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.

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