SAN PEDRO — With eviction of the California Conservation Corps from Angels Gate Park less than nine months away, elected officials from the San Pedro area are organizing a massive lobbying effort to keep the state-operated work program at the oceanview park.
In a letter to Secretary of the Interior Donald P. Hodel early this month, U.S. Rep. Glenn M. Anderson (D-Harbor City), who represents San Pedro, urged intervention on behalf of the conservation group, which has been told by the city to leave the park by next June because of pressure from the National Park Service.
Angels Gate Park, once part of the Ft. MacArthur army base, was given to the city of Los Angeles in 1978 by the federal government with the provision that it be used for recreational and park-related purposes only.
Time for Eviction
The park service has notified the city that the Conservation Corps, which houses and trains 82 young men and women at abandoned military barracks at the park, does not qualify as a recreational use.
Park service officials said that they have given the corps plenty of time to find a new home and said it is time for the city to evict the group and develop the 65-acre park for public use.
City park officials said they expect to have $673,000 set aside next summer to begin work on the park.
The corps, established 10 years ago by former Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr., trains men and women between the ages of 18 to 23, and then pays them minimum wages to work for the state.
About half of its 2,000 members are high school drop-outs and are required to work toward a high school diploma during their one-year stay with the corps.
Kudos for Program
"It seems to me to be inappropriate to evict from government land an organization that does so much good for so many," Anderson said in the letter. "Nonprofit organizations such as schools, municipal entities and social and civic groups have all issued commendable comments on the work done by the young people involved in the CCC program."
Meanwhile, Los Angeles Councilwoman Joan Milke Flores, whose district includes San Pedro, has called a meeting next week of elected officials from the area to coordinate strategies to keep the corps at Angels Gate.
Flores has been a longtime supporter of the corps, which has been at the park since 1978 when the statewide work program established a local unit.
The corps has city permission to operate its camp, one of three in the Los Angeles area, in exchange for 19,200 hours of work a year for the city's Department of Recreation and Parks.
Corps members, who also work for other city departments, and other cities and municipal groups, do everything from painting over graffiti to trimming trees.
'Integral Part of Community'
"The councilwoman feels very strongly that the California Conservation Corps has become an integral part of the community and that their efforts have been very successful," said Bernie Evans, Flores' chief deputy. "She is going to do everything that she can to keep them there."
Evans said the strategy session will include representatives from the offices of Flores, Mayor Tom Bradley, Los Angeles County Supervisor Deane Dana, assemblymen Gerald N. Felando (R-San Pedro) and Dave Elder (D-Long Beach), state Sen. Robert G. Beverly (R-Manhattan Beach), U.S. Rep. Daniel E. Lungren (R-Long Beach) and Anderson.
"We are going to need help at every level," Evans said. "We are going to need a lot of help at the federal level because that is where the recommendation is coming down from."
Jeremiah Bresnahan, Anderson's administrative assistant in Washington, agreed.
"It is really a bureaucratic policy decision, and we are trying to work it out through the system," he said. "We will pursue it through these channels, and should the secretary's response be negative, then we will pick up the act at some other level."
But John Cherry, associate regional director for the National Park Service in San Francisco, said the federal government already has been very lenient in dealing with the California Conservation Corps.
Federal officials have granted the corps temporary use of the park for the past eight years because of the services it provides in the community, he said.
Last January, when the city evicted three social service agencies from the park because of pressure from the park service, the Conservation Corps was given permission to remain through next June because the park service honored the city's contention that the group's services are at least peripherally related to recreation and parks.
But barring intervention from his superiors, Cherry said there will be no more extensions.
'Had to Come Down on Them'