Friday, December 26, 2008

Downtown News

New Security Officers on Patrol; First Thursday Jan. 1

Private security officers are now patrolling downtown San Pedro. They hit the pavement at the beginning of the month, under contract with the newly implemented Business Improvement District. The officers will patrol the downtown area daily and on weekend nights. The firm, Andrews International, is credited with helping revitalize Hollywood. Its office is in the Cabrillo Hotel, 615 S Centre St., (310) 519-7329. For more information, see the San Pedro Business Journal.

First Thursday is taking place on New Year’s Day beginning at 5 p.m. Take a “STARTwalk” through downtown to start the year on Jan. 1. Select galleries and shops will be open, along with downtown restaurants. Check the First Thursday website next week for the schedule of events.

New Year’s Eve

From long-standing favorites to intriguing newcomers, San Pedro restaurants are ringing in the new year with dinners and parties. Here are a few of the many options:

The new and not-yet-opened 7th Street Chophouse will preview its menu at a New Year’s Eve dinner party, featuring prime rib on your plate and R&B, jazz and Old School music on stage. $75. 465 W Seventh St., (310) 684-1753.

The Whale & Ale is serving up dinner and the Beatles tribute band the Backbeats. $57.50. 327 W. Seventh St., (310) 832-0363. Reservations required.

A saxophone player will add to the energy at Papadakis Taverna, where the regular menu will be served. 301 W Sixth St., (310) 548-1186.

It’s a 1980s flashback theme at the San Pedro Brewing Company, which is serving a buffet dinner, followed by a DJ, dancing and a champagne toast. Suggested attire is ’80s garb: “spandex, Miami Vice, etc.” $50. 331 W. Sixth St., (310) 831-5663.

Korean Bell ringing – Brave the elements for the New Year’s Eve bell ringing, one of only four annual occasions when the bell is rung. Gather any time after 9:30 p.m. at 3601 S. Gaffey St., (310) 548-7705.

Play on (or in!) the Water

Polar bear swim – The hearty and brave will go for the annual New Year’s Day polar bear swim at 11:30 a.m. on Jan. 1 at Cabrillo Beach. Learn all the chilly details at the Cabrillo Beach Polar Bears website.

Whalewatching – It’s whalewatching season. Hop aboard a cruise from 22nd Street Landing or Spirit Cruises in Ports O’ Call.

Cabrillo Beach tidepool walks – See what’s stirring in the sea on a tidepool walk, taking place Dec. 27 and 28 at 2:30 p.m. at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium.

Tall ships – Two tall ships are visiting through early January. See the schedule of sails and dockside tours at

‘Meat’ up at the New Steakhouse(s)

Think Prime: the dining room.

The bar.

Crab cake appetizer with lemon marmalade mango cream.

Filet mignon in the nude, served without sauce.

Think Prime is now open on Western Avenue.

The steakhouse features prime rib, filet mignon, porterhouse and other classic cuts. House specials include a chicken and crab cake dish, osso bucco, traditional surf and turf and a variation with steak and shrimp scampi.

Live entertainment takes center stage in the cocktail lounge, nestled in a cozy corner away from the bar and dining room. The bar offers a menu of gourmet nibbles, plus drinks with a view of the adjacent dining room.

In a few weeks, another new steakhouse will open in downtown San Pedro. 7th Street Chophouse is scheduled to open its doors on Jan. 13 for a soft opening. It plans to hold a formal grand opening on First Thursday in February.

The chophouse bar is open Thursday through Saturday nights and a DJ hosts a dance party on Friday nights.

Think Prime, 29601 S Western Ave., Rancho Palos Verdes, (310) 221-0415. Open for dinner from 5-10 p.m. daily, bar open until 12 midnight.

7th Street Chophouse, 465 W Seventh St., (310) 684-1753.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Outta Here: Bisno off Ponte Vista Project

Developer Bob Bisno is no longer in the driver’s seat at Ponte Vista, following the move by creditors last week to seize control of the project.

Credit Suisse was a leading investor and is now in charge of the development.

That’s about the only certainty at this point, as the bank’s DLJ Real Estate Capital Partners regroups and plans the project’s next steps. No public announcements have been made as to the direction the new developers may take.

See last Saturday’s Daily Breeze story for community reaction to the big news.

Your New Public Servants

State Assembly

Something is fishy: Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, left, receives a commendation from a constituent, Councilwoman Janice Hahn. Those wiggly blue glowing things in the background are fish residing at the Aquarium of the Pacific.

