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


Anonymous said...

In my recent encounters with Mr. Greenwood, he has carried himself as a thoughtful, intelligent, and highly rational individual.

It is good to see him speak up. One wonders why other so-called "leaders" of the community have not done the same.

Anonymous said...

May other community "leaders" have something to do. Please tell me what purpose does Greenwood's letter serve? The CAC did their job well. So, community input can wait to speak out at public hearings.

M Richards said...

I hope nobody thinks Mr. Greenwood isn't a busy person.

I happen to know that Mr. Greenwood is very active with a very full working life, community service, and family affairs that combine to provide Mr. Greenwood with a very active life.

I think there are a growing number of folks who think it is long past time that Bob Bisno comes back into the picture with a responsible, reasonable, realistic, and respectful plan for Ponte Vista that all of us could get behind.

I sense frustration by both supporters and opponents of Bob's current plans, because Bob and his company still stick so solidly to their 1,950-unit project that actually has no possible chance of becoming a reality.

Many folks have told me that Bob will shoot for the stars, but when the time finally comes, he will take only the moon.

Even though I write this blog and respond to written comments and many Emails, I have also been in OUR community and have listened to supporters of Mr. Bisno and opponents of his current plans.

According to a whole host of members of OUR community, they want COMPROMISE from Bob Bisno and they are willing to sit down and discuss compromises that Bob simply will not consider, at this time.

Bob is victimizing everyone in OUR community by not being respectful to many of his own supporters who wish for compromise.

Bob continues to allow friction in OUR community to exist because of his stances.

Mr. Greenwood and most of the other members of the CAC truly wished to create a plan which would include a compromise in the number of units between what Bisno wants and strictly R1.

I wish you could have heard Mr. Greenwoods frustration when he found it necessary to call for keeping the density as it currently is zoned for BECAUSE Bob would not respect the CAC enough to even consider compromises to his plans.

Dan Dixon, also a member of the CAC also called out in frustration that he would have very much liked to have been able to consider numbers of units that would have been a compromise between what Bob wants and R1.

In fact, five of the members of the CAC that voted to keep the site with its current zoning would not have done so if Bob had, at least, offered to sit down and look at compromise proposals that those members likely would have approved of.

The only person in this entire process that anyone should be angered and frustrated with is Bob Bisno. He had a years worth of opportunity to sit down with the CAC and so many others and look for ways to provide for a great Ponte Vista, without the divisions that now continue to be felt in OUR community.

I have only named two members of Bob's boards who have publicly called for "compromise" but I have spoken to others who would like to see a compromise where seniors could have their own section and the total number of units would be far less than Bob demands, at this time.

To many supporters and almost every opponent, the one person who continues to be unreasonable, irresponsible, unrealistic, and disrespectful is Mr. Bisno.

M Richards said...

I think I didn't answer your question very well Anonymous 6:52 and I apologize for that.

I hope the purpose of Mr. Greenwood's letter was to remind everyone that the Ponte Vista project continues to divide OUR community in too many ways.

I also hope that his letter reminds us that there are still important issues to be dealt with as the project moves forward.

Perhaps Mr. Greenwood's letter is another call for Bob to really think that it is time to compromise with everyone, supporters and opponents to his current plans.

I can feel that Mr. Greenwood's letter reminds us that it is a new year and we should not forget about the project, even though we don't hear very much about, at this time, from city officials.

I also can imagine that Bob and many of his supporters has been wishing that opposition to his current plans would have evaporated since last August. Perhaps it is a reminder to everyone that there are folks wishing for compromise and folks opposed to Bob's current plans haven't gone away or into hybernation.

I can imagine that we will see letters to the editor from folks who support Bob's current plans and/or call for compromise, in the coming days, weeks, and months. That is quite alright and we all should read everything we can about the current plans.

There was a "community leader" who incorrectly claimed that a particular Neighborhood Council endorsed Bob Bisno's plans for Ponte Vista.

There was a "community leader" who stated matter of factly that she felt that the current zoning of the Ponte Vista site should remain that way.

"Community leaders" have spoken out about Ponte Vista, for many months now. From a very "strange" endorsement by the Chamber of Commerce, to other leaders in OUR community, there is probably no "community leader" who hasn't been heard of, on the Ponte Vista subject.

We already know that the honorary mayor of San Pedro endorses Bob's current plans and many folks feel he is a "leader".

