Friday, May 11, 2007

The WATF, the CAC, and the Future

To better understand where we are headed for in the future, we should all learn some very valuable lessons from two groups which have played very significant roles in attempting to figure out where we came from, where we are right now, and where we may be going, in the future.

The first group is normally referred to as the “WATF”. That group was actually named the Joint Regional Western Avenue Task Force.

Volunteer members or our community worked alongside representatives of the Los Angeles City Department of Transportation (DOT), representatives from Caltrans, and representatives of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes, to make a comprehensive study of all aspects of traffic on Western Avenue, most specifically from Palos Verdes Drive North, to 25th Street.

The group’s findings, summary and recommendations were made public slightly before any study of the effects of anything built at the Ponte Vista at San Pedro site, could have been done.

This citizen-government group looked at all aspects of traffic, including ingress and egress of parking lots, levels of service, mitigation proposals, number of cars traveling along Western Avenue, and all other issues concerned with the vehicles and drivers affected by travel along this State Route.

The WATF used facts. Not just some facts. They acquired extensive measurements on all intersections, entrances, exits, lane usage, vehicle counts, traffic congestion, signaling, and many other items that needed measuring. There was also no “guessing” done, as it was not necessary due to the measuring devices and implements used over the extended period of time it took to find the true answers to the volumes of questions about traffic on Western Avenue that have come up, over the years.

Mr. Jerry Gaines and Mr. Sal Satomayor, current members of Ms. Janice Hahn’s Community Advisory Committee (CAC) for the Ponte Vista project served on the WATF. Mr. Gordon Teuber, Ms. Hahn’s deputy, who is at every CAC meeting, also was a member of the group.
The findings, summary and recommendations the WATF made were for the benefit of our entire community and I encourage everyone to get a copy of the document and read through it.

The WATF looked out to the year 2025 when making recommendations based on their findings.
One of the first recommendations the group had not only approved, but actually implemented was making sure the signal timing between the DOT-own signals and the Caltrans-own signals were timed to change at the same rate.

A major recommendation was to have the “ATSAC” system of signal synchronization installed in the area. Bob Bisno has proclaimed that he will use this as his primary mitigation for added traffic from Ponte Vista; HOWEVER, the recommendations from the WATF were some of the real primary sources when the “ATSAC” system was actually approved for installation by both the DOT and Caltrans. In essence, it was the efforts of the WATF and others, none being Bob Bisno that finally got approval for the installation processes that are already under way.

Looking out in the WATF recommendations to the year 2025, the group has recommended that Western Avenue, between Palos Verdes Drive North and 25th Street will need to have an extra lane placed in each direction. This was all recommended with the group’s knowledge of anything being built at the Ponte Vista site.

I suggest all supporters of Bob’s current plans, read the document that came out before Bob came in. I think reasonable folks will understand what the large document reveals and why any thought of placing any large numbers of units at Ponte Vista would be highly questionable.
Now here are some opinions about the CAC.

First and foremost, I feel a deep debt of gratitude should be shown by everyone in and out our OUR community over what the CAC has done so far. If it had not been for the thirteen members who still serve on the CAC, we might not have learned as much of the real truths about the Ponte Vista project as we might have.

The group’s mission was simply to make recommendations to Ms. Hahn. As I have written quite a bit about in previous posts, the group has been the only real “watchdog” OUR community has had in dealings with the out-of-town developer who demands we live according to his vision and not by ours.

If it hadn’t been for the CAC, we most certainly would not have found out that the trip generation numbers used by Bob in his DEIR, do not live up to what the supervisor of the DOT section overseeing the traffic study for Ponte Vista believes.

The difference between 9,212 daily vehicle trips generated by Ponte Vista residents, according to the DEIR and the 12,253 daily vehicle trips generated by Ponte Vista residents, according to Jay, the supervisor at DOT, tells all of us that the careful considerations made by the CAC has made a profound impact on what may really be expected at Ponte Vista, should Bob get approval of his current plans.

The 3,041 vehicles per day difference is a real difference and one that Bob can’t possibly mitigate without a road to Gaffey Street being built. The increase of approximately 32% of what Bob’s DEIR states means that the Traffic and Transportation section of the DEIR has been proven to be faulty in, at least, this area.

But the CAC has done so much more for OUR community than just dealing with traffic. They have provided a forum where anyone and everyone can speak in public, whatever their opinions are.

The CAC members have looked into all aspects of the development project, including student population, overall population, community benefits, amenities, and visions of what they feel Ponte Vista should look like.

The group has been meeting since last August. Over the last two months or so, they have volunteered their valuable time to help OUR community with two meetings per month. These diligent, intelligent, caring volunteers have taken on the responsibility of representing the “everyperson” in OUR community, when dealing with the Ponte Vista development. They have faced praise, criticism, ridicule, name calling, personal attacks, and other issues, all in the name of trying to find the best results for all of us and OUR community.

But now, something has come forward that makes even me question whether the CAC should continue on its path to making recommendations to Councilwoman Janice Hahn.

Last August, Ms. Hahn gave her CAC a mandate and a set of goals to provide her with recommendations that she could consider when considering what type and size of development she would support at Ponte Vista.

