By Diana L. Chapman
My friend e-mailed recently that our town needs to hold a Boston Tea Party – San Pedro style -- after reading my article suggesting a revolt against Los Angeles.
Why not? We’ve got the water! We’ve got ships! I’m sure we can find some imported tea – as can – many other Los Angeles communities, find their own path to a tea party revolt! We need to.
With past failed attempts to secede -- I dream what San Pedro might be without the handcuffs of our bureaucratic beast – as I’m sure many of us do who live in all sorts of ignored pockets of the city. The recently increased downtown parking fees here which quadrupled – and elsewhere -ignited a fury of frustration for many residents especially those – who tried mostly in vain – to make our town a better place.
Instead, we get band-aid fixes, projects that make no sense, such as a million welcome park at the northern tip of Gaffey – that no one can get to, a $14 million water fountain along the boardwalk to nowhere and a red car system –stunning – but again, off track to provide much transit in its 1.5 mile stretch.
Where is the big picture? What if Los Angeles allowed all our neighborhood councils to pull together a vision for them? If this was so or we were our own community, I bet the following would already exist in San Pedro and I’d like you to e-mail me with the list that your own community would have at email@example.com. This is what we would have here, some really common sense approaches to running a community: Oops. Did I say that word: "Common sense?" Here we go:
· --A downtown parking structure for shoppers complete with ways to use ATM cards and – allowing local businesses to validate for its customers.
· --An overhauled, gorgeously manicured, money-making Ports O’ Call, revamped to bring in hordes of tourists and a place we are not embarrassed to take our friends. (This on again, off again project, is off again due to budget cuts. It’s been left to languish for more than ten years.)
· --A mini-transit system that links all our parks, museums, schools and shopping centers for residents, not to mention carrying tourists to our many jewels that aren’t possible to get to without a car, such as Angel’s Gate’s Korean Bell and Point Fermin Park.
· --A youth aquatic center near 22nd Street that would support teaching
kayaking, fishing, sailing, rowing and other marine related sports to our children – a request longtime mariner Bill Schopp has pressed for and has received no support from City Hall.
· --A permanent home for the-trouble plagued Eastview Little League, which serves 600 children (temporarily or maybe not so temporarily currently housed at Knoll Hill).
· --A skateboard park erected by the city officials– and not the youth, who out of frustration, built their own under a freeway ramp for the hip sport.
· --A small farm – complete with goats – in Peck Park to teach our children about domesticated animals, a vision Ray Patricio, a longtime resident, has lobbied for for more than 10 years – and something residents encouraged – but the city of Los Angeles does not. Does it matter what we want?
· --A dog park that’s in a permanent location. After residents poured thousands of dollars of their own money and years to acquire a temporary location to create one here in San Pedro, the dog park deserves respect – and a permanent home, if not two homes.
· --A sparkling clean Cabrillo Beach in which a boathouse – petitioned for by residents Gary Dwight and Allan Johnson –serves beach goers to rent boats and play off our local waters – as the two residents did when they were boys.
· --A maritime-themed walkway finished, polished and a glittering gem from the entrance of our cruise lines, including a walkway that goes into downtown, and snakes its way to the end of Paseo del Mar (rather than a few rambling pieces done like a hop scotch board – with no completion date.)
· --A community in which the development has some type of theme, such as a maritime or aquatic theme adopted at potential business developments, instead of rag-tag shops up and down our major corridors.
· --A balance of open parklands and sports fields for organized sports and pick up games to keep children off the streets – instead of not having enough of either – making the locals fight amongst ourselves for remaining scraps.
The list is endless. I’m sure you could add a dozen more projects and I apologize for those I missed.
Yes, I’m dreaming. The city will never free us because of the money the port generates and brings to Los Angeles’ coffers.
I say: Let’s give them the port. And in addition, we can sing Bon Voyage and give them plenty of strong Harbor tasting tea!
Diana L. Chapman was a newspaper journalist for 15 years with the Daily Breeze and the San Diego Union. She can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her blog at: http://www.theunderdogforkids.blogspot.com