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Port Communities Can't 'See the Stars'

October 20, 1985

The Times article about Wilmington's woes (Oct. 6) was excellent and applies to San Pedro as well. Both of these port cities generate millions of dollars in port usage and rental fees and yet these communities never benefit from this revenue. San Pedro and Wilmington residents must put up with increased noise, traffic, wear and tear of streets and increased lights at night.

We who live here know that the city of Los Angeles does not care about our quality of life. All one needs to do is drive through Wilmington and San Pedro and witness the decay in the parks, roads, schools and business districts. The Beacon Street Redevelopment Project has been "under way" for 15 years!

The problem is that the people of Wilmington and San Pedro do not have a political voice as long as they are part of the city of Los Angeles. Sure, Mayor Bradley makes his semi-annual trip to the harbor to cut another ribbon opening a new docking facility, and then hurries back uptown. Joan Milke Flores, our council person, is unresponsive to the needs of the community. Her public relations newsletters and releases are a fraud on our community.

San Pedro and Wilmington are the ugliest seaside communities on the West Coast (if you doubt this, drive down Gaffey Street or Pacific Avenue in San Pedro, or along Avalon Boulevard or Anaheim Avenue in Wilmington), due to neglect that is multifactorial:

(1) A definite lack of community identity, and a lack of self-government at a local level.

(2) Zoning policies that destroy neighborhood unity, allowing huge multiple-unit apartments next door to two-bedroom, early Spanish adobe-style homes.

(3) Lack of park maintenance.

(4) Inadequate "masking" of the industrial base of the community. Other communities with a similar economic basis are much better integrated. Industry calls the shots in San Pedro and Wilmington.

A recent example of the callous nature of local government is reflected in the handling of our neighborhood complaint about the new, high-intensity lighting at the American President Lines container terminal, which opened last year. The lighting is so intense that one can read a book over one-half mile away at night! A simple remedy of shielding the lights was modestly proposed by our group, to which Flores replied to the effect that we should be more appreciative of the jobs this terminal creates and realize this is the price for living near an "industrial zone."

For our family, not being able to see the stars at night is too high a price to pay. After living in San Pedro and enjoying its cultural diversity for the past 31 years we have decided to move.



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