Friday, November 28, 2008

1st of 2 Ponte Vista Meetings Tuesday

Supporters and opponents of the Ponte Vista housing development are preparing for two upcoming meetings.

On Tuesday, the Harbor Area Planning Commission will take public comment on Ponte Vista. The commission has no formal authority over the issue but may “review and comment.”

The meeting takes place on Dec. 2 at 4:30 p.m. at the Boys and Girls Club, 100 W Fifth St. in downtown San Pedro.

The agenda is posted on the city planning department website.

Meanwhile, attention is focusing on the Dec. 11 public hearing at L.A. City Hall, when the city planning commission is expected to vote on Ponte Vista.

Visit and for the latest information from proponents and opponents.

“Bisno: Ponte Vista limits would cut amenities on San Pedro project” is the headline of a Tuesday Daily Breeze story on the developer’s response to the planning staff’s no-go report.

Holiday Happenings: Today and Next Week

The two-day sale downtown continues through today (Saturday, Nov. 29). Find details in the flyer.

A charity screening of “It’s A Wonderful Life” takes place on Sunday, Nov. 30 at 2 p.m. at the Warner Grand Theatre. In lieu of admission, moviegoers should bring an unwrapped toy or non-perishable food item. The toys and food will be donated to Beacon House, Rainbow Services and Toberman Neighborhood Center for distribution to families in need.

A tree decorating ceremony will take place on Monday, Dec. 1 at 11 a.m. at Peppertree Park adjacent the San Pedro municipal building, 638 S. Beacon St. View the flyer for details.

Downtown businesses will decorate their windows for First Thursday on Dec. 4.

“A Christmas Carol” – the Charles Dickens classic – becomes “The Christmas Carol,” as interpreted by The Relevant Stage. Shows run Dec. 4-7 at the Warner Grand Theatre. Go deluxe with a wine tasting package in conjunction with Off the Vine Wines or go thrifty with discounted online tickets. Use promotion code “humbug” to save half off adult tickets at

Weymouth Corners hosts Candy Cane Lane on Dec. 5 from 5-9 p.m. Eighth Street between Weymouth Street and Averill Avenue will become a winter wonderland with Santa visits, carnival games, cookie decorating, music, dancers, food and more. See the flyer for details.

The new fountain at the waterfront will put on a holiday performance on Dec. 5 from 7-9 p.m. The show repeats on Dec. 12 and 19.

The annual Holiday Afloat boat parade is Dec. 6 at 6 p.m. along the Main Channel.

The 27th annual holiday street parade is on Dec. 7. It begins at 1 p.m. at 15th Street and Pacific Avenue. The route goes north along Pacific Avenue to Sixth Street, turning east to the ending point at Fifth and Palos Verdes Streets.

Thanksgiving Spirit in San Pedro

The longshore union distributed 1,500 food baskets to Harbor Area families on Tuesday. Councilwoman Janice Hahn, State Assemblywoman-elect Bonnie Lowenthal and San Pedro Honorary Mayor Joe Donato lent a hand. See the story and photos in the Daily Breeze.

San Pedro’s First Presbyterian Church received a record number of requests for food. Volunteers prepared 1,000 boxes of food on Wednesday, as reported in the Daily Breeze.

Beacon House fed hundreds of people on Thanksgiving Day. Councilwoman Hahn joined volunteers on the food line, dishing out the traditional meal to locals in need.

Karnette Reception at First Thursday Next Week

The monthly First Thursday downtown artwalk is Dec. 4 beginning at 6 p.m.

Highlights include a reception for outgoing State Assemblywoman Betty Karnette at 6 p.m. at the Grand Annex, 434 W. Sixth St.

The San Pedro Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring the event to honor the termed-out lawmaker for her years of service representing San Pedro in the state legislature. $10 suggested donation.

Shop Local and Save

Local newspapers have published deals for San Pedro bargain hunters.

Random Lengths’ supplement “How the Pinch Saved Christmas” has offers from local restaurants, shops and service providers. Look for it where the newspaper is distributed.

The December issue of San Pedro Magazine has a page of coupons from Sixth Street businesses, including buy-one-get-one-free dinners at Porky’s BBQ and Sixth Street Bistro.

