Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Gail Goldberg Talks About Traffic and Transportation

First off, grab yourself either a cool one or a hot one because this is the longest post I have attempted.

Monday January 29, 2008 found the members of the Los Angeles City Council, Directors of various City Departments, Leaders from throughout the City of Los Angeles, and many others discussing traffic and transportation in the greater L.A. area.

S. Gail Goldberg, the Director of the Los Angeles City Department of Planning provided verbal remarks to the members of the City Council and verbal remarks at another forum on that same day.

Because there may be individuals who might want to accuse me of changing what Ms. Goldberg talked about, I am including both sets of remarks as they were officially recorded.

But before I post Ms. Goldberg's comments, I need to remind folks about some of the issues surrounding traffic and transportation around Ponte Vista and San Pedro as a whole.

According to City statistics, there are not enough jobs in San Pedro for the population who call San Pedro Home. For every adult resident of San Pedro's zip codes, there are 6/10 jobs.

This means that more individuals must leave San Pedro to go to work than stay in San Pedro to work.

Ponte Vista would not be able to consider itself as being part of the official designation of "Smart Growth". The proposed development is too far away from light rail lines and does not have the mass transit tools close enough to its borders to qualify. "Smart Growth" requires that a development must be built along major transportation corridors and have more mass transit available to its residents than Ponte Vista would have.

The first set of remarks made by Ms. Goldberg feature bullet points she gave to members of the L.A. City Council.

The second set of remarks are from a speach she gave.

Here are Ms. Goldberg's remarks as they were sent to me from a City source:

Report to CC on Transportation and Traffic in Los Angeles

· Thank you….

· If they all hate our traffic so much …..why are they all still here???

· Los Angeles is a very large city – both in land size and population. People choose to live here because of the greater choices provided in large cities—more jobs, services, cultural and social networks.

· But there are costs associated with those greater choices, higher priced housing, a faster pace, more competition and the cost that is most talked about in Los Angeles—traffic. It is also a fact of life that all large vibrant and growing cities have traffic congestion. Still, most people stay because they think it’s worth it.

· While they stay, they don’t stay quietly—they continue to demand relief. So the question for all of us is: Can we provide some relief to traffic congestion? What are the ways? How successful are they? And can we afford the costs?

· What can we learn from other large cities and are we “like” those other large cities—are their solutions transferable to Los Angeles. Can great public transit save us?

· Well, no surprise to all of us, Los Angeles is different. We have a unique development pattern. Most large cities across the world reflect the much more common pattern of development—dense clusters of urban development separated by much less dense suburban or even rural scale development.

· Los Angeles spreads its density more consistently over its wide geographic area. The most dense areas of LA, our urban core and centers, are much less dense than the urban cores of other cities. Our least dense areas are much more dense than the suburban/rural areas of other large cities—this gives LA the worst of all worlds – dense sprawl.

· In other cities it is easier to connect their dense clusters with public transit providing a high level of connectivity between people and the places they want to go. For Los Angeles, our dense sprawl makes transit a more challenging solution—one that we need, one that we plan for, but one that cannot be the only solution.

· We also need to recognize that vehicle miles traveled on an annual basis is rising faster than population. We are all taking more trips daily and our trips are becoming longer.

· As our demand is increasing and the supply of road capacity is not keeping pace—the resulting congestion and delays are skyrocketing—the cost of congestion is rising both in time and impact to our environment.

· So, how can traffic congestion be relieved? There are mobility strategies and, more recently, accessibility strategies.

· Mobility strategies are about our ability to move from place to place. The most common mobility solution in the past has been to increase road capacity (more roads, more lanes). The problem with that strategy has been that there is not nearly enough resources to supply the growing demand and a growing body of evidence suggests that increasing road capacity itself induces new demand…can’t win.

· A more recent mobility strategy is Intelligent Transportation Systems which use technology to manage the roads and transit—these show limited improvements but haven’t been in play long enough to really create good data about long term improvements.

· Beyond mobility—is a new word cropping up in transportation circles—accessibility. It changes the focus from the transportation system to the user of the system: do people have access to the activities that they need or want to participate in.

· This is the place where land use planning can make a great contribution. Planning for accessibility rather than mobility can create benefits by expanding choices and reducing the need to drive.

· A typical household makes 10 vehicle trips per day. Only two are work trips—the other 8 are for school, the doctor, movies, drycleaners, etc. We have limited control over the 2 work trips but we have a great deal of control over the other 80%. It is these non-work trips we can affect most with good planning.

· Most of these non-work trips are less than 5 miles. They occur within peoples own neighborhoods. If some of these neighborhood serving uses were located within walking distances of homes and if that walk was pleasant—some of our 4 million people would have to drive all over the city to meet their daily needs. We could walk, ride a bike or take neighborhood DASH-like vans or jitneys.

· If we could eliminate one of the 8 non-work trips for each of our residents, traffic would be reduced by 10%--with few or even no public dollars.

· We can even improve our transit opportunities with good land use planning--by creating new dense clusters—transit oriented developments around stations. In the next decade, we need to concentrate on transit oriented districts and development oriented transit.

· This is what “do real planning” means—matching up the uses and the people in a more perfect balance to create the most benefits for the most people, while spending the least amount of money and incurring the fewest environmental, economic and social impacts.

· We need to maximize opportunities for walking, biking and alternative transportation while minimizing automobile trips.

· It also means rejecting decisions aimed solely at moving more cars faster when they result in driving pedestrians away.

· We are never going to take people’s cars away but we must provide pleasant and viable alternatives to those cars—we need more efficient forms of transit to more neighborhoods –not all of our citizens have access to a car and with our aging populations we must offer alternatives to driving.

· Good land use planning is the means to provide the opportunities for a more sustainable city, a city where people have access to all that they need and want, but in an economically and environmentally rational way.

Some of the policy documents and projects that we are currently working on provide opportunities to integrate these ideas….

Now here are more remarks Ms. Goldberg made:

January 29,2008

10:40 a.m. "Transportation and Traffic in L.A."
Verbal Remarks by Gail Goldberg

Today I would like to talk about why cities exist and why many people choose to live in large cities. I will also talk about some of the costs of living in big cities especially those that are growing. I will talk about the special challenges that make Los Angeles different from other large cities. And finally I will talk about how we begin to create a careful balance between the costs and benefits of living in Los Angeles.

Cities exist to bring people together with jobs, services, cultural and social networks. Cities attract us with a greater choice of everything from consumer goods to entertainment, and of course, jobs. Small towns don't have a philharmonic orchestra, sushi bars, or major movie studios. People go where there are the greatest opportunities; small towns can't compete in these qualities. People come to Los Angeles because they see an expanded horizon for themselves and their families, but with these opportunities, come costs.

Some of these costs are higher priced housing, a faster pace, more competition, but the cost we're talking about today is traffic. In every large city, all of these people gathered together want to take advantage of the many attractions offered by that city. If most of the access to jobs and services means traveling by automobile, mere's going to be growing traffic. When the traffic demand exceeds the system's capacity, you get congestion. Still, most people continue to stay in the city because they think it's worth it. They are not opting to move to the thousands of small towns that offer fewer jobs, services and no traffic congestion. It's a fact of life that all large vibrant and growing cities have congestion.

