Saturday, August 16, 2008

More About the Fray at Central

"San Pedro News" which can be found by visiting: had a good representation of what happened during the last Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council meeting where a resolution was (perhaps) passed that may have been considered an endorsement of the Ponte Vista at San Pedro project.

I am going to use their item on this blog because they wrote about it better than I did and I hope more folks will visit "San Pedro News" more often and bookmark that page.

Here is their item:

Ponte Vista Vote Questioned

The Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council passed a motion supporting elements of the Ponte Vista housing proposal amidst questions over conflicts of interest.

Heading into Tuesday’s meeting, the council was set to vote on a motion to endorse the 1,950-unit complex as proposed.Before the vote was taken, questions were raised as to whether some councilmembers had conflicts of interest that might disqualify them from voting on the issue.

During the public comment period, Doug Epperhart, a boardmember of the Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council and Ponte Vista opponent, presented a letter alleging conflicts of interest on the part of councilmembers Joe Gatlin, Mayra Perez, Pam Foster-Newsom, Joe Donato and Larry Henderson.

The City of Los Angeles ethics ordinance, which applies to neighborhood councils, says it is not in the public interest for individuals to act on a matter if they do not believe they could act impartially or if the public might reasonably reach that conclusion.

The letter states that four councilmembers have conflicts because they are employees or officers of entities that have received donations or contracts from Ponte Vista. Another councilmember serves on Ponte Vista’s own community advisory committee, a group organized by the developer and considered an advocacy body.

Councilmember Kara McLeod moved to postpone the Ponte Vista motion for a month so that the board could get an opinion from the city attorney about the alleged conflicts of interest.

McLeod’s motion was defeated 7-5 and the board went forward with a vote on the Ponte Vista resolution.Councilmember Andrew Silber voluntarily recused himself because he is a board member of the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce. The business group has received significant monetary support from Ponte Vista and favors the project.

Councilmember Sue Castillo proposed an amendment to change the motion to endorse the general concepts of traffic mitigation, union jobs, housing for senior citizens and other such facets without affirming total support for the developer’s proposal.

Boardmembers voted to approve Castillo’s amendment. They then passed the Ponte Vista motion as amended on a vote of seven ayes, two nays and two abstentions.

I talked to Ms. Castillo about her amendment because I really didn't hear it that well and I wondered what her intent was.

I wrote a comment to the news item I read at "San Pedro News" and here is what I wrote:

According to Ms. Castillo, her amendment was to endorse the "aspects" of the points displayed in the "WHEREAS" section of the motion.

The aspects that the Council now supports states nothing that endorses the number of units that Bob wants.

Also according to Ms. Castillo, her belief is that "20%" of the units Bob wants to set aside for 'working families' is 390-units, which is 20% of the total number of units Bob wants to build.

I doubt highly that 'working families' constitute those who would live in the senior section and those who would occupy the 'town homes' which will be the highest priced condos at Ponte Vista.

It is probably more realistic to believe that the "20%" figure should apply to those types of units that 'working families' could actually POSSIBLY afford. This would make 20% of that amount, 200 units and not 390 condos.

The 'aspects' Ms. Castillo seemingly refers to are the points which look very much like they come right out of the talking points the Ponte Vista Outreach Team has been using for some time.

It appears highly unlikely that Mr. Henderson, the councilmember who offered the original motion, created the motion without any assistance from anyone on the Ponte Vista Outreach Team.

Since no actual number of units was mentioned in the 'aspects' AND Central's acceptance means they believe that unionized workers will be used for constructing whatever is built at Ponte Vista, perhaps the councilmembers who voted to adopt the motion didn't really consider what they actually approved.

The consideration of whether the adopted resolution was done correctly is still ongoing.

Whatever Central did, it DID NOT specifically endorse Bob's plans for Ponte Vista, having 1,950-condos and that is basically the same type of resolution they adopted last year.

According to Ms. Castillo, the other resolution covered only five points and the new one covers twelve.

All this fuss over seven items and the leader of the Outreach Team has acknowledged that 1,950-units won't be built.

My, isn't Central fun to watch?
I am still holding firm that Mr. Henderson and Mr. Donato both actually believe that Bob will use unionized labor to build the project.

Since it is extremely likely that Bob won't ever get entitlements to build 1,950-condos, and both Mr. Henderson and Mr. Donato should know that, I am still wondering what number of units would be the threshhold for using unionized labor.

It is an answer I can't get from anyone on the Outreach Team or Bob himself.

All of us who attended the meeting did learn from a union source that 1,080-units would be too few for a developer to make any money using unionized labor to build out the project.

Perhaps there should have been a different resolution attempted that would accept the notion that more housing is needed in San Pedro, that the needed housing should be offered to different catagories of home-seekers, that there be a planned neighborhood unlike most others in San Pedro, and that such a development use 'green' engineering and building practices.

Since absolutely no suggestion of the total number of units was resolved, then that type of resolution would fit better and be less challenged.

We all still have the opportunity to change the Board at Central and lead it toward becoming great.

The election for five spots on the Board happens on September 9.

More folks have told me they think Mr. Joe Gatlin, Mr. Joe Donato and Ms. Myra Perez might become late write-in candidates.

I will suggest that we all offer both of these gentlemen and the one gentlewoman hail and hearty thanks, handshakes for their services, and good-byes to remaining on the Board at Central.

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