Sunday, September 28, 2008

Another Ignorant Idea From the Lobbyists' Loving Mayor

Here is an article that demonstrates why we should be worried about what might be built at Ponte Vista.
L.A. affordable housing proposed
By Kerry Cavanaugh, Staff Writer
Article Launched: 09/27/2008 10:41:50 PM PDT

With Los Angeles mired in a foreclosure and affordable housing crisis, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has created a five-year, $5 billion plan to help develop and preserve 20,000 units of reasonably priced housing for low-income and middle-class residents.

Developed by managers of the city's housing, planning and redevelopment agencies, the plan includes existing city initiatives and some new, controversial proposals, including requiring developers to include low-income units in new projects.

The goal is to stimulate the construction of more publicly and privately funded housing for families earning less than $90,000 a year.

"As a city, for 20 years we have known what the problem is and we haven't solved it," Deputy Mayor Helmi Hisserich said. "We have the highest number of homeless. We have the highest number of households paying more than half their income (on housing) in the country. We have a huge amount of overcrowding.

"All of those problems are a symptom of not producing enough middle-income housing."

Villaraigosa's plan relies on $1 billion in local, state and federal dollars that the city would leverage with $4 billion in state bond money, tax credits, grants and private sector involvement.

But it comes as the nation's financial markets are in turmoil and housing development has slowed dramatically, raising questions of whether private dollars will be available to build homes in L.A.

Hisserich said the city might have to revise portions of the plan as a result of the financial market fallout, but Los Angeles shouldn't wait to enact new policies that will create more affordable housing in the long run.

"Without a plan, without knowing where we want to go, we're all over the map," she said.

And that's been L.A.'s problem for the last few decades. City agencies didn't communicate. City leaders didn't plan where they wanted housing to be built and what it should look like. And public housing money wasn't used efficiently to create the most affordable housing in the most needed locations.

"This (plan) is a very serious effort to put out some goals," said Beth Steckler of Housing L.A., a coalition of community groups and affordable housing advocates.

"What's new and different is that they're saying, `We're going to try and do this number of units, with these funding sources.' And we can come back and say, `Did you do this?"'

The plan resurrects a controversial proposal to require developers to include affordable housing in their new projects. Now, developers who volunteer to include affordable units can build more densely, with fewer parking spaces or less open space.

Now it's time to make the inclusion of affordable housing mandatory, Hisserich said.

"It's not a choice," she said. "We've been making it a choice and no one is choosing it."

However, she added, the so-called mixed-income policy would be more flexible.

So if developers choose not to include affordable units in the building, they will be required to pay cash, provide land or partner with affordable housing developers to create the low-income units elsewhere in the same community.

Still, some community leaders are skeptical a mixed-income policy will result in more affordable housing in the communities that need it - especially if developers are able to just pay an affordable housing fee. And the policy could make it more expensive to develop in Los Angeles and could slow redevelopment of communities that want economic development.

"Any city can write any policy, but the marketplace is going to make these decisions," said Doug Epperhart of the Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council.

"The unintended consequence may be that you have developers coming to the city and saying, `We want to build some luxury condos. How big a check do we need to write to do this?' The city may end up sitting on a bunch of money."


Five years and $5 billion to build and preserve 20,000 units of affordable housing.

Require mixed-income housing. All new developments above a certain size would have to include low-income units, pay an affordable housing fee or provide affordable housing in the project vicinity.

Create an Office of Neighborhood Stabilization to acquire, rehabilitate and resell foreclosed homes in hardest-hit areas.

Plan transit districts that include affordable housing around 20 subway, light-rail and rapid-transit stops.

Fund and build 2,200 units of permanent supportive housing that provides long-term housing and social services to keep the chronically homeless off the streets.