However, even though people in Los Angeles put up with the congestion, it doesn't mean that they are not demanding relief. How can we provide some relief and what is the cost of those solutions? There is a growing recognition in all large cities that simply creating more capacity for cars or even finding ways to move cars faster will not solve the problem alone. Many cities have invested scarce resources to projects that offer only temporary relief before the never ending demand overtakes the new capacity.

Other large cities have successfully provided an alternative to many automobile trips with accessible public transit. But public transit, while critical to our future in Los Angeles, will always be challenged by our unique development pattern. Most other large cities reflect the more common pattern of development — dense clusters of urban development separated by much less dense suburban or even rural scale development. Connecting these dense clusters with public transit can provide a high level of connectivity between people and the places they want to access. Los Angeles is unique in how consistently the density is spread over a huge geographic area. The densest areas of Los Angeles, our urban cores, are much less dense than the urban cores of other large cities. Our least dense areas are much denser man the suburban/rural areas of other large cities. This' combination gives Los Angeles the worst of all worlds—dense sprawl. It makes transit a more challenging solution in Los Angeles, one that we need, one that we plan for, but one that cannot be the only solution.

So what are some additional solutions that planners can offer utilizing good land use policy? Urban planners have always believed that the ideal city maximizes access among its interdependent residents and establishments. In the 1960's Lewis Mumford, a famous urban planner said that the problem of urban transportation could be solved by "bringing a larger number of institutions and facilities within walking distance of the home." This observation is still relevant 40 years later in Los Angeles.

A typical household takes 10 trips per day. Only two are work trips. The other eight are for school, doctor's appointments, trips to the drug store, trips to the movies. We have some control over the 20% for commuting, but we have enormous control over me other 80%. It is these non-work trips we can affect most with good land use planning.

Most of these non-work trips are less than five miles. They occur within people's own neighborhoods. So if neighborhoods actually have drug stores, schools, movies, doctor's offices, restaurants and parks within walking distance and if the walk to get to them was a fabulous experience, or even just a really pleasant experience, some of our 4 million residents wouldn't be driving all over the city for their daily needs. That's what Lewis Mumford meant 40 years ago and is what I mean when I talk about a City of Neighborhoods. For short distances, we could walk, we could ride a bicycle (if it were safe and enjoyable), and we could take neighborhood DASH-like vans or jitneys.

If we could eliminate just one of the eight non-work trips for each of our residents across the city, we would reduce traffic by 10%. This would conceivably cost few, or no, public dollars.

We also must make transit more viable in Los Angeles. The most predominant complaint about transit in Los Angeles today is that it is not convenient to where people want to go. From the perspective of the transit operator, the potential riders are not convenient to where the routes are. This, again, is the result of the "dense sprawl" of Los Angeles. Both the uses and the people need to be located in "clusters" in order to make transit work. In the next decade, we have to concentrate on "transit oriented districts" (TODs) and "district oriented transit" (DOTs).

This is what "do real planning" means- figuring out where to strategically concentrate different amounts and types of uses people want. There can't be a place for the philharmonic in every neighborhood, so where does it go? There can be movies in more places, but not every block. So where do we put them? There can be restaurants in even more places.

Smart planning is about matching up the uses and me people in a more perfect balance so that we create the most benefits for the most people, while spending the least amount of money and incurring me fewest environmental, economic, and social impacts. That means planning land uses to maximize opportunities for walking, hiking, and alternative transportation while minimizing automobile trips. It also means making decisions that support these goals, like investing in our streetscapes, shade trees, beautiful bus shelters, and wide sidewalks. It means rejecting decisions aimed solely at moving more cars faster when they result in driving pedestrians away.

Finding this balance is a continuous struggle and it is always evolving. What was a good solution in the 1920's or 1950's in Los Angeles is no longer a good solution today. Conditions have changed and we must change our approaches and our solutions.

It is not reasonable to take people's cars away. What we need to do is make our neighborhoods more complete, more geared to the people who live nearby, places that have the services and uses people want, places where people of different economic levels and types of households can live, work and play. That way, as many of us as possible, have convenient access to our daily needs without having to use an automobile. One goal is to bring more efficient forms of transit to more neighborhoods, so that in the coming decades, when our city has tens of thousands of80"and 90-year-olds, probably no longer driving, they can have a reasonable and affordable place to live and still go to a restaurant or a movie or visit their kids.

Consider how things will change when the several thousand apartments and condominiums come on line around the Hollywood and Vine Metro Station. No matter where those residents work, when they come home from work and on the weekends, they can walk a block or two and have access to Borders, the Pantages Theater, the Arc-Light movies, dozens of restaurants of all price ranges, drug stores, hotels, grocery stores, and many other amenities. Isn't it just possible that they will make only seven non-work trips by car instead of eight? And isn't it just possible mat some of them will take the Red Line to their jobs?

Good land use planning is the means to provide the opportunities for a more sustainable city, a city where people have access to all that they need and want, but in an economically and environmentally rational way. That is why we must look for opportunities to link land use and transportation. That is how we can begin to reduce our traffic and congestion problems in Los Angeles even when there are another 2-1/2 million more of us living in the region over the next 25 years.

Linking Land Use and Transportation" The Role of City Manning in Solving
Los Angeles' Congestion Problems

The Department of City Planning is fully engaged in numerous efforts aimed at reducing automobile trips, or vehicle miles traveled (VMT). The role of the Department is to link land use and transportation in order to make Los Angeles a healthy, sustainable and economically prosperous City in which jobs, services, and amenities are easily accessible to all residents and visitors, and which respects its unique communities and neighborhoods.

The following is a list and brief description of efforts underway in the Department that will advance these goals:

1. New Community Plans - The Department is in the process of preparing 12 new Community Plans which will identify neighborhood needs, mixes of uses, and densities, create appropriate land use and zoning, identify the necessary infrastructure to support these neighborhood visions, and the financing mechanisms to implement them.

2. Transit Oriented Districts - The Department has secured grants, and combined them with Prop C transportation money and General Fund budget to develop 10 TOD plans at rail stations—4- on the Expo Line, 3 on the Gold Line Eastside Extension and 2 on the Gold Line. Each Plan will involve neighborhood charettes and workshops and each plan will have a team of consultants to assist city staff. One plan is nearly completed for the station stop at La Cienega and Jefferson Boulevard, and the rest are in various stages of development. These plans will be very neighborhood specific and developed in conjunction with all stakeholders in each neighborhood. Plans will be very detailed and articulate a shared vision that leverages the rail investment so that it is an asset for the neighborhoods they are in for the people who live there now as well as for future generations.

3. Mobility Plan - The Department of City Planning and the Department of
Transportation are working together to prepare a new Transportation Element of the City's General Plan, to be renamed the Mobility Element. The Mobility Element will establish the City's vision regarding the movement of people and goods. It will establish values and principles that will serve as a foundation for citywide goals, policies and objectives regarding accessibility, livability, the relationship of mobility to communities, the multipurpose role of streets, economics, health, sustainability, innovation, and resources. The Mobility Element will be adopted by the City Council and the Mayor, and will thereafter guide land use, funding, capital expenditure, and other decisions made by all departments and elected officials.

