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.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Another Rumor Control Post

Recently I Emailed Mr. Fox concerning a rumor of a possible development of a Walgreens along Western Avenue, near the Ponte Vista site. Below is his reply.

Dear Mr. Wells:

We understand that Walgreens is interested in building a store at the southwest corner of Trudie and Western. No application has yet been filed.

Kit Fox,
AICPAssociate Planner
City of Rancho Palos Verdes
30940 Hawthorne Blvd.Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275
Phone: (310) 544-5228
FAX: (310) 544-5293

A Post of Comments

Each post I write comes with the opportunity to comment on what is written, or even what is not written. Comments are encouraged from everyone and everyone can remain anonymous if they choose.

The post dealing with the possibility that something "stinkin" might be going on, brought out some interesting and worthwhile comments, in my opinion.

"tom" commented at length on several occasions to the particular post. It appears he is a supporter of Mr. Bisno's plans to build 2,300 homes in Ponte Vista.

I sincerly welcome posts and comments from supporters of Mr. Bisno's concepts and I encourage more supporters to contribute their thoughts and concerns with folks who do not support Mr. Bisn's plans.

What I don't want to read is name calling, bashing, or "haters" anywhere on this blog. One push of my finger on the left button of my mouse, and all comments will be stopped and this becomes a one-way blog which doesn't serve the purpose of trying to find the best outcome for everyone concerned with Ponte Vista.

"mellonhead" has commented on other posts. Both mellonhead and tom are welcome to supply entire posts of their own creation and if the posts follow my four "Rs", then I will gladly publish them.

At the end of this post I will remind everyone of more facts about the DEIR.

With respect, we can all agree to disagree.

(tom's first comment below is his initial comment to my post, "Stinkin".
tom said...
Excuse my being candid, but I wish you would figure out which side of the fence you are on. Or, if you are truly "un-biased" as you have claimed, then stay on the fence where you belong.

Despite your claims of being even-handed, for the most part your posts are barely disguised as anti-Ponte Vista. Which is your good right. Except don't bill yourself as neutral and then trash the proposed development and everything associated with it.

You can't seem to stay on point and this harms all of us. The question of the high school was answered. I was there, I heard it. We are supposed to be commenting on the DEIR in front of us now. NOT something which MIGHT be. Like Bisno said at the last meeting, if the school pursues eminent domain, then this document is tossed out and we start from the beginning. So GET OVER IT!

Secondly, you and your running your God! Since when have you become a certified city planner? How do you even know that you are reading this thing correctly? It is 9 inches of techno-babble. Your plucking numbers out of it and doing your calculations is more than ludicrous.

AND you forget that this document, the DEIR, was written by the City Planning Department. So if something doesn't jibe, it is on them. Why don't you throw some criticism their way? Do you really think we can trust the City?

All you are doing with your hare-brained ideas (light-rail system, road through Navy proprty to an off-ramp, etc. none of which are included in the scope of this DEIR!) and picking at minutiae is making all of us seem unable to give competent, reasonable input into the planning process.

Remember? This is what Janice Hahn picked you guys for; to represent us.

From what I've seen so far, it's like the Keystone Kops. You are destroying any credibility that the citizenry can partake in this process and not muck it up. You can be certain that if we are perceived as not being to get out of our own way, this is the last Advisory Committee that will ever be convened.

Some of us would like some input into how our neighborhoods will change by what is going to happen at Ponte Vista. But right now our "representatives" are too caught up in their own self-importance to realize the train is leaving the station.
8:25 PM

12:42 AM
M Richards said...
Howdy, especially to Tom.

First Anonymouses, please don't pick on Tom. He has every right and he feels his responsibility to comment on whatever is written in this blog. I am interested in reading input from all sides.

Tom, Please take the time to read this entire blog. I know the posts are very long. The facts I write as facts can be backed up by documentation that I have stored and can supply to anyone who questions the facts I have posted.

Take a look at the first couple of posts that date back to the beginning of this blog. There you will find more facts.

I continue to write that I am attempting to keep this blog as objective as I can. Nobody on the committee is totally objective on the subject or they probably wouldn't serve and face criticisims from all sides of the issue.

I have written and admitted in the committee meetings and other public venues that I am the creator of the black R-1 buttons that some folks wear. With that being written, I have never seen objectivity from the Ponte Vista staff towards ideas that are different from Mr. Bisno's vision.

This blog is has been intended to provide the largest population with the most accurate information that is not available on If anyone is interested in reading posts on a blog that is very criticle of Mr. Bisno's plans, then please visit It is better known as Life on the Edge.

Tom, I wish you would also read the Scoping report of the DEIR as well as as much of the DEIR as you can. You may be able to help me figure out why the scoping report mentioned a population of 7,343 at Ponte Vista, while the DEIR states that the estimated population would be 4,313.

The number of homes in Ponte Vista is relevant. But so is the actual number of people that will live in the homes. As relevant as the number of homes and the number of residents, are the actual estimated number of vehicles that will call Ponte Vista home.

If the Traffic and Transportation study proposes 5,750 vehicle parking spaces inside Ponte Vista, is that based on a residential population of 4,313? It is based on the number of homes (2,300) proposed for the site.

But if the population projection is off by as much as 3,030 people, then the number of parking spaces required would need to be dramatically increased.

Tom is correct in the fact that the DEIR informs everyone why the high school is not studied very much in the DEIR. The chief L.A. City Planner for this project spoke at the first meeting of the committee and suggested that the committee avoid dealing with the proposed 2,025 seat school.

Fair enough. But may I continue to remind everyone about the L.A.U.S.D. and the Belmont Learning Center. L.A.U.S.D. will do whatever it wants to do and there is little any of us can do about that at this time other than not burying our heads in the sand and acknowledging that this "elephant in the living room" still looms over Mr. Bisno's project. Ignoring SRHS #14 will only do harm to both the supporters and opponents to Mr. Bisno's plans.

Tom, you have the right to attack me and my blog. May I ask why you support Mr. Bisno's plans, if you do? What is wrong with a new road connecting Western Avenue to Gaffey Street and then onto the Harbor Freeway. If you have ever seen me talk with Mr. Bisno, you would see we converse well with each other and we both agree that such a road would benefit all of us.

To everyone, yes I write very long posts and comments. I try to give everyone the best overall information I can and I do my very best to keep the facts separate from my opinions and to back up every fact I use. Am I biased? Sure. Do I sit on the fence? No, not really. I am only fence sitting to provide both sides of the fence the best information I can. Should I remain on the Committee? I serve at the pleasure of Ms. Hahn and the majority of the members of the Rancho Palos Verdes City Council. Dick Brunner, Lucie Thorsen, were appointed to represent the interests of the residents of Rancho Palos Verdes and the larger community we all live in. Would I attack individual supporters of Mr. Bisno? Heck no! I want to know why folks support and oppose Mr. Bisno's plans.

Please remember when you read the DEIR and other documents regarding the site, including the proposal for the high school: Is it reasonable, realistic, responsible, and respectful?MW
3:44 AM

tom said...
Mark, Well thank you for at least saying I have the right to express my opinion. Even though we may differ in our opinions, at least we can agree we each have the right to express them. These others feel if you are not in lock-step with them, you are somehow a traitor to San Pedro.

Perhaps the use of "hare-brained" was a bit rash. I retract that statement.

Nonetheless, while I agree with you that the number of units and cars is relevant, why aren't you busting the chops of the Planning Department and the LADOT? They are the one's who published the numbers.

I am frustrated with the lack of forward motion. Just think about it for a moment. If you wanted to put a gazebo in your back, it is your good right. After all it is YOUR property and you can pretty much build what you want as long as it conforms to building codes. Why is it suddenly different for a developer? Of course he has to jump through a lot more hoops than you or I. But it is still HIS property!

Something is going to be built there. The members of the Advisory Committee have yet to offer anything constructive about what they would like to see. There is this negative attitude which pervades the meetings and does not contribute to the mission at hand. All I hear are criticisms without any alternative suggestions to replace the things people don't like.

To Anonymouses - BTW, what does it matter if I wore a yellow sticker or a black button? I'm still entitled to voice my opinions.
8:35 AM

tom said...
1. Continuing to discuss SRHS #14 is a waste of time. No one is going to forget that the elephant is in the room. But until the elephant actually takes some action, agonizing over "what if" is useless.

2. The traffic study specifies 5,750 parking spaces (2.5 per unit). This does not equate to vehicles or trips. At least Bisno is recognizing that people have vehicles, unlike LAUSD who proposes to build SRHS#14 with NO parking for students. Merely enough for teachers and staff.

3. The Scoping Statement is just that, the first initial summary thrown out for public comment. Forget it. It is history. The document you have before you, the DEIR, trumps anything previously published.

There IS a difference in the number of residents. Unfortunately, nowhere in the scoping statement does it specify what they used as an assumption for number of members of a household. The DEIR spells it out. Household size for non-restricted housing = 2.0, age-restricted housing = 1.5. This averages a household size of 1.88 for the entire project in the DEIR as opposed to 3.19 in the scoping document original assumptions by Bisno.

There could be an entire range of reasons for this. Perhaps Bisno thought couples would move in and have babies (there's a strange concept) and included them in the calculations? Maybe the Planning Department thought it should be limited to actual live people moving in and not include projections for population growth?

However, in any event, it sounds like a question to be brought up at the next meeting. Silly me to think that a question should be clarified before everyone starts screaming that the sky is falling.
9:52 AM

mellonhead said...
Andrea Adleman quoting Gale Goldberg of the L.A. City Planning Commission in More San Pedro last Saturday."I've asked myself the question, is real planning possible in L.A.? I think it is, if two constituent groups are behind it. We won't be successful without both of them.

Number one, the community and the neighborhood councils have to be supportive of real planning and I think they are. Communities want real planning because they need to know what is going to happen in their community and right now they don't.

"People complain and say, 'Oh, the neighborhood councils are against every project.' Under the system we have here, I think a logical response by neighborhood councils is to be against every project because you have no idea what the next one is going to be.

"Number two, the plan needs to have the support of the development community, meaning it's real. [Developers need to know that] when they look at a plan and they look at a zone, that's what we want.

"In every other city in this country, the zone on the land establishes the value of the land. That's the highest and best use.

"If it's industrially zoned land, it's worth $20 or $30 a square foot. In Los Angeles, that's not true.

"The value of the land is not based on what the zone says or what the plan says. It's based on what that developer believes he can change the zone to.

"That is disastrous for this city. Disastrous.

"I have to believe that the developers are getting sick of this. I have developers who come in to me and say, 'I bought this industrial land. I paid conversion prices,' -- meaning they didn't pay $20 or $30; they paid $100 -- and I say to them, 'Can you spell speculation?

'"And they say, 'But, you've always done it. You've always converted.

'"I'm sorry, zoning has to mean something in this city."As we all know, the "Ponte Vista" property is zoned R-1 re-affirmed by the 1998-99 San Pedro Re-Use Committee and the Los Angeles City Council.

I need to remind tom and everyone else some true facts about the DEIR.

The Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) published for the Ponte Vista at San Pedro Development was NOT written by the Los Angeles City Planning Department.

Mr. Bisno and his development company contracted with Christopher A. Joseph & Associates to prepare the DEIR on behalf of the City Planning Department, and everyone else interested in the project. Mr. Bisno and his company paid Christopher A. Joseph & Associates for the DEIR.
It is customary and normal for the developer to select a company to produce the DEIR and aid the City Planning Department with reviewing the documents, studies, findings, and other matters. To suggest that members of the Los Angeles City Planning Department authored the document is an error. To condemn the L.A. City Planning Department for anything in the DEIR is also an error.

The Planning Department does not have the money, facilities, and capabilities to produce DEIRs for large developments. They rely on companies contracted by developers to study, produce, and publish a DEIR like the one produced for Ponte Vista.

It would also be very wrong to suggest that because Mr. Bisno paid Christopher A. Joseph & Associates, that company would be predisposed to make findings in the interest of their client. It would be a disservice by people to try to invalidate the DEIR based on who paid for the DEIR. I am confidant that Christopher A. Joseph & Associates made a very honest attempt at producing the best DEIR for the project.

Questioning the findings, studies, methodologies, facts, figures, and results of the document is not only encouraged, it is essential. It would be a great error to take all the facts produced in the DEIR as truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

tom is correct when he claims that I am not a city planner. I am an interested neighbor to the project who has over 51 years of life experienced in the area.

tom is concerned with whether the committee is "moving forward." I feel we are.

The fourteen committee members volunteered and were appointed to act a little like a jury for the benefit of the community. While we will never render a judgment or a verdict, we are "tryers of fact" and one of the avenues to question the process and the product with regards to the development.

Not only are we asked to learn the facts, we are also tasked with determining which facts can be believed, proved, or are falacious.

We are only asked to make recommendations at the end of our mission. To get to those recommendations, we must learn as much as we can from all sources so we can make intelligent, informed, and worthy recommendations for the benefit of everyone in the community.

Both the supporters and opponents of the project have facts they feel are true and most important. Many of these facts are in direct opposition to facts produced by the other side. The committee are representatives of the community who are asked to judge which facts to believe and which facts to question. I hope tom and other supporters don't find themselves in lock-step with all the facts produced in the DEIR. It would also be wrong for the strict R-1 supporters to be in lock-step with the facts they base their conclusions on.

The DEIR has been out less than one month. Mr. Bisno and the Planning Department have allowed more than the 90-day comment period so that everyone has a chance to comment with their own views on the project.

To tom, other supporters, and opponents, it is my job to question all aspects of the project. If I can't make informed decisions about recommendations, then I shouldn't be on the committee.
If I can't question what I feel are problems between what the DEIR reports, other documents reveal, and facts as I know them to be, then I wouldn't be representing the folks living in eastern Rancho Palos Verdes and the community on the whole, as well as I should.

I continue to have serious problems with some of the "facts" presented in the DEIR and it is important to learn the real truth before we recommend anything at Ponte Vista.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Mission Impossible?

Mr. Phelps,

Your mission is to learn, understand, and write comments about the Draft Environmental Impact Report for Ponte Vista at San Pedro.

This post will self destruct on January 31, 2007.

If you, or any other I.M. readers questions publicly any material contained in the thousands of pages of the document, certain individuals may consider you a "ranting elitist."

Friday, November 24, 2006

I'm Thinkin There May Be Something Stinkin

The Deir mentioned in Section IV.H Population and Housing about the number of proposed residents in Ponte Vista.

On Page 18 of the section the reports suggests that 4,313 people may live in Ponte Vista when it is completed.

Further reading of the section and of the Appendix IV.H-1 gave me the results of how the authors came up with the number.

The supposition is that each of the age restricted units would have an average of 1.5 residents. The non-age restricted units would have an average of 2.0 residents per unit, as the claim is made. Also written in the DEIR is that the average number of residents per household in the Wilmington-Harbor City Planning Area is 3.47, and the average number of residents per household in the San Pedro Planning area is 2.55

According to figures in the DEIR, 862.5 people may live in the senior section of Ponte Vista, it 2,300 homes are built. Also, approximately 3450 folks may live in the 1,724 non-age restricted units.

The Traffic and Transportation Section of the DEIR is allowing for a minimum number of 5,750 parking spaces for residents and guests inside Ponte Vista.

So by the figures presented in the DEIR, 4,313 permanent residents and their guests will use 5,750 vehicle spaces, or a few more.

Now here is the rub that I can't figure out.

In the Notice of Preparation for the Draft Environmental Impact Report, the developer claimed that Ponte Vista, with the 2,300 home configuration would allow 7,343 permanents residents to live within the gates.

7,343 is different than 4,313. Between the Notice of Preparation and the publication of the report, 3,030 possible residents seemed to have vanished.

Or did they?

The Traffic and Transportation Section deals with the number of vehicles that could be attributed to a 4,313 resident project. So I did some more calculations.

If the Notice of Preparation is more correct that 7,343 people may live within Ponte Vista, then the number of vehicles that may find homes at Ponte Vista is more like 9,789.53.

9,789 is different than 5,750 if my calculator is correct. the difference in the two numbers looks to be an increase of more than 170% of the DEIR suggested numbers.

If 3,030 potential residents vanished between the Notice of Preparation and the DEIR, so must have the 4,039 potential vehicles that those missing folks may own.

Or did they?

Using the San Pedro Planning Area's average of 2.55 residents per household, I calculated that up to 5,865 residents may move into the 2,300 homes Mr. Bisno is proposing.

Similarly, when I used the 3.47 average residents per household in the Wilmington-Harbor City Planning Area, I found that 7,981 folks might want to call Ponte Vista their home.

Now let's look at ratios of vehicles per residence. I am going to use the figures established within the DEIR as a guide for determining more rationale ratios, depending on the proposed population.

If 4,313 residents use 5,750 parking spaces (for vehicles) then there would be 1.333 vehicles per resident at Ponte Vista.

If 7,343 residents use 1.333 vehicles per resident, then approximately 9,789 parking spaces would be used.

If Ponte Vista is uses the San Pedro Planning Area residents/household, then 7,818 vehicles would need parking spaces.

If Ponte Vista uses the average from the Wilmington-Harbor City Planning area, then we might encounter 10,638 vehicles looking for parking spaces.

Unfortunately, the numbers just don't seem to calculate reasonably. Why did the Notice of Preparation call for 7,343 permanent residents but the Traffic and Transportation Section deals with vehicles only from 4,313 permanent residents?

Why are the averages of possible residents lower in Ponte Vista than the two Planning Areas?

How many people and vehicles are really expected to be in Ponte Vista?

Why didn't the DEIR traffic studies consider the number of vehicles associated with 7,343 residents?

Now let's see if the numbers change when I calculate even a small increase in projected population within Ponte Vista.

I am allowing for 1.75 seniors per age restricted unit, which is .25 persons more than the DEIR suggests. The total of potential residents move up from 863.5 to 1006.25.

Allowing for 2.5 residents per home, rather than the projected 2.0 of the DEIR, in the non age restricted homes gives me 4,312.5, but I'll round it up to 4,313. Now what? Doesn't my allowance of additional non age restricted residents equal the total proposed population of the entire development?

Adding the 1006 seniors to the 4,313 non age restricted residents, I get 5,321 residents.

Using the ratio of 1.333 vehicles per resident established by the DEIR, I would suspect that there could be almost 7,093 vehicles calling Ponte Vista home.

Now, I am going to try and figure out how many residents and vehicles may find homes inside Ponte Vista if it remains R-1 single-family detached homes. I am allowing myself the opportunity of providing these calculations based on the differences in the information provided in the Notice of Preparation and the differences in averages between the proposed development and the actual averages found in the two Planning Areas.

I start with 429 single-family detached homes.

Using the Wilmington-Harbor City average of 3.47 residents per household, 1,488.63 people would live in a sold out development. Using the ratio of 1.333 vehicles per household, there would be 1,934 vehicles.

Using the San Pedro Planning Area average of 2.55 residents per household, there would be approximately 1,094 people and about 1,458 vehicles.

However, if these homes are finally built, they would be big, expensive, and probably have a larger number of folks living in them. I am going out on a limb here and give an average of 4.5 driving-age residents per home at Ponte Vista.

So. 4.5 drivers in 429 homes equals 1,930.5 drivers and 2,573 vehicles.
I am going to add 300 cars to the mix and call them vehicles driven by persons working for families in the development. I am going to also add 150 motor homes because the people who buy these homes will have lots of money to buy really big vacation vehicles.

Is the total of 3,023 vehicles within the R-1 Ponte Vista development reasonable?

I have learned that members of the Ponte Vista Development staff read this blog. I have written this particular post because I am quite concerned that this is one example of issues that haven't been addressed, in my opinion, enough in the DEIR. The loss of 3,030 possible residents of Ponte Vista is disturbing. I couldn't find any mention, so far, of the difference in population between the NOP and the DEIR. When questioned during the last meeting, I didn't hear an answer to this difference from Mr. Bisno or anyone else on his staff.

Folks really need to read the DEIR and make up their own minds about the project. We all need to see what is good and what is questionable. We need to get all the facts and have things we don't understand explained logically, completely, and honestly, so the best project for the residents of the area can be built.

Notes, Comment, and Other Stuff

This post has a reminder, a comment, and other stuff to help you.

Please remember that you have until January 30, 2007 to give your comments, observations, reasoning, and concerns dealing with the Draft Environmental Impact Report. You can view the DEIR by visiting

You may send your writings to:
Mr. Jonathan Riker
Los Angeles City Planning Department
200 N. Spring Street, Room 750
Los Angeles, CA 90012.

On Wednesday evening I deleted a post that seems to have been misinterpreted by some folks.

The post dealt with my proposal for a meeting of people interested in the Ponte Vista project. The proposal suggested that a gathering at one of the two L.A.U.S.D. schools in Rancho Palos Verdes might be beneficial to the public.

Some folks contacted me and thought the post was written to make it sound like residents of Rancho Palos Verdes are not very concerned with what is proposed for the Ponte Vista site. If anyone thinks that R.P.V. residents living on the east side of the hill are interested or concerned with Mr. Bisno's plans for the 61.53 acres of land, may I please use a phrase that was made popular my Mr. T. of "The A-Team". "I pity the fool!" Let me be quite clear that I have found a great number of neighbors living in the R.P.V. neighborhoods near Western Avenue are very interested and concerned with the Ponte Vista project. Whether they support Mr. Bisno's plans or object to the plans, all anyone need to do is ask one of the residents in the area about Ponte Vista and you will get responses you will either agree with, or disagree with.

To avoid any confusion by folks who think we in R.P.V. might not care about the Ponte Vista project, I have deleted that post and I am working on a different method to gauge whether a meeting in R.P.V. is wanted or even necessary before the January, 2007 Public Forum that the Community Advisory Committee will hold.

One of the interesting sections of the DEIR deals with schools and the projected number of students living in Ponte Vista. The DEIR projects 199 school aged students might live within the gates and walls of Ponte Vista. The breakdown of students is; 99 elementary school students, 50 middle school students, and 50 senior high school students.

I did some calculations and saved them for anyone who questions my input.
The ratio of number of projected students to the number of residences in the non age-restricted portion of the 2,300 home Ponte Vista proposal is 0.11536 students per household.

Basically, my figures suggest that just over 1/10 of a student will live in each of the homes, or about 11 students per 100 condominiums.

Are the figures I have calculated comparable with other neighborhoods in the area?

Are the assumptions used in the DEIR correct for number of students per home?

What is the statewide ratio of students per household? Is the ratio the same, less, or greater for L.A.U.S.D.?

I don't know the answers to these questions. I wanted to let you all know what the actual ratio the DEIR projected. If that is in line with what you know, please let me know. If these numbers are different than what you know or were told, then perhaps, you can bring your information to the public forum for airing out.
The next meeting of the Community Advisory Committee meeting is November 30, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, probably in the main ballroom. I expect there will be microphones and speakers so folks can hear this time.

The issues that will be discussed during the meeting are planned to be:

Presentation of Ponte Vista Project:
Presentation of project (concept, rationale, key features, incorporation of community
benefits/features) from the developer's prospective.

Housing Needs/Regional-Community Planning Matters::
Discussion of current housing needs and related planning matters. This matter may be
discussed with the developer and city government planners.

Fiscal and Economic Impacts:
Discussion of projects impact on municipal services and local and regional economy.

I have called for a presentation by the developer and his staff to explain his proposals to our committee and the community in a fact-based presentation that allows Mr. Bisno to completely put "his cards on the table" with respect to his proposal to build 2,300 homes at Ponte Vista.
I strongly hope that this meeting will finally be that meeting. We are all able to read the DEIR and make our own comments on the issues inside the report. Mr. Bisno should be encouraged and allowed to present his views verbally to back up what is written in the DEIR. Once we have both the information contained in the DEIR and the presentation by Mr. Bisno and his staff, we should then have a good picture of the proposed project in which the committee can then make thoughtful and informed recommendations on.

It is also very important, in my opinion, that the public will be fully informed if they listen to Mr. Bisno's thoughts and rationale. None of us have to agree on his rationale, but we are all better informed if we receive the largest amount of information we can have.

Once we hear from Mr. Bisno and his staff, and along with ongoing reading of the DEIR, we all can make informed decisions based on the facts presented and the opinions of the developer.

My caveat to all of this is that I am not asking anyone to take the information produced in the DEIR as the truth, or all the facts. Many people regard the DEIR as the definitive draft report that is correct in the facts presented, the assumptions made, the projections anticipated, and the outcome correctly foreseen. On the other hand, and it is a very big hand, there are many who question the validity of the facts in the DEIR and the methodology used to write portions of the DEIR.

While I read the DEIR, I also use the Internet to help understand the DEIR better and find out if I can respect the facts that are written. There are portions of the DEIR that I have problems with, and I feel I am better informed if I seek out the correct answers to the problems that crop up.

My first letter to Mr. Jonathan Riker was concerned with items I felt were either not studied, or simply ignored in the DEIR. Mr. Riker's job is to compile all the comments to the DEIR and report out on them and have them published in the final EIR. The City Planning Department will read the comments and make their own recommendations, based in part, to the comments sent in to Mr. Riker. That is why everyone who has an opinion about Ponte Vista should make those opinions known to Mr. Riker and the Planning Department.

The Los Angeles Unified School District is still moving forward with their proposed South Region High School #14. The 2,025 seat senior high school is proposed to be built on a net acreage of 15.03 acres within a 24 acre portion of the Ponte Vista site. I continue to bring this issue up from time to time to let everyone know the "elephant is still in the room."

As a reminder, the DEIR for Ponte Vista has a series of paragraphs dealing with why the school project is not included in most of the DEIR. The proposed school is mentioned in the Schools section of the DEIR, but there are no projections on the number of students of Ponte Vista that might attend the school because both a 2,300 home development and a 2,025 seat high school won't fit in the available 61.53 acres of Ponte Vista.

There will not be a public meeting of the Community Advisory Meeting in December. The committee has planned a make-up tour of Playa Vista on December 3, and the whole committee is invited to tour a second set of developments on December 9. Committee members asked to see a new development of single-family detached homes on a similar sized property, and another example of the Bisno Development Cos. property.
These tours are reported out at the following public committee meetings.

On January 11, 2007 the committee will meet at the Crowne Plaza to discuss the remainder of the Traffic and Transportation section, that it had not finished during the November 9 meeting. We will also discuss other EIR issues the committee wishes to bring up. this meeting will have a public comment period.

On January 18, 2007 it is the public turn to advise the committee. The first Public Forum will allow the committee members to hear for all interested persons whatever opinions they may have about the Ponte Vista project. Your comments, reasoning, passions, and facts will aide the committee members to recommend the best possible outcome for our entire community.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Really, Here is a Short Post

Daily Breeze. Sunday November 19, 2006. Section A. Top of Page 3. Interesting?

Move cursor over title. Left click.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

An Observation

It's 11:33 A.M. on Saturday November 17, 2006.

My wife and I just finished our Thanksgiving Dinner shopping at Ralph's. We had to travel about 200 yards down Trudie, cross the intersection of Western and Trudie/Capitol, and drive about 100 yards to the entrance of the parking lot.

During our journey we encountered one stinking, blinking set of red light signals at the intersection. We stopped. I looked to my left and cars were waiting on Western as far as the bend by the Terraces. I looked to my right and saw two long lines of cars trying to head northbound on Western. They appeared to be backed up all the way to Crestwood.

Now, if one, and only one stinking, blinking red traffic signaled intersection can mess up the journeys of so many people in our community, just think of what can we expect in our future.

I still remember that there are several storm pipes under Western that haven't been upgraded and still may be metal pipes instead of concrete.

It is now 5:41 P.M.

My wife and I did some shopping at Del Amo mall. You know that is probably where the bulk of the $101 Million Dollars a year will be spent by residents of Ponte Vista.

Anyway, I thought it would be good to go out for dinner at our favorite Italian restaurant. So I took Western south from P.V. Drive North to get to Nona's Kitchen on the lowest level of the Terraces. I found the traffic backed up all from Caddington to the still stinking, blinking red lights at Trudie/Capitol and Western.

When we finished our Swordfish dinner at Nona's I found some gracious drivers who allowed me into the slow flow southbound on Western. I only had to get to Trudie, so I didn't have the turmoil that the poor souls continuing both north and south through the Trudie/Capitol and Western, stinkin, blinkin intersection.

Now I will give an extremely subjective opinion on something near Ponte Vista. It could and hopefully will be something of interest to any number of residents who end up living in Ponte Vista.

We have the greatest Italian restaurants anywhere west of Italy, in my humble opinion. Living in the San Pedro area we have enjoyed Raffaello's, Sorrento's, Bouno's Pizza, Dominick's, Z-Pizza, and a host of other great Italian restaurants around our community.

And then there is Nona's Kitchen. Nona's Kitchen is a little restaurant on the lowest level of the Terraces. It is owned by the Palazollo family from Sicily. "Nona" is the chief chef and she cooks home style dishes that are usually a cut above the greatest food we already enjoy all over town.

Not to be missed is her perfectly prepared pasta with a homemade sauce that is just too good for words. Add meatballs or sweet Italian sausage to the dish, and it is even more perfect.

On Fridays and Saturdays, Nona prepares a Swordfish dish that is coated, baked, and then covered with a sauce that too far above description.

Nona makes homemade trays of Italian cookies. If you are from the old country, or you know how to locate Italy on a globe, you must try some of her cookies.

Now for Nona's Lasagna. There simply are no words. I am still a fat guy, trying to loose weight because of diabetes. So my wife and I share one serving of Nona's lasagna, along with splitting a Antipasto Salad. You all need to try some of Nona's Lasagna. If there is a heaven, her Lasagna most be the most ordered menu item beyond the Pearly Gates.

I think that no matter what the zoning remains or changes to at Ponte Vista, I strongly suggest that any and all folks who are considering moving into the new development, try a good lunch or dinner at Nona's.

If you insist that Ponte Vista remains R-1 zoned, please have a meal at Nona's. You will not find a better restaurant to dine at either before or after any protest you attend.

I think the most expensive single menu items are the $8.99 Swordfish dinner and the Lasagna. The fish dinner comes with a garden salad and two nice sized pieces of fish. The Lasagna portion is humongous, to my eyes. You need a good appetite to get through her healthy portion of this great dish.

The atmosphere is very homey. Nona and her family, including grandchildren, run a very friendly and cozy place. There is a big screen T. V. in the corner and the remote is freely passed around the restaurant.

So now you know that there is one thing about Ponte Vista that I am not anywhere near objective about. Folks who will live and work in or near Ponte Vista should visit Nona's Kitchen.

Of course, you may have to contend with a stinkin, blinkin intersection......or even worse, in the future. Nona's is worth it!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Data Versus Community

The Draft Environmental Impact Report has been published and the comment period is in full swing.

Within the large collections of pages are numbers, figures, graphs, tables, drawings, and seemingly endless amounts of facts. The Data is here, but what about the community?

There are many folks who live in San Pedro. There are quite a good number of people like me who live in Rancho Palos Verdes, but consider ourselves members of the San Pedro community.

Our community has a long history of inclusion of peoples from all over the world. I am part Norwegian and we all know Italians, Croatians, Latin Americans, African Americans, and people who have ancestors from six of the seven continents who made San Pedro their home.

We are a community of blue-collar workers, professionals, students, civic employees, and almost every other working group there is in America.

We have parades, both on land and in the water. We celebrate both national and religious holidays. We have civic organizations, philanthropic organizations, cultural groups, clubs, societies, and associations all over the community.

How might the Ponte Vista Development fit into our community?

What about all the other large guarded and gated developments in San Pedro? Have the residents in these large planned developments joined our community?

How will the views from the homes in Ponte Vista compare to the views from the other homes in our community?

Can members of our community drive through Ponte Vista with the same freedom that we can, when we drive around other parts of our community?

Can Ponte Vista residents feel they can become members of our community if they only have one access road to the rest of our community?

Will the residents of Ponte Vista feel they are part of a larger community if they live behind gates and walls?

How will the development of Ponte Vista impact our community?

What is the benefit of Ponte Vista to our community besides numbers, mandates, and data?

What about the heart of San Pedro?

What about our community's long term future?

In the hearts of the members of the San Pedro community, is Ponte Vista something we really want?

What price progress?

Now that the DEIR has been published, many, many members of our community are pouring over the facts and figures and questioning many of the findings and issues. We have until January 30, 2007 to comment on the documents. But a real community is not built on facts, figures, questions, findings, and results. A real community is build on heart and soul.

If you have lived in the area for at least five years, you have a history here. For many of us in the area, we can go back generations in the area. We have common experiences, we have common friends, we have common issues, and we have the common thread of community.

Ponte Vista will be like nothing that has ever been seen in San Pedro and eastern Rancho Palos Verdes. Is this development good for the heart of our community?

Monday, November 13, 2006

The "Hybrid Scenario" or "Hybrid Alternative"

In today's Daily Breeze, Donna Littlejohn wrote an article about last Thursday's Community Advisory Committee Meeting. One of the issues she wrote about she called the "hybrid scenario."

I use "hybrid alternative" for the same idea, and I am writing this post to gauge whether this alternative to building 2,300 homes at Ponte Vista might be an alternative that can be thought of as the compromise.

A Draft Environmental Impact Report for a project or development must contain, by mandate, alternatives to the project requested by the developer. Section VI of the Ponte Vista DEIR lists four alternatives in the report, along with studies and analysis of each alternative.

The four alternatives listed in the DEIR are:
Alternative A: No Project Alternative/Single-Family Homes (in essence, R-1 zoning.)
Alternative B: Increased Percentage of Senior Housing
Alternative C: 1,700 Units (26 Percent Reduction)
Alternative D: Alternative sites (The project being built somewhere else)

What is NOT in the DEIR is an alternative written in a "working paper" supplied to the Community Advisory Committee, and spoken about by the Traffic Engineer for Mr. Bisno's development.

"The Hybrid Alternative"

1,700 condominiums, 50% age-restricted, 50% non age-restricted.

Could this alternative be the compromise between folks who insist on "R-1" single-family detached homes and folks who want a project similar envisioned by Mr. Bisno?

Did Mr. Bisno allow this alternative to be floated to the committee and the public because the number "2,300" is just too big for Ponte Vista?

Why wasn't this alternative dealt with in the original DEIR?

Who can, and will, get behind this idea?

Is this the best alternative for northwest San Pedro and eastern Rancho Palos Verdes?

I don't know the answers to these questions. I hope everyone reading this have comments, questions, and reactions to this alternative.

It seemed strange to me last Thursday, listening to an engineer bringing up an alternative that wasn't even in the DEIR. It got me thinking that PERHAPS Mr. Bisno was allowing his traffic engineer the flexibility to bring out what may be Mr. Bisno's own compromise.

The traffic engineer led the committee through the working paper that seemed to show that traffic counts for the "hybrid alternative" would be just slightly higher than R-1 traffic. I think all the traffic mitigation for this alternative would be accomplished, unlike much of the mitigation that would not be done under R-1 zoning.

Some things the "hybrid alternative" would allow that the original proposal has some trouble with are things like building heights, open spaces, and the issue of a possible high school being built at Ponte Vista.

Mr. Bisno could build 1,700 units on land left over if the L.A.U.S.D. were successful in obtaining 15.03 acres for their 2,025 seat senior high school. As the DEIR correctly pointed our, there would be no way to build 2,300 homes and a 2,025 seat school on the 61.53 acres and have any chance of mitigating traffic.

Mr. Bisno has also said, in the past, that he might be willing to talk to the L.A.U.S.D. about welcoming a much smaller academy-sized high school into Ponte Vista.

It became apparent during our visit to Playa Vista, that most of us on the trip, including Mr. Bisno, did not like four-story buildings alongside the major roads. The "hybrid alternative" would allow shorter buildings close to Western Avenue and taller buildings set back farther into the development.

Open space may also be helped by 600 fewer units. Perhaps the storm drain culvert on the south side of the property can be made to look like a natural creek, complete with crawdads and stepping stones.

I am intrigued by this alternative. I have a feeling it was "thrown" out as a trial balloon to see how many folks would grab at the string. It certainly could use the same kind of scrutiny that the four listed alternatives received. I think it deserves comment from supporters of Mr. Bisno's plans and folks who object to 2,300 homes at Ponte Vista.

Could this be the compromise that is best for the area?????

Friday, November 10, 2006

A Contribution of a Petition

I have been asked by Mr. Doug Epperhart, President of Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council, to post this contributed petition on this blog.
I neither endorse or object to printing and signing the petition.
I would also post contributed petitions from other interested contributors in support of their positions concerning the Ponte Vista Project.
If you move your cursor to any part of the petition and click on it, it will "magically" grow to a size you can better read. You can also right-click over the image and print it.

More information about the D.E.I.R.

I hope this post allows folks to better understand the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR), by addressing a few key points. I will allow myself to be subjective on the production and dissemination of the documents, but I will try to be as objective as possible on the content.

First, if you haven't taken the opportunity to look at any portion of the DEIR, I encourage everyone to visit: The folks at Ponte Vista provided a very quick and easy way to access the documents for viewing and/or downloading.

If you decide to try to download and/or prints the documents, please make sure you have several things: lots of space on your hard drive and the ability to save to CD or DVD. You will need probably about 4-5 reams of paper for your printer and restocked supplies of toner.

I found it easiest to request a copy from the site office at Ponte Vista. The phone number for the site office is 310-241-0699. I am sure if you give the Ponte Vista representatives a call, they can steer you to where you can pick up a copy. I also know that there were CD copies made available at Councilwoman Janice Hahn's San Pedro office. I hope that there will be CD copies available at the San Pedro Public Library.

The only paper copy of the main sections of the DEIR I have seen was at last night's meeting. The main section looks to be about 5 inches thick. Along with the main portion, there are three equally thick volumes of appendices. I imagine the entire stack of printing is at least 15 inches thick. I feel I can print only the portions I want printed from my CD and read the rest stored in my computer.

If you do undertake reading the DEIR, have fun. I found lots of information in the three volumes of appendices that accompanies the DEIR.

Another very important thing to remember is that you have until January 30 to place comments concerning any and all aspects of the DEIR. Your comments should be sent to:

Mr. Jonathan Riker
City Planning Department
200 North Spring Street, Room 750
Los Angeles, CA 90012

The comments you write to Mr. Riker will be included in documents related to the Ponte Vista Project and they will be made public.

The Table of Contents for the DEIR and the three volumes provide an easy way to navigate to sections of the documents you might want to read. When you visit you will see the documents listed by section and it is easy to scroll down and pick the section you are interested in reading. The DEIR documents issues, findings, and results.The three volumes of appendices provide the background and methodology for the issues, findings, and results.

The DEIR mentions and justifies the reasoning why the proposed L.A.U.S.D. South Region High School #14 is intentionally left out of the DEIR. It is easily and essentially stated that both a 2,300 home project and a 2,025 seat senior high school cannot be built on the amount of land inside Ponte Vista, so this DEIR does not include issues related to the proposed school. In addition, since the DEIR does not include any proposed high school at Ponte Vista, there are no issues related to traffic mitigation for the project AND a L.A.U.S.D. high school. Simply put, the two projects cannot be built on the available land.

The DEIR does include sections on schools in the area and has a good deal of information related to the new Mary Star of the Sea High School, now under construction. Mitigation of traffic which includes the new school is included.

To be fair to all sides, I will mention three issues I could not find addressed in the DEIR. Perhaps I haven't read enough of the DEIR, so if someone reads about these three topics, please let me know where I can find the information. The three topics I still wonder about are:

The omission of the intersection of Peninsula Verde Drive and Western Avenue.
Peninsula Verde Drive at Western Avenue is the first public intersection north of the northern boundary of Ponte Vista. There is an eastbound stop sign at Peninsula Verde Drive. Traffic on Western Avenue is not signalized, nor are there any stop signs for the Western Avenue traffic.
Peninsula Verde Drive is the main street for a neighborhood of single-family homes in the City of Rancho Palos Verdes. The intersection was studied by the Western Avenue Task Force, but it has been ignored in the DEIR.

The omission of any studies about nearby parking lots.
I haven't been able to find any reference, study, report, comment, or mitigation to the prospect of overcrowded parking lots at nearby shopping centers, restaurants, and office buildings. This omission impacts the current residents of the area and all future residents of Ponte Vista. I cannot find any coordination between the Bisno Development Corporation and nearby business owners on how to mitigate the potential impacts of more cars attempting to be parked in lots that are currently sized for populations far less than what is expected in the future.

The omission of Middle School pedestrian traffic crossing Western Avenue.
When the Navy Housing was occupied, Junior High School age children from the Navy housing and some children from lower East View crossed Western Avenue at Avenida Aprenda or John Montgomery Drive. In my years of attendance at Dodson Jr. High, several children were struck by cars or buses while crossing Western Avenue. The Navy Housing has been closed for some time now and children from lower East View cannot walk through to Western Avenue via John Montgomery Drive. The DEIR estimates that there will be up to 50 children attending Dodson Middle school at any one time beginning in 2012 when the proposed project is finally completed.
There will be fewer children from Ponte Vista crossing Western than there were during the time the Navy Housing was occupied. The ages of the future middle school population inside Ponte Vista will be one year younger, on average, than the age of students who attended Dodson Jr. High because back then, Dodson was a 7th-9th grade school. Now, Dodson is a 6th-8th grade school.

There is also one omission I found that I feel will be mitigated by Mr. Bisno. Mr. Bisno told me his staff was working on the issue. Fitness Drive at Western Avenue does not appear to be mitigated in the DEIR. Fitness Drive is a private road intersecting Western Avenue just south of the southern boundary of Ponte Vista. Condominiums are constructed, or being constructed on Fitness Drive. Fitness Drive has a westbound stop sign at Western Avenue. Western is not signalized, nor are there any stop signs for Western at Fitness Drive. I have some confident that Mr. Bisno will mitigate this intersection by probably using the public road that will be constructed on the southern side of Ponte Vista. I feel Mr. Bisno will place an intersection of the new road to Fitness Drive so the residents living on Fitness Drive will have a signalized intersection at the new road and Western Avenue.

The DEIR also deals with alternatives to the proposed. Included in the alternatives are building alternatives at the current Ponte Vista site as well as alternative site locations in nearby areas.

At last nights meeting, the Traffic Engineer also included an alternative that was NOT included in the DEIR. His "Hybrid" alternative is for 1,700 condominiums with 50% being age-restricted, and the other 50% being non-age restricted. All other amenities would remain the same as Mr. Bisno's proposal.

Mr. Bisno has stated publicly and repeatedly that his project is for 2,300 homes. He provided his reasoning for his proposal and you can view that in the November 9 Meeting post further down the blog.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

November 9 Committee Meeting

Last night's meeting of the Community Advisory Committee was held in a meeting room at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, in San Pedro.

I was impressed at the number of people in the audience who attended wearing yellow "Ponte Vista Supporter" tags. They outnumbered folks who came wearing "R-1" buttons or no buttons by a very large number.

The focus of the meeting was traffic. The committee listened to traffic engineers explaining the Traffic and Transportation Section of the recently released Ponte Vista Draft Environmental Impact Study.

Important information was given out where to visit online to view or download the large documents. The D.E.I.R. can be found at

Another important piece of information repeated several times this evening dealt with the comment period of the D.E.I.R. Everyone who wishes to comment on anything dealing with the D.E.I.R. or any other matter concerning Ponte Vista, must do so between now and January 30, 2007. The address to send comments is listed on another page of this blog.

Committee members asked questions to the traffic engineer, Mr. Bisno, and members of L.A. City government and the Planning Department.

On our return trip from Playa Vista, I sat next to Mr. Bisno on the bus. I feel we had a candid and honest conversation. I asked him why he chose 2,300 as the number of homes he proposes to build in Ponte Vista. His answers were very simple to understand, and I believe he honestly told me the truth. I waited until tonight to ask Mr. Bisno in public why 2,300 because I felt he should be the one person to personally answer the question that his whole project is based on and has the greatest impact on all of us.

Mr. Bisno basically repeated in public what he told me on the bus. Mr. Bisno asked his traffic planners and advisers how many homes he could build and still be able to fully mitigate all traffic issues dealing with any and every intersection and road that could be impacted by his development. His advisers told him that they were confident all traffic issues could be mitigated if 2,300 homes were built at Ponte Vista, with one quarter of those homes being age-restricted.
To me, it was a simple answer to a simple question: Why 2,300? Because that is the maximum number of homes that can be built and still have effective traffic mitigation, according to Mr. Bisno and his advisers.

I make no qualitative judgements about Mr. Bisno's answer to my question.

One of the committee members who lives in the Peninsula Verde neighborhood, asked why his intersection was omitted from the Traffic and Transportation Section. Peninsula Verde Drive at Western Avenue is the first intersection north of the Ponte Vista site. That intersection was included in the Western Avenue Task Force Study and Report, but it seems to have been ignored everywhere in the D.E.I.R.

Another committee member voiced concerned about the residents who live in condos down the private, Fitness Drive. There appears to be no comment or mitigation concerning Fitness Drive at Western Avenue, in the D.E.I.R.

My comments dealt with my perceived lack of comment concerning parking lots at commercial and retail sites near the project area. I haven't been able to find anything in the D.E.I.R. concerning any plans to increase parking lot sizes to keep up with the increased projected number of residents along Western Avenue, at Ponte Vista.

My last comment concerned pedestrian safety for middle school students crossing Western Avenue to go to and from Dodson Middle School. When I attended Dodson Junior High School, the Navy Housing was occupied, and children from lower East View would walk through the Navy site to get to Western Avenue and Avenida Aprenda. The Navy children and the East View kids would cross Western and from time to time, a child would be hit by a car or bus while crossing the four-lane street. During the years I attended Dodson, the grade levels were from 7th grade to 9th grade. Children were in their early teens, back then. Now Dodson Middle School has a population of 6th through 8th graders who are usually one year younger than 7th through 9th graders.

I found no study materials, reports, or documentation in the Draft E.I.R. to deal with the approximately 50 middle school students forcasted to attend Dodson Middle School. I found no histories of pedestrian accidents at Avenida Aprenda and Western Avenue. I have not found any mitigating proposals to deal with, what I believe, is a potentially dangerous situation of children returning to cross Western Avenue and probably the busiest time of the peak drive-time.

The public comments were mixed. Even though the supporters vastly outnumbered others in attendance, their was one speaker who spoke on behalf of all supporters in attendance. My feeling was that since there was such a large turnout of supporters, the committee could have been offered more speakers from the supporting side of the issue. I was hoping for more personal stories why folks support Mr. Bisno's plans.

There were two gentlemen who spoke claiming they were neither in support or objectionable to the 2,300 home plan. The gentlemen who spoke dealt with traffic in and around San Pedro. They both suggested that traffic issues should be settled before any building begins.

The remainder of the public speakers were critical to very critical of the Traffic and Transportation Section of the D.E.I.R. One man claimed that the methodology used to collect the data and establish comments based on the data was "fataly flawed."

After the public comment, the committee set about to plan the next set of meetings. Further information about future meetings will be published on this blog.

One important date to keep on your calendar is January 18, 2007. That date has been set aside as our committee's first "public forum." this forum is the place where your opinions will be heard and written down. It is the first chance the public gets to come before the committee and tell us how you feel, an why do you have the opinions you have.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Executive Summary of the Draft E.I.R.

Along with the Draft Environmental Impact Report which can be viewed and downloaded by visiting, the Executive Summary is available at the following URL:

This document is a ten page document which supports the proposal to build the project according to the application submitted by Mr. Bob Bisno and the Bisno Development Corporation.

To read and download both the Draft E.I.R. and the Executive Summary, you need to have Adobe Acrobat software. The software is free and can be found online.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Another Contribution to this Blog.

The following post to this blog is a letter to the editor of "More San Pedro", and is scheduled for publication in the Saturday, November 4, 2006 edition.

Turn Up the Volume on Ponte Vista!

By Doug Epperhart

It’s time, San Pedro, to raise our voices and tell Councilwoman Hahn we do not want Bisno’s titanic development on Western Avenue.

By now, we’re all aware of the plan to build 2,300 condominiums on the old Navy property across from Green Hills cemetery. They would house 7,300 people with parking for 5,000 cars.

Despite the call of the Coastal and Northwest San Pedro neighborhood councils to maintain the current R-1 zoning (single-family homes) and nearly unanimous opposition to the project at public hearings last year, Councilwoman Hahn decided to appoint an “advisory group” to tell her what we think.

This group spends plenty of quality time with the developer, who sits at the table with them at meetings. Fortunately, some of the group’s members are interested in more than merely reacting to Bisno’s unrelenting sales pitch. We must speak to them.

The group will be meeting at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, November 9, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in downtown San Pedro. The Ponte Vista environmental impact report, including the traffic study, will be distributed and discussed.

Now is the time and this is the place to make a stand, San Pedro. If you can, come to this meeting and tell the advisory group members and Councilwoman Hahn you do not want massive development on Western Avenue.

Whether you will be attending the meeting or not, you should call the councilwoman’s office at (310) 732-4515 or e-mail her at and give her the message: “Ponte Vista R-1!” It’s all you need to do. It will only take a few minutes. Don’t wait. Do it now.

Tell Councilwoman Hahn and her advisory group that Bisno’s vision is not what San Pedro is or wants to be. San Pedro’s character—San Pedro’s soul—is not preserved by a thing like Ponte Vista.
Editor's notes:
Mr. Epperhart is the President of Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council. He is an oppenent of Mr. Bisno's plans to build 2,300 homes at the Ponte Vista at San Pedro site.
I will continue to accept and print posts from individuals who endorse, oppose, or are neutral, regarding Mr. Bisno's proposed development.
I feel it is important to provide the opportunity for everyone to be heard, so I along with the rest of those interested, can have the widest range of views in which to learn from.