Monday, April 16, 2007

Facts: Believe Them or Not!

I think we need to review some true facts about Ponte Vista at San Pedro. I am seeing far too many folks make too many uniformed comments. If someone is going to debate or attack someone else's position, I feel it would help if facts were used instead of rumors and errors.

There is a great deal of information about the Ponte Vista at San Pedro project that is available. If anyone has a specific question, please email it to me and I will try my best to truthfully answer each and every question. Whether you support Bob's current plans or not, I will answer your questions confidentially if you would like and I will be happy to give you information to bolster whatever side you are on.

I absolutely, positively feel that, the more you know about Bob's current plans, the less you will like them.

Here are some true facts you may or may not know:

Councilwoman Janice Hahn's Community Advisory Committee meets to create and provide recommendations to the Councilwoman.

The current zoning of the site that would eventually become Ponte Vista at San Pedro was established in 1980 by a majority of the members of the Los Angeles City Council when the land was annexed into the City of Los Angeles with the adoption of Ordinance Number 154-525.

If the current zoning remains at Ponte Vista, a developer would be allowed to build up to 429 market-rate, single-family, detached housing units on lots of at least 5,000 square feet. Those housing units could be up to two stories in height or up to 30 feet in height.

If a developer were to seek a "density bonus" by offering qualifying units, with the same zoning, the developer would then be able to build up to 536 residential units.

A 429-unit development on the Ponte Vista site would allow for a housing density of approximately 7 dwelling units per acre.

As currently planned, The Ponte Vista development would be comprised of twenty residential buildings, listed as "high-rise" residential buildings of 50 units or greater. The smallest building listed on the site plans would house 67 units, the largest building would have 187 units.
(The Seaport Luxury Homes condominium project now under construction next door to the Ponte Vista site will have 136 units.)

If a developer was only allowed to build up to 429 units (R1) on the Ponte Vista site, they would be under no legal obligation to provide any public access to the new Mary Star of the Sea High School through the Ponte Vista property.

The Los Angeles Unified School District is processing plans to possibly build a 2,025 seat Senior High School on approximately 15.03 acres of land now owned by the Ponte Vista developer. The school district would use the right of eminent domain to sue the developer for land necessary to build a school and a jury trial would be required for the price of the land to be ascertained, and the right of eminent domain to go through.

The area of Ponte Vista at San Pedro is equal to 0.09614 square miles.

All ingress and egress for Ponte Vista will be from Western Avenue, and ONLY from Western Avenue.

2,300 units with an average sales price of $712,500.00 would create $1,638,750,000.00 in sales.
Total expenditures and costs by the developer, including the price of the land: $939,000,000.00.

The difference between the cost of the land and costs associated with developing the current project, and the income created from selling 2,300 units: $699,750,000.00.

Nowhere in the Draft Environmental Impact Report for the project are the words:
“single-family housing” mentioned together.

The spending impact that might be generated from the project is based on the number of units and not the population of those units.

The median price for a housing unit in the City of Los Angeles is approximately $581,140.00.

The average sales price if the project has 2,300 units is approximately $712,500.00.

The residential makeup for the City of Los Angeles is 61.4% renters and 38.6% owner-occupied.
The project as planned will be 100% owner-occupied, or that is what the developer claims.

The “approximately 6 acre” acre park is actually 5.46 acres and as such, it is closer to being an “approximately 5 acre park.”

There are six alternative plans for the project listed in the Draft Environmental Impact Report.

The Initial Report for the project listed the potential population of the project would be 7,343 residents.
The Draft Environmental Impact Reported lists the potential population of the project would be 4,313 residents.

The project, as currently planned, would be a guarded and gated development and the retail businesses would only be for residents and guests.

The Draft Environmental Impact Report and the drawing submitted with it showed a misalignment with the Mary Star of the Sea’s campus, currently under construction, east of Ponte Vista. The public road proposed in the legal documents do not line up correctly with the route to the new high school.

