Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Write Your Dreams Focus Group

This post was literally inspired by a dream I had last night, several hours after the CAC meeting ended.

There I was, in my colorized dream, with Bob Bisno, Alan Abshez, and several other folks, discussing what most of us thought should be included at Ponte Vista.

In my dream, folks took turns suggesting what they felt should be at Ponte Vista and Bob Bisno and Alan Abshez would respond why each particular suggestion couldn't be done, in their opinion. It was a lively dream but the noise of the wind and the downpour woke me up, but I can still remember that dream quite well.

I agree with Doug Epperhart in that there should be more members of the community who have input on what should be included at Ponte Vista. Doug likes focus groups and that got me thinking.

What is we had a very unscientific focus group right on this blog? Folks didn't seem to willing to draw their dream of what they feel should be at Ponte Vista, so why don't we try writing our dreams down via this post and this blog.

The rules are quite simple, just write, in your own opinion, just what should be built at Ponte Vista. Please include thinking about the following four word when considering what you would like to see built on the 61.53 acres: Responsible, Reasonable, Realistic, and Respectful.

Your dreams can be whatever they are, nothing is correct, nothing is wrong.

Members of the CAC listed some of the following concepts last night you may want to consider including in your written dream, but none of them are mandatory:
Senior Housing
Clear and great road between Western Avenue and Mary Star H.S.
Road between Western Avenue and Gaffey Street.
Types of buildings
Density of housing
Sizes of buildings
Numbers of buildings
Open Spaces
Park lands
Public roads in non-age restricted development
Types of roadways
Walking distances
3 schools within 1-mile of site and possibly a school on the site
On site retail uses

These are just a few things to consider in your dreams of what you really feel should be at Ponte Vista.

I think I will use my good friend Sven who will post the dream I had last night. It was incomplete, but I thought about what Sven may write earlier today and it may give you some ideas about how you might write your own dream.

If you wish to remain anonymous, that is fine with me. If you wish to dream the same vision Bob Bisno has, that is quite fine with me, too. If you wish to dream a demand for a specific zone type or dream a demand for a specific housing type, go for it.

My idea here is to see if we can't discuss what should be at Ponte Vista by looking at what folks really want on the site. I think this is a type of focus group because your written comments will be focused on your thoughts. Your opinion is just a valid and valued as mine and anyone else's, including Mr. Bisno's, IMHO.

If you want to be challenged even more, write a dream that could be included in an elevation to post status. You certainly do not have to agree with anything I write, just be interesting and think outside the box.

As of 8:20 PM on Wednesday Feb 28, 2007 there have been 4,498 visits to this blog.
I hope we can have at least 100 brave visitors willing to share their dream concerning what should be built at Ponte Vista. I won't count Sven or Gus, because I know them too well.

Thank you to all the future members of the Write your dreams focus group.

Write Your Nightmares Focus Group

After creating "Write Your Dreams Focus Group" and after learning about the newest drive-thru restaurant on Western Avenue, I thought, in fairness, a post considering what nightmares folks may have had or will have concerning Ponte Vista and Western Avenue, would be useful.

The same simple rules apply to this post, that apply to the "Dreams" request.

For those of you who don't know, an elderly driver made an, apparently unsafe, exit out of the shopping center's parking lot on Western Avenue at Westmount. The elderly driver's car was hit by a northbound vehicle. The elderly driver stated that he intended to step on his brakes to avoid the collision, but stepped on the gas, instead. The elderly driver's car went out of control and went through the front of Coco's Restaurant. Coco's Restaurant was not designed or built as a drive thru facility. According to the Daily Breeze, no one was hurt.

This event may mean something when considering that Mr. Bisno and other like-minded folks, including me, are considering placing the largest single concentration of senior citizens in our community, in new homes along Western Avenue. Perhaps this event places food for thought on the menu of Ponte Vista.

So, in fairness to all, please consider writing about your nightmares concerning Ponte Vista at San Pedro. This could be thought of as another type of focus group.

I do not want to dissuade anyone from writing their dreams for the Ponte Vista site as part of comments to that post. But the nightmares comments may provide all of us with differing views that can also be worthwhile when thinking about a specific plan for the 61.53 acres of land.

Please have fun, but not too much fun with this post. I do think "Dreams" can be more useful in the discussions, but it can't hurt learning your nightmares, either.

Just What is an Anti Ponte Vista Campaign?

As I am very sure all regular readers to this blog know, the creator of this blog is also a member of Councilwoman Janice Hahn's Community Advisory Committee.

Try as I might to keep my keys immobile in writings between Mr. Bisno and other CAC members, I seem to be the most active member of the CAC who responds to Mr. Bisno's Emails and responses to the CAC. I will try to stop doing this after this particular post.

Recently another member of the CAC wrote to members suggesting we think about creating models of what Ponte Vista may look like as a way for committee members to finally deal with making recommendations toward what MIGHT go into a specific plan for Ponte Vista.

This particular CAC member is extremely qualified to make these types of suggestions, in my opinion, and I regard his vast knowledge of the area and his devotion to our community as great assets to the CAC.

I also have thought about models and that is one reason I have created the Write Your Dreams Focus Group post to try to find out what members of the community really want to see built at Ponte Vista.

In a response to Emails passed between Mr. Bisno and SOME CAC members, Mr. Bisno included this next sentence in a FedEx delivered document to members of the CAC and selected others in the community and City Government:

"A CAC member who participates in an anti Ponte Vista campaign, by definition, acts in violation of that member's duty to be non biased and that member taints the results of the CAC process."

Mr. Robert H. Bisno, what do you mean by "anti Ponte Vista campaign"? do you mean a campaign where anyone who does not fully support your intentions to build 2,300 homes at Ponte Vista would be a member? Do you mean a campaign where members only advocate R1 development on the site? Do you mean a campaign where community members, CAC members included aren't allowed to belong to simply because they oppose your plans?

I don't know your definition of an "anti Ponte Vista campaign" and it would sure help me to know what you believe would constitute an "anti Ponte Vista campaign".

Every person interested in reading my opinions about the Ponte Vista development can read them here in this blog. I have set myself apart from most folks who oppose building 2,300 homes at your site because I have actively and repeatedly used the word "compromise" and I only state that R1 MUST be maintained if there is insufficient mitigation to build anything having a larger density than R1.

It should be well known by all readers that both you and I share a open willingness to discuss Senior Housing as a very important component to the Ponte Vista development. We both know that to provide for such housing a zoning change that would allow for a larger density than R1 would have to be approved in order to provide such housing.

I have also written that I have not signed any R1 petition. I do not begrudge anyone who chooses to sign such a petition, even other CAC members. I think we still have a few constitutional rights and the petitions have as much legal binding as your supporters' cards.

R Neighborhoods Are 1 is coming! it is an organization that does not support your efforts to bring 2,300 homes, with all buildings having similar designs and exterior features, to our community, that currently contains a great variety of housing types and sizes. Does this mean every potential member of the group will demand R1. Of course not! This organization will have lots of folks from all over the area who are as concerned about our community as you feel supporters of your development are. This paragraph is just my own opinion and does not reflect the beliefs of any other member of R Neighborhoods Are 1, or any other CAC member.

You have also included in numerous Emails, letters, publications, advertisements, and other sources the numbers of supporters and potential buyers of homes in the development. I think it is now time for all sides to reveal how some numbers were achieved and how many folks actually believe R1 should remain at the Ponte Vista site.

For the latter, I am quite surprised by the number of folks who advocate strictly R1 zoning at Ponte Vista. When the folks who have collected the petitions actually start revealing the number of signatures and names collected, the community will be somewhat shocked, in my opinion. It is also true that R Neighborhoods Are 1 is interested in finding volunteers to be block captains and continue to collect more R1 petition signatures.

For those folks who do not remember some of the early tactics used by the Bisno Organization to collect "supporters" information, perhaps now is as good a time as any to remind all of us.

As I was told by folks who unwittingly signed cards collected by paid gatherers, this is what happened. A paid gatherer would come up to a shopper at Albertson's and ask them if they favor "affordable housing in San Pedro". Well, who wouldn't want that? As I was further told by respectable folks who went ahead and signed the cards, their names appeared to be on supporters' lists for Ponte Vista at San Pedro. The folks who talked to me said they were not told their name would be added to a list of supporters to Mr. Bisno's plans and they felt they were tricked.

So, let's me more open and fair when discussing who actually supports and who actually opposes plans to build 2,300 homes at Ponte Vista.

And to be fair, I now have read or heard two members of the Board of Advisors to Mr. Bisno's current plans use the word "compromise" when writing or commenting about the project. This is refreshing to me because I can now see that there are actually some supporters who are not in total agreement with Mr. Bisno and his current plans. Oh, how I wish more supporters would wish to use that word and actively help all of us find what is best for San Pedro.

As I have written and spoken about how it is time for all of us to come together to support what is best for our community, it is also time for all of us, including Mr. Bisno, members of his organization, members of the opposition, and everyone else to come together and find some compromise. Just look at Sven Ludvquist O'Brien's dream. He would have some zoning changes made, but he would have Ponte Vista look more like the surrounding community with many different types of housing, just like San Pedro already has.

