Thursday, June 26, 2008

Highlights and Low lights of the Hearing

First, I think OUR entire community, residents of San Pedro, R.P.V., Harbor City, Lomita, and yes, even Wilmington made up the best highlight of the public hearing regarding Ponte Vista.

Whether folks in these groups support what Bob wants to do or the many other folks who have a more correct opinion on what should happen at Ponte Vista, ( for almost the compete number of these folks) I think we all made OUR community proud.

There were a great many highlights and low lights dealing with the hearing, and some things that were just plain funny.

Just about everybody who stayed the entire 5+ hour hearing was amazed at the size of the bladder of the hearing officer, Mr. Forman.

The hearing officer was very courteous and sat listening very intently to each and every speaker, while drinking bottles of water and WITHOUT needing a break to visit the I.P.S.R.U.
(Indoor Personal Stress Relieving Unit).

Here are some of the highlights and low lights that occured prior to the hearing.

Both camps, supporters and correct-thinking people, set up tables and provided information to their respective groups.

I got a brand new cell phone that I don't as yet, know how to transfer photos to my computer, so I am not able to share the cute, Ponte Vista Mass Transit System.

The P.V.M.T.S. is an electric cart emblazzoned with the Ponte Vista logo and having several rows of seats that transported individuals from the auditorium site to the Bath House, where a dinner that included egg salad sandwiches was held.

Local 802 of a Union had lots of folks wearing orange Local 802 shirts and those fellows carried around the new sign that Ponte Vista has strung up on their fence along Western.

These fellows were friendly and one even attempted to engage is a debate with me concerning Ponte Vista. Bad move on his part.

During the time this gentleman, also wearing a yellow piece of paper identifying him as a Ponte Vista supporter, was attempting to use his almost complete lack of true facts against me, a fellow in a light pink shirt approached the two of us.

As this pink-shirted fellow got closer, I asked the Ponte Vista supporter if he knew who was approaching us. The orange-shirted, yellow Ponte Vista supporter-papered fellow did not know who was coming up to greet us, until I introduced him to the pink-shirted fellow.....Mr. Bob Bisno!

If Ponte Vista supporters don't even know who Bob Bisno is, then what does that tell you?

A short time before Councilwoman Hahn pulled up to attend the hearing, a big bus arrived and a large group of gentleman exited the bus and headed over to the auditorium. Apparently, Bob really needed to bus 'supporters' in as he didn't seem to have enough local-resident support to fill the seats.

A couple of gentleman stopped by the R1 table to see what 'we' doing, so we had the opportunity to ask questions of these 'supporters'.

Bob contracted with a bus company to bring a group of 'supporters' from Walden House, a center in Inglewood for men who have had some troubles and are now in recovery or in a half-way facility.

One of the gentleman explained when asked why he 'supported' Ponte Vista replied that Bob might provide jobs for the men and that sometimes, Bob had work for them to do at Ponte Vista.
It should be pointed out that it strongly appeared that none of the gentleman who came off the bus, including the driver, would ever have enough income to qualify for "workforce housing" Bob wants to build.

I take Bob's seat fillers from Walden House as a low light to the hearing and Bob's ability to get enough 'supporters' to attend the hearing.

A highlight for myself and several others, on the correct side of the Ponte Vista issue, was being interviewed for KPFK radio, outside the auditorium. The reporter suggested to me that I will be heard on Friday's broadcast and as someone who has KPFK and KPPC buttoned in my Element, I was happy to provide my opinion.

Another highlight was the amazing number of people who walked faster than a stroll to get to the R1 tables set up outside the auditorium.

I made over 750 red buttons during the last two weeks and now there are only about 275 left that have not been given out. Not all of the 750 wer worn during the hearing, but there were several hundred buttons worn by folks both inside the auditorium and in the outside overflow seating area.

The low light concerning the buttons is that time, money, and patience were required to make all those buttons and the Ponte Vista folks had only stick-on pieces of paper to hand out. If I had known they wouldn't even provide folks with a button, perhaps I would have also created and produced much less costly paper buttons to hand out.