4. Transportation Planning- In the upcoming budget, the Department of
Transportation and the Department of City Planning are proposing the creation of a joint transportation planning function for the City of Los Angeles. The City needs to (1) formally and structurally integrate transportation and land use planning; and (2) develop the in-house capacity to model and manipulate transportation/land use data in order to control its own destiny within the region and make more informed policy and capital expenditure decisions. The City needs the capacity to lead, rather than react to, regional transportation efforts, to develop transportation demand management strategies that reduce single-occupancy vehicular trips, to transform major streets into livable boulevards, to develop neighborhood tailored policies that use parking as an economic development tool, to leverage funding sources that link capital investments in parks, housing, transportation and infrastructure to bring implementation dollars to the City's neighborhoods served by transit, to develop streetscape plans and implementation mechanisms, and to develop a "tool kit" of innovative techniques to improve neighborhood traffic. The departments believe that an investment in this joint function will not only be fully cost recoverable within two years, but will save money currently spent by both departments on outsourcing land use and transportation modeling work.

5. Bicycle Plan - DCP and DOT are working with a team of consultants to update the City's Bicycle Plan, which is a component of the Transportation Element of the General Plan. The Plan will identify gaps in the City's bicycle network and propose mechanisms for creating feasible connections. Community workshops will be held in the spring.

6. Parking Management Plans for Downtown and Hollywood - DCP and CRA have worked with stakeholders in these communities to revise the way parking is incorporated into new development. We envision more flexible requirements reflecting parking districts, off-site and shared parking mechanisms, and in-lieu of parking fees that could be utilized for the enhancement of alternative modes and walking.

7. Grants - The Department has sought and received several grants to develop technical studies and analyses to improve accessibility. This year we will be analyzing mobility alternatives, such as flex car, shared cars, jitneys, etc. to determine when and how they can be incorporated into development projects and/or through the public sector and we will be developing a comprehensive inventory of all existing and planned development at 46 of the City's rail stations.

8. Housing Element -- Pursuant to State law, the Department is preparing a revised Housing Element to address housing needs from 2006-2014. The Housing Element establishes the City's goals, objectives, policies and programs to create housing for all residents throughout the City, particularly affordable housing. One of the major programs of the Housing Element is to accommodate growth in strategically locations near transit.

Trying to Fit Ponte Vista into Ms. Goldberg's Views

O.K., you did great reading all of Ms. Goldberg's comments.

Your assignment now, is to see if the current plans of Bob Bisno fits into what Ms. Goldberg is looking for when she talks about developments that are situated, designed, and constructed with her views in mind.

First, is Ponte Vista going to allow for residents to travel short distances to their work site?

Will Ponte Vista be built near large shopping areas that allow for access to a wide range of shopping and dining venues?

Is Ponte Vista on a main transportation corridor in the greater L.A. area?

If Ms. Goldberg states that "typical" daily trip generation is 10 trips per day, per household, how does that jive with the calculations provided in the Traffic and Transportation of the first Environmental Impact Report? Please remember that Ms. Goldberg did not consider different types of housing. It seems she suggested that no matter where you live or what type of dwelling you reside at, the average resident of Los Angeles makes 10 vehicle trips per day, according to Ms. Goldberg.

Could there be more benefit placing any Senior Housing on the southern side of Ponte Vista so seniors would be able to make that one trip per day fewer, that Ms. Goldberg suggests folks living in areas where venues are easily accessable might be able to lower their vehicle trips?

For future residents of Ponte Vista, will bus routes take residents where they want to go?

Offering transportation from a development to places residents wish to go is one thing. Actually providing that type of transportation on a long-term basis is another matter. How might Bob and the future HOA or management company insure that the transportation offered prior to construction of Ponte Vista will actually be around years after the final phase is completed?

With Ms. Goldberg's notion that puting shopping services and other venues close to where people live, why is the commercial component of the Ponte Vista proposed development being considered for construction as part of the final phase of development? How does that jive with Ms. Goldberg's views?

It seems that the Ponte Vista at San Pedro development would be better placed if it was near major transportation corridors, or close to businesses that would employ residents of the development. Perhaps it would be better to have the development built very near the Green Line, Blue Line, or Gold Line.

Having the largest, by far, development in the San Pedro area built away from downtown San Pedro, with only one access in or out on a major road seems to violate just about every point Ms. Goldberg made in her talks. Ponte Vista, as proposed by Bob Bisno, would be a huge project, with one access route, without walking distance to light rail lines or major transportation hubs, and would be placed near some shopping, but not near any major malls or very large shopping centers.

It seems by reading Ms. Goldberg's comments, the Ponte Vista project as proposed by Bob Bisno, would be a major player in the "dense sprawl" commented on.

Can we afford to continue creating more dense sprawl? When will the density in the suburbs create too much havoc, having residents attempt to get to or come from their places of employment that is miles away from their homes?

What's Happening With Ponte Vista?

I have commented that there could be something from the Planning Department concerning their take on what could be built at Ponte Vista and that information may be passed to Bob Bisno in mid-February.

Fortunately or unfortunately, there is much Mr. Bisno apparently has not supplied to the Planning Department that helps them consider what should be built at the 61.53 acre site.

Bob told all of us he was changing his plans for Ponte Vista at the beginning of the Summer of 2007. He actually filed the application to make the changes in November, 2007.

It seems that since then, the planners have requested information from Mr. Bisno that, apparently, hasn't been provided.

What we should make of that is something I don't know.

I doubt highly that anyone believes that if the information is not provided, then the City Planners will be willing to create a framework from which they can come up with what they feel is the best configuration for the development.

Why doesn't Bob provide the requested information? Somebody should ask him and I don't think I would be a good questioner in this instance.

Bob has many forums where he could provide answers to questions.

Oh well.

Councilwoman Janice Hahn is scheduled to me with Ms Gail Goldberg, the Director of City Planning, sometime next week.

Two big issues many of us feel will be brought up is Ponte Vista and the issue of the redevelopment of the lots once occupied by McCowan's Market.

The Rudderless Steering Committee held its first meeting of the new year, on Wednesday January 30, 2008. Terri and I hosted the event and I tried my best to keep it organized, which it was.

We focused the first part of the meeting to the issues brought to us by the leaders of the opposition to the construction of condos or apartments at the site of the former McCowan's market.

Concerning Ponte Vista, we spent some time dealing with rumors folks have heard. Since nothing official has come from either the Planning Department, the office of the Councilwoman, or Bob Bisno and his associates, we will keep the rumors out of this post. The item about something, perhaps, coming from the Planning Department is not a rumor.

The members of the City Council of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes have agreed to send a letter to Ms. Gail Goldberg concerning their request to have a new Environmental Impact Report circulated, for the Ponte Vista at San Pedro Development.

The applicant for the development, Mr. Bob Bisno has submitted a new application for a different amount of different types of units.

The applicant has changed the makeup significantly as compared to the initial application such that, a new EIR should be circulated.

The student counts of some schools and student generation figures reported in the initial application are far off base.

I don't need to go into the traffic section and all of it faults.

The fact that ATSAC has been preliminarily installed and funds for it will become available even without Bob's donations, then he shouldn't use that as a mitigation for his project.

Now I know there will be certain individuals who do not agree that the signal synchronization project will be entirely funded without funds from Bob Bisno, the projects will find funding without Bob's help.

Bob should not be allowed to use this as a mitigation.

Now that the students and parents must use a portion of Western Avenue to ingress or eggress Mary Star High School, new traffic studies are warranted.

The City of Los Angeles does not do traffic counts on the section of Western Avenue between Palos Verdes Drive North and Summerland Avenue because Caltrans has jurisdiction over the roadway.

The City of L.A. has done traffic counts recently on sections of Westmont Drive. The L.A. City Dept. of Transportation does have jurisdiction over that street.

