Mayor Tom Bradley, in his first daylong visit to the harbor area in two years, called an illegal dumping site on city-owned property in Wilmington "the worst eyesore" in the city of Los Angeles and pledged to send city crews to clean it up.
Bradley broke from his scheduled tour of Wilmington and San Pedro to drive by the mound of rubbish on an unimproved portion of E Street near Sanford Avenue after officials at the Harbor Community Development Corp. appealed to him to help stop illegal dumping in Wilmington.
Illegal dumping, particularly in industrial lots in south and east Wilmington, has become so widespread, city officials say, that it has scared away new businesses from the harbor-front community. In an effort to clean up the area, the City Council last year allocated $500,000 to hire a private company to remove garbage and debris from lots that owners have refused to clear themselves. Under the plan, the city would eventually recoup the money by adding the cleanup tab to the owners' property tax bills.
But Bradley said Tuesday that no companies have bid on the contract, leaving the city with the choice of cleaning up the properties itself or in effect condoning the illegal dumping by ignoring it.
City Crews to Do Job
"If an outside contractor is not interested in doing that, I am going to have the Bureau of Sanitation do it," Bradley said after meeting with officials at the development corporation, a government-funded agency that provides housing assistance and other programs to residents in the Wilmington area.
"It is the worst eyesore I have seen in any neighborhood in this city," he later told reporters. "It is an ongoing problem in this community."
The E Street dump site, in any event, would have to be cleaned up by city crews because it is located on city-owned land that has been set aside to extend E Street to Alameda Street, city officials said later.
Bradley's visit to the E Street dumping site was one of nearly a dozen stops he made during a 10-hour tour of the harbor area. The trip was the first of several "area days" he has planned in neighborhoods throughout the city, and was designed, in his words, "to let people know that city government is accessible to them and is responsive to their needs." However, Bradley was harshly criticized for not including a meeting with homeowner groups during the tour.
At stops throughout the tour, Bradley stressed a renewed commitment to the people of Los Angeles, at one point describing the revival of the "area days" as a "new beginning." Bradley aides said the area tours were suspended about two years ago when Bradley launched his campaign for reelection, and were not reinstituted last year because of the mayor's unsuccessful bid for governor.
Bradley mentioned several times that he "likes public service" and that he will not be ready to retire from "political activity" after his current mayoral term. Although he did not elaborate on his plans, he told a luncheon gathering of trade union leaders at the Maritime Trades Department of the Southern California Ports Council that he will need their support in the future.
"I ain't finished yet," he said.
Bradley's tour included everything from a soup kitchen in Wilmington to the new Mavar Grand Hotel in San Pedro. At several of his stops, Bradley praised officials at the Harbor Department and boasted about growth at the Port of Los Angeles, claiming during the luncheon that the harbor provides 600,000 jobs throughout Southern California and "made so much money (last year) it was almost embarrassing."
The mayor, however, did not meet with any homeowner or residents' groups--typically the harshest critics of the Harbor Department and its expansion--an omission that brought complaints from several community leaders in both Wilmington and San Pedro.
"This is a political dog-and-pony show," said Peter Mendoza, president of the Wilmington Home Owners organization, the largest homeowner group in Wilmington. "It is too bad that he doesn't come and see all of the trucks in our residential neighborhoods, the drugs and crime at Dana Strand (housing project) and our streets that need sweeping. He really isn't interested in the negatives."
Jo Ann Wysocki, who schedules speakers for the homeowners group, said she invited Bradley to a meeting last spring but never received a response from his office. Wysocki criticized Bradley for taking the time to visit St. Joseph's Table, a soup kitchen for the homeless, but not including the homeowners or their leaders on his schedule.
"He is showing compassion for the homeless, but how about some compassion for the residents," Wysocki said. "The residents are the ones that live here and pay taxes. Maybe the mayor has forgotten that."
In San Pedro, Beatrice Atwood Hunt, president of the Coastal and Harbor Hazards Council, a residents' group that has been critical of the safety record of the Harbor Department, accused Bradley of ignoring residents' concerns about hazardous cargo in the harbor.