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.


M Richards said...

From the committee member/blogger.

I chose not to comment on the post in the main post because I did not feel it was appropriate.

I hope if you read this post you also read "Another Personal Opinion".

If you reread the eight points listed in the post think about where we all might be today if the committee, backed up by some very concerned and inteligent resources, hadn't looked as hard we all did at the DEIR.

John read out concerns many people have in a public arena that may not have been brought to light had we done our assigned job and just stuck to making recommendations concerning the specific plan.

Are there more than just eight areas where many of us have concerns about the DEIR and Mr. Bisno's proposals? You bet there are. That is why we all must redouble our efforts to watch the EIR process closely even though the committee is supposed to work on the specific plan portion and not necessarily the EIR portion.

As you can read in the statement, there are probably good reasons why there should be a community-based committee to deal with the EIR and keep it in the public's view and under its microscope.

Should the CAC be the committee that also watches the EIR process?

At this time, I am more alarmed and cautious of the EIR processes than I am about the specific plan, but unless the mission of the CAC is changed by Ms. Hahn, then I think it (the CAC) should stick to the job we were originally created to perform.

This is also another good time to challenge members of the public who are also alarmed and in opposition to Mr. Bisno's plans to become more active. I know I am sounding like a scratched CD, but as you can see, there are two tracks the train can be derailed on, not just one. If the public isn't willing to become engineers keeping the train under control, we will have to live with a train wreck in our area that will last generations.

Anonymous said...

i agree with many of the comments presented here by the committee. but i would have chosen to elevate the overstated economic benefit to the forefront of the project.

if ponte vista supporters were confronted with numbers like annual expenditures of $35 million within a five mile radius, would they still support the project?