It is also time for Mr. Bisno and others to look at what the CAC actually is. It is a group of volunteers, and only one of many groups, that seek to find the best solutions for our community.
These volunteers on every committee have strong beliefs and if a few of them demand that Ponte Vista remain R1 it is perhaps there is a large number of community members they represent who have that same belief. These CAC members believe they are serving the folks they represent the best way they can and they should be commended for their volunteerism and not criticized for supporting the beliefs the folks they represent have.

If Mr. Bisno thinks that any member of the CAC who demands strictly R1 zoning at Ponte Vista be removed from the committee, then it would be equally fair to find out which members of the CAC support only Mr. Bisno's vision and ask them to step down, as well. What committee members have not done publicly or even privately in closed door meetings is discuss their personal beliefs as to how many homes should be built at Ponte Vista. this is a fact! If anyone, anywhere believes he/she knows what is in the minds of the fourteen members of the CAC, please be very, very, very certain that not even the fourteen of us really know what is in the minds of all of us. This continues to mean that our committee is open to listen and learn and will continue to strive to help make recommendations that may bring about the best solution for all of us, in OUR community.

Unfortunately, and again, Mr. Bisno used the word "elitist" as a descriptive of R1 supporters. His comments can be found in toay's Peninsula News article.

.... He said R-1 supporters such as the San Pedro and Peninsula Homeowners Coalition have a “completely elitist perspective” because “less than 2 percent of the San Pedro community working families” can afford houses in that price range.

Mr. Bisno, if there are 2% of the community that can afford R1 homes on the site, that would be many more times the number of 429, which is the number of homes that can currently be built at Ponte Vista. I feel, with a good marketing campaign and really nice amenities for these homes, they could be sold to the community members who could afford to buy these homes.

"Elitists" to me are folks who feel they want to be segregated from the community by the use of gates and guards. They also may be discriminatory by having only a certain group of individuals live in segregated housing. (Senior Housing)

The current Ponte Vista at San Pedro has many facets that have some people considering residents there will be elitist by where and how they live, and not be inclusive with the overall community.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

On A Pathway To Perhaps

This post will deal with the CAC, the meeting held tonight, and my personal comments about what I think should be happening around San Pedro.

The CAC met on Tuesday evening for a lesson on creating a specific plan and make comments about what MIGHT be included at Ponte Vista at San Pedro.

Betsy Weitzman (sp?), the head of our area's Planning Department led our group, along with David Olivo and Mr. Camp(sp?) in Planning 101.

They gave our group and the audience a good presentation about the basics of creating a specific plan and how that plan fits in with the city's general plan and the community plan.

Our group also gave suggestions back to them about what we would like to see as to types of housing at Ponte Vista. We gave just the basics, and included no numbers.

We talked about types of housing, the importance of the road to Mary Star, retail types, and extremely general ideas toward what members felt like might be incorporated at Ponte Vista.

One item that is continuing to emerge from the group and one item that it seems many members of the public, as well as Mr. Bisno wants is Senior Housing.

If Senior Housing is built at Ponte Vista, the portion of the site that the Senior Housing will be built on will have to have a zoning change. This doesn't mean that the remainder of the site can't stay R1, but to have Senior Housing as many people would like to see it, would require a zoning change to accommodate those residences.

It is also emerging that the Senior Housing be inside a guard-gated portion of the site.

So I feel it is safe to write that PERHAPS one thing we all MIGHT agree on is that a Senior Housing component MAY be built at Ponte Vista and that component will probably be in a guard-gated portion of the site.

Whew! One thing may finally be agreed to. We have no idea how many units would be in the Senior Housing component, or what the density or types of structures would look like, but it seem to be easy to view the Senior Housing component as something that will probably be built.

There is also the appearance of agreement that the public road from Western Avenue to the Mary Star High School parking lot is a major component that agreement is fairly easy to reach.

Everything else is still on the table for open and honest discussion. There will be an Urban Planning Workshop planned for the next two CAC meetings, so we can all get to learn more about what goes into the nuts and bolts of a specific plan.

Now to address the title of this post.

Perhaps we will have a majority of CAC members who agree on many recommendations for a specific plan.

Perhaps Ms. Hahn will use some or all of our recommendations to work with the Planning Department on the creation of a specific plan.

Perhaps Betsy will use some of our recommendations when her Planning Department makes their own recommendations concerning the specific plan.

Perhaps some of the recommendations will be agreed upon by Mr. Bisno.

Perhaps is all I can ask for.

The Community Advisory Committee is in a position to make recommendations to give to Ms. Hahn in order to assist her in considering her stance on Ponte Vista at San Pedro.

The CAC was told again this evening, by Betsy, that the group is simply an advisory group and only one type of group the Planning Department will use in helping it create the specific plan.

I don't know how to emphasize enough that the CAC is only one of many ways our community can utilize forces and groups to deal with Ponte Vista. It is not and should not be the be all, end all group in recommending anything concerning Ponte Vista.

This project is so big that everyone interested should become involved in making their views known and having input to all levels dealing with Ponte Vista.

I totally agree with Doug Epperhart's comments that there should be focus groups from throughout the larger community giving input towards the creation of the specific plan. I could even imagine a referendum of some type from throughout San Pedro, eastern Rancho Palos Verdes, and other local neighborhoods in Harbor City, Lomita, and Walteria. I don't feel supporters cards, some gathered under very questionable methods, as well as R-1 petitions, which demand only R1 zoning, be the only ways our community "votes" on what should be at Ponte Vista.

Folks, I would like someone from anywhere to find a development that even remotely compares to what is currently planned at Ponte Vista, within a 5-mile radius of the site. The current vision of Ponte Vista shares absolutely nothing with anything built in northwest San Pedro, eastern Rancho Palos Verdes, or anything I have seen built along Western Avenue from Paseo Del Mar to Los Feliz Drive in Hollywood.

One of the things we all need to consider is, do the current plans for Ponte Vista fit within the community plan of Wilmington-Harbor City? How might that community plan have to be changed in order for Ponte Vista to fit in, and should it fit in?

Facts as they are, we really can't figure if the Ponte Vista plans fit in with the San Pedro Community Plan, because the site does not fall within the area of the San Pedro Community Plan. It is true that the Planning Department is "looking in to" moving the area of the site from Wilmington-Harbor City Community Plan and into the San Pedro Community Plan. I have already been told that Ponte Vista would not fit into the San Pedro Community Plan, which is currently under review.

A supporter of Mr. Bisno's current plans spoke that he was confused because our committee wasn't working on Mr. Bisno's specific plan that he has proposed. He thought we should all agree to whatever Mr. Bisno wants, no matter what we might think. Sir, can you spell "NO"?

I also want to publicly commend the second member of the Ponte Vista Advisory Board to stand up in public and use the "C" word. Well, now there are two who choose not to march lock-step with other supporters. One at a time, is all I ask.

There was one speaker who criticized the group for doing "nothing" from the time our group was formed, until now. Well, Ms. speaker, our group and others probably averted a catastrophe by not marching lock-step with supporters and challenging Mr. Bisno's plans, asking very important questions, and investigating what is apparently a flawed Draft EIR. Nothing? We probably accomplished more in those first months than will be remembered for what we are doing from now on, IMHO.

R Neighborhoods Are 1 is and read for details.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

New Buttons

Here is the group of the newest buttons, some are available to you.

In a guest column in the More San Pedro magazine, Mr. Robert H. Bisno called many folks who oppose his plans to build 2,300 homes at Ponte Vista, "ranting elitists".

In my response to Mr. Bisno's column I wrote that I was a blue-collar employee and I didn't feel that myself and folks like me who work for a living and continue to fight to keep what we have earned and cherish weren't ranting elitists. I also wrote that I didn't appreciate the name calling that Mr. Bisno used.

In actuality now, I consider being called a "ranting elitist" is an honor I wear proudly and wish others would have the same feeling. We seem to be a group of people who work very hard in our jobs, support our family, our community, and our country. We have acquired the things we have mostly using our sweat, intelligence, determination, and the wish to provide for ourselves and our families the best possible life in our community.

Ranting elitists oppose the out-of-town developer's view that he knows what is best for our community and that, because he seems to have been a successful developer, we should bow down to his wishes and willingly accept whatever he is offering to us.

I have created a series of buttons to honor all ranting elitists in our community that want to demonstrate to Bob Bisno, his supporters, and his organization that members or our community will not stand to be dictated to and we do have the right and responsibility to protect what we have and what WE believe is in the best interest of OUR community.

The 5-star Ranting Elitist buttons have been made for a very selective group of folks who have already demonstrated their willingness to oppose Mr. Bisno's plans. I would like to see many more 5-star Ranting Elitists by this time, next year.

The 4-star Ranting Elitist is someone who has worked on opposing Mr. Bisno's plans in the past and is currently in a position to provide good counsel to R Neighborhoods Are 1. All current and future members of this new group automatically receive the 4-star ranking and the wearing of these buttons signify that you can talk with them about opposing Mr. Bisno's current plans.

The 2-star and 3-star Ranting Elitist buttons are ones you can send me an Email request for. These buttons are given out for free, after I get a chance to sit down and finally put them together. These buttons signify that you oppose Mr. Bisno's current plans, and are willing to wear them to support the opposition and R Neighborhoods Are 1 whether you are a member of the group or not. We do hope you will join us, though.

At this point, the 1-star Ranting Elitist has only been awarded to one individual. I haven't fully decided who I would like to see wear this button, and suggestions would be appreciated. The one individual who proudly wore the button is someone of great importance in our efforts to question and oppose Mr. Bisno's current plans.

