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PD barricade blocks access to HB bookstore

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Sue de La Camp shelves books at the Friends of the Library bookstore. Photo by Micah Worner

by Micah Worner

One of my favorite bookstores is the Bard Street Bookstore off Pier Avenue in Hermosa Beach. It’s run by the Friends of Library out of a small garage and stocked with hundreds of donated books. You can find everything from Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” to the JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series, all for a dollar each.

I went there to find the books on my summer reading list, instead of Barnes and Noble, where I would have spent a lot more of my mom’s money.

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As I headed down Pier Avenue to turn at the Stars Antique Market, a 10-foot-high metal fence blocked my access to the bookstore. Confused, I circled around the back to the 11th Street entrance where there was another metal gate, barrier and lots of signs: Do Not Enter Road Closed and No Pedestrian Access to Pier Ave.

Was I breaking the law by heading to the bookstore? And why was it so hard to get there? To visit the Bard Street Bookstore visitors must walk in the front door of city hall and out the back door to Bard Street.

Hermosa Beach Police Capt. Milton McKinnon was kind enough to meet with me to provide some answers. Closing off Bard Street to pedestrians and cars was a “safety issue,” he said.

Before the street barriers, police and fire trucks had trouble getting around pedestrians and cars when responding to emergency calls.

Making it less dangerous for pedestrians was a top priority. Another priority was to provide an enclosed area for police officers and staff to park their cars, some of which had been vandalized, McKinnon said.

“Some people don’t necessarily like the police and here we are exposing our officers at late night hours, or even right now, where they walk out and right then and there, they’re on. There was no security,” he said.

Hermosa Beach was the only city in the South Bay that did not provide an enclosed area to park police and employee cars, McKinnon explained.

The gates provide an enclosed and secure area for police cars, but they also cut off access to the bookstore.

“It’s a terrible idea,” Friends of the Library volunteer Sue de la Camp said of the barriers. “I think that it is totally not what the beach community, Hermosa Beach, has prided itself on, a warm open community.”

De la Camp said the city’s original plan was to relocate the bookstore to another location, but those plans have stalled because of a lack of funding.

When I asked McKinnon if is he would consider leaving a small portion of the front door open while the bookstore in open on Monday mornings from 9 a.m. to noon, he said it was not a possibility.

“I am not okay with that,” he said. “I recognize that it’s pain. But I’m not going to leave that open right now.”

McKinnon said the police department is waiting on a lock, expected next month, so people could exit from the Pier Avenue gate, but it cannot be used as an entrance.

In the meantime, foot traffic and donations have gone down at the bookstore.

I found every single book on my summer reading list at the Bard Street Bookstore, but I had to go through an obstacle course to get there.

Once I got there, the volunteers were super friendly and helpful, and really encouraged reading. I wouldn’t want my generation, a generation that loves to play video games and watch cat videos on YouTube, to miss out on that.

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