Friday, December 19, 2008

OPINION: Community Response to the Times’ Port Story

Two community leaders penned strong responses to Monday’s Los Angeles Times story on port development. Their yet unpublished letters to the editor are below.


I am wondering what prompted you to write such a disparaging article about our cruise ship terminal here in San Pedro. Many of us Pedrans would like to see a greatly renovated terminal and would like it to be incorporated into the downtown San Pedro area even more than it is currently (think Vancouver).

What we certainly do not want is to create a new tourist destination farther to the south at Kaiser Point.

Traffic would need to access the suggested new cruise terminal from our town’s freeway entrance, at the North end (110 Freeway/Gaffey Street interchange).

All traffic then would need to travel south, either via Gaffey Street, Pacific Avenue or Harbor Boulevard.

Many of us believe that the north/south divisions are what hold our waterfront back from being a local and regional destination.

Increasing bus, car, luggage and supply truck deliveries along any north/south divider would be disastrous to our attempts to flow visits in an easterly direction from the beautiful Palos Verdes Peninsula.

The port has a long history of disregarding the communities which both border it and supply its manpower.

In recent years we have had several false impressions that this attitude is changing.

Los Angeles’ most recent three mayors (at least) claim to have instructed their appointed harbor commissioners to interface better with the communities of San Pedro, Wilmington and Harbor Gateway.

For the most part these instructions were either:

a) not made clear,
b) not passed down to port management,
c) carried no consequences if ignored (such as removal from the commission), or
d) never given, i.e. we were lied to by those mayors

We see the consequences of such breakdown in accountability on a daily basis. The underlying problem is one of scale/size and spread of the city, to the present situation whereby the outlying areas, like ours, receive no governance. That is why I continue to be a fervent secessionist and will continue to be so until I am no longer able to campaign.

Andrew Silber

Editor’s note: Silber is owner of the Whale and Ale restaurant, vice president of the Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council and a boardmember of the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce.


On December 15, 2008, the Los Angeles Times ran an article by Ron White extolling the virtues of a plan to construct a major cruise terminal at Kaiser Point in our Cabrillo Beach area.

Quotes from the article include:

“... [the port’s] cruise facilities are considered to have a high ‘ick’ factor among the passengers who embark and debark there.

The early 1960s-era facility sits by a narrow channel ‘in an area filled with cranes and tankers and oily discharge. Passengers have nothing but a long wait of ugliness while they are there, breathing in continuous diesel fumes,’ said Judy Parker, vice president of sales and marketing for Worldview Travel…. Parker is convinced that the cramped, unfriendly surroundings are part of why Los Angeles has lost cruise business….

‘People have this image of how their ship will arrive in port, the wind in your hair, streamers flying, maybe a bottle of champagne, and here in Los Angeles you arrive creeping along in reverse. It’s pretty hard to put your best face forward that way,’ Parker said.”

This article overlooked significant community considerations, starting with the fact that the entire Main Channel fronting San Pedro is an industrialized waterfront, which is not a criticism but simply an accurate description.

Many find our waterfront interesting and authentic. Some may find it unappealing, but the shipping activity mainly concentrated on Terminal Island is here to stay.

(The port should be given some credit for their extensive efforts to clean up their air quality problem).

As we all know, the port is engaged in a redesign of the entire seven-mile-long waterfront and an investigation into what California environmental law will allow them to do.

One of the most controversial concepts in the port’s redevelopment proposal is to construct 200,000 square feet of cruise ship terminal facilities off of the Main Channel, within the area they call the Outer Harbor.

This area, also known as Cabrillo Cove or Cabrillo Bay, is considered by most to be a local gem devoted to community-scaled recreation such as swimming, windsurfing and small boating. Most of the local community organizations are on record as opposed to placing a major passenger terminal in this bay and feel that this would ruin the character, aesthetics and community-scaled usage of one of the most unique and loved spaces along our waterfront.

Most of us are also concerned that the port intends to simply abandon the downtown cruise terminal in favor of a new facility at the south edge of San Pedro in spite of a considerable community consensus that it should be improved, not abandoned.

The downtown cruise terminal is the entry to our downtown and deserves to be a flagship facility that celebrates our authentic and historic waterfront. It certainly needs remodeling and landscape renovation, but its setting is not irredeemable. In all respects, the port is responsible for what we have now and should be held accountable for recreating it in a manner that suits the times.

Although I serve as the Land Use and Planning Committee chairperson for the Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council, I must speak as an individual in this immediate reaction to a one-sided and inadequate interpretation of the port’s plans for the cruise industry. I ask that we all consider whether it makes sense to place a major passenger terminal anywhere other than along the redesigned and deindustrialized San Pedro waterfront.

Sue Castillo

Editor’s note: Castillo is secretary of the Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In 2004 Angelenos overwhelmingly
(764,536 / 76.30% Yes votes) approved Measure O to issue $500 million in bonds for projects that clean up polluted storm water, and bacteria in the City's rivers, lakes, beaches and ocean.

The Cabrillo Beach recently was given an F grade by the Heal the Bay’s Annual Beach Report Card, poor water quality in the beach area. Is this what the City Council calls leadership?