I am the Major Ranting Elitist. So far, there are only two other individuals who I would give the Major Ranting Elitist to, but if they wore them, you would know who they are and I don't think they want or need their true identities revealed.
To be a Major Ranting Elitist, the first task is to have a blog. Then, using the blog you would need to write pieces opposing Mr. Bisno's plans. Whether you would be a member of
R Neighborhoods Are 1 or not, you would still get your Major's button.

At this point, the buttons are free of cost, including the black R-1 button.

I will be working on more styles of buttons and, perhaps some buttons may be created as a fund-raising effort for R Neighborhoods Are 1.

Email me, using the address at the top of this blog if you are interested in receiving and wearing your very own "Ranting Elitist" button.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

An Endorsement

This blog endorses Mr. Neal Kleiner for the L.A.U.S.D. School Board seat #7 being vacated by Mike Lansing.

The election on March 6, 2007 can be thought of as a referendum on many issues, including the Mayor of Los Angeles' attempt to take over the L. A.U.S.D.. Mr. Kleiner strongly opposes the Mayor's attempts at taking over our schools.

All four candidates agree that a large, 2025 seat Senior High School at the Ponte Vista site would be a very bad idea. Mr. Kleiner suggests a separate academy-sized school be built at Angel's Gate on property already owned by the school district. Mr. Kleiner believes that such a new academy would ease any overcrowding at San Pedro High School. This is something this blog has been advocating.

When the subject of campaign financing came up, specifically whether candidates accepted contributions from Mr. Bisno or anyone in the Ponte Vista at San Pedro organization, Mr. Kleiner spoke clearly and effectively that he would not take any contributions from anyone associated with the project.

Neal Kleiner has a Web site where you can visit to gain more information. Please visit:

I attended the candidates' forum held on February 24 at the Cabrillo Aquarium. Both Neal Kleiner and Dr. Richard Vladovic were in attendance from the beginning of the forum. Mr. Escadon and Mr. Love, the write-in candidate, arrived late, but all four of them were very informative and we all learned a lot from the answers to questions posed to them by Mr. John Greenwood.

Both Dr. Vladovic and Mr. Kleiner have decades of experience working within the L.A.U.S.D. I found Mr. Kleiner's answers more convincing to me that he would be a better board member than Dr. Vladovic, for our community, at this time.

I am wary of a candidate who will take contributions from developers, and in particular from Mr. Bisno, a person who has brought more division into our community than I have seen in many years. Neal Kleiner stated "no Bisno" during the forum and while that is not the deciding factor in this endorsement, it sure didn't hurt.

Neal Kleiner and Richard Vladovic both demonstrated their passion for their careers in education. Both of them have been in the classroom and outside as administrators. Neal Kleiner has less experience as an administrator than Richard Vladovic has, but I feel that he was closer to the teachers and students for a longer period of time than Dr. Vladovic was.

All four candidates talked about troubles with the bureaucracy of the L.A.U.S.D. It is my feeling that as an area superintendent, Dr. Vladovic has been more involved in that bureaucracy.

Neal Kleiner would bring much more experience into the L.A. School Board seat #7 than many of the previous holders of that seat. He believes in term limits and stated that, if elected, he would only serve a total of eight years, if he stands for reelection.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is attempting to take control of our schools using another layer of bureaucracy and large contributions to the campaigns of several candidates. Dr. Vladovic is one such candidate. Neal Kleiner will fight the Mayor's takeover plan and opposes too much bureaucracy in our community and our schools.

The Mayor is not my Mayor. He is also not the Mayor of Carson, Lomita, or Torrance. These areas and mine have children attending L.A.U.S.D. schools, but are not in the City of Los Angeles. Not only would we be left out of many decision-making arenas, we would also not be allowed to vote for L.A. City representatives who would be the decision-makers.

On March 6, 2007, please exercise your right to vote. Please read all the candidates' literature and after you have looked at everything, I hope you will find that Mr. Neal Kleiner would be our best selection to this very important seat.


I have learned this past weekend that probably too many folks are confused and feel that MONSTER they see under construction near the Ponte Vista is actually part of Ponte Vista.

I would like to help clear up some confusion some neighbors may still have.

That MONSTER is going to be the Sea Port Condominiums, at 28000 South Western Avenue and has nothing really to do with Ponte Vista at San Pedro.

That MONSTER was approved to have 136 residential condominium units and it was approved because the site was already zoned for commercial purposes, such as a condominium community.

That MONSTER has its parking above ground as opposed to Mr. Bisno's plans to have underground parking for his buildings.

That MONSTER is one building and I have written a post on this blog about it.

Now, to be fair, let me inform you about the number of units of that MONSTER as compared to what Mr. Bisno plans for Ponte Vista. That MONSTER is one building. Mr. Bisno plans to have TWENTY residential condominium buildings on his site.

That MONSTER is approved for 136 units. Seven of the twenty buildings Mr. Bisno plans to build would have MORE units in them than that MONSTER. Four of the buildings Mr. Bisno envisions have between 100 and 132 units per building. Nine of the remaining buildings may have between 67 and 98 units each.

To compare Ponte Vista to the three buildings on Fitness Drive, the building closest to Western Avenue has 62 units, and the Casa Verde Estates, just east of that MONSTER has 129 units in two buildings.

To be fairer, it should be noted the number of homes currently planned at Ponte Vista compared to the number of homes in that MONSTER is quite simple; Divide 2,300 units by 136 units and you will find that Ponte Vista may house 16.91 times the number of units as in that MONSTER.

The smallest units/building planned at Ponte Vista is 67, and the largest units/building is currently scheduled to be 187.

So when you gaze at that MONSTER, you can begin to compare what Mr. Bisno has planned for your community. Twenty buildings, with nine having more units than that MONSTER. There are almost Seventeen times the number of units currently planned for Ponte Vista than are being built at that MONSTER.

If you choose to use Mr. Bisno's calculations for population, then there could be 15.857 times the number of residents living at Ponte Vista than may live at that MONSTER. Opponents to Mr. Bisno would claim a much higher number for Ponte Vista, if he gets his way.

If that MONSTER looks big to you, get ready folks, you ain't seen nothin, yet!

Odds and Ends #1

I have decided to create a post each Sunday that mentions items that I find interesting and hope you find them interesting, too. I will try to reveal one new true fact each time I write this particular post.

Here are some developments about the development that I became aware of, lately.

A well known supporter of Mr. Bisno's plans to build 2,300 homes at Ponte Vista wrote a letter to the editor and in it she used the word, "compromise".

R Neighborhoods Are 1 has been formed and will be a major opposition organization to Mr. Bisno's plans.

New buttons have been revealed and the current black R-1 button is still available.

Mr. Bisno continues to have responses created to the comments mentioned by John Greenwood during a CAC meeting. Those responses to the comments will be responded to.

A candidates' forum for the seat being vacated by Mike Lansing was held and all four candidates spoke against a 2,025 seat high school being placed at Ponte Vista.

Draft EIR, Appendix volume II, appendix IV.H1, Population and Housing Study,
Table II-1, page 25;

Construction of the first phase of 500 homes is slated to begin in 2008.

The last phase of construction of 300 homes is slated for 2012 along with the retail component.

What does this mean. If Bob Bisno gets his way, the first 2,000 homes will have residents that must travel outside of Ponte Vista to buy a cup of coffee or pick up their dry cleaning. Kind of stupid, in my humble opinion.

The next meeting of the Community Advisory Group will be TUESDAY Feb. 27, at 6:00 PM at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. This will be a working meeting dealing with the Planning Department and under their guidance, such as it may be.

Contributions of items for "Odds and Ends" will be appreciated.

Thank You, Carol Rugnetta

Carol Rugnetta is known to many, many members of our community. She is a fine person who can certainly be called a "Real San Pedran".

Besides helping everyone holding meetings and events at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, she also serves on the Advisory Board for Bob Bisno's Ponte Vista at San Pedro project.

Carol has done something I had not seen until this morning when I read her letter to the editor in the February 24 edition of the Daily Breeze. She used the "C" word.

I have never viewed a strong supporter of Mr. Bisno's plans use the word in print and I found it to be a wonderful step in the correct direction.

Here is the remarkable sentence a strong supporter used in her letter;

"Please Councilwoman Janice Hahn, sit down with the Ponte Vista folks and work out a compromise that will serve us all."

How refreshing. Like the cloudless morning that arrived with the paper, Carol has begun a new day as a well known supporter's use of the "C" word, written in public for all to see.

I hope there is no retraction or further letters from other supporters claiming that Carol didn't know what she was writing at the time.

I hope everyone can appreciate Carol's determination to do something no other supporter of Mr. Bisno's plans has apparently done in print.

Now for those of you who need to be reminded of the "magical" word Carol used, please look below.


Thursday, February 22, 2007

Watch the Site Meter.

Mr. Bisno claims he has 5,377 supporters of his plans to build 2,300 homes at Ponte Vista.

He also claims that the number of people who do not want R1 zoning is 5,377.

Now without padding the numbers and only visiting this blog because it interests you, please watch the site meter you can access at the bottom of this blog.

As of 6:58 PM on Thursday February 22, 2007, the site meter registered 4,269 visits since I started keeping track in September, 2006.