The U.S. Navy ended the auction for 41.95 acres if Ponte Vista land on March 7, 2005. The winning bid of $88,000,000.00 was placed by Mr. Bob Bisno and the Bisno Development Corporation.

An additional 19.58 acres within the Ponte Vista area was conveyed to a homeless advocacy group using a “Housing Assistance Conveyance” from an act that became law in 1994.

Mr. Bisno purchased the 19.58 acres of land for $34,000,000.00.

Breakdown of acreage and cost:

41.95 acres at $88,000,000.00 equals $2,097,753.40 (approx) per acre.
19.58 acres at $34,000,000.00 equals $1,736,465.78 (approx) per acre

61.53 total acres for $122,000,000.00 equals $1,982,772.63 (approx)
Per acre.

The statement, associated with the current plans by the developer that: "Ponte Vista will be a mix of single-family housing, condominiums, and town homes affordable to middle-income residents and first-time homebuyers" is not true.

I have complete copies of the Draft Environmental Impact Report and the Initial Study of the project. I have documents for the Southern California Association of Governments. I have the ability to find an abundance of information from the 2000 Census.

Go ahead folks, ask away and please be informed when you try to debate, discuss, or argue the issues.


tom said...


I have a problem with going to you for "independent" verification of facts. Especially considering your response regarding the zoning at Ponte Vista.

While the City Council may well have passed the ordinance you quote (although I have yet to find it in the archives), it was completely after-the fact and a bookkeeping exercise at best. Contrary to popular belief, that area had actually been annexed by the City of Los Angeles in 1906. Not in 1909 like the rest of San Pedro. But in the mid-1960s just before the Navy exercised eminent domain so they could build the housing and training facilities they needed, R-1 shows up on some old maps of the area, changing it from the previous agricultural zoning. No one knows why or how this came to pass.

So even if there was an ordinance, in 1980 the land belong to the Navy (read - Federal Government) which means that no local ordinance was relevant or binding.

Therefore, I am reiterate and affirm my previous statement that the R-1 zoning is a relic with no specific reason for it being there. R-1 used to be the "default" zoning when they couldn't figure out exactly which way an area was going to go.

Attempting to say that the R-1 zoning was put in place with purpose and forethought is misleading and false. Back in the mid-1960s they were not thinking of limiting demands on the infrastructure or the character of the community. There wasn't even a community in the area. To even present such a thesis is just plain ludicrous.

Tom Field

M Richards said...

Thanks Tom, for your information.

Where can I find the sources you used to find your facts? Perhaps you and I should discuss with each other what is really real and what may not be true.

My source for the annexation of the property if from:
Ponte Vista Draft Environmental Impact Report, Section IV., Environmental Impact Analysis, section F. Land use and planning, first paragraph of page 13 of that 74 page section.

If the DEIR is wrong, would that suggest something to you or anyone else. What should I believe in the DEIR? Is it enough of a factual document to use a source material for facts relating to the project?

Is some of the DEIR believable and some not believable?

If my "independent" verification of facts is from the DEIR itself and is incorrect, then what are the real truths about what is planning to be built at Ponte Vista?

If supporters are to believe what is written in the DEIR is true, but Tom has facts that contradict facts presented in the DEIR, who and what should we all believe?

My son was born at March A.F.B. Hospital. His birth certificate states that he was born in Sunnymead, California. Sometimes federal government lands can be within municipalities.

It is true that I don't know the real reasoning behind why the current zoning was put in place for the site, but it was for whatever reasons the folks who made it that way thought would be best for the area, I feel.

Perhaps the decision makers could have given the area the former zoning of agricultural, or even some kind of commercial zoning. It doesn't matter what the zoning that a municipality gives to land owned by the federal government because they do not have to follow that municipality's guidelines.

The City's decision makers designated the current zoning for some reason or another, but I still can't find out their true reasoning.

If anyone has any questions about my sources of the facts I purport to be true, please Email me and I will be happy to give you my sources so you can independently view them.

tom said...


