Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A Contribution of a Post

From time to time, individuals create posts that I place on this blog.

Here is another post not created by me, but by Mr. John Stinson.

Mr. Stinson lives in OUR community, he is a professional photographer, an artist, and is active in community issues.

Mr. Stinson is a member of the Rudderless Steering Committee of R Neighborhoods Are 1 and is also the Treasurer of the Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council.

Here is Mr. Stinson's post:

Dear R-1r's

An amendment to the motion by Sue Castillo, board member, short circuited the actual endorsement of the project.

The actual wording has not been made available, but the essence of it is that it supported features and proposed benefits that were presented during the evening, not the size of the project itself.

This is primarily the position that the council took before.

Perhaps someone expected different results this time around.

It seemed counterproductive for Bisno Developemnt that Elise Swanson and her team were somewhat combative during the presentation as well as the Q&A.

She was obviously and visibly unhappy with the outcome.

We will see what kind of spin the Bisno marketing machine will try to put on this.

I've included an attachment with a report of the proceedings and my thoughts on the matter along with the original resolution sans the amended "therefore be it resolved" portion.

When available, it will be added.

This will appear on the home page of the www.rneighborhoodsare1.org

BTW As the events of the evening unfolded, some good candidates emerged that we should be able to support in their candidacy for the board. More info to follow.
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Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council falls short of endorsing Ponte Vista as proposed, again.
7 to 2 vote supports features of the project, but not the size.

At the August 2008 board meeting held Tuesday the 12th, Central Neighborhood council once again heard from the Ponte Vista team, headed up by Elise Swanson, on the host of features and proposed benefits that the project would bring to San Pedro and the harbor area.

While painting a glowing picture, the team failed to allay the fears of the council that this project is still just too big at 1950 units and the motion, brought to the board by board member Larry Henderson, was amended to to state that the council supported the proposed features and mitigation that were presented during the evening, but did not include an endorsement of the project itself.

Emotions ran high during the discussion of the project with some speakers nearly breaking into tears and others angrily shouting their support of the negotiated union labor component that has been touted in recent Ponte Vista ads.

In the end, it was admitted that the labor agreement would be honored only if the project was built at 1950 units. A Ponte Vista representative also stated that anything less than 1080 units would make using union labor noncompetitive because it would not be cost effective.

R Neighborhoods Are 1 proponents and others supporting R-1 density have always said a project could be built at the old Navy housing site, but have long voiced their concerns that the proposed density, be it the original 2300 or the officially submitted 1950, be in line with the current property zoning of R-1.

In short, it has always been about density and the adverse effects on infrastructure.

Build it with union labor, sure. Build it green, sure. Provide housing at affordable prices, sure. Include a public park, sure. Build a senior component, sure. Mitigate traffic, absolutely. Who can argue that these elements are all desirable and shouldn’t be part of the final approved development?

In the end, the debate is not that the proposed benefits or features are desirable, but is the project, built at the its proposed size, beneficial or detrimental to the communities in San Pedro and the harbor area. So the question that really needs to be asked is “if the a project is to be built at all, what kind of project and what size of a project, given all the factors, will be the most beneficial and least detrimental on the quality of life for all residents here?”

If a consensus can be reached on that question, the community will be able to move on and the project could actually materialize.

Will it be possible? That’s the $64,000 question.
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The following is the original resolution (motion) presented to the Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council.

The exact wording of the amended motion on the “Therefore be it resolved portion” has not been made available at this time and is not included now, but will be added to this document when it is.

RESOLUTION

WHEREAS, Ponte Vista will provide a quality mixed-income residential community and will create diverse housing types including studios, lofts, condominiums and single level townhomes in order to provide housing for a variety of family types;

WHEREAS, Ponte Vista provide a 6-acre public park to be improved and dedicated to the City of Los Angeles and a 2.5-acre central green as well as outdoor plazas, gardens and fountains for the enjoyment of residents and the public;

WHEREAS, Ponte Vista will offer a 5% pricing incentive through its Harbor Area First Program that can be used towards down payment assistance or for an upgrade on interior amenities to individuals who live or work within the Harbor Area;

WHEREAS, Pursuant to the proposed Development Agreement 20% of Ponte Vista’s homes will set aside at prices affordable to working families placing them within reach of police, firefighters, nurses, teachers, and unionized workers;

WHEREAS, Ponte Vista’s development will be governed by a Specific Plan (land use ordinance) that would ensure high quality development by regulating architecture, landscaping, and streetscapes;

WHEREAS, 44% of Ponte Vista’s homes will be for seniors 55 and better, allowing them to downsize and live in a resort-like community;

WHEREAS, Ponte Vista will provide retail space for community amenities such as a coffee shop, dry cleaners, post office, and sundry store to meet residents’ needs assisting in the reduction of off-site vehicle trips;

WHEREAS, Ponte Vista has signed a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) with the Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades Council that ensures the utilization of union labor. It is estimated that Ponte Vista will create over 5,400 construction related jobs’ over the project’s build out period;

WHEREAS, Ponte Vista will mitigate its traffic impacts and fund additional traffic improvements;

WHEREAS, Ponte Vista will fund the acquisition of a DASH Shuttle Bus to extend DASH service along Western Avenue. Ponte Vista will also provide shuffle service for its residents to entertainment venues and retail establishments located in Downtown San Pedro to supplement the MTA Route 205, which runs every 20 minutes during peak hours from Ponte Vista site into Downtown San Pedro;

WHEREAS, Ponte Vista will comply with the City’s new green building ordinance, which will ensure that Ponte Vista is build in accordance with LEED standards;

WHEREAS, Ponte Vista will fund all of its community benefits and off-site traffic mitigation and improvements prior to the final certificate of occupancy for any residential building;

THEREFORE, be it resolved that the Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council…
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Thank you John, for your post.

