A dozen east Wilmington businessmen joined together this week in demanding that Los Angeles city departments do more to rid their neighborhood of crime, garbage and vagrants.
"We're very disappointed with the service we're receiving from all branches of government. And I think all of us are disgusted that businessmen are so much better off being just down the road in Long Beach than here in Wilmington," businessman Manuel Louis told officials of the Port of Los Angeles, the Police Department and a representative of harbor-area Councilwoman Joan Milke Flores.
The one-hour meeting, held Monday in the offices of Stoll Engine Co. on East Anaheim Street, followed weeks of individual complaints by businessmen that their properties were suffering from ever-increasing crime and a continuing deterioration of nearby streets.
The blighted area, nicknamed the Third World by local activists, is just east of the Dominguez Channel and north of Anaheim Street.
Businessmen said port officials should do more to upgrade port-owned properties in the area. Several businessmen also charged that the port had purposely ignored problems plaguing local businesses, hoping to acquire more property from businessmen who would be willing to sell at any price.
"We feel there is actually a scheme here," said Gary F. Duthie, president of Duthie Electric Service Corp.
But the port's representatives vigorously denied Duthie's claim and other criticisms of the port's commitment to the area.
"The fact is the properties we've acquired are in far better shape than when we took them over," said Louis Arreola of the port's property management department.
Officials said they are willing to look into the businessmen's complaints and to meet with them again in two weeks.