Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Pondering the Continued Craziness of LAUSD

The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) continues its craziness and it is certainly overdue, in my opinion, to attempt to try to reign them in.

The LAUSD Board of Education is considering placing on the November ballot, a bond measure that seeks to add another SEVEN BILLION DOLLARS into their coffers.

In an article recently found in The Daily Breeze, here is just one paragraph that demonstrates how far LAUSD will try and go to get more money.

"Included in the "bond project list" are two 810-student high school campuses in San Pedro - one already proposed adjacent Angels Gate Park and another without a stated location that would relieve overcrowding at San Pedro and Narbonne high schools. Projects that are under way - the K-8 span school in Wilmington and a new high school in Long Beach on the Carson border - are mentioned as well."

I took advantage to highlight a bit of the paragraph.

The second school mentioned in the article must be the South Region High School Number 14 (SRHS 14) that was originally proposed as a 2,025-seat high school to be built at the Ponte Vista at San Pedro site.

SRHS 14 was downsized to an 810-seat proposal and the Ponte Vista proposed site was eliminated.

SRHS 14 is still on the books of LAUSD as a proposed school, but it is in a status that resembles being 'mothballed'.

The new school proposed and actively being considered in Wilmington is a Kindergarten through eighth grade campus.

That proposed campus required the districts use of its right of eminent domain to condemn businesses and a few residences in Wilmington.

Not finding a suitable location within LAUSD boundaries, LAUSD purchased land in the city of Long Beach for a new high school, it claims it needs.

The matter that the city of Long Beach already has its own school system, doesn't seem to bother LAUSD one bit, it also seems.

Playing with numbers is the next area of craziness.

During the 2007-2008 school year, San Pedro High School had an enrollment of 3,561 students.

The District wants to build another campus in order to lower the number of students attending the main campus of San Pedro High School to not more than 2,600 students.

The District plans to build a new campus in San Pedro to accommodate "810-students".

Let's take 2,600 from 3,561, and our difference equals 961.

The new campus is slated to contain only 810-seats.

Where are the 151 high school students that is the difference between what LAUSD wants for the maximum number of students at the main campus of San Pedro High School, and the number of students (810) slated to be at the new campus?

Could it be that the SECOND 810-seat campus in the proposed bond would be for the 151-students from San Pedro and the other 659 seats go to former Narbonne students?

The date that the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for the South Region High School Number 15 (SRHS15) is approaching.

If the document is published prior to August 11, it will be published less than six months after the Initial Study was published.

Is it possible to accomplish all the studies needed to produce a complete DEIR in less than six months after the actual studies were announced?

The site of the proposed campus is located in an area where hand grenade training was held.

The site of the proposed campus is located in an area where cesspits were dug.

The site of the proposed campus is located in an area where a motor pool for military vehicles was located.

The site of the proposed campus is located in an area where there are buildings dating back to the first World War are currently located.

Many of the buildings on the site proposed for the new campus have asbestos siding, insulation, roofing, flooring, and in other areas.

Many of the buildings contain many hazardous compounds that were not deemed hazardous years ago when their real hazards were not known.

Can or should we trust the companies contracted to removed the buildings for LAUSD, if LAUSD prevails in their attempt to build SRHS 15.

Now back to the DEIR.

LAUSD made a profound and clear error last March, when they allowed the comment period for the Notice of Preparation and Initial Study was extended from 30 days to 60 days.

They were not bright enough to see that opposition to having SRHS 15 built on the Upper Reservation of Fort MacArthur was building and organizing as fast as it was.

No matter. LAUSD obviously didn't listen very well to the bursting forth of the opposition, or they thought that is wasn't as real as it truly is.

Because of LAUSD's blunder, which was actually great news for all of San Pedro, there is no way the comment period for the DEIR will be extended beyond its required 45-days.

Making comments to what is documented in the DEIR can be done by individuals and groups.

The DEIR will be published with findings of studies done at the proposed site and the alternative sites, that will be included in the document.

The findings will be documented in the attachments to the DEIR. The attachments will be much larger than the actual main DEIR and it is in the attachments where we will probably find LAUSD's Achilles heal, concerning the proposed site.

The DEIR will, most probably, be a flawed document.

It is up to those who make comments to the DEIR to find the flaws, document them in comment form, and provide CEQA evaluators the ammunition to either stall or kill the proposed campus at the proposed site.

"CEQA" stands for California Environmental Quality Act and representatives of CEQA are charged with making findings relevant to the documents provided to them.

It is my opinion from having been involved with several DEIRs, that this upcoming one, for the proposed campus, is being produced too quickly and will not include sufficient studies of the proposed site, alternative sites, or the "no project" option.

Commenting on the DEIR is not as simple as one might think.

Creating comments that state that someone doesn't want the campus built at the proposed site, just because it will bring "too much noise", "too much traffic" or "too many people", all without using numbers or studies, will probably be ignored.

Comments containing provable facts, other studies, and other factual results must be studies by CEQA and LAUSD and LAUSD must provide reasoning and accountability to their assertions as well as rebuttal to comments.

To provide comments to the DEIR it is suggested that individuals consider the areas that are most important to them and deal with those, rather than attempting to cover the entire document.