Ms. Hahn has been able to learn a large amount of facts, findings, opinions, and reasoning that her deputy, Gordon Teuber has provided to her when she has not been at CAC meetings.
Apparently at this time, Ms. Hahn has stated, in public, she has not seen any reason or has been convinced, that there should be any change of current zoning of R1 at Ponte Vista.

It seems to me that any more recommendations the CAC may make might seem moot at this point. We all know now what her current recommendation would be, at this time. Would or should the members of the CAC continue to work to make recommendations to the Councilwoman?

What might the impact be to the members of the CAC if they recommend a development with a size that is considerably larger than 429 single-family, detached houses?

What might Ms. Hahn think if the CAC recommended a mixed-use development that equaled the traffic impact R1 would have?

How might the members feel about how they will be thought of if they recommend something that is fairly far from the 429-house recommendation?

The CAC members all know, as I knew, that whatever they recommend will follow them throughout the remainder of their journeys in OUR community.

Had I still been a member of the CAC when I learned what Ms. Hahn recommends, at this time, I would forego my wishes for a Senior Housing section and vote to recommend R1 remaining at the site, said thank you to everyone in the room, help declare the proceedings ended, and limped out of the meeting room.

But as just about everyone knows, I am now a “Commish” with the Rancho Palos Verdes Traffic Safety Commission and I devote time I would have devoted as a member of the CAC to serving my city as best I can.

So what should the members of the CAC do now? What would happen if 5 or 6 members thought pretty much the way I did and decided that what is good enough for Janice Hahn, at this point, is also good enough for OUR community? Could or Would the CAC continue with 7 or 8 members? What validity would a smaller sized group garner?

The R1 movement, R Neighborhoods Are 1, and folks fed up with Bob’s intransigence are here, growing stronger, getting louder, and having a real impact in OUR community. I feel that Ms Hahn has perhaps sent all of us a signal that she knows what she wants, and I think we all should learn to live with it. I feel that no matter what other issues are impacting OUR community at this time, Ms. Hahn has spoken. Gordon Teuber verified that what she said is actually what she meant.

How about we all find time to really thank John, Jerry, Creasie, Arlene, Rick, Richard, Leah, Lucie, Sal, Al, Chuck, Dan, and Jack for the wonderful work they have done for all of us, the hours they have spent listening to us, the anxiety they all felt from time to time on OUR behalf, the careful considerations they have done, the responsibility they have shouldered, the highest degree of stewardship they all have shown, and their successful attempts to find what should prove to be the best results for OUR community for generations to come.

And then we encourage all of them to get back to their own lives, knowing that they saved all of us from a development we all would have come to regret.


Anonymous said...

I applaud Ms. Hahn for supporting R-1 at the former navy housing site. I hope she maintains this. And to be clear, this is not just what SHE wants; rather this is more a reflection of common sense and the will of her neighbors and constituents.

And BTW, didn't public pressure in Rolling Hills Estates just cut back significantly the number of condos proposed on Silver Spur? That's great! Residents are sick and tired of developers increasing population density and lowering the quality of life just so they can make more $$.

Anonymous said...

while were on this subject, what about the city of rpv plans for western ave. what is the status of walgrens? on trudie and western? what about a desire by the city to see condos go at the do it center or the tasman sea? will the madness ever stop?

M Richards said...

Thanks Anonymous 4:41 AM,

Mr. Fox of the R.P.V. Planning Department has told me that if an when Walgreen's moves forward with their plans to acquire the property on Western, between Trudie and the Park Western parking lot exit, he will Email me.

In several Email discussions with members of the City Council, the members who discusses with me their thoughts about putting government-mandated affordable housing in R.P.V. have stated they feel it would be more appropriate to locate such condominium-style housing along Western Avenue, in R.P.V.

The two sites that the members indicated were "higher targets" for placement of that type of housing is, as you wrote, the area where the Blue Crab, Value Inn, and the tiny strip mall with Casual Cutters, and H.Salt, now are.

The other site is a protion of the northern side of the Terraces shopping center, nearest to Caddington.

Excuses used to keep "affordable housing" out of other areas of R.P.V. center around access, hill slopage, density in other areas of the city, and several other factors that I find very hard to believe.

Not only do R.P.V. "eastsiders" have to deal with major development in another city along Western Avenue, they continue to deal with 2 LAUSD schools, the prospect of an additional LAUSD school accross the street from R.P.V., the construction of a new Target store in which travel along Western will increase, and cut-through traffic in Mira Vista will soar, They now have to consider low-income housing. and the traffic increasing on Western due to a new High School that demands student access via Western Avenue.

I know those of us in R.P.V. have little clout in what happens in San Pedro, but whatever happens in northwest San Pedro affects us more that just about any other place in San Pedro.

So fight we must. Residents of the eastern side of R.P.V. must become more involved in their own city's government and politics, and we all must work harder to keep the area we work so hard build, live in, and enjoy, the best possible place to live.

R.P.V. residents are tough, smart, and strong. We need to be.

Anonymous said...

One ballot arguement against the 80's annexation of Eastview into RPV essentially warned Eastview would become a dumping ground for RPV's affordable housing mandates should the measure pass.

Affordable housing on Western is about location, location, location for low wage earners.

M Richards said...

Anonymous 9:34 AM, How sad, sad, sad for all of us.