Now I am not claiming that all of the visits are from opponents. Far from that, I am certain that folks from all sides of the issues visit this blog for news, information, opinion sharing, and sometimes, just out of curiosity. I know there are visits from supporters and people from inside the Bisno organization. I also know this site is looked at by at least one member of the Planning Department as well as other city personnel.

Within a month, it appears this blog will have more than 5,377 visits. It means actually nothing except that I can claim a number, just like Mr. Bisno can claim numbers.

It is very true that most visitors spend less than one minute visiting this blog. There are visitors who jump in just to see if I have any new posts. There are several visitors who seem to possible record everything on this blog for whatever reason they choose. Hey, it is a free blog and if I keep the facts straight, I am free to write just about anything I want.

Come visit this site Sunday afternoon, if you don't have anything better to do. I assure you there will be new information and perhaps something you might be interested in acquiring. It is already fairly open knowledge that the opposition to Mr. Bisno's plans are ready to pop out and be publicized.

And now for something completely different.

When the Exxon Valdez ran aground, the average cost of rescuing and rehabilitating a seal was about $80,000.00.
At about the time the two seals that were most impaired by the oil were ready to head back out into open waters, a press conference was held with members of the rescue team ready to let the two most expensive to rescue seals head back out into open water.

Picture news crews along the dock, with dignitaries and rescuers ready to let the seals go free.

Imagine the horror when within one minute of the seals release, they were eaten by an orca in full view of the cameras and onlookers.

Next time you feel you have had a bad day, please remember those tireless rescuers who helplessly watched the beloved seals become a regular meal for a killer whale.

Letter from Bob Bisno

I am going to print the letter to the editor Bob Bisno sent into San Pedro Magazine, which appears in the March, 2007 edition.

An opponent of Mr. Bisno's plans to build 2,300 homes at Ponte Vista had his letter printed in the February 2007 edition of the magazine and a particularly offensive word was used in the letter and printed in the magazine.

Mr. Bisno has called folks like me "ranting elitists" in a column he wrote for a More San Pedro
edition a while back, but I don't feel it was as offensive as the word used in the last issue of
San Pedro Magazine. In fact, after Saturday, February 24, "ranting elitist" may be seen as a badge of honor, or button of honor, if you get my drift.

Name calling seems to be done on all sides of the Ponte Vista debate. I do feel that there is a bridge folks should not cross in order to reveal their true feelings about the subjects. In my opinion Barry Hildebrand crossed that bridge and the editor of San Pedro Magazine assisted him in that crossing.

Mr. Bisno and I talk openly and freely and we both know where each of us stand on the issues. Someone else would have to have their head in the sand to not know both of our positions on the Ponte Vista at San Pedro project. I am not here to defend any one's reasoning for working for Mr. Bisno's organization, but everyone who wishes to work should be able to find employment that doesn't infringe on their dignity, and they certainly don't deserve to be called words like Mr. Hildebrand used and the editor published.

Here is the letter from Mr. Bob Bisno.

Whether you support or oppose my plans to build Ponte Visat on the northwest side of town, all I ask is that you play civilly. Good people can - and will - disagree.

Actually, I have been impressed with the tone and mood at meetings so far. Most community members who disagree with our proposal for 2,300 homes have listened to our presentations thoughtfully, without heckling. I was downright impressed by the friendly -almost - jovial atmosphere at the last Ponte Vista Community Advisory Committee meeting on January 18. With almost 400 people packed into the room, it could have easily turned into a shouting match. But everyone was professional and courteous.

So you can imagine my surprise upon opening the February issue of San Pedro Magazine, only to find a letter to the editor accusing me of making "whores out of a few formerly good people by hiring them away from their former employers" to promote my "sick" plan.

Since when is it OK to use the word whore in a widely circulated media publication, especially when referring to women? I take that personally! So do the women involved.

The women who make up my Ponte Vista staff have too much integrity, too many personal connections and too much to lose to sell out to a slick developer that goes against their beliefs.

How could anyone lob such an insult at Irene Mendoza?

I can't think of anyone with a better reputation in this town. Irene has worked tirelessly for decades for civic causes - first at Wilmington Industrial Paint, where she coordinated the philanthropic efforts of company owner Walter Kemmerer; then as deputy for Councilman Rudy Svorinch Jr. and Councilwoman Janice Hahn. Republican or Democrat - none of that matters to Irene, whose passion for the community far outweighed her interest in politics.

Without her guidance and help, I doubt that the Vincent Thomas Bridge would be lit today or that the Fisherman's Memorial would be standing. Ask the families she helped when their home flooded or when their children died in accidents. Ask the folks restoring the Warner Grand Theater. Irene was there for them.

All of their married life, Irene and here husband, Ephraim, have lived on Third Street, a stone's throw from her husband's childhood home and the bell tower at Holy Trinity. That's the parish that schooled their three grown children and where they still worship today. Like many of their friends, Irene and Ephraim would like to downsize without leaving town. They like the freedom of jetting off to see their Jersey boy grandsons or hitting the road in their RV without worrying who's going to water the lawn. They've already signed and interest card for one of Ponte Vista's senior units.

And then there's Elise Swanson, my vice president of public affairs - an amazing woman who brings years of development experience and skills to the table. Like Irene, Elise is a former deputy to Councilwoman Hahn. Although you'd never hear her brag about it, I know for a fact that Elise deserves much of the credit for the current renaissance going on in downtown San Pedro. As the councilwoman's development deputy, she worked tirelessly to attract the right mix of developers and projects that will soon transform the long-blighted area into a vibrant commercial and residential district. With her development background, Elise has a lot of academic reasons for liking Ponte Vista. She likes the fact that it's urban infill as opposed to suburban sprawl. She likes the fact that the project will finally provide funding to fix Western Avenue gridlock.

On a personal level, Elise likes Ponte Vista because it offers the security, affordability and amenities she wants and needs as a single mother who is about to send her second child off to college.

Rochelle Gonzalez, my director of Community Relations, also deserves only the highest of praise. A former Harbor area deputy to Mayor Jim Hahn, Rochelle is one of the most poised and dignified young women I have ever met. Born and raised in San Pedro and a lifelong parishioner at Holy Trinity, she is eagerly awaiting the return of her fiance, who is serving our country in Iraq. Ponte Vista offers them the opportunity to purchase their first home in the community they love. Rochelle is also looking to attend law school and I personally believe she will be an asset to any school she attends.

Kristin Anderson, my office and facilities manager, is a resident of San Pedro. She came to the project because of her love of working with the community. Kristin's mother was a member of the Fisherman's Memorial Committee and one of the people responsible for preserving the history of the fishing industry in San Pedro.

Again, I hope we can keep the discussion on a higher level as the process continues for Ponte Vista. I believe in hiring the very best team for every project I undertake. I only hire people, men or women, who believe in me as much as I believe in them. If you have concerns about my project, let's talk. But let's leave the insults and personal jabs to the talk radio hosts and late-night comedians.

Bob Bisno
Ponte Vista at San Pedro.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Economic Impact, Monthly Costs

With the post, Economic Impacts, Population Figures, I was unable to calculate the projected number of residents that might live in a 2,300 home development.

To more accurately attempt to determine what the possible economic impact within a 5-mile radius of Ponte Vista might be, it is also necessary to determine if the residents of Ponte Vista might have enough disposable income, after financing their home, paying fees, taxes, and insurance to spend within the area.

This post is different because I have used exact criteria that may help in understanding the costs and fees related to owning a home at Ponte Vista. I have created two different tables, based on figures found on the Internet and backed up by facts known to me as to the most likely Property Tax rate for homes built in or around Ponte Vista. I have alse established a loan percentage rate that I use for all home prices and I have used a ratio of possible monthly HOA dues and fees for Ponte Vista.

I cannot guarantee that my figures would apply to anything actually built at Ponte Vista, but I do feel the figures presented here represent a possible cost and fee structure that may resemble costs and fees that may be applied to the Development.

The first figure I looked into finding out about is the yearly property tax for homes in the immediate San Pedro area adjacent to the Ponte Vista site. I was very much in luck to find the tax rates for both the single family home closest to the site in San Pedro, and the condominiums directly next to the site. Luck continued to be found when I discovered that the 2006 tax rates were the same for the two different types of housing. Using tax table 014 for the single family residence and tax table 01669 for the condominiums at 28006 S. Western Avenue, I found that the tax rate is 1.179045 or about 1.8% of the assessed valuation. I used this rate to calculate the tax on the selling price of new homes at Ponte Vista. It also didn't matter what type of homes or the zoning of the site because both single-family homes on R1 lots and the condominiums share the same tax rate.

The second calculation I tried to figure out is what the monthly HOA dues and fees might be for homeowners at Ponte Vista. Mr. Bisno and I both talked to each other about how we though the HOA dues and fees charged at Playa Vista seemed to be too high for what might be charged at Ponte Vista. At Playa Vista, everyone is charged a flat rate. Then on top of that there are added charges based on the development within Playa Vista where folks live. The more expensive the home, the larger the added charges are. I decided to use a monthly fee of $350.00 for a $400,000.00 home at Ponte Vista. I then determined that the fee factor is .000875 the selling price of the home. I used the factor throughout the tables and found that each different price provided a different fee structure. I found it is reasonable to believe that the more costly homes at Ponte Vista should be assessed a higher fee structure than the less expensive homes. I did not feel that someone living in a $400,000 home should have to pay the same dues and fees as a person in a $1.25 Million Dollar home.

