future. We cannot let a small minority (a few handful of South San Pedro people) talk for all of us
An early morning meeting about 10 years ago is when I
introduced former Assembly-member Alan Lowenthal to
my dad’s high school football buddy and family restaurant
owner, John Papadakis. The two passionate community lead-
ers had never met. Lowenthal was a Long Beach Councilman
that spent the best part of his year in office redeveloping the
Long Beach’s waterfront. Such a successful project along Long
Beach’s waterfront, people now complain about not getting
into restaurants rather than not having anything to do.
A bold visionary with a personality larger than life, John
Papadakis was frustrated with San Pedro’s waterfront. He saw
the need for real change and developed the idea of a seamless
walkway along the water from the bridge to the breakwater. He
created the vision that would become a conceptual design of
a world-class waterfront promenade along our harbor. His re-
sults excited the community and civic leaders. A promenade
that would be the anchor for new development, active recre-
ation and a community asset where everyone can once again
have access to the water.
That introduction 10 years ago was also a bike ride. Papada-
kis took Lowenthal on this ride to give him a real touch and feel
for our town. Their friendship created a study to see if people
would come back to San Pedro and what those costs would be.
Papadakis made it clear, this is for “all of California, not just San
Pedro.” In Long Beach, their waterfront caters to the local com-
munity but is sustainable because people come from all over.
The study was completed and it indicated a need for this
type of development. The Port of Los Angeles conducted
countless community meetings that pulled information from
the community that showed signs of a grand development.
From community meeting after community meeting, for 10
years, we have made little progress. Due in part to a new mayor,
new Harbor Commissioners and a small minority of people
that scared the Port with lawsuits because they want the town
to look the same as it is now.
But times have changed. The real voices in our community have continued to fight for the original vision Papadakis had for the promenade. This is a bold vision design that will bring new life into San Pedro. Look what has happened in the past year. People flocked by the thousands to see the grand opening of the Fanfare water feature at the cruise terminal. On July 2, 2009, even more families and community residents attended the Port of Los Angeles’s Cars and Stripe event. We have start- ed to build it and people are coming.
We must now champion 10 years of community input, the millions of dollars spent on designs and concepts and get to work now. Join me on September 29 at 5 p.m. (place TBD) at the Board of Harbor Commissioners meeting, where the board will finally decide to move forward (or not) on the Port’s
waterfront plans. It’s now or never.