeting

An update on waterfront redevelopment tops the agenda for Monday’s meeting of the Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council.

Port of Los Angeles staff will give a briefing on plans to revamp the waterfront area, previewing a voluminous draft environmental impact report slated for release in early July.

Six redevelopment scenarios are under consideration. They include proposals to create a pedestrian promenade, build water cuts along the Main Channel, add as many as three cruise ship terminals, realign streets, de-industrialize some areas and extend the Red Car routes to Cabrillo Beach.

The meeting takes place at 6:30 p.m. at the Cabrillo Marina Community Building.

Northwest Candidates Qualify for Ballot

The Los Angeles City Clerk has certified candidates for next month’s Northwest San Pedro Neighborhood Council election.

One candidate filed for each of the eight seats on the ballot.

The eight candidates include five incumbents – John Greenwood, Mary Hamlin, Diana Nave, Barbara Schach and George Thompson – plus three who would serve for the first time, David Arvonio, Gabriel Rivas and Laureen Vivian.

Write-in candidates can file until June 9. The election is June 12 at Peck Park.

Voter Registration Deadline Monday for Statewide Election

Monday is the deadline to register to vote in the June 3 statewide election.

To register, a person must be a U.S. citizen and a Los Angeles County resident, at least 18 years old by Election Day and not in prison or on parole for conviction of a felony.

Voters must re-register when they move or change political parties.

The Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters will be open until midnight Monday to receive applications.

The June 3 ballot includes candidates for Congress, state Senate, state Assembly, Los Angeles County district attorney, county supervisor and Superior Court judges. Voters will also weigh two statewide initiatives, Propositions 98 and 99.

A vote-by-mail application is printed on the back of the sample ballot. An online application is also available on the county registrar’s home page, along with polling place look-up, sample ballots and other election information.

Stroll Through Beach History

Historical walking tours of Royal Palms and White Point beaches are taking place today, part of a local family’s tribute to the beaches’ centennial this year.

As reported last week, the Hedley family will lead beach tours from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The 30-minute tours depart from the lower-level beach and parking area.

The summer-long celebration also features a coastal-theme art exhibit/sale on June 21, a retrospective play on July 19 and a sunset serenade on August 17.

For more information, call (310) 831-6397.

Show and Tell in the Artist’s Studio: See How Art is Made

The San Pedro Arts Association is presenting a demonstration on the art-making process Wednesday.

Watercolorist Doug Stenhouse will show the techniques to draw a landscape and paint a work of art. The demonstration will be followed by a raffle of Stenhouse’s finished painting.

The event takes place at 7 p.m. at the association’s gallery at Berth 77 in Ports O Call Village.

Friday, May 9, 2008

City Hall News Roundup

South Shores RV Parking: A pilot program is underway in South Shores to enforce limits on RV parking. Under a 30-day experiment announced Thursday by Councilwoman Janice Hahn, oversized vehicles are not allowed to park from 2 to 6 a.m. between Western Avenue and the Palos Verdes border.

Oversized is defined as longer than 22 feet or higher than seven feet, according to Friday’s Daily Breeze story. Violators will be ticketed beginning today. RVs may still park in the area if owners have purchased a three-day permit from the city Department of Transportation.

Downtown Redevelopment: The Los Angeles City Council voted to expand the pool of those paying a special tax to revitalize downtown San Pedro. The measure, authored by Councilwoman Hahn, widens the existing business improvement district (BID) to include all property owners.

Currently, only businesses are part of the BID. Now, it’s up to all property owners to vote on whether to implement the P-BID, writes Donna Littlejohn in Friday’s Daily Breeze.

Answer the Call to Serve

At Monday’s Northwest San Pedro Neighborhood Council meeting, prospective candidates can learn more about running for the council’s governing board. Eight seats are open for the June 12 election. Candidates must file by Tuesday. The meeting is at 6:30 p.m. in the Peck Park auditorium, 560 N. Western Ave.