Opining on the Waterfront

Last Sunday’s Daily Breeze published a long cover story on waterfront redevelopment.

“SP residents, leaders hopeful about waterfront plans” reports a mix of cautious optimism and unanswered questions surrounding the on again, off again move to redevelop.

The story also has details on how to submit comment on the waterfront redevelopment plans by the Dec. 8 deadline.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Planning Report Rejects Ponte Vista Development

The L.A. City Planning Department has effectively voted “no” on the Ponte Vista proposal.

The 37-page document released late Friday is the staff recommendation to the appointed city planning commission.

The report serves to advise the commission ahead of next month’s vote on the Bisno Development proposal to construct a 1,950-unit condominium complex on Western Avenue.

Staff concludes that the developer should go back to the drawing board and start over.

The report states the proposed plan is inconsistent with the community plans. Among the findings is that a large amount of senior housing is not appropriate at this site.

The report suggests the property be designated “Low Medium I Residential,” which would allow up to about 886 units. By providing affordable units for low-income families, that number could increase to 1,196.

The Ponte Vista blog posted a message expressing disappointment about the staff report.

Councilwoman Janice Hahn said, “I have always felt that the proposed project of 1,950 units was just too big for this location in San Pedro. I am still hopeful that we can see a smaller project that delivers good jobs, mixed-income housing and fits better with this part of San Pedro.”

Pat Nave, a proponent of keeping the project at its current R-1 (single-family) density, called the staff report “a mixed bag.

“While it says that Bisno’s plan meets none of the goals of the city’s general plan, it also says that a development twice as dense as the Gardens might be all right. It makes no sense,” Nave said.

Other recommendations are that Ponte Vista be public (not gated) and that only two access points to Western Avenue be allowed at Avenida Aprenda and Green Hills Drive.

The report was released in advance of the Harbor Area Planning Commission meeting set for Dec. 2. Although it has no jurisdiction over the issue, the local panel may “review and comment” on the plan.

The city planning commission is expected to vote on the matter on Dec. 11. The commission vote can be appealed to the city council.

For further reading, view the full report and the Daily Breeze story, “Ponte Vista project gets thumbs-down.”

Friday, November 21, 2008

Share Your 2 Cents about Knoll Hill

Neighborhood councils, baseball advocates and friends of the dog park were among the groups at this week’s brainstorming meeting about Knoll Hill.

The port-owned land is slated to become a public park after 2010, when a three-year contract with Eastview Little League will expire.

Backed by Councilwoman Janice Hahn, baseball supporters argued that the fields should stay as public facilities.

Meeting attendees were invited to submit written answers to four questions:

  • What do you value about Knoll Hill (i.e., that it’s a natural place? Its views? Its history?)
  • What is missing on Knoll Hill and in your community in terms of open space? What would be a draw to get people up to Knoll Hill?
  • What are you concerned about happening on Knoll Hill in the future?
  • Do you have any additional comments you’d like for us to hear?

Responses to these questions can be emailed to Norma Fernandez at Los Angeles Neighborhood Initiative,

The Daily Breeze story has more information about issues raised at the meeting.

Downtown’s on Sale

Downtown San Pedro businesses are running special offers next weekend for Black Friday (and Saturday).

Those who do their after-Thanksgiving shopping downtown Nov. 28-29 can take advantage of discounts from at least 25 retailers and restaurants.

Some merchants are offering a percent off the entire store or selected merchandise.

Restaurants are offering a percent off the bill, creating added incentive to try new eateries such as George’s Café at 726 S. Pacific Ave. (10% off) or Port Gelato at 7th and Centre Streets (buy one of anything, get one free). posted the flyer.

Brewing Company in the News

The Daily Breeze wrote a story on the San Pedro Brewing Company this week.

“SP company in a league of its own”
is a business story about the bar’s success combining sports, “Cheers”-like camaraderie and hand-crafted, award-winning beers.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Ponte Vista Hearing Cancelled

The L.A. City Planning Department on Friday canceled a meeting next week centered around the contentious Ponte Vista housing proposal.