If a new EIR is not circulated with a new Traffic and Transportation Section being studied, then Marshall's will open and traffic will become even worse before new counts can be taken.

If new counts are taken after Marshall's opens, then, in all likelyhood, it could be even harder to prove that Bob can mitigate the traffic on Western Avenue to allow for 1,950-units.

Oh well, we can wait.

There are still 1-bedroom Senior Housing units being sold in a development on the corner of Arlington and Sepulveda for about $280,000. That's $20,000 less that Bob's projections for the least prices studio unit at Ponte Vista. And folks can move in so much sooner that they could IF Bob even builds Senior Housing Units.

I don't think supporters of Bob's current plans or opponents of it are frustrated or particularly concerned about when more information will be provided. The longer we wait, the more interest Bob has to pay on the money he has borrowed, perhaps.

It was a good meeting tonight.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Odds and Ends 49

It appears that the Los Angeles City Department of Planning is going to reveal to Bob Bison their take on what could or should be built at Ponte Vista, around the middle of February.

I won't be shocked by anything that comes out. The Planning Department have a wide range of numbers, types, and placement of units they feel would be best for the 61.53 acres that we know as Ponte Vista at San Pedro.

I think the first thing I am going to do is digest the information that I learn about and not be alarmed with what comes out, or concerned too much if the Planning Departments comes out with ideas I might disagree with.

There will be opportunities on all sides of the issues to voice their opinions. There is still quite a long way to go before any concrete is poured on the first foundations of what will finally be approved of at the site.

In an article in the L.A. Times earlier this week, it stated that last Tuesday the L.A. Unified Board of Education was scaling back even more on plans to build new schools in the district.

There was no mention of SRHS 15, the new high school being planned for the L.A.U.S.D. owned site near Alma.

Enrollment is continuing to decline in the district, in areas, and some of the already planned school sites will not be developed, according to a vote by board members.

I wrote some posts detailing the prices two developers may charge for some of the units they may sell in the future. Apparently, some individuals think I considered the cost of construction. I do not really know the costs for constructing units of different types on developments of varying size, but I do think it is very interesting that one developer will be pricing his three single-family houses, all on R1 lots at about $406.35 per square foot and another developer suggested a selling price of $500.00 per square foot when he lowered the proposed asking price for the smallest unit he wants to build from $330,000 to $300,000.

I may have also written that a developer of Senior Housing condominiums in Torrance is pricing the smallest unit there at $466.67 per square foot.

I am sorry some folks didn't understand that it was the prices I was calculating and not the costs.

I also opined that a person buying items in bulk usually gets a break in the price they have to pay compared to a person buying a small number of the same items.

I opined that it seems to me a buyer for items for 429 units, would be charged a lesser price for each item than a buyer for only 3 of the same items.

The weather that comes to the Ponte Vista site is much like the weather where I live. both places are too far north of 9TH Street to get any real benefit of the ocean breezes. The rain that falls on our home falls just about the same on the abandoned houses on the Ponte Vista site.

We live a little higher on The Hill than where people living at Ponte Vista may live and we may get a better brush through when the Santa Ana winds blow.

What brings me to this is that last night, Mark Brown, a newscaster on KABC TV Channel 7 broke into the show "Grey's Anatomy" to state that a tornado warning was issued for Long Beach and portions of other cities, including San Pedro.

We had been watching, too when the same newscaster told viewers that a tornado warning was also issued for the Malibu and Pacific Palisades area.

There been occasional tornadoes and waterspouts over the years, especially in 1983 when a tornado damaged the L.A. Convention Center and other buildings. But this was the first time I ever heard the words "tornado" and "San Pedro" used together.

It is extremely unlikely that a tornado will hit our home or anything else in the area, including the Ponte Vista site, but it was interesting to hear, anyway.

There are still lots of photographs of San Pedro Hill in 1948 when it got a pretty good dusting of real snow.

We get the occasional icy auto glass, hail, and just the hint of snowy-like flakes, but not anything to consider more than the oddities they are.

Someone is stating that I agree with the "concept" of Ponte Vista. If a dream is a concept, I am guilty of dreaming of a mixed-use development.

That is quite a very, very long way from suggesting I endorse anything Bob has, or may come up with.

As long as Robert H. Bisno, his employees, his limited liability corporation, or anyone else considers 1,950-units, or anywhere remotely near that many units, the site MUST remain with its current zoning and NO COMPROMISE!

I have heard and read from several supporters of Bob, who serve on his advisory boards who call for a compromise and that suggests to me they don't like the number of units Bob currently wants.

It would be quite a stretch to believe that every supporter of Bob's Ponte Vista want exactly what Bob wants. I give his supporters much more credit than other do and feel many of them actually have minds of their own and use them as best they can.

The concept of Ponte Vista as I have seen it, heard about it, studied it, and opined about it is simply, a developer who wishes to stuff as many units as possible on land he paid, probably too much for, to get the highest amount of profit as he exits OUR community.

Sometimes I go back and read information that I have stored about the Ponte Vista project.

In looking back, I found an item that said quite a lot to me and if you also didn't remember it, here it is.

In communications between folks representing Eastview Little League, we learned that of the 570 requests for support of parents of kids in Eastview Little League, by staff at Ponte Vista, the number of people willing to send in their documentation of support was 17.

That is just under 3% of the total who offered support for Bob Bisno's plans.

Here is another example of the more you learn about Bob and his plans for Ponte Vista at San Pedro, the more you tend to oppose those plans.

"Ponte Vista is LEEDS Certified." That's what someone wrote and that would be a good thing, except nobody knows yet what really will be built at Ponte Vista and Mr. Bisno has already changed his plans, albeit only slightly, some time ago.

LEEDS certification is a good thing and it would be great if whatever is built at Ponte Vista earns LEEDS certification because of it "green" options.

I guess I am still having a hard time understanding what IS going to be at Ponte Vista, when there still is no human on this planet really can tell you for a fact, what will be at Ponte Vista.

I can appreciate that IF Bob is allowed to build multi-family units, and IF Bob doesn't feel those numbers of units envisioned by the Planning Department are too few to actually do the work necessary to have the buildings LEEDS certified, and IF Bob decides not to sell off portions of the property IF and when he receives the entitlements, THEN PERHAPS he MAY include allowances to provide LEEDS certification.

But as I continue to remind folks, even Bob himself can't say for sure what will be at the Ponte Vista site in the future.

Okay I'm done. Your turn.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

More Blight Caused by ANOTHER Out of Town Developer

The picture below is something OUR community should have never been shown. it is a photo of the outside of the former McCowan's Market on the corner of 20Th Street and Walker Avenue.

It was bad enough and sad enough to have the beloved market closed by the out of town developer who bought the property in 2007. The neighbors and all who traveled past the site recently, got to view the blight created by the demolition crew hired by the developer, Mike Rosenthal.

In an Email written by an opponent of having condos built on the site, you will note that the L.A.P.D. had to be called to halt the noisy and destructive work at 11:30 PM.

Here is the body of the Email sent that came with this photo:

This is the mess that crews left Saturday night after working well past
11:30 pm.

The police were called and they stopped leaving broken glass,
sharp metal pieces, and trash all over the side walk.

This was not only and eyesore, but a very dangerous situation with children playing in the

I took these pics to building and safety this morning and filed a

This is no way to do work in our neighborhood. Rosenthal has no
regard for anyone. Please continue with your efforts to get this stopped.

