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Opinion : A Plan to Reel In Tourists to Long Beach

July 14, 1994

With its soon-to-open $100-million convention center, Long Beach will be embarking on a serious advertising campaign to sell our city as a convention-oriented community.

From current news reports, Long Beach convention officials think our city has very little to offer in the way of entertainment or outside activities for locals or out-of-town visitors and conventioneers.

If Long Beach is going to invest for the future, we need a sensible revenue-producing plan.

It's not good business to hold a convention in Long Beach, then have the participants and their families spend their money at Disneyland, Universal Studios or Knott's Berry Farm.

Long Beach, with its unmatched spectacular view of the ocean, white sandy beaches, its walking and bicycle path, has a decided advantage over landlocked convention-seeking cities.

As a 77-year resident of Long Beach, I have seen our fishing facilities go through various cycles of success and, because of port expansion, near failure.

And, as one of the many thousands of avid Long Beach fishermen, I would like to offer a suggestion to help our sagging economy.

This plan centers on the use of the closed, sand-clogged small-craft launching facility at Golden Shores. We should relocate, at the Harbor Department's expense, the present Sportfishing Landing at 555 W. Pico Blvd., under their jurisdiction, to this location with its ample parking.

Despite the present landing's profitability, it is being forced out of existence by the critically needed expansion of Hanjin Shipping Container Storage, the oil pipeline excavation and the mile-long, never-ending, dangerous, trailer-loaded trains and trucks that periodically block the entrances to the landing. This parking area was originally supposed to be reserved for fishermen and restaurant patrons.

Ever since the past Harbor Department Commission's ill-advised closing of the once popular Pierpoint Fishing Landing and entertainment center, it has been imperative, due to needed port expansion, to relocate to a location with more accessible parking.

If a solution to our sportfishing facilities is not found, Long Beach, along with losing our Navy Shipyard to San Diego, will soon be replaced by San Diego as the sportfishing capital. This would enhance their economy, and further devastate Long Beach.

To dispel any fears the city officials may have that my proposal is just another money-losing idea fastened on to the already burdened Long Beach taxpayer, consider this: In the United States last year, there were 51.2 million active licensed fishermen. In California they spent $4.2 billion and created 70,350 jobs.

TOM MURPHY, Long Beach

Murphy, an avid fisherman and former restaurateur, presented this speech, which has been edited for space, to the Long Beach City Council and again to the Long Beach Harbor Commission.

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