San Pedro’s waterfront, now the focus of a new attraction set to open in 2023, is a short walking distance from the town’s historic shopping and dining district.
But many visitors never make the connection.
It’s a bit farther from local sites such as the historic Point Fermin Lighthouse, Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, the still-developing AltaSea and the Korean Friendship Bell.
So in an effort to connect the dots for visitors, the Port of Los Angeles has partnered with the community to produce a plan that will lay the groundwork on how to get folks from one place to another — and to let them know there’s something else to see in town.
The port has agreed to spend $500,000 to go out for bid on a proposal from a third party to do the study, expected to take about a year. The funding came out of the port’s waterfront access funding announcement in August, a list of projects made following extensive community meetings.
The connectivity study, said Elise Swanson, CEO of the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce, “was something of a consensus between the chamber of neighborhood councils.”
The outreach by the port began about two years ago, said Ann Carpenter, CEO and cofounder of Braid Theory working out of AltaSea.
“The connectivity plan was kind of a common thread when it came to all these ideas and projects,” Carpenter said.
Pieces of the puzzle could include way-finder signage, people-mover style transportation, and even some physical connectors between interest points.
The issue isn’t a new one in San Pedro, where cruise lines once were known to direct passengers to head toward Long Beach if they were looking for restaurants and things to do.
There have been some significant improvements since then that keep tourists local, including the arrival of the Battleship Iowa tourist attraction within walking distance of the cruise terminal.
And a new waterfront attraction is in the works and scheduled to be open in 2023, expected to draw crowds.
But what about the restaurants and bars in nearby downtown San Pedro? Or the area’s museums and AltaSea, the marine research campus and other points of interest just a short distance away?
The connector plan speaks to the belief among the community’s leaders that there needs to be a way to better move folks from place to place — and to let them know those other places even exist.
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Michael Galvin, director of waterfront and commercial real estate for the Port of Los Angeles, said areas of focus would likely include non-motorized transportation and public transit, including water taxis, that will help move people from place to place; providing better access points; making some streets more pedestrian-friendly; more signage and public art and open spaces that offer activities; and crosswalks and other physical connector enhancements.
A park along Harbor Boulevard on the waterfront side that would be easily accessible to residents of One San Pedro, the replacement development for Rancho San Pedro, already is in the works and would blend with the overall aims.
The port is expected to go out for the request for proposals later this month, Galvin said, with a plan in place possibly by the end of 2022. The process will involve pubic input and the plan itself would be flexible as parts of it are implemented and considered for future development.
“This was the one project that came up as a top priority,” Galvin said of the many community meetings held over the past two years. “We’re looking to create a network of very well-connected, multi-use properties.”