Barbara Dragich

Both parking areas for the old market have been bulldozed as they are being prepared for three-single-family houses on R1 lots.

It appears to me that the developer is attempting to rush with the demolition of the old market's building so he can quickly start work on his multi-family building(s).

Normally I cover this issue at, but I feel strongly that we have another out of town developer trashing another neighborhood for profit.

If the developer, Mike Rosenthal, is allowed to build a condominium building which has 15-18 units in a neighborhood where the vast majority of housing is on R1 lots, then he could very well cause the values of the nearby homes to drop, the area becoming more congested because we all know that there are hardly any condominium buildings that don't have some renters, and the quality of life to be lowered for the current residents of the area.

Because McCowan's has closed, more folks, including folks who live in any condominiums and apartments on 19Th Street, will have to most probably drive their cars to supermarkets on Western Avenue and/or 25Th Street. Of course they might also travel to the Vons on 13Th and Gaffey.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Prices Per Square Foot Compared

At the advertised price for each of the three 2,212 square foot home is $899,000. The homes are all on R1 lots.

The per square foot price for each home would be about $406.42.

The smallest unit that Bob is considering building is about 600 square feet. The last time I heard any pricing numbers from him was that he was lowering his price for these types of units to $300,000. According to my calculator and if I put the correct numbers in, that would be about $500 per square foot, which is about $93.58 more than the homes on 20TH Street would go for.

Oh yea, don't forget to also add the dues and fees for living in a planned community at Ponte Vista.

If a limited liability corporation (LLC) can build and sell three individual single-family homes in the neighborhood of $900,000, why has Bob, and his limited liability corporation always contended that the prices for single-family units at Ponte Vista would have to be at least 1.5 Million Dollars?

I am still under the impression, I guess, that folks who buy in bulk get price breaks and folks who buy individually, don't.

I am still thinking that the guy who buys 429 kitchen sinks get a better per sink price than the guy who just buys three. Am I missing something?

Perhaps if I am missing that Bob paid so much for the land at Ponte Vista, I not. It was his choice to bid as high as he did and if he gets burned, the fault must fall on him.

Friday, January 18, 2008

A Request to Visit Another Blog

I am trying to keep R Neighborhoods Are 1 with its own blog as it does not always deal with Ponte Vista specifically.

I would like you to please visit: and read about the latest weapon of mass development, albeit on a much smaller scale, that is being attempted in San Pedro.

Now that McCowan's Market is gone, the owner/developer of the market want to build up to 15-800 square foot units on the site of the old market's building.

Already the developer has had plans approved to build R1 housing on the site of the old parking lots. Since all the processes necessary to build housing takes some time, folks are speculating that the developer has known for quite some time that he was going to sell the market. Perhaps he bought the marked and made motions to show improvement, while all the time he was planning to redevelop the property.

In a letter to the editor, Nick and Barbara Dragich share their views about what they feel the developer wants to do.

This appears to be another developer, coming into OUR community and attempting to reap profits at the expense of current residents.

I am including a plug for the R Neighborhoods Are 1 Web site at:

It is expected that the Web site and the blog will carry more information about the developer and the development in the future.

Someone commented that the right to own property is so very important. The person seemed to suggest that property owners should have the right to do whatever they wish with the property they own.

If that were the case, OUR community would not exist as we have known it and continue to love it.

No, property owners do not have the right to devalue the worth of other properties. Property owners do not have the right to lower the quality of life for other property owners.

And no, developers should not be able to forever change, for the worse, the area in which they own property.

Some folks will always contend that property owners should have all the rights to do with what they wish. We must all live with codes, laws, and communities that create a better life for all of us, current residents and future residents.

I think the great neighbors who live near the old McCowan's Market would like to give a little smile to Bob Bisno. Without him, there would have been no need for R Neighborhoods Are 1, so there would be no group as strong as they are, to help fight against this new weapon of mass development.

Odds and Ends 48

Are you in favor of, or opposed to having a new Environmental Impact Report done for the Ponte Vista at San Pedro project?

If you favor a new study or think it would serve no purpose, you may want to contact S. Gail Goldberg, AICP, the Director of Planning for the City of Los Angeles.

Ms. Goldberg can be reached by sending snail mail to:

200 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012-2601
FAX: (213) 978-1275

Or you could send your comments via their Web site at:

Situations have changed since the first impact report was created. The access to Mary Star has made some change to traffic patterns on Western Avenue. Water, or the lack thereof may be more important to OUR community than it was when the studies were conducted. The student population of the schools in the area is different than reported in the original study. The number of students the original study indicated would be attending local schools when living at Ponte Vista is incredibly incorrect.

As you may be able to tell, I favor having a completely new study undertaken. If Bob gets anywhere near the number of units he wants, we have only here and now to make absolutely sure that every "i" has its dot and every "t" has been crossed.

We must not be sitting somewhere in the future, wondering what we could have done or should have done, to make sure that we all did our very best to insure that whatever is built at Ponte Vista, is in the best interest of the residents of OUR community.

I am still a little sad about the retirement of the blog, life on the edge.

The last post is titled, "It's pronounced "Fronkensteen."

This title brings up a question that has absolutely nothing to do with Ponte Vista and somtimes that can be a good thing.

Which of the following two movies do you feel you enjoy more: Blazing Saddles or Young Frankenstein?

I must admit that it is very difficult for me to come up with a good answer. They are both great comedies. In reality, we don't need to consider which one is better because we can enjoy both of them just about whenever we wish to.

"Mongo only pawn in game of life."

Thursday, January 17, 2008

A Cadillac Price for a Chevy Home

With the pricing Bob has mentioned for units at Ponte Vista, it appears that he can't build a development for under $550 a square foot.

The average square foot price of houses that sold in the R.P.V. area of Eastview over the last quarter was $457.30 per square foot. That was also the average price of homes one year ago and again in mid 2004 and 2005.

You probably know that most of these homes were single-family homes on R1 sized lots, which is the majority of housing in that part of The Hill.

For Bob to consider that he wishes to charge what he wants for 1,950 condominiums seems to me and many others that he is seeking Cadillac prices but offering Chevrolets. If the units he wants to build are of such type and quality to command those high prices, I would suspect that the prices would be too much for many "first time home buyers" to pay.

There have been a number of comments that have come from sources that seem to know what they are talking about that suggest very strongly that Bob could price his units at up to $375 per square foot and still come out with a handsome profit, not that we should really care if Bob makes a profit or not.

I was always under the impression that if you bought in bulk, the price would be lower per unit.
Where have I gone wrong in considering that the costs for building Ponte Vista with 1,950 units would be lower, for example only, than the costs of building 1,950 SFRs on R1 lots.

I have toured the exterior area of the apartment complex Bob is modeling Ponte Vista on. I have toured the inside of several units of condominiums at Playa Vista. The interiors appeared to have upgraded appliances and furnishings, but the exteriors of Newport Bluffs are all similar in style, color, and adornments. Is it wrong to consider that common exteriors would be less expensive to build than dissimilar exteriors that are found at Playa Vista? Is it wrong to consider that even purchasing upgraded appliances in bulk numbers would be more costly than purchasing individual items?

Many of us still can't see why and how Bob is considering that he should charge anywhere near $550 per square foot for units of condominiums.

