Maybe it's just a sign of the times
by Daniel Blackburn
There may be a "Millie Riera" sign in Redondo Beach's future, thanks to a last-second shot at a state budget allocation.
The sign, for years a silent Pacific Coast highway landmark, has perched in neon splendor even beyond the life of its host, a seaside restaurant just off the Esplanade. The eatery closed two years ago, but the sign - considered by many to be its own structure with its own history - stayed on.
Some business owners in the Riviera Village shopping center were lobbying for the sign's removal. Some even called it "an eyesore."
The Redondo Beach Historical Commission and other city officials successfully petitioned the city council to seek state funds to "save" the sign, even if it meant moving it.
Money for that - an estimated $8,500 - has now been included in a local district project bill awaiting action by the state senate in January.
Funds to preserve the sign and its accompanying heritage are held in the Transportation Enhancement Activities Fund (known in the legislature as "T-21") and have been requested by a Senate bill already passed by the full Assembly.
That is federal money distributed by the state to regional transportation agencies. In the Los Angeles area, that's the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA).
Assemblyman George Nakano (D-Torrance) moved quickly when he learned the money was being made available, said administrative assistant Becky Ames.
"The Assembly was able to get a chunk of money and opened the application process to member's districts," she said this week.
Ames said the city of Redondo Beach had submitted a request for historical preservation funds, but the sign "didn't qualify on many fronts."
But toward the end of the legislative session, she added, "this opportunity arose."
Local requests were considered.
"Since we already had this (sign project) request on our desk, we submitted it."
A dead bill was revived and stripped, and was re-born as a pork-barrel bill incorporating Assembly and Senate members' district-related requests, and it quickly passed the lower house.
But the Senate already had adjourned until January, so it won't take up the measure until after the first of the year.
However, it faces an easy time in the Senate and urgency-status attention from Gov. Gray Davis.
"We expect it to be a very smooth ride. The seat belt sign will be turned off when we reach cruising altitude," said Ames. ER
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