Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Let's Bring Light Rail Back To the Harbor Area!

This post is a contrbution to this blog from;

This is their second post contribution concerning a light rail line in the harbor area. I am very interested in seeing a light rail line in the harbor area, and I support their efforts to bring back light rail to our area.


The Port of Los Angeles recently announced that it has reopened the public comment period of its long-awaited Bridge to Breakwater proposal.

As you may know, the original master plan drafted in 2004 remarkably included only two sentences regarding a potential future link to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's light-rail system.

The plan's future success appears to play off the axiom: If you build it, they will come. But a more accurate description of the Port's mantra should be: If you build it, they will come -- provided they have a way to get there.

The Port's recent announcement provides an opportunity to dramatically shift the focus of the project and to make linking the project to the MTA's light-rail system a reality. You may be asking yourself, "What can I do to help?

Send an Email as soon as possible to the following addresses:

In a brief, concise manner indicate that you;

(1) support the bridge to breakwater proposal but only with a much greater emphasis on connecting the project with the MTA's light-rail system.

(2) believe that any revitalization of the waterfront in excess of several hundred million dollars would be foolish without linking it to the city's mass-transit system.

Thank you!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Ned Likes Mr. Bisno's Plans

Ned and June are the fictional neighbors of the very fictional Gus and Betty. Ned and Gus have very different opinions on what should be built at Ponte Vista.

You may remember from a previous post, I invented “Gus” to help folks understand the two questions I would like everyone to respond to, concerning Ponte Vista at San Pedro;

What do you want to see built at Ponte Vista?

What reasons back up your opinions?

“Gus” wanted up to 1,200 homes with 60% of the homes being designated senior housing in a guard-gated portion of the site. “Gus” also thought that the non-age restricted areas be open to public access of the park lands and other amenities.

Ned has a very different opinion and reasoning than Gus. I will use Ned to illustrate what a supporter of Mr. Bisno’s MIGHT comment on. Please remember, this is for illustration only and Ned is not a real person. Ned has a different way to write his opinions than imbg, aNOnymous, M Richards, and others have used on this blog.

Ned supports Mr. Bisno’s plans to build 2,300 homes at Ponte Vista. He feels that the number of homes Mr. Bisno plans is just about right for the area. He feels that Mr. Bisno will make good on his promise to mitigate all traffic issues so the high number of homes is not too big, in Ned’s opinion.

Ned really likes the views he sees in the artist’s drawings. He has lived in his older home in San Pedro for over 60 years and he would like a new home in the senior section of the project. Ned feels there are lots of folks just like him in San Pedro, who want to give up their older family homes now that the kids have all moved out.

Ned thinks he would like a two-bedroom condominium in an area that will have many of his old friends and neighbors living at, as well. Ned likes the security of living behind gates where guards protect his home.

Ned likes the idea of walking in a beautiful area and being able to stop by a corner café to pick up a cup of coffee and shoot the breeze with some other oldsters he meets. He really feels there will be more community spirit among the older folks at Ponte Vista.

Ned believes all this for a number of reasons. First, he thinks the DEIR was carefully constructed and feels the City Planning Department would not let it pass inspection if it had lots of errors.

Ned also believes that there is a real need for more housing in the area, particularly for seniors, like him.

Ned feels his wife June would be well protected if and when he passes away because he knows that he will be living in a secured area with attentive guards and staff.

Ned is tired of working in his yard and does not want to deal with the multiple problems that continually creep up in older homes. He feels he will have much less to worry about in a brand new home.

Ned would like to be able to pass his current home on to one of his kids. He remembers all the families that lived in his neighborhood and he wants to give his kids the same opportunities to have their families grow up in old San Pedro.

Ned was one of the many immigrants from Komiza. He fished when he first arrived in San Pedro. After he married June, who was born in Ischia, he went to work on the docks to support his growing family. June spent some time working in the cannery before she became a stay at home mom.

Ned and June hope more of their old friends would like to move into Ponte Vista. They think that is one way to keep old friends together and not have them spread out where is would be harder to maintain those friendships.

Ned has told June that he won’t be driving so much so he does not mind all the extra traffic that will be on Western. He also believes Mr. Bisno about having a good transportation system at Ponte Vista that will ferry folks to the doctors or shopping.

Ned thinks that all the people who are “pooh-poohing” Mr. Bisno’s plans only have their best interests in mind and not folks like him and June. He feels those people should respect what folks his age want and let them have the homes they like.

Ned thinks all the buildings going up around San Pedro will bring in more people and the senior section at Ponte Vista will be like an oasis from all the new development. It is a great place to retire to, he claims.

Ned even thinks that one of his kids might want one of the “affordable” homes in the other part of Ponte Vista. He thinks it would be great if the grand kids could just walk to his home and he could visit anytime he wants. He actually believes the homes will be “affordable” to most of the people looking for homes in the area. Ned does not really understand “market rate” or “market priced” homes. He totally believes Mr. Bisno when he claims the homes will be “affordable”.

MW, back to reality.

Please, please, please, don’t attack poor Ned. Besides the fact he does not really exist, he was merely used as an example. He is unfortunately, the only example, so far, of what I feel a true Ponte Vista supporter might print on this blog if there were any real supporters willing to post a comment. Ned’s view mimic views I have heard from real supporters, so I co-mingled comments from many folks to create Ned. Ned also follows lines repeated by Mr. Bisno and many on his staff.

Ned is fictional, and so might be many of the supporters Mr. Bisno claims to have. I have documented concerns many folk have had dealing with how Mr. Bisno acquired as many supporter names as he has.

There was a petition drive where the petitioner asked prospective signers if they wanted more “affordable” housing in San Pedro. Some folks who signed the petitions later found out they were petitions of support for Mr. Bisno’s plans for Ponte Vista. Mr. Bisno is not building housing that would fit into the category of “affordable” as defined by several governmental agencies. He is proposing to build homes to sell at market rate or market prices. Just as many other homes are sold on the open market.

Mr. Bisno’s organization sent out two cards that arrived at my friend’s house on the same day. The cards requested that my friend sign the cards and mail them back in. One of the cards was to remain on file with Mr. Bisno’s staff and the other was to be included with other supporter cards that to be delivered to the Community Advisory Committee. My friend signed the cards using a fictitious name and sent them from his home in Carson.
So I can write, with some accuracy that Mr. Bisno has at least one fictitious supporter he has a supporter card for, and two fictitious supporters who remain in the foggy mind of this author.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

A Contribution from Tom, Imbg, and aNOnymous

Tom, Imbg, and aNOnymous are regular commentors to this blog.

Tom has asked that some of the comments he has exchanged with me be posted as a regular post. This is what I call elavating comments to post status.

Tom likes my use of a fictional character I have created named "Gus". I think both Tom and I feel that "Gus" can help demonstrate how someone might answer two specific questions that we think everyone has the right to be heard and read about.

The two questions that we hope everyone answers in their own opinion are:

What should be built at Ponte Vista?

Why do you believe what it should be built, in your opinion?

Imbg also comments on this blog and "Life on the Edge." In fact just today, Imbg very clearly answered my challenge to state what he/she feels should be at Ponte Vista, and why.
I am seizing the opportunity to snatch Imbg's comments off of Life on the Edge and posting them further down this post.

aNOymous has also contributed his opinions and reasonings in a different format than "Gus" and imbg chose to use. I appreciate being able to elevate imbg and aNOnymous' comments to post status. I will do the same for others who wish their opinions and reasonings be posted using this manner.

Tom and I hope this will encourage others to let every reader share their opinion on this issue.

The comments below include suggestions made to me by Tom. This post is essentially his creation with a little thievery on my part.

For this comment, I will call myself "Gus" for the hypothetical purpose of letting everyone know what "Gus" thinks.

"Gus" would like you to know that he doesn't believe that most persons
employed in "service-related" jobs could afford homes priced in the range Mr. Bisno seeks to build them for. It has been mentioned that the income level needed to by the median priced home at Ponte Vista (probably a 3-bedroom unit) would be about $140,000.00 per year. I am in a "service-related" job and "Gus" would have to work at least 10 hours per day for about 24 days a month, each year to make that gross income. "Gus" chooses to not work for so many hours per year.

I think for most of the readers' sake, and for ease of other contributors, it might be best for anyone wishing to, to state their opinions of what they feel should be built at Ponte Vista, and why.

"Gus" is finding, by his reading, that many folks who are "Anonymous" and others (imbg for one) are not presenting their cases in format that is conducive to easier understanding by many of the readers to this blog and these comments who choose not to respond.

"Gus" wants to read, in very simple terms, what someone feels should be built at Ponte Vista, and why the contributor feels that way.

"Gus" is now going to give his (not Mark's or M's) thoughts on what should be built at Ponte Vista and why as an example that many readers should be able to easliy understand and make comments based on his writing.

"Gus" believes that Mr. Bisno should get approval for up to 1,200 homes at Ponte Vista, with 60% senior housing and 40% non-age restricted housing.

He believes a convienence store, complete with a pharmacy should be on the property, and that the streets and park areas within the non-age restricted part, be open to public access.

"Gus" also feels that Mr. Bisno should work with L.A.U.S.D. on voluntarily welcoming an 800-student academy onto Ponte Vista, or accept the 2,025-seat senior high school on the southern protion of Ponte Vista, and not where he wants his senior housing to go.

Now this is why "Gus" believes what he believes.