The third factor I chose was the use of a 30-year loan at a fixed, 6.5% interest rate for all home prices within the development. Nobody really knows what the price for money will be when the first home is built at Ponte Vista, so I used the easiest and most readily available rate found on the Internet at loan calculator sites. I am also using a 15% down payment on all homes, because I found it easier to calculate with.

The forth factor, homeowner insurance is purely a guess on my part and I have no idea whether the figures I used are correct. They are on a sliding scale depending on the financed price of the home.

A fifth factor cropped up and I use it for the second table. There are many local residents who are interested in selling their currently paid off home and buying a new home at Ponte Vista for cash. These folks probably are carrying a much less property tax burden than what they will find at Ponte Vista, and for the majority of them, they have probably never paid any HOA dues or fees while living in San Pedro or some other location. These individuals probably need to more accurately understand that they will, most likely, be paying much higher property taxes than they currently pay and, in essence, they will be giving portions of their kids' inheritances to the company that will eventually manage the Ponte Vista at San Pedro site.

This post will not report calculations on what income is required to be able to get a loan to buy a home at Ponte Vista because I haven't done the work on that yet, and with the "empty nesters" relocation plan, calculations of these types are not factored here.

Table 1 Home pricing, financing, tax, insurance, fees, monthly payments.

Table 2 lists possible fees, taxes and insurance based on the prices of the homes and breaks that that total down to 12 equal monthly payments.

By looking at the figures provided in this post, a person should be able to acertain whether they might be able to make the payments required and pay the taxes, insurance and fees associated with living in a home at Ponte Vista.

The word "affordable" have been used many, many times by just about everyone discussing this development. I feel I have provided some examples of facts and figures that may help more citizens understand what "affordable" may mean to them, the developer, and individuals and groups opposed to building 2,300 homes at Ponte Vista.

In a future post I will attempt to establish what income level is needed to buy a home at Ponte Vista and whether "empty nesters" on fixed incomes may actually be able to afford to live in Ponte Vista while their retirement savings and investments are used to pay for all that is necessary in purchasing a new home at Ponte Vista.

On a more personal note, I am simply just exhausted listening to "supporters" suggest that any homes at Ponte Vista are "affordable". To many residents of our area, some of the homes are affordable to them. But supporters have a way of not being able to continue a discussion about the affordability of the homes because they seem to lack enough information to base their beliefs on. Supporters, if you are going to continue to contend that homes at Ponte Vista are going to be "affordable" get your facts straight and understand that there are many individuals in the area who know more about the pricing, affordability, cost, taxes, and fees than you do.

To opponents of the project, please also have your facts straight when encountering supporters.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Two More Letters to the Editor

Occasionally, I read letters to the editor on The Daily Breeze that I find interesting enough to include in a post. Such is the case with two letters printed in the Sunday February 18, 2007 edition of the paper.

The first letter is from Nancy, who lives in Harbor Pines. She is what I would call an opponent of Bob Bisno's plans to build two thousand, three hundred homes at Ponte Vista. The second letter is from Tom, who lives in San Pedro. He acknowledges that he is a supporter of Mr. Bisno's.

For this post, I will print the two letters and add my comments to the letters in a text color different than black. Goggle has afforded me the opportunity to do this by creating where anyone can create free blogs and write pretty much what they want. I will use these two letters to help clarify some misstatements of facts and offer my opinions as well.

Nancy, Harbor Pines

Ponte Vista stirs up more dust, debate

For 33 years, I have commuted on Western Avenue from Palos Verdes Drive North to 25th Street to my job and family, surviving detours and dust pollution with construction of Air Force housing, the Gardens, Strathmore townhomes and the Terraces, sinkhole repairs and funeral processions. Displaced rodents also become a surrounding neighborhood problem during construction.

San Pedro is a Peninsula port town. Parking and congestion in San Pedro will drive shoppers out of town, not bring them in. No one seems to be addressing the neighboring towns' needs for increased law enforcement or street upkeep (Lomita, Rolling Hills, Torrance). How will they pay for more sheriff's deputies/police, signal lights and road repairs? Will business tax revenues really be enough?

The multimillionaire Ponte Vista developer has been seducing the community with free luncheons and dinners, also donations to local charities. Bob Bisno promises improved transportation. Are naive San Pedrans being blindsided? In the end, there will be no affordable middle-income housing. Will Bisno, who refuses to live here, leave us with the chaos, increased population and expenses?

Will someone please tell me why I am not allowed to rebuild an R-1 lot with a four-story, six-unit condo building?
Nancy, an R-1 lot is approximately 5,000 square feet in space and may contain one single-family detached home. A four-story, six unit condo building cannot legally be placed on an R-1 lot. The "R" means residential, and the "1" means that 1 home can be placed on a 5,000 square foot lot.
Am I not wealthy enough to seduce someone in downtown L.A. to change the zoning for me? In 10 years, will that naughty person in the Los Angeles Planning Department who changes the zoning for Bisno be exposed and punished, yet our port town will be left with the impact?
No human in the Los Angeles Planning Department can change the zoning anywhere in the City of Los Angeles. The area where Ponte Vista sits was established as R1 zoning by an ordinance passed by the majority of voting members of the Los Angeles City Council and signed into law by the sitting Mayor at the time the ordinance was passed. The same thing will have to occur if Mr. Bisno is going to be able to build more than single-family, R1 zoned homes on the property he ownes. Any future zoning changes must be according to an ordinance passed by the majority of members of the Los Angeles City Council and then signed into law by the sitting Mayor.
Single-family housing developments like The Cape, Enclave and Bay Watch put many affordable homes in an R-1 zone within a gated community in San Pedro. Bisno could -- should -- do the same. Or will greed allow him to "buy re-zoning"?
The developments mentioned are NOT zoned R1. They are zoned either R1.5, R2.0, R3, or something else other than R1. It is true that the homes in these developments are single-family detached homes. If you notice the homes in these developments, the structures appear to have a larger square footage inside the home than the lot they sit on. These homes are sometimes referred to as "patio homes". In any case, according to Mr. Bisno and some of his representatives, he has no intentions of including these types of homes at Ponte Vista.

I appreciate being able to shed more light on some common misconceptions that many folks concerned about the project still seem to have.

I support the Ponte Vista development on Western Avenue. I have lived in the Gardens on Westmont Drive for the past 20 years. Ponte Vista will add greatly needed affordable housing for seniors and young working families. I support R-3 zoning for this area to help keep the cost of each unit down.
Tom, what exactly do you consider "affordable"? If you believe "affordable" is some figure less than $400,000.00, then you would not have the same opinion as Mr. Bisno does. The average price of a home at Ponte Vista is currently estimated to be somewhere around $712,500.00, with the least expensive loft-type units going for somewhere in the $400,000.00 price range.
The homes will be market priced homes and there are not "Controlled Price Units" being considered. Mr Bisno is also not considering building any "affordable housing" as specified in Federal, State, County, or City ordinances dealing with these homes that are priced below market level so folks with lower incomes might qualify for a new home.

I am against any new high school proposed by the Los Angeles Unified School District. This would be a disaster for the neighborhood. We already have two high schools on the land that the military turned over to the community. In addition, Mary Star High School will need access to Western Avenue, and that will create enough of a traffic issue by itself.
Again Tom, it seems you disagree with Mr. Bisno's opinion that he might consider a small (500 student) high school at Ponte Vista. It is always good to find people who claim to be "supporters" of the current Ponte Vista plans, also disagree with Mr. Bisno on some items.

The traffic studies done by the developer and the Western Avenue study group agree that the traffic plan proposed by the city and paid for by (Bob) Bisno will address the increase in traffic. As time goes forward we can continue to lobby the Navy to allow a road from Western down to Gaffey Street. It may take years, but I feel it can be done.
The "Western Avenue study group" Tom is referring to must not be the Western Avenue Task Force because they were unable to study any impacts associated with the possible construction of and traffic associated with a 2,300-home development on Western Avenue. In actuality, the summary, conclusions, and proposals the Western Avenue Task Force did come up with are much more far reaching in ways to mitigate traffic on Western Avenue than anything coming from Bisno Development Co. or their engineering teams.
The "traffic plan proposed by the city" is a misstatement of fact. Mr. Bisno did fund a Traffic and Transportation study and the L.A. City Planning Department did concur with the findings presented in that section of the Draft EIR. Traffic studies are required for developments but are not "proposed".
Tom, I hope you read the dates some of the studies were taken. If you had read them then you realize that some of them were conducted during time frames when Western Avenue was subjected to repairs caused by collapsing storm drains when many drivers chose alternate routes to avoid the massive backups on Western Avenue.
(Bob) Bisno may place monies into a fund for traffic mitigation of Five-points, but the installation and funding for the "ATSAC" program is already under way and will be completed whether Mr. Bisno funds anything or builds anything other than R1.
If time goes by and we wait to build a road between Western and Gaffey, it would be too late and the further damage to Western Avenue will already be ongoing. I do applaud Tom's suggestion though, because it is something I have been talking and writing about for some time.

I have supported Councilwoman Janice Hahn's efforts to improve San Pedro over the years. She has done a great job and is a positive influence on life in San Pedro. I believe that this is the best use of this fine piece of real estate for the future of San Pedro.

