Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Breaking From the Holiday Long Enough To Defend the Homefront


This article is weird because at times it seems the writer is making San Pedro out to be both a pampered favorite of Former Mayor Jim Hahn and the usual "dingy" southern cousin of an otherwise world-class city.

For example, contrast these two grafs:

Under former Mayor James K. Hahn's administration, San Pedro, on the port's western flank, received most of the port's community funds. Indeed, part of the high-profile $800-million San Pedro waterfront development may include moving two shipping facilities from that waterfront to Wilmington, making room in San Pedro for parks and trees

San Pedro wraps around the southeast corner of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, an eclectic mix of wood-frame bungalows, apartment buildings and hillside homes, some with panoramic views of the ocean. Its waterfront remains dingy, but the downtown is seeing a modest rebirth with new shops and restaurants.
Well, alright, which is it? Either we've been spoiled by the ousted Hahn at the expense of Wilmington - which, for the record, has absolutely been screwed by everyone (several local governments, ports, and Sacramento, I'm sure) - or we're still a scruffy little boot-strap town with not much to offer but gee-whiz ain't we got spunk. Dingy spunk.

And exactly where is San Pedro "blight[ed]" by industry. Yes, we have a refinery. But it's not like it's in the middle of residential areas.

Speaking of alleged Pedro-biased Hahn actions:

His centerpiece initiative became the planned eight-mile, 418-acre From Bridge to Breakwater project, an array of parkland, shops, restaurants, hotels, condos and cruise ship facilities between the Vincent Thomas Bridge and the breakwater at Cabrillo Beach. The entire project, however, is in San Pedro.
What, like we're supposed to feel bad about it now? Plus, check out a map - we have more waterfront and differently zoned waterfront.

But already I'm falling into the trap set by - well, who knows - either local activists, Hahn-haters (who should be satisfied by now), or the article's author. I'm not going to fight with Wilmington over who got the "fair share." San Pedro is absolutely getting what it deserves, but don't make it seem like it's at someone else's expense. If Villaraigosa can make Wilmington better too - great, more power to him. But for Pete’s sake, don't dare paint us out as spoiled children. At least not if you're going to call us "dingy" in the same breath.

Don't be baited, Wilmington. Because if they slow down our waterfront projects, it won't magically make yours appear. And if San Pedro is recognized as more attractive, the benefits will likely spread to you as well. This kind of article makes it more likely for Los Angeles to end up with two incomplete waterfront projects.

Detecting a Trend:

It's no secret what the Times's Deborah Schoch's word-of-the-month is:

The Logicon building, one of the tallest in San Pedro, sits empty, its garish black "Available" sign visible across the harbor. Residents closest to the waterfront live in a dingy public housing project with barred windows. Rail tankers bearing chemicals rumble past in the shadow of looming harbor cranes.

The shoreline of San Pedro remains shabby. But this summer, orange-vested workers have been laying pavement, and backhoes are carving out flower beds. Newly planted palms parade down Harbor Boulevard, some with their fronds still tied like straight-up ponytails.


That's not the San Pedro in which I live. It hasn't been for quite awhile. And no, I'm not blind to its lesser sights - for one thing that garish "Welcome To San Pedro" sign unhelpfully painted across the freeway pedestrian crossing coming into town - looking like someone with a can of old yellow paint got lost on the way to the high school gym - is disliked by many, including City Councilwoman Janice Hahn. And I know tank farms aren't on anyone's scenic route.

But the Harbor Boulevard gateway to San Pedro is lovely and growing lovelier. There have always been stately palms, maritime monuments, and parks. Yes, there is public housing as well, but it hasn't been dingy in several years. If anything it's willfully bright these days. Bars on the windows? Yes, but you find those on privately owned homes as well.

All good journalism, of course, comes with a dose of the sinister, and this is no exception:

The project was the centerpiece of an effort by former Mayor James K. Hahn to improve his home region. His successor, Antonio Villaraigosa, has not yet revealed his plans for it. Even so, work has begun on parts of the project, at a cost of millions in public money. And even as the work progresses, some port and city officials have questioned whether some of the proposed projects are financially sound and whether others are legal.
Millions in public money. Folks that begins with P and that rhymes with T . . .

What's most aggravating about Ms. Schoch's San Pedro coverage is that what would be accurate observations or analogies are submerged in a tide of none-too-subtle hints at possible San Pedro favoritism by former Mayor Hahn.

The waterfront development is great. And no, we probably wouldn't have had any attention from City Hall under another Mayor. But again, it's not like he relocated all city assets to San Pedro. We're still not the city's tax base. We're still not the city's power base. Many in the city don't even know a) where we are, or b) that we are, in fact, a district of the City of Los Angeles.

So, dear Los Angeles Times - stop baiting, intentionally or otherwise - and stop making it seem like San Pedro, by turns, can't get out of its own way, can't move up in the world since it's weighed down with working-class, brawny, sea-goers, or doesn't deserve the financial attention it is receiving. We can destroy our own projects fine, please stop feeding the fire. Or if you do, at least can the damn dingy diction.

As my junior high English teacher used to say: FBW.


Josh said...

Doesn't San Pedro have some of the worst air quality in the US (definitely California)? Is there any plan to reduce the massive amounts of exhaust into the air from the shipping industry? Granted there are views of the ocean, but can you actually see the ocean?

Anonymous said...

Dude, that's just ignant. You ever been to Pedro?

San Pedro has far better air than most of LA - especially the foothill, Claremont, etc areas which is where all the shit from everywhere is blown and then trapped by the mountains.

Truck exhaust danger is mainly from the particulate matter which falls in a relatively small radius around the source. So in the immediate vicinity of the heavily traveled roads, yes, it's bad. But the air by my parents' house, for example, is always sparkly and blue and breathable. Sea breezes, you know . . . .

And yes, there are mitigation measures being implimented these days - prohibitions against truck idling, etc. And more . . .

Anonymous said...

I've been to the casa de Dominguez and can attest to the sparkly air. Also, great hospitality.

Josh said...

I just say that because on the show "30 days" (which is one of the 2 reasons to watch TV these days, the other being the Daily Show, of course) San Pedro was highlighted as one of the worse air quality spots around. The show pointed out a family with infant kids that seemed to be having serious health problems due to the air quality, or rather lack thereof. Did anyone else see the show? Or for that matter, ever see "30 Days"? It is on FX, and I highly recommend it.

Anonymous said...

If you doubt that there is an air quality issue in San Pedro, check out the New York Times article posted at the top of the Mayor Sam blog this morning.

Anonymous said...

Hello there Noel Park, I don't know if we've met, but I know who you are . . . .

I don't think I said the air in Pedro is perfect, but it's a far, far, far cry from many other parts of Southern California.