1,200 homes, with 60% senior housing, would meet Mr. Bisno's public thoughts about expanding the current number of senior units. Gus feels that the total number of homes and amount of senior housing would be have similar traffic counts as single-family homes, without actually building any single-family detached homes at the project.

"Gus" thinks if public access to the non-age restricted streets and amenities is allowed, it would foster a better community relationship with the entire area.

"Gus" likes the idea of a convienence store, including a pharmacy, would lessen the number of car trips because, for small items and medicines, residents will have the opportunity of walking to the nearest small store and pharmacy.

"Gus" understands the need for another high school in the area. He thinks an 800-seat academy could be built at Ponte Vista, but he doesn't understand much about what amenities would students lack with such a small campus. Would there be sports fields, gym, arts, and shop classes on the site?

"Gus" can't rule out the need for the big high school, but he thinks that it should be situated in the southern portion of Ponte Vista as a courtesy to Mr. Bisno's wishes to put his senior housing where he plans to build it.

"Gus" knows that the property won't have single-family detached homes unless they are Patio Homes because: a) the area really needs a lot more housing, and b) those types of homes would price most folks out of buying at Ponte Vista.

"Gus" worked at a McDonald's for over 35 years. He still sees "KISS" in his dreams. "Keep it simple, stupid" is his mantra.

Do "Gus'" comments help folks?
7:08 AM
tom said...

"Gus" seems to have a down-to-earth viewpoint of this issue that many of us might inadvertently lose while in pursuit of items which pique our personal interests.

The only question I have for Gus is whether he is the sole wage-earner in his household. I can readily understand his reluctance to put in 10-hour days, 24 days a month. I didn't like it when I was a young man, and I certainly have less of an appetite for it now. I'd much rather be out on the golf course. Actually, his reasoning is very straightforward.

I must confess when you said he still dreams of KISS I thought you meant the band.

As for some of his points.

I think there is an allocation for retail in the development, but if memory serves me right (and please give me a break here and remember my Alzheimer's!) it is only 10,00 sq.ft. I don't know if that is enough to fit what would be required to reduce off-site car trips. This might be one suggestion for Bisno.

Gus's point about the school and the smaller academy lacking the amenities of a larger school is pretty spot-on. However Janice Hahn is dead set against a big school, so I do not know what Bisno could do about that.

Regarding the school in general, does anyone remember when Rod Hamilton got pinned down by Betsy Weismann at one of the fir Committee meetings? It seems that even though in their public presentations they offer up a "site" where they want to put their school, officially in writing they have not yet done so. They are still classifying the entire 62 acres as their "designated site". As Mark pointed out in his comment about being compensated if a movie company used his property to shoot a film, he would expect to be compensated; wouldn't it stand to reason that you would also have them specify which part of your home they would be using? Wouldn't you refuse them if they didn't? Isn't Bisno entitled to the same rights? I know I would want to be. I really think this is the sticking point. They won't tell Bisno, or at least negotiate in good faith, over where the school would go. My answer (and I suspect yours and most others) would be the same as Bisno's and tell them to take a flying leap...

But back to Gus. His ability to see the need for housing that is affordable is the key. The ultimate numbers can be worked out pending review and verification of population and traffic numbers which have been so all over the map as to leave everyone uncertain as to where it would finally wind up.

I think this comment thread would do well if it is cut and pasted into it's own entry.
3:55 PM
M Richards said...
Howdy Tom,

You have made some great points again.

"Gus" told me that his wife, "Betty" works part time.

"Gus" would like to see anyone who is interested in professing opinions about the whats and whys of Ponte Vista put them in a form somewhat similar to the way "Gus" put his opinions.

Your comments on the possible retail space is what is planned at this point. There has been a assessment that retail space be very limited to a Dry Cleaning business, a small coffee shop/food store, and possibly a day care center.

I do think it is very much in the realm of discussing alternatives to the retail area that would assist seniors more and supply further amenities to the general public if access to Ponte Vista is open. I think there is a strong belief among most of us discussing Ponte Vista, that the senior area, no matter how big it is, where it finally is, and what it looks like, should still have a guard-gated entrance as well as a remote-accessed entrance.

For the L.A.U.S.D. to have access to Mr. Bisno's land, I think a contract with specific wording and fee schedule would be the correct thing to have. It is not something L.A.U.S.D. wants to start to do. But it is simply the proper thing to do. I would regret Mr. Bisno's complete denial of access to his land under every circumstance, but he has a right to get paid for access to his property, if he chooses.

I, being the creator of "Gus" must caution folks not to be confused by the word "affordable" with respect to Ponte Vista.

Ponte Vista may provide housing that many folks can afford, but there are no plans to have any housing for sale that follow the strict guidelines required for calling the housing "affordable" in the sense of these types of housing requirements.

Ponte Vista's home prices will be dictated by the market that is current at the time the homes are placed for sale. There is a rebate scheme afoot for certain buyers who fit into specific job categories, but those folks will probably need an income higher than most "service" jobs pay.

Tom, I need your help in identifying which parts of these comments should be elevated to post status. I don't know if you want the all the comments elevated or just certain ones. You get the call on this one and I'll do whatever your wishes are.
7:13 PM
tom said...

IMHO the description of "Gus", his situation and what he would like to see, should jump up to its own post. Viewing things in that light helped to cut through some of the other issues I am as guilty as anyone else of letting infiltrate my comments. It sort of brought things back into focus. Perhaps if the discussion gets back on track, figuring out which numbers, generated by whom, are accurate and make sense.

I'll try to keep my own ego out of this, so my comments don't need to go with it. Let people start fresh. People can look at them here if they are really interested. The important thing is to get the focus back on people like "Gus" and "Betty".

I think we are on the same page re. LAUSD. I can empathize with Bisno not wanting people on his land without proper insurance, contracts, etc. But LAUSD is so used to being unfettered, this is a difficult concept for them to swallow. Much less the other item you mentioned of the precedent it would set. Seeing what unfolds will prove interesting.

Now I am going to include the comments I found very worthwhile to me and fit quite nicely my ideas of what I was requesting.

IMBG said...
MW wrote:

Now imbg, why don't you tell us what you would like to see at Ponte Vista, and why you want to see whatever you want.

I would like to see something like the nature preserve at White Point, but without the militancy about native plants. Fat chance of it ever happening, of course, but you did ask what I'd like to see. It's not often you get a chance to reverse sprawl, so it's really dispiriting to see people shouting themselves hoarse over how best to preserve sprawl instead. You can never have too many places like White Point (another place that the military didn't need anymore, remember), and right now we don't have nearly enough.

As you can no doubt guess, I am not sold on the "need" for housing or other high-impact uses on this spot. San Pedro, Wilmington, and Lomita have plenty of fugly parking lots and struggling strip malls that should have a reasonably dense housing and commercial mix on them instead. Beautify neighborhoods while increasing housing stock and reducing car trips. Senior housing? Well, if I were a "senior" I don't think I would want to be shunted off from the rest of the world out in Sprawlvania, and the proximity to Green Hills just seems...mmm, unnecessarily poignant. The DiCarlo bakery would have been a better site for the LAUSD's high school, and would have spared us a local-business-killing Target store. And so on. It's not rocket surgery.

I have not included my comments back to imbg on this post. I encourage everyone to visit Life on the Edge at to learn for this site and read some great posts and comments that don't necessarily all deal with Ponte Vista.

aNOnymous and tom have a lively debate going. aNOnymous has posted his opinions and reasonings he based his opinions on. So here they are:

aNOnmyous' Goal:
Influence the City Council to uphold the current zoning of R1 at Ponte Vista.

Method to achieve goal:
A two pronged approach of
a) Drawing attention to the issue.
b) Attacking the credibility of BisNO's application for re-zoning Ponte Vista.

Detail of methods:
a) We need to be loud. Believe it or not, many people do not have a clue of what BisNO is trying to do to SP/RPV with this development. We need to attract attention by coming up with catchy phrases like "Just Say NO to BisNO" and put them on posters, mailers, stickers, buttons, blogs etc, and then take to the street with demonstrations and pickets. We could try and attract the media and could even appear on a local cable show (that, by the way, I know is interested). The idea here is to call attention in a big loud way. Loud and angry.
b) Simultaneously, we have a group of people whose job it would be to take various sections of BisNO's support data and piece by piece break it down to expose all the assumptions, omissions and uncertainty in the data. That data would be used by an individual who would be very good at articulating that data to the public, media, council members etc, in order to drive home the "facts and data" side of our campaign.

I think something along those lines can get the attention of the City Council.

"Tom", my message and goal is clear, direct, unwaivering and it does not rely on trying to appeal to a person (Bob BisNO) who is purely motivated by making "boatloads" of money. You don't know what BisNO is thinking unless you happen to be BisNO himself or an associate. If you even begin to dig into the profit goals of Bob BisNO with your compromise solutions, he will slam the door shut in your face and you will be left with nothing but wasted time and no real goals. BisNO has no responsibility to the communities of SP/RPV. The City Council DOES. I choose to influence the City Council. I choose not to show any signs of compromise on this issue because the burden of changing the zoning is on Bob BisNO. The people who support R1 are in the drivers seat, for now, and there is no reason for compromise until BisNO gets his wish (if he gets his wish) and a zoning change is approved. Now "Tom" please don't reply with the old story of Bob BisNO walking away, and Ponte Vista turning into an Industrial Wasteland scenario. It's pure speculation, nothing more. I could speculate that a less greedy developer(s) could come in and make Ponte Vista work as R1 with a healthy enough profit to satisfy most property development company's goals. What's your go forward plan? Details please...Pretty Please?