Even if he is allowed to only build per R1 zoning, I think it is possible to imagine he would still get a break on purchasing prices because he would be buying in bulk numbers for items, services, and things at Ponte Vista.

I could imagine that IF he could only build with R1 zoning, he probably would have to consider $550 per square foot for each unit, because he paid so darn much for the property in the first place.

If folks really want to buy units at Ponte Vista and are charged anywhere near $550 per square foot, when so many supposedly knowledgeable persons strongly suggest that Bob could make a profit at $375 per square foot, then we must agree that the adage, "buyer beware" would apply for condominiums at Ponte Vista.

If there really are supporters who are willing to pay, possibly, a $175 per square foot premium, plus HOA dues and fees for a unit at Ponte Vista, maybe they should speak out louder and more often about their wish to have this weapon of mass development built.

Could it be that those supporters feel that $375 per square foot should be the real pricing?
Or could it be that the more folks learn and know about the proposed development, the less they like it?

Should WE Live With What Redondo Beach Denied?

An article in today's Daily Breeze reported that the Redondo Beach City Council denied a request for a conditional use permit by a developer to build 40 Senior housing units on land that once held 13 residential units.

The development company, Urban Point LLC. wanted to build 40 units for senior citizens in a community they contend has a growing segment of older residents.

The site chosen by the developer has been vacant since 1995, when the remainder of the original 13 structures were torn down.

The developer can start anew with an application to build units that would have less density, but the Redondo Beach City Codes state that for "senior housing" at least 35 units would have to be built.

40 units on land that once held 13 units would increase the density by times.

The Ponte Vista site currently has about 245 residential units. Bob Bisno wishes to build 1,950 units on the site. That would be an increase in unit density of 7.959 times.

If the Council members of the City of Redondo Beach can deny an increase in density of 3.07 times, it makes good sense that the Council members of the City of Los Angeles should deny an increase of 7.959 times, at Ponte Vista.

If the Council members of the City of L.A. were to allow for an increase of 3.07 times the 245 units that exist on the Ponte Vista site, that would allow Bob to build about 752 units.

Can or should we live with a Ponte Vista development of about 752 units?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Another Important Letter to the Editor

Ms. Jody James, an active environmentalist and a very concerned citizen who knows whereof she writes and speaks, had her letter to the editor of The Daily Breeze printed in its Monday January 14, edition.

Here is her letter:

LPG facility poses threat

When we prioritize the important things in life, safety is No. 1. We often hear our politicians say this too.

Late in November 2007, the Channel 4 evening news presented an alarming report. Using a computer simulation, they demonstrated a rupture, explosion and spreading fire from a (proposed) liquefied gas terminal 20 miles out to sea, north of Santa Monica.

In this scenario several thousand residents would be killed.

A real alarming truth is that in San Pedro there is a 25-million gallon liquefied petroleum gas tank facility, AmeriGas Propane Inc. These tanks sit across from a densely populated neighborhood, two blocks from three schools, the 110 freeway and the Port of Los Angeles.

In a catastrophic incident, the 140,000 nearest residents in Harbor City, Rancho Palos Verdes, San Pedro, Lomita and Wilmington could lose their lives.

Destruction would be enormous.

This site was the subject for congressional action with the Fuels Transportation Safety Amendments Act of 1978. As a public safety concern in the 1970s the Port Master Plan identified these tanks as urgently needing relocation to a remote site.

We remember the creation of "Energy Island" (now called Pier 400). This huge landfill in our harbor was built with the stated purpose of "public safety." The port instead uses it for a container terminal.

After the attacks of 9-11, our elected officials promised to act swiftly to remove serious hazards in our area. Promises of a life-and-death nature were broken again.

For 30 years homeowners groups and later neighborhood councils petitioned the city of Los Angeles to do the right thing concerning AmeriGas. Sadly, Harbor Area residents have seen several mayors, administrations, city attorneys, city councilmen (and women) fail to come through for us. Even former City Councilman Rudy Svorinich has been a consultant for AmeriGas (also for Ponte Vista developer Bob Bisno).

Pleas for help to remove AmeriGas have gone to the city Planning Department, the mayor, all City Council members, the U.S. Department of Transportation and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, Federal Rail Safety Administration, Homeland Security, the governor, congresswomen, newspapers and also to news and talk-radio producers - to name a few.

Replies to our letters point toward the city of L.A. needing to take responsibility!

As residents, we need to act in our best interests. Time is likely not on our community's side.

Please urge Los Angeles to put our families' safety at the top of their agenda.

Councilwoman Janice Hahn's phone number is 310-732-4515. Urge other City Council members at

San Pedro

There should be no argument, debate, or questioning anything Ms. James wrote. She is one of the most knowledgeable individuals who has been dealing with our local environment for years.

If you hear anyone claim that Jody doesn't know what she is talking about, they would be dead wrong!

If you want expert advise on environmental issues around the Port of Los Angeles and OUR community, you would need to look for further than Ms. James.

If you wish to wonder why the words Ms. James has written are so important as far as Ponte Vista goes, have a look at "Google Earth". You would be able to see the twin Amerigas tanks and the property that we know as Ponte Vista, all being close to each other.

With a populated Ponte Vista and any kind of problem with the Amerigas tanks, not only would so very many people suffer, but two of the major exit routes out of San Pedro and eastern Rancho Palos Verdes would most probably be taken out of service and that would trap not only the injured that would need treatment, it would also cut off two major arteries for residents who need to evacuate.

In a worst case scenario, it really wouldn't matter to folks like me and everyone living in northwest San Pedro and much of the area east of Miraleste Drive. If we were at home during the event, we would most likely parish with either the initial blast, or be consumed by the fires that would rage all around us.

We are not saying that the sky is falling, but many, many individuals in OUR community have been thinking about those monstrous tanks for years now.

This issue is just one more issue that needs a great amount of discussion and dealing with, as far as Ponte Vista goes

Have any of you been witness to what happens when a "Cat Cracker" blows up? If you have lived near the now Conoco-Phillips refinery for a good number of years, you may have remembered the humongous blast and the bright orange glow that filled the night sky.

Perhaps you felt, heard, witnessed, or had your home damaged when the Sanseina blew up in the outer harbor in 1976. That explosion broke the front glass in the old Von's store that is now Henry's. If that blast did the damage it did so far away from northwest San Pedro, the thought of what an explosion at Amerigas, is something that would be horrible to imagine.

No folks, it is not doomsday today, and it most probably be tomorrow. In consideration of placing as many as 1,950 units so close to escape routes of any disaster in San Pedro, we all must think about what is really best for OUR community.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Comments in More San Pedro

This post is here for any feedback on Rachel Jones' piece in today's More San Pedro.

Specifically, this post is for dealing with comments in and about the Ponte Vista portion of the article.

The only thing that I continue to be unable to get across to folks is that I am not opposed to "development" at Ponte Vista. Just about every member of the Rudderless Steering Committee of R Neighborhoods Are 1, including me, understands extremely well that SOMETHING is going to be built at the 61.53 acre site. I just happen to think at this time, that as long as Bob is still sticking to 1,950-units, there must be a very strong stand for R1 NO COMPROMISE!

In the comments I wrote to Ms. Jones, I included "my dream" for what I feel could be built at Ponte Vista and I have written about those numbers and types of units in other posts.

