Tuesday, October 31, 2006

On Second Thought, It Really Is Apples And Oranges

After I wrote about the field trip I took with six other members of the Community Advisory Committee, Mr. Bisno, some members of his staff and some City of L.A. representatives, I thought more about whether it is good to compare Playa Vista to the proposed Ponte Vista Project. I tried to separate the similarities of the two projects and the differences between them.

I debated with myself. I now am of the opinion that it is probably not very practical to compare Ponte Vista to Playa Vista using an apples to apples analogy. I feel it is an apples to oranges comparison.

I wrote about the some of the amenities and transportation issues in Playa Vista. I wrote about the basic issues concerning the Ponte Vista Project. The more I thought about it, the more I found it difficult to compare the two projects, together.

Playa Vista started out many years ago as a site of more than 1,000 acres. Later, over 600 acres was sold off for the creation of the Balona Wetlands where there will be a nature preserve for generations to come. What remained of the original site is now approximately 400 acres. Of those 400 acres, only about 111 acres will have residential units of varying types. There will be large retail sites and business parks on almost 300 acres.

The folks building Playa Vista are making land available for an elementary school, public library, and fire station. Most of the roads through Playa Vista are public roads. It appears that the public will have access to many of the park lands throughout the site.

Playa Vista will have denser residential phases than Ponte Vista is planned for. In phase 1 of Playa Vista, there will be 3,246 units on up to 66 acres. Phase two will have 2,600 units on about 55 acres. Both phases will have retail businesses near or below residential units. Phase two will also have business parks nearby. A dream of many folks planning Playa Vista is for residents to work in the business parks at Playa Vista and just use Gem cars to get between home, work, and shopping.

Playa Vista will have "affordable" housing and Controlled Price Units. Some of the affordable housing will be rental apartments, and some will be small condos. Playa Vista has many different types of housing including detached single-family homes or "Patio Homes" as they are also known. The garages to many of these homes use a common driveway to a courtyard-like parking area.

There will be walls, fencing, and landscaping separating areas and boundaries around Playa Vista. The public will have access to almost every area of Playa Vista.

The designs and colors of the many buildings in Playa Vista are varied. a "Tuscany" style building can be seen right next to a "Modern" style building. Shapes, sizes, angles, views, and colors vary throughout Playa Vista.

If you have read previous posts within this blog, I have tried to describe the proposed Ponte Vista Project. I now find it hard to compare Ponte Vista with Playa Vista using any criteria.
Personally, what I like best about Ponte Vista compared to Playa Vista is that Ponte Vista proposes similar style and color schemes for the buildings within it's gated community compared to the "hodge podge" styles and colors of Playa Vista. This does not mean that I accept the notion of putting 2,300 homes on 61.53 acres in northwest San Pedro. It just means that I like the style and colors chosen by Bisno Development Corporation for their artist's conceptual drawings.

I found seeing Playa Vista and the drawings for Ponte Vista was an educational experience for me. The field trip showed me what types of multiple residence buildings are out there and how I don't like the confusion of multiple styles and colors. Perhaps readers of this post and blog might want to take a similar field trip to the home finder store by the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf store in Playa Vista to get a good sampling of different types of homes. There is at least one town home model now open in Playa Vista that folks can tour.

Some committee members, after touring Playa Vista, asked if there were any projects that they can visit having single-family homes presented. In my work life, I have visited Inglewood Renaissance, behindHollywood Park. It is a three-builder master planned community of single-family homes that are packed together like sardines. Some of these homes are placed at up to fifteen homes per acre, which is different zoning than the nine homes per acre-R-1 zoning. I found visiting Inglewood Renaissance equally educational to visiting Playa Vista because I got to see what a large group of single-family homes in a relatively small space looks like. At this project, the driveways are very short, it looks like you can't have your cars parked in the driveway, they have to be in the garage. The driveways are so close together and there is no real sidewalk to speak of, there is very little parking in front of homes. In San Pedro there is a similar, but much smaller site with multiple single-family homes. It is by 19th Street.

Members of the committee who went on the field trip will be asked to give their opinions about Playa Vista during the November 9 Community Advisory Committee Meeting. It should be an interesting meeting.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Field Trip to Playa Vista

On October 28, 2006, seven of the fourteen members of the Community Advisory Committee, along with Mr. Bisno, members of his staff, members of Councilwoman Hahn's staff, and at least one member of the L.A.City Planning Department took a field trip to visit Playa Vista.

I was one of the members of the committee to make the trip and found it very informative. When Playa Vista's two phases of residential construction are completed, the population density will be greater than what is planned for Ponte Vista.

It is a little hard to compare apples to apples with regards to Playa Vista and Ponte Vista;
Playa Vista will have over 400 acres of residential, commercial, and business uses. Only about 111 acres of land are projected to have residential units on them.
Residential units within Playa Vista run from apartments all the way to detached single-family homes, or "Patio Homes" as they are referred to.
There are town homes being built either under or over "condominiums" in many buildings.
The buildings are built using different styles, colors, and configurations.
The vast majority of streets within Playa Vista are public.
An elementary school, public library, and fire station will be built within Playa Vista.
There are several recreational areas, and as many as three, off leash dog parks planned.
Playa Vista will have some "Affordable Housing" with rental apartments and low priced homes for sale.
The "Senior Housing" in Playa Vista will be per building and not set apart from the rest of the project.
There will be an assisted-living building as part of the project.
Playa Vista will have business parks, large retail businesses, restaurants, shops, and other publicly accessible areas.
Playa Vista is built on primarily flat, even ground.

Ponte Vista is planned for 2,300 condominium homes on 61.53 acres.
The artist's conception of the buildings show a common style and color for the residential buildings.
The streets inside the gated community are private.
There may be one off-leash dog park, which will probably be public.
The commercial stores will be for residents only.
There will be a separate "55 and better" group of buildings.
Ponte Vista is designed to be a private community with public areas outside the fences.
Ponte Vista is proposed to be built on sloping ground.

I do have opinions that were brought more in focus for me because of the field trip and interaction with more folks from the Bisno Development Corporation. I sat next to Mr. Bisno on the trip back from Playa Vista and I felt very comfortable talking with him. He and I both know we disagree about things concerning Ponte Vista. But there are some things we do agree on.
I feel both of us would like to see a road between Western and Gaffey and continuing on to ramps for the Harbor Freeway. We both seemed impressed with the off-leash dog park that seems to be one of the most used communal areas at Playa Vista.

Being a caveman, I like things kept simple. I like the artist's conceptions of the ways the buildings might look in Ponte Vista, even though I don't like the number of buildings. I found the different styles of buildings and the various colors, at Playa Vista, not too pleasing to look at. I am still very much liking single-family homes as compared to large residential buildings. In some areas of Playa Vista I thought the landscaping did a good job hiding the buildings. In other areas, the landscaping didn't work at all for me.

I, along with the other committee members on the field trip, wanted to know as much information as we can get about the traffic, demographics, and specific densities of Playa Vista. I think when we know that information, we will be able to actually compare the two fairly different projects together. Many of us want to take a field trip to compare the Ponte Vista Project to lesser dense sites and some single-family only areas. When I have compiled my comparisons, I will publish them on this blog.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Comments on Comments

I've been commenting from time to time on comments left for individual posts. You can usually tell that a comment is from me because I end them with "MW".

