South Bay : 500 Attend Traveling City Council Session

About 500 people, mostly senior citizens, longshoremen, union activists and other San Pedro residents, gathered at Port Plaza on Tuesday for a special meeting of the Los Angeles City Council, the first such session in the Harbor area since 1989.

“This is really neat,” Gertrude Schwab, a former city harbor commissioner, told the council members, who were perched on a dais with paper name tags taped to the front in the building’s basketball gym. “Many is the time I’ve traveled 26 miles to downtown City Hall, and turnabout is fair play.”

The meeting was part of a new program to take City Hall on the road to meet the people local government is supposed to serve. A similar-size crowd attended a meeting last fall at Pierce College in Woodland Hills. For many in the audience, it was their first glimpse of the bureaucracy at work, with a relatively short agenda of 28 items including everything from bus service to memorial statues and a no-leash dog park.

“I’m really enjoying it, it’s not boring,” said 71-year-old Dora Jane Honeycutt, a square dancer who has lived in San Pedro for 45 years and never attended a council meeting. “It just really wakes you up to what’s going on.”

Moving the meeting from City Hall cost about $7,000, according to Pat Healy of the city clerk’s office.


The San Pedro session was moved to Port Plaza at the last minute after council members discovered that the private club where it was scheduled to meet had no women as voting members, despite a 1994 bylaw change that allowed participation “regardless of race or gender.”