The Harbor Area Planning Commission was scheduled to meet Tuesday to review and comment on the development plan.

Dozens of supporters and opponents were gearing up to testify before the commission.

The planning department canceled the Harbor Area meeting because a key document was not finalized and there were “issues” with some commissioners, according to a department official.

The commission is composed of five appointed members. Its next meeting is scheduled for Dec. 2, but the agenda will not be announced until three days beforehand. If the meeting is held, it is likely to focus on the Ponte Vista issue.

The planning department was expected to release its analysis of the project Friday, including the number of homes it deems suitable on the property. The study is not finished, leading in part to the cancellation of Tuesday’s meeting.

The City Planning Commission will vote on Ponte Vista at its Dec. 11 meeting at 8:30 a.m. at downtown L.A. city hall.

Look for a Daily Breeze story on Saturday. (The story was not posted to the web at presstime).

Community Meeting Wednesday on Knoll Hill

A public meeting is set for Nov. 19 to hear ideas about future uses for Knoll Hill.

The meeting takes place Wednesday from 6-9 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, 601 S. Palos Verdes St.

A community committee has been operating on the understanding that the hilltop property will become a public park.

The meeting Wednesday is to solicit ideas on the types of park-related uses and amenities that should be considered.

For more information, view the flyer or contact Vanessa Rodriguez at Los Angeles Neighborhood Initiative, (213) 627-1822 x16,

For a refresher on the committee’s history, view this Daily Breeze story.

New Boardmembers to be Seated at Coastal Council Monday

The Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council meets Monday, Nov. 17 at 6:30 p.m. at the Cabrillo Marina Community Building.

View the agenda or call (310) 290-0049 for more information.

This will be the first meeting for four new boardmembers, elected last month along with 11 incumbents.

Here’s a look at the new councilmembers.

Pam Meisel

Meisel brings a background in recreational boating to the council. Through her leadership roles at the Cabrillo Beach Yacht Club, Meisel gained experience with port and planning issues and is now looking to “have a voice in future development and not just sit back and let things happen.”

Meisel and her husband are new San Pedro residents, having moved into the Coastal area two years ago from Torrance. “Since I am retired and have extra time, I wanted to get involved with the issues that face our town,” Meisel said.

Rosalie Perazzola

Perazzola describes herself as a native San Pedran and granddaughter of one of the town’s founding fishing families. She and her husband own Pacific True Value Hardware on 11th Street and Pacific Avenue.

“I have a general concern for the future of San Pedro and would like to take a more active civic role,” said Perazzola, whose past community involvement includes service with the Pt. Fermin Elementary School Parent-Teacher Organization, the San Pedro High School Lady Boosters and the San Pedro Girls Softball Association.

Erin Strelich

Strelich is a lifelong San Pedro resident whose goals are to “help preserve the environmental, cultural and economic resources that help make San Pedro such a unique, high-quality community.” She’s equally concerned about promoting “smart growth and green infrastructure to improve our long-term sustainability.”

Strelich recently earned a master’s degree in urban planning from UCLA. Combining her knowledge of the planning bureaucracy with her new position as a councilmember, Strelich hopes to “improve the conduits for communication between stakeholders and municipal agencies, ensuring timely information reaches the community on important local concerns and that those concerns, in turn, are heard and included in the planning process in an efficient manner.”

Van Alexis Ulrich

Ulrich is a retired teacher and artist who has volunteered with a number of religious, cultural and charitable organizations. She has served Little Sisters of the Poor, Mary Star of the Sea parish and the San Pedro Art Association.

As a retiree, “I have ample time to get involved with community affairs,” said Ulrich. “I care about our community and wish to get involved with the education issues as well as the arts and local cultural activities.”

Psst, Wanna be a Councilmember?

Choose your governing body, declare your candidacy and/or sign a nominating petition. Jump in and join the fray. Here’s how:

L.A. City Council

Candidates are now gathering signatures to qualify for the March 3 ballot. Councilwoman Janice Hahn and supporters collected signatures over coffee and breakfast at the Omelette and Waffle Shop Friday morning. Hahn faces two opponents, educator Chris Salabaj and graphic designer James P. Weston.

Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council
There are two vacancies on the governing board. Those who live, work, own property or have another connection to the Central region are eligible to serve. The council represents the area north of 18th Street and east of Leland Street.

For an application or more information, send a message here or call (310) 918-8650. The application deadline is Nov. 26.

Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council
The council will fill two board vacancies at its meeting Monday. (See meeting details in preceding story.)

Coastal represents the parts of San Pedro south of 18th Street. People wishing to serve will be invited to make statements, followed by a board vote to appoint the two new members. Review the council’s bylaws or email for more information.

In Related News
Mayoral candidate Walter Moore held a rally at the Doubletree Hotel in San Pedro Wednesday. In addition to grassroots supporters, the audience included other candidates in the March election.

Angels Gate Story in L.A. Times

The Los Angeles Times did a story this week about Ft. MacArthur, the proposed Angels Gate High School and the San Pedro Skills Center.

“Defending San Pedro’s Ft. MacArthur” spotlights the efforts of military museum officials to preserve the old Army buildings in the face of forthcoming school district bulldozers.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The ‘Speak Up’ Issue

The soapbox is the common theme in this week’s news, as San Pedro speaks up about local and national issues. Here’s what members of the community are saying and doing.

Speaking Up: the Election

San Pedro Voters React to the Election

“I hope the economy gets better and the new president brings back jobs to the U.S. I’ve been laid off five times in eight years.”

— Andrew (no last name given), San Pedro resident and nursing student, at the Vons at 13th and Gaffey Streets

“I think Obama deserves every opportunity to take a run at a very desperate economic situation. He has all the qualities one needs for the task at hand. He presented himself beautifully and deserves a chance.”

Laura Barbato, owner of Laura Denise Salon in downtown San Pedro

“My job motivated me to vote. Business is down and the terrible economic situation is affecting me personally. I hope the new president will bring us out of this deficit and this war.”

— Miles Foxworthy, 21, a first-time voter and tattoo artist at Ship Shape Tattoo in downtown San Pedro

“In every election since I came of voting age, they always say it’s the most important election of our lifetime. This was really an historic moment. I’m a registered Republican but I felt really excited and inspired. I’m looking forward to the future. It was time for change.”

— Tom Meneshian, owner of The Copper Room restaurant and lounge in San Pedro. Meneshian partnered with Democratic activists to host an election night party and plans to invite the community to an inauguration party in January.

“I think the new president is brilliant and will do an excellent job. I hope he will give amnesty to illegal immigrants but make them pay a fine for coming in illegally. Every American should have health insurance. I hope he can do something about it.”

— Ronald Tracey, pastry chef, at Sacred Grounds Coffee House in downtown San Pedro

“We’re looking forward to positive change. Things had been getting worse for the past eight years. I hope people can get health insurance, mortgage help and work permits for seasonal immigrant workers who are helping the American economy.”

— Alma Vargas, owner of now closed soccer store on North Gaffey Street, at Dolci Mango frozen yogurt on Western Avenue.

Speaking Up: Shaping SP’s Future

City planners want to hear your vision for San Pedro’s future.

The community plan is being revised and public input is sought on land-use issues.

Voice your ideas about downtown business revitalization, parks, open space, neighborhood conservation and other growth and development issues.

The L.A. City Planning Department is holding the meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 12 from 5-8 p.m. at Peck Park, 560 N. Western Ave.

Visit the San Pedro Community Plan website for more information. (Click on the meeting flyer to enlarge it).

Speaking Up: Ponte Vista

City planners have turned down the tract map for Ponte Vista, a document outlining the way the Western Avenue property would be divided for condominiums.

Proponents of the development downplayed the rejection, while opponents see it as a hopeful sign in their campaign to maintain the current zoning (single-family homes).

The L.A. City Planning Department will issue its recommendations on the project itself this month.

The housing proposal is on the agenda of the Harbor Area Planning Commission this month. The appointed panel will take public comment, but not a position to support or oppose the project, on Nov. 18 at 4:30 p.m. at the Port of Los Angeles administration building, 425 S. Palos Verdes St.

The Daily Breeze fleshed out the story in Wednesday’s paper.

