“To say that this is unacceptable to us and to the residents of San Pedro and Wilmington who will be unfairly inconvenienced is an understatement,” said U.S. Rep. Jane Harman, D-El Segundo, in a letter to Social Security Administration Commissioner Michael J. Astrue. Harman was joined by other representatives – state Assemblywoman Betty Karnette, Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe and Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn – in objecting to the closure, which they said comes a year before the agency’s lease for the San Pedro office expires and flies in the face of an agreement worked out earlier to keep the office open awhile longer. Local nonprofits that serve seniors said losing the local facility will hurt both their clientele and staffs. “It just makes it much more inconvenient for us in providing transportation,” said Gary Kern, director of the Wilmington Senior Citizens Center in Banning Park. Knabe spokesman David Sommers said there was an agreement to offer walk-in Social Security services two days a week at a county office on Third Street, but the SSA has decided to use another county building instead and will offer fewer services than earlier thought to residents. By Donna Littlejohn STAFF WRITER The San Pedro office of the Social Security Administration shuts its doors today, angering local lawmakers who had been told the branch would remain open another year. When the office at 336 N. Gaffey St. closes at noon, residents of the Harbor Area will be directed to Social Security branches in either Torrance or Long Beach. Harman said agency Commissioner Peter Spencer agreed in May to “provide as many services as possible to constituents who are unable to travel to the Torrance office.” Now it appears that only the “barest minimum of services” will be available locally, Harman wrote in her letter. “We were told by staff that the San Pedro contact site office, which the SSA agreed to operate two days per week in a space large enough for a waiting area and private offices for appointments, will instead consist of a single SSA representative using a laptop computer in a room without separate offices,” she wrote. “Your agency is not living up to its end of the deal.” Beginning Tuesday, limited walk-in service will be available from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at the county mental health building at 150 W. Seventh St., in San Pedro. But for full service, San Pedro residents now will have to travel to 22600 Crenshaw Blvd. in Torrance and Wilmington residents will have to go to 2005 Long Beach Blvd. in Long Beach. Estimates vary as to how many people use the San Pedro office each day, ranging from 70 to 300. “The last numbers I saw said the (existing Social Security building in San Pedro) gets 300 visitors a day,” Sommers said. “These are fragile individuals, some may be disabled or elderly. Having to trek the extra miles to Torrance or Long Beach is unacceptable.” In June, Social Security officials said the consolidation was necessary as the administration focused more of its resources on growing population areas in Nevada, Arizona and inland California. Residents come to the Social Security office to apply for benefits, to get a replacement Social Security card, or to file a change of name or address. More and more people are making use of the agency’s online services at www.socialsecurity.gov or conducting business on the agency’s automated phone system. But many residents still prefer to conduct business the old-fashioned way. “A large number of seniors are not computer literate,” Kern said. “We’ll probably grow into a generation of dealing with people in a faceless way, but the older generation we’re in now likes to do business face to face.” [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!