I thought I would comment on some comments via a posting, so this is it!

The "Why Are You Here?" post was commented on five times and there is some very interesting input in the comments.
Kris wrote that Kris is buying property in the area an approves of Mr. Bisno's plans. I hope Kris becomes very familiar with the findings of the Western Avenue Task Force, as well as the upcoming Traffic Study and Draft E.I.R. for the Ponte Vista Project before escrow closes on Kris' property.
"Anonymous" is sure Mr. Bisno is really intending on building fewer than 2,300 homes. I would like to know where "Anonymous" was given information to make them so sure about Mr. Bisno's "real" plans.
"Mellonhead" wants to know from a "local" who thinks Mr. Bisno's plans will work for. Well, "Mellonhead", Kris likes the plans but Kris is not a "local" yet. I will come forward to let you know who Mr. Bisno's plans will work for. They will work for Mr. Bisno! But I guess he isn't really a "local", either.

I've read and heard comments from folks who think Mr. Bisno might only want 1,500 homes in Ponte Vista. I don't know where these folks get their information. I would like to know, though.

Kris and others have brought the idea of Podcasting the meetings to me. I have looked into that possibility a bit but I haven't done a real study to see if it is worth the expense to produce something that may only reach a small handful of people. I don't listen to Podcasts as a rule, but I may have a listen to a few in the future. I wouldn't hold it against anybody to take up the charge of Podcasting the meetings, so if someone out there is interested, please sally forth and saunter thusly.

I have been asked numerous times what my thoughts were on the actual number of homes Mr. Bisno is "really" planning to build. On this subject, I am taking Mr. Bisno at his past and current word that the number of homes is 2,300. He has acknowledged that studies and reports may show that the number 2,300 is just too many. But so far, Mr. Bisno is moving forward with 2,300.

That being written above, I need to comment on what Mr. Bisno can do. Mr. Bisno can do just about anything he wants. He has options that many people haven't thought about. I will expand on some of the things Mr. Bisno can do with his property.

Mr. Bisno can sell 15.03 acres of his land to the L.A.U.S.D. for their 2,025 seat senior high school. He can then get the school district to fund the road from Western to the new Mary Star of the Sea High School Campus. Mr. Bisno will then have 46.5 acres remaining to build on. He can have different lots with different zoning, so he may build condos and single-family homes.

Mr. Bisno can set aside a prescribed minimum number of units to be "Affordable Housing" as defined by the Planning Department. If he chooses to build a minimum number of those types of units, say out of the view of Western Avenue, he could use the newly enacted "Density Bonus" law to increase the number of units per acre. The L.A. City government is keen on more "affordable housing" and they look favorably on developers who are willing to place these types of homes on their property. City governors are always looking for more "affordable housing" in their areas to meet State and Federal mandates.

Mr. Bisno could possibly sit down at a table with Mr. Rod Hamilton from the L.A.U.S.D. and work out a land swap. L.A.U.S.D. would get the land to build a high school at Ponte Vista and Mr. Bisno would get a really wonderful piece of property at Angel's Gate to build his Senior Housing.

I don't know if Mr. Bisno could get back the money he paid for the land if he were to sell it today. He bought it for quite a bit more than the auctioneers thought it would go for. But he could sell the L.A.U.S.D. the 15.03 acres for somewhat more than he paid for that number of acres and just sell off the remaining 46.5 acres. This is the least likely scenario, I feel.

Mr. Bisno could indeed, change his plans and build fewer than 2,300 homes. The smaller number of homes would mean that each home would have to be priced higher than the surrounding condominiums and single-family homes in San Pedro.

Using the Site Plans submitted with Mr. Bisno's application for a zoning change, I found the overall density of the project to be approximately 37.38 homes per acre of land. That figure takes into account all land not built on such as park lands, streets, and common areas. If Mr. Bisno does end up loosing 15.03 acres of Ponte Vista to the L.A.U.S.D., he may want the same density figure for the remaining 46.5 acres. That would allow him to build as many as 1,738 homes. Try to imagine 1,738 homes AND a 2,025 seat high school!

2,300 homes is a big number. But if someone comes up to you and says that it is only just over 37 homes per acre, you might think that is not to high. 37 homes per acre is four times the density of R-1 zoning.

The Community Advisory Committee is scheduled to take a "road trip" on Saturday October 28. Members are going to be bussed to Playa Vista and hopefully other sites to get an idea of what a planned community of condominiums looks like. I'll report back when our tour is finished.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Why Are You Here?

The site meter at the bottom of the page reflected that, during the last 24 hours, the 700th visit to this blog was made. Thank you, thank you, thank you. But I keep wondering, why are you here?

I am pretty sure you care about what may or may not happen within the area known as Ponte Vista at San Pedro, or else you would leave these overly-long postings quickly.

The "why" question keeps popping up for me because I want to know what you think and what you want to see in this blog. For over 700 visits I can only view 69 comments and too many are from me.

I really want to know what you think. You can comment by being "Anonymous" or you can Email me at mrichards2@hotmail.com. Your opinions should be just as valid as mine. Your wishes for the project site should be known. What do you like about the postings? I know they are too long, and I'll work on that.

Do you want to see a list of questions about the Ponte Vista Project or the SRHS #14 Project?
How might I better assist in helping you express opinions and facts?
Am I keeping you informed enough?
How much to you really care about whatever happens at Ponte Vista?
Does this blog help you?
Am I being fair, too objective, or too subjective?
How much wood would a Woodchuck chuck if a Woodchuck could chuck wood?

By 2012, there could be a 2,025 seat Senior High School surrounded by a Navy Tank Farm and a gated condominium community. There could be 2,300 homes with approximately 7,343 residents and up to 5,500 vehicles, all having access only to Western Avenue. Some folks dream of a 61.53 acre recreational and environmental area. Still others only hope for single-family homes on R-1 lots.

In my opinion, there are too few voices making their opinions heard and read, on subjects that will change the nature of two communities and the lives of many, many thousands of people.
Please speak and write. As I write on each of my blog sites; "If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything."

Thank you.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Addressing Addresses

More folks seem to have been visiting this blog and I appreciate everyone's interest.

The Community Advisory Committee is (very hopefully) about to receive a comprehensive presentation from Mr. Bob Bisno detailing his proposal for building 2,300 homes on 61.53 acres in northwest San Pedro. I am still crossing my fingers that Mr. Bisno will be able to distribute the Draft Environmental Impact Report and the Traffic Study at the November 9th meeting of the committee.

I have now posted a piece on something that some folks who oppose Mr. Bisno's plans may be planning for the November 9th time frame as well.

I think it is the right time to provide some addresses via this blog so that folks can really begin to share their opinions with government leaders, community groups, and other interested parties.

As I have written before, I appreciate all respectful views from every side of the arguments.
I have compiled a list of Internet addresses that may provide avenues for readers and writers to share their views.

This is the Web site for Mr. Bisno's proposed 2,300 home development.

This is the home page for the Los Angeles City Web site. Ponte Vista is located in the San Pedro area of the City of Los Angeles.

This is the blog address and portal into the 15th Council District for the City of Los Angeles.

This Web site is for Don Knabe, Supervisor of the 4th District of Los Angeles County.

This is for the Los Angeles City Planning Department.

Here is the Web site for the City of Rancho Palos Verdes

Congresswoman Jane Harmon's Web site. Ponte Vista is located in her district.