Speaking Up: Angels Gate High School

Last Sunday’s Daily Breeze ran a front-page story exploring whether an annex of San Pedro High School at Angels Gate would create a “two-campus divide.”

The lengthy story quotes school district officials, grassroots opponents from the N.O.I.S.E group and community leaders. Dozens of public comments have been posted.

Speaking Up: the Harbor Freeway

Transportation officials are developing plans to turn the carpool lanes of the 110 Harbor Freeway into toll lanes for single-occupant vehicles as part of a test project to reduce traffic congestion.

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is holding a public meeting in San Pedro on Thursday, Nov. 13 to listen to commuters’ ideas to improve the journey from points A to B.

The meeting takes place from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Peck Park, 560 N. Western Ave.

When implemented in December 2010, the FastLanes program will give more options to single drivers, carpoolers, vanpoolers and transit riders along the 110 and 10 freeways.

“Congestion pricing” will be implemented in the carpool lanes, opening them to single drivers for a sliding-scale fee.

For more information, visit the MTA’s FastLanes page.

Speaking Up: the Next City Election

Today (Nov. 8) is the candidate filing deadline for the March L.A. city election.

Incumbent Janice Hahn and educator Chris Salabaj have filed for the 15th District city council seat.

The city clerk has the full list of candidates seeking office in the March 3 municipal election.

The ballot will include contests for mayor, city controller, city attorney and half of the city council, L.A. school board and community college board.

Watch for more information in next week’s issue of San Pedro News.

Speaking Up: Neighborhood Council Meetings Next Week

The Northwest San Pedro Neighborhood Council meets Monday, Nov. 10 at 6:30 p.m. at Peck Park, 560 N. Western Ave. View the agenda, visit or call (310) 732-4522 for more information.

The Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council meets Tuesday, Nov. 11 at the Port of Los Angeles High School, 250 W. Fifth St. Refreshments are served at 6 p.m. and the meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. View the agenda, visit or call (310) 918-8650 for more information.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Voting and Meetings and Culture (Oh My!)

Here’s a day-by-day preview of the week ahead, bringing a mix of civic and social events (and something about an election, too).

Saturday: Meet ‘Multicultural Man’

A statue depicting multiculturalism will be unveiled today (Saturday, Nov. 1) at 3 p.m. at Swinford Street and Harbor Boulevard, adjacent to the cruise ship terminal. The unveiling is part of the anniversary celebration of the sister cities relationship between San Pedro and Ischia, Italy.

The statue by Francesco Perilli has several counterparts around the world, including this one in Toronto, Canada.

The statue’s true-to-life anatomy has led some to question whether and where the artwork should be permanently displayed. The Daily Breeze has the story about today’s “revealing event.”

Saturday: Day of the Dead

As reported last week, today is the second annual Day of the Dead celebration in downtown San Pedro. It runs from 3-10 p.m. and includes a variety of activities listed in the flyer.

Saturday: Fall Back for Daylight Savings

Change those clocks before you go to bed Saturday night. Standard time returns at 2 a.m. Sunday.

Tuesday: Election Day

Polls are open 7 a.m.-8 p.m.

If you still haven’t mailed your absentee ballot, it may be best to hand-deliver it to any L.A. County polling place on Election Day. Mail-in ballots must be received – not postmarked – by 8 p.m. on Nov. 4 to count.

The L.A. County Registrar-Recorder website provides everything a voter needs to know (except who to vote for).

On that note, here are some sources of nonpartisan information about the national and local elections:, the Annenberg Foundation’s “nonpartisan, nonprofit ‘consumer advocate’ for voters”, by the St. Petersburg Times and Congressional Quarterly

The Sprint, UCLA professors’ blog about the presidential election

League of Women Voters California Easy Voter Guide and L.A. County voter information page

L.A. County Bar Association
judicial candidate ratings

Los Angeles Times election page, with stories on the state propositions and analysis and “backstory” of local propositions

Development Issue Elevates Water Board Election

An obscure water board election is drawing a bit more attention, thanks to a candidate who entered the race because of the proposed Ponte Vista housing development.