Which other "leaders" do you wish to hear from, anonymous 6:52 PM? I would gladly help you discover what the "leaders" believe, if you Email me and tell me which "leaders" you are referring to.

I can tell you that one community "leader", Mr. Dan Dixon, President of the Northwest San Pedro Neighborhood Council, has been calling for compromise in the number of units for well over a year now.

I can also report that Mr. Joe Gatlin, the President of Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council used to be on one of Bob Bisno's advisory boards, so you can imagine where he stands on the project.

I could continue with what other "leaders" have stated, but if you want more specifics, I'll try my best to provide that information.

Anonymous said...

anon said: "Please tell me what purpose does Greenwood's letter serve?"

give me a break. bob? is that you? haha, j/k. it serves the purpose of letting people know, in particular the good people of san pedro will not let rich fools from the westside turn our neck of the woods into another congested suburb of los angeles.

Anonymous said...

To 9:10 PM.: CAC did not deliver a Specfic Plan. Now, Greenwood as past chair of the CAC takes a fresh 2008 step toward the same end. (i.e compromise) . His letter was obviously submitted to trigger responses, any response. His suggestions to Bisno offered nothing new to consider. Did it? Did I miss something? I am not willing compromise and it seems neither are you. Apparently, Greenwood is.

Anonymous said...

anon 10:37 a.m.

you may not be willing to compromise, but you should know that if bisno is unsuccessful with his project, whoever takes over the property may be worse. it's the age-old dilemma, of dealing with the devil that you know, as opposed to the devil that you don't know.

whatever replaces bisno may be much, much worse. i'd much rather see the property developed into a reasonable place. pedro businesses need the revenue.

unfortunately, it's people like you that give slow-growth types a bad-name. sure, bisno is a pompous ass. but what will benefit pedro the most? a project of 800-1100 units.

Anonymous said...

Available housing is on the rise in pedro and elsewhere. Therefore, we don't need a housing project at all. L. A. wants the tax revenues Ponte Vista development will generate. In all likelihood any economic boom generated from Ponte Vista will benefit RPV more than pedro/la.

It's not likely PONTE VISTA residents will actually drive into San Pedro to shop for much of anything. Instead, Western Avenue businesses will benefit ( I can't wait to sit in Western traffic when Marshalls opens at the Terraces in RPV on Western.) Moreover, the majority of businesses on Western between aprenda and summerland are located in RPV not san pedro.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with the idea that we have to "deal" with Bisno because the next developer will be worse. I would think that if Bisno runs, any other prospective developer will be taking note of what happened to him and what got him there in order to create a successful approach. I say kick Bisno out and bring on the next guy. Why any R1 supporter would utter compromise, at this point, is just plain ridiculous. Right now the zoning is R1, so until the day comes that someone who has ANY bit of authority in the decision to change zoning says "compromise", I don't see why we should budge from an R1 only stance. Sorry Mark, but I just don't quite understand why you keep saying something other than R1 will be built at Ponte Vista. That sounds like something that came out of Bisno's playbook! Who has told you this? Was it Hahn? City Council members? Anybody with any authority to vote on or influence the zoning change? I'm just curious as to who says R1 cannot remain R1 on this property.

M Richards said...

Those were some of the best comments I have seen on this blog.

Thank you so much anonymous 4:14 PM!

John's letter also appears in the newest issue of Random Lengths News.

The last development of R1 properties in the City of Los Angeles is in the Westchester area, near Lincoln and up on the hill overlooking Playa Vista.

It would be wonderful for all of us if Bob decided to build the types and styles of housing that is found in that new development.

Those big homes are quite wonderful and I got to do some DSL work at one of the offices on the site.

Other than those two sites right next to each other and according to folks in the Planning Department, no other SFRs on R1 sized lots, in a planned development, were approved of in 2006 or 2007.

In that timeframe, there were many SFRs built, but when they were built in planned developments, they were put on lots that allowed for higher density than R1.

Inglewood is not L.A., but they had three different builders come into the area east of Hollywood Park and built many "patio" or "courtyard" SFRs that are very close to each other and have practicaly no yards.

I felt at the first meeting of Janice Hahn's Community Advisory Committee, that she intimated that the final density of Ponte Vista would most probably be greater than R1. She did repeat many times and in many places that "something is going to be built at Ponte Vista."