Groups should be organized in a way that allows individuals within the group to study different parts and then include those parts in an overall set of comments from the group.

In comments, anything that would demand delaying the project is a good thing, if you oppose the construction of the campus at its proposed site.

The group, Neighborhoods Organized and Involved to Support Education (NOISE) wants to do two things;

"Fix Pedro High". NOISE wants to work to improve everything possible at San Pedro High School and will be working with the Lady Boosters and others to find ways to deal with the many problems at the existing campus.

Oppose having SRHS 15 built on the Upper Reservation of Fort MacArthur.

You can reach NOISE by Email at:

More pondering about SRHS 15 will be forthcoming on this blog.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Pondering Earthquakes

The post is being written between the 11:42 AM event and whatever happens next.

Terri and I felt the quake, but we still don't know if it was a forshock or main quake.

We haven't felt any aftershocks yet.

It's been quite a while since OUR community had a shaker we all had the opportunity to feel.

This one for me, started with an unusually shutter before the rocking and rolling commenced.

It was just long enough to get me to head for a doorway, but by the time I was able to look for swaying telephone poles, it stopped.

One of my 'hobbies' is riding earthquakes and I usually experience them better if I am sitting down watching poles and wires sway back and forth.

We headed for Channel 4 and they caught the quake live during their Midday report.

I reminded of Kent Shotnic (sp?) when he dove under a desk during a much stronger quake, some time ago.

*** As I am writing this, the first aftershock was monitored, but we didn't feel it.

Earthquakes come with the territory we live in and we all know it.

Thankfully, we usually only get remnants of Hurricaines, tiny twisters, and not much flooding by overflowing rivers.

So this recent Earthquake was just a reminder that we live and work and play in an area that shakes, rattles, and rolls.

Still, the "big one" is coming.

Today is just another day to ponder earthquakes, the "big one" and all the little ones we just think we feel.

Are we prepared as a community for the one that is still to come and do some very massive damage? Are you prepared?

Once upon a time, there was a earthquake, a fairly big shaker.

All the news media headed over to Cal Tech to watch the inked needles on the scales jump around and Dr. Lucy Jones, the seismologist dubbed "Seis Mom" because she was interviewed holding her youngest in her arms with her older child clinging to her.

Terri and I attended the La Canada High School graduation ceremony this past June when close friends' son graduated.

Real close to us that day was "Seis Mom" watching the little one who she was holding during all those repeated interviews, graduating high school.

That made Terri and I feel real old.

Pondering earthquakes, the past, the present, and the future.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

What's Next for Angel's Gate????

First, here is an article written by Ms. Donna Littlejohn that appeared in the July 26 edition of The Daily Breeze:

Angels Gate Park gets historic status
By Donna Littlejohn, Staff Writer
Article Launched: 07/25/2008 11:25:06 PM PDT

Local military historians won their battle Friday to have San Pedro's Angels Gate Park - the former Fort MacArthur Army post - listed as a state historic district.

Supporters said the listing is needed to protect the buildings and gun batteries remaining on the property that served as a coastal military installation for nearly a century.

Opponents worry it could impede ongoing work on a new cultural and recreational master plan for the property that was deeded to the city of Los Angeles by the federal government in 1977.

In a 5-1 vote, the California State Historic Resources Commission approved the nomination of the Fort MacArthur Upper Reservation, now a 64-acre city park at 3601 S. Gaffey St.

"This has validated more than 20 years of advocacy for the property," said Joe Janesic of the Fort MacArthur Museum Association.

Opponents, who fear the ruling could hamper progress on a cultural and recreational master plan for the park, question the ruling they say was based on misinformation.

The Los Angeles City Council last October vetoed an earlier vote by the city's Cultural Affairs Commission that supported the designation.

City Councilwoman Janice Hahn cited the master plan process in asking for the veto, which was unanimous.

In a written statement issued late Friday, Hahn said she appreciated the historic nature of the property, but added that "designating the entire park could hurt the master plan process that is in place."

"I am hopeful that there will be minimum impacts as we move forward," she said.
Among those speaking against the designation at the meeting Friday was Nathan Birnbaum, director of the Angels Gate Cultural Center.

"It's very disappointing," Birnbaum said of the commission's decision. The center is hoping to add a theater and cafe along with other improvements to its property within the park under a new master plan.

It remains unclear how much the historic designation will affect the master plan. But at a minimum it will require that additional steps be taken before any existing structures can be demolished.

Fort MacArthur was a U.S. Army post that guarded the Los Angeles Harbor from 1914-74, a period that spanned four wars.

The 20 acres that include the Osgood-Farley Battery and military museum already are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Supporters have long believed the remaining gun emplacements and some 100 World War II-era buildings scattered throughout the park are in danger of being razed without further protections in place.

Friday's ruling does not affect separate Los Angeles school district property within the site, but Janesic did not rule out filing a nomination to protect structures on that property as well. The school district is studying the construction of a new high school on that parcel.

In addition to providing another layer of protection, Janesic said, the new state listing opens new avenues to secure state and federal money in the association's ongoing preservation efforts.