The highlight of the buttons were that some many people took and wore the buttons and they are a whole lot more classier that the Ponte Vista paper things that probably come on a roll.

During the hearing, the applicant, represented by Mr. Alan Abshez, Bob's attorney on his Ponte Vista dealings, spoke on behalf of the applicant.

The largest low light from the folks from Ponte Vista, during Mr. Abshez's remarks was the presentation of a video purported to be showing the number of vehicles entering or exiting a site with an average of just over 6 vehicles passing the camera, every minute.

The video did NOT show the number of vehicles PASSING the intersection and not entering or leaving the project site.

It demonstrated clearly to me that had traffic proposed to be what may be going PASSED Ponte Vista, along Western Avenue been viewed, it would have certainly illustrated the massive increase of traffic passing through the intersection and thereby showing the hearing officer that the levels of service at those intersections would be incredibly lowered and the grades for the levels of service would be much lower than they currently are, even with Mary Star traffic (which WAS NOT) incorporated at the main entrance of Ponte Vista.

It was completely disenguous to not include the view of vehicles entering and exiting the main entrance of Ponte Vista during peak hours when school traffic dramatically increases the counts.

Ponte Vista staff did not show what is actually happening at the intersection of Western Avenue and S. John Montgomery with absolutely zero residents currently living on the Ponte Vista site.

Just imagine what is actually happening now and what might happen with a fully filled (600-student) Mary Star High School AND traffic from 1,950 condos begins?

Mr. Abshez provided me with more than a few low lights, especially when he mentioned the minority report from Councilwoman Janice Hahn's Community Advisory Committee.

I strongly must submit that he mis-charicterized the CAC's position and final report and he provided a stern negative view of the CAC.

Councilwoman Janice Hahn provided some highlights during her testimony to the hearing officer.
I wish she had told the hearing officer that she still supports only R1 remaining the zoning at Ponte Vista, but she was still very critical of the developer and the development.

Councilman Steve Wolowicz from my city of Rancho Palos Verdes spoke to the hearing officer. He provided me and other R.P.V. residents several highlights to the hearing officer.

One low light Councilman Wolowicz repeated was the Planning Departments refusal to call for the recirculation of the DEIR.

Another highlight occured when a representative from Lomita reported that city's opposition to Bob's current plans.

Highlights, low lights, and just plain funny statements came from members of the audience that chose to provide oral testimony to the hearing officer.

Jody showed up with several photos of the Amerigas tanks and the blast zone that would be created if they blew up. Ponte Vista was completely within the blast zone, along with so many other areas and residential units in the nearby areas.

No matter whether Jody's testimony was a highlight or a low light, may not matter. What was important that she showed was more of a fireball and a really huge, Ka-boom!

A supporter of Ponte Vista seemed to announce his support for "Mr. Brisno", perhaps he was nervous. Of course he may not know who Bob Bisno is, just like the fellow who tried to debate me. (What a hopeless, feeble, and not-too-intelligent thing to try to do, if you don't have all your ducks in a row, we think. And this poor fellow had no idea who I am, or how involved I have been, or how much I really know about Ponte Vista)>

I tried to suggest to folks not to enter into debates at the hearing, but not everybody on this planet reads this blog. Is this a highlight or a low light?

The term "single level residences" was used to describe the units proposed at Ponte Vista.
In R1 terms, it means single-story homes, no stairs.

During the applicant's opening remarks, there was no mention of the most important traffic mitigation Bob was originally proposing to fund, traffic signal synchronization.

A highlight, mentioned by others of correct thinking, stated that ATSAC was already being installed at taxpayers' expence and that it would all be completed before Bob ever had the chance to include it as one of his "community benefits".

The crowd was given a wonderful highlight when a representative from the Sierra Club spoke to the hearing officer.

"T" suggested that he didn't care how many units could be built. He DID call for a zoning change at Ponte Vista......to Agriculture ONLY zoning.