San Pedro teacher and football coach Pete Manghera is running against incumbent Rob Katherman for Division 2 of the Water Replenishment District of Southern California.

Rob Katherman

Pete Manghera

The agency manages groundwater basins that provide more than one-third of the water supply for the district, which extends from the South Bay coast through the greater Harbor Area to southeastern L.A. County.

The five-member elected board of directors develops policies to ensure adequate supplies of clean, safe groundwater.

Katherman is a Torrance lobbyist who has represented local developers.

First elected in 2004, Katherman said he is seeking another term to continue towards the goals the board is pursuing, especially to make the Southern California groundwater supply fully independent from “imported” Northern California water.

“We’ve gotten part way there,” said Katherman. “We can see the goal line and I want to finish the job.”

Manghera is a lifelong San Pedro resident who has taught in L.A. public schools for 28 years. He is currently a history and government teacher at San Pedro High School and an assistant coach of the junior varsity football team.

Since 1994, Manghera and his brother have been producing “Pete’s Place,” a current-events program on public-access cable TV. San Pedro viewers can see the show on Cox Cable Channel 33 Saturdays at 6:30 p.m.

Manghera believes that the proposed 1950-unit Ponte Vista development on Western Avenue will put too much stress on area infrastructure, including the water and sewer lines.

Though the Water Replenishment District does not have jurisdiction over water usage in the cities it serves, Manghera said the office could be used as a “bully pulpit” to influence development.

“Cities are responsible for issuing building and construction permits,” said Manghera. “Water agencies need to talk to cities to urge them to develop in ways that coincide with the available water supply.”

Acknowledging that Ponte Vista was his primary motive for entering the race, Manghera said he is opposed to the development at the proposed size of 1950 homes.

“Even 500 homes at R-1 zoning will have an impact,” said Manghera. “Imagine what 1900 will do.”

Citing jurisdictional boundaries, Katherman said, “We don’t provide water to Ponte Vista. The [Los Angeles Department of Water and Power] does. We don’t have authority over how water is distributed. We’d be meddling in L.A. public policy that we have no right to do.”

For his part, Katherman has not taken a public position on Ponte Vista. He said the development should be the “appropriate number of units based on scientific evaluation” of factors such as traffic and energy, water and sewer capacity.

Manghera is backed by the Los Angeles County Democratic Party, while Katherman has endorsements from the Daily Breeze and the L.A. County AFL-CIO labor federation.

Thursday: Public Meeting on Sanitation Wastewater Tunnel Project

Government agencies involved in planning a new wastewater tunnel for the South Bay/Harbor Area are holding a public meeting Thursday.

The Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County is taking public comment on the Clearwater program at the meeting, set for Nov. 6 at 6:30 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza hotel, 601 S. Palos Verdes St.

The Clearwater program will study and develop the facilities needed to carry treated wastewater out to the ocean. It is anticipated that a new tunnel will be built from an existing treatment plant in Carson to Terminal Island, San Pedro or Wilmington.

Technically speaking, Thursday’s hearing is a “scoping meeting” to take public comment on the factors that should be studied for the project’s environmental impact report.

For more information, visit or call (877) 300-WATER.

Thursday: First Thursday Artwalk

The monthly First Thursday artwalk is Nov. 6 in downtown San Pedro.

Relatively new attractions include:

Porky’s BBQ, the new Sixth Street eatery that opened in the former Downtown Subs ’N’ More location. The restaurant is running a special offer: buy two dinners or a la carte selections and get the third free. 362 W. Sixth St., (310) 521-9999.

The Crowne Plaza hotel, which has been participating in First Thursday for several months now. This month, the works of four local jewelry designers will be displayed and musician Karie Hillery will perform in the lounge from 6-9 p.m. 601 S Palos Verdes St., (310) 521-8080.

Port Gelato Creamery has a growing menu of sandwiches and café fare, in addition to cool treats. 305 W 7th St., (310) 514-9922

Coming soon: As you visit your favorite galleries and watering holes, you may notice a sign on the Levels nightclub that says, “7th Street Chophouse coming soon.” And Tobacco Leaf smoke shop is opening in the Brown Brothers Building on Sixth Street.