Use public and private dollars to redevelop public housing projects into new communities of affordable rental and for-sale homes.
First, let us hope that whatever entitlements come to Ponte Vista they come to it long before Mayor V. mucks up the works even more.
Ponte Vista supporters will already be able to claim that families making "$90,000" per year should be able to buy something very, very small at Ponte Vista, without Mayor V.'s intervention.
If the plan were adopted for Ponte Vista, then 1,950-condos could easily become 2,633-condos without any real opposition by Mayor V. and his ridiculous deal-makers.
I guess Mayor V. doesn't know or care about the LaBrea Coalition's suit against the city. How can he call for more housing when the city is not even following laws and rules enacted around 1998?
It is now more than high time the various factions opposed to over development throughout the greater L.A. area put a stop to the Mayor's high jinks and the developers' strangle hold on City Hall.
The people of the Los Angeles area need to be called to arms with pens, dollars, picket signs, and ballots to tell the elected officials from throughout the area and the lobbyists that fund campaigns that, 'Enough Is Enough!'
Nobody can receive 'affordable' housing or over-developed housing unless and until the city of Los Angeles is mandated by the courts to follow their own laws and regulations.
How can anyone in their correct mind demand more housing when they are unwilling and unable to follow the law of the land?
Mayor Villaraigosa, or Tony Villar, or whatever you call the person, must become a former Mayor as soon as possible.
We should watch and see how much Steve Afriat's group and other lobbyists who work for Bob Bisno spend on Mayor V.'s reelection campaign.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Odd and Ends 84

Here is an article that appears on "Citywatch":

Full Disclosure by Developers would Help Level the Playing Field for LA’s Stakeholders
By Jack Humphreville

At a recent CityWatch hosted discussion at City Hall about the Mayor’s new Housing Plan and its Mixed Income element, I came away with the conclusion that we need significantly more transparency in the zoning and planning process.

In Los Angeles, the City has extraordinary power to create huge value out of thin air just by changing the zoning regulations. As County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky has said on many occasions: In most places, the value is based on zoning. In Los Angeles, the value is based on what you want the zoning to be! So it is not surprising that the real estate developers and their lobbyists and lawyers are a constant presence at City Hall. And we, the residents of Los Angeles, who do not have the resources and time to understand the multi-layered and complex approval process or the money to finance research, lawyers and lobbyists, often times have to pay the price, whether it be large scale construction projects, more traffic, higher densities, and less parking, and have no clue how their neighborhood got shafted.

However, greater transparency might help level the playing field. In particular, all projects that come before the City for zoning changes or other special concessions should be required to make full and complete financial disclosure about the project and other related matters, including water use and replaced housing. Such disclosure would include the economics of the transaction, the rates of return, the investors, the lenders, and any other pertinent and relevant information. The disclosure would include a list of all participants, including lobbyists and lawyers, as well as all actual and bundled political contributions. An executive summary would be mandatory so we are not drowned in paper work.

An example of massive wealth creation is Camerford Lofts, a Melrose Avenue development, just east of Rossmore. The developer is asking to build an extra 150,000 square feet, a 50% bonus, over what is allowed. This will result in additional profit of $100 a foot, or $15,000,000, of which $900,000 is being contributed to various “pet” projects. Not a bad deal! Yet, despite repeated requests, the developer has stonewalled the Neighborhood Council. The net result is that the developer walks away with an extra $14,100,000 in profit and we get struck holding the bag.

Likewise, BRE Properties wants to develop a "scaled down" 562 unit, block filling, traffic clogging, two story monster project at La Brea and Wilshire Boulevards which will require significant concessions from the City. At a recent presentation to the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, BRE Properties refused to disclose the basic economics of the transaction and the value of the benefits that this multi billion dollar company would receive from the City. What’s to hide? $100,000,000 for starters!

And the mid Wilshire area is not alone. Ponte Vista is a density and traffic nightmare for the San Pedro community. Bisno Development of Beverly Hills wants massive concessions - a four fold increase in density, but refuses to disclose even basic financial information. Is it the community’s fault that Bisno overpaid for the land in the hope of favorable treatment? Should San Pedro have to pay for Bisno’s foolish greed with massive traffic jams?

Furthermore, if a developer receives zoning and financial (tax breaks) benefits from the City, the developer should be required to disclose financial information about the project every year so that if the developer hits a home run, the City could recoup its tax breaks, with interest. Think LA Live!