Tom, San Pedro

I understand it appears that I am still harping on traffic issues, but I feel that if real debate is to take place, we all have to use the same facts. The company of Christopher A Joseph and Associates created both the Initial Study and the Draft Environmental Impact Report for the Ponte Vista development. Their findings were concurred with be members of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation and the Los Angeles City Planning Department. A third party engineer, hired by three Neighborhood Councils also concurred that the basic facts of the studies were in accordance with acceptable practices, but the engineer also suggested some different mitigation options, as well.

There are also engineers, lawyers, community leaders, and other concerned individuals who have many disagreements with the findings concerning traffic and many other issues revolving around the proposed development. Everyone, including Mr. Bisno himself have acknowledged that traffic is the biggest obstacle to plans to build 2,300 homes at Ponte Vista. It is not currently known if the traffic issue, by itself, will force Mr. Bisno to change his current plans.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Column by Doug Epperhart

A Tale of Two Meetings

To those of you used to seeing Andrea Adleman's smiling face, my mug might be a shock. After nearly four years of writing this column, she's decided to move on. So, here I am.

I've lived in San Pedro nearly 15 years. Before that, I lived in Long Beach and before that, Illinois. I "married into" San Pedro. My late wife grew up here and my children are natives, so I guess they outrank me.

I work at home, running a business publishing newsletters. In fact, volunteering to produce my neighborhood association newsletter is how I got pulled into the world of civic engagement.

In 2001, I helped establish the Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council and have served as president for most its existence. Please remember that whatever I write in these columns is my opinion. I'm not speaking on behalf of Coastal or any other neighborhood council.

A Tale of Two Meetings

I know Ponte Vista is everybody's favorite subject, so I have to begin this job by writing about it. Here's the story of two meetings that might explain some of what has happened.

The job of neighborhood councils is to advise the mayor and City Council about local issues. The three councils (Harbor City, Coastal and Northwest San Pedro), whose territory includes Western Avenue, advised they wanted R-1 (single-family) zoning to be maintained at the 61-acre Ponte Vista site.

Early on, many of us realized that adding 2,300 condos on Western Avenue was not a good idea. We figured that since developer Bob Bisno established the "ceiling," we would establish the "floor." R-1 sets that number at around 500 houses. Zoning is the "DNA" of development. It determines what a project "grows up" to be.

Apparently, Councilwoman Janice Hahn didn't like the councils' advice, so she decided to set up an advisory group to provide other recommendations. Since a specific plan for Ponte Vista will be created to address zoning and other issues, I assumed the group would give us a mechanism for compromise.

About a year ago, leaders of the three Western Avenue neighborhood councils sat down with Hahn to talk about the advisory group. At that time, we agreed there would be an assessment period to gather information about all of the projects in the area.

Following that, focus groups would convene and provide input. Planners will tell you that a good focus group process yields the most honest and neutral data. With this knowledge in hand, the advisory group could begin its work.

Before leaving this meeting, we were told Hahn's staff would be calling to let us know when we would be interviewing facilitators. Instead of that call, we got the brush-off.

Instead of a planning process, we got a political process. Hahn picked groups rather than people. The result is that many of the individuals at her advisory group table represent a particular and, in some cases, narrow viewpoint.

It hasn't helped that the group's 14 members were neither given a clear focus nor that they've spent nearly five months being subjected to Bisno's unrelenting sales pitch.

Finally, it seems somebody got fed up enough to call a closed-door meeting and straighten things out. Hahn told her advisory crew she wanted to know how many units they'd give Bisno and what "community benefits" they wanted from Bisno.

She also told them she wanted it wrapped up by July so she could get everything through the City Council by the end of December.

I don't know why Hahn is driving the bus for Bisno, but her rush seems to have motivated the advisory group. My concern is that they need to engage in a way that affords people an opportunity to provide thoughtful comment.

They need to go back to the drawing board and do this right. Focus groups are the best way to garner opinions. As I told one advisory group member, "You should not give the community the number of units; the community should give you the number."

School board candidate forum next Saturday

Candidates running in the March 6 LAUSD school board election -- Jesus Escandon, Neal Kleiner, Roye Love Sr., and Richard Vladovic -- will answer your questions at a forum on Feb. 24 at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, 3720 Stephen M. White Drive, San Pedro. The fun starts at 2 p.m.

This event is hosted by the Coastal, Central and Northwest San Pedro neighborhood councils, San Pedro Peninsula Chamber of Commerce and Cabrillo Marine Aquarium. For more information, call 310-832-7272.

Doug Epperhart is a member of the Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council board. He writes a bi-weekly column for More San Pedro. He can be reached at

This was Doug's first column for the More San Pedro insert of the Daily Breeze.

The currently proposed Ponte Vista at San Pedro is such a large development proposal that it should have every opportunity to have the most public input possible for the overall benefit of all of the communities that will be impacted by such a large development.

I agree with Doug's conclusions regarding the need for focus groups. Mr. Bisno would have you know that his organization conducted any number of focus groups. There should be more independent focus groups, in my opinion. The stakes are too high to not allow for the largest number of people to weigh in on what will eventually change the area for generations to come.

Doug and I share the "honor" of being dubbed "ranting elitists" (as described by Bob Bisno in an earlier guest column in More San Pedro)and perhaps I might create a button with "Ranting Elitist" on it. It may become more popular than my "R-1" buttons that I made.

Economic Impacts, Population Figures

Many folks are asking about whether the economic impact projections documented by Bisno Development for the Ponte Vista at San Pedro development are accurate in their estimation.

At this point, I still have absolutely no clue! But I do believe that to ascertain what the economic impact may be, one needs to know how many people might live inside Ponte Vista. Once I can give you an estimation of how many people might live at Ponte Vista, I can then begin to break down the economics of those potential residents.

I am about to begin a journey with this post that will probably find you as confused as I am. In my preliminary studies I have found the Mr. Bisno’s prediction of a potential population of 4,313 is too low based on comparisons to actual residents in like type homes.

I will first break down why I have selected the comparisons I have chosen and how they compare to the structures and population Mr. Bisno envisions at Ponte Vista. This post will use verifiable documentation from the Draft Environmental Impact Report for the Ponte Vista at San Pedro development, as well as the Initial Study for the project. I will also be using data collected by the United States Government during the 2000 census.

All the facts and figures I am about to write are in the public arena and available to anyone seeking to view the documents. After I compiled the figures I am going to state, I got out my trusty calculator and double checked each and every computation I made. This post is fact based and I will attempt to avoid opinions beyond my reasoning for establishing the criteria I have chosen to use.

Mr. Bisno has stated that the projected population of Ponte Vista, based on the Draft Environmental Impact Report, is 4,313 residents. 575 homes of the proposed 2,300 home development are scheduled to be set aside for Senior Housing, for residents aged 55 and older.

As far as I know, there has not been any ruling that only persons aged 55 and older will be the only residents allowed to live inside the Senior Housing section. I do not know if an older father of a minor child would be allowed to purchase a home in the Senior Housing section and have his child reside with him. Mr. Bisno has stated that the number of residents per Senior Housing unit would be, on average, 1.5 residents per home. I have been unable to find any comparable type of owner-occupied senior housing in a development of 50 units or more in the 90731, 90731, and 90275 zip codes which are three of the closest zip codes to the Ponte Vista site.

I am therefore unable to make an independent estimation of the projected population of this type of housing but the 2000 census does break down the number of senior citizens residing in each of the three zip codes listed. This type of data is not broken down into specific types of housing for senior citizens.

Mr. Bisno estimates that the population of the Senior Housing section of Ponte Vista will be approximately 863 residents. Mr. Bisno intends to build 1,725 homes in the non-age restricted portion of Ponte Vista. According to his estimation, there would be 2.0 residents estimated per unit in this section.

Because I cannot accurately project the number of senior residents that my purchase homes in the Senior Housing Section, I am going to use the 1,725 homes in a number of separate buildings to attempt to report what the estimated population might be.

A law firm representing Mr. Bisno’s interests sent out a response to a comment made by John Greenwood on behalf of the Community Advisory Committee. The response dealt with the committee’s assertion that the population estimation for the development is lower that what actually may become true at Ponte Vista. The author of the response used tables H32 and H33 of the Census 2000 Summary File 3 (SF3), Sample Data which can be found by visiting .

The author used zip codes 90731 and 90732 to present data on owner occupied homes of various building sizes. The author included units per building sizes of 2 units per building all the way up to 50+ units per building.

I am taking the option of comparing buildings of 50+ units per building because that is what is proposed to be built at Ponte Vista. I do not feel the inclusion of lesser units per building would help understanding these issues because Mr. Bisno has stated he is not interested in buildings other than the types he has included in documentation, presentations, and advertisements concerning Ponte Vista.

Mr. Bisno also seems to consider that all the homes at Ponte Vista will be owner occupied during their existence. I cannot state that all the homes will always be owner occupied. I do not know the number of residences in The Gardens that were originally owner-occupied but now are occupied by folks who lease or rent. For this reason I will include both owner occupied data and rental data in this post.

I will also break down the data using three zip codes. There are multiple building developments in the 90275 zip code that are closer to the site than multiple building developments in the 90731 zip code. It is true that the 90275 zip code encompasses a much greater land area than both 90732 and 90731, and many multiple building developments are much farther away from Ponte Vista than most of the developments in 90732 and 90731.