At Tuesday’s Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council meeting, board members will report on a new committee that’s being formed regarding future uses for Knoll Hill. Representatives from each of San Pedro’s three neighborhood councils will serve on the committee, which will propose uses for the hilltop land after Eastview Little League’s temporary permit expires in 2010. Those interesting in serving are encouraged to attend the meeting at 6:30 p.m. at the Port of Los Angeles High School, 250 W Fifth St.

Annual Meeting Tuesday for Palisades Residents Assn.

The Palisades Residents Association will discuss controversial local issues, hear reports from government leaders and elect board members at its annual meeting Tuesday.

High-ranking officials from the Los Angeles Unified School District will attend and undoubtedly face questions about the proposed high school at Angels Gate Cultural Center, which has drawn vocal neighborhood opposition.

Councilwoman Hahn will also speak at the meeting, taking place at White Point Elementary School, 1410 Silvius Ave. Refreshments will be served at 6:30 p.m. and the business meeting will begin at 7 p.m.

Vigil Against Violence Thursday

The San Pedro School Safety Collaborative is holding a peace vigil Thursday to honor San Pedro homicide victims and push for ways to reduce violent crime in the harbor community.

The event will pay tribute to each of the 181 people killed in San Pedro over the past 20 years. It will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. at the San Pedro High School stadium, 1001 W. 15th St.

As previously reported, the project is spearheaded by community activist and blogger Diana Chapman and LAPD senior lead officer Joe Buscaino, a lifelong San Pedro resident.

Events Pay Tribute to Beaches’ Centennial

A longtime coastal family is organizing a series of special events to mark the 100th birthday of Royal Palms and White Point beaches this year.

The Hedley family, which established roots in the area in 1937, is presenting historic tours of the two beaches on May 17. The 30-minute tours will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Visitors will learn the history of the area by walking through the beaches and the grounds where a Japanese hotel and spa operated in the 1920s and ’30s, said Bungy Hedley.

Descendants of the founding Sepulveda family will also attend to talk about their ancestors’ leadership in early Harbor Area development.

For more information, call Bungy Hedley at (310) 831-6397.

San Pedro News will publish a more complete report of the centennial events in next week’s issue.

The Downtowner: Off the Vine Wines

Just six months old, a downtown wine shop is providing a new outlet for learning, tasting and socializing.

Owners Michael Koth and Alison Shaw are eager to share their self-taught love of fine wine with San Pedro.

Their growing customer base – from novices to experts – is equally eager to enjoy Off the Vine’s personal service and warm, inviting atmosphere.

The result is a thriving Sixth Street shop premised on “unique wines for everyday life,” said Koth.

Michael Koth and ...

Alison Shaw are shameless grape worshippers.

The majority of wines are from California’s central coast and valley, with a number of European and Australian selections. More than three-fourths of the wines cost less than $25 a bottle.

Koth and Shaw go to great lengths to put wine newbies at ease. Customers are encouraged to describe what they like and let the staff make recommendations.

The couple is passionate about educating customers and helping them enjoy the taste and sociability of wine combined with food and friends.

Annotated shelf tags offer insights into each wine. Frequent email bulletins cheerfully announce the couple’s latest acquisitions, with liberal use of exclamation points for emphasis.

“We’ve created an environment to make everyone feel comfortable,” said Koth.

The movie “Sideways” may have popularized Central California wineries, but Koth and Shaw tend to shun the big labels in favor of smaller, independent wineries they find off the beaten path.

They share their discoveries in their tasting room on Fridays (4 to 9 p.m.) and Saturdays (2 to 9 p.m.). Tastings are usually $15.

Downtowners Eugene and Kathy Kovshilovsky are regular customers. “It has a great, eclectic selection and it adds a lot of class to our downtown neighborhood,” said Eugene Kovshilovsky.

The Kovshilovskys are first-time homeowners who bought in the Centre Street Lofts last spring, moving from Torrance to be part of San Pedro’s downtown renaissance.

Eugene and Kathy Kovshilovsky in the Centre Street Lofts lobby.

Off the Vine has a wine of the month club, in which members receive a monthly shipment of three hand-picked bottles of wine, plus discounts on single bottles, tastings and other special events.