Congressman Dana Rohrabacher's Web site. His district includes area directly across Western Avenue from Ponte Vista.

This may get you to the home page of the Los Angeles Unified School District. If it doesn't work, just type in lausd.net on a Windows XP based system and you will be directed to the correct page.

This site provides some information about the proposed 2,025 seat high school that is currently being discussed for part of the Ponte Vista Site.

San Pedro and Peninsula Chamber of Commerce

Some local news, some events, some stuff, some things

Northwest San Pedro Neighborhood Council. Any residents moving into Ponte Vista would be eligible to join this organization.

Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council. They have the southern end of Western Avenue.

Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council

This is the address for the struggling group I just started.

Please contact me if there are any corrections to be made, and omissions that I should remedy.

Good reading, happy surfing, and enjoy commenting.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Bring San Pedro On-line with MTA's Light-Rail System!

In this day and age of our so-called "petroleum wars" abroad, increasing energy costs and smog-filled skies at home, it is absolutely imperative that more of Los Angeles' outlying communities be brought online with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's existing light-rail system.

To be sure, areas like Los Angeles International Airport and West Los Angeles deserve the most attention. But care should be taken by policymakers not to forget the Harbor Area, which is undergoing a rapid state of development. Within San Pedro alone, private and public entities are considering investing upwards of several hundred million dollars in the not to distant future. From the Port's Bridge to Breakwater proposal to the 16-story Vue condominium complex to Bisno Development's 62 acre monstrosity Ponte Vista, without a comparable investment in the region's infrastructure, traffic and congestion will skyrocket. The powers that be should know that by the year 2020, Harbor Area streets will turn into nothing more then parking lots. Shouldn't the planning start now?

Citizens For A Harbor Line

Editor's note.
This is another contribution to this blog from folks who care not only about what is planned for Ponte Vista, but also the entire Harbor Area. I feel this group has a good suggestion for helping to mitigate what will surely be nightmare congestion throughout the harbor area, and eastern San Pedro Hill area once all the (already planned) projects are finally completed.

A View From the Front Line

Glenn Cornell is the President of the Rolling Hills Riviera Homeowners Association.

Some members from the organization live in single-family homes directly across Western Avenue from the Ponte Vista site. These folks live in the City of Ranch Palos Verdes and technically not in San Pedro, where Ponte Vista is located. I feel residents of Rolling Hills Riviera have the largest stake, as homeowners, to whatever is built within Ponte Vista.

Glenn wrote a "President's Message" for the October, 2006 issue of "The Rolling Stones", which is the newsletter for the homeowners association. I have asked and been granted permission to print Mr. Cornell's message because I feel opinions from such important stakeholders, should be read.

President's Message
Elitists. You're elitists. I'm one, too. Although none of us thinks of ourselves that way, we are. Everyone who favors single family housing is an elitist -- at least according to Robert Bisno.
The Daily Breeze has been more than a little critical of Bisno Development's plans for the old Navy property. To its credit, it allowed the developer to reply. What followed was not a response from a "spokesman" or other P.R. type. Rather, an article entitled "The Truth about Ponte Vista" appeared on September 9 over the name of Mr. Bisno himself. If you missed it, I encourage you to rummage through your old newspapers for a copy. It is an eye opener.
Mr. Bisno, who happens to be an attorney, takes a handful of premises, assumes they are true, and then builds his article around them. His anchoring arguments are that that the San Pedro area needs "affordable" housing, that people in the area agree with this view, and that those who oppose his plans for 2300 condominiums on the property are elitists. Whew! Where to begin?
First, the tract is already zoned R-1. The officials responsible for that determination must suffer from "elitism" as well, since they have been concluding for years that single family homes represent the best use of the land in question. By Mr. Bisno's logic, all R-1 zoning is "elitist" because it prevents the construction of high density (and, presumably, lower cost) units. I am curious to know where Mr. Bisno lives. I suspect it is in an area that has many restrictions on land use; that is probably one of the very reasons he chose a home there.
Though affordability is a key part of his pitch, Mr. Bisno neglects to define the term. This is a significant lapse. What he means may well be quite different from what prospective buyers envision. He says he anticipates that the units will start in the "high $300,000's." That's hardly a firm commitment on his part. Moreover, we're not told the number of units which will be offered at that price or the price of the average unit. In face, if Mr. Bisno is to placate his financial backers, "affordable" will mean that he will charge the most the market will bear for every condo he is permitted to build. He would be and unusual real estate developer if he does not.
Mr. Bisno would no doubt counter that he has petition signatures which give the thumbs up to his plans. He refers to "4,800 supporters." What I am not clear about is what those supporters support. In recent months, I have had occasion to hear petition gatherers at Albertson's and Trader Joe's approach shoppers about supporting affordable housing in senior housing. What I never heard was a signature-gatherer ask anyone to support 2300 new condo units along Western Avenue. Indeed, I never heard any of the gatherers include that crucial fact in any of the comments they made to those who stopped and displayed any interest in their petition. It makes you wonder how many people would have lent their support to that petition.
I could go on, but you get the idea. 2300 new housing units in this area is an exceedingly bad idea. Mr. Bisno bought the property knowing it was zoned R-1. Evidently, he thought he could bend things to his will, get the zoning changed to allow a high-density development on the land, and thereby let him turn a bigger profit on the project. That was his gamble. If he wins, we will be the losers.
I'm sorry to report that Councilwoman Janice Hahn appears to be waffling on her commitment to keep the land zoned R-1. At a speech she delivered recently in San Pedro, she suggested that she is now open to allowing more units on the property than are permitted under the R-1 restriction. In August, I thought she had gotten the message and was prepared to stand by the current zoning. Perhaps, she has forgotten. If so, it is up to each of us to remind her. We don't want more traffic; we contend with far more than our share. We don't want more pollution; we have more than is healthy. Our infrastructure is stretched beyond its capacity already. Mr. Bisno doesn't live here. He won't have to figure out how to apply another patch when something fails. We're the ones who will be left to cope with the mess.
Thank you,
Glenn Cornell

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Big Questions

I started a new Google Group several days ago with the first topic being, "The Big Questions."
I haven't seen any traffic with the group so I thought I would post the questions on this blog and see if that might stir up comments, discussions and visits to the Group page.

You are perfectly welcome to comment to this post with your answers. Please be respectful so I don't have to "moderate" the comments and limit everyone's chance to share their views.

And again, without further "adon't", "The Big Questions."

Should Mr. Bob Bisno be allowed to build 2,300 condominiums on 61.53 acres of land in northwest San Pedro?
If so, why?
If not, why not?

Should the Los Angeles Unified School District be allowed to use the right of eminent domain to acquire 15.03 acres of land now owned my Mr. Bisno to build a 2,025 seat senior high school?
If so, why?
If not, why not?

Should the L.A.U.S.D. work with Mr. Bisno to build a school suitable for both parties?

Should Mr. Bisno fight any and all attempts to place any school on property he now owns?

Would you be willing to start or join a group that supports or opposes Mr. Bisno and/or L.A.U.S.D.?

Do you feel that no matter what the public wishes, they have no real say in the final outcome of the site?
If so, why?
If not, why not?

If you said yes to the previous question, what would it take to convince you otherwise?
How might we all help to try to convince you otherwise?

