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CITY HALL ROUNDUP : Torrance sees sign as a broken rule, but its owner can’t bear to conform.

BEAR TRAP: A giant yellow bear is snared in Torrance municipal regulations, and its owner is waging a campaign to free it.

“Everybody loves the bear,” says Richard Errington, referring to the 35-foot sign that towers over his business, Virgel’s Wheel Alignment on West Carson Street. The sign has been there since 1948.

For the record:

12:00 AM, Sep. 19, 1991 For the Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday September 19, 1991 South Bay Edition Metro Part B Page 6 Column 1 Zones Desk 2 inches; 63 words Type of Material: Correction
Lifesaving decision--A story in The Times’ South Bay edition on Sunday credited the wrong group for the decision to give Hawthorne police dispatchers advanced medical training that helped save the life a 17-month-old child. The decision to provide additional training was made by the South Bay Regional Public Communications Authority, the agency that handles emergency calls for the cities of El Segundo, Manhattan Beach, Hawthorne and Gardena.

But Torrance officials are less fond of the big yellow bear. When Errington recently applied to add a smaller sign to the base of the bear sign, the city discovered that the big bear does not conform to local sign standards. The city is pushing for its removal.

Errington maintains that the bear is good for business. Not only is it a local landmark, he says, but it gives people a warm feeling that they don’t normally get from most wheel alignment and brake service signs.

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“Everybody can find me,” Errington says. “I’ve got people who recommend me to their friends and relatives, and they say, ‘You go down the street, and you see this big yellow sign. . .’ ”

DIAL H FOR HERO: The city of Hawthorne’s decision earlier this year to give dispatchers advanced medical training paid dividends last month when a dispatcher helped a frantic baby-sitter dislodge food from the throat of a choking toddler.

Hawthorne police say the extra training and cool professionalism shown by dispatcher Shander Coston during a frantic 911 call saved 17-month-old Elizabeth Perri’s life.

Coston met Elizabeth, her mother, Sheryl, and the baby-sitter during an emotional ceremony at the Hawthorne Police Department last week. On the audio tape of the exchange, which was played at the ceremony, ambulance sirens could be heard in the background just as Elizabeth began crying after the food was expelled from her mouth.

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Coston’s training apparently was taken to heart by Elizabeth’s mother. Sheryl Perri has enrolled in a CPR class.

SEAL OF APPROVAL: That was not the sounds of fins clapping you heard in San Pedro. But it probably won’t be long now before you do.

Local officials were all smiles at a groundbreaking for a marine mammal care facility in the city last week--the first part of a planned $28-million Center for Marine Studies that will be used as an education and research facility for curious kindergartners and scholars alike.

The 80,000-square-foot center, which is a joint venture between the Los Angeles Unified School District and former Marineland owner Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, will be accessible to the district’s 625,000 students and researchers from USC, UCLA, Occidental College and member schools in the California State University and Los Angeles Community College District systems.

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The mammal care facility, which is to open in about six months, will provide round-the-clock care for injured seals, sea lions, dolphins and other sea mammals. The rest of the center will be built when more money is available.

“There isn’t a school district anywhere else that has a project like this,” said Carson High School science teacher Bill Samaras, a member of the center’s planning committee.

FIELD OF DREAMS: While he still clings to the dream of cityhood for Wilmington, community activist Joe Mendez said this week that he won’t sit back waiting for that magic day to come.

Instead, the fourth-generation Wilmington resident said he will run for the Los Angeles City Council in 1993 against longtime Harbor-area Councilwoman Joan Milke Flores.

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“It’s something I’ve been thinking about a long time,” said Mendez, 30, a refinery worker active in organized labor and various community organizations, including New Wilmington, a cityhood group formed last year.

As one of Wilmington’s most vocal and visible activists, Mendez said he still supports a move toward cityhood. But that movement faces years of petition drives and other actions before it can become a reality.

“I don’t want to wait until there’s nothing left of Wilmington” to have an impact, he said.

Though he has never sought public office, Mendez said he is not trying to just put a scare into Flores, who has easily won reelection twice to the 15th Council District since her first race in 1981.