The following comment from aNOnymous includes more of his opinions and reasoning behind them and I felt is also deserves elevation to post status.

Mark,I see you went ahead and elevated my plan. Actually my start of a plan. Obviously there are allot more details that have to be determined before it could be put into motion. Thanks for the recognition. I do want to also submit that there should be a 3rd prong to the plan. It's the part that would be the contingency part of the plan. This is where compromise comes in. If at any point in the campaign it looks as if the City Council is going to approve some type of zoning change, we have to be ready with a clear cut compromise or hybrid plan that could be proposed. It has to be a real plan with clear substantiated reasons for the plan that make it acceptable to the community. But this absolutely cannot come out before we hit the R1 only's strictly a fall back position (a very important position though that must be prepared ahead of time). So as you can tell, I do see value in all the compromise discussions, it's just that we have to put it in the proper order.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Why I Support R1 Zoning at Ponte Vista

It is now time for me to post why I support the maintaining of the current zoning at the Ponte Vista at San Pedro development site.

First though, I want to remind readers of my history in the area and my membership on a committee dealing with the Ponte Vista Development.

My parents brought me to the home I currently share with my wife when I was one-day old. That day was May 4, 1955. This home I grew up in is located in the first tract of homes built between Western Avenue and Miraleste Drive. It is in the neighborhood commonly known as the Crestwood area. It was originally called Eastview when it was developed. Now the home is in the Mira Vista Homeowners Association area of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes.

I moved away in October 1976 to seek my fame and fortune. During my time away from the home, members of my family continued to occupy the home. My mother and father, then my sister’s family, lived in the home until 1998. My second wife and I moved back into what I call the “Wells ancestral home” and we have no plans to leave.

I attended Crestwood Elementary, Dodson Junior, and San Pedro High schools, and my first wife and her siblings grew up on Barrywood in the Westmont neighborhood.

I have worked for the variously named companies that began as AT&T and is now known as AT&T for over 26 years. I have driven a Manhole Van throughout Southern California, with most of the driving done on urban streets, hilly roads, and crowded freeways.

Earlier this year, Councilwoman Janice Hahn formed an advisory group to assist her and the community in understanding and making recommendations for what should be inside Ponte Vista at San Pedro. Three members of the fourteen-member group represent the interests of the residents of Rancho Palos Verdes, especially the eastern area of the city. We also endeavor to represent our San Pedro neighbors who live within two miles of the site.

Lucie Thorsen, Richard Brunner and I were appointed to Ms. Hahn’s Community Advisory Committee (CAC) by the Rancho Palos Verdes City Council. For me, it is wonderful Ms. Hahn included Rancho Palos Verdes in her group, and I am very appreciative to have been selected by my city council to represent their interests and the interests of the residents of eastern Rancho Palos Verdes.

Mr. Bisno purchased 61.53 acres of land formerly occupied by the families of military personnel. He paid $122,000,000.00 for the combined acreage. The site, formerly known as San Pedro Navy Housing was annexed into the City of Los Angeles via an ordinance, and the current zoning of R1, single-family homes, with up to nine homes per acre was established, in 1980

Mr. Bisno has submitted an application to the Los Angeles City Planning Department to change the zoning to allow 2,300 condominiums and town homes in an area now occupied by 245 unoccupied single family homes, mostly built as duplexes. His application is for 575 homes for residents’ 55-years of age or better, and 1,725 non-age restricted homes.

When I first thought about what the developer, Mr. Robert H. (Bob) Bisno was proposing, I thought about creating a self-test that I could use in evaluating each issue concerning the proposed project.

I thought of four words that all begin with the letter “R” when I pondered various issues.

With each issue, I wanted to know if it is “Reasonable, Responsible, Realistic, and Respectful” to myself, my family, my neighbors, and the residents I was chosen to represent.

At this time, and until Mr. Bisno’s plans for building 2,300 homes at Ponte Vista change, I must support maintaining the current zoning at the site.

For the residents I represent, I feel the current proposals are unreasonable, irresponsible, unrealistic, and disrespectful.

Under certain conditions that I have thought a great deal about, I would be very willing to discuss and be open-minded about, compromises to Mr. Bisno’s 2,300 home vision.

I am intrigued by the “hybrid scenario” which allows for fewer homes in the area, but with a greater number of homes for senior citizens. I am most willing to “talk up” alternatives to the project if they are reasonable, responsible, realistic, and respectful to the residents of eastern Rancho Palos Verdes and northwest San Pedro.

Mr. Bisno can begin building single-family detached homes with a ratio of up to nine homes per acre, almost immediately, if he chooses to. Mr. Bisno has been quoted as stating that he is not building “single-family homes at Ponte Vista”.

Throughout this blog I feel I provide accurate factual information that I can provide source documentation for.

In subsequent posts, beginning with "The Ugly Truths" I will provide details for my conclusions so they can be debated by everyone.

The Ugly Truths

This post will probably make folks on all sides of the Ponte Vista debate uncomfortable with me and my conclusions.

I have already angered many supporters of Mr. Bisno's plans to build 2,300 homes inside his Ponte Vista Development. But I will probably anger quite a few folks to support "R1" zoning on the site. Let's see how this will all turn out.

I have shifted my thinking from being a "supporter of R-1" to concluding that the current zoning of the site, which is zoned R1, for up to nine homes per acre, should be maintained and the application of any zoning change by Mr. Bisno be denied by the Los Angeles City Council.

Mr. Bisno and his organization have the burden to prove to decision makers, potential buyers, and current residents in the area, that what he has proposed for the development would be the most beneficial to everyone. I have concluded that he and his organization have not, as yet, met that burden of proof.

Since I have concluded that Mr. Bisno's proposals have met my necessary standards to have a change of zoning approved, I have created some steps that he may take where I would find comfort in discussing alternatives to his proposal that I could, finally support.

For me to consider alternatives to Mr. Bisno's current plans, the following steps should be taken;

There should be a third traffic study, paid for by Mr. Bisno and completely independent of any government entity, the developer's organization, or the Planning Department.

There should be an announcement by the Mr. Bisno that he is openly willing to discuss reasonable alternatives to building 2,300 homes at Ponte Vista, no matter what any government department or office says. This announcement should be publicised his Web sites, and in newspapers in the area.

There should be an inclusion into discussions with representatives of L.A.U.S.D., concerning SRHS #14, so all parties could be well informed and can make their opinions and facts known.

Ponte Vista must have public streets in the non-age restricted portion of any multi-building development.

The developer, along with local business owners, should do the unprecedented act of discussing parking issues if Mr. Bisno continues to apply for a zoning change.

If those conditions are meant, then I would be very willing to thoughtfully discuss alternatives and scenarios that don't include 2,300 homes or nine homes per acre.

A very ugly truth that many supporters of R1 probably don't know is that there are no large acreage R1 zoned sites that have been approved by the L.A. City Council lately.

There must be an acknowledgement by all sides that San Pedro needs more housing units. Even though their would be no homes built in Ponte Vista that would mitigate any housing needs in the San Pedro Community Plan, homes in the area still need to be built.

Mr. David Olivo of the L.A. City Planning Department confided to me that he knows of no current R1 developments on large parcels of land within the City of Los Angeles.

An ugly truth I must remind readers of is that I feel I represent the majority of eastern Rancho Palos Verdes who want to only see R1 at Ponte Vista. While I will always consider "San Pedro" home, I live in a city whose eastern residents will be severely impacted by a large development at Ponte Vista.

Another ugly truth is that I do not believe many of the facts and figures, purported to be true in the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR), rise to the level of believability that would be required for the approval of a zoning change.

The DEIR was paid for by the developer, who contracted with a private company to produce the DEIR. Once the DEIR was completed, it was sent to the L.A.City Planning Department to be scrutinized for correctly reporting facts and figures. The Planning Department is not the decision maker for any zoning change. The department accepts the DEIR for publication under its name after it has assured itself that the contents of the document is complete and truthful, as far as they are concerned.

Different methodologies of studying the same thing, often produce different results. Because I continue to have doubts about some of the facts and figures purported to be true in the DEIR, I am not willing to "gamble" the future of the area by recommending approval of the developer's
application, at this time.

7,343 or 4,313. How many residents might actually live at Ponte Vista in a 2,300 home development. It depends on the report you believe is true. I have generated a different set of possible population numbers that may or may not be more accurate. Because this is also and ugly truth, I continue to feel the current zoning of the site should not be changed.

Mr. Bisno has called folks who are "R1 supporters", "ranting elitists". I feel this is not only very untrue, but derogatory on it's face. Just today as I pulled out of a parking space in my Honda Element, I made sure I did not sideswipe Mr. Bisno's black Rolls Royce. The ugly truth here is that I regret Mr. Bisno continues to call many R1 supporters "ranting elitists", and I feel continuing animosity by Mr. Bisno, towards R1 supporters, but not me personally, suggests that he devalues may folks I represent.

Something is going to be built in the area now known as Ponte Vista at San Pedro. An ugly truth is one of the "somethings" being considered is a 2,025 seat senior high school. Mr. Bisno may correctly claim that the L.A.U.S.D. has been unwilling to negotiate with him on access to his land and reservations he has about building such a large school at Ponte Vista.

Mr. Bisno has publicly and privately said that he would be willing to discuss a "fewer than 1,000 student" campus at Ponte Vista. All parties should redouble their efforts to sit down and openly negotiate about the possible future of 15.03 acres within Ponte Vista. Failure to do so may find Mr. Bisno beginning construction on buildings that might be condemned and demolished even before they are completed.