I stop here to remind folks that prior to the three large structures were built on Fitness Drive (Tennis Club Condos, Seaport homes...lease to own, and Casa Verde) Mr Walter Lochmann owned a dairy and had milk cows, some steers, and even more than a few cute calves on the site.
Fitness Drive was the old asphalt to dirt route down the hill by the pens and feeding troughs, and all the way down to where the old wooden landing craft from WWII were stored.

Way to go "T"! You brought laughter to the crowd and your idea might not be that bad.

Please no more cows though. Flowers smell so much better.

Getting back into the hearing, a person who lives in downtown San Pedro favored R1.

This person was also critical by the fact that they have been repeatedly approached by some women attempting to get them to sign support for Ponte Vista petitions.

This witty person referred the two, paid, signature gatherers as, "Bisno's working girls."

In fairness, I'd have to give that comment a low light.

Sadly I must report that the worst, most disgusting comment during the hearing, came from one of us.

A speaker stated that every person wearing a yellow Ponte Vista supporters' button was being "paid off" by Bob.

That brought about a great number of hallers, shouts, and foul words and thoughts.

This was the lowest of low lights, in my opinion.

After the comment was made I talked to the person who made it. I told "R" that I didn't necessarily disagree with the basis of his point, but I suggested to him that the words he chose were not too good.

I think "R" could have made a similar statement, choosing better wording, that would have better stated what he wanted to say and something I could agree with.

A correct-thinking individual suggested to the hearing officer that it was poor to support Ponte Vista and attempts to create a "psuedo Tuscani" at Ponte Vista. This was another highlight in my book.

The great Ray Patricio spoke to the hearing and as always, he made everyone crack up with his comments. Ray provides great highlights wherever he speaks and he is a true San Pedro treasure.

Now if he can only get the goats back to Peck Park canyon, that would be even greater.

Remember the CAC? seven members of Ms. Hahn's CAC spoke. A low light was that none of the five members of the CAC that wrote and supported the minority report, which Alan Abshez related to, showed up at the hearing.

Rick, Dick, John, Lucie, Chuck, and Leah spoke at the hearing and that was a real highlight.

I was also a member of the CAC from August, 2006 until I accepted a seat on the Rancho Palos Verdes Traffic Safety Commission and left the CAC in April, 2007. I did however, attend every public meeting of the CAC and several of the closed-door meetings of that group.

Highlights were provided by different folks that said a variety of things like;

"Zoning has to mean something."

"Can you spell s-p-e-c-u-l-a-t-i-o-n?"

Terri said "it's like trying to stuff an elephant into a Volkswagen."

There were many others who offered highlights.

Another highlight for me was that many folks who spoke in support of Bob's plans actually had little knowledge of what those plans really are.

There were many supporters that knew what Bob is attempting to do to OUR community, and they were knowledgeable.

There was more of a smattering of the use of the word "affordable" and many of those came from correct thinking speakers who suggested that nobody really knows what that word means when it is applied to units at Ponte Vista.

Hardly any supporter was able to provide the projected price of a 600 square foot loft at Ponte Vista. I know what the projected price currently is. Don't you think supporters of Bob 's plans should know more about all the information than I do? (Bob is claiming that the least-priced unit would be about $330,000, not counting on monthly HOA fees.)

Mr. Steve Afrait, the number one lobbyist in the city of Los Angeles thanked me for providing a description of him for folks (supporters) who have know idea of who he is or what he does for Bob. Steve told me that my identification of him allowed him to keep his jacket off at the hearing in the warm auditorium.

The last speaker at the hearing, on the public side, was former Councilman Rudy Svornich, jr.

He spoke quite well, I was told by a reliable person that for $12,000.00 per month from Bisno Development Company, LLC, Rudy needed to speak well enough to earn his pay.

Alan Abshez, the applicant, ended the evening by having a chance to respond to the comments made during the evening.

Alan provided a very low low lights when he opined that perhaps the CAC was not the correct way to proceed, almost two years ago.

Alan needs to be reminded by Bob that it was Bob and Councilwoman Hahns' collaborations that brought about the CAC and that Bob funded the meeting spaces, and yes, even the dinners for CAC members and other staff members.

