The last time the Los Angeles City Council considered changing the name of a street, angry community members packed the council chamber. Naming Crenshaw Boulevard after the late Mayor Tom Bradley would disrupt commerce and cause confusion, they complained. The council sent the proposal back to committee for further study.
But on Tuesday, a motion to name a short stretch of a San Pedro street after beloved local Croatian restaurateur Ante Perkov met quite a different fate.
The president of the local neighborhood council said his organization backed the move wholeheartedly. Councilwoman Janice Hahn told her peers that the suggestion had come from the community. After a few minutes of discussion, the City Council voted unanimously in favor of renaming the block of Palos Verdes Street between 7th and 8th streets Ante Perkov Way.
"This is an example of, in my opinion, how you change the name of a street gracefully," Hahn said.
Councilman Martin Ludlow, whose predecessor Nate Holden had pushed for the renaming of Crenshaw, said the handling of the Perkov name change should be applauded.
"This is great to see a community input process work the right way," Ludlow said.
Perkov, who died in September 2001, left Croatia on a cargo ship at age 14 and ended up in San Pedro, where he got work as a busboy. Eventually he opened his own restaurant, Ante's, which became renowned for such Croatian specialties as stewed tripe, stuffed peppers and veal risotto. The owner was always on hand, a fresh carnation in his hair, greeting diners.
Perkov also gained a reputation as a generous community leader who gave food to those in need and opened his restaurant as a local gathering spot, Hahn said.
Perkov "was the alter ego, the moral conscience, the most highly respected person" in San Pedro, said Howard Uller, president of the Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council.
Shortly after Perkov died, former Councilman Rudy Svorinich Jr. sent a letter to Hahn recommending naming the street in front of his restaurant after him. The neighborhood council unanimously backed the move.
"It's overwhelming," Perkov's son Tony said Tuesday after the vote. "We're very, very appreciative."
The new street sign will be unveiled July 31.