I'd like to add some comments because a few of my own ideas were included and there is clarification needed, I think in some of the "WHEREASES".

Mr. Stinson used my 'dream' figure of 1080-units in his post.

Actually during the meeting, the Ironworkers' Union representative stated that no unionized workers could be used if the number of units was "1080", even without noting any lower number of units than that.

This information was subsequently reaffirmed by a Ponte Vista Outreach Team member (at least one) when I spoke to that person about compromise numbers of units.

If I remember correctly, in Ms. Sue Castillo's amendment to the resolution that was accepted by the Board, it mentioned that Central resolved to support the 'assertions' made in the "WHEREAS" portion of the resolution. There is no statement of the total number of units in that part of the resolution, as I read it.

Does this mean that Mr. Henderson, Mr. Donato, and the five other members who voted for the resolution are resolved to believe that unionized labor would be used to build out Ponte Vista no matter what the number of units are finally approved of?

According to at least three sources I talked to, there is no way that Bob would use union labor to construct 1080 units AND there was absolutely no indication by anyone on the Ponte Vista Outreach Team that would give me a minimum number of units Bob would use all-union labor to build.

It seemed last night, that union labor would be used for 1,950 units, and no less, according to the unwillingness to provide any further information by members of the Outreach Team, including its Vice-President in charge of that operation.

I asked that the labor agreements made between unions and Ponte Vista become public so OUR community, a strong union supporting community, could learn more about the pacts made between Bob and unions.

Should those of us who are union members, as well and non-union folks learn what may impact OUR community for generations?

I was NOT amused by "WHEREAS, 44% of Ponte Vista’s homes will be for seniors 55 and better, allowing them to downsize and live in a resort-like community;"

It seems to me that all of us must allow seniors to live in a "resort-like community" according to Central's Board.

Just who in the H E double toothpicks think those folks are to support something every single person attempting to use Western Avenue, shop at local stores, or just try to get around, will have to put up with so a few number of our seniors can live in a "resort-like community"?

If that isn't elitist, I think the dictionary needs to be checked, rechecked, and changed.

If seniors want to live in a "resort-like community" I know of quite a few places within driving distance of San Pedro where they can live that in that lifestyle.

The Outreach Team has been mentioning that Ponte Vista would be built to achieve "LEEDS" certification.

What they haven't bothered to mention is by the time any new buildings are actually ready for occupancy, new rules, laws, and requirements being established will require Ponte Vista to have elements that will surpass "LEEDS" certification standards, it is strongly believed.

Let them hype "LEEDS" and placing grass on the roofs of buildings like Bob was heard mentioning more than a year ago. It seems they will have to do what they are now claiming they are volunteering to do.

At Central's meeting, it was mentioned that Ponte Vista is the ONLY proposed project in California to have agreements with building trades unions prior to decisions on what may be built at the site.

If Ponte Vista is the ONLY proposed project currently having such agreements, shouldn't that raise a red flag because of its uniqueness?

If the agreements are so good, why aren't other proposed projects and their developers making agreements, that may not be worth the paper they are printed on, if things don't turn out the way Bob wants them to turn out.

MTA bus line number 205 was mentioned in the resolution and at Central's meeting.

Yes it runs every 20 minutes during peak hours.

Yes it runs all the way to the 110/105/Green Line interchange.

Yes it is the ONLY current bus line that runs past Ponte Vista and there currently is no other bus line that runs directly near Ponte Vista to the major shopping areas of Torrance, Rolling Hills Estates, or Long Beach, where the larger stores and shopping malls are actually located.

"WHEREAS, Pursuant to the proposed Development Agreement 20% of Ponte Vista’s homes will set aside at prices affordable to working families placing them within reach of police, firefighters, nurses, teachers, and unionized workers;"

20% of what?

Is it 20% of 1,950? That would be about 390 units if all applied for units are built.

Is it 20% of 1,100? That would be about 220 units because it would take in the "town homes" for 'working families'.

Is it 20% of 1,000? That would be about 200 units because only about 1,000 units would be in the non-age restricted part of the complex, and not be among the 100 most highly priced 'town home' units that would probably not qualify as available housing for 'working families'.

So for all of the "police, firefighters, nursed, teachers, and unionized workers" in the area that might qualify for the availability to purchase a set-aside type of unit, those folks may need to be pretty quick on the trigger to get the chance at one of the 200 or so units that may actually become available.

Of course, it also means that all 1,950-units would have to be approved of for building and even an Outreach Team member has been quoted as agreeing that 1,950 units would NOT be built at Ponte Vista.

2 comments:

Domenic Costa said...

Thanks as always for your work! For a chuckle I would like to know if the current batch of workers At the property are in a union or are they part of a future petting zoo at this site? As I drove by on Wenesday 8/13 I saw about 24 goats on weed abatement duty. It is good to see that Mr. Bisno is attempting to unblight his property. Thanks!

M Richards said...

Thanks Mr. Costa, for your comment.

One other question I think should be asked is whether the current human workers who SOMETIMES clean up the property and the non-management workers inside the trailers at Ponte Vista AND the security staff all belong to unions.

If Bob is promising to use union workers, perhaps in the lead-up to whatever he MAY build on the site, he should walk the walk and make sure the maintenance workers, Outreach Team, and security workers are union members.
MW