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21st CENTURY WATERFRONT: Artist rendering of West Harbor. (photo: courtesy Studio One Eleven)

San Pedro wasn’t built by people afraid of change.

I’ve always been fond of the Greek philosopher Heraclitus when he said, “You cannot step into the same river twice.”  The river is ever changing, and the water is continually flowing. San Pedro is going through a renewal that will create some amazing changes in how we live, work, and play, and we have an opportunity to help shape that change for the better.

Will there be more people? Yes. Torrance, Hermosa, Redondo, and Long Beach are pricing housing out of reach for most people. Home buyers are finding they get more for their money here in San Pedro, along with better views. While San Pedrans complain about the rising home prices, others are seeing our market as a bargain. The average equity homeowners have here in San Pedro is around $300,000. Hopefully, more parents will use that equity to help their children with down payments so they can remain here.

Will there be more traffic? Yes, a little, but a number of factors will help with that. Hyperloops, self-driving cars, and the ability to daisy-chain them together will reduce accidents and traffic dramatically. I know it sounds crazy, but some change happens quickly. The iPhone came out in 2007 and has quickly changed the way we live, communicate, and access data. Fifteen years from now, our relationship with our cars will change dramatically. 

Will there be parking issues? Maybe, maybe not. Expect to see more people working from home or in the jobs being created along the waterfront. Not everyone sees a single-family house, a couple of cars, and a long commute to work as ideal. Many of the folks moving to San Pedro don’t even own cars, trading car payments, insurance, gas, and maintenance for the ability to travel more.

When I first moved here, I was surprised by how many vacant storefronts lined the downtown. Now, with less parking than we had three years ago, our restaurants are thriving and hiring more staff to meet the demand. When we eventually add 400–800 parking spots on 6th Street, some people will opt to skip the hassle of parking and instead take a Lyft or an Uber for shows and big events. You can get dropped off at your favorite restaurant, walk to the Warner Grand, take a trolley to the new amphitheater on the waterfront, and Uber home without having to circle back to your car.

Some of the ways to be a part of the positive change is to encourage more historical renovations of the Craftsman, Victorian, beach bungalows, and interesting old homes here in San Pedro. If you plan to sell and your home needs work, hire a team like mine who will help pay for the renovation that will get you top dollar and protect your old home from being torn down and rebuilt.

Build Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) on your property so you can bring younger and older generations of San Pedrans together. We need a future generation of “born and raised” in San Pedro to remain here and the older generations to pass down the history, the culture, and San Pedro pride.

Start a small business that will benefit from increased tourism, events, and San Pedro as a destination. The prospect of consistent night life, family-friendly activities, and more things to do in San Pedro, will draw more people from the surrounding area. The fact that cruise ship operations could soon double from 2019 means more growth of our tourist trade and small business opportunities. The small shops, family-owned restaurants, and the businesses that support tourism will make San Pedro an even better place for new entrepreneurs to invest. We can celebrate our history while preparing housing, jobs, and quality of life for future generations. Change is inevitable. Participation is optional. spt

Lee Williams

Lee Williams is board chair of the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce and leads The Williams Group at Keller Williams PV Realty.

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