These are the big questions and they should be the first discussed and debated.
I am on Ms. Janice Hahn's Community Advisory Committee and will not offer very strong opinions concerning these questions for the time being. This is a learning process for me and my fellow committee members. Answers to the questions I have posed will give us better insight to what the public, the folks we represent, think about the projects.

When the time comes for me to address the answers to the questions I have written, then I will.
I do not work for Mr. Bisno or the Bisno Development Corporation. I am not employed by any group within L.A.U.S.D. I am a private citizen and a resident of Rancho Palos Verdes, Ca.

Be well, and happy writing!

A Posting Contribution

This post is a contribution from Ms. April Sandell.

This contribution is a Letter to the Editor of the Los Angeles Times, concerning a January, 2006 piece on the appointment of Ms. Gail Goldberg to be the Director of the Los Angeles City Planning Department.

"To the Editor,

When the Times opined about the new L.A. Planning Director, Gail Goldberg....my immediate reactions was "Huh"?

Can the Times be so ignorant about "Smart Growth" planning and New Urbanism agendas' in Los Angeles and other areas? Of course not. So, I read on and realized the appointment of the new planning director was a means to tell your readers about population growth and the need to throw existing zoning out the window (preferrable a broken window in a blighted building) to make way for mixed use zoning allowing for massive full service "villages" to be built in neighborhoods where possible.

Boy, you really got me thinking about how I need to compromise some quality of life issues I now enjoy, in order to make room for others!

Yours truly,

April L. Sandell"

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Hypothetical Demonstration?

Suppose you read or heard that Gail Goldberg, the Director of Los Angeles City Planning, was scheduled to appear at the Brown Bros. Building on Saturday, November 4, from 10:00a.m. until noon. Suppose you learned Ms. Goldberg was planning on not only discussing her vision of urban design, but would also hear from folks about the harbor area and their ideas for development.

Now suppose you also heard or read that John Fisher, assistant general manager of the L.A. City Department of Transportation is also scheduled to be on hand to discuss traffic and transportation issues in our area. Just suppose, Mr. Fisher would also be willing to hear from folks attending, about their concerns.

Do you think there could be folks who attend the meeting who might want to demonstrate, using printed materials, songs, loud voices, and other peaceful means to "advise" Ms. Goldberg and Mr. Fisher, about their concerns dealing with developments?

Might you consider contacting the Northwest San Pedro Neighborhood Council and/or the Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council to inquire whether any of their members are considering demonstrating at the meeting?

Is it possible that Mr. Bisno might have assistants and advocates for his vision attend the meeting and share Mr. Bisno's vision with Ms. Goldberg and Mr. Fisher?

I was just hypothesizing about whether a meeting of this type might be one way to let the Planning Department and Transportation know how folks might feel about certain developments.
I was also imagining some of Mr. Bisno's supporters standing shoulder to shoulder with opponents of Mr. Bisno's plans and show united opposition to the Berths 97-109 project.

Until I get confirmation otherwise, my hypothetical demonstration will remain just that.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Protests and Demonstrations

I have been getting more comments and Emails lately from folks wanting to know about any organizations that are protesting Mr. Bisno's plans to build 2,300 homes in Ponte Vista at San Pedro.

I have stated that up until now, I have not known of any organized group designed to protest or demonstrate against Mr. Bisno's plans. These facts are changing.

The Northwest San Pedro Neighborhood Council has gone on record some time ago about their opposition to Mr. Bisno's plans. I have created a post giving information about this fine organization. While I do not believe they currently have any groups within their Council that deals particularly with protests or demonstrations concerning Ponte Vista, I can encourage folks who would like to find a protest group to visit their Web site: www.nwsanpedro.org and inquire about the existence or plans for such type groups.

Along with the Northwest San Pedro Neighborhood Council, the Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council has gone on record opposing Mr. Bisno's plans. Their Web site is at: www.coastalsanpedro.org

According to Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council's President, Doug Epperhart, there have already been petition drives and other activities in opposition to Mr. Bisno's vision. Hopefully I will learn from Doug what steps folks can take to find groups within that organization that are like-minded and may begin protesting. I will share Doug's comments with you in a post. I also asked Mr. Epperheart to contribute a post of his own creation for this blog.

I have no knowledge if either of these Councils are considering creating protest groups opposed to SRHS #14, but if I hear of any, I'll post them.

I also need to mention that should I hear of any groups demonstrating in support of Mr. Bisno's plans and/or the building of SRHS #14, I will post information about that on this blog, too.

Mr. Bisno has funded activities in opposition to the proposed 2,025 seat senior high school project. One of his activists gave me a large button opposing a high school at Ponte Vista.

The general feeling I got by talking to several folks at this evening's NWSPNC meeting, is that it is probably the right time for the ramping up of efforts to block the construction of
two-thousand, three-hundred homes in Ponte Vista.

I cannot and will not join or support any protest or demonstration type group that either endorses or opposes any plans dealing with anything on the Ponte Vista property, including any school, while I am serving on Ms. Hahn's Community Advisory Committee. I will be a conduit of information for all groups, if asked, and my some of my subjective opinions concerning Ponte Vista and SRHS #14 are documented on many posts within this blog.

So yes, protests are coming. I will assist folks on all sides of this issues to find a group that best fits their opinions. I will continue to be as objective as I can be, and I will keep the four words that are the cornerstone for this blog in my heart and mind at all times. Please remember; Responsible, Reasonable, Realistic, and most of all, Respectful.

My Two Cents in an Open Letter

An Open Letter Concerning the Ponte Vista Project

This is an open letter to the following individuals:

Ms. Betsy Weisman, Los Angeles City Planning Department
Mr. David Olivo, Los Angeles City Planning Department
Mr. Robert H. Bisno, Chairman, Bisno Development Corporation.
Honorable Ms. Janice Hahn, Council Member, Los Angeles City Council, District #15

To Whom It Should Concern,

I am Mark Wells, a member of Ms. Hahn’s Community Advisory Committee concerning the proposed, Ponte Vista at San Pedro Project. I am a resident of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes and was appointed to the committee by members of the City Council of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes.

I am very disturbed by the recent events that seem to be unfolding regarding the public’s ability to have input into the processes regarding the proposed 2,300 home development. In particular, our committee agreed that a presentation by Mr. Bisno, on all facets of his proposal for his planned community, would be presented at our regular meeting that was scheduled for
October 12, 2006. Information was passed throughout the community “advertising” the meeting’s agenda and many members of the public responded that they would be very interested in being present for Mr. Bisno’s presentation.

I was informed on Monday October 9, 2006, just three days before the scheduled meeting, that this very important meeting had been canceled.

I am principle author of an informational blog where everyone can go for news, information, comments, and sharing their opinions on the Ponte Vista Project. The blog is not owned by
Mr. Bisno or the City of Los Angeles. Many readers depend on accurate information and some are willing to express their opinions on this blog.

Now I have to wrestle with trying to explain to my readers why the meeting was canceled. The reasons given to me for canceling the meeting do not seem to be in the best interests of Mr. Bisno, our committee, and the public as a whole, I feel.

As it was described to me, Mr. Bisno is willing to give his presentation using the Draft Environmental Impact Report and the Traffic Study as handouts for the committee and the public.
Have roadblocks been created within the Los Angeles City Planning Department to keep these vital documents out of the public’s view? I have heard from several sources for the past two months say that the Traffic Study is lacking “just one signature” before it is released. Should I believe that this is a credible statement?