Because nobody really knows at this time whether there will be more protracted litigation issues surrounding the proposed school, I have concluded that the current zoning at Ponte Vista, be maintained.

An ugly truth is that a public road between Western Avenue and Gaffey Street must be built if any multiple-building developments are approved in the Ponte Vista area. There is a vocal opposition to this proposal, but that opposition is not coming from Mr. Bisno or myself.

Another ugly truth is one that many people, including myself, have written about before. Mr. Bisno paid approximately $122,000,000.00 for a total of 61.53 acres that is now known as Ponte Vista at San Pedro. Buying land at any price can be a gamble. Paying well over the expected selling price for land is surely a gamble, in my opinion. I haven't read in any publication where a land owner is allowed to build anything he wishes to on that land, just because he paid a great amount of money for land that may not have actually been worth what he paid for it.
It is not mandatory for the zoning to be changed just because the land owner may have overpaid for the land.

A very ugly but accurate truth is that, unless Mr. Bisno builds single-family detached homes inside Ponte Vista on a ratio of up to nine homes per acre, (up to 429 homes) there will be no R1 development at Ponte Vista. Mr Bisno has been quoted that there are no plans to build single-family homes at Ponte Vista. Mr. Bisno chose to make that claim and I believe he is very determined to build large, multi-dwelling buildings on his site. Currently, Mr. Bisno is allowed to build homes according to the current zoning for the site.

In conclusion, It is my feeling that Mr. Bisno's application for changing the current zoning on the site should be denied until such time as Mr. Bisno submits an amended application that provides the best possible outcome for me and the residents of eastern Rancho Palos Verdes I was selected to represent in this matter.

The Second Tour

On Saturday December 9, 2006, six members of the Community Advisory Committee took a tour of three different residential development sites.

Accompanying committee members on the tour were Mr. Bisno, Mr. Alan Abshez, (Mr. Bisno, attorney for the Ponte Vista Project) a few members of Mr. Bisno’s Ponte Vista staff, Mr. Victor Griego, the committee’s facilitator and a staff member from his organization, Mr. Tony Olivo from the City Planning Department, and Mr. Ken Nilmeier of the firm of McLarand, Vasquez, Emsiek & Partners. Mr. Nilmeier represents the architectural firm selected by Mr. Bisno to design the Ponte Vista project.

Mr. Bisno and I share the common belief that all the members of the committee should take the opportunities afforded and take this second tour on a make-up date. The committee members found the tour very interesting for several reasons. We got to view a development designed by Mr. Nilmeier’s company, and we get direct, immediate, and very good access to Mr. Bisno, Mr. Olivo, and staff members of the project and city government. This direct and immediate access to important individuals concerned with Ponte Vista at San Pedro is vital to having questions answered and opinions debated. I hope the remaining members of the committee who weren’t able to attend today’s tour will redouble their efforts to take this second tour.

Newport Bluffs is a 1,100 unit apartment complex, along MacArthur Blvd. in Irvine, California. Designed by Mr. Nilmeier and his firm, it is truly a beautiful development, in my opinion. The complex’s apartment buildings closely resemble the conceptual drawings that have been published and circulated for the Ponte Vista project.

There is an abundance of excellent landscaping with copious amounts of non-fruit bearing olive trees. (A favorite of Mr. Bisno’s) There is a large open lawn space near the center of the project that somewhat resembles the artist’s drawings of the proposed large open space at Ponte Vista.

This complex looks more like what Mr. Bisno envisions than Playa Vista Does.

The bottom line for this apartment complex is: 1,100 units with an estimated population of 3,000 tenants. The largest units have a monthly rent price of $3,700.00.

Bay Harbor on Lomita Blvd., at former site of Bay Harbor Hospital was our second stop. This complex consists of 76 condominiums in 4-story buildings, and 84 townhomes, each having attached garages. The community has a density of approximately 28.6 homes per acre as opposed to Newport Bluff’s 22 units per acre.

In my opinion, the architecture and amenities are not near the level of Newport Bluffs, and wouldn’t hold a candle to any multi-building development at Ponte Vista.

The bottom line for this sold-out development is: A very plain complex of condominiums and townhomes with various sized units and an average price from the mid $400,000.00. It was completed in 2005.

Our third stop was Stonehaven at the corner of Frampton and 259th Street in Lomita.
This complex, built in 2005 features 95 attached toenhomes in 2 and3-story buildings with private street access to two-car garages that provide direct access into the home.

On first glance, I am reminded of Craftsman style homes that still exist in great numbers in San Pedro. The roof lines and use of wooden siding for a portion of the structures provide a hint of what older homes look like. Stepping back, I noticed that the main entry paths and front door areas reminded me of a lodge that might be found in a meadow at Yosemite or a ski lodge at Mammoth Lakes.

The streets within the development, if you could call them that, are very small and are not shaded by any trees. There is one small Jacuzzi and there is a small children’s play area. (tot lot)

Personally, I liked the design of these buildings and believe with landscaping on the level planned at Ponte Vista; this might be the second choice of design for the development. I like how there are remembrances of older styled homes in San Pedro and all over the L.A. area. I feel many supporters of Mr. Bisno’s plans to build 2,300 homes at Ponte Vista should afford themselves the opportunity to view at least the outside of this development.

The bottom line: 95 homes with a density of 22.8 units per acre. It is a gated, but unguarded development on flat terrain. The average price for the multi-bedroom homes is approximately from the mid $500,000.00.

The committee also received information about the new development, just approved by the L.A. City Council, to be built on Gaffey and Capitol Streets.

Commonly known as “J.C.C. Homes” which is the development company’s name, this development is now named Highland Park.

The development is being designed to include 134 attached homes in a gated community. These homes, originally pictured as small lot “patio” or “courtyard” homes, now will share exterior walls with neighboring homes. The artist’s concept depicts multi-story homes with attached garages on the bottom floor.

If you try to visit Highland Park, unfortunately you will only see the remains of the petroleum facility that is still occupying the site. Demolition of the site may take two years.

The bottom line proposed for these homes is: 134 homes with a density of 11.75 units per acre. These multi-bedroom homes have, as of today, and estimated selling price of $700,000.00, on average.

I will post pictures of Newport Bluffs Bay Harbor, and Stonehaven.

No one knows exactly what will be built at Ponte Vista. Mr. Bisno has his current vision. I consider the current zoning of the site, the best solution, at this time. Somewhere between Mr. Bisno and me, there will be a development everyone can be proud of. I consider Mr. Nilmeier’s concepts on whatever large buildings are built in Ponte Vista, to be the most preferred designs and amenities for those types of structures. I would also encourage the many supporters of Mr. Bisno’s vision to also take a drive around Stonehaven.

Please remember that I have been in literally hundreds of condominium and townhome projects throughout Southern California during my years with the telephone company.
But please don’t use my judgments, go check some out for yourself.

Second Tour Photos

Here are photographs taken at the three sites we visited on December 9.

If you click your mouse over any portion of the photos, they "magically" get bigger.

Our first stop was Newport Bluffs Apartment Community. These photos depict buildings that look similar, in my opinion, to the artist's conceptual drawing for the current Ponte Vista plan.

This photo shows a typical apartment building and the landscaping around it.

This first panorama shot shows the main pool area. Beyond the trees on the other side of the pool is a large lawn area.

This is a photo of an apartment building behind landscaping. Notice all the non-fruit bearing olive trees.

This is the lawn area beyond the pool from the panorama photo. The buildings are well hidden behind the trees and other plants.

This is a repetitive shot of a building viewed above. Again there are olive trees and you can count the number of cars along the street.

This first image of the Stonehaven Townhome complex depicts the multi-levels of the homes and the "Craftsmanesque" style of the building.

This is a closer view of a building. There are tiny courtyards near the front doors of these homes.

This view shows the rows of buildings at Stonehaven. If you look closely you will see garage doors at street level.
These remaining photos are scanned from the booklet provided our tour by Mr. Bisno and his staff. This is an internal street view of the townhomes portion of the project.

This illustrates what the residents of the townhomes see as they drive toward the main gates at Bay Harbor. This photo shows the rear parking entrance to one of the condominium buildings.

This is a view of the main gate to Bay Harbor.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

I Understand and Hopefully, You do too

I didn't get invited to the meeting the postcard below invites folks to. I understand and hopefully, you will understand, too.

Our Community Advisory Committee was told by Mr. Bisno and several of his representatives that we would be welcome at meetings of three of his advisory groups. I am comfortable with that and I am looking forward to learning from these concerned folks.

But sometimes, there are groups that need to work in private to achieve goals and accomplish tasks. I appears that one such meeting was scheduled to be held on Tuesday evening.

When I received this (blocked name and address) card, I wondered if this would be a group CAC members might get a chance to sit in with and learn from. I called the trailer and was informed that I, as a committee member was not invited to this gathering. I am not a prospective buyer of anything built at Ponte Vista, so it is fine with me that I shouldn't attend.

Click on the card and it grows!

Supporters of Mr. Bisno's plans to build 2,300 homes at Ponte Vista need the opportunity to create strategy to combat the opposition to building the project as it is currently planned.

In fact, I feel they have the obligation, duty, responsibility, and charge to prove that the configuration of the project, as it is currently planned, be proven to be in the best interest of everyone in San Pedro and eastern Rancho Palos Verdes.