We, the residents of Los Angeles, need to level the playing field. It is not a fair fight. Increased disclosure is a start.

(Jack Humphreville is a publisher and a member of the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council. Humphreville writes for CityWatch.)
CityWatchVol 6 Issue 78
Pub: Sept 26, 2008

I have been not dealing with the Ponte Vista issue this week as much as I have in other weeks.

Many members of OUR community lost a great friend, exceptional facilitator, and truly wonderful woman when we all lost Ms. Michele Burk last Saturday.

Michele passed away in her sleep.

Michele was one of the three women that can take credit for doing what was thought impossible. With help from Ms. Barbara Dragich, the Leader of Vista del Oro Neighbors Against Condos and the tremendous work done by Councilwoman Janice Hahn and her staff, San Pedro received its first "Q" Qualification Condition on two properties at the corner of 20th Street and Walker Avenue.

When a developer bought the old McCowan's Market only to tear it down to build houses and an up to 18 units condominium structure, Barbara and Michele gathered the community together and learned and worked to find ways to stop what would have been severe overdevelopment in the neighborhood.

When Councilwoman Hahn came on board to support the cause started by the women and members of OUR community, she and her staff were able to create the situation that found the entire L.A. City Council backing OUR community in this matter.

The Q Qualification Condition placed on two properties formerly zoned C1-1XL made certain that only single-family detached houses on lots of not less than 5,000 square foot lots are built on the site of the former beloved Market.

Michele also served two terms as President of the San Pedro High School Lady Boosters, even though her 'kids', Chuy and Pretty Boy live only about 6 blocks from the campus.

(Chuy probably needs to attend some type of school, he is a bit onry and not very sociable.)

Michele was extremely knowledgeable concerning the history of San Pedro High School and she was central to The Mystics, Class of 1972 and their reunions. This was a remarkable thing do to the fact that The Mystics was and will forever be the largest graduating class at San Pedro High School, with 1,053 graduates.

I created a post at:

Folks are welcome to posts comments about Michele at that site, too.

Marie Callender's has been closed recently while it is undergoing a remodel. It is a larger restaurant close enough to Ponte Vista to receive mention.

The thought that is would leave its current site went away when the owner of the store signed a 10-year lease.

"Think Prime" looks to still be in the works on Western Avenue near Summerland.

It would be great is a restaurant venture would finally break the 'curse' considered by many to be on the site of the old Tasman Sea Restaurant.

There are plenty of supporters and opponents of Bob's current plans who come together to enjoy the music, plays, and happenings in the downtown San Pedro area.

The Relevant Stage and Little Fish Theatre Companies have new productions beginning soon.

The Golden State Pops Orchestra begins another season in the latter part of October.

The Warner Grand Vision Annex is a new space and has productions coming up.

New showings of art will come forward and be shown in the studios in downtown San Pedro.

The entertainment venues we have allow all of us to come together, greet each other and enjoy talking about things other than Ponte Vista, which we don't really enjoy talking about.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

"What Do We Know Know?"

Larry King asked the question that is the title of this post and it may fit today in thinking about Ponte Vista.

We "know know" that the applicant, Mr. Robert H. Bisno and his associated company have applied to construct 1,950 condominium units and related amenities, roadways, grounds, and things on 61.53 acres of land he purchased at auction and purchase from the Volunteers of America.

There has been a Public Hearing conducted by a Hearing Officer from the L.A. City Department of Planning.

There was a Community Advisory Committee set up by L.A. Councilwoman Janice Hahn, with assistance from Mr. Robert H. Bisno.

The committee's majority report stated that the population density at the Ponte Vista at San Pedro site stay equal to the population density in an all R1-zoned project.

The minority report of that committee was more in line with what supporters of Bob's current plans (also his former plan) want.

Nothing has been legally decided as to whether the application to grant "specific plan zoning" on the site is to be approved, rejected, or changed.

The Los Angeles Planning Commission MAY take up the matter in December or at an earlier date.

