About Town

Published January 15, 2009

Police win
A federal jury gave Hermosa police a victory by dismissing a lawsuit alleging excessive force in a 2004 arrest on the Pier Plaza, Chief Greg Savelli said on Tuesday.
Aaron Himalaya Roberts had accused officers of beating him and inflicting a disfiguring injury to his thumb. Police said Roberts was arrested after he interfered with officers who were arresting his brother on suspicion of fighting. Savelli said Roberts later pleaded guilty to a criminal charge in connection with the arrest.

Greeko redux
It turns out that Greeko’s Sandals, the iconic smoke shop, clothing and incense store that catered to hippies and post-hippies for 48 years, might have more lives than Keith Richards.
Longtime owner Steve Yerkes closed the funky Hermosa Avenue shop around the beginning of the year, but some of his ex-employees have emerged as new owners and plan to reopen Greeko’s near the end of January.
Plans call for the irregular shaped, wooden-floored building to be split in half, with the new Greeko’s occupying the southern portion, and Nepal import store Yak & Yeti relocating from Pier Avenue to occupy the high-ceilinged northern portion.
Yak & Yeti carries inexpensive, eastern-influenced clothing and accessories, music CDs and Buddhist statuettes, carvings and paintings. The store also carries Tibetan incense, which when burned smells more like a wood fire than the perfumed Indian-style incense more commonly used in the U.S.
The new Greeko’s will feature an on-site silk screener to decorate customers’ T-shirts, and will continue to carry smoking products, incense and clothing, said employee turned co-owner Jason Ahu.
Holdover employees Amanda Watanabe and Rico Villanueva also will play prominent roles in keeping the store going as “kind of a collective,” Ahu said.
“We’re trying to keep our jobs,” he said.
The store’s founder, John Warren, is helping out as an advisor.
Warren was the sandal maker who in 1966 took the building, stuffed it with smoking pipes and bellbottoms, and later repaved the sidewalk outside with cobbled bricks bearing a funky bicentennial message.
Yerkes took over from Warren 18 years ago, and bowed out just weeks ago due to a number of business and personal considerations.

School future
Project Forward, an advisor committee formed by the City Council and city school board, plans to release a questionnaire this month to gather input on community awareness and perceptions about the school district.
The survey will be available on the city and School websites (hermosabch.org and HBCSD.org) at City Hall, the local county library branch and the View and Valley school offices.
In addition town forums are being scheduled for three Wednesdays – Feb. 4, March 4 and April 1 – to offer background on Project Forward and its progress, and to “facilitate open discussion about the perceptions and realities of the Hermosa Beach City School District,” committee members said in a prepared statement.
Project Forward’s regular meetings are open to the public and occur on the second Monday of each month, continuing through May of 2009. The committee is organized into subcommittees to study community relations, peer analysis, curriculum and finance.
Project Forward’s regular meetings and the town forums take place 7 p.m. at City Hall, 1315 Valley Drive at Pier Avenue.

Fiery dining
Ten percent of all proceeds from a wine dinner 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 15 at Il Boccaccio on the Pier Plaza will help pay for Hermosa Beach Fire Department paramedic equipment. It will be $75 for a four-course gourmet Italian dinner with wine, and the opportunity to chat with new city Fire Chief David Lantzer. For reservations call 310-376-0211. ER