It is quite understandable that Elise Swanson commented the way she did for the article. She gets paid for stating her opinion. She didn't say Bob was still glued to 1,950, but what she said probably follows the company line right now.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Odds and Ends 47

I hope you didn't have to maneuver around the flood yesterday, on Gaffey Street. The Daily Breeze article in today's edition stated that work repairing the broken 20 inch water pipe would be done by today. I think I won't venture out to find out if traffic is back to being abnormal.

Now let's all imagine that same flood happening on Western Avenue at about the same time of day. Then let's continue our imagining and create a scene where the pipe breaks at 2:00 PM on a Tuesday in March, after 1,950 condos are built at Ponte Vista.

Are you creating every one's nightmare? Oh yea, there are still four storm drains under Western Avenue that haven't been rebuilt yet.

Marshall's has a "Coming Soon" banner hanging at the front of its future location. I don't know how some folks define "soon". We took a stroll to the front entrance and peaked in to see if "soon" meant in the next couple of weeks. It didn't.

Terri thinks the store may open in March, but I have no idea when it will open.

The false ceiling hasn't been placed in yet, the floor is still bare concrete with a giant puddle of water in the middle of the space, there is only a small fraction wall space that has any type of covering on it, and the only clothes on display are being worn by the few workers we saw inside the space yesterday.

There is a letter to the editor in today's Daily Breeze concerning the light rail lines in the area.

The letter referred to the options planners had for the Green line and the Blue line and what the planners finally did to provide mass transit on those two lines.

Left out of the letter, the plans, and the eventual lines was any consideration about providing real mass transit in and out of OUR community.

Remember imagining that flood on Western Avenue? Please remember in your imagining that there is still no real mass transit in or out of OUR community, no matter what Bob builds at Ponte Vista.

Someone commented on another post that we should be worried that if Bob sells his property, some other person or group would come in and they could be worse that Bob Bisno.

To that I write, R Neighborhoods Are 1 hasn't gone anywhere. There are still opponents of high density developments in OUR community. Folks who oppose high density developments really don't care who owns what, I feel.

It really doesn't matter who owns the 61.53 acres of land in northwest San Pedro, I think.

I want to thank Stan, a concerned individual who has written comments on another post and has a good deal of wisdom and information about SunCal, the development company that had their sites on a very high density development near the Del Amo Fashion Center mall, in Torrance.

Stan also commented about SunCal's attempts to over develop sites in other areas, particularly in Anaheim.

Is SunCal better or worse than Bob? I can't say yes or no, because I don't really know.

What I do feel is that in many cases, the only folks who trust developers are other developers.

But I need to point out one exception in OUR community. The good folks developing the old Kinder-Morgan tank farm into the Highland Park development on north Gaffey Street, have worked together with homeowner groups and the Northwest San Pedro Neighborhood Council while going through all the steps necessary to bring new housing into OUR community.

We also should not forget Target and its developers. They too, worked with those same groups on their plans for bringing the new store into OUR community.

And writing about Target, I hope you all know that the newly rebuilt Target store on Sepulveda at the Harbor Freeway is now open.

It is a two-level store with parking underneath the store.

If you park in the Sepulveda side of the store and go in the closest doors, it will look like you are entering from the side of the store and not the front.

The first thing Terri and I noticed when we walked in is that it looked like the other side/end of the store was in a different county. It looked humongous on the inside.

The store is laid out pretty much like other Targets are, so once you get your initial bearing, you can probably go to whichever part of the store you want to, without any trouble.

There weren't that many people shopping in the store when we strolled through it and that may have also added to our view of its cavernous size.

If the Target in San Pedro looks like the one on Sepulveda, I think we will all be pleased.

Well maybe not all of us though. I will wonder until the store is opened if the folks supporting Eastview Little League will picket it or boycott it.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Will We be Able to Drink to That?

In today's Daily Breeze, there appeared an editorial that seems to agree with Councilman Dennis Zine's concern for water or lack there of.

As this issue will probably becoming more important to more residents, here is both the original article and the editorial that appears in the newspaper:

Water fears spark plan

CONSERVATION: An L.A. councilman wants to restrict development until limits are in place.

By Kerry Cavanaugh, Staff Writer

With water supplies getting tighter, one Los Angeles city councilman believes the city needs to consider blocking new residential development until regulations can be adopted to limit water use in new projects.

Councilman Dennis Zine said he offered the proposal because Angelenos have largely ignored Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's plea for voluntary water saving.

"It's a drastic step but we need to start discussing this," Zine said. "The more we build, the more water is consumed. The slower we are to act on it, the worse the consequences."

"How are we going to put some teeth in our water conservation?"

In a motion submitted last month, Zine asked city departments to consider a land-use policy that would require all new residential development to occupy a water-use "footprint" of 10 percent less than the previous usage of the property.

The Department of Water and Power and the Department of Building and Safety said they are looking at Zine's proposal.

Under state law, developers of more than 500 units must prove there is enough water for future residents, and so far the DWP has never rejected a project based on water shortfalls.

If the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California - which sells water to the DWP and other utilities - were to ration or dramatically cut supplies, then the DWP would reconsider its ability to provide for new customers, DWP Spokesman Joe Ramallo said.

"Over the last 20 years we have continued to meet water needs - despite a population increase of 1 million people - through strong conservation measures," Ramallo said.

Still, Los Angeles' water supply is getting tighter. Under environmental agreements, the DWP cannot take as much water from the Eastern Sierra. And pumping water from Northern California has been slowed to protect an endangered breed of fish.

Deputy Mayor Nancy Sutley questioned whether the city would need to stop new development, as Zine has suggested.

"We're just at the beginning of the winter," she said.

But Sutley did agree that L.A. needs a more comprehensive water conservation plan, and she pointed to the city's "green building" program aimed at saving water through building codes, landscaping requirements and water reuse.

"There are more options than just saying you must use less water," Sutley said. "We spend a lot of money putting potable water on our lawns. In some cases it makes as much sense to do your landscaping with recycled water than not using water at all."

Holly Schroeder of the Building Industry Association's Greater L.A. and Ventura Chapter said new developments generally include the most water-efficient toilets, washing machines and appliances that older homes do not have. And many new projects now incorporate drought-tolerant landscaping.

"We also have to remember we have a housing shortage," Schroeder said. "Are there better strategies for water conservation other than holding building permits, especially when you've made all these strides in development?"

Suggestion holds water

Daily Breeze Editorial

Monday January 7, 2008

Once again, West Valley City Councilman Dennis Zine stands alone among Los Angeles leaders in dealing seriously with the city's water crisis.

Don't let the last few days' storms fool you.

At best, L.A. is on pace for an average annual rainfall, which is far below what the region needs to end its drought.

With water from Northern California cut off due to environmental concerns - and with the city's voluntary water-reduction goals largely ignored - L.A.'s water shortage is greater than ever.

To which Zine hints at the possibility few others in City Hall will even acknowledge - moratorium.

At a time when Los Angeles might, like Long Beach before it, soon have to start rationing water, it defies reason to keep approving new developments that further stretch depleted resources.

Zine says L.A. may need to put a halt on future growth, or at least demand that new developments offer plans to use less water.

He is right. And if his peers in City Hall were as concerned with L.A.'s future as they were with developers' campaign contributions, they would agree.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

John Greenwood's Letter to the Editor

It is 2:43 PM on Sunday January 6, 2008. Some folks have been letting me know about the letter to the editor in today's Daily Breeze, which I read this morning.

Once I started reading it I was quite sure it would end up on this blog. Other events of the day caused me to wait until now to publish it on the blog.

