Thursday, April 12, 2007

" Bob Bisno is Going to Save San Pedro"

"Bob Bisno is going to save San Pedro". Do I need to write it again? Okay, fine. "Bob Bisno is going to save San Pedro." Linda D'Ambrosi, a strong supporter of Bob's current plans spoke those words and repeated them several times during her comments to the Community Advisory Committee (CAC) at tonight's meeting.

Linda D. has lived all of her 57 years in San Pedro, she claimed, (well, she actually has lived in RPV for some time), she is a real estate agent, when she chooses to work, and mentioned how affluent she is, for some unknown reason.

You all should have been there. I know I didn't pee in my pants while I was howling with laughter, but I can't say some of the other 40-50 folks who were also laughing out loud didn't wet themselves. This was just one small event in what turned out to be a very interesting meeting.

First, the Planning Department presented their conceptual idea of what they thought the CAC wanted at Ponte Vista. Missing was any single-family residences and any Senior Housing section, that many of the CAC members actually wanted to see. In short, the drawing presented by the Planning Department was criticized by just about everyone in the room, supporters, opponents, and probably even the wait staff for the hotel.

The audience for tonight's meeting had over twice as many folks wearing R Neighborhoods Are 1 buttons than all the supporters in the room, including the wait staff. To suggest that this new group has few members or is just a small group would be in error, and the numbers of folks willing to donate to the cause and get buttons, bumper stickers, and lawn signs, will grow, I am sure.

When it was my time to speak I pointed out that Mr. Bisno claims in multiple publications that there will be "single-family housing" at Ponte Vista when he actually plans none. I suggested that if it is true he wants "a mix of single-family housing, condominiums, and town homes" like he has repeatedly written, then he should build a beautiful, secure, and comfortable section of condominiums and town homes for seniors and the rest of the residential lots be of R1 size. That way seniors will get what they want, folks who want R1 lots will get most of the property that way, all the mitigation, including a road to Mary Star would get built, and it would provide a compromise that I believe we all can live with, IMHO.

All the speakers in support of Mr. Bisno's current plans said basically the same thing they always say, except good old Linda. The many, many folks who spoke in opposition to Mr. Bisno's current plans spoke about different things and did not repeat too many issues.

It was very apparent that nobody on the CAC had any real good comments about the conceptual drawing supplied by the Planning Department, except John Greenwood. He spoke about some of the amenities that the drawing suggested, but he was not pleased about not seeing any single-family housing, and was concerned whether there is a real want for a separate senior housing section.

During the next meeting, on April 26, there is supposed to be a presentation and a Q&A session with the City Department of Transportation. Unfortunately, they have such a low credibility factor with the members of the CAC and many of us, it might not matter what they present because nobody will believe them, anyway.

It appears to me that the powers that be, perhaps Janice Hahn, the Planning Department, Bob Bisno, and some others in city government want the CAC's job wrapped up as soon as possible and definitely by June. This is very, very unfortunate. Ponte Vista at San Pedro will forever change the nature of our community, no matter what is built there. It is probably the last large open area on which to have the opportunity to build out rather than up. No one should hurry this process along. The land will not go anywhere unless a large earthquake moves it, and then why build anything there. The land has time. Our community has only one chance to do this correctly. If it is not done right, we will all suffer.

Victor Griego is back as the facilitator and he proposed that the CAC try to work on finding some concensus during the next meeting, on what might work at Ponte Vista. It also appears to me that Victor is trying to speed the CAC along, and I believe that is not in our community's best interest.

Whether you support Bob, oppose Bob's current plans, or want some kind of compromise, we all need to take as long as it takes, learn as much as we can, and be ready to live with the consequences, whatever they are. Even though Janice Hahn might want Bob out of her town as soon as possible, that is no excuse to shortchange the processes and become shortsighted to her voters.

Tonight, R Neighborhoods Are 1 showed a tiny bit of muscle getting so many folks out to the meeting on less than 24 hours notice. I can just imagine that Bob will have his supporters out in force on April 26, as well he should. The new group will be out and about. If you don't see us around, perhaps we will knock on your door. I won't advise you to sign the R1 petition because I have not signed it, for reasons you should all already know. But if you feel the calling to support a group opposed to Bob's current plans, perhaps you might want to sign a petition, put a lawn sign in your front yard, while you still can, wear a button, and try to help create the best possible outcome for OUR community.


da_mouse said...

Do you think Bisno bought this land with borrowed money? Most developers do it since there cash is locked in other projects.

We can see rates going up and the longer this sits and does not produce, the less he makes. So i can see why he is rushing to finish this project and disregard anything that doesn't meet his plans.

We can already see the housing market slowing with the subprime problems and now are hitting the Alt-A market. I can imagine the market getting so bad that some of his homes will go into auction if they are not sold off. What do you think?

M Richards said...

Howdy da_mouse,
Excellent comments!

Some of us have been told that one of the financial institutions involved in financing Bob is Credit Suisse First Boston.

I can't imagine that Bob has enough money in savings and investments to subsidize what he purchased and what he is funding.

I'm sure lenders have given him a timetable to start building something on the land or they are going to want their money back.

What opponents of Mr. Bisno's current plans are trying to do may be done by the housing market, lenders, and the economy.

Bob might have to scale back his plans for such a luxurious development in favor of a less expensive project that gets folks into new digs and paying either mortgages or rents. This would be very bad.

It could also come to pass, I can imagine, that Bob might reconsider building market rate housing in favor of housing that could use government sources to help folks buy homes. This again frightens me, if there are too many of those types of housing built.

The present and future housing market doesn't seem to bode well for those demanding all R1 lots and houses at Ponte Vista. If the market tanks on existing single-family, detached homes, why wouldn't it also tank on new developments of same type housing?

I would like to see a separate Senior Housing section at Ponte Vista with an obviously higher density than R1/up to nine units per acre. I am now beginning to wonder if those folks who would want to sell their current older, larger homes to move into Ponte Vista's Senior section, might either hold off selling until the market rebounds, or simply give up their idea of leaving their pre-Prop 13 properties for something that would most probably cost them more per month in taxes and fees.

Don't folks stay in their homes and just keep fixing what gets broken when they learn their homes can't be sold for what price they may want for it?

I can imagine that Bob Bisno is banking on the idea of a quick approval for his project, a fast build time, and prompt sales of the units. I don't know what the current and future real estate market will allow him to do. I know that even some of the units at Center Street Lofts, with financial assistance for some buyers, have not sold out yet, so that is another factor Bob's backers need to look at.

How are sales at Seaport Luxury Homes going? That is the 136-unit owner-occupied development we all can see under construction right next to Ponte Vista. How are sales of Senior Housing units going in Torrance, where many of those units have recently been built or are still under construction.

Perhaps Bob Bisno put dollars into two adjoining slot machines. One slot machine is the opposition to his current plans, and the other slot machine is the present and future housing market. He might just lose on both machines.

Thanks da_mouse, please comment again and consider creating a post contribution based on your thoughts.