Of course for general purposes (such as birth certificates) the local municipality or county will record the geographic location of a birth without the designation it was an military base since it might not always be a military base. Can you imagine the problems for someone trying to get a passport and submitting a birth certifcate for a place which doesn't exist?

As for my source for my information, it was, in this instance, the County Recorder's office. Digging through archives to find the old maps. I had the parcel numbers, so it was just a matter of spending the time.

There was no particular reason they would have had to make it R-1. Like I said, it was the "default" zoning designation. Back then everyone wasn't so sensitive and if the situation changed, they figured they could always adjust the zoning. YOu have to remember, there was nothing here, so they had to be more flexible.

Please don't try to turn an inconsistency on the part of the City and County into some sort of attempt to deceive by the developer. You'll start sounding like a conspiracy theorist. There is no written record of how and why the zoning was changed. It just suddenly started apearing on the maps. There was no reason for the architect to believe there was hidden information anywhere. They found the information in their normal research procedures and disclosed it. My goodness, there has to be some end-point for how far back you have to research a property's history. What are they supposed to do, go back to the original Spanish land grants and trace the lineage of the property? Is that what you did when you bought your home?

M Richards said...

I used the most recent information, I believe, as the source of my information.

There have been enough attempts by the developer, i.e. "mix of single-family housing, condominiums, and townhomes..." to decieve many folks in the community. I do not feel I should deceive anybody.

I don't feel the City or the County deceived the developer.

I used my son's birth city as an example that I agree with you that a municipality can do anything they want with land in their juristiction, as far a zoning, and if the land is owned by the federal government, they can ignore whatever municiple guidelines they feel they need to ignore.

In your research you found information that was closer to the time of the Spanish land grants than I did and I don't think anybody should have to go that far back or my back yard would have sheep grazing in it right now.

As we both have illustrated, facts are facts, sometimes depending on when they became facts and not so much how they became facts.

There is essential truths right now that state, without argument the actual, current zoning of the land that Ponte Vista is part of.

Facts could change in the future if L.A.U.S.D. prevails in attempts to build a 2,025 seat senior high school on approximately 15.03 acres of a 24 acres of a proposal site on the northwest side of the Ponte Vista site.

I am still not able to find the source material for Bob's claims of what the units at Ponte Vista would be priced at. Do you have any source material for Bob's ascertians? If you do, please share it with us.

Anonymous said...

R-1 or not........Hahn's call for a "specfic plan" sets aside all previous zoning designations. Or so says folks in the know.

In any case, the Long Beach Naval Base closure in or around 1995 included the subject navy housing in SAN PEDRO. Because single family housing was built the zoning designation seems appropriate zoned R-1.

Does this really matter? No. What matters is the now area property owners want single family homes at Ponte Vista. The near by condo residents seem oddly silent on the matter.

tom said...


We agree that what has to be dealt with is what the current zoning is designated as. Pretty vanilla there. What bothers me is when someone gets up and attempts to play "Karnac" and divine the intentions of who put the designation in place even though it was 40 years ago. That is misleading and plays to people's emotions and fears.

As far as pricing, I had wondered why the DEIR was not more specific. However, it now seems Bisno is giving specifics. We should be glad. We finally have some hard numbers to work with. In regards to source material, there is only Bisno. It is his company and his project. Therefore he gets to decide the mix and the price. We should be writing ths stuff down to make certain the numbers add up. He's getting specific and that is a good sign.


tom said...


By-the-way, you asked me if I had read Pat Nave's letter. The answer is yes. But I discount it greatly because he just throws out numbers without citing any sources. For example, it is like we discussed about going to second-tier guessing about the number of kids in homes that MIGHT be sold by seniors to families who MIGHT have school-age kids. Without citing sources and authorities, these numbers are useless and merely serve to inflame public sentiment.

