Friday, April 24, 2009

Events Today

Healthy – Learn about natural health care, nibble on wholesome food and take a free salsa dancing class at today’s Body Purification Center open house from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in downtown San Pedro.

Safe – The new police station at 2175 John S. Gibson Blvd. will be unveiled in a 6 p.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony today. The program includes station tours, music and refreshments. Call (310) 522-2042 for more information. Read all about it in today’s Daily Breeze.

Cultured – The L.A. Harbor International Film Festival continues through Sunday. “West Side Story” is the headliner today, screening at 7 p.m. at the Warner Grand Theatre. A red-carpet gala is taking place before the film at 5 p.m. For a closer look at the festival, see the Daily Breeze story from Tuesday and today’s piece featuring the Sunday documentary on the port. The paper also wrote about the Friday screening of San Pedro filmmaker Jack Baric’s “Searching for a Storm.”

Week in Review

Downtown goodbyes (and good buys) – Union War Surplus is closing, according to its website. Thursday’s Daily Breeze reported that a sale is underway, the legendary owner is retiring and the store’s fate is unknown. In addition, Starbucks at the Centre Street Lofts is closing at some unspecified time in the near future.

More press for parking meter mess – Even as “Janice Hahn eases San Pedro parking meter rules,” many business owners remain indignant.

Ponte Vista open letter – The developer ran a full-page open letter in Monday’s Daily Breeze, also posted on its website.

Preview of Next Saturday

Downtown volunteer and business celebration – A celebration of volunteerism and downtown San Pedro revitalization is set for May 2. The special event, taking place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., will include beautification projects on Sixth and Seventh Streets, live music, ecology workshops and demonstrations, store discounts and a free 2 p.m. screening of “Superman Returns” at the Warner Grand Theatre. (Get film tickets from the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce, 310/832-7272). The celebration is being held in conjunction with the Mayor’s Day of Service and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa may be stopping by. Parking will be free, as the downtown meters will not be enforced. Call (310) 732-4630 for more information.

PV Marathon – The annual P.V. Marathon from Pt. Fermin Park to Palos Verdes is May 2. Expect detours and street closures along Paseo del Mar, Western Avenue and 25th Street heading towards Palos Verdes.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The News Section

MTA Meeting on Possible New Bus, Train Service
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is holding a public meeting Tuesday to analyze the possibility of adding bus or train service in the harbor transit corridor.

The meeting takes place on April 21 at 6 p.m. at the Boys and Girls Club, 100 W. Fifth St. in downtown San Pedro.

Officials will give a briefing and solicit public input on bus and/or train options to enhance rapid transit services in southwestern L.A. County and create alternatives for commuters who drive the 405 and 110 freeways.

For more information, visit or call (213) 922-4004.

Coastal Council Meeting Monday
The Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council meets on April 20 at 6:30 p.m. at the Cabrillo Marina Community Building, Cabrillo Plaza, Berth 28. View the agenda, visit or call (310) 290-0049 for more information.

The Features Section

Today is Earth Day
Rise and shine and do good at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium this Earth Day. Join in the beach cleanup on April 18 from 8-10 a.m. then get festive with games, educational activities, music, food, booths and more at the fair from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. It’s all happening for free at 3720 Stephen M. White Dr. (310) 548-7562,

Film Festival Begins Thursday
The sixth annual L.A. Harbor International Film Festival begins Thursday with a special program for high school students featuring Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped.

The festival runs April 23-26 and spotlights a mix of locally produced and nationally acclaimed films, from San Pedro filmmaker Jack Baric’s Searching for a Storm to the famed West Side Story. (For further reading on Baric’s film, see the story in this week’s Random Lengths News.)

West Side Story is the basis of the April 25 red-carpet gala preceding the film screening. The “Hollywood nostalgia tribute” at the Arcade Building includes entertainment, a light buffet supper, wine, cocktails, a souvenir program and gift bag. Gala tickets are $65 in advance and $75 at the door, pending availability.

A four-part documentary on the development of the L.A. harbor closes out the festival on April 26.

The festival takes place at the Warner Grand Theatre. Tickets are $10 for general admission and $8 for students, seniors and members of select organizations. Military and veterans are admitted free if seats are available. Tickets can be purchased online or at the box office.

For more information, visit

The Opinion Section

The San Pedro Chamber of Commerce has written a letter to the editor about Ponte Vista. In case you missed it in the Daily Breeze or Random Lengths, we’ve posted it in the comments section of last week’s story, below another reader’s lengthy, anonymous comment.

Preview of Next Saturday

Police Station Grand Opening
The community is invited to the April 25 ribbon-cutting for the remodeled community police station at 2175 John S. Gibson Blvd. in San Pedro. The event begins at 6 p.m. and includes station tours, music and refreshments. According to published reports, RSVPs were required by April 16. Call (310) 522-2042.

Health Open House at Body Purification Center
If our story last month on the downtown Body Purification Center piqued your curiosity, you’ll be able to learn more at the facility’s open house on April 25. The 11 a.m.-2 p.m. event will feature tours of the center, health food and a salsa dancing lesson at 1 p.m. – all for free. The center is located at 150 W. Sixth St., Suite 200. Call (310) 831-2202 or visit for more information.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Panel Says No to 1,950-unit Ponte Vista

Staff to Draft Plan B

Pro-development union workers wore orange shirts and project opponents wore red to signal “stop” at the Thursday hearing.

The L.A. City Planning Commission on Thursday turned down the developer’s proposal for a 1,950-unit housing complex on Western Avenue, instructing staff to work with the developer and the community to make another recommendation in a few months. The key issue is the size of the development. City planners favor 775-886 units, while the developer is proposing 1,395.