New state Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal held a community swearing-in ceremony in Long Beach this week.

Lowenthal was elected in November to the 54th Assembly District, which includes San Pedro and other Harbor Area communities.

The ceremony was held at the Aquarium of the Pacific.

Lowenthal’s son, Judge Daniel Lowenthal, administered the oath of office before an audience of human and aquatic constituents.

Councilwoman Janice Hahn praised Lowenthal for her “passion, integrity and unique way of looking at things and solving problems.”

Declaring “I love Pedro,” Lowenthal said, “I feel so comfortable and welcomed there. I’ve always had a strong connection to the people, the neighborhood councils and the longshore workers.

“That’s a tremendous concern of mine right now – the casuals who have no work. We have to find ways to maintain international trade, cleanly and responsibly.

“I want my San Pedro constituents to know that I’ll continue fighting for clean air, a strong economy, full employment and a high quality of life.”

The news page of Lowenthal’s website includes a video interview with her on the Assembly floor.

Neighborhood Councils

Dawn Turner and former San Pedro Magazine columnist Jennifer Marquez were elected to the Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council in November.

There is one vacancy on the Coastal board, created when newly elected boardmember Rosalie Perazzola resigned before taking office.

The board will make an appointment to fill the vacancy. For more information or to apply, contact the council at (310) 290-0049 or

The Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council elected Caroline Brady-Sinco and Carlos Perez to its board on Dec. 9.

Brady-Sinco is development director at Harbor Interfaith Services and Perez owns Best Tire and Automotive at Third Street and Pacific Avenue.

San Pedro News will profile these new councilmembers next month.

Port News

Here are the week’s press clips about the port.

“L.A., Long Beach ports push projects despite rocky economy,” a Los Angeles Times business story, drew criticism from two neighborhood councilmembers. (See commentaries below).

“Port terminal expansion OK’d” is a Daily Breeze story on the forthcoming growth of the China Shipping terminal.

“Container fee reduced” is a Daily Breeze report on the price cut and time delay in implementing a fee on incoming goods to fund infrastructure improvements.

If you breathe, you may be heartened by this news from the Daily Breeze: “Port of L.A. emissions drop sharply in 2007”

2 Qualify for City Council Race

Two candidates have qualified for the March election to represent San Pedro on the Los Angeles City Council.

Incumbent Janice Hahn and educator Chris Salabaj will compete for the 15th District seat.

Hahn is running for a third and final term, under the city term-limit laws.

Salabaj of Harbor City is campaigning for “change, loyalty and progress.”

He teaches at Orthopaedic Hospital Medical Magnet High School, an LAUSD school in downtown L.A., and has a Realtor’s license.

Salabaj’s platform appears on his website,

Hahn has not launched a campaign website, but her campaign office can be reached at (213) 452-6565.

The election is March 3. See the city clerk election page for more information.

San Pedro Magazine Folds, San Pedro Today Launches

The corporate owner of San Pedro Magazine has stopped the presses and the former editor is launching a new publication next month.

“We’ll have the same great circulation, free home delivery, and the beautiful glossy cover and include all the great columnists and contributors who have helped make the former publication popular and profitable,” said editor Joshua Stecker.

“I’m taking the best parts of what made San Pedro Magazine the successful and popular magazine it was and enhancing it with all the features I wanted to do but could never get done” in the corporate setting, he said.

Read all about it at and watch for the premier issue during the week of Jan. 5.

1 Month to the Presidential Inauguration

The inauguration of president-elect Barack Obama is Jan. 20, exactly one month from today.

Do you know someone who’s going to Washington for the big event? Please send their contact information to so we can interview them before they head east.

Let it Snow

News flash – snow fell in the Palisades Friday.

It may have felt cold enough to be nature-made, but this white stuff had a little machine-powered boost.

Hundreds of community members lined up for pictures with Santa, eggnog, cider and other warm drinks during The Corner Store’s “Miracle on 37th Street” party.

Guests then hit the streets for old-time caroling outside houses near the store at 37th and Barbara Streets in coastal San Pedro.

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.

Friday, December 12, 2008

School Notes

The L.A. school board on Tuesday approved plans for a campus at Angels Gate. Read the story in the Daily Breeze.

San Pedro High School cheered its new gym in a ceremony Thursday night. The Daily Breeze headline “Pirates treasure new gym” expresses the school’s enthusiasm for the new facility. View the photo album here.