If Mr. Bisno is not given the aids he needs to present his proposal, then our committee cannot do its job of education and advisement, I believe.

I believe our Committee is powerless not only to force reluctant individuals to act in the public’s best interest; it is also unable to break what appears to me to be an impasse imposed by bureaucrats.

Whatever the reasoning for not releasing the Draft E.I.R. or E.I.R./S and the Traffic Study, the impasse must be broken quickly and effectively.

In my own opinion, the credibility of the volunteers who were asked to serve on the CAC, and the committee itself may be questioned by the public we were selected to represent, if we cannot perform our duties because of forces we have no control over. Councilwoman Hahn, Mr. Bisno, and others have charged our committee members with being representatives for the people of Los Angeles and Rancho Palos Verdes, and I am sure we all take that charge very seriously. I feel if we are hampered, rebuked, and unsupported by non-elected employees of the City of Los Angeles, then we have no alternative but protesting to our elected officials that the public is not being served by the individuals our tax dollars pay for.

I urge Ms. Weisman and others in the L.A. City Planning Department to release all documents necessary for Mr. Bisno to give the public his comprehensive proposal.

I strongly urge Ms. Hahn to act on behalf of the public’s need to know, and require the release of the aforementioned documents.

Further delaying the committee’s work and the public’s right to know will hamper Mr. Bisno’s efforts to have his application processed and will delay longer our committee’s and the public’s right to make recommendations to Ms. Hahn, Mr. Bisno, and the City Planning Department.

I welcome comments to my blog regarding this matter and I will suggest that readers mail separate letters to Ms. Hahn, Mr. Bisno, the Los Angeles City Planning Department,
Ms. Weisman, and Mr. Olivo. I will also join in any suggestion by members of the public to form groups opposed to not allowing our committee to go forward with its mission.

In this particular case, both the proponents and opponents to Mr. Bisno’s project can be of the same opinion that, delaying the progress is not in anyone’s best interest. I believe the only groups that would benefit delaying Mr. Bisno’s plans are the Los Angeles Unified School District and proponents for a 2,025 seat senior high school development on 15.03 acres of Ponte Vista at San Pedro.

Yours truly,

Mark Wells,
Board Member; Mira Vista Homeowners’ Association, Rancho Palos Verdes
Member, Community Advisor Committee regarding Ponte Vista at San Pedro.

Committee Meeting Postponement

Here is a Memorandum:



To: Ponte Vista CAC members

From: John Greenwood, Chair, Ponte Vista CAC
Victor Griego, Facilitator

Date: October 9, 2006

Re: Postponement of October 12, 2006 meeting

The meeting scheduled for October 12th has been postponed until November 9th, which is the next regularly scheduled CAC meeting.

The meeting is postponed because the draft EIR for the Ponte Vista project will not be available for review. The developer and city planning are working toward releasing the EIR in the near future, so we can resume our CAC meetings and process. We will keep you informed regarding this issue.

Editor's note. I am only the messenger for this memorandum. I will post my own remarks to the announcement of the postponement of the meeting later this evening. I uploaded the memorandum as soon as I got home from work so it would be on this blog for the longest possible time. I encourage everyone reading this particular post to allow it to simmer in your thoughts before you make, what I hope to be, interesting and informative comments.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

How it's Supposed to Work

A comment from a recent post led directly to this posting. Thank you, Anonymous (A.K.) for the great question.

Mr Katnic wants to know how the process works.

Before I get into what always seems to be a really long post, please go back into the archives and look at a posting I wrote dated September 23, titled "Influence".

Welcome back. Now I am going to try to explain, in my words and by my thinking, how the process works.

Mr. Bisno and the Bisno Development Corporation want to build 2,300 homes on 61.53 acres of land that formerly housed military families. He bought the property and had his staff plan a community and all that goes into his vision. Now what does he do?

Mr. Bisno had options on how to get his project through all the departments and decision makers. Mr. Bisno's ultimate goal is a vote in his favor by the majority of members of the fifteen-member Los Angeles City Council, who will pass an ordinance changing the current zoning to whatever zoning is agreed to by the L.A. City Planning Department and Planning Commission.

Mr. Bisno has chosen the "Specific Plan" approach. This approach is expensive for him to fund but it does allow him certain entitlements other developers may not choose because they have chosen a different approach.

The "Specific Plan" approach allows Mr. Bisno great access to the Planning Department and other entities, but it also places on him requirements that are costly. In essence, he is paying to take cuts and receive prompter action. This type of approach is done all the time for many developments.

What does Mr. Bisno get? Access seems to be the best word I can use. Mr. Bisno has L.A. City Planners working directly on his project. He is paying for that access. Mr. Bisno gets to "go to the head of the line" in the many applications processes. He is paying for that, too. Mr. Bisno needs community input from the general public for this type of process. He pays for that.
Mr. Bisno has groups of citizens who support his objectives and are not as objective as our committee is. Again, he pays for that.

Up front, Mr. Bisno is paying a lot more money to get his approach through the process. Does this mean he is going to get what he wants???? Please continue.

One of the requirements for the "Specific Plan" approach is public input. Janice Hahn, along with Mr. Bisno called for a "Community Advisory Task Force" made up of interested local citizens to assist them through the process. I am a member of what is now known as the "Community Advisory Committee for the Ponte Vista Project." Our committee is charged with being the eyes, ears, and mouths for the public input to Ms. Hahn and the Planning Department regarding the project. We are to learn what we can, receive all comments, opinions, and guidance from the public and come up with recommendations for the Councilwoman and the Planning Department regarding this project. Does anybody have to listen to us? Like I in another post, that depends on you. The more of you that support our process and our recommendations, the better chance the decision makers are to use them.

One thing that is unique about this particular committee and venture is that Ms. Hahn actively sought input from those of us who live in Rancho Palos Verdes. The closest front door of a single-family home, to anything built in Ponte Vista is not in San Pedro. It is in R.P.V.

Mr. Bisno becomes, in essence, "The Applicant" by submitting an application for a zoning change to the L.A. City Planning Department. When the government auctioned off the land, it established it as R-1 zoning. R-1 zoning means nine homes per acre. Mr. Bisno must have a zoning change for him to begin to build his vision of Ponte Vista. Mr. Bisno is seeking to move the property from "low density" zoning of nine homes per acre, to "medium density" zoning for up to 55 homes per acre. Mr. Bisno is paying for the services of members of the L.A. City Planning Department to work directly on his project.

Right now, the L.A. City Planning Department is the biggest decision maker in the process. They will analyze every single thing concerning the project. They are mandated to take recommendations from many sources, including our committee, other interest groups and the general public, and review them. The Planning Department will be the ones who re-draft, if you will, Mr. Bisno's Specific Plan that he has authored.

After all the surveys, studies, impact reports, human input, and fact-finding is completed, the Planning Department will draft a Specific Plan for the project. This Specific Plan may look nothing like what Mr. Bisno wants, or it could be exactly what Mr. Bisno wants. We don't know yet what it will look like, but the Traffic Study will have probably the most impact on what the Planning Department finally decides to recommend.

A Specific Plan is recommended by the City Planning Department to the L.A. City Planning Commission. The Planning Commission will study the plan and can accept it, reject it, or have it changed. Here is another area where public input is vital to the project's fate. Our committee's work will be long done by the time the Specific Plan hits the Planning Commission. The Planning Commission is supposed to take into account the general welfare of the public when making decisions concerning projects. This will be another time for great debate; picketing, protesting, whatever it takes, ON ALL SIDES OF THE ISSUE.