In a letter written to the city a year ago stating the association's intentions to nominate the entire park, Janesic said the idea was not to hamper the master plan process.

"Our intent is not to deprive the use of the structures, but rather to list them so that future use and planning may be directed toward a `preservation friendly' development rather than a bulldozer approach," Janesic wrote.

Second, I feel it bears repeating that the property owned by the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) was NOT involved in the vote held on Friday.

LAUSD continues to pursue building a new high school campus on land it was deeded, next to the Angel's Gate area on the Upper Reservation of Fort MacArthur.

The Draft Environmental Impact Report for the proposed South Region High School #15 is slated for release on Friday August 1, 2008.

Now what is next?

Someone I know worked on the Angel's Gate Master Plan and he said that all the meetings were finished several months ago and everything had finally been settled after years of struggle.

Now what is next?

LAUSD is so desperate to have SRHS 15 built on its property that they stated they would be willing to work with the Department of Parks and Recreation to either rebuild Gaffey Street Pool, or build a new pool, for use by the new students and the public?

This is one more item LAUSD is willing to throw into the pot to gain more support for a new campus.

Now what is next?

The answer to the three repeated questions seems to have been placed squarely back up into the air, it seems.

I think you should know that the group, Neighborhoods Organized and Involved to Support Education (NOISE), the group opposed to having SRHS 15 built in the Upper Reservation of Fort MacArthur (Angel's Gate) was not directly involved in the decision making, as to the historical status of the area not owned by LAUSD.

I think you should also know that NOISE is probably going to try and get the LAUSD-owned property on the 61+acre overall site, also designated with historical status, to prevent a new high school from being built, at the district's "preferred" location.

Now, let's try and review what we may 'know', considering everything on the Upper Reservation of Fort MacArthur.

The Korean Bell and the parkland surrounding it are going to stay put.

The basketball court will still exist because it is probably the one court that is used in more commercials than any other court in the country (L.A. makes money when that court is filmed.)

The Fort MacArthur Military Museum was given historical status some time ago and it and the two batteries, Osgood and Farley will continue to exist, but the concrete structures will also continue to become more damaged as time goes by.

The L.A. Department of Parks and Recreation will still have offices near the Gaffey Street entrances.

The Marine Mammal Rescue Center and the Oil Bird Recovery Center will probably remain on the LAUSD-owned land they now occupy.

I think that about wraps up just about everything many of us know to be true in the long run of the site.

I do hope that the 'O' scale and the 'N' scale model railroad clubs continue for many years AND I hope an 'HO' scale club finds room at the site for a big layout.

I also hope the folks at the Angel's Gate Cultural Center stay put and grow as much as possible.

Beyond that, I am stumped!

I wonder if the designation as a Historic District means that Barlow-Saxton road cannot be used to access LAUSD property.

I would like to read editorials and letters to the editor from all sides, about these issues.

We could use a good number of comments to this post, I feel.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Pondering about the Random Lengths News

I am impressed.

For some time I have been somewhat critical of 'news' coming from Random Lengths News.

But change is constant and both the Random Lengths News has changed, in my opinion, and so have I.

I went from dreading what would be in each bi-weekly issue, to now waiting to get my hands on one on the day before its publication date.

I feel there are three very good reasons that I have seen some great changes in RLN.

Now, Mr. Terelle Jerricks, the Editor, Mr. Paul Rosenberg, Senior Editor, and especially Mr. Chris Yang, Staff Writer have given the newspaper a higher standard than just a throwaway advertisement vehicle.

The Publisher, Mr. James Preston Allen and I have not seen eye to eye on some issues in the past, but I must commend him for his editorial and writing staff.

Now many of you may feel that Mr. Allen is too far to the left of center for your liking.

I happen to feel that, as a progressive myself, he may be closer to the political center than I am, on many subjects.

There was a period of time on my blogs when I would not refer to the publication as a 'news' publication at all.

All of that has changed and now I am finding quite a bit more real news about OUR community in the Random Lengths News with every new edition, I feel.

In the latest edition of July 25-August 7, there is a front page article that is exactly the kind of pondering-type piece that we all need to think about.

The multi-page article is about the "Debate Over Pier 400" and it was written by Mr. Chris Yang with help from Editorial Intern Christine Bedenis.

The article seems to hit just about every single part of the issue of placing a new supertanker terminal on Pier 400 and building a pipeline to new storage tanks that would be built on Terminal Island.

The issues are complex and take just about every direction possible.

Included in the article are issues dealing with the idea that hazardous materials storage should have been put in the area of Pier 400 years ago.

There has long been talk about the real need to move the Amerigas storage tanks to where they should be, out on Pier 400.

There is mention of the Cleawater Program of the Sanitation District and the large cry to put the outfall construction shaft and ground-level construction structures on Terminal Island at the old LAXT terminal.

Issues of increased pollution were included in the article.

The current issue of Random Lengths News has not been put up on their Web site as a .pdf document, but when it appears, I hope everyone will read the entire edition of the News.

The Random Lengths News' latest edition also considers that someone is suggesting that there is yet another sinkhole forming under Western Avenue, possibly.

I will deal with that particular bit of troubling news on another blog. Can you guess which one?