Big game today – The San Pedro and Narbonne high school football teams are competing for the L.A. City Section Championship at 1 p.m. at the Coliseum today. The Pirate Booster Club is offering free bus rides from San Pedro High School at 11 a.m. The game will be rebroadcast Sunday at 8 a.m. on KLCS (the school district station) and at 2:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. Sunday on LA36 (the L.A. city station), according to the Daily Breeze Pure Preps blog.

Park Construction Underway at 22nd Street Tank Farm

Bulldozers have been spotted for months and last week ground was officially broken on the forthcoming 22nd Street Park on port land near Cabrillo Marina.

When completed next December, the park will include “walking trails, restrooms, new crosswalks, 12 acres of open green space and four acres for youths to play sports on,” according to the Daily Breeze.

Free Parking Downtown

It may be the olive branch before the ax falls.

And/or, it’s a benevolent gesture from the politician to constituents.

Either way, it translates to free parking at downtown San Pedro meters through the holiday season.

Beginning Monday, meters will be bagged and posted time restrictions will be lifted. Councilwoman Janice Hahn’s self-proclaimed “gift” will keep on giving through the end of December.

“Allowing for free parking will give a boost to local shops and restaurants in San Pedro and Wilmington during the holidays and I hope it will become a tradition,” said Councilwoman Hahn.

“Particularly during these tough economic times, businesses need all the help they can get to increase sales, and holiday shoppers definitely deserve that extra break.”

Under a citywide ordinance, parking meter fees are going up to $1 an hour and $4 a day at the 10-hour meters. The increase was to be implemented this fall, but the rates have yet to change in San Pedro.

Coastal Council Meeting Monday

The Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council meets Monday, Dec. 15 at 6:30 p.m. at the Cabrillo Marina Community Building.

The agenda was not posted online at presstime. Check the meetings page or call (310) 290-0049 for information.

Nautical Notes

Tall Ships in Town

Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain engage in a mock sea battle. Photo by Tom Hyde.

The tall ships Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain are visiting San Pedro for the next few weeks.

The ships are berthed near the Maritime Museum, where they will offer dockside tours, adventure sails and battle sails through early January.

The ships make educational calls at West Coast ports, but the Lady has also appeared on screen in “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.”

For more information, visit the Historical Seaport website.

New Nautical Store

A new educational and retail center is opening in downtown San Pedro to showcase the British maritime industry.

The Maritime Research Center and shop is holding a grand opening on Sunday, Dec. 14 at 301 W. Seventh St. (at Centre Street). Tea will be served during the 1-5 p.m. celebration.

For more information, visit

Holiday Events

The full moon gets into the fountain’s act, with the blue bridge lights in the background.

The waterfront Fanfare fountain is presenting the last of its holiday performances on Dec. 19 at 7 p.m.

The Corner Store presents “Miracle on 37th Street” on Dec. 19. Santa will visit at 6 p.m., followed by caroling and egg nog at 7 p.m. Is that snow in coastal San Pedro? Find out for yourself at the miraculous celebration, taking place at 1118 W. 37th St. Guests are advised to bring flashlights and bells. Call (310) 832-2424 for more information.

The Warner Grand Theatre is staging more holiday-themed shows this month. See the schedule for details.

Friday, December 5, 2008

School Board to Vote Tuesday on Angels Gate Campus

The L.A. school board is set to vote Tuesday on the environmental impact report for Angels Gate High School. If approved, the vote would pave the way to open construction bids for the 810-student school.

Harbor Area school board member Richard Vladovic favors a magnet school for specialized studies at San Pedro High School.

Through lawn signs, email blasts and letter-writing campaigns, the community group N.O.I.S.E. has visibly and vocally expressed its opposition to the school.

Group members are planning to attend the downtown L.A. school board meeting to testify against the school, as they did at Thursday’s LAUSD committee meeting where the proposal was approved.

See “Panel OKs vote on SP school” for a preview of the debate likely to unfold at the Tuesday meeting, taking place on Dec. 9 at 1 p.m. at district headquarters, 333 S. Beaudry Ave., Los Angeles.

All About Parks

The Daily Breeze summarized the comments from Wednesday’s meeting about parks. See “Harbor Area residents voice parks concerns” for a report on the issues discussed with the Department of Recreation and Parks.