If the L.A. City Planning Commissions approves a project, it then moves to the L.A. City Council.

The City Council has members that serve on a committee within the Council to advise the various departments and the Council itself. The City decision makers will draft an ordinance, which is a law, to change the zoning of the land from what it is now, to what the Planning Commission approved. A majority of the fifteen members of the City Council must vote in favor of the ordinance, I believe on two readings, for the zoning change to become law.

The history of the L.A. City Council suggests that other members of the Council vote the way the council member votes when the development is in that particular district. Ms. Hahn has publicly stated that she is opposed to 2,300 homes within Ponte Vista.

Mr. Bisno is also paying for the "Specific Plan" process knowing that we all have an "800 ton Gorilla" on our backs. I feel Mr. Bisno is paying to speed up his processes so the "Gorilla" won't have a better chance of hovering over all of us. The "Gorilla" is a proposed 2,025 seat senior high school within the Ponte Vista Site. L.A.U.S.D. would be required to sue Mr. Bisno under the right of eminent domain to purchase 15.03 acres of Mr. Bisno's property to build the school. Mr. Bisno has stated that; a. he doesn't want such a large school, b. he believes that L.A.U.S.D. doesn't really want to build the school on the site, and c. he would be willing to talk to L.A.U.S.D. about placing a much smaller school within Ponte Vista. Mr. Bisno also is paying to defend against access by the L.A.U.S.D. onto his property.

We, the public have ample opportunities throughout the many processes to voice our opinions. We can write to Ms. Hahn, the CC members in Rancho Palos Verdes and surrounding communities. We can write to the Planning Department and the Planning Commission. We can protest for whatever side of the issue we believe in.

You've read this far, so you are concerned with what happens at Ponte Vista. I encourage you to join, comment, share, and be involved with a project and process you have already devoted time to by reading this post. I thank you for the read

Two Developments, One Photo

I've been wondering what the illustration of the 2,300 home Ponte Vista site would look like in relation to the illustration of the new Mary Star of the Sea High School. My wondering has ended.

I did the best I could using my trusty old Photoshop software to overlay the two illustrations on a photo of the area. I think the sizing is pretty close to the actual limit lines, but the Mary Star illustration was a bit tougher to place. The illustration appears below.

A big problem was introduced at the last committee meeting when the site plans were released to the committee and the public. ( Thanks again B.D.C. for posting the application, photos, and maps on the WWW. Look for another post with the URL). If you look at the southern boundaries for the Ponte Vista site and the Mary Star site, you will see the problem of the access road coming from Western Avenue not meeting the access to the parking lot for Mary Star. You will see the road end in a straight fashion, while the Mary Star access road is curved but the corner necessary to have the two surfaces meet, isn't drawn in. Design teams are working on that problem.

On the Mary Star High School illustration you see an access to Taper Avenue. That is currently being used for construction and may be used until the access road through the Ponte Vista site, from Western Avenue is built. Once the access to Western Avenue is finished, the Taper access will be closed off and gated, according to my sources.

Mary Star of the Sea High School is being built for a student population of 600. The students, parents, faculty, and staff of the school are intended to only have Western Avenue as the only access to the school.

This school is currently under construction. There is a Web site for the campus which also includes a page concerning the application process beginning on November 27, 2006 for new student enrollment when the campus opens in the Fall of 2007.


Thank you, Steve, and Welcome New Readers

Thank you, Steve, for the great "bla-bla-bla" about my "blog-blog-blog"! It was some of the best advertising never paid for.

Because of Mr. Marconi's suggestion, I would like to welcome all the new readers to this blog. I want remind folks reading this blog about it's nature and give new readers a little better heads-up about what they are getting into.

Mr. Marconi identified me by my birth name. If you ever see "M Richards", (please remember he hates a period appears after the "M") that's me also. M is the entertainer in me, Mark is the boring guy.

I claim to be a "San Pedro" boy, but I grew up in unincorporated L.A. County and while I was away from the area seeking fame and fortune, (that means U.S.A.F., working a blue-collar job and most importantly, marrying and raising the greatest sons in the world), My "ancestral home fell within the limits of Rancho Palos Verdes.

If you hate "Speed Humps" I accept a tiny bit of credit for trying to slow everybody down in the Mira Vista neighborhood. If you really hate the four-way stop at Trudie and Highmore, then I have to take a fair amount of credit for that one, too.

I am one of the members of Janice Hahn's Community Advisory committee concerning the "Ponte Vista at San Pedro" project. Our committee's goal is to advise Ms. Hahn, Mr. Bob Bisno, the developer of the project, the Los Angeles City Planning Department, and others, on ways to make whatever is built within the Ponte Vista site, the best overall for the entire community. At least that is what I believe right now. Our mission started one way and has since been morphed to look like something else, at least according to several of us on the committee.

The purpose of this blog is to provide information, strongly request input, welcome discussion, encourage debate, and to some extent, share my opinions.

During the first meeting of the "task force" which became a "Community Advisory Group", then became a "Community Advisory Committee", we were all charged with being objective to all sides of the issues. If you read through this blog, I explain a little bit more about my objectivity.
I do not believe that 2,300 homes, with 7,343, potential new residents, and up to 5,500 more vehicles, is a good idea. I don't own a business within a five-mile radius of the site, so I probably won't get any of the millions of dollars of revenue that might be generated from such a giant project.

I also have grave reservations about placing a 2,025 seat senior high school on land within the Ponte Vista site.

I want a road between Western and Gaffey, and continuing up the hill between the refinery and the warehouse to new ramps on the Harbor Freeway IF ANY HOUSING OR LARGE SCHOOL IS BUILT WITHIN PONTE VISTA.

I have done my studying since I became concerned about the old Navy housing site. Included in this blog are facts generated by the developer's writings, the oppositions' writing, Web sites, and other sources that are as objective as I believe I can be. I do reserve most of my subjective thoughts about the home development and/or school development.

I am seeking readers who want to contribute to the debates. This is a free blog and I don't need financial contributions. I very badly need the comments generated so far to postings and I am seeking contributors to post their opinions, facts, feelings, and information on this blog. I don't believe very many people reading this blog are truly objective in these matters. I don't claim to be, and I don't think you are, either, or you would have stopped reading a long time ago. (see, M is quite long winded in the key-tapping area).

I would very much like to read posts place on this site from folks like Chris Yang, Brittany Swanson, and others who may share opinions with me. I also encourage folks who have a different set of opinions to post on this site. www.pontevista.com is slanted toward the concept of 2,300 homes. I am sure there are a number of people who might want to post on this site who have similar opinions with the Bisno Development Company. The only posts I would not include on this blog are personal attack pieces to anyone on any side of any issue.

I tend to comment on comments left by others. I don't know if that is a good thing. I think for a bit of time I will only answer questions or respond to requests for information as a commentator. Let's see how that goes.

Your opinion counts. If you live here, work here, or have interests in the area, you have a stake in the future of northwest San Pedro and eastern Rancho Palos Verdes. Just because I was first to get the address of pontevista.blogspot.com doesn't mean I'm the only one who should contribute.

You can always Email me at mrichards2@hotmail.com with your posts, comments, or anything else.

