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Auto Club Comes Back Home

By Jorge Casuso

October 25 -- Robin Squier, a field representative for Assembly member Fan Pavley, has “been a member longer than I’ve been alive.”

Mayor Pam O’Connor, has been a member for 29 years, the longest she’s belonged to any club.

And a longtime civic leader declined to state her longevity. “I’ve been a member all my life, and I don’t tell my age,” she said.

The three members of the Automobile Club of Southern California were among the dignitaries gathered at AAA’s “new old office” in Santa Monica, where the club returned after a decade away from the city that had been its home since the White Sox threw the World Series in 1919.

“As the number of members continues to grow in this vibrant area, we need to continue meeting the challenges of serving them,” Diana Price Smith, the club’s district manager, told the crowd.

After shutting down its Santa Monica office in 1995, AAA found that consolidating the club’s services at its Westside locale and relying on the internet and telephone didn’t cut it.

The 85,000 members who reside in the Santa Monica area wanted a more personal approach, relying on the club for more than an emergency tow or a handy gallon of gas.

“We wanted to consolidate, get bigger, bigger, bigger offices,” Price said. “As we continued year after year, people were not willing to cross over Sepulveda (Boulevard). People tell us, ‘We’re so happy your’re back.’”

On Monday the joy of having the club back in town was spelled out in commendations from Santa Monica and its neighboring cities, the county and even the state.

“We hope you will be here for the whole 21st Century in Santa Monica,” said Mayor O’Connor, who drove along the old Route 66 when she moved from Chicago.

Since opening its first Santa Monica office on Ocean Avenue in 1919, AAA has moved to Pico, then Wilshire Boulevard, finally landing at its current two story home at 2730 Santa Monica Boulevard in 1965, before leaving three decades later.

Like its other 29 offices throughout the county and 72 across Southern California, the Santa Monica office offers a slew of services for travelers -- from helping plan out a vacation and offering yens and Euros to providing discounted travel books and free road maps.

“We’re the only travel agency that can tow your car,” said Price. “People come to make their vacation planning. We’re the one spot travel stop.”

For more information, visit the Auto Club’s Web site at www.aaa.com

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