The shop also carries special-occasion wines, artisan beers, coffee, chocolate, wine accessories and giftware.

This month, the deli case is on sale. Domestic and imported cheese, pâté and other items are 10% off.

Off the Vine will stage wine dinners beginning next month and is developing plans for day trips to central coast wineries.

Off the Vine Wines, 600 S. Pacific Ave., Suite 103 (entrance on Sixth Street, just below Pacific Avenue), (310) 831-1551.

Friday, May 2, 2008

LA City Council Supports Residents, Limits Development at McCowan’s Site

After hearing testimony from half a dozen San Pedro residents, the Los Angeles City Council voted Tuesday to limit residential development on the grounds of the former McCowan’s market.

The council voted unanimously to support Councilwoman Janice Hahn’s motion to restrict construction to one unit per 5,000 square feet of land.

This would enable the developer to build three homes on the property at 20th Street and Walker Avenue, far fewer than the 18 condominiums originally proposed.

Local residents waged a grassroots campaign against the prospect of condos, culminating in the city council testimony this week.

Members of Vista del Oro Neighbors Against Condos (VDONAC) blanketed the area with lawn signs and flooded Hahn’s office with phone calls and emails.

More than 200 attended a Harbor Area Planning Commission hearing in March to push for the zoning restriction. Tuesday’s city council action affirms the commission’s vote in favor of limited development.

VDONAC President Barbara Dragich is urging residents to keep the lawn signs in place until it is apparent that one house is being built on each lot.

Developer Michael Rosenthal did not return a late Friday call from San Pedro News. He told the Daily Breeze he was unaware that the issue was going before the city council.
VDONAC leader Barbara Dragich spoke to the City Council.

Among the other community activists who testified was Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Councilwoman Linda Marinkovich, chair of the council’s planning committee.

Councilwoman Hahn and neighborhood activists share a victorious moment in the City Council chamber.

Officials Do Dirty Work for New Port Police Station

Conceptual rendering of the new port police station

A groundbreaking ceremony was held Thursday for a new Los Angeles Port Police headquarters in downtown San Pedro.

The 51,000-square-foot building at Fifth and Centre Streets will include high-tech dispatch, surveillance and emergency-operations centers for a force expected to rise to 200 officers.

The $43-million project will be completed in 2010.

Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Geraldine Knatz, Port Police Chief Ronald Boyd, U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Mark Hamilton and Councilwoman Janice Hahn do the dirty ground-breaking work.

It will be built with a number of environmentally sustainable features, including electricity-generating solar panels and water-conserving landscaping and plumbing.

Meeting to find solutions to the recent after-hours crimes, business owners are among those looking forward to a larger police presence in the area.

The port police do not directly patrol downtown San Pedro, but business owners anticipate that the officers’ comings and goings will help deter illegal activity.

Speaking in general terms, Port Police Chief Ronald Boyd affirmed the merchants’ hopes.

“We want to be good neighbors to our port stakeholder partners, our surrounding communities and to all those who visit the port,” said Boyd. “The only ones who won’t like having us in the neighborhood are those who would bring risk or harm to the community.”

Run for Northwest Neighborhood Council Board

The Northwest San Pedro Neighborhood Council is electing board members on June 12 and now’s the time to step forward and get on the ballot.

The council is an official City of LA governing body that serves as the neighborhood’s voice on local issues. It debates and takes positions on development, land use, traffic, the environment and other quality-of-life issues.

The council is running this newspaper ad to invite and encourage candidates.

The Northwest council covers the areas along Western Avenue from Averill Park to Palos Verdes Drive North, and along North Gaffey Street down to Summerland Avenue.

If you live, work or own property within the Northwest boundaries, you are a member of the council, technically called a “stakeholder.”

You must be a stakeholder in order to run for office.

You can also qualify as a stakeholder if you are a regular and ongoing participant in a Northwest-based institution, such as a business, school, religious organization, non-profit, youth group or other institution.

The deadline to file for election is May 13.

“I can only tell you that the whole process of working on community issues with and for the people of San Pedro is exciting, sometimes exhilarating, occasionally tedious, but always amply rewarding,” wrote Northwest president Dan Dixon in the council’s newsletter.

