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Flores Unveils Plans for Port Traffic Study, Other Projects

Times Staff Writer

Councilwoman Joan Milke Flores has announced a total of $750,000 in government funding for various projects in San Pedro, including new athletic fields, a promenade running the length of the community’s waterfront and a plan to alleviate port-related traffic problems.

Flores’ remarks came Thursday morning during her annual State of the City address for San Pedro, which was delivered during a breakfast meeting at Nizetich’s restaurant in Ports O’ Call Village. The address, which has special significance this year as the community celebrates its centennial, drew a sold-out crowd of about 160 business people, educators and other community leaders who paid $10 each.

The councilwoman disclosed that:

She expects the Los Angeles City Council to approve a $400,000 loan to hire a consultant to develop a port transportation plan, which will pinpoint areas where traffic improvements are needed throughout the harbor area. Flores said those improvements, as well as repayment of the loan, will be financed by private companies which, as a condition of doing business in the port area, will be required to pay into a trust fund. The plan should take 18 months to complete, but Flores said she may propose an ordinance to control traffic in the meantime.

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The Southern California Assn. of Governments has approved $150,000 in seed money for design work on a proposed Harbor Walkway. The waterfront promenade, which Flores initially proposed during last year’s State of the City speech, will extend from Royal Palms State Beach to the port’s World Cruise Center. It will connect with the existing walkway at the new Cabrillo Marina. Flores said she is asking Los Angeles officials to apply for an additional $350,000 in state funding for the project, and hopes to set up a nonprofit corporation to solicit private money for the promenade.

The Department of Recreation and Parks will set aside $200,000 for construction of two athletic fields that have been approved for the new Martin J. Bogdanovich Recreation Center, formerly San Pedro Park. Flores said an additional two ball fields are proposed for Angels Gate Park in a new master plan that will be unveiled Thursday.

Flores also said she has met with Warren Furutani, a member of the Los Angeles school board, to discuss tying in the Angels Gate master plan with the district’s plan for the Upper Reservation, a largely vacant parcel that is adjacent to Angels Gate. Flores said she intends to meet with Furutani again to propose developing a regional athletic complex at the two sites, which will be shared by the district and the city.

The school district is under pressure from the federal government, which deeded both the Upper Reservation and Angels Gate to the city, to develop a master plan for its land. The deed requires the district to build a high school on the site, but school officials have no plans to do that. The federal government could reclaim the property as a result, Flores said.

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Flores said she thinks a high school at the Upper Reservation “would be the most beautiful campus, overlooking Catalina and the Pacific coast, of any property in the whole city of Los Angeles.” But regardless of whether a high school is built, Flores said, she will work toward helping the school district maintain control of the site.

In her remarks, which centered around the quality of life, Flores said San Pedro and other communities are entering a “new era.”

“Hold the line, let’s not move so fast and let’s make it better, not bigger,” she said.

“To maintain and improve the quality of life we are talking about,” Flores said, “we must be diligent in making sure we . . . (curb) traffic problems, pollution problems and safety problems that are caused by having heavy industry in our community.”

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Flores said she supports a Port of Los Angeles plan to relocate hazardous facilities away from San Pedro.

As for her own efforts in preserving the quality of life in San Pedro, Flores pointed to a moratorium on building apartments in San Pedro’s Upland section, where residents feared that the single-family character of their neighborhood was being destroyed. And she also noted her efforts to beautify development along Pacific Avenue by requiring landscaping and buildings to be set back farther from the street.

“In a hundred years, when a new revitalization committee is working on Pacific Avenue, we don’t want them to have to start with, ‘How can we move these buildings back and put in some landscaping?’ ” Flores said. “We want to be thinking about that in 1988.”

With regard to the long delays in the redevelopment of San Pedro’s downtown business district, Flores joked: “I just don’t think a State of the City address would be complete if I didn’t mention a ground breaking for the hotel on Beacon Street. I think I’ve been doing that for the last five years and I’m not going to disappoint you.”

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Flores said she expects developers to break ground in February on the $20-million, 232-room Sheraton hotel. The councilwoman sounded a more serious note after her speech, however, saying she is “losing a little bit of patience” with the lead developer, Goldrich & Kest Industries. Flores said she has told the developers: “Listen, you do something about (the delays), or we’re going to do something else.”

Flores also said she is losing patience with the Harbor Department, which in 1983 committed itself to developing a large parcel located in the redevelopment district across the street from its downtown San Pedro headquarters. Port officials have been negotiating with a developer to put an office building on the land and, according to the Harbor Department’s agreement with the Community Redevelopment Agency, the port will have 20 months to submit a design for the building to the agency. Flores said she wants to see that time shortened.

“I don’t want them to use that time and say they’re doing it for design and use it for negotiating” with the developer, Flores said. “We’re going to be very, very closely watching that, and if they can’t cut it then I am going to cut them loose, and that’s that.”

Leron Gubler, executive director of the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce, which sponsored Flores’ speech, said the reaction among business people was generally favorable, and that while the chamber supports the promenade proposal, it has some minor reservations concerns about the port transportation plan.

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“The one thing we’re a little concerned about is how the formulas (for paying into the trust fund) are going to be assessed, and who’s going to pay the bill.” Gubler said he worried that the plan could stifle development in San Pedro, and also said $400,000 for the study is “a lot of money to have to raise through assessments before we’re going to be able to put any money into transportation improvement.”


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