Western Avenue Business News

Steak Out

Think Prime, the steakhouse and piano bar from the owner of Think Café and Think Bistro, is opening … any day now. Look for open doors some time this month, possibly within days.

The upscale restaurant and bar will offer fine dining and live entertainment nightly at 29601 S. Western Ave., (310) 221-0415.

Direct from the ‘Happiest Place on Earth’

A temporary warehouse of Disney goods has opened in the Terraces.

The store sells discontinued merchandise from Disneyland at up to 80% off. Selections include a wide range of clothing, accessories, toys and collectibles.

The warehouse is located at 28901 S. Western Ave., Suite 137. It is on the lower level at the northern end near the Good Night mattress store.

Hours are Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-8 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m.-7 p.m. It accepts cash, Visa and Mastercard. All sales are final.

The store will be open through early January. Call (310) 514-0042 for more information.

Women’s ‘Shooz’ Marching On

Shooz, Etc. is moving from Western Avenue to central Los Angeles.

To prepare for its relocation, the store is offering 45% off its stock of women’s shoes, handbags and gift items.

Shooz, Etc. is located at 28719 S. Western Ave. in the center with the Eastview post office and Carl’s Jr. It is across the parking lot from the closed liquor store that was most recently a Halloween shop.

Hours are Thursday-Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m. through Dec. 31. Call (310) 519-3851 for more information.

Seasonal Merriment

Fiery Holiday Spirit

Firefighters, schoolchildren and community leaders decorated the tree next to the San Pedro municipal building Monday.

Tuba Christmas
Musicians will stage their annual free Tuba Christmas performance today (Saturday, Dec. 6) at 3 p.m. at Berth 94 near the S.S. Lane Victory. Catch the show before you stake out your place to view the holiday boat parade, also today at 6 p.m. in the Main Channel.

One Sweet Street Corner
Savvy sweettooths have undoubtedly discovered the goodies at the southwest corner of 7th and Centre Streets in downtown San Pedro. Between Port Gelato Creamery and Mishi’s Strudel, you can get your fill of hot, cold, frosty, crispy, chocolatey, fruity, baked, frozen and generally tasty treats.

Now there’s a new partner in crime around the corner at Nosh Café. In addition to its own home-made sweets, Nosh has just introduced cupcakes by a San Pedro baker.

Cuppacakes by Rose Cigliano debuted on First Thursday to an enthusiastic group of taste testers. A limited selection will initially be sold at Nosh. Special orders of at least one dozen can be placed online at

Rose Cigliano with her cupcakes at Nosh

Neighborhood Council Meetings Next Week

The Northwest San Pedro Neighborhood Council meets Monday, Dec. 8 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, Dec. 9 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.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Ponte Vista Meetings: 1 Down, 1 Delayed

Sending a strong message to policymakers, opponents of Ponte Vista dominated Tuesday’s Harbor Area Planning Commission meeting on the controversial housing development.

Approximately 75 people supporting the R Neighborhoods Are 1 campaign attended the meeting, many wearing red shirts to illustrate their desire to stop the proposal for 1,950 Western Avenue homes at the former Navy housing site.

Project proponents did not turn out their supporters for the meeting.

The Ponte Vista developer distributed a message over the weekend stating Bisno Development officials would not be attending and asking supporters not to attend.

The same message announced that Bisno was requesting that the City Planning Commission hearing be postponed.

The hearing was set for Dec. 11 and is now tentatively rescheduled for Feb. 12, according to the Daily Breeze story, “L.A. delays Ponte Vista hearing.”

Only one of five harbor area commissioners attended Tuesday’s meeting, which was held to take public comment but no official action on the development plan.

Two of the other commissioners recused themselves over conflicts of interest, one commissioner recently resigned and one was out of town.

Commission president Michael Ponce listened to comments from more than 20 project opponents.

The proponents’ lone voice was Bisno attorney Allan Abshez, who did not make a presentation in favor of the project but said he was available to answer questions.

Councilwoman Janice Hahn urged the developer to consult with the planning department for input on Plan B.

Public Meeting on San Pedro Parks Wednesday

The Department of Recreation and Parks is holding a public meeting Wednesday to hear community concerns about San Pedro parks.

A high-ranking official will give a report on the status of parks, answer questions and listen to ideas about needed improvements.

The meeting takes place on Dec. 3 at 6:30 p.m. at Peck Park, 560 N Western Ave.

Read more in the Daily Breeze story, “Turnout urged at parks meeting.”