Thank you for reading one of the many very long posts and welcome.

Friday, October 06, 2006

September 21 Committee Meeting Minutes

Ponte Vista Meeting
September 21, 2006
Meeting Minutes

Present at the meeting were:
CAC Members present:
Rick Shulder, Arlene Zimmer, Creasie Adams, Leah Marinkovich, Mark Wells, Lucie Thorson, John Greenwood, Jack Baric, Albert DiRocco, Dan Dixon, Chuck Hart, Richard Brunner, Jerry Gaines, Sal Sotomayor

Staff and Developer present:
Bob Bisno, Frank Hong, David Olivo, Betsy Weisman, Victor Griego, Gordon Teuber, Tony Torres.


Group Procedures:
The meeting was called to order at approximately 6:00PM by CAC Chairman, John Greenwood. Mr. Greenwood requested that CAC members review and approve the meeting minutes of September 14. After a brief review, a motion was carried to approve the meeting minutes as presented.

The CAC reviewed a proposed meeting schedule submitted to the CAC. A discussion followed about the length of service for CAC members. A tentative agreement was reached that the CAC would meet at least 6 months but the process could be extended to 8-9 months if needed.

A discussion was held about the meeting topics and a possibility of combining meeting topics to reduce the number of meetings per month, as most CAC members felt that having more than one scheduled meeting per month might be too much. Victor Griego, John Greenwood, Council-member Hahn’s office and the Bisno team were charged with revising a new meeting schedule that would combine meeting topics and reduce the number of monthly meetings. The revised schedule would be available at the next CAC meeting.

Additional group procedures that were discussed included meeting length, which will continue to be between 2 and 3 hours, with meetings starting at 6PM and ending prior to 9PM. Dinner will be available at 5:30PM for each meeting.

CAC members also discussed the public hearings concept and agreed that attendance of CAC members at these meetings should be mandatory. A more detailed discussion about public hearings will follow at subsequent CAC meetings.

The Bisno team proposed a tour of similar housing projects in the area for CAC members, including a tour of the Playa Vista Development. Potential dates for the bus tour are October 14th or October 28th. CAC members will provide their preferential date for a bus tour to Victor Griego via email.

Bisno Team Project Presentation:
Alan Abshez, Attorney for Bisno Development, made a presentation regarding the proposed development project. Allan distributed a binder of information related to the project. Allan explained several large maps to CAC members. The first map contained the parcel groupings and property layout, including ingress and egress locations, and the type of housing units to be contained within the project. Allan reiterated that the current project contains a proposal for 2,300 housing units. A second map provided master grading, elevation, and a conceptual landscaping plan. Alan also described the contents of binder, which includes a detailed project description. Alan encouraged CAC members to spend time reviewing the material, as most of the information would be reviewed at future CAC meetings.

City Planning Presentation:
Betsy Weisman made a presentation regarding the City of Los Angeles’ role in reviewing the Bisno Development application. Betsy first explained that the development application is located in the Wilmington Community Plan area, but has impacts to the San Pedro and Rancho Palos Verdes. Betsy informed the CAC that the City of Los Angeles was drafting a EIR/S document that would take into account the various impacts the application would cause on the surrounding community. Betsy informed the group that the after release of the draft EIR/S, that CAC members would continue to have the opportunity to make recommendations to the City about the Bisno proposal. Betsy clarified the process for approval of a project and informed the CAC that the local area planning commission, the City Council Planning and Land Use Management Committee and the full body of the Los Angeles City Council would review the Bisno proposal prior to approval or denial or modification of any project.

David Olivo with City Planning also discussed the City’s role in reviewing the proposal in accordance with the exiting general plan guidelines, design standards, traffic regulations and other design criteria.

David also informed the CAC about the various density levels, including low, mid and high density benchmarks. Low density is 9 units per acre. Mid density can have up to 55 units per acre, and high density can have up to 100 units per acre. A high rise condominium complex is an example of high density per acre.

Public Comment (most speakers did not disclose their names)

What is medium density?

What type of housing does the Bisno plan contain?

Rod Hamilton from LAUSD asked about the EIR process being conducted in parallel with the specific plan?

Is the City of Los Angeles Planning Department considering a proposal that may include a new LAUSD high school on the Bisno property?

The meeting adjourned at 8:50PM.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Newest Link

If you look on the right side of this blog, you will see a small, but growing number of links you can click on.

The newest member of my links is probably one of the most important Web sites for anyone concerned with what may or may not be built within the property lines of Ponte Vista at San Pedro.

The Northwest San Pedro Neighborhood Council is also linked here by clicking below:


This Web site is very important because anyone who lives within any homes built at Ponte Vista would be eligible to become members of this fine neighborhood council.

The Web site is also very important to folks who can't become members of the council because of their residency in R.P.V. or other reasons. The Web site is filled with usefull information and links to other sites that give vast amounts of information about life and development on this side of the hill and in Northwest San Pedro.

Some of the newest links at http://nwsanpedro.org include comments concerning the Draft E.I.R. for the Berths 97-109 Project. You will read how many faults have already been found in that document.

I would hope potential buyers of homes at Ponte Vista will study both this blog and the Northwest San Pedro Neighborhood Council site to learn about this area, its greatness, and its challenges.

Whether we live in San Pedro, Rancho Palos Verdes, or anywhere else, we want to see the best future for this area.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Another Homework Assignment

Here is another homework assignment. This one is more serious than the others and should be required reading for everyone on any side of any discussion concerning the 61.53 acres of land commonly known as Ponte Vista.

Please consider reading the Draft Eenvironmental Impact Report for the Berth 97-109 project. This draft report does not contain many of the potential health hazards and information about other potential problems, but it does give a fairly detailed estimate of what the potentials may be once all the testing, sampling, and observing is completed. More accurate accountings will be made in the Final Enviornmental Impact Report is drafted and published for consideration by the governing bodies.

Not only should the general public read the report, it should be included along with any environmental report written for the Ponte Vista at San Pedro project and the E.I.R. that will be generated for SRHS #14.

Berths 97-109 will be close enough to the Ponte Vista site to have an impact on whatever is built. I feel we all owe it to ourselves and the potential residents and/or students who will live and/or learn in Ponte Vista. If you look in the upper left hand corner of the aerial photograph of the reports front cover, you will see the proposed site for lot #12 of Ponte Vista at San Pedro.


It is an extremely long read. A read that I have not even really begun to attempt. I feel that the most important sections deal with the potential health ramifications to all the residents in our area.

I would tend to feel that there may be consensus between the existing residents of San Pedro, Rancho Palos Verdes, and the developers of the several projects in the area, to come together and oppose the further development of Berths 97-109.

We may disagree about many things within Ponte Vista, but I think we can all agree on two things:
The need for a new road from Western Avenue to the Harbor Freeway.
Opposition to the development of Berths 97-109

The Application is on the Web

The application titled; Ponte Vista General Plan Amendment/Zone Change Application has been posted on the Internet

http://www.pontevista.com/cacbinder/ is where you go to view and download the information the committee received at our last meeting.

I may have been a bit hyper critical of the contents of the binder. I critiqued the contents and originally planned on writing my thoughts. I talked to a few other folks who had experience with these types of applications ( I had none) and they advised me that there really wasn't a whole lot of useful information that even needed critiquing.