If, in perfect 20/20 hindsight, the CAC might not have been a good idea, especially when the final report did not support what Bob wants. it too bad, get over it!

If blaming the creation of a group led to findings the applicant didn't like, then why on earth was Bob unwilling to work proactively with the members of the CAC, to come up with something a majority of members could vote to support?

Bob can't have it both ways (like many people commented he has had up until now). Either you support the majority findings of the group you had created and fed, or you keep silent, lest you are found to be speaking out of both sides of your mouth and needing to downplay the findings of a group you had created.

A real highlight found just over five hours after it began, was that it finally came to and end.

A giant highlight was all the good folks from the Planning Department that administered the hearing. Everyone for that group was extremely cordial and they all worked very hard to provide a truly great hearing atmosphere and setting.

My hat comes off for all those in the Planning Depart that stayed until after 10:00 PM. We all need to know that those folks still had to be transported back to their own homes and hardly any individual who came to the hearing from the Planning Department lives in San Pedro, eastern Rancho Palos Verdes or other nearby areas.

They all had a ways to travel, after 10:00 PM. I appreciate their services.

A low light light for local San Pedro residents on both sides of the issue was that my mug appeared on area cable channels twice this week.

NOISE members spent 8 hours waiting to speak at the Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, about plans to build a new high school campus on the Upper Reservation of fort MacArthur. Our faces appeared live and on tape on the LAUSD T.V. Channel.

The public hearing was presented live and also taped for San Pedro channel 35. Four members of NOISE, who are also members of R Neighborhoods Are 1, appeared at the two televized events.

A highlight at the public hearing was for me, seeing how approachable Bob was when he was not sitting in the front row. He engaged supporters, naturally, and he also was polite to those of us on the correct-thinking side of the Ponte Vista issue.

Also attending the hearing was one of two financial managers Bisno Development has been working with, from the primary financial institution that is expected to fund the development of the site, once entitlements are granted.

Entitlements are specific guidelines for each subdivision of the site, and provides the reciepient of those entitlements the right to build structures on each parcel, approved of by the placement of specific plan zoning for a property.

Bob Bisno is currently entitled to build single-family, detached residential units on lots of not less than 5,000 square feet.

Bob, with the specific plan zoning he is seeking, would be able to construct structures allowed for each separate subdivided parcel at Ponte Vista.

Bob's application is to subdivide the site into 33 lots where specific numbers of structures and amenities is alloted for each lot.

Whether entitlements remain as they currently are, or changed as a result of a zoning change, the person or group holding entitlements to the lots or parcels has the right to sell those entitlements.

Bob has financial managers who represent a major financial institution that seems currently willing and able to fund entitlements that may be granted in the future, at Ponte Vista.

As I was able to confirm this during the hearing, it is up to each individual to determine on their own, if this is a highlight or a low light.

Right now I won't opine whether it is a highlight or a low light for me.

Bob can build right now (according to the current zoning), he can sell right now, he could build according to future approved entitlements, he could sell future entitlements approved of for the site, without developing the lots.

A real highlight for me that happened beginning at the end of the hearing was that I can now take a break from dealing as much as I have during the last several weeks, on the issue.

I can contend that this highlight is a highlight for everyone on both sides of the issue.

HOWEVER, since the written comment period has been extended until July 11, correct thinking individuals are strongly encouraged to continue to write comments to the hearing officer. The longer the better in my book.

Also, correct-thinking individuals are not limited in the number of sets of comments they can create and send in as part of their overall testimony concerning Ponte Vista.

I'll have a little more information about the written comments I am submitting, after July 11.

Thank you so very much to all the correct-thinking folks that wore the real buttons and spoke their own minds at the hearing. We all heard "talking points" from only the project's supportive side and our side created so many sets of diverse, interesting, and intelligent oral testimony I can only determine that these were very high highlights.

1 comment:

Domenic Costa said...

Thank you so much for all of your efforts in this process/struggle. One of my own observations is how much of what people truly are about is revealed during this journey. I am proud to consider myself on the "correct-thinking" side of this issue. P.S.-I only lasted 3 hours and 40 minutes! I've got to work on my stamina!