I understand that the publisher needs to keep his paper afloat financially and taking money to run a full page ad is something Mr. Allen probably needs to do to keep his newspaper afloat.

I hope that the progressive Mr. Allen feels a bit of a tinge when he accepts ad money from Bisno, but we need to realize that if the Random Lengths News is to continue to improve, it needs ad funds to keep it going.

There are still many members of OUR community who have very negative feelings for the Random Lengths News, and I was one of them in the past.

I hope Mr. Allen continues to assist his editors and writers to do their best to report the news as we have been seeing it being done in recent months.

It is quite alright to be a progressive newspaper in a town that doesn't see much progressive reporting and editorializing from other local publications.

Of course San Pedro still has a good number of correct-thinking, working class folks who keep unions strong and want to make good changes to OUR community.

A newspaper that services our needs is welcome as it continues to improve and aid us all.

Now that I have ruffled some feathers, it is your turn to ponder.

Pondering About Downtown San Pedro

First, I acknowledge that I have been extremely remiss in not creating a post about things concerning downtown San Pedro and the many great folks who live in that area.

I was reminded about my omission in a reply to an Email I sent someone.

That person's reply was very thought provoking, so without naming that person, I will include some of the reply below.

The person who wrote the following lives in the downtown area and has a much more well-defined set of comments than I could create.

Here are some of the comments:

"My concerns emanate from the neighborhood in which i live and radiate out to include the entire community. As all politics is local, so are my concerns. If this is seen as parochial or short sighted on your part, maybe I can elucidate further in an attempt clarify my position.

It seems to me that the interests of those who live below Gaffey are different than those who live elsewhere in town. It also is apparent to me that the most vocal and organized groups do not live below Gaffey. While some have the luxury of opposing a school, store, condos, housing or cruise terminals and devoting their time such opposition loudly and repeatedly those of us below the line are concerned with more immediate issues.

Crime is ever present in my neighborhood. Graffiti is widespread and continual. Burglaries are commonplace. Drivebys happen with regularity. Gangs are present throughout lower San Pedro. Stabbings and shootings are not epidemic but they do occur occasionally. Are these things found with such frequency in other parts of town?

Pacific Avenue has deteriorated markedly in the last twenty years. The streets and sidewalks are filthy.

There is an extreme lack of parks and open space below Gaffey. The citizens are desperate for these as evidenced by the use of the poorly planned and executed small green area and bike path along Crescent Drive.

Another indignity experienced in my neighborhood is the weekly ritual of moving vehicles for street sweeping that takes place maybe only twice a month.

On top of all this there is the construction on many many lofts and condos in lower Pedro. Where was the vocal minority when these constructions were proposed? They were cheering them on saying that this was a great thing for Pedro and would revitalize the city. The loud and almost hysterical opposition to the traffic and overcrowding that has been heard about Ponte Vista and the condos proposed at 20th and Walker was silent regarding this massive influx in lower San Pedro. Given the problems of completing and selling these projects the very real possibility that the could end up being rentals looms. If that should happen will the promised revitalization of downtown still occur?

This list of concerns does not mean I have given up on Pedro. I remain convinced that San Pedro was and can still be a great place to live. I simply can not believe that compromise and understanding is in such short supply here. Change has come to Pedro and has not been for the better, in my opinion, to this point. It seems to me we should embrace change and seek new ways to look at the future. Constant vehement opposition without being willing to compromise is wearying."

Even though the comments had many negative points, the last paragraph demonstrated that there is at least one dedicated, caring, and thoughtful individual who will not give up on San Pedro and I am quite sure that person is not alone, by a long shot.

I also wish to include a set of comments that were written on my Ponte Vista blog.

The anonymous author also dealt with some negatives about downtown, but I think they also bring forth other points to ponder:

"I went into Williams bookstore the other day, because I like to patronize local shops. I've never seen such a sad selection in a retail book shop in my life. So, how about doing something about that? A place to buy office/school supplies in town would be nice, too. As would another Ralph's or TJ's in the downtown area. I love Sacred Grounds for the atmosphere and the coffee, but I've never failed to get stale pastry there. They really need to do something about that. A big problem in downtown is the fact that on an average afternoon, most of those shops are closed.
I've seen that cute gift shop next to the Whale open during the day exactly twice in the last year. I'm sure it's open more than that but why should I have to check constantly and stop by in the hope it's open? How can I shop if you aren't open reliable hours?"

I am sure we can have a long laundry list of things that are wrong in the downtown area, but don't you think it is time for us 'regular folks' to speak up with what is right about downtown San Pedro and how WE should be more involved in helping to improve the area?

Maybe the 'authorities' don't want kids cooling themselves off during the hot summer months at the new fountain. How about posting a sign stating that no agency is responsible if anyone get hurt in the fountain, then not watch too closely as some kids just try and keep cool in the summer?

I have written on several blogs that there will be more folks moving into the lofts/condos/apartments that may be finished sometime this decade.

I also wrote that these new residents, along with the good people that already live in the downtown area are going to really need a new supermarket somewhere closer to the real downtown area than just at 12Th and Gaffey. (Von's)

What, exactly, do WE want downtown San Pedro to become?

Will it become 'gentrified' by the new lofts and condos and the folks who can afford to buy/lease them?

What might happen to many of the downtown shops once Target opens and has more goods at lower prices that many of our downtown shops can offer?

Will the downtown shops become like so many of them have become along Pacific Avenue, catering to those underprivileged folks who need to shop there?

The downtown area also has a population of those who are recovering from things or are homeless, or have mental problems.

How should we help them help themselves?

We are not longer the town we were for so many years.

My first wife worked at the Kress store on Pacific Avenue. It has been gone for a few decades now.

The old fishing fleet is gone, as are the canneries. There is still a sport fishing industry in San Pedro and pleasure craft are much more dominant than fishing vessels.

The Navy has been long gone from Terminal Island, so those members of the military and their families are not in great abundance in San Pedro, other than those in the U.S.A.F.

So many of the first generation immigrants from Komiza and Ishcia have passed on, but their first born U.S. generation still is fairly strong in San Pedro. How might that impact where the downtown area goes from here.

We have lost so many of the businesses we grew up with, downtown, and we haven't seen a back fill of businesses that can really accommodate our wants in downtown San Pedro.

We have some very great restaurants in downtown San Pedro, even if one of the most famous of them may close down soon.

Who should determine what is going to happen to downtown San Pedro?

I don't think developers necessarily have the best interests of downtown residents when they come into the area with their grand plans.

I am sorry to have to write that the Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council has not done a very good job supporting downtown San Pedro IN THE PAST.

I am happy to report that Central is starting back onto better dealing with issues and with an October election of new officers, I am very hopeful that Central will become central in helping to decide what happens with downtown San Pedro.

After all, Central is made up of folks who live in the area. Those that live in the area have the most to gain and the most to lose, in any redevelopment of the area.

There is a gentleman who has an idea for placing a new type of shopping, dining, and entertainment experience along 6Th Street, east of Pacific Avenue.

Dick Pawlowski's 6Th Street Creek concept is just one idea.

Maybe the Chamber of Commerce might remove their head from a location that is not where a head should ever be and really start dealing positively with those folks who live in the area, concerning how everyone can work together to ponder and eventually solve the problems many people are concerned with in downtown San Pedro.

I really like the idea that a park is very much needed east of Gaffey, and especially east of Pacific, somewhere in downtown San Pedro.

When I was little, there was a park kids could play in at the Anderson Memorial. When that site became a senior citizens' center, the neat stuff at the park went away, for kids to play on.

But children need open spaces to play, just like seniors need an open area to enjoy, meet, and recreate.

There is going to be a new park at 22nd and Miner, but is that really in downtown San Pedro?

I would consider a new park and a new supermarket to be two positive changes that can help the area.

It may be useful to try and ponder just what the downtown area could become.

With new housing very slowly coming on line, might the downtown area become more 'artsy' and open to those who would prefer that kind of area?

What about the waterfront development plans? How might they impact what happens in downtown San Pedro.

There has been talk of building a 75,000 square foot convention center type structure down by Ports O' Call.

How might a new meeting center affect downtown?

What about a Costco? I have no idea where it could be built in downtown, except I considered that it could be built by Ports O' Call.

Many people have been kicking around about ideas on how to change downtown San Pedro for years now.

Isn't is about time that the people who actually live in the area get more of a say in what happens in that area?

I understand that folks living in the downtown area may have the feeling that they are being left out of the many issues going on in OUR community.

We do have issues all around downtown that seem to be taking more of our time and energy to deal with.

With Ponte Vista, waterfront redevelopment, South Region High School #15, issues dealing with Angel's Gate, a possible new cruise ship terminal at Kaiser Point, the Clearwater Program, and the redevelopment of the Cabrillo Beach area, it does seem like things are moving all around downtown, but not really in downtown San Pedro.

But downtown San Pedro really is part of all of the issues mentioned above, I think.

Ponte Vista needs a vibrant downtown so that residents living there can spend their money within the city of L.A. and within five miles of the site.

Downtown San Pedro could become a destination for folks on cruises, instead of a way point in their vacation.

Waterfront redevelopment needs a strong background of a healthy downtown to help attract visitors and folks who bring dollars into the area.

South Region High School #15 might be better placed in downtown, or closer to downtown, to serve students who live downtown and on the north side of San Pedro.

Workers for the Clearwater Program will need places to each lunch, buy goods, and downtown may provide a good place to visit when those workers end their workday.

There are so very many issues to ponder. But ponder we must.

And after pondering, we need to get our hands dirty redeveloping the downtown area, and the rest of OUR community.

So many of us have received so much from growing up in, or living for some time in San Pedro.

Some of us are trying to give back to a community and a population that supported us, even though they didn't know they were doing it.

So let's ponder about downtown San Pedro.

It is O.K. to list all the bad stuff you wish to list.

It is O.K. to write about what you remember about downtown San Pedro.

It is O.K. to give your ideas a chance to shine.

It is O.K. to rant.

But I hope it is O.K. for you to wish and work for a better downtown San Pedro.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Pondering the Palatial Puddle in our Port

Vegas-like fountain makes a splash in San Pedro
Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times
Clad in a wetsuit, technician Daniel LaBreche watches his handiwork on a giant fountain at the corner of Swinford and Cruise Center at the entrance to the cruise terminals in San Pedro, July 22, 2008.

The $14-million showcase near the waterfront gets mixed reviews. Some love it; others call it a traffic hazard.

By Louis Sahagun, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer July 23, 2008

This much is clear about the Port of Los Angeles' new, $14-million, black granite fountain with Las Vegas-style synchronized lights, water jets and music near the San Pedro waterfront: People either love it or wish it were someplace else.

Even before its coming-out party Friday, critics were taking pot shots at the massive, sail-shaped welcoming monument built by the same company that created the fountain at Las Vegas' Bellagio hotel.

Spanning nearly an acre, the fountain pumps 400,000 gallons of recycled water into illuminated, 100-foot-high streams that dance to recordings of international hits, including Luciano Pavarotti's rendition of "O Sole Mio" and Jose Alfredo Jimenez's classic "El Rey."

"It's a real traffic stopper," said Arley Baker, a port spokesman.

And that, critics say, is part of the problem.The fountain was built near the bustling confluence of Harbor Boulevard's bus and big-rig lanes, the Harbor Freeway's on- and off-ramps, and the main entrance to the cruise ship terminals under the Vincent Thomas Bridge.

Recent test-firings of the fountain have caused automobile and truck drivers to illegally slow down, even pull over and stop for a better look at the splashy performer that is designed to enhance a promenade that links the cruise ship terminals, downtown San Pedro and the ailing 20-acre Ports O' Call Village tourist attraction about a quarter of a mile south.

"It's a traffic hazard," said San Pedro resident Peter Warren. "It was just dumb to build an attraction like it in a place where 18-wheelers and buses roar past."

June Smith, president of the San Pedro Neighborhood Council, agreed and suggested that the fountain, officially called the Gateway Plaza Water Features, was strategically situated to enhance the cruise ship industry in a place where each call generates almost $1 million in revenue for the Southern California economy.

"This fountain is only heralding the port's push for bigger cruise ship business," Smith said. "It has very little to do with San Pedro. If it was what the community wanted, it would have been built near Harbor Boulevard and 5th Street as a welcome to San Pedro's struggling Old Town."

Not everyone feels that way.

Andrew Silber, owner of San Pedro's the Whale and Ale Restaurant, said the fountain "enhances the aesthetics of the waterfront right where it is."

"This thing has been getting a bad rap from naysayers who see whatever the port does as a negative," Silber said. "One of these days, the port is just going to throw up its hands and ask, 'Why bother?' "

In the meantime, port authorities offered mixed reviews about the fountain's effect on nearby traffic.

"We've been out there with police to keep people from pulling over onto the shoulder -- and we'll probably have to do some additional stuff," Baker said. "We are considering putting up electronic traffic signs on the boulevard that say, 'No Stopping or Slowing.' "

Geraldine Knatz, executive director of the port, acknowledged "slowing down myself the first time I saw it from the road," but dismissed Baker's concerns as "an overreaction."

"When we go into a working schedule, we won't be performing at peak rush hours," Knatz said. "I'm not worried about people slowing down to watch it. The novelty will wear off in time."

Separately, the fountain's "infinity edges" and 18-inch-deep reflecting pools have proved tempting for youths eager for a dip. A week ago, the port stationed a security guard at the fountain's edge and posted a "no swimming" sign.

"I've seen kids get off to a running start and then throw their whole bodies down and slide along the edge," security guard Don Huynh said.

Worried about a potential safety hazard during the hot summer months, Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn, whose district includes San Pedro, suggested erecting "some kind of barrier between the fountain and the public -- something decorative."

"This fountain is a spectacular addition to our waterfront," she said. "But it wasn't well thought out in terms of traffic and safety issues."

This post is about an article that appeared in the July 23 edition of The Los Angeles Times.

The Daily Breeze also had an article and there was a photo included of two kids frolicking in the water.

The water may be recycled, but who pays to power the pumps and play the play list? It must be the Port, I presume.

It is not near Ports O' Call. It seems to pander to the passengers porting in and out of San Pedro, and it also seems to provide particular problems to traffic.

It is indeed, something to ponder.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Pondering Marymount College's Expansion Project, in San Pedro

Marymount College is a private two-year college located in the city of Rancho Palos Verdes.

Currently, the college owns an apartment building near 24Th Street and Cabrillo Avenue, for off-campus housing, and a site on Palos Verdes Drive North, again used as off-campus housing, both in San Pedro.

The college has another expansion project planned that is moving through the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) processes and other processes within the city of Rancho Palos Verdes.

The expansion supporters want to make renovations to the campus, located on Palos Verdes Drive East, just above the switchback portion of that road.

Expansion plans call for the construction of on-campus dormitories at the college's site.

If Expansion plans are approved of, per what the college wants, the college would sell the apartment building near 24Th and Cabrillo.

The preferred expansion plan the college wants also calls for redeveloping the off-campus housing site it calls "Palos Verdes North" on Palos Verdes Drive North, in one of its alternatives.

Currently there are about 82 duplexes on that former military housing site. The college received a zoning variance when the government gave the land and buildings to the school, so that it could have more duplexes that current zoning laws allow. The buildings were already there and the military is not required to follow municipal building codes.

If the college does not get its preferred expansion plans approved, an alternative calls for the college to not only add residential dormitories to the site, but it also move much of its athletic department to the site. There would me more dorms and more classrooms added on Palos Verdes Drive North.

Changing anything at the Palos Verdes North site is shear folly, in my opinion.

I doubt highly that the college would want to tangle with the city of L.A.

However, there are very few, if any, private two-year colleges west of the Mississippi River that have on-campus housing.

There is also a strong and large group opposed to on-campus housing up on The Hill.

So, we have yet another issue to ponder, it looks like.

Should the San Pedro community support on-campus housing at Marymount to reduce traffic and other issues that happen with Marymount's two off-campus housing sites?

Is there any chance Marymount might find support for enlarging their Palos Verdes North site, if they cannot have the on-campus housing they want?

How might more off-campus housing at Palos Verdes North affect all that is going on in northwest San Pedro/south Harbor City-Lomita, hint Ponte Vista?

Supporters of expanding Marymount have tried for years to get approval of enlarging the campus' facilities and learning environments.

Marymount was close to getting approval to expand several years ago, but something always seems to come up to delay or deny expansion.

College supporters strongly state that they need expansion as a way of allowing more students to have a good education.

There is one thing that is not debated, though. An education at Marymount College is a quality education and it is one of the best two-year colleges not only in the area, but in the country as well.

As an R.P.V. Traffic Safety Commissioner, and as someone who lives on a street where it is projected that 40% of all Marymount traffic will pass by, I have some real concerns about allowing on-campus housing at the college's site or thinking their Palos Verdes North site should be expanded.

I have been pondering these issues for some time now.

I would like to see what happens when others ponder and what their opinions are.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

A New Flier and an Article

Here is a flier about the postponement of the meeting originally scheduled for July 22, 2008.

From what I have been hearing, if you really, really want to attend the meeting, please keep September 4Th open.

I am also hearing that the meeting will be a design meeting combined with a meeting about the Draft Environmental Impact Report.

The Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) is reportedly being published for the public on August 1.

The DEIR is the next step in the processes towards building a new campus.

There will be a 45-day comment period for the DEIR and it looks like the comment period WILL NOT be extended.

The Notice of Preparation and Initial Study that came out ONLY several months ago had a 30-day extension on comments.

It looks like LAUSD doesn't want the same criticisms of the new campus that they found by extending the comment period.

Now below, please read an article that states that a proposed school's studies were so flawed that a judge ordered them to be recirculated.

Imagine that, a document prepared for LAUSD that has major flaw. Who'd a thunk it?

Judge halts construction of Echo Park school

L.A. Unified submitted a flawed environmental impact report, ruling says. District must now consider other sides and gather community opinion.
By Evelyn Larrubia, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer July 19, 2008

A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge on Friday halted construction of an Echo Park elementary school, saying that the Los Angeles Unified School District acted in bad faith by putting together a shoddy environmental review.

Judge John A. Torribio's decision to nullify the district's review is a major setback.

The district will have to consider other sites and gather community opinions before moving forward. That could take months and delay opening of the $60-million school, which was expected in 2010.

School district officials are considering an appeal, district associate general counsel Michelle Meghrouni said.

"We are comfortable that we complied" with the law," she said. She added that district demographers insist the school is still needed, despite plummeting enrollment at nearby campuses.

Friday's decision marks the second time that the Right Site Coalition, a small community group on a shoestring budget, has beaten L.A. Unified. Christine Peters, head of the opposition, said she was almost too tired to cheer.

"I just feel like Sisyphus pushing the rock up the hill," said Peters, who has financed a significant portion of the fight, once charging $6,000 on her credit card for a district report. The $50,000 her group has raised through garage sales, silent auctions and $100 individual contributions has not been enough to cover the costs.

For four years, Peters and others have argued against the proposed site on Alvarado Boulevard, complaining that it would displace dozens of low-income residents during a period of gentrification.

Board members were not swayed and moved forward with the 875-seat school.

The group sued, saying that the district's fast-track environmental study was inadequate. Undeterred, the district bought the homes and businesses on the site while defending itself against the lawsuit, which it lost in December 2006. Superior Court Judge Daniel S. Pratt ordered the school system to complete a full environmental impact report to address safety and traffic concerns, including the question of whether a planned street closure next to a fire station would delay emergency response.

The district produced a longer report and the Board of Education approved it. L.A. Unified hired a firm to bulldoze the homes and businesses on the 3.3-acre site.

Again, Peters' group sued and the project was put on hold. The group lost that suit but an appeals court reversed that decision and sent it back to trial.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Pondering on a New Boathouse at Cabrillo Beach

Here is a pamphlet from the Cabrillo Beach Boosters titled, A Vision For Cabrillo Boathouse.

Please click over image to enlarge.
Please click over image to enlarge.

Once upon a time there was a boathouse at Cabrillo Beach. During the time Cabrillo Beach was used for the 1932 Olympics, both the bath house and the boathouse became structures used for the games.

Now, the Cabrillo Beach Boosters want to build a brand new boathouse that would be used for a variety of purposes and welcome much more uses of the historical areas.

A new boathouse would allow storage of many different types of boats including canoes, kayaks, Dragon boats, and other watercraft that would allow school teams and the public to enjoy the many things that can be done in association with the inner harbor and the blue Pacific Ocean.

The issues revolving around the current and future uses of Cabrillo Beach and its amenities is something OUR community needs to ponder, I strongly feel.

Cabrillo Beach has been an asset to OUR community throughout the years, but not too many of us now visit the beach and its surroundings, for a number of reasons.

Cabrillo Beach, especially the inner harbor area offers refreshing times for many Angelenos who come from more inland homes to have a cooler place to visit from Spring through Fall.

Adding more non-motorized boat storage in the inner harbor may prompt more folks from everywhere to try their hand at light sailing, rowing, or other ways of moving over the water.

I can see pondering on all sides of this particular issue and combining this issue with other issues going on in the area, may also be important.

Could or should the Cabrillo Beach Boosters work with the Port of Los Angeles authorities to barter a deal where they may not oppose a new cruise ship terminal at Kaiser Point in exchange for some funding for the boathouse?

Could or would a new boathouse allow more members of OUR community the chance to come back to the Cabrillo Beach area, some of them have now come to avoid?

My pondering right now is in support of building a new boathouse at Cabrillo Beach.

I would not like to see it used as a bargaining chip the Port of L.A. uses to get a new cruise ship terminal at Kaiser Point.

More San Pedrans and others might use the benefits of a new boathouse to increase their outdoor activities and recreational enjoyment.

It could also be considered as a facility to improve the general health of folks who utilize activities established at the boathouse.

A new boathouse may allow for a better blending of people participating in everything at Cabrillo Beach, especially on weekends.

I do feel however, that a careful and complete set of pondering should be done before the foundation is laid down.

I would hate to see the Red Car end its line at Cabrillo Beach AFTER going to and from Kaiser Point and a new cruise ship terminal.

This blog will continue to feature, from time to time, more pondering concerning a new boathouse.

Everyone is welcome to comment on their own pondering about this issue and if anyone wishes to create their own post on this blog, I would gladly print it.

To create your own post on my various blogs (except for Caveman Dairy), please Email me at the address on the top of the blogs with your post.

This issue is certainly worthy of more community involvement. Perhaps you will want to get more involved in the issues and the pondering.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Gathering of "The Crowd" and Friends Picnic

Since 2003, alumni from the classes of San Pedro High School, specifically those classes from 1970-1976, but welcoming all, have gathered each year for a picnic.

A Gathering of "The Crowd" and Friends Picnic 2008 will be held this year for the first time, during the same weekend as Taste in San Pedro occurs.

The picnic is always scheduled on the Sunday after one of the classes of the 1970-1975 has their reunion on the preceding Saturday.

This year the Ke-Alians, Class of 1973 holds its 35-year reunion on Saturday August 2, 2008, so the picnic is being held on Sunday August 3, 2008.

This year, the picnic will be returning to Point Fermin Park in San Pedro. We have been graciously provided with at least 1/2 of a booth inside Taste in San Pedro, by Councilwoman Janice Hahn.

Also this year, because we are inside the Taste of San Pedro area, there will be an admission charge to enter the grounds.

Food and beverage tickets will be sold inside the event area and there will be a whole day filled with live music, great samples of foods to enjoy, vendors selling wares, and our little gathering where you can come an look at yearbooks and try to remember what we all looked like, so very long ago.

You may be wondering why "The Crowd" appears as it does.

Between September, 1971 and June, 1972, the largest student body population at the then three year S.P.H.S. attended the campus.

The classes of 1972, 1973, and 1974 will forever and always be the three largest graduating classes EVER at San Pedro High School.

The Mystics, Class of 1972 had 1,053 graduates.
The Ke-Alians, Class of 1973 had 958 graduates.
The Prometheans, Class of 1974 had 948 graduates.

Combined, the number of students crowding the halls of a school site that was smaller in size than it is today, held 2,959 students.

If we took that same number of students that were in the 10Th, 11Th, and 12Th grades then and added the 1,203 9Th grade class that attended S.P.H.S. in the 2007-2008 school year, there would have been 4,162 students.

So, when anybody claims that S.P.H.S. is too overcrowded today with only about 3,636 students, on a larger campus, we members of the real "Crowd" state, "rubbish"!

"The Crowd" are those alumni that constituted the 2,959 member student body. Our friends are everyone else who were on either side of each of those classes and all the other classes of the later 1970's, and all others.

Having the picnic inside the area of Taste in San Pedro is a first for our little picnic. We will get to find out what happens.

I am bringing yearbooks from 1971-1976, except for 1974 and I am very happy to have folks pouring through them to see if they recognize how we all looked when we were younger than we are now.

We hope as you ponder whether to attend Taste in San Pedro on Sunday August 3, or not, you try to remember the good times you had during your San Pedro High School years and try and forget any bad times you may have had.

Terri and I have gone to Taste in San Pedro every year for quite some time now, and we enjoy the food, the music, and visiting folks we don't usually get to see during the rest of the year.