With L.A.s recent history of allowing developments to have R1 density, those developments all have homes that are both grand in size and grand in styling.

In consideration of the surroundings in northwest San Pedro, the types of housing that exists near the area in both San Pedro and Rancho Palos Verdes, and also considering businesses and access in the area of Ponte Vista, I have always had the feeling that nobody in their correct mind would buy a grand sized home, with great amenities, at the Ponte Vista site.

Ponte Vista is not in R.P.V. where school aged children can go to P.V.P.U.S.D. schools.

The site will have some of the worst climate in the area. Much of the land sits low, the wonderful breezes that make Lomita such a good place to live, don't come to the Ponte Vista area.

In summer, it is hot and unless the Santa Anas are blowing, there probably won't be much wind to blow the pollution away.

Would anyone pay perhaps 1.5-2 Million Dollars for a R1 house that sits between a cemetary and an oil refinery?

Again, I must repeat that I would love it if Ponte Vista remains R1 and it is something to fight very strongly for if there isn't a plan that has much, much less density than Bob wants.

And here is another point.

Bob tells us that if R1 is the only zoning that he, or anyone else can build using, he comes up with a number as high as 735-units.

What Bob continues to fail to do is explain that to get that many units at Ponte Vista, he would have to be granted a density bonus which requires that a percentage of homes be built for "lower income" buyers who wouldn't qualify for loans on market rate housing.

Bob has always said that anything he builds at Ponte Vista will be at "market rate" pricing. He does allow for some discounts with his "San Pedro First" fiasco.

So Bob continues to say that he will build only market rate priced housing, but he claims that he would build 735-units.

The two things can't go together.

Either all the housing is priced at market rates, or to get 735-units, he must build housing that "low income" buyers can qualify to buy.

Now, would anyone in their correct mind wish to spend $800,000-$1.200,000 for a house that would be in the very near vacinity of housing built for "low income" buyers?

When the CAC drew those illustrations for the Planning Department in the workshop, all three groups, mine included, had some R1-lot sized houses at Ponte Vista.

Bob brushed all three ideas off, except for some superficial items like off-leash dog parks and some placement of the businesses and park land.

You are most certainly correct that if Bob tries to sell his property, just about every other developer in the area will have had some knowledge of OUR community's attempts to block any weapon of mass development.

Bob had Steve Afriat, the biggest lobbyest in the City of L.A. coming to several of the CAC meetings. Word has gotten out about Bob and his Ponte Vista.

I doubt that any other local developer would wish to entangle themselves with Ponte Vista, unless they want to build up to 429 luxury homes.

But if luxury homes were to come to northwest San Pedro, there certainly wouldn't be 429 of them, I imagine. Folks who want a luxury home probably want a back and front yard larger than 429 would afford them.

I also agree with you that we don't have to "deal" with Bob.

Once the Planning Department comes out with their recommendations about the number and types of units that they would approve of being built at Ponte Vista, we get to deal with the Planning Department, the Planning Commission, and the City Council.

With the history we have seen with Bob, he hasn't been willing to deal with OUR community, so there is no reason to deal with him.

The CAC spent a year trying to find ways to consider ways to get Bob to cooperate with the feelings of the members of the CAC and you know how that turned out.

John, Dan, Jerry, Al, and Sal all wanted to find a way to establish some kind of specific plan that would have worked for both Bob and OUR community.

As it turned out, they all felt the frustration that Leah, Lucie, Richard, Rick, and myself had been feeling for quite some time.

The time to "deal" with Bob was during the CAC process when representative of OUR community tried their very best to come up with something.

Bob wasted his chances. He wasted valuable time, money, and acceptance in OUR community. The reason we are where we are today is solely Bob's responsibility and I feel, his greed to get the maximum profit at the expense of OUR community.

Anonymous 4:14 PM, I wish you would consider creating a post for this blog. Whatever you come up with can be Emailed to me and your contribution would be greatly appreciated by many folks.

km said...

Mark, people do pay that much to live in an area between a refinery, a sewage plant and LAX.That's El Segundo. The cemetary is a quiet neighbor who will never build a giant strip mall or have a gang problem. Granted, ES has better schools, but LAX is a lot to put up with and not everyone buying has kids.

Anonymous said...

let's not forget what bob himself said about the community advisory committee, back in september 2006 when it was just getting started: