Thursday, January 18, 2007

Mark's Report on the Open Forum-Part 1

Here is my report on the speakers' portion of the Open Forum held on Thursday January 18, 2007.

This is not a scientific report. I am using only my notes I collected at the forum and they were written as speakers talked. I think I was able to understand almost all the speakers.

Based on my note-taking, here is my report.

I counted 71 speakers who got up to give comments.
44 speakers spoke "generally in support" of Mr. Bisno's plans.
25 speakers spoke "generally in opposition to Mr. Bisno's plans.
2 speakers appeared to be "undecided" and gave different comments.

I will identify each speaker based on where the notes appeared in my notebook. I am sure you can figure out this format on your own. I don't wish to identify individuals by name.

The following notes are based solely on what I believe their comments were about unless I use quotation marks around wording. Then, the quoted words are exactly what they said.

There were other committee members, as well as a facilitator who wrote notes about speakers.

So here goes the comments.

1-1 This gentleman represented unionized carpenters and he claimed there is an agreement by Mr. Bisno to use only unionized labor during construction of the project. He was in support of Mr. Bisno's plans and he claimed his brother can't afford buy a home in San Pedro and he feels the homes would be affordable at Ponte Vista.

1-2 A representative from Harbor Interfaith Council wants the committee and project proponents to remember the homeless. She commented that none of the money Mr. Bisno spent to acquire a portion of Ponte Vista from the Volunteers of America has, as yet, gone to support any of the homeless. "Don't leave out homeless folks."

1-3 L.A. County will grow in population by over 30% in the next decade and there needs to be high density housing to meet the growing needs. There is a huge housing shortage in the area.

1-4 The project is about greed and money. This man feels that San Pedro might lose its identity.

1-5 The Southbay Latino Chamber of Commerce supports Mr. Bisno's plans.

1-6 The numbers used in the DEIR don't match calculations used by the CRA and suggests the truer number of residents is more like 3 persons per household. Seven different methods were used with various developments, each one having a higher density than the calculations in the DEIR.

2-1 Remember what we felt about the Gardens. We survived. "Every other development in California has a senior section."

2-2 This speaker passed out an outline of his comments to committee members and commented on how the trip generation figures in the DEIR do not match other counts from other similar sized developments.

2-3 U.C.L.A. graduate believes R1 is too expensive and that Ponte Vista would be affordable.

2-4 Air quality, the whole process, and traffic issues were questioned by this speaker. Consider the total population in San Pedro when deciding about Ponte Vista.

2-5 Wants good project for Seniors (The following got a very big laugh from everyone in the room) "Very competent City Planners."

2-6 Very concerned about traffic, sinkholes. Would like to see a development along the lines of "The Cape" and "Bay Watch" (single family-detached "patio" or "Courtyard" homes)

3-1 Traffic has solution (by mitigation) Didn't want "500" homes but thought the "2,200" homes was the right amount of homes.

3-2 Representative from Torrance Chamber of Commerce. Likes project. Talked about all the dollars coming in to businesses in the area. He did not mention San Pedro by name, nor did he talk about businesses in San Pedro.

3-3 Concerned about traffic and density. Lives in the Gardens. She was the only speaker to wear an R-1 button. Thanks!

3-4 A Planner from the City of Rancho Palos Verdes is concerned that the "3 phases" of the development proposal were not being followed as promised in an earlier meeting. He asked a specific question; "Where is the specific plan?"

4-1 A representative from the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce likes the project and supports Mr. Bisno's plans. He feels development would be "very pleasing"

4-2 Rolling Hills Riviera resident doesn't want a zoning change. He thinks that the buildings can be built without changing the zoning. (He didn't seem to understand. he thought 2,300 homes could be built without changing the zoning)

4-3 Rolling Hills Riviera resident and former chairperson of several Ponte Vista advisory committees wants committee members to put their personal opinions aside and come back with "unbiased" recommendations. She also likes the idea of Senior Housing.

4-4 A Council member from the City of Rancho Palos Verdes, speaking as an individual. Informed us that the committee would be receiving a letter from the City of Rancho Palos Verdes and admonished each one of us to look at it. He claims that over the last ten years only 400 new homes have been built in the City of R.P.V. and worries about the quality of life in eastern R.P.V. if such a large development is built.

5-1 President of Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council doesn't care about figures, tables, numbers and such. He is concerned that his children would be left with a better environment than what was in the past. He wanted Western Avenue to be looked at as a "unique" place.

5-2 ILWU member for 10 years looking for a safe home and housing area for her family. She likes the security of a gated community and had to move away from San Pedro to a safer place...Long Beach.

5-3 He wants Email address to send Emails to the committee. He said Westside (L.A.) residents can't leave their homes after 3:00 PM and the project doesn't provide an answer for changing the character of the area.

5-4 Mary Star of the Sea Parish representative likes the proposal and is pleased that Mr. Bisno will provide access to the new Mary Star high school. 5,600 family members are represented by the new high school and the annual income of the families of current students is $41,000 per year.

6-1 Peninsula Verde resident objects to the plan and rejects the findings in section 4-J of the DEIR. Very much wants a traffic signal on Western Avenue at Peninsula Verde Drive.

6-2 Likes the affordability of Ponte Vista. "All the (traffic) problems have been solved."

6-3 Very funny speaker doesn't want zone change. Claims Mr. Bisno should "Take whatever you can get and get out of town!" ( Loud laughter from all) Claimed meeting of 110 seniors at Peck Park and only 3 folks supported Mr. Bisno's plans. He thinks 200 seniors driving on Western Avenue, and high school students driving on Western Avenue, as well would be a bad thing. He also claimed home sales were down in area.

6-4 This speaker asked all potential buyers to stand up and then asked all of those who could afford $1.5 Million Dollars to buy a (R1) home to remain standing. Everyone sat down, except one person. He wants to "Stay where we love."

7-1 38-year resident wants ILWU discount (possible 3% rebate per Mr. Bisno)
Doesn't like other communities commenting on Ponte Vista and thinks 300+ units are being built at Rancho Verdes Tennis condos (143 condos are being built) There are too many cars on Western Avenue.

7-2 Montecito resident (P.V. Drive North, west of Western Avenue) Concerned that P.V. Drive North, already heavily impacted would get worse. Previous development proposals in Torrance have all be changed from original plans to final outcome.

7-3 Northwest San Pedro survived all prior problems and would like senior housing. She visited other senior developments in not-nearby areas and thinks the senior housing would be affordable.

7-4 Lives in Gardens and feels South Bay Board of Realtors will put money in their pockets with this project. Too much traffic. Resales have potential questions right now.

8-1 Harbor City-Harbor Gateway Chamber of Commerce. Supports the project.
"(San Pedro is) one of the last best kept secrets." Wants high quality development.

8-2 Quality of project is high and likes the idea of senior housing that would allow the solution to stay in the area.

8-3 "Criminal to even consider making this dense a development" Market rate homes are not affordable housing.

8-4 Need access to Gaffey Street, no matter what the zoning of the site is or becomes.

9-1Co-chairman of the Senior Advisory Committee thinks the project is "A betterment for San Pedro."

9-2 Keep an open mind. He can't afford a home in San Pedro right now and thinks Ponte Vista will be affordable. It is better to stay, live, and work in San Pedro.

9-3 Phenomenal project. Likes the fact that the Hahn family has made projects a priority and wants the number of senior housing expanded. He claims opponents don't want change.

9-4 He believe in real growth in California. "We all have to adjust" (to known increases in population). He would like to see 1,700 homes at Ponte Vista.

10-1 This individual asked "Where are things going at Ponte Vista?" She likes the idea but it was clear to everyone that she didn't know anything about the actual planning of Ponte Vista or what types and numbers of homes are proposed for the site.

10-2 A Banker is very much in favor of project and claims he has helped finance a number of senior projects in the South Bay. "This is an affordable senior project." Ragsley, his cat wants to live in Ponte Vista, too.

10-3 The President of the Rolling Hills Riviera HOA is concerned about whether emergency personnel can get access to the area. He said "affordable" housing at Ponte Vista is really market price homes. He questioned whether the area could accommodate the increased population.

10-4 Longshoreman for 8 years with a daughter very active in the area but can't afford to buy a home to live in San Pedro. Currently a renter, she believes homes in Ponte Vista would be affordable. She also believes the traffic mitigation is fine.

11-1 His current house is too big for just himself and his wife. He would like to live in the senior housing area of "Monte Vista in San Pedro." He feels San Pedro has a reputation to be inclusive.