“You get to be present as processes are started or completed that can really benefit our families and our neighborhoods…,” Dixon wrote. “Many times the issues are resolved and implemented in a lively and timely way that just makes you feel good to have been part of the process.”

For more information, call (310) 732-4522, go to and/or plan to attend the council’s May 12 meeting at 6:30 p.m. at Peck Park Recreation Center, 560 N. Western Ave.

Elsewhere, the Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council election is in September and the Coastal council goes to the polls in October.

Election information is not yet available for these councils, but monthly meetings afford the opportunity to learn about the councils, ask questions and join committees.

Good to Know: Useful Web News

Get moving. The City of L.A. has a new website and it’s here to help. On the Department of Transportation’s newly redesigned site, you can find real-time traffic information, plus locations of city parking lots.

Janice blogs. Councilwoman Hahn has carved out her own chatty space on the web. isn’t drowning in polysyllabic, bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo and even includes a newsletter sign-up with a choice of subject areas.

Eventfully speaking. A community leader posts all sorts of San Pedro events at The calendar is regularly updated with meetings, art shows, cultural events and other things to do for business and pleasure. Combined with’s calendar, you’ll find plenty of reasons to hit the town.

Financial Boost from a Smoothie?

When a typo is worth 1,000 words (or dollars)…

Introducing the smoothie as economic stimulus agent. Imagine the line at the juice bar for the carrots and “salary” combo. Everyone would be ordering an extra boost of this in-demand ingredient.

(The banner is for Pronto’s Mexican restaurant at 25th Street and Western Avenue.)

OPINION: Central Council Officers Don’t Like ‘Outsiders’

By Doug Epperhart

At Tuesday’s meeting to set the May agenda for the Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council, I was told in no uncertain terms that “outsiders” (like me) should not be stirring up trouble.

Central President Joe Gatlin, Vice President Mayra Perez and Secretary Pam Foster-Newsom forcefully pulled the welcome mat from those of us who would require them to follow the rules.

I don’t live in the Central area, but then neither does five or six board members, including Foster-Newsom.

Some of these board members are O.K. with ignoring the law. I guess that makes them “insiders.”

Others, who aren’t so easygoing about breaking the rules, have been targeting by Gatlin. His attempt to oust board members Sue Castillo, Kara McLeod, Dan Pasley, Bill Roberson and Carrie Scoville was shot down by the city attorney. Consider them the “outsiders.”

The fact is the charter of the City of Los Angeles says if you live, work or own property within the boundaries of a neighborhood council, you are a member or “stakeholder.”

The city council added to this definition by including everyone who “declares a stake in the neighborhood and affirms the factual basis for it.”

These laws make no distinction among classes of stakeholders.

It’s the clear intention that all have the right to participate in the council’s activities. Legally, there are no neighborhood council “outsiders” – only stakeholders.

I understand that Gatlin and his allies don’t like to be held accountable, but the Central council is not a private club where they get to choose the members.

To succeed, councils must not only be inclusive, but also transparent.

At the March and April Central board meetings, a stakeholder videotaped the proceedings. Some board members made an issue of the camera’s presence, claiming the board could refuse permission for the taping.

California’s open meeting law, the Ralph M. Brown Act, says otherwise.

Anyone may make an audio or video record of any public meeting or take still pictures. The Brown Act applies to neighborhood councils.

I understand that most Central board members have never received training on the Brown Act or other regulations that are supposed to govern their conduct.

So, there’s no reason they should know the law. But, why be bothered that someone would record their meeting? What do they have to hide?

Maybe the real problem with the Central council is that many board members – starting with the president – don’t understand the fundamental nature of representative democracy.

Maybe they don’t see that getting elected to a neighborhood council – or any other political post, for that matter – doesn’t confer rights or even privileges.

It confers obligations, to fellow board members and stakeholders. It is the duty of the elected to follow the rules that ensure the rights of all, even those they don’t like.

Doug Epperhart is a member of the Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council governing board. He can be reached at