I have constructed a table below, based on the tables available on the 2000 census Web site. I decided to add residents per unit rates together then divide by either 2 or three depending on the circumstance. The figures would be slightly different if I had chosen to add raw numbers and then divide from there.

So, what the heck does this table really show? It depends what you want to see, I’m afraid.

If you choose to use Mr. Bisno’s contention to only count owner-occupied homes for measuring the projected population of Ponte Vista, based on buildings with 50+ units per building, each home in the 1,725 non-age restricted component would have an average of 2.2623 residents, based on the three ZIP codes. 2.2623 times 1,725 units give us a total of 3,902 possible residents in the non-age restricted units.

If you factor both owner-occupied and renter units to base your figures on, then this is how it would look; 2.1754 residents per unit in the 1,725 non-age restricted homes would allow for 3,752.56 residents.

Now, how should I factor in the Senior Housing component? I can do it two ways. I can use Mr. Bisno’s estimation of 1.5 residents per unit even though that ratio doesn’t appear anywhere in my calculations or I can suggest that we estimate based on the lowest ratio found on the particular tables I used for my calculations. So as you may plainly be able to see, the projected population of Ponte Vista at San Pedro will be, 4,313, or 4,690, or 4,841, or some higher number.

Some higher number? Where does it report a potentially higher number?

Christopher A. Joseph and Associates prepared and submitted the Initial Study for the Ponte Vista at San Pedro project and the document is dated, July 2005. Section 12 of the study reports on “Population and Housing”.

“Would the project: a. Induce substantial population growth in an area, either directly (for example, by proposing new homes and businesses) or indirectly (for example, through extension of roads or other infrastructure)? This is listed as a “Potentially Significant Impact” caused by the development.

This is the “Discussion” dealing with this point.

“a) Potentially Significant Impact. The proposed project would induce direct population growth by adding 2,300 multi-family residential units and approximately 7,343 new permanent residents to the project site. 15 Compared to the most recent use of the site, in which 245 residential units and approximately 880 residents occupied the property (based on the same Community Plan demographic estimate), the proposed project would represent a net increase of 2,055 units and 6,463 residents. Therefore, the potential for the project to induce substantial population growth in the area, either directly or indirectly, will be addressed in the EIR.”

15 Based on a ratio of 3.59 persons per dwelling unit for the non-restricted multiple-family units (Source: Wilmington-Harbor City Community Plan, SCAG community projection for 2010), and an average of 2 persons per dwelling-unit for the senior-restricted units.

The report in the Initial Study is very important to this discussion for several reasons:

It is significantly higher in number (3,030 residents) than the Draft EIR estimates.

One source, SCAG is being touted by individuals in the Bisno Development Co. due to a recent report supporting Mr. Bisno’s plans for the development. It is proper to note that Bisno Development has acknowledged pleasure in receiving an endorsement from SCAG (Southern California Association of Governments.)

It is also noted that it is a source for the projection of 7,343 residents at Ponte Vista. In a future post you will read that the economic impact reported in the Initial Study is repeated in the Draft EIR, even though the estimation of permanent residents differs by 3,030 residents.

In fact, representatives of Mr. Bisno’s organization have been very dismissive of the 7,343 number even though it is listed in a public document drafted by the same company that produced the Draft EIR and will presumably draft the Final EIR.

I have made some earlier “guesstimates” of possible numbers of residents based on the number of bedrooms Mr. Bisno suggested to me would be found at Ponte Vista at build out. Since the estimates I calculated were not based on verifiable resources, I will not include them on this post. You are welcome to review prior posts and use your calculator to attempt to estimate the number of homes that may be built at Ponte Vista at San Pedro.

The next post on the potential economic impacts of the development will be based on possible population counts documented in this post and reviewed in the Scoping Study and the Draft EIR.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

A Contribution of an Article

An article appeared in the Northwest San Pedro Neighborhood Council's recent newsletter and I was asked to create a post of the article.

I encourage anyone and everyone with articles and posts relating to anything to do with the Ponte Vista at San Pedro development, and wishing me to create a post on this blog, please Email me with your posting contributions.

The proposed Ponte Vista Development is slowly winding its way through the City’s bureaucratic process. The developer released the Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for 2300 units in “podium style” buildings, 4-6 story tall complexes built over open basement parking. He has been promoting his vision all over town to whatever group will listen. The units are expected to range in size from 700 square feet to over 3,000 square feet with an average sales price of $712,500. Economic projections in the document are based on an average annual household income of $145,217 with an average annual housing cost (mortgage and homeowners association fees) of $50,885 per unit. To put this in perspective, the average household income for San Pedro in 2005 was $42,667.

Despite the developer’s expensive public relations campaign for this extremely dense project, the attitude of most of the individuals we hear from remains the same as when we conducted our survey a year ago. That survey found that fewer than 4% of our stakeholders “support the developer’s proposal for 2300 condominiums”, 72% want to maintain the existing zoning, and 21% might consider “some additional homes” in exchange for specific mitigation measures.

Your Neighborhood Council commented extensively to the City on a number of the conclusions in the Draft EIR. Among the comments submitted were the following:

• The project is not consistent with adopted city planning policies. These policies encourage single family residential usage in our area, not an extremely dense condominium development.
• There is not enough specificity in the developer’s plan to adequately evaluate the environmental impacts. The plan does not state the mix of studio apartments, one, two, three and four bedroom units, but does predict exactly how many individuals will live in each unit.
• The traffic counts are inaccurate and underestimate the current traffic load. The counts were done while Western Avenue was torn up for sinkhole repairs, and are significantly lower than counts from the prior year.
• The traffic projections are too low. The projections are based on the average household taking only two trips per day - i.e. if there are two people in the household and both are working, they would leave home in the morning and return home in the evening and go nowhere else. Trip generation rates for comparable City projects are 40% higher.
• Proposed traffic mitigations are woefully inadequately. ATSAC will be installed even if no homes are built on this property.
• The number of new residents at the completion of the project, and hence the impacts on city services, is about 50% too low.
• The number of new students generated by the project is significantly under estimated. There will be severe impacts on already overcrowded area schools. No mitigations for these impacts have been considered in the EIR.

It is vital to your neighborhood council that accurate information be put forward in the EIR, so that the proposed mitigations will be strong enough to eliminate the problems caused by the additional residents and traffic.

The full text of our remarks can be found on our website, The City must now review all of the comments it receives on the Draft EIR and eventually release a final EIR.

The next step in the process is the review of the Developer’s Specific Plan. The City Planning Department has not yet determined the calendar for this process, but has indicated that it will include one or more opportunities for public comment.

Councilwoman Hahn’s Ponte Vista Community Advisory Committee continues to discuss their recommendations to the Councilwoman. A schedule of their meetings is posted on our website. There is an opportunity for public comment at all of their meetings and their March 8 meeting is specifically designed for public comment. Additionally, comments can be submitted to Councilwoman Janice Hahn, Attention Gordon Teuber, 638 S. Beacon Street, San Pedro 90731. The Los Angeles City Council is the ultimate decision maker as to what can be built on the site. Our Councilwoman wants to know what you think. Regardless of your feelings, now is the time to speak up.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Economic Impacts of Ponte Vista at San Pedro

The title of this post brings forth too many questions and comments that I can deal with on this post. I am starting this particular discussion and I am seeking help and input to create a post that will eventually answer some of the many questions raised about this particular subject.

Like traffic, population, and student residents, nobody really knows the real answers to many questions concerning the Ponte Vista at San Pedro project.

Mr. Bisno, with the Scoping Report, Draft Environmental Impact Report, endless presentations to community groups and interested members of the public, and advertisements, has painted what I would call a very colorful picture of the projected economic impacts his development would provide.

Perhaps none of what is presented by Mr. Bisno's side is true. Nobody knows.

What we do know is what he has projected for the possible prices for the different models of housing he wants to create at Ponte Vista. (see earlier posts on this blog)

What we do know is the probable income level required to purchase a home at Ponte Vista.

What we do know is the average yearly income of residents in San Pedro, Wilmington, Harbor City, Lomita, and other areas Mr. Bisno is seeking home buyers from.

What we do know is the difference (over $100,000 per year) between the average yearly San Pedro income and the average yearly income required to sustain the economic impact stated by Mr. Bisno.

What we do know is that we don't know enough.

I am going to need some help before I post a more truer picture of what the economic impacts coming from Ponte Vista might be. Anyone and everyone with the ability to assist me is more than welcome to Email me and share their thoughts, and facts that will help me create a post that folks can learn from.

Members of Northwest San Pedro Neighborhood Council have worked hard to bring forth inconsistencies between what Mr. Bisno's documents show and what really exists in the real world. You should take some time and learn from that group what they have found. I will try to upload some of their findings about economic impacts on this blog.

As you read other posts on this blog, including the statement from the CAC, you will learn just a tidbit about some real economic issues in our area. It is not much, but it is something.

It should be noted that the projections from Mr. Bisno depend on a 2,300 home development where folks have either somewhere averaging a $144,000.00 year income, or have bought their home for cash using the selling price of their older home in San Pedro for a portion of the cost.

It should also be noted that we all should throw the 2,300 home vision out of the window.