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“I am very serious about this,” he said. “I’ve made some contacts. I have support. And I believe it is time for me to run.”

LAST WEEK’S HIGHLIGHTS

Hawthorne: The City Council approved an 11% pay raise over the next three years for 150 members of the Hawthorne Municipal Employees Assn. The employees--most of them clerical staff and maintenance workers--also received added insurance coverage. Organizations representing police and fire employees, as well as municipal department heads, have yet to settle with the city.

Hermosa Beach: The city has hired a recruitment firm to find a replacement for departing City Manager Kevin B. Northcraft, who will resign next month to take a similar position in Upland in San Bernardino County. Consultant Edward S. Kreins, whose $4,500 bid was approved by the City Council on Tuesday, will coordinate a nationwide search for the $82,000-a-year city manager’s job. The process should take about four months. Public Safety Director Steve Wisniewski will act as city manager during the interim.

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San Pedro: The state Coastal Commission approved plans to build a six-acre picnic area in Angels Gate Park. The plan is part of a $1.2-million overhaul of the city park, which overlooks the Pacific Ocean on Gaffey Street. Construction is to begin early next year.

Torrance: City Councilman Dan Walker will not be reappointed to the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board. Walker, who served on the board as an appointee of Gov. George Deukmejian, said Friday he is disappointed that he must leave the board, which oversees water quality and ground-water quality issues in the region.

THIS WEEK’S HIGHLIGHTS

Hawthorne: The Planning Commission Wednesday will consider an application by a Carson developer to build a 94-unit condominium complex in Moneta Gardens. The project has stirred opposition from residents who say the neighborhood is too crowded to support another development. The meeting is at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 4455 W. 126th St., 970-7902.

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Redondo Beach: The City Council Tuesday will consider a proposal to immediately demolish the remaining portion of the horseshoe pier, which was destroyed by storms and fire in 1988. This would be the first step in the $7.5-million pier reconstruction approved earlier this month. The meeting is at 7:30 p.m. at City Hall, 415 Diamond St., 372-1171. Televised live on Channel 8 (Century); repeated at 3 p.m. Wednesday and 6 p.m. Sunday.

Torrance: The City Council Tuesday will hold the first of two workshops on revising the land-use guidelines in the city General Plan, which has not been updated since 1974. The city hopes to revamp the plan so it maintains the city’s suburban character despite its growth as a retail and business center. The meeting is at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall, 3031 Torrance Blvd., 618-5880. Televised live on Channel 22 (Paragon) and replayed at 10 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, and at 10 a.m., 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

OTHER COUNCIL MEETINGS THIS WEEK

Avalon: 7 p.m. Tuesday, 209 Metropole. 510-0220. Televised live on Channel 3 (Catalina Cable) and repeated Saturday morning.

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Carson: 6 p.m. Tuesday, 701 E. Carson St. 830-7600. Televised at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday on Channel 26 (Continental Cablevision) and repeated the following Wednesday.

El Segundo: 7 p.m. Tuesday, 350 Main St. 322-4670. Televised live on Channel 22 (Paragon) and repeated at noon Wednesday.

Inglewood: 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, 1 Manchester Blvd. 412-5280. No cable telecast.

Lawndale: 7 p.m. Thursday, 14717 Burin Ave. 973-4321. Televised live on Channel 60 and repeated several times during the week.

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Lomita: 7 p.m. Monday, 24300 Narbonne Ave. 325-7170. No cable telecasts.

Los Angeles: 10 a.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday at 200 N. Spring St., Los Angeles. In San Pedro, 548-7637; in Wilmington, 548-7586; in Harbor City/Harbor Gateway, 548-7664; in Westchester, 641-4717. Televised live on Channel 35; meetings repeated individually at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday and collectively on Sunday starting at 10 a.m.

Manhattan Beach: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, 1400 Highland Ave. 545-5621. Televised on Channel 3 (MultiVision) at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

Rancho Palos Verdes: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Hesse Park, 29201 Hawthorne Blvd. 377-0360. Televised live on Channel 3; repeated at 7:30 p.m. the following Tuesday.

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