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Around the South Bay

What if there was a toxic spill and no politicians came?

July 07, 1994

SUPERFUND PARTY: Just a few months ago, frustrated neighbors of two toxic waste dumps near Torrance were fighting for any attention from politicians.

They wrote. They called. They did everything they could to get help for their neighborhood, where the back-yard soil is peppered with DDT and cancer-causing benzene taints the ground water.

But nothing happened. Zero. Zilch.

But, ah, now it's election season, and look who's coming to town.

Finally, officialdom is paying attention--so much so that the much-publicized West 204th Street neighborhood appears to have evolved into a political whistle stop--the chemical equivalent of the rubber-chicken circuit.

Now, politicians are the ones writing letters and placing calls. They're sending staff members to mingle with the television cameras at media briefings at the DDT site. So many politicians dispatched emissaries to a recent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency community meeting, in fact, that they outnumbered the reporters.

On hand were representatives of U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, Rep. Jane Harman (D-Marina del Rey) and state Sen. Ralph C. Dills (D-El Segundo). State Assemblywoman Juanita M. McDonald (D-Carson) even showed up in person, seizing a microphone and pledging her allegiance to the neighborhood.

Harman, in fact, has issued a news release announcing that she will soon visit the DDT site, bringing Elliott Laws, an assistant administrator with the EPA.

Community leader Cynthia Babich is taking all this newfound attention with several grains of salt, recalling those bleak days when no one seemed to care.

Now, she observes wryly: "Everyone wants to come out and party with us."


BOOM COMING: To residents of Redondo Beach, summer means long, balmy nights, gentle breezes and relaxing afternoons at the beach. Oh yeah, and don't forget those really loud, annoying boomboxes.

Apparently, thumping radios are turning the peaceful city into a round-the-clock headache for many meditative residents, who have begun complaining to police.

So last weekend, Redondo Beach police began a crackdown on the monster machines.

Officers say they'll the cite owners of blasting radios and might even confiscate the boomboxes.


EAT TWO PIZZAS AND CALL ME IN THE MORNING: Next time Palos Verdes Peninsula residents have hunger pangs, Cathy Hull wants them to call the doctor at Emergency Pizza, the restaurant she plans to open in September. There, patrons would be served pizzas such as the "Pediatrician's Special"--a pepperoni and cheese pizza--by employees dressed as doctors and nurses.

If Hull has her way, Emergency Pizza would be located inside Penguin's Frozen Yogurt store in the Peninsula Shopping Center. But the proposal has met opposition from the Rolling Hills Estates Planning Commission.

Commissioners have voiced concern over the restaurant's plans to serve beer and wine because it would be located across the street from Palos Verdes Peninsula High School. They also questioned whether Penguins' corporate headquarters approves of Hull's plans.

A hearing has been rescheduled for July 18.

Hull, who manages Penguin's, said she will temporarily strike plans to serve beer and wine but said financial problems at Penguin's headquarters have essentially allowed franchisees the option of doing as they please.

Penguin's president and owner, Stephen Van Velkinburgh, acknowledges that the corporation has experienced financial shake-ups but said he would be willing to work with Hull on her pizza idea.

If the restaurant flies in Palos Verdes, Hull hopes to franchise Emergency Pizza nationwide.

"A gimmick is always a thing that hits people," she says.


LOOK OUT HOLLYWOOD PARK: "Bingo!" will soon be echoing in the halls of various charity offices in the Santa Catalina Island city of Avalon.

It might not be the most original idea, but Mayor Ralph J. Morrow Jr. says the game will offer nonprofit community groups the chance to make money and may even help the city offset the $500,000 it pays annually to run the Avalon Municipal Hospital.

On June 21, the Avalon City Council unanimously passed an ordinance permitting the new money-making venture.

Nonprofit groups will be allowed to start bingo sessions July 21.

Morrow said the council received no opposition to the ordinance.

The hospital's fund-raising foundation was particularly delighted by the bingo decision, but other groups such as the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, day-care providers and the Catalina Island Museum Society also are expected to take advantage of the new ordinance, he said.


"It's very hard to do, and at the end you're lightheaded."

Pat Gould, a 24-year-old Hermosa Beach resident, describing the annual Ironman contest in which participants swim one mile, paddle one mile on a surfboard and chug a six-pack of beer.

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