It should be noted that the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce is studying the possible economic impacts of the Ponte Vista development independently of any developer, community committee, or government agency. They did not jump on the support for Ponte Vista bandwagon that other chambers of commerce seemed all too eager to do and for that, I feel they deserve good credit.

It should be noted that many of us who grew up on the east side of what is now Rancho Palos Verdes, do not do as much shopping within a five-mile radius and many other folk do.

It should be noted that there have still been no plans evolving to deal with any new parking needs in area shopping centers, if any homes get built at Ponte Vista.

Please also reread "Listen Carefully". When you hear someone say that the economic impacts to the area "will be" such and such, know that they really don't know what impacts might be achieved. When you hear individuals talk how there "are going to be" 2,300 homes at Ponte Vista, know that this particular "fact" has not been proven and no human on this planet knows the true number of homes, if any, will actually be built at Ponte Vista.

Let us embark on a quest to use the most accurate resources available to paint a truer picture of what economic impacts Ponte Vista MIGHT have on the communities surrounding the site. Let us welcome the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce doing their valuable work. Let us learn from individuals who are looking into this area. Let us not jump to conclusions that Mr. Bisno purports to be true and that we know just aren't so.

Concerned community members have now brought forth both traffic and economics as main factors in deciding whether they support or oppose the project. There is much work being done concerning traffic and the work concerning economics has begun.

Overall population of the site and student impact on the area schools are also "heavy hitters" in my book, and in time, we all need to look more closely at these two topics, too.


Heads Up-

A "survey" is being done by Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, and Associates for Bisno. They start by asking your opinion of various elected officials such as Janice Hahn. It's one of those surveys that is designed more to sway than to obtain objective answers. The wording of the questions invariably leads to an answer that would be favourable to the project.

If you get one of these calls and your have the ability to record the questions, please do so. if you can't record the call, any assistance in writing down the exact questions would be appreciated! If you get any of this info, please send it to

Spread the word!

The text of this post is from an Email I received. I have not received a call from the folks listed above at the time of this posting.

I completely and wholeheartedly agree with the recommendation of the author of this Email.

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Site Meter

Everyone is invited to guess who you are on the site meter at the bottom of the blog.

It is very true that most visitors spend less than one minute visiting this blog.

I am one of the visitors that that has "" as my domain so you can have an idea of how many times folks like me from that domain visit this blog and how long their visit is.

Thank you to everyone who regularly visits this blog and thank you to those of you who just drop by.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Statement from the Community Advisory Committee

The following is a statement approved of by the members of Councilwoman Janice Hahn's Community Advisory Committee and read at the beginning of the February 8, 2007 meeting by Mr. John Greenwood, Chairman of the Committee.

Our committee is interested in moving forward with all deliberate speed.

We have agreed that, with appropriate mitigation, we are looking at a recommendation less than 2300 homes and greater than the R-1 density allowed by the current zoning. One of the resolutions passed at our last meeting was to have presentations by the Neighborhood Councils and anyone else who had commented on the Draft EIR. The committee believes this information is important to acknowledge, because it has an impact on our need to have accurate data as we move forward. It is also important for us to acknowledge to those who have submitted comments on the DEIR that we have heard their concerns and will take them into account as we move forward. Many of the committee members have raised similar concerns. So to save time I want to summarize the most important of the issues raised:

1. Counts of the existing traffic are inaccurate. Traffic counts were taken in 2005 during a period when a storm drain on Western Avenue was being repaired after collapsing. Counts that were taken in 2004 and this year, are about 25% higher. This mistake distorted every subsequent calculation, including level of service, the ratio of the number of vehicles to the capacity, and the required mitigation.

2. The developer estimated about two round trips in or out per day per unit. For a working couple, four trips means a total of one trip for each person to leave the development and one trip for each to return daily. In other words, the only time a working couple would leave the development during the week is to go to work and return. They would not go to dinner, buy groceries, visit friends or family outside the development, take children to activities, receive packages from messengers, etc. Playa Vista and the CRA Pacific Corridor study estimates are about 40% higher than that. Even with his very low estimate, Ponte Vista would add 9,300 cars per day to the 33,000 that now use Western, or an increase of 28%. If he used the Playa Vista/ CRA trip generation number, he would add 13,478, or almost 41%. Using more accurate trip generation tables from the Trip Generation Handbook could yield even higher numbers, from 15,000 to 22,000 trips per day.

3. The DEIR uses figures for population per unit that underestimates the projected population. There is no source for figures used in the DEIR number of 1.5 persons per senior unit and the 2.0 persons for the remaining units. In any case, the estimates for number of people per unit used by Playa Vista, the CRA corridor and other studies are significantly higher. Instead of adding a population of 4313, the real number probably exceeds 7000, about what the developer himself estimated in the Notice of Preparation for the DEIR. Obviously, the higher the population in the development, the more trips will be taken in and out of each unit.

4. The DEIR significantly underestimates the number of students per unit. The student per unit calculation is half the rate used for Playa Vista and almost 90% lower than the rate used in the CRA Pacific Corridor DEIR. Furthermore, he did not consider the impact of the schools of "backfill" of houses where "empty nesters" move into Ponte Vista. This is formally called failure to consider cumulative impacts.

5. The current school enrollment statistics used in the report are wrong. The consultants used "eligible student" data rather than actual enrollment. Actual enrollment figures show that Taper, Dodson, and Narbonne already are near or above capacity, and will grow by 2010 when the project is scheduled to be completed. The use of accurate figures reverses the conclusion in the draft EIR. In fact, Ponte Vista will overcrowd the existing public schools.

6. The DEIR dismisses the issue of a high school of any size on the site. The only current option to a 2000 student high school at Ponte Vista is one suggested by Janice Hahn and the Neighborhood Councils in which three sites are used for smaller high schools; Harbor College, the District owned property at Pont Fermin and Ponte Vista are used. Since LAUSD has the legal authority to use eminent domain and take a portion of the property for a high school, this should be analyzed and mitigated in the document, and a high school on site should be one of the alternatives considered in the DEIR.

7. The amount of the economic benefits are overstated because it is based on an average household income of $144,000, more than $100,000 over San Pedro's average household income.

8. the impacts of construction noise, traffic and air emissions are underestimated.

I invite discussions of these comments. Let's make sure we get things right and base our analysis of project alternatives on fact. As we to forward and develop other possible models for the project besides R-1 and the current 2300 home proposal, we need to be sure our analysis of the impacts will reflect future reality, so that we can debate these options and come up with the best combination of project, mitigations, and public benefits to recommend to the Councilwoman. None of us wants to apologize to friends and community residents in a few years for not getting it right.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

28000 Western Avenue and Fitness Drive

Ever since I learned of the newest monster under construction on Fitness Drive directly south of the Ponte Vista site, I have been wondering about it.

I still don't quite know what the name of that condominium development is and when units will actually go on sale, but I surfed many waves on the Internet and I have learned more about the project than I did when I first saw the cranes lifting materials.

There is a file storage Web site that I am using to store the actual .pdf documents that provided legal approval by the City of Los Angeles for this particular project. These documents are also informative, I feel, because they appear to look like documents, resolutions and ordinances Mr. Bisno is seeking to have approved by the city government. Although the two projects have many differences, I think the package of documents linked below may be somewhat similar to a package of documents that will be required for Ponte Vista.

These documents provided much information I did not know before and they gave me a clearer picture for what is being developed and what the density of Fitness drive will eventually be.

28000 Western Avenue is one of three condominium developments using Fitness Drive.

On the west side of the construction site and along Western Avenue is the 62-unit Tennis Club development. East of the construction site is the 129-unit Casa Verde Estates.

28000 Western Avenue was and is zoned Commercial Neighborhood with many "C" type zone classifications as opposed to "R" or residential type classifications such as the Ponte Vista site is classified. Originally planned to be zoned for a 164-unit assisted living facility, the developers sought for and received approval for a 136-unit condominium project consisting of one building.

The link I posted above provides a detailed description of the site and the allowed uses, as well as a map.

I used a measuring tool and a measurement calculation site to find that the three developments combined in within a land area of approximately 5.35335 acres, and with a combined unit total of 327 units, the units per acre is approximately 61 units per acre or quite a bit more than the up to 37 units per acre for the Ponte Vista site and more than three and one third times the density of The Gardens.

Many folks, including me asked how the monster got approval. The documents indicate that there was very little zoning change required for approval of the project. The density of that particular development also allows it to be within the guidelines similar to a zoning of R4. It seems there was not much folks were able to do to prevent the monster from eventual approval, even with the frustrating fiasco that is Fitness Drive.

Mr. Bisno may be required to allow for a public road access between Western Avenue and the condominiums on Fitness drive via the public road being mitigated for Ponte Vista. Driving down Fitness Drive, the only area between any buildings sufficiently wide enough to allow for an access route of this type is between the Tennis Club condominiums and 28000 Western Avenue, in my view. If this is the case, the 6 acre public park Mr. Bisno envisions would be bisected by the route afforded to the Fitness Drive complexes.

The 136 unit condominium project, according to my calculator would be equivalent to 5.9130434% of the total number of homes Mr. Bisno seeks to build at Ponte Vista or using another measuring devise, Mr. Bisno's plans call for a development approximately 16.9117647 times the number of units of 28000 Western Avenue.

I don't need to repeat my opinion concerning 2,300 homes at Ponte Vista.