Pat Nave is determined to stop Ponte Vista no matter what he has to do to acheive his goal. That certainly makes his numbers suspect to me. And do you notice how quickly he jumped off traffic once a new traffic study was begun? The reason why is because it will now become too empirical. The numbers will be measured, there is no sink-hole construction Western, so they will be what they are and offer little room for debate, or sensationalism.

Now when you get to guessing about number of school children, that is not empirical and can be spiced-up to get people upset.

Look for him to be throwing other red-herrings into the mix also. Whatever he can do to confuse the situation.

Why isn't anyone busting HIS chops for sources and verifications?


M Richards said...

Howdy Anonymous 5:33 and Tom,

First Anonymous, I think you may be a bit confuse on who wanted the specific plan in the first place.

Bob Bisno chose the specific plan route because it offered to him some specific benefits in dealing with the planning processes, the regulatory requirements, and how his current plan move from through the application and approval processes. Using the specific plan processes puts requirements onto the developer that other types of processes do not. The developer receives what could be perceived as special treatment by the Planning Department and regulatory agencies, but that is also part of the specific plan process.

Formation of the Community Advisory Committee is only one part of some of the requirements that need to be followed in order for a developer to use the specific plan processes. The developer is required to work extensively with the public and community members to assist him or her. Mr. Bisno requested using the specific plan process and not Ms. Hahn.

It is fair to add that most developers do not get as much community involvement using plans other than the specific plan process and it is somewhat unique for a developer to use this in this area. According to Gerry Gaines, the most experienced member of the CAC, he finds this process "facinating, unique", and something he was eager to have the opportunity to be a part of. He believes we all are experiencing something that is rarely done and that our community may actually have a greater impact in what is finally built at Ponte Vista than members of other community's have when dealing with other developers.

Mr. Gaines, by the way, issued a set of comments to use as talking points about what he feels might be built at Ponte Vista, and he did not mention 2,300 units being built according to his writing.

Whatever zoning was or was not in force during the time the Navy owned the land did not matter when housing was built at and near the Ponte Vista site. Not only do the duplexes not fall into an R1 type zoning, neither did the box-style buildings located where Mary Star is being built fall into R1-type zoning. If you remember, east of the duplexes, there were apartment buildings for lower ranking enlisted families. They were closer to the Taper gate of the housing project.

Duplexes, by their very nature of being attached housing, would not qualify for R1 zoning and even the lot sizes probably were not large enough to qualify even if they legally had to, which they did not have to.

Now Tom, I think you know that Pat Nave has lots of facts. Whether you believe those facts is for you to decide. As you noticed last Thursday evening, every time Bob got up to address the CAC members, Pat was behind Bob ready to contradict whatever Bob was saying to the CAC.

Pat uses facts found in the DEIR, the source materials supporting the DEIR and many facts found elsewhere. Pat deals more in the current day facts of what is really going on in the area.

When a developer claims that there will be 98.5 students in a 251-unit condominium development and Bob claims there will only be 199 students in a 1,725-unit condominium development, somebody has got some very questionable statistice to base his or her statements on. I don't even need to count the possible student count of families that buy empty nesters' houses to know that Bob's statistics are most probably way far off than what reality might find.

The proclaimed number of potential residents in the non-age restricted portion of Bob's current plans for that area, is not even close to what is found in similar type developments of condominium buildings of 50 or greater units. I cannot fathom Tom, that you do not question Bob's student generation statistics. You seem to have an abundance of independent information and the willingness and skill to delve into these matters.

Don't you question some of the statistics purported to be true in the DEIR?

There was an article in the Los Angeles Times that documented the greater number of school age students moving into Playa Vista than was expected by the developers of that project.

I do agree that what Pat brings forth confuses the situation when compared to the "facts" presented in the DEIR. It may be that reason alone that we all should take the time to really look at what might really go into the development whether it is Bob's 2,300, Gerry's 1,700, whatever compromise is finally agreed on, and even a 429 or 536-unit development. Many R1 folks aren't willing to realize what that kind of development might do to the Mary Star issue.

