Sunday, April 15, 2007

A Free and Entertaining Evening?

Now that I am no longer serving as a member of Janice Hahn's Community Advisory Committee (CAC) for the Ponte Vista project, (I have taken a position as a member of the Rancho Palos Verdes Traffic Safety Commission) I would like to let you all in on a big secret.

Even though the CAC and the public are struggling to deal with the processes of the development of Ponte Vista and trying to make recommendations to the Councilwoman, I need to reveal that those meetings can be very entertaining, sometimes almost hysterical, and for the first two hours, usually quite interesting.

And it is all yours for FREE!

Here are some of the entertainment that awaits you when you attend a CAC meeting:

Bob's current plans. Just about every meeting, no matter what is being presented or discussed, Bob never waivers from his original plan more that one inch, if that, and the illustration of his original and still current plans sit in the meeting room. I have found it somewhat humorous to hear him speak about what "WILL BE" at Ponte Vista, even though absolutely nothing has been formerly approved.

Gerry Gaines. Mr. Gaines is a genius in my book. He is a wonderful member of the CAC and he brings to all of us his vast knowledge and interest in the area. He served as a Planning Commissioner for our area, he chaired the Western Avenue Task Force, and I consider him to be a mentor to me in my efforts to learn more about politics and happenings in our area.
Now what is so fun about Gerry is that when he begins to inform all of us, I try my best to understand what he is talking about, but after 5-10 minutes of his comments, my head fill up with confusion and it spills out of my ears and I just have to give up. Gerry illustrates issues and makes comments that are far beyond this mere mortal. I am sure the folks from the Planning Department understand much of what he describes, but many of us attempting to understand what he is talking about, try as we might, usually give up, shrug our shoulders and appear to look as stupid as we, perhaps, feel.

The CAC members. Now that I am just a member of the public, I want to tell all of you that each and every member of the CAC is doing their best to help create recommendations that MAY be used by Janice Hahn and the Planning Department. You can all see and hear the passion some of the members have concerning their service to help create the best development for all of us. It is true that some members are more vocal than others, but even the mostly silent ones have definite ideas and are working within the group to move it along. Being a member of the CAC is a very tough job, that all the members volunteered for. No matter what they decide, they will be attacked from one side or the other. They all know too, that whatever recommendations they make, might not add up to a hill of beans. One of the heaviest things that weighs on their shoulders that if they make recommendations and those recommendations are followed, or if their ideas are not taken seriously, then they took on the responsibility of representing all of us and they will have that on their personal records for the rest of their lives. Listen carefully to what the members say and how they say what they say. Their words can provide much information.

Ray Patricio. Whenever Ray makes his comments he is delightfully entertaining. His comments alone are worth the price of admission. "Just get the damn thing built!" seems to be his continuing mantra, even though he doesn't really seem to be able to tell us what, exactly, he would like to see at the site. Ray is an older gentleman who cracks everybody up in the room, whenever he makes his very funny comments. Ray is, by far, the most lovable fellow in the room.

The goodies. Many opponents of Bob seem to think the treats served at the meetings and the dinners he pays for that the CAC members enjoy are somehow supposed to be thought of as some kind of bribe or something. I have been one who has enjoyed the dinners and the snacks he has provided for everyone at the meetings, and I can assure all of you that I don't consider myself to have been bribed in any way. The staff at the Crowne Plaza Hotel provide a great selection of cookies, cheeses, water, and what looks like Iced Tea for members of the public attending the meetings, and if you want a great chocolate chip cookie or two, for free, stop by a meeting sometimes.

Linda "Bob Bisno is going to save San Pedro" D'Ambrosi. Well, this seemingly rabid supporter of Bob's current plans has verbally attacked me while I was a member of the CAC, but unfortunately, she didn't probably know that I do a bit of writing about issues concerning Ponte Vista. She has spoken at several prior meetings and I bet if she returns for more meetings and makes more comments, those comments my bring more laughter than many of us should stand.

The Planning Department. I can't think of a better reason to attend the meeting than trying to watch members of the Planning Department try to move the members of the CAC in directions they do not particularly want to go. These folks are trying to hone in on Bob's shell game with the CAC and attempting to persuade the CAC to go along with inferred suggestions they are making. These folks are not as overt as Bob is in attempting to control the CAC, but they have used lots of wiggles and squirms to try to move the CAC to accept a development of multi-family housing, and avoid, at all possible costs, any single-family housing at Ponte Vista, IMHO.

Ponte Vista supporters. No matter how many times John Greenwood, the chair of the CAC mentions to the room that we have all heard enough about how Ponte Vista would be "affordable to seniors and others" or "will let first-time buyers have a new home", still most supporters who make comments continue the same slogan-based comments. On a given notice, many of them outnumber opponents in the room, but when they all say just about the same things over and over again, those of us who have listened to the repeated words turn them off or mouth the words we all know they are going to say.

Where else in San Pedro can you find drama, comedy, information, good snacks and a room full of folks trying to deal with Ponte Vista, on a Thursday (and sometimes Tuesday) night, and all for FREE?

On April 26, the meeting might be even more humorous as folks from the City Department of Transportation again attempt to inform the CAC about what has been happening lately. We still do not know if any new information about real traffic counts will be revealed, and Mike B. of the DOT has a history of keeping important information away from the CAC, so that meeting might get particularly heated and I wouldn't miss it for the world.

Victo Griego, the once and returned facilitator of the CAC deserves an honorable mention. During his previous stint as facilitator he was usually silent during the meetings but I absolutely appreciated his service and the services provided to the CAC members by him and his staff. Now it is beginning to appear, with his return as facilitator, that someone or someones have told him to help speed up the process and get the mission of the CAC completed as quickly as possible. I must question this new approach by Victor because a project of this magnitude, and affecting so many people in our community shouldn't be rushed along, no matter what the reasons.

We opponents of Bob's current plans also deserve an honorable mention. We are a jovial bunch at the meetings. We freely comment to each other during the meetings about the supporters, who I imagine, comment about us as well. We all try our best to be friendly to Bob's supporters and we are willing to engage anyone in conversation. Not too many supporters sit near us, but perhaps we can intermingle ourselves into the supporters area, probably just to frustrate them.
We don't usually attend meetings in as large a number as supporters do, but many of us are not retired and don't necessarily belong to real estate organizations or are retired.

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