I suppose many of the members of the three other advisory groups supporting Mr. Bisno's plans would attend a meeting described by the card.

Folks who call for maintaining the current zoning of the property also have groups formed for making strategy. I personally know of two groups that are opposed to Mr. Bisno's plans to build 2,300 homes at Ponte Vista. Northwest San Pedro Neighborhood Council and Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council have both gone on record opposing Mr. Bisno's current plans. There are probably Homeowners' Associations that have publicly proclaimed their opposition, but I haven't read any writings from them. (Please let me know if there are any)

Several Chambers of Commerce have gone on record supporting Mr. Bisno's plans, and Jack Baric gave a clear explanation as to why there has not been a finding of support or opposition to the Ponte Vista at San Pedro plans, as of last Thursday.

The Community Advisory Committee was instructed by our Facilitator that we were supposed to be like a jury in that, we are charged to represent the public and make recommendations that will provide the best results for the area. Our "findings" will be recommendations that we will give to Ms. Hahn, the Planning Department, and the public. We use many forms of deliberation, one being the Community Advisory Meetings that are held almost monthly.

Mr. Bisno and his supporters are, in my opinion the Plaintiffs in the "trial" of the proposal. Opponents of Mr. Bisno's vision, most notibly, the "R1" or "R-1" contingent, are the defenders, seeking to maintain the current zoning of the site. There are still a good number of folks that don't want any housing built on the 61.53 acres. These folks are really going to have an uphill battle to get their wishes adopted.

The end result of the "trial" will not come from the public, Mr. Bisno, or even the opponents. The real jury will be the fifteen members of the L.A. City Council based on "arguments" supplied in the form of an Environmental Impact Report, approved by and sent forward by the L.A. City Planning Department and the members of the L.A. City Planning Commission.

Mr. Bisno, his organization, and his supporters, need to win over the opinions of as many people as possible, just like the opponents need to do. The onus of proof should probably be on the shoulders of the proponents of 2,300 homes. The implementation of approved plans for a community of this size will forever change the landscape and the texture of the area and the region, in my opinion.

Mr. Bisno and I have written back and forth to each other. I find him very willing to communicate and be as respectful as he can, knowing my opinion of his current plans.

I am very encouraged that I am receiving some support from some folks in looking more closely at the hybrid scenario. For supporters and opponents, the hybrid scenario begins with 1,500 homes, 50% senior housing or 750, age-restricted homes, and 50% other or 750, non-age restricted homes. It is with conversations, comments, and a few private writings that I think supporters and some opponents might be able to come together start thinking; Compromise.

Mr. Bisno SEEMS encouraged by the support within the community for more senior housing, I think! Could it be that 750 homes for seniors are better than 575 units? Maybe this is a place where folks can stop yelling at each other and find a calmer realm to consider in.

Recently I have received comments on another post that I didn't help replying with, using rather disrespectful wording. For that I don't apologize. There is an Anonymous person who thinks folks living in San Pedro don't know anything about traffic. I had to respond in a mean-spirited way because that person has absolutely no clue. I guess he has never worked on the docks, dodging trucks, cranes, containers, and every other hazard down there. He certainly didn't know that I have spent the last 26 years driving in the very same areas he thinks there are traffic issues. For anyone to comment that we don't know about traffic, lend me to believe that this fellow doesn't think any of you commute to your jobs, or ever venture north of P.C.H!
How dare him!

It is true, Anonymous 9:12 AM that many, many years ago, for real San Pedrans, the earth did break off at Pacific Coast Highway. But those days are so long gone.

I also gave "tom" two postings that I copied from his comments. He has not identified himself as a supporter of Mr. Bisno's plans, and I won't call him a "supporter", but his writings SEEM to fall in line with Mr. Bisno's vision, and the figures he provides are only from the DEIR and not independent calculations.

Tom is partially correct about my impartiality. I have written, and will continue to write that I am as impartial as I can be. Am I completely impartial? Can you honestly say you are after reading these very long posts? If you claim to be impartial, and want to write a post based on your impartiality, please submit it to me. My Email address is at the top of the post.

Tom is also correct that I am not an engineer, statistician, college-trained anthropologist, or have any other formal training that would qualify me as an expert in anything other than communications. But that doesn't mean I can't or shouldn't comment on a proposal that will change my life and the lives of everyone in the area within 3 miles of Ponte Vista? And if any of the rest of you are not experts too, does that mean you shouldn't comment on what will change your life as well? Even if it means you get to live in senior housing at Ponte Vista, your opinion should count.

Yes, I do challenge facts and figures published in the DEIR. I think you should too. How many folks producing or approving the DEIR live in our area or really know (or care) what happens here.

The point with that last paragraph is to continue my request that supporters are welcome to post their feelings, calculations, reasoning, and support for Mr. Bisno's plans. "Supporters" are also welcome to write about alternatives to the plan, quoted by a member of the City Planning Department as "the worst case".

This blog openly offers to publish views that I don't necessarily agree with. It is not which is produced by the developer for the maximum benefit of the development and folks who are interested in learning more subjectively, or are interested in buying a home. This blog is also not Life on the Edge at, which offers almost total and vibrant opposition to the current plans at Ponte Vista. I continue to try and provide somewhat of a middle ground where both supporters and folks in opposition can come, read ridiculously long posts and comments, and find the most independent information created locally for a local readership.

I am at a point where I can argue either for 2,300 homes, R1 zoning, the hybrid scenario, or other alternatives just about as well as any supporter or detractor can. I know all the reasoning, all the debates, all the (supposed) numbers. But I also feel I know what is best for myself, my wife, my neighbors, and my community. If you can't appreciate anything I write on this blog, I really encourage you to create your own blog or Web site giving your take on the happenings. Mr. Bisno, Calamari, Banditos Yanquis, and I shouldn't be the only ones debating this very important issue with our own sites and blogs.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Responding to Tom's Comments

Tom, or "tom" as he names himself, has made some interesting comments to my postings. I included his comments in a previous post.

For this post, I wanted to post his comments to my post and then respond to each comment.

Tom made the following long comment to "The Day After November 30" post in which I gave my estimation of how many residents and vehicles might be in Ponte Vista.

I will type Tom's comments in black and my response to Tom in another color.

Tom, I really appreciate your commenting because you illustrate that there are more than two sides to every story and we all need to read and hear the whole story in order to create the best outcome for the current and future residents of the area.

I also want to thank the others who have commented to the posts. I wish folks would be kinder to people who don't agree with their particular vision. But as long as folks try to stick to my "Four R's" then we can continue two, three, four, or more way discussions.

tom said...


Well I have to give you kudos for digging up all the data from the various studies.

In keeping with your stated objectives for this blog, I do not want to "prove you wrong". I merely wish I could get you to see that you are being overly pessimistic about certain numbers.

Please Tom and others, prove me wrong. As a member of the Committee, I can use all the information I can get. If you don't like the numbers the DEIR and I have produced, please produce your own numbers, back them up with sources, and let me have them to post.

Let's face it, we could sit here for the next year generating numbers and the Planning people would counter with yet more of their numbers.

As some point, one has to apply some common sense. Is someone who just bought their own loft going to put up "screens" and turn it into a dormitory? No. They are going to turn it into a page from an Ikea catalog. Remember, this is their "entry level" home. They will want to sell it for a profit and step up to something larger when they are ready to get married and start having kids.

Tom, I knew the screens in the lofts would bring comments. I wonder how you can presume how anyone might use the units they buy. You used the word "entry level homes". You know who buys entry level homes? Singles, couples, and young families wanting their first homes. To expect that each type of entry level unit will hold a specific number of residents is probably not the best way of thinking. The numbers I generated were generous towards Mr. Bisno's side.

Are seniors who are down-sizing from huge homes going to go to the other end of the range to some tiny little space that is almost (an) apartment. No. They want something smaller, but they still want to feel spacious. When you have a 2,600 sq. ft. home and you down-size because all the kids are gone, you still don't want to go to 950 sq. ft. I couldn't. I've got a daughter who will visit. And, hopefully soon, grandkids too. I'm certain most of the folks in the age-restricted section are in the same boat.

Here again, you seem to know what everybody is going to want. In earlier comments, I believe you said that you feel the age-restricted homes would be mostly single resident homes. Does this mean that you don't think Mr. Bisno wants to attract "active seniors" who are still very much on the go and quite active in life and the community?

As you said yourself in the comments on a previous post, your own home has had varying configurations. Why would Ponte Vista be any different?

Even "screens" vary the configuration of lofts. So Ponte Vista might not be any different than how our particular home changed. In an R1 zone, homes could be added on to more easily than reconfiguring condominiums and town homes.

At some point you have to stop trying to analyse every single permutation and go with a set of basic numbers on which to base the calculations. You can't worry whether Johnny lost his job and has to move back in with Mom & Dad until he gets back on his feet. Do you see what I mean?

Tom, as you read, I did post some basic numbers that more closely aligned themselves with the DEIR as opposed to the Initial Study. As far as analysing every single permutation, I feel that I haven't done anything like that. Not that I couldn't, mind you. I am not dealing with traffic counts, lengths of lines of vehicles and waiting times on Western as some others are currently doing. My big concerns are few in numbers; how many units, how many people per unit, how many vehicles per population, how many school-age children will actually live in Ponte Vista. I don't remember writing about Johnny or Mom & Dad. If you find those comments in one of my posts, please remind me where they are.