Whether confusion comes from either side, i.e. "mix of single-family housing, condominiums and townhomes..." we should all make better efforts to learn the real truths and counter the confusions with the truths, so we do not get stuck with a development we all will regret being built in OUR community.

Anonymous said...

>Why isn't anyone busting HIS chops for sources and verifications?<

He's not the one trying to build a huge project. The burden falls on Bisno.

Richard Wagoner

M Richards said...

I think Richard Waqoner makes a very valid point.

Is should fall on the applicant to provide all the true facts neccessary to prove his or her point. If a developer engages in deceit or misrepresent the facts how could anyone believe that developer would build the development according to approved plans. Even the approval processes coul be suspect if they are based on misstatements, errors, and things that simply aren't true.

But there is a responsibility, I feel, on the part of individuals interested in a development, to become as aware as possible to the facts they believe are true. Opponents to Bob's current plans have the right to find factual information and present that information to decision makers to bolster their attempts to oppose the current plans.

While I have tried to present true facts throughout this blog, I am also quite able to post statements, purported "facts", statistics, and comments from the developer that are not true at all. I have had to do so already in several posts dealing with the survey and other issues concerning the project.

I also try to correct individuals who oppose Bob's current plans that also misstate facts and make errors and make comments on this blog that simply are not true.

I try to be as fair as I can and present facts I can support and correct facts that I have found to be in error. I even have created a post in which I apologized for making a factual error. I corrected the error, I feel.

Bob Bisno and his organization need to be completely open and honest about their current plans and future proposals. The organization should also provide everyone with knowledge of source documentation substantiating their claims. I have already written to Elise Swanson trying to find the source of claims Mr. Bisno made in his Guest Column last Saturday.

I will post the source documentation on the possible pricing of units when Ms. Swanson gets back to me with that information.

Mr. Bisno now claims pricing structures that I have not been able to find sources for and are lower that structures he has commented on in the past. I think Mr. Wagoner is correct that Mr. Bisno should provide information to all of us how these apparently new pricing structures came to be.

Honestly, it could be that the current and future housing market is already dictatint to Mr. Bisno that the original prices he thought units might be priced at, now will need to be lowered because of the changing conditions.
That would not be out of the ordinary and I think Bob deserves a chance and has the responsibility to inform those of us who are interested, the current pricing stuctures he envisions.

All interested parties should be as informed as possible. You all know the reasons behind this statement. We all need to know the real facts so we can help make the best decisions possible and fight for what we individually and as a member of a particular group, believe in.

tom said...


I agree, and I disagree. Yes, the developer has the burden of proof to demonstrate his assumptions and basis for his projections are correct.

However, this does not relieve those who oppose the project from being responsible. No one should be allowed to throw around numbers and muck up the process without those numbers being accurate and valid. If it were of a personal nature it would be called slander, or libel.

Everyone is free to disagree and to give theirreasons why. But at least let them be honest numbers which can be referenced by thoseof us who are interested enough to look them up.

While Pat certainly has a lot of facts, he has yet to cite sources. I don't think that is asking too much of him. I also expect Bisno to do the same and submitted comments during the public comment period requesting verification and sources of some of his numbers. I am looking forward to the EIR and how my questions are answered.

Tom Field

M Richards said...

Howdy Tom,
Pat is able to provide sources for the facts and statement he purports to be true. On a fact sheet he created, he cited the Ponte Vista DEIR as the source of many of the facts. It is true that he may extrapilate these facts out, but the facts he claims come from the DEIR, I believe, come from the DEIR.

tom said...


I disagree with you about the numbers Pat Nave uses. I've seen and heard the same presentations you have. But, let's use his Letter to the Editor as an example.

He takes statistics from the DEIR (that part is true), but then he says all the experts are wrong and he is right, and proceeds to use different census numbers, different trip generation numbers, different student generation numbers, etc., etc.. All without giving any reason or rationale.

