Residents of northeast San Pedro, angered by a Chamber of Commerce proposal to tear down the Rancho San Pedro housing project and replace it with commercial development, have drafted a revitalization plan for their community that calls for upgrading the project rather than demolishing it.
In a 10-page report released Tuesday, residents of the low-income housing project and the surrounding Barton Hill area also rejected a chamber proposal to change zoning in Barton Hill, one of San Pedro's poorest neighborhoods. The chamber had proposed increasing densities from two to three units on residential lots in a 30-block area surrounding Pacific Avenue.
10 Speakers Outline Plan
About 10 residents outlined the plan, called "The Barton Hill Master Plan," during a half-hour meeting at Los Angeles City Hall with aides to Mayor Tom Bradley and harbor-area Councilwoman Joan Milke Flores. The report represents a community consensus reached after months of meetings and discussions involving more than 1,200 residents and the leaders of several churches, the Barton Hill Neighborhood Organization, Toberman Settlement House and the Rancho San Pedro Tenants Assn., the residents said.
Bradley aide Christine Ung and Flores aide Mario Juravich said they would ask the city's Planning Department to review the plan. They also agreed to arrange a meeting with Bradley, Flores and residents of both Barton Hill and Rancho San Pedro to discuss it.
The plan comes one year after the San Pedro Peninsula Chamber of Commerce drafted its so-called "San Pedro 2000" report, which chamber officials had hoped would serve as the basis for a city-sponsored effort to upgrade northeast San Pedro.
In addition to the density increase in Barton Hill and the demolition of Rancho San Pedro, the chamber called for construction of new low-income housing on Pacific Avenue and the development of a harbor-front commercial strip where the housing project now stands.
Chamber officials have argued that their proposal would improve low-income housing in the area, reduce crime, provide incentives for Barton Hill homeowners to upgrade their properties, and open up several blocks of Harbor Boulevard near the expanding World Cruise Center to commercial development.
But from the beginning, Barton Hill and Rancho San Pedro residents have opposed the chamber's proposal, calling it an underhanded effort to force some of San Pedro's poorest residents out of the community--particularly its struggling downtown. Like the chamber, the residents seek to upgrade northeast San Pedro and reduce crime there, but they have incorporated none of the chamber's solutions into their plan.
"The San Pedro 2000 plan was made with no concern for our feelings," Rancho San Pedro resident Paulette Symonds said at the meeting Tuesday. "We put a lot of thought into our plan. We are aware that people in other parts of San Pedro think negatively about Barton Hill. But we love it. It is our home."
In a statement released at the meeting, the residents said they drafted their plan with three goals in mind: stopping high-density development from overtaking the neighborhood, maintaining neighborhood control over local planning and zoning issues and preventing the demolition of Rancho San Pedro.
"We will not surrender one inch or one brick of Rancho San Pedro to those who call for its demolition," the statement said.
The residents' plan suggests several ways to revitalize northeast San Pedro short of bulldozing existing structures or increasing residential densities. They include:
Improving the facades and grounds at Rancho San Pedro by adding brick and wood to exterior stucco walls and creating a greenbelt around the project;
Establishing a crime-prevention program at the project that would include patrols of high-crime areas by police, Housing Authority security officers and residents;
Forming a tenant government at the project that would screen applicants and help evict tenants involved in criminal activity or gangs;
Providing guaranteed jobs, through the Chamber of Commerce, for Barton Hill youths who graduate from high school and "remain arrest/conviction free;"
Encouraging homeowners in Barton Hill to seek assistance from the Barton Hill Neighborhood Housing Services to rehabilitate run-down homes;
Cracking down on absentee landlords who allow their properties to deteriorate by citing them for health and safety code violations;
Extending the boundaries of the downtown San Pedro revitalization zone to include businesses along north Pacific Avenue, which would make them eligible for financial and other assistance from the city.
Would Be Priced Out
At the meeting Tuesday, residents said redevelopment, like that proposed by the chamber, would raise rents and real estate values in northeast San Pedro so high that residents would be unable to remain there. Several of them said the building boom in San Pedro is already forcing some residents to leave.