View the news reports, pictures and analyses here:

Daily Breeze story and blog post with more quotes and “drama”
Los Angeles Times
Ponte Vista blog
Commentary by community leader Doug Epperhart

Ports O’ Call Update (Not Good News)

Plans to upgrade Ports O’ Call Village are suspended (again) due to funding woes, the Daily Breeze reported Tuesday.

Neighborhood Council Meetings Next Week

The Northwest San Pedro Neighborhood Council meets Monday, April 13 at 6:30 p.m. at Peck Park, 560 N. Western Ave. The agenda was not posted at presstime. Visit or call (310) 732-4522 for more information.

The Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council meets Tuesday, April 14 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. There is one vacancy on the Central board. To apply, see the instructions on the home page.

OPINION: Eyewitness to Ponte Vista Drama

By Doug Epperhart

Playing to a packed audience in the L.A. City Council chambers, the planning commission voted Thursday to leave the crowd in suspense for another four months. The commissioners are hoping Ponte Vista front man Ted Fentin and project opponents will rewrite the final act of the nearly four-year-long drama.

The commission was considering the developer’s application to build a 1,950-unit residential complex. However, Ponte Vista presented its latest incarnation – a 1,395-unit mix of townhomes and condominiums – and asked commissioners to keep the project alive long enough to see if it will survive.

A long line of speakers defended Ponte Vista. An equally long line attacked it. Everyone agreed an environmentally-sensitive project built with union labor is desirable. Human nature being what it is, though, just about everyone in the room was motivated by their own self-interest.

“We need jobs.”

“We don’t need more traffic.”

And so on.

If there are any heroes on this stage, it’s the men and women of the city’s planning department. Hiring Gail Goldberg to lead this bureaucracy is arguably the best personnel decision made by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Her reputation as a visionary yet down-to-earth planner is well deserved.

The policy to “do real planning” was adopted thanks to her leadership. The people who work in the department reflect these ideals. Last fall, the planners assigned to the Ponte Vista project recommended denying the application for 1,950 units. They suggested a project with a density approximating that of The Gardens, which is a complex of semi-detached homes bordering Westmont Drive east of Western Avenue.

Using these criteria, Ponte Vista would consist of somewhere between 775 and 886 units. If the developer took advantage of the “density bonus” by providing affordable and senior housing, as many as 1,196 units would be allowed.

Staff also said Ponte Vista should not be a gated community, not include senior housing and have no more than two access points to Western Avenue. These are all sound positions based on good planning and not the developer’s profit motive.

The planning commission should have adopted the staff report and rung down the curtain on this production. I don’t know how the next act will play out, but I’ll be surprised if the project lives happily ever after.
Doug Epperhart is a San Pedro business owner, community leader and member of the Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Big Ponte Vista Vote Thursday

The L.A. City Planning Commission will weigh in on Ponte Vista this week, possibly casting a vote to reject the project as proposed.

Commissioners are set to vote on the staff recommendation to disapprove the 1,950-unit residential complex and effectively send the developer back to the drawing board.

Supporters and opponents are planning to testify at the downtown L.A. hearing on April 9. The grassroots opposition group R Neighborhoods Are 1 has posted a flyer instructing sympathizers to wear red to signal “stop the project” and giving a phone number for carpools. The official Ponte Vista blog summarizes recent developments to set the context for the hearing.

The hearing takes place at 8:30 a.m. at City Hall in the City Council chamber, 200 N. Spring St., Room 350, L.A. The agenda is posted on the planning department website.

See S.P. on TV

Channel 7 is spotlighting San Pedro in today’s edition of “Eye on L.A.” The show, which airs at 6:30 p.m. on April 4, takes Angelenos on a tour of San Pedro’s waterfront, cultural attractions, restaurants, art galleries and more. Tune in or visit this page for a synopsis after the show has aired.

Disney Ship to Call S.P. Home

When the Disney Wonder makes its home in San Pedro beginning in 2011, it’s expected to generate 2,600 jobs and $7 million a year, according to the Daily Breeze.

60-Day Relief for Downtown Night Parking

The downtown San Pedro parking meters will not be enforced after 5 p.m. in April and May, Councilwoman Janice Hahn wrote in a letter to business owners. The councilwoman is also pushing for a parking permit system and a regular end time of 6 p.m., according to her March 27 letter.

Downtown Residential Update

Renting at the Vue: The Daily Breeze has more information about the rental units in the downtown Vue condominium building. Starting rents are $1,600 for a one-bedroom unit, $2,100 for two bedrooms and $2,700 for three bedrooms.

The San Pedro Chamber of Commerce covers the status of several downtown residential developments on the front page of its newsletter.

Easter Fun Downtown

There’s a new Easter celebration in town this year. Bring the kids for an Easter egg hunt next Saturday (April 11) at 12 noon on 7th Street between Mesa and Centre Streets. For more information, call Dance and Shoppe at (310) 272-0767.

Coffee Time on ‘Via Dolce’

Via Dolce Coffee House, which replaced It’s a Grind on Western Avenue last month, is open for breakfast, lunch and early dinner. It serves coffee drinks, fruit smoothies, bakery sweets and a full menu of homemade foods including breakfast bagels, cold and grilled sandwiches, salads and wraps.

Via Dolce is a small L.A. chain that originated in Santa Monica in 2000.

The shop at 29050 S. Western Ave. is open Monday-Friday 5:30 a.m.-7 p.m., Saturday 6 a.m.-8 p.m. and Sunday 6:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Phone (310) 547-3704.

Technical Snafu Last Week

For inexplicable reasons, subscribers did not receive last week’s edition on Saturday morning. The system is totally automated and beyond our control. Even if you don’t get your news blast, you can always find the new stories on the San Pedro News home page.