Community Voices
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A new Wendy’s fast-food restaurant is coming to Western Avenue. (file photo: courtesy CBM1)

Are you as insulted as I am when you see what kind of restaurants keep opening on Western Avenue?

I get the impression that the people whose job it is to find locations for restaurants research a population’s eating habits and, seeing a typical San Pedran, say, “You know what this place needs? Another hamburger joint.”

I mean, really, even if you like its food, do we need a Wendy’s on Western Avenue, just across the street from the extremely popular In-N-Out and, coming soon, a block away from The Habit Burger Grill, which will be only yards away from Jack in the Box, right across the street from the ubiquitous McDonald’s and a half-mile from the longstanding Carl’s Jr.? Does our population really look like it needs more French fries and sodas, not salads and vegetables?

Meanwhile, two Western Avenue locations that already once contained non-fast-food restaurants, the Marie Callender’s on Trudie and the Carrows/Coco’s site on Westmont, remain vacant, with a bank slated for the former pie emporium. A Panda Express replaced a Del Taco, but all that did was lead to the closure of a Pick Up Stix across the street.

I’ve never been much of a hamburger eater; when I was a kid, the only place I remember ever getting one was at the legendary Hamburger Hut on Gaffey. But that was way before fast food was even a term and way before America’s eating habits led to McDonald’s, Taco Bell, et al. And with each new franchise, it appears Americans began tipping the scales more and more toward obesity, which we’re told now has reached epidemic proportions, starting in young children and only getting worse.

Why can’t San Pedro/Eastview entice restaurants that serve more than breakfast, pizza, burritos, and burgers? Is this somehow linked to our blue-collar reputation?

Can’t we at least get a Chick-fil-A? Please.

What do you do when you have one of the busiest streets in the city, one that is almost always clogged with normal traffic, backed up regularly at major intersections by street light outages, and experiencing frequent lane closures due to roadwork?

Well, this is California, so of course, you make it worse.

At least, that is the newest plan of Caltrans, which, unfortunately, controls Western Avenue and, without so much as a by-your-leave for local government, has decided what San Pedro needs isn’t more traffic lanes for the thousands of commuters but bicycle lanes for the dozens of cyclists.

Councilman Tim McOsker wasn’t happy over what could only be called an “ambush” by the state agency, and we can only hope that the outcry of residents will be heard.

Don’t count on it.

The redecking of the Vincent Thomas Bridge will cause a major disruption in the lives of San Pedrans — the only question is, how much and for how long.

Four options have been put forth for the public’s opinions, but, in truth, the choice is really down to two. The two options of keeping the bridge open 24/7 but reduced to one lane each way would never work for the simple reason that there is no contingency for what happens regularly now on the bridge: an accident or vehicle breakdown. In either case, what would happen with just one lane each way? The backups would be for miles, and how would help even get to the vehicles? It would be a traffic disaster for the ages.

So we have to decide which of the two remaining options — a complete shutdown for 16 months (or up to 41 months) or a nighttime shutdown for two years (fingers crossed) — would have the lowest impact.

The people most impacted by any bridge work will be the thousands of longshoremen whose jobs are on Terminal Island or in Long Beach and the thousands of truck drivers who deliver or pick up containers at the port terminals. The complete closure, rerouting all of that traffic through Wilmington, would be a nightmare for drivers and Wilmington residents alike.

That leaves the closure from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. the only feasible option, reducing the impact on nightside longies and truckers.

If I’m wrong, let me know. Meanwhile, I thank God I’m retired. spt

photo of san pedro today author Steve Marconi

Steve Marconi

San Pedro native Steve Marconi began writing about his hometown after graduating from high school in 1969. After a career as a sportswriter, he was a copy editor and columnist for the News-Pilot and Daily Breeze for 20 years before joining the L.A. Times. He has been writing monthly for San Pedro magazines since 2005, and in 2018 became a registered longshoreman. Marconi can be reached at