In this case, the numbers were dictated by the Los Angeles City Planning Department. In their wisdom, they felt San Pedro would best be served by using the 2.0 RP/U for non-age restricted and 1.5 RP/U for age-restricted.

In fact, the numbers were approved for publication by the Planning Department and not written or dictated by them. I don't know who really came up with the Resident Population per Unit. But whoever it was did not use actual numbers, census data, or nearby community populations to generate the averages that are markedly lower than what is found in "the real world".

Now please let me throw in another factor which might tie some of these things together with the economic impacts.

If anyone has been paying attention, the current review of the San Pedro General plan EMPHASIZES THE REVITALIZATION OF THE DOWNTOWN AREA. (sorry to use all caps, but I can't figure out the html tags) In the past the reason we have not seen economic benefit come back to us (and I'm talking about housing, not about Port-related construction - they don't buy things a "normal" neighborhood business would sell) is that we don't have that many places for San Pedro residents to spend their money. A revitalized downtown would give us that. A quichey, "old-town" type place. Sort of like they have in San Diego where Gail Goldberg just came from. Wow! Flash! And what type of housing did her department approve to be put up all around the newly-developed old town? Nice, spacious housing with low numbers of residents per unit.

Ponte Vista is not in Downtown San Pedro. In true fact, the Ponte Vista area was not in San Pedro at all before a City ordinance annexed the property into the City of Los Angeles in 1980.
It is improbable to believe that residents of Ponte Vista would travel into downtown San Pedro to do much shopping when there will be a Target less than 2 miles away from them. It is probable to believe that the residents would tend to shop at the Avenue or Del Amo and the larger shopping areas along P.C.H. rather than going into an area of smaller specialty shops.

Revitalizing downtown San Pedro will do much more for the folks who buy the lofts and condominiums now under construction in downtown San Pedro. It is probably wiser for shop owners in Downtown San Pedro to cater to these new residents and the business generated if the Bridge to Breakwater development gets approved and built. Catering to passengers of the cruise lines would be a smart thing to continue to do.

Don't you think this is too much of a coincidence to ignore? Don't you think that this type of planning would have influenced them to choose the numbers they did for RP/U in Ponte Vista?

And to add another factor, has anyone been paying attention to gail's championing of a light rail system (like they have in San Diego). Then people all over town, not just Ponte Vista, could leave their cars parked and take a tram downtown.

Tom, your humor shows through with this last paragraph. You seem to think that light rail is a good thing for San Pedro, yet you called me "hare-brained" when I mentioned it in a post concerning Ponte Vista. By the way, there is a separate post from a supporter of light rail on this blog. So am I to believe you support light rail for downtown San Pedro but think it is hare-brained to bring it to Ponte Vista, or quite close by?

Why do you think Mayor V. hired her? He wants to change the face of Los Angeles and this is the way to begin.

But change is difficult. People want the San Pedro of 1953. But unfortunately time marches on. The state and city have grown and we no longer have the luxury of "putting green" front yards and fields for backyards. And there will be some snafus along the way. But nontheless I think this is the first step toward a new and better, more vibrant and alive San Pedro.

Only as far back as 1980, the L.A. City Council adopted R1 as the proper zoning, in their opinion, for the area they annexed into the city and where part of it is now known as Ponte Vista. Whether you agree with that zoning or not, that is the zoning established by city government.

One of the biggest misconceptions people have is that building homes in Ponte Vista will relieve the numbers of homes that need to be built in San Pedro.

Ponte Vista is in the Wilmington/Harbor City Community Plan. No matter what gets built in Ponte Vista, it will not have any effect on the need to construct a minimum of 4,000++ more homes in the San Pedro Community Plan area. Ponte Vista will not relieve any of San Pedro's responsibility to provide housing within its plan area.

I would have liked to have ended there, but I know people will take it as meaning Ponte Vista. To be specific, I mean both Ponte Vista to give us the numbers of people with disposable income and the revitalization of downtown to give them someplace to spent it and keep the money here in local businesses. I, for one, would much rather spend my money at a locally owned and operated store instead of some huge national chain. I'm certain there are others who would aslo, given the opportunity.

People much more knowledgeable than I am about spending patterns are quite sure that new residents of Ponte Vista will not do much shopping in downtown San Pedro unless a large mall or major stores are built there. This seems very unlikely because of the entrenched families, homes, and longtime businesses that still exist downtown. Pacific Avenue, on the north end is an eyesore that would not attract the folks you claim will have the disposable income, to drive through. Gaffey Street gets tricky at the end of the Harbor Freeway, and Western Avenue will be a strolling parking lot of cars no matter what happens.

You also mentioned "disposable income" in the same comments you wrote about "entry level housing". I don't think young couples and folks with young children who will be attracted to entry level housing will have much disposable income. I would hope that supporters of Ponte Vista would wish those folks in entry level homes would use their extra income to save for a "move up" home at Ponte Vista.

Okay, now I'm done with my rant and hunkering down for the wave of angry criticism I know is coming.

I am sorry that some folks consider attacking rather than using supportable facts to debate you with. I hope you are not dissuaded from commenting and posting more. I would like to see if you could produce numbers on your own, like I did. I am interested in reading you set of numbers and the supporting documents that you used.

To Tom and others, you all might want to take some time and look at the numbers in the DEIR and ask yourselves if they are truly believable. I think I have been able to show that by using different methods, one can come up with different results for the same development. I don't feel you would need to get into the minutia as some folks continue to do. I would agree there are some opponents of Mr. Bisno's plans that are using micro-management type of figures to attack the development while not trying to figure out the big numbers that will have the greatest impact.

I also need to strongly point out to Tom and everyone else thinking about San Pedro. Let me remind you all that the closest front door of a single-family detached home to ANYTHING built in Ponte Vista will be in RANCHO PALOS VERDES and not in San Pedro, Wilmington, or Harbor City. The streets that will be most impacted by whatever is built in Ponte Vista besides Western Avenue (the west side is in R.P.V.) are Avenida Aprenda and Peninsula Verde Drive. Both of them are in R.P.V.

To be sure, I care deeply for my friends and neighbors in San Pedro. But I live in R.P.V. and was appointed to be on the committee by the city fathers of Rancho Palos Verdes. My greatest allegiance is to my neighbors in Mira Vista, Mira Costa Terrace, Palo de Encino, Rolling Hills Riviera, Peninsula Verde, and the Caddington area east of Western Avenue.

It has also been claimed by too many people that I am "against Mr. Bisno". This is not true at all. Sure I would be extremely pro Mr. Bisno if he were to agree with me and produce a plan for 429 beautiful single-family detached homes. But he and I have great conversations and we both have different opinions on what we believe is best for the entire community. I feel he could be very successful by providing wonderful homes in a community as it is currently zoned. R1 won't impact the need for building 400+ more homes in San Pedro because it is in the Wilmington/Harbor City plan area.

If you don't think there aren't 429 or more long shore workers who could afford 1.75+ million dollar homes, I invite you to take a tour of my neighborhood and I will show you the homes of members of the long shore unions. There are employees of Northrup Grumman right in San Pedro that could easily buy a single-family home in Ponte Vista.

Mr. Bisno now is planning to offer entry level homes, move up homes, and executive homes in his development. Nowhere are any "affordable housing" units planned for Ponte Vista. There are no "Controlled Price Units" that are below market priced homes for teachers, law enforcement or firefighters to purchase. All of these could have been included to not only attract the most number of buyers, but also to help the government's mandates to provide such type housing.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Oh, and Another Thing

Oh, and another thing, Mr. Bisno also told me he is considering having Ponte Vista at San Pedro with open access to all, including public streets, retail spaces and other amenities.

The Day After November 30

I did some more searching and found some more figures that are relevant to the development.

The population and financial impact of the proposed development, delivered by a gentleman during the November 30 Committee meeting, left me with more questions than answers and results that I found, frankly, unbelievable.

In the previous post, I found through using numbers supplied to me by Mr. Bisno himself, (Again, thank you Mr. Bisno for our mini-meeting) that I could now get a handle on the number of bedrooms that may be built in the 2,300-home configuration as this project is currently planned.

Knowing the number of bedrooms does not by itself, allow me to know how many people may actually live at Ponte Vista. But it sure is a great, concrete first start at finding some reality amid all the statistics listed in the DEIR.

Getting back into the DEIR, we are told average numbers of residents per unit in the two parts of the development.

The DEIR uses a set of statistical analysis to establish the following estimation;
1.5 residents per unit in the age-restricted portion of Ponte Vista.
2.0 residents per unit in the non-age restricted portion of Ponte Vista.
Do you believe these numbers are even near a ballpark? Neither do I.

So I went searching for supportable statistics as to the actual household numbers that are factual in the area.

The first place I looked was the City of Los Angeles' Planning Department Web site.
In this site I learned the following information:

In the Wilmington/Harbor City Community Plan area, This is the plan Ponte Vista would fall under, the following "resident population/unit was listed:
All units 3.53 Resident Population per Unit (RP/U)
Single Family Units 3.67 RP/U
Multiple Family Units 3.50 RP/U
Non-Single-Family Units 3.43 RP/U

In the San Pedor Community Plan area, the following "resident population/unit was listed:
All Units 2.56 RP/U
Single Family Units 2.79 RP/U
Multiple Family Units 2.42 RP/U
Non-Single-Family Units 2.41 RP/U

Using statistics reported in the 2000 Federal Census, I learned, from the Los Angeles County Web site the following;

Persons per Household (All Units)in the County of Los Angeles was 2.98 RP/U
Persons per Household (All Units) in the State Of California was 2.87 RP/U

Viewing the figures purported to be true in the Ponte Vista DEIR is as follows;

Average number of residents per senior unit is 1.5 RP/U
Average number of residents per non-age restricted unit is 2.0 RP/U
Average number of residents per unit in the combined Ponte Vista site is 1.875 RP/U

There is a difference in the reported number of residents per unit in the Plan Areas, County of Los Angeles, and State of California compared to the projected number of residents per unit at Ponte Vista.

The problem with the number of residents per unit is that I don't know which statistic to believe. I don't believe the numbers generated in the DEIR. They are far too low as opposed to the numbers supported in other studies.

The number of proposed bedrooms that we finally have calculations for suggest that, even though many bedrooms may be used as offices and guest rooms, there are still more bedrooms planned than projected residents.

The revelations that took me and others by surprize is that Mr. Bisno is planning to build approximately 173 four-bedroom homes and that 60% of the homes in the non-age restricted area may have three bedrooms each.

I don't know how many people may live in a loft. I suspect that perhaps most of those units will house only one person. I also suspect that the studio type of home will also hold just one resident. But some owners of lofts could put up screens and have more people living in them.

I will now create my prediction of the possible population of Ponte Vista using calculations found in the Wilmington/Harbor City and San Pedro Community Planning areas.
I am going to average the two figures stated as the resident population per unit in the Multiple Family category. 3.50 + 2.42 = 5.92 5.92 divided by 2 equals my estimate of approximately 2.96 residents per unit.

Now to be fair to Mr. Bisno, I need to factor in the differences between the age-restricted housing average and the non-age restricted average.
To accomplish this estimation, I divided 2.96 by 4 and got .74 as a factoring number.
Then I tripled the .74 factoring number because 1/4 of the development is age restricted and 3/4 of the development is non-age restricted.
my prediction of the average number of residents per unit in the currently planned 2,300 home development is a MINIMUM of 2.22 residents per unit or 2.22 RP/U

2.22 RP/U times 2,300 homes is equal to an estimated minimum of 5,106 permanent residents living at Ponte Vista at San Pedro. That is my minimum estimation for 2,300 homes. Other folks are most welcome to calculate what they believe the population may be. I used numbers supported by factual analysis and I leaned in favor towards Mr. Bisno's side.

I also lived a monk's life while dealing with Traffic and Transportation. I made calculations, estimations, and other non-scientific studies to formulate my opinion on the number of cars that may actually be at Ponte Vista.

The DEIR statisticians chose, for reasons they used, to allow for 2.0 parking spaces per dwelling for residents and 0.5 parking spaces per unit for visitors.

I figured numbers, units, spaces, and things to estimate that each resident would have 1.333 vehicles factored into the total estimated number of cars at Ponte Vista.

Using 5,106 estimated residents having, on average, 1.333 vehicles per resident (including visitor spaces) give me a minimum total of 6,806.298 vehicles at Ponte Vista, not counting staff and employees vehicles.

So as unscientific as I am, but with a simple brain and the ability to read, deduce, and run my fingers over a calculator, here are my estimates for minimum numbers:

5,106 Residents

6,806 Vehicles

You are all welcome to prove me wrong by supplying your own figures and the supporting documents to back up your estimates.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

November 30 Meeting, Post #1

Howdy folks,

The meeting tonight for the Community Advisory Committee is going to take at least two posts to deal with.

It was a great meeting for me in particular because I learned so much during the time I was not paying attention to the speakers.

I sat next to Mr. Bisno at tonight's meeting and we had our own sets of discussion that I will share on this post and on another post.

For honesty's sake, let me remind everyone that I am a supporter of R1 single-family detached homes for Ponte Vista. Mr. Bisno is proposing to build 2,300 condominiums and town homes on the site he owns. We both freely agree to disagree and we can have great discussions based on the mutual knowledge we have with each other and our willingness to try to achieve the best possible outcome (in our individual differing opinions) for San Pedro and eastern Rancho Palos.

Tonight's meeting was designed to allow the developer the chance to fully disclose his reasoning, methodologies, and scope of his proposal. He used members of three of his advisory boards, the architect selected to design the development, and a fiscal advisor who claimed independence with his observations about housing needs, fiscal projections, and how Mr. Bisno's proposal would meet some of the serious needs in the community.

At the end of the meeting I asked Mr. Bisno he felt his agenda with the meeting was met. He told me he was satisfied that he was able to have his proposal presented.

I have a great deal of problems dealing with the fiscal expert in his answers, remarks, and his ability to persuade anyone towards favoring Mr. Bisno's plans. I still feel the methodology used in acquiring the figures. I was not at all convinced with his explanation, or lack thereof, on the real projected population of Ponte Vista.

And now a great big HOWEVER....The little mini-meeting I had with Mr. Bisno brought forth so much information that I can now start to establish real figures that I can understand and deal with. Our little discussions also pointed out areas that we agree on and areas we both have to deal with. Mr. Bisno knows about this blog. By revealing things to me, he is intelligent enough to know that whatever he says can appear within this blog.

I also owe him and his staff opinions and published facts that may go against my desire to have R1 zoning remaining at Ponte Vista.

So here is what I am reporting about within our mini-meeting.

I now feel it is safe to write that there most probably won't be 2,300 homes built within Ponte Vista. I asked Mr. Bisno if he thought it would be alright to "talk up" the "hybrid scenario" which allows for only 1,500 homes, 50% senior housing and 50% non-age restricted housing.

I also talked to a member of the L.A. City Planning Department about reports that they didn't want to deal with this scenario because it is not included in the DEIR. The City Planner I spoke to said that 2,300 homes is "the worst case" that they would allow to be brought forth. This gentleman also said that it would be tough, but not impossible, to amend both the Application for zone change and the DEIR to accommodate this alternative. The City Planning Department is not allowed to consider alternatives not included within the DEIR since they had to approve the entire DEIR, as far as correctness, before it was published to the public.

One of the supporters reminded everyone at the meeting that Janice Hahn (supposedly) had said that she did not favor keeping R1 zoning. The supporter failed to mention that Ms. Hahn has publicly said that she opposes 2,300 homes in Ponte Vista.

After these posts about what I learned tonight, it may be easier to begin to think that the hybrid scenario is a viable alternative that Mr. Bisno and his supporters might hope to get approved by the City Council.

I remain an R1 supporter. The housing and fiscal impact expert claimed that approval of strictly R1 developments is almost completely unheard of these days within the City of Los Angeles. He claims that there is such a high demand for housing, that almost all the residential development approved by the City Council recently has been for multiple family dwellings.

To keep R1 zoning at Ponte Vista will be a very long and tough battle, that has many obstacles stacked up against it. Not the least of which is Mr. Bisno's flat out admission that "we are not building single family homes" in Ponte Vista.

We may not be victorious at keeping the site R1, but the tide has turned far enough away from 2,300 homes, that only the City Planning Department is blind to the truth at this time. After tonight, we all should demand that the City Planning Department forgo continuation of dealing with a 2,300 home development, and look at the hybrid scenario as viable to many supporters of Mr. Bisno and, perhaps, many folks who haven't made up their minds yet, but think 2,300 is just to many homes.

One interesting thing that was revealed by the representative of the architectural firm contracted to design the project is this; This gentleman looked at the number of buildings proposed at Ponte Vista and said his firm has developed the same size and number of buildings on a 46.6 acres of land. Now why do you think this fact might be so important?

If the man's firm put the same number of buildings on a 46.6 acre site that Mr. Bisno wants to build on 61.53 acres, do you know what the differences in acreage would allow for? How about the 15.03 acre SRHS #14.

So, in fact, and even against Mr. Bisno's expressed wishes, he could technically build all of his buildings that he wants to build of land and still have enough land that the L.A.U.S.D. could acquire for their school. To be sure, the traffic would be impossible, but "remember Belmont Learning Center". As I asked the architect about the fact he revealed, he seemed alarmed that I was able to point this fact out to him and the crowd. He smile with what I thought was a stupid grin and Mr. Bisno spoke up to answer the question.

Mr. Bisno is very strong in his opposition to a new 2,025 seat senior high school at Ponte Vista. But his staff member had to admit that the same number of buildings (at a much greater population density) could be built and also have enough room for the high school.

I hate the fact that even the remotest of possibilities that both projects could exist on the same property, might come into reality. Unfortunately for many of us, that also gives a stronger push towards the hybrid scenario over R1 because the planning department considers 2,300 to be the worst case development size and would look favorably on a development with fewer buildings and people.

Now for the really biggie. I have been having tremendous problems trying to figure out how many people might live at Ponte Vista. The fiscal rep. and the DEIR claims that 4,313 people might live in Ponte Vista due to and average of 1.5 seniors per unit in the age-restricted area, and 2.0 residents per unit in the non-age restricted area. I pointed out that these averages were less that surrounding areas, but I was given the same gobble-gook verbalized that I read in the appendices. I don't believe the number of 4,313, the methodology used to create this figure does not seem believable, and there are other methods at determining population.

Now the biggie, biggie. During our mini-meeting Mr. Bisno gave me the breakdown of how many different number of bedrooms would be units he was building. He gave me percentages of units having none (loft) or one bedroom. He gave me percentages of how many two bedroom units he is proposing, three bedroom units that might be build and then, from far out left field, came the percentage of FOUR BEDROOM UNITS he is considering.

Now I have percentages that can equate to actual numbers of bedroom within Ponte Vista. With that knowledge, then I can try to figure out the average number of residents per each different unit, and thereby get an actual number estimate at the projected population.

If I know how many people might live in Ponte Vista, then I'll have a starting point to try to determine how many actual numbers of vehicles might call Ponte Vista home.

During the public comment portion of the evening, there were no supporters who got up and spoke about their independent reasoning for supporting Mr. Bisno's plans.

So my next post will give you numbers, with the percentages established by Mr. Bisno himself.

November 30 Meeting Notes #2

Here is an earlier post that I am moving up the line to let everyone read what I learned during a little sidebar discussion I had with Mr. Bisno during the November 30, 2006 regular CAC meeting.

Mr. Bisno gave me the probable bedroom counts for his project. This bedroom count might have a great significance toward finding a believable number of vehicles for homeowners and their families.

Percentages and numbers of bedrooms inside Senior Housing units.
30% of senior housing may consist of studio and 1-bedroom units.
30% of 575 equals 172.5. So about 173 studio and 1-bedroom units may be built.
60% of the 575 senior-designated units will be 2-bedroom units.
60% of 575 equals 345 2-bedroom units.
In this configuration, there may be 690 bedrooms in these floor plans.
The remaining 10% of senior-designated housing will have 3-bedrooms each.
10% of 575 is 57.5 or perhaps 57 3-bedroom units.
57 3-bedroom units will provide 171 bedrooms in this category.
Adding the estimated number of bedrooms within the age-restricted area of Ponte Vista, my calculator produces the sum of 1034 bedrooms for the 575 designated senior housing units.
Percentages of categories within the non-age restricted area.
These formulas again are for a 2,300 home development where 1,725 homes are non-age restricted.
Mr. Bisno wrote that "15-17%" of homes would be lofts, studios, or one-bedroom units.
for the purposes of this posting only, I will average the percentage to 16% which made my calculations much easier for me.
Approximately 16% of the homes will have either no "bedrooms" or have just one bedroom.
16% of 1,725 equals 276. The total number of "bedrooms" in this category is 276.
Approximately 44% of the homes are slated to have 2 bedrooms each.
44% of 1,725 equals 759.
The 759, two bedroom homes would provide 1,518 bedrooms in this configuration.
30% of the non-age restricted homes are projected by Mr. Bisno to have three bedrooms each.
30% of 1,725 equals 517.5
Because I don't think Mr. Bisno would build 1/2 of a unit, I am going to round up the number of three-bedroom units to 518. Further down you will see why I have done this.
518 units, each having three bedrooms allows for a total of 1,554 bedrooms within the three bedroom category.
10% of the 1,725 units, according to Mr. Bisno will be four-bedroom units.
10% of 1,725 equals 172.5
Because I used the number "518" for the three bedroom units, I will round the number of these types of homes to just 172.
172 four bedrooms will provide 688 total bedrooms in these homes.
Totaling up the following proposed numbers of bedrooms within the non-age restricted portion of Ponte Vista looks like this;
276+1,518+1,554+688=4,036 bedrooms in the non-age restricted area of Ponte Vista.
With the senior housing component allowing for 1,034 bedrooms and the non-age restricted area contributing 4,036 bedrooms, I finally have a number of bedrooms I can then begin estimating a more realistic possible population of Ponte Vista.
2,300 homes in Ponte Vista would provide an added 5,070 bedrooms to the community.
The DEIR estimates that each senior unit may have 1.5 persons per unit. It also shows that the average number of residents per unit in the non-age restricted area is 2.0
1.5 times 575 equals 862.5
2.0 times 1,725 equals 3450
This is where the estimated projected population of 4,313 comes from
Using the DEIR's population estimation and Mr. Bisno's revelation about the proposed number of bedrooms suggests that 4,313 people will live in a development of 5,070 bedrooms.
I highly doubt that each bedroom will be slept in by only one person. I also cringe at the thought of 757 bedrooms having nobody, other than perhaps quests will sleep in them.
If Mr. Bisno's written estimation of the number of bedrooms is actually built, then the projected population of Ponte Vista is way off the mark, in my opinion.
And another thing.....
The DEIR allows for 2.5 parking spaces per residence, or 5,750 spaces.
It is not logical, again in my opinion, to allow only 5,750 spaces for a population that could fill 5,070 bedrooms, even with one person sleeping in one bed in each and every bedroom.
I will try to gather data on the number of folks who live in condominiums and town homes, and the average population numbers for numbers of bedrooms within these types of homes.
Any help here by you would be greatly appreciated.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Figures, Sources, and Stuff

The DEIR continues to enlighten me, and hopefully you, about the project.

What I have found much more interesting is within the pages of the three volumes of Appendices of the DEIR.

I have been able to read and find sources for some figures I have found very important in my attempt to get an actual handle on the scope of the project. There is however, one figure that I could not source in the printed documents. Fortunately, I found the best source for the reasoning of that particular figure, right from the developer himself. That is the figure I will lead off with.

Why are 2,300 homes being proposed for the project and not some other number?

Mr. Bisno told me directly, and later answered my question in public, his reasoning.

Mr. Bisno, in contemplating the number of homes that could be built at Ponte Vista, asked his Traffic Engineer, Mr. David Shender, what is the greatest number of homes, under certain conditions, that can be built and have the traffic concerns generated, be mitigated, completely and successfully for every one's benefit. 2,300 homes would be possible, according to Mr. Shender and others if 25% of the homes were designated "senior housing" and the remaining 75% non-age restricted.

I feel Mr. Bisno honestly and completely revealed his opinion about the number.

R1 or R-1. This is zoning for single-family, detached homes numbering up to nine units per acre.

It is true that the Navy was under no restriction to build whatever it wanted to on its site, no matter what the zoning may have been. I don't know what the original zoning, if any, was placed on the land before the Navy acquired it many, many years ago.

Many of us, including me, had the misconception that the U.S. Navy and/or the agency hired to sell the property on behalf of the Navy established the zoning. This is not true.

In fact, until 1980, the property then owned by the government, was in the Incorporated area of Los Angeles County.

The land was annexed by the City of Los Angeles pursuant to City of L.A. Ordinance 154-525.
In annexing the land, the City of Los Angeles designated the land as "Low Residential" under the City of Los Angeles' Wilmington-Harbor City Community Plan, and zoned (the land)
"R1-1XL" (Single-Family; Height limited to 2-stories/30 feet).

Projected approximate population of the project at build out was estimated to be 7,343 permanent residents.

The source for this figure is found in: Technical Appendices, Volume I,
Appendix I-1, which is the Notice of Preparation (NOP) and Initial Study of the project that was published on July 11, 2006.

Environmental Checklist and Analysis,
Section 12: Population and Housing,
Pages 35, and 36.

I haven't found any back-up documentation on how this figure was established.

Projected approximate population of the project at build out was estimated to be 4,313
permanent residents.

The Source for this figure is found in Housing & Population Impacts Technical Report of the Draft EIR, Item C, " Population Setting and Project Impacts, Page 7 and 8.

This estimate is based on an average of 1.5 senior per senior housing unit, and an average of 2.0 residents in the "family units".

Using the average of 1.5 residents for each of the 575 age restricted units, and the average of 2.0 residents for each of the 1,725 non-age restricted units, the figure of 4,313 calculates.

It is also listed on the pages that the average number of residents per units in other areas is not equal to the averages proposed for Ponte Vista. The totaled average for the approximate number of residents in each unit of the Ponte Vista project is 1.875 permanent residents. This average is somewhat to much lower than in other areas, in my opinion.

$101 million dollars is the predicted annual spending within a five-mile radius of the site.

Source: Draft EIR, Economic & Fiscal Impacts Technical Report, pages two and three explain how this figure was derived.

The figure is based on the level of income required to purchase a home within Ponte Vista, and not by the number of residents spending the money.

"The analysis is based on spending patterns for households at the income level required to purchase Project dwelling units."

5,750. The number of parking spaces provided within the walls/fences/gates of the Ponte Vista Project for residents and guests.

Source: Draft EIR, Section IV.J. Transportation and Traffic, beginning on page IV.J-32.

Looking at the top line of Page IV.J-34 you will read the following;

"Traffic volumes expected to be generated by the residential land use components were based upon rates per number of dwelling units."

Page IV.J-32 gives the breakdown of numbers of parking spaces that would be provided in a 2,300-unit:

1. Two spaces per unit for resident parking.

2. 0.5 spaces per unit for guest parking.

"Accordingly, a minimum of 5,750 parking spaces would be provided."

Reviewing the figures I have listed, still has me confused.

Projected spending within a five-mile radius/per year by residents of the project is based on the income level of purchasers of the units and not by the number of people who would actually spend the money.

There could be approximately 4,313 and/or 7,343 permanent residents, or some other figure. the figure, "4,313" is derived from an average of potential residents in the project and is a lower than averages in other areas.

The number of vehicles calculated to have parking spaces within Ponte Vista is based on the number of units built, but not the number of drivers who will live in the units, or how many vehicles, residents of similar-sized projects currently own.

During my entire life, I have never seen a residential structure drive itself to shop for anything, whether it is within a five-mile radius or not.

To make reasonable recommendations about something, I need to have reasonable, realistic, responsible, and respectful facts.

I need to know the approximate number of permanent residents at build-out, the true amount of money they might spend in the economy, and how many vehicles the residents will operate.

As a new commenter, "tom", has written, it looks like there's going to be a lot of "splainin" to do.
I think he liked Ricky Ricardo.