11-2 Traffic along Western Avenue is essential. Participation in commerce decreases when traffic increases. She worries about evacuation plans in such a high density area.

11-3 Wants East View Little League back into the equation. He would like the red car extended and he would like to see the neighborhood of Rolling Hills Riviera put back into San Pedro. (Actually, Rolling Hills Riviera was in unincorporated L.A. County prior to annexation into Rancho Palos Verdes)

11-4 He likes the reality of the project. He feels it is affordable and believes the mitigation is being done correctly but would like some more traffic mitigation.

12-1 concerned about traffic, condition of sewers under Western Avenue and believes there are too many units planned.

12-2 Wilmington Neighborhood Council representative. " Supports Ponte Vista affordable housing project."

12-3 A future buyer believes the average costs of homes are going up and Ponte Vista gives opportunity for affordable housing. Likes the 6-acre park being planned and thinks the landscaping would be good. Wants approval of zoning changed to "R3".

13-1 Asked a specific question; What is projects minimum house price. Eastview is 1300 acres with 2,500 homes. How can 2,300 homes fit on 62 acres at Ponte Vista? Too many homes.

13.2 Need more mass transit. He has idea for mass transit. Claims 91 freeway is border for MTA with not enough buses leaving San Pedro and going beyond the 91 freeway.

13-3 Rolling Hills Riviera HOA Board member is concerned that Western Avenue is only route in or out of her area. The density of Ponte Vista will be too high. Plans look very beautiful, but outcome is in doubt.

13-4 Likes the senior housing and thinks it will be affordable. "Affordable senior housing is important."

14-1 Lives in South Bay and thinks zoning should be changed from R1 to R2. Seniors won't be a traffic problem because they are usually only out between the hours of 10:00 AM and 3:00 PM. Want to be close to kids and grandkids.

14-2 Rolling Hills Riviera residents claimed Ponte Vista would be a "projected catastrophe".
Has problems with current mitigation and doesn't really know how big project will be and who will foot the bill for more mitigation.

14-3 Wants active life in senior housing. "Life goes on, things change."

14-4 Central San Pedro HOA Board member claims that 3,200 families support Mr. Bisno's plans. Feels everyone will have a chance of buying a home at Ponte Vista.

15-1 Likes proposal. "People, get over it!" She used to have to drive four hours to go 30 Hawaii.

15-2 Thinks Ponte Vista is a beautiful project and he wants to live in the senior housing. He wondered what the price is of a single-family home in San Pedro is. He is a Vietnam Vet who wants a chance to buy in Ponte Vista.

15-3 Y.W.C.A, worker who helped design the senior portion of the project and believes it will keep long-time residents of San Pedro together at Ponte Vista. "Good for community, good for seniors."

15-4 Co-chair of the senior advisory committee said; "Let's move along." She wants to get together for many activities.

15-5 Thinks proposal is best use of land. Quality, safe, open space. He supports "R3" zoning and doesn't want 2,025 seat senior high school in area.

16-1 Wants to stay in San Pedro. She claims that when previous developments came, traffic survived and there is lots of development going on in the area.

16-2 Likes the development. She claims the future is important. "San Pedro is the place to live."

16-3 His traffic solution is to build a subway under Gaffey Street and link it to the Green Line. Likes the proposed project and believes that area has been dormant for too long.

16-4 Wants extension of public comment to the Department of Planning but doesn't know if " Mr. Bisno will give it to us." Don't put traffic problems on Mr. Bisno.

16-5 Is very concerned about traffic mitigation. Wants table 4-J-10 of the Ponte Vista DEIR, Traffic and Transportation section studied more. He feels the traffic counts in the table show 52 of 52 intersections will be impacted and that 52 of 52 intersections will get worse, according to LA DOT/Ponte Vista section.

17-1 R.P.V. resident who grew up in San Pedro believes that family is important and Ponte Vista will give folks the opportunity of staying fairly close together.

17-2 "If you think this project is affordable, you've been fooled." She has problems with the quality of life and believes that city government is betraying the public trust in supporting this development. She also reminded us of a quote by the head of L.A. City Planning; " can you spell speculation."

So there you have it. All the comments as best as I can remember and as well as I can read my chicken-scratch, being left-handed and all.

I am too tired at this point to continue on with this post. Please go ahead and mull it over. I'll be back after some sleep to create another post including my comments and personal notes on the night's events and speakers.

Thank you for reading this long post.

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