So here it is for everyone to enjoy and consider thoughtfully:

Suggestions for Bisno

Over the last two years San Pedro has been debating the proposal by Bisno Development Company to build 2,300 condominiums at the former Naval housing site on Western Avenue. I chaired a committee appointed by Councilwoman Janice Hahn that examined the proposal. After putting forward several creative ideas, our committee eventually recommended a reduced project that would stay true to the site's current R-1 zoning. We need housing, but not at the price of more congestion. So in the spirit of finding a resolution with strong community support, here are some suggestions to the developer for 2008:

Get real. You are losing your opportunity for consensus. After our committee met with you for one year, you finally came out with a revised proposal, for 1,950 homes! This proposal would still result in such a dense development that not even one committee member supported it. While there may have once been committee support for a proposal that included senior housing and single family homes, such a dense project communicates greed to most San Pedro residents.
Read the population and traffic studies done for the local neighborhood councils. While you continue to quote one comment from a draft of one study, you have not yet acknowledged the real import of several important studies by outside consultants. They suggest more accurate approaches to predicting the true number of residents, students and automobile trips that will result from the various proposals for the site.

Get serious about traffic concerns. It doesn't move us forward for you to continue to say that you have complied with the city's Department of Transportation formulas. Los Angeles residents and even some council members are discovering that these formulas severely underestimate the traffic impact of new growth. Let's agree on a realistic way to predict traffic impacts.

Don't believe your own spin. The survey you conducted in May 2007 had a fatal flaw. It mistakenly told residents that your proposal included single family homes instead of condos only. You also misinterpreted the data to claim strong community support for the proposal. Those of us who live and work in this community see how this propaganda campaign is making the community more cynical about anything you propose.

When our committee first met with you, you predicted that we would all see the wisdom of your plans. That hasn't happened so far. Try the steps outlined above.

Perhaps we can still find a win-win solution.

Chair, Councilwoman Janice Hahn's
Community Advisory Committee on Ponte Vista

Friday, January 04, 2008

Odds and Ends 46

Neighbors helping neighbors, neighbors informing neighbors

In the January 2008 edition of the Madronna Homeowners Association (Torrance) Newsletter are these pieces:

SunCal development at the Mall

The Mills Corp. ( Del Amo Mall ) sold the 16 acre 917 condo site to SunCal. SunCal has had a series of meeting with a committee of Torrance residents appointed by Mayor Scotto. The last meeting was with Mayor Scotto because SunCal was concerned with the direction the committee was taking. At this meeting the committee voted 14 to 4 to recommend no high density residential on the site. The scheduled meeting in July was canceled and there has not been any other meetings. SunCal had ask to meet with the Coalition of Torrance Homeowners Associations, they said No. The Coalition had decided last year not to meet directly with developers, because the developers had used our meeting with them against us at City Council meetings. At that time the Coalition decided that if any developer wanted to meet with the community, they should attend a regular Homeowner Association meeting and members of the Coalition could attend.

2008 City council election-

It is very important that the two Homeowners Association officers running for city council are elected. We were able to help elect a new mayor and two city council members in the 2006 election, but four votes on the city council are needed to protect our city from developers. Sun Cal has an employee running for the Redondo Beach City Council. Sun Cal or other developers could also buy a candidate for the 2008 Torrance City Council election.

Although some of us are sad that the great blog: Life on the edge ( appears to be going into retirement, there is now opportunity for other blogs and new blogs to consider issues that life on the edge dealt with, more recently.

I guess the two originators of the blog felt that it had strayed too far from its original intent, so they will retire it and let its posts be remembered.

Creating a blog with a "" address is free and easy. I do basic blogging, but there are so many other blogs out there that utilize video, audio, and really great illustrations to keep folks interested.

This blog and the other blogs that have "" are part of the world of Google.

Today is the last day to provide written comments on the Marymount College Expansion Project's Draft Environmental Impact Report.

Comments need to be into the lead agency by the close of business today. Probably the best way to send in comments at this late hour is to Email them to:
Mr. Ara Michael Mihranian, AICP at

Thursday, January 03, 2008

A Good Friend Retires

This is from the latest posting of life on the edge:

Thursday, January 03, 2008

It's pronounced "Fronkensteen."

Hi. Remember me?

We started this blog back in ye olden days with the purpose of spotlighting the odd, strange and marvelous things that you see every day in and around San Pedro. After a while it sort of morphed into something else completely, a kind of neighborhood watch/politico thing that was far removed from the original purpose of the joint.

Nothing wrong with that, but the people who originally posted here drifted off and new voices stepped in taking it even further afield, so we decided to turn out the lights and send everyone home.

The old posts will remain, because there's a lot of cool stuff here, but we'll have to ask those of you who enjoy what the blog became to branch off and start something new. We'll leave LIFE ON THE EDGE here in its web2.0 time capsule and remember it fondly.

Peace and love, San Pedro. Peace and love.

Posted by MJP

The only two "contributors" listed now are Carol Es and MJP. Gone are Calamari and Banditos Yanquis.

I wish LOTE a wonderful retirement and I wish to thank everyone involved in creating a blog where many issues were discussed and comments came from just about everywhere.

I hope to find Calamari and Banditos Yanquis somewhere in the blog sphere, and I will let folks know where we can read their great posts.

Life on the edge was a great blog, I feel. I will check back from time to time and see if the blog is only semi-retired.

The only thing that is constant, is change.

Farewell, enjoy retirement!

Water Verses Development

On page A7 of Thursday January 3rd Daily Breeze, is an article which describes one L.A. City Councilman's proposal to restrict new residential development due to the dwindling potable water supplies for residents in the City of Los Angeles.

Here is the URL for the article:

Councilman Dennis Zine wants to "block new development until regulations can be adopted to limit water use in new projects", according to the article written by Kerry Cavanaugh.

It seems that Mayor Villaraigosa's calls for voluntary water savings have been ignored.

In the January, 2008 Newsletter from the Madronna Homeowners Association, we found this paragraph interesting:

Development vs. conservation

We need politicians smart enough or caring enough to know what is happening? Will the lights go off and the water stop flowing forever before they figure out their endless development approvals are the problem? The resent conservation article in the Daily Breeze tells us we need to save water, take shorter showers, etc. We do not oppose that. The endless developments bring in more people to share the limited water and electricity resources, and over burden the delivery system. It doesn't take a genius to see road trip times have doubled, countless cars sit at the stop lights and then we hear from big-time politicians that we need to conserve. We will be buried alive unless we have some brave politicians who will say, "Enough, no more. We need REAL answers from our politicians as to what impact development will have on our infrastructure.
1. Sewers: 2. Water: 3. Electricity: 4. Schools: 5. Traffic: 6. Storm drains: 7. Fire: 8. Paramedics: 9. Police.

It seems there are more areas other than Los Angeles, that are thinking about conservation and the importance of having enough drinking water for the residents already living in the area.


Drinking water, or lack thereof, may be a pivotal issue with new developments. Los Angeles is part of the Mojave Desert, and we can't get far away from that fact.

Bob Bisno has suggested ways to provide conservation, but should we gamble on our water supply for his development? I didn't see any use of gray water being used on the open spaces, in the DEIR for Ponte Vista.

Perhaps the L.A. Planning Department is looking into the size of Ponte Vista and how whatever can be achieved will work with our dwindling water supplies.