What's more, as far as I know, he is not a certified traffic engineer, or an architect, or an urban planner. He is saying trust him over planning and architectural firms that have decades of experience.

On that note, have you forgotten, has everyone else forgotten, that the independent traffic engineer (Chuck Thompson and Priority Engineering) that the Northwest Neighborhood Council hired came to the conclusion that the traffic study in the DEIR was accurate and the methodology was correct? I hope you remember because you yourself distributed the report back in January. Northwest was unhappy with it, and even after they twisted Mr. Thompson's arm and had him revise his final copy, it still did not say what they wanted it to. In fact, there was such a disagreement over it, that Mr. Thompson would not accompany Pat Nave to present the study. Bisno's traffic guy has no problem standing behind his work. Doesn't it raise any red flags for anyone that the Northwest Neighborhood Council's guy would not even formally present his findings to the NW council or anyone else?

Was I the only one who noticed how quickly Pat Nave got off the traffic issue after this? And left it alone completely after Bisno started to re-confirm his own traffic study. Instead he switched to a hot-button issue of student generation. And again they hired a newly graduated "demographer", fresh out of school, to come up with some numbers which conveniently fit Pat's agenda. Again flying in the face of decades of experience from the people who did the demographics for the DEIR. But she was cheap and willing to say what Pat Nave and his group wanted her to.

Pat is quick to point out that Playa Vista's president of planning, Tom Jones, was quoted as saying they had gotten more kids then they had projected. WHAT PAT LEAVES OUT IS THAT MR. JONES ALSO SAYS THEY HAD LESS TRAFFIC THAN PROJECTED. Oops, that doesn't fit his agenda, so he conveniently forgets to mention it.

So you are correct in stating that his source numbers come from the DEIR. But that is where his numbers end their correlation with reality. For example: Do you remember the footnote #15 you found in the Initial Study which clarified how Bisno got to the 7,343 population number? Why hasn't Pat Nave talked about this? Easy answer. Because it doesn't suit his purposes. He merely uses the numbers that get him to his goals. He's shown this time and time again. He starts with a grain of truth and twists it to his own purposes. I have a problem with believing someone with an agenda and no credentials. Shouldn't you?

Tom Field

M Richards said...

Howdy again Tom,

You have made some valid points.

As you may recall when I addressed Mr. Thompson's findings, I also asked everyone to look at the summary and recommendations he made in that report. It is very true that Mr. Thompson validated the methodology used in the DEIR, but his summary and recommendations went beyond what the DEIR said, in terms of mitigation.

If Pat Nave wishes to respond to criticism via this blog or by commenting on posts within this blog, he is free to do so, as is any other person.

I tend to believe Mr. Nave more than I disbieve him because whenever he makes a point, he has source documentation to back him up. Whether you believe Pat's source documentation or not is up to you. I know he uses different tables in compiling some of his figures and he and I believe those tables more accurately reflect what is happening in the real world rather than many of the traffic generation tables used in the DEIR.

It may just be that we should look at worst case scenarios rather that long time used tables for calculating what might be happening to traffic if and when anything is built at Ponte Vista. If we look towards the worst cases and it turns out that we were wrong and there would be less than worst case traffic, wouldn't that be the best possible outcome for everyone?

I think statisticians should make tables of sets of numbers based on different makeups for housing types and totals for Ponte Vista.

If we had solid evidence on ranges of traffic based on ranges of numbers of units, then I think we all will feel better and be better informed about what should actually be built at Ponte Vista.

Tom Field has written a proposal that calls for 1,700 total units of varying types. He would like to see a 700 unit Senior Housing section, but he is not "married" yet to any totals.

I have called for 700 Senior Housing units, and the rest of the residential lots being for single-family, detached housing. I now can see a total of 400 single-family homes with some homes being on R1 lots and the rest being Patio-style houses on lots of higher density than R1.

If we think Tom's proposal is the new ceiling, and my proposal is the new floor, perhaps we can move closer to a real compromise that will fit into OUR community.