I might suggest that you have a really good look at the aerial photo of the site provided in the material. Then go to Google Earth and look at a similarly angled view of the site as it really is.

You might also want to take a good look at the artist's conceptual illustrations of the site. Notice the backgrounds and the view of the bridge. Did you notice any of the four cranes near the bridge? Me neither.

I do applaud Mr. Bisno for providing access to the binder's materials on the Web. I thank him for delivering my request.

One other point. I think the persons taking and selecting the photos that were used in the application have a real love for roadside storm drain openings. I still can't figure out why the application is filled with photos of buildings, roads, storm drains, and other things that will be eliminated no matter what is finally built in Ponte Vista.

Gru a Ponte Vista?

Perhaps the name "Ponte Vista" will not fit for whatever is built on the site.

"Ponte vista" in Italian has, as their primary meanings in English, "bridge view"

Here are probably some more appropriate names that should be considered once you read down further:

Gru a Ponte Vista------------------Gantry Crane View
Carroponte Vista-------------------Overhead Traveling Crane View
Container Vista--------------------Container View
Nave Porta-Container Vista--------Container Ship View
Cassone Vista----------------------Containers View
Cassoni (grossi contenitori) Vista---Containers View

Why write about changing a name? If the berth 97-109 project is developed according to the plans being reviewed at this time, there won't be much of a view of the bridge...from anywhere west and north of the span.

Berths 97-109 right now looks like a long concrete wharf, four container cranes, a small amount of containers, and a really big mound of weed infested dirt. If the developers get their way, those four existing cranes will be in close proximity to ten more cranes added to the site. You will also get to view the additional very large number of containers stored and moved by those ten new cranes, along with the bright lighting necessary to shed illumination on the berths and storage facility.

I feel the berthing project has a direct impact on whatever is built with the Ponte Vista site because of the dramatic increase in allowable air pollution, traffic, light pollution, noise, and congestion that residents or students would have to deal with.

One report indicates that air pollution within the two ports would be allowed to have 9.9 persons per year die of pollution-related cancer or other health issues. Proponents of the Berth 97-109 project claim that the number of "allowable deaths" is less than 10 per year.

Mr. Bisno, in his desire to build 2,300 homes, with an estimated residential population of 7,343 permanent residents, will hopefully take into account the additional health concerns of the potential buyers of any home in Ponte Vista.

I have not yet spoken to anyone in the Bisno Development Corporation about what position, if any Mr. Bisno has taken regarding the Berth 97-109 project. I would hope and expect that he would be as concerned about the potential health dangers the berth project might have on his residents, that we have in northwest San Pedro and eastern Rancho Palos Verdes.

And now, another personal recollection.

My dad worked on Berths 97-102 for 25 years when they were the Standard Oil Marine Terminal. The other berths, up to berth 109 were part of Todd Shipyard. I spent many days walking along the old wooden wharfs, looking at harbor traffic. We got a spectacular view of ship launches at Todd because berth 102 was right next to the end of the ship-ways. The Ralph Scott would tie up at Berth 102 to stand-by, if there weren't any tankers docked. Whenever a ship was launched, the old wooden wharf would sway with the wake of the new ship entering the water for the first time. When just sections of ships were launched, like the mid section added to the "David E. Day", the flatness of the hull entering the water caused the big wakes that really shook the old wharf.

Some oldtimers might remember that there was a railway bridge between the old A.P.L. clocktower and the space where berth 100 would have been. Early in the 1950's a barge hit the support structure for the bridge and the damage was so much, that the bridge was removed. If you ever see the first season or two of "Sea Hunt" the bridge is visible in the opening.

Trivia: Originally berths 97-99 were made of wood. They were the oldest wharfs designed for tanker traffic in the harbor.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

"Depressing" Homework Assignment

I'm sorry folks, for suggesting such a dismal homework assignment. Please forgive me. I did it for good intentions, I think.

Western Avenue is in trouble, right now. The Task Force which wrote the document accepter a one percent growth in population, per year, during the next 20 years. Their recommendations illustrated that implication. They were not able to calculate the added traffic that a 2,300 home development might have on Western Avenue. I think this means that we must have another task force take a look at the conditions Western Avenue might really have in store for it, should all the proposed and imagined projects actually are built.

One of the best outcomes from Task Force were calculations that showed all of us how bad the conditions on Western Avenue are now. Their studies imply that we all need to know the facts as they are now, and prepare for the future.

The Task Force successfully had their immediate goal completed, and on time! The City of Los Angeles controls the signals on Western between 25th. Street and Summerland. Cal Trans controls the signals between Summerland and P.V. Drive North. The timing of the signal lengths were different. L.A. City had their signals timed to change every 90 seconds. Cal Trans had their signal timing set to 75 seconds. Cal Trans changed their signal timing to match the City of L.A.. Now all the signals are timed for duration of 90 seconds.

Short term and med term goals reflect the needs to improve the striping, control, and signal synchronization along Western Avenue. There is a lot of information within a separate document detailing the "Intersection Geometric Improvements" as part of the "Western Corridor Improvement Project." I recommending downloading this document. There are many photos and explanations about improving access to and from Western Avenue.

A long term goal is to have three lanes in each direction along Western Avenue between 25th Street and P.V. Drive North.

Note: Mr. Bisno and the Bisno Development are looking into paying for the widening of Western Avenue only along their Western Avenue boundary.

Here is my recap on the Western Avenue Task Force Documents.

Eight of the twenty-to intersections along the study route already have a letter grade of "F" in the amount of traffic, delays, and timing. These intersections have over 100% capacity for the roadbeds design. By 2025, even without 2,300 homes, the number is predicted to go up to 11 intersections out of the 22.

The Task Force could not calculate the added congestion predicted when Mary Star High School is completed, opened, and have Western Avenue as its only access.

The Task Force could not calculate the possible added congestion with the addition of a 2,300 home development, and/or a 2,025 seat senior high school, the possible new home of Eastview Little League, and a possible combination development at Ponte Vista that could include a high school and housing within 61.53 acres. Every vehicle dealing with any development of the area would have as the only access, Western Avenue.

Now that I have gone through the Task Force's documents, I am looking forward to reading the Traffic Study concerning both the Ponte Vista project, and the proposed 2,025 seat high school. I think we all need to compare all the studies to find out how much change may be likely from the forecasts documented in the Western Avenue Task Force study.

I feel we owe Mr. Jerry Gaines, Mr. Sal Sotomayor, and others many thanks for their volunteer work with the Task Force. We should also thank them, I feel for volunteering to be on the Community Advisory Committee for Ponte Vista at San Pedro. I am looking forward to their take on the two upcoming traffic studies. They already have the facts as they are. I bet they will be able to spot the B.S. from quite a distance.

Now for a more personal note about any Traffic Study coming out concerning Ponte Vista. I went to Dodson Junior High School at the same time kids from the Navy Housing were attending. Back then there seemed to be too many children hit by cars crossing Western Avenue at the vicinity of Avenida Aprenda. During that time, school kids from lower Eastview used to walk through Navy housing to get to Dodson, too. There were lots of kids crossing Western Avenue for many years back then at Avenida Aprenda. I hope the folks who have written the Traffic Study for Ponte Vista have taken into account the records from long ago concerning pedestrians hit by cars in the area. With perhaps hundreds of kids needing to cross Western Avenue in the future, we might have similar terrible articles that found their way into the News Pilot when I was a teenager.