• The Trouble with Waterfront Development:

    Competing visions for the future of the Port are obscured by what isn’t being said

    James Preston Allen, Publisher

    One hundred some odd years ago, Southern California was criss-crossed with light rail lines. Vestiges of the old Red Car lines are still visible in some neighborhoods, now in use as parks and bike paths.

    A decade ago, when Sixth Street in San Pedro was dug up for some road repair, work crews sawed through steel rails and wooden railroad ties hidden under the asphalt exposing a forgotten transportation system that connected Point Fermin to San Bernardino. Interestingly enough, it is said that with our modern traffic clogged freeways, it takes us about as long to travel from Los Angeles to Riverside as it did in 1914. Now that’s progress!

    So at this point you might be wondering what this nostalgic introduction has to do with waterfront development at the Port of Los Angeles. Everything or nothing, depending on your perspective. As you will see in our report in this issue about the Harbor Commission’s vote to extend Ports O’ Call development negotiations with the Los Angeles Waterfront Alliance, there are some brewing differences voiced by John Papadakis and his followers about this project. On our letters page you will find an expanded version of his critique of the project and a rebuttal by Wayne Ratkovich, the venerated urban development guru and partner with the Johnson family’s property management company, Jericho Development, in the Los Angeles Waterfront Alliance. This could end up being a made-for-TV reality drama if left to its own devices. And, I’m not sure that the Port of Los Angeles is in the position to mediate the coming divide. (more…)

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  • Rumble: Riding the Long Road to Equality

    By Zamná Ávila, Assistant Editor

     

    Walk into a gay bar these days and you are likely to see men greeting each other with a hug and a kiss. Not unlike any other bar, people mingle and freely flirt with one another over drinks and music.

    But it wasn’t always that way.

    “You’d walk in, you’d see people and maybe you’d nod to them,” said 69-year-old Riley Black, about his experience in the late 60s and early 70s. “Unless, you knew someone and if they introduced you to someone else, you wouldn’t just walk up and hit on someone, because you didn’t know if it was an undercover cop.”

    Black lived in a time where gay men were not even allowed to touch at bars. Bars were frequently raided. Police officers would come, beat their night sticks on the bar, order that the bartenders turn the music off and turn on the lights. Then, they’d have everyone get against the wall.

    “They would just start, ‘Well, we’ve gotta count heads to see if you are over fire capacity,’” Black recalled.

    As people would go out the door, someone would stand at the door, and maybe every fourth one or every fifth one, they’d say, “You, lewd conduct.”

    “It was your word against the cop,” Black said. “Your name would end up being in the paper and they would call your employer. People lost jobs…. I was in bars when they came in and did that. Fortunately, it wasn’t my number [they] called.”

    But in 1969, he found a retreat from the harassment that gays endured all too frequently. A group of motorcycle riders opened their arms and a whole new world opened up to him. Members enjoyed camping trips and bike runs together away from the bar scene.

    “I liked camping. I liked being around the guys and just the camaraderie of it,” he said.

    Today, Black is the president of the Satyrs Motorcycle Club, the oldest, continually existing gay men’s group in the United States. The Satyrs Motorcycle Club formed in 1954. Former military men from Long Beach and Los Angeles formed the club at the peak of Sen. Joe McCarthy’s “un-American activities” hearings–a witch hunt for Communists and homosexuals. (more…)

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  • RL NEWS of the Week: May 16, 2014

    Coastal Neighborhood Council Presents Results
    SAN PEDRO — Two-hundred-twenty-three voters submitted ballots for the Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council election.
    The 17 candidates with the highest number of votes are shown and have been selected for the Board.
    95 VOTES » Dave Behar
    104 VOTES » Gary Bettis
    83 VOTES » Cari Burich
    66 VOTES » Mike Cammareri
    67 VOTES » Slobodan Dimitrov
    93 VOTES » James Dimon
    98 VOTES » Louis Dominguez
    60 VOTES » Bob Gelfand
    87 VOTES » Chuck Hawley
    33 VOTES » David Adam Holop
    61 VOTES » Dan Malstrom
    66 VOTES » Pat Means
    100 VOTES » Matt Matich
    97 VOTES » Chris Nagle
    131 VOTES » Ana Ortiz
    115 VOTES » Denise Marovich-Sampson
    86 VOTES » Ted Shirley
    106 VOTES » June Burlingame Smith
    90 VOTES » Sonya Tsujimura
    102 VOTES » John Vidovich
    117 VOTES » Peter Warren
    93 VOTES » Rachel Waugh
    Note:  Prior to (or at) the June Board meeting of CSPNC, each selection winner will need to demonstrate to the Selection Committee that he or she:
    1)  is a stakeholder in the Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council district; and
    2)  is at least 18 years old on or before 10 May 2014.
    Any selection winner who fails to qualify on both requirements will be disqualified.  The losing candidate(s) with the largest number of votes will join the Board in the place of disqualified candidates (and must also qualify on both requirements to join the Board).
    Details: www,cspnc.org/selection
     
    POLB Imports, Exports Surge
    Long Beach — Cargo numbers for containers at the Port of Long Beach were up in April by 9.7 percent overall, compared to the same month one year ago, according to numbers that the port released May 15.
    Following a slow March due to the harsh winter in other parts of the country, April container volumes rebounded as weather patterns and shopping patterns returned to normal.
    A total of 569,843 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) moved through the Port of Long Beach during April. Imports numbered 295,712 TEUs, up 11.9 percent from 2013. Exports jumped 6.3 percent to 146,498 TEUs. Empty containers were up 8.8 percent to 127,633 TEUs. Following a weak first quarter here, overall volume for the first four months of 2014 is up just 1 percent compared to the same period last year.
    This past year, against which 2014 is being compared, was the third-busiest year in port history with a total of 6.73 million TEUs.
    Details: www.polb.com/stats. (more…)

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  • Scandal in San Pedro

    By John Farrell, Curtain Call Writer

    Head to downtown New York for a delightful evening of sexual intrigue, all without having to go any farther than the Little Fish Theatre in San Pedro.

    Central Park West is Woody Allen’s one-act play that involves all the participants, including an Allen clone, in the devious doings of a group of New Yorkers in marital infidelity and lots of fast and highly biting wit. It is on at Little Fish through May 22 in the playhouse’s mid-week series.

    From the moment Phyllis (Belinda Howell) doesn’t answer her door — pouring herself a martini instead — to the final moments,just over an hour later, everyone, including young and mostly innocent Juliet (Rhiannon Heather Franck-Thompson) are revealed as involved in the sexual plots of Phyllis’ husband Sam (David Kiernan).

    Sam has been sleeping with a lot of people, including Carol (Jennifer Faneuff). It is Carol who first gets interrogated. By the time Howard (Paul LaGreca, in a near-perfect imitation of Allen’s mousy on-screen persona) gets involved you are fully intrigued and wondering where it will all end.

    There is a bit of a hidden meaning, a roman à clef, in this play since Allen in real life has had a couple of scandals involving younger woman and this play is about that, in part, but you don’t have to know anything about those scandals (though you can Google them) to appreciate this work.

    Marge Schugt directs and allows her actors free hand, keeping the dialog crisp and effective.

    Tickets are $27, $24 for seniors. Performances are at 8 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays through May 22, with a single matinee May 18.

    Details: (310) 512-6030; www.littlefishtheatre.org
    Venue: Little Fish Theatre
    Location 777 Centre St., San Pedro

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  • RLn ANNOUNCEMENTS: May 9, 2014

    May 10
    Bridge Construction
    Southbound Interstate 710 Freeway closure connector to westbound Ocean Boulevard will close for 30 months, starting May 10.
    Officials reminded commuters and truck driver heading to the Port of Long Beach and Los Angeles about the long-term closure and detour routes that are needed.
    The Interstate 710 Freeway will be under construction to demolish and rebuild the connector ramp, as apart of the Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement Project.
    When the connector closes, southbound I-710 traffic heading to Terminal Island traffic will be briefly diverted onto southbound Pico Avenue, then to an on-ramp that joins westbound Ocean Boulevard to cross the Gerald Desmond Bridge.
    Trucks and other vehicles whose destination is beyond the Port of Long Beach are being asked to consider using the I-110 Harbor freeway, State Route 47 or other alternate routes to avoid the surface street detour.
    Details: www.newgdbridge.com
     
    May 12
    Free Women’s Health event for all ages
    St. Mary Medical Center is hosting a free women health event, from 5 to7 p.m. May 12, in Long Beach.
    Internist Visal Nga, Do and Interventional cardiologist Amar Kapoor will host a lecture. There will be a demonstration meditation and yoga. There also will be health screening.
    Details: (888) 478-6279www.dignityhealth.org/heart.
    Venue: Bazzeni Wellness Center
    Location: 1050 Linden Ave, Long Beach
     
    May 12
    A Major Water Line Construction Project
    The Metropolitan Water District work will replace and/or reline 900 feet of a major water feeder line, from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. May 12, near west Bixby Road and Cedar Avenue in Long Beach.
    The work will continue through mid-August.
    Cedar Avenue and the alley between Cedar and Pacific avenues will be closed at the north side of Bixby Road for the duration of the project. The two north lanes of west Bixby Road and the adjacent sidewalk will be closed from Country Club Drive to Pine Avenue, as well. Two-way traffic will continue in the two south lanes of Bixby Road.
    Details: (213) 217-6752
     
    May 12
    LB Board of Harbor Commissioners
    The Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners will meet, at 6 p.m. May 12, at the Miller Family Health Education Center.
    Commissioners will consider the approval of the second amendment to the contract with the South Coast Air Quality Management for up to $30 million in funds from Proposition 1B Goods Movement Emission Reduction Program.
    Details: www.polb.com
    Venue: Miller Family Health Education Center
    Location: 3820 Cherry Ave., Long Beach

    May 13
    Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council Meeting
    The Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council welcomes the new commander of the Los Angeles Police Department Harbor Division, Capt. Gerald Woodyard at its 5:30 p.m., May 13 meeting, at Port of Los Angeles High School.
    The situation of the unused jail at Harbor Division will be addressed by Capt. David Lindsay, commanding officer of Los Angeles jails. We’ll also hear from the new neighborhood prosecutor, Lauren Halligan, and section chiefs of the Customs and Border Patrol about the policy regarding detaining cruise ship members in our port.
    The neighborhood is looking for community members to fill 17 at-large board positions that begin July 2014.  Potential candidates are invited to come to the May 13 meeting at 5:30 to learn more about the opportunity to serve the community.  Candidate applications are due May 16.
    Details: www.sanpedrocity.org
    Venue: Port of Los Angeles High School
    Location: 250 W. 5th St., San Pedro

    May 17
    Hands Across the Sand
    The 5th Annual Hand Across the Sand event will take place, from 10 to 1 p.m. May 17, at the Wilmington Waterfront Park and at Long Beach Cherry Beach. The event will kick off with workshops at 10 a.m. and holding hands will take place at 12 p.m. in Wilmington.
    The groups are meeting in solidarity to voice their opposition to dirty fossil fuels and to call for an end to climate change.
    Details: (310) 303-7950, (323) 350-0873
    Venue: Wilmington Waterfront Park, Long Beach Cherry Beach
    Location: 326 King Ave., Wilmington; Junipero at Ocean Boulevard, Long Beach

    The Long Beach Opera Needs Volunteers
    The Long Beach Opera is looking for Volunteers Usher to assist at performances.
    Volunteers are welcome to stay and watch the performances free of charge. Details: (562) 432-5934,
    Venue: Longbeachopera.org
    Location: 507 Pacific Ave., Long Beach

    Women Shelter Needs Volunteers
    The Women Shelter of Long Beach need volunteers in various capacities, contributing to the thousands of families overcoming trauma caused by domestic violence.
    Volunteers are need in assisting in planning and participating in community awareness campaigns, providing service to its board of directors, direct service support and others.
    Details: (562) 437-4663; www.womenshelterlb.org (more…)

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  • Ponte Vista Breaks Ground

    By Zamná Ávila, Assistant Editor 

    SAN PEDRO — Nearly 10 years after it was first proposed, Community leaders joined iStar Financial, May 8, to broke ground on Ponte Vista housing development.

    On  March 4, the Los Angeles City Council approved the project at 26900 S. Western Ave. in San Pedro.

    The previously Navy occupied 61.5 acres of land on which Ponte Vista sits was turned over for civilian use, which included giving 19.58 acres of the property to homeless advocacy group, Volunteers of America. In 1999, Los Angeles and its Planning Commission approved a plan to redevelop the land as a mixed-use project.

    In 2005, Robert Bisno, of Bisno Development Co., purchased the remaining 41.95 acres of the land in auction for $88 million, and bought Volunteers of America’s 19.58 acres for $37 million. The proceeds were given to Harbor Interfaith in order to build on the new site.

    In the mid-2000s, Bisno proposed a high-density, mixed-use development of more than 2,300 dwellings with on-site retail. In an uproar, the community organized against the Bisno project and the rezoning of the property from single-family homes to multi-unit homes, giving birth to the We R-1 movement in San Pedro.

    In 2009, the Los Angeles Planning Commission rejected the plan. iStar Financial took control of Ponte Vista in 2010. (more…)

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  • Review: Long Beach Opera’s “An American Soldier’s Tale” + “A Fiddler’s Tale”

    Long Beach Opera does non-traditional opera. So what could be more non-traditional than staging a work devoid of singing? How about staging two on a single bill?

    That’s exactly what LBO is up to with their double-bill based on Igor Stravinsky’s neoclassical theatre piece L’Historie du soldat. There’s music, dancing, and recitation, but not a word is sung. It’s an interesting choice, but one for which LBO obtains only mixed results.

    The LBO double-bill is a study in adaptation. The first part, An American Soldier’s Tale, is Stravinsky’s original music joined to a Kurt Vonnegut libretto based on the real-life story of Pvt. Eddie Slovik, the only American soldier since the Civil War executed for desertion. The second part, A Fiddler’s Tale, somewhat returns to Stravinsky’s original theme—L’Historie du soldat itself is an adaptation of the Russian folk tale “The Runaway Soldier and the Devil”—although Wynton Marsalis has created entirely new music to propel librettist Stanley Crouch’s story of a fiddler who strikes a deal with the devil that gives her fame and riches in exchange for pimping her artistic soul to service the lowest common denominator.

    Despite the differences—Stravinsky does his modernist take on classical chamber music, while Marsalis manages a mélange of foxtrots, marches, jazz, and classical—both halves suffer from a poor dance component. LBO has at times brought a stellar physicality to its shows (Nixon in China, for example, featured a full-blown ballet, among other striking visual elements), but the creation of the double-bill didn’t include a choreographer, and it shows. More often than not the dancing we see is little more than flopping around.

    This flaw that is doubly damaging, considering that both halves contain long music-only passages that invite a visual component. This is particularly true during the second half of A Fiddler’s Tale, where dancing is explicitly called for by the text, and the piece is probably 25% longer than it should be, with a denouement that desperately wants, but ultimately fails, to maintain the story’s momentum.

    That’s a shame, because the story of A Fiddler’s Tale is fun as far as it goes. Told by a narrator (Roger Guenveur Smith) who gives voice to himself, the devil—who goes by the name Bubba Z. Beals and takes his raspy conversational style from the Bayou—and the fiddler, Crouch’s libretto is a charming take on how the pop-culture machine seems to succeed by draining art of its heart. “Corruption is a job,” Beals brags, defending his work—he’s literally an agent from hell—as providing a public service.
    Smith’s performance is a mixed bag. For whatever reason, he was not off-book during the opening performance, which resulted in a subtle unevenness in his delivery. At times he was great, so funny and on it; at others, the thread is lost. This perhaps relates to the inconsistency of his accent. Usually the distinction between the narrator’s and devil’s manner of speaking is evident; but every now and then Smith dropped into a mode somewhere in-between the two, the persona he embodied comprehensible only from context.

    The story of An American Soldier’s Tale is not quite as strong. Vonnegut is too on the nose with his castigation of the military for its application of a “fight or die” code of conduct in regards to a man whose nature simply could not accommodate the warrior’s code. Besides, there’s no much to tell. Guy runs away from his unit, gets caught, refuses to go back and fight, gets executed. As much as LBO injected with the piece with the expressionism it demands, they needed to go further to make it sing.
    But the musical performance of the double-bill is beyond reproach. Under the management of Timothy Lee, this eight-piece configuration of the Long Beach Orchestra handles everything Stravinsky and Marsalis throw at them with seeming ease and full-flavored tastefulness.

    An American Soldier’s Tale and A Fiddler’s Tale are not the kind of work that opera traditionalists favor. But Long Beach Opera has defined itself by working against the traditionalist grain. And while this non-traditional double-bill doesn’t fire on all cylinders, it does drive the audience into territory that will be new for most everyone who attends. That in itself may be a worthy journey.

    AN AMERICAN SOLDIER’S TALE + A FIDDLER’S TALE LONG BEACH OPERA • CENTER THEATRE (300 E OCEAN BLVD) • LONG BEACH 90802 • 562.432.5934 LONGBEACHOPERA.ORG • SATURDAY 2PM • $29–$150 • ONE (MORE) PERFORMANCE ONLY: MAY 10

    (Photo credit: Keith Ian Polakoff)

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  • Hahn Walks Out on Dobson

    By Zamná Ávila, Assistant Editor

    James Dobson vowed to stay away from politics when he began his speech at the annual National Day of Prayer event in Washington D.C. on May 1.

    “This is not what we are here for, to talk about who we elect and parties and all that,” said Dobson, founder of the conservative group Focus on the Family. “We just don’t do that. That’s not what the National Day of Prayer is all about.”

    But that’s exactly what he didn’t do. Using morality as a pretext, he called President Barack Obama “the abortion president.”

    “President Obama, before he was elected, made it very clear that he wanted to be the abortion president,” Dobson said. “He didn’t make any bones about it…. This is something that he really was going to promote and support, and he has done that, and in a sense he is the abortion president.”

    Rep. Janice Hahn stood up, pointed her index finger at the speaker and told him, “This is inappropriate, before walking out on Dobson.

    “The annual National Day of Prayer is supposed to be a day, where the whole country, regardless of faith or party affiliation, unites to pray for our nation,” said Hahn in a statement. “I was appalled and offended by Mr. Dobson’s extremely inappropriate and divisive rants about the President and felt they had no place in this nonpartisan forum, so I stood up and walked out, after telling him that his remarks were inappropriate. (more…)

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  • Brouwerij West Comes to the Port of Los Angeles

    Photo by Phillip Cooke

    By Michael Koger, Contributing Writer

    If you were to look up Brouwerij West on BeerAdvocate.com, you’d find that it’s located in Rancho Palos Verdes.

    However, if you buy a bottle of their beer, it might say it was brewed in San Jose.  But in January 2015, Brouwerij West (pronounced “brewery”) will be opening up in the Port of Los Angeles’ Warehouse No. 9, which Crafted hopes to turn into a classic high-ceiling mall, in the mold of downtown Los Angeles’ Grand Central Market or Seattle’s Melrose Mall.

    For Brouwerij West owner, Brian Mercer, the move was serendipitous.

    “Rachel Waugh [of Crafted] called me one day to see if I was interested [in Warehouse No. 9],” Mercer said.

    For the past three years, Mercer has been a “traveling” brewing, which is the practice of renting space in other breweries to brew beer.

    “We wanted to get started brewing,” Mercer said. “We’ve brewed at Sudwerk up in Davis” and other parts of the state as well.

    However, the plan was not to roam forever. (more…)

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  • Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council Meeting

    The Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council welcomes the new commander of the Los Angeles Police Department Harbor Division, Capt. Gerald Woodyard at its 5:30 p.m., May 13 meeting, at Port of Los Angeles High School.

    The situation of the unused jail at Harbor Division will be addressed by Capt. David Lindsay, commanding officer of Los Angeles jails. We’ll also hear from the new neighborhood prosecutor, Lauren Halligan, and section chiefs of the Customs and Border Patrol about the policy regarding detaining cruise ship members in our port.

    The neighborhood is looking for community members to fill 17 at-large board positions that begin July 2014.  Potential candidates are invited to come to the May 13 meeting at 5:30 to learn more about the opportunity to serve the community.  Candidate applications are due May 16.

    Details: www.sanpedrocity.org
    Venue: Port of Los Angeles High School
    Location: 250 W. 5th St., San Pedro

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