Once whatever happens at the Planning Commission is completed, the issues and recommendations, if any, go to the Los Angeles City Council's Land Use and Planning Committee.

After the Land Use and Planning Committee has finished their mission concerning the project, it MAY be voted on by the full membership of the Los Angeles City Council.

At points along the lines of the Planning Commission, the Land Use and Planning Committee, and/or the L.A. City Council, the issue may be sent back down the line for more work.

The specific plan zoning sought by the applicant would come into play if the City Council adopts specific ordinances concerning the project.

The applicant has the legal right to sell any and all entitlements granted by the Los Angeles City Council, without going forward and actually constructing anything on the property.

No agreements signed by the applicant or his agents or representatives with any organization, sports groups, or community entity are currently legally binding in any way.

If I have any of this wrong, I would appreciate Ms. Swanson or someone from the Ponte Vista at San Pedro office correcting me. I know this blog is read regularly by persons who work in the temporary buildings on the site. This is true for this "obscure blog".

Now here are some things to consider.

There is nowhere in the Draft Environmental Impact Report, the Final Environmental Impact Report, the first application to construct 2,300 condominium units, the revised application to construct 1,950 condominium units, or anywhere else in the public domain any reference to the number of bedrooms that would be built at the project site, if any are built at all.

Bob Bisno did provide me with a potential breakdown in the 2,300-unit breakdown, but that was just his speculation. That was on January 18, 2007.

Since there really is now way to find within public documents for Ponte Vista, the real potential population, we cannot consider how many vehicles or trips generated to and from Ponte Vista will come to be.

All of the vehicles entering and leaving the Ponte Vista site now and in the future will be required to travel along Western Avenue, for a portion of the journey.

In the city of Los Angeles, there is a routine of granting automatic density bonus of up to 35% more units at a project site.

Even though the applicant, Mr. Robert H. Bisno has applied for "1,950" units, he would potentially be granted a total of 2,633 units IF he were to be granted full entitlements to the project.

It is contended that the entitlements for up to 2,633-units would be transferable to buyers of all or part of the Ponte Vista property should Mr. Bisno sell the entitlements rather than actually having units built by a contractor of his choosing.

It is more than extremely likely that a minimum number of units has been conceded by Mr. Bisno as the number of units he might consider, if pressed and necessary.

It is also believed that the number has been circulated within the Ponte Vista organization for quite some time.

Some individuals have speculated that the minimum number has been considered all along.

Although I am very, very confidant I know the minimum number, I still believe that folks within the Ponte Vista organization should reveal that number as a way of confirming what is now known.

If the minimum number of units Mr. Bisno now concedes has been around since the time Councilwoman Janice Hahn's Community Advisory Committee was meeting, it would demonstrate to this former member that there was actually a compromise position Mr. Bisno could have taken, but chose not to.

It also means to me that he would be "two years too late" as one unnamed individual put it, for coming up with a compromise that might have just been the number the majority of community member could have lived with.

Here is information I found years ago:

"The U.S. Navy ended the auction for 41.95 acres if Ponte Vista land on March 7, 2005. The winning bid of $88,000,000.00 was placed by Mr. Bob Bisno and the Bisno Development Corporation.

An additional 19.58 acres within the Ponte Vista area was conveyed to a homeless advocacy group using a “Housing Assistance Conveyance” from an act that became law in 1994. The group is the Volunteers of America.

Mr. Bisno purchased the 19.58 acres of land for $34,000,000.00.

Breakdown of acreage and cost:

41.95 acres at $88,000,000.00 equals $2,097,753.40 (approx) per acre.
19.58 acres at $34,000,000.00 equals $1,736,465.78 (approx) per acre

61.53 total acres for $122,000,000.00 equals $1,982,772.63 (approx)
Per acre."
- - - - - - - - - - - -
Today the land is not worth what Mr. Bisno and his company paid for it.

Some have said recently that the land's value is now down to $63-$68 Million Dollars.

That value is probably for R1-zoned land and I don't know what the value of the land would be in 2009 if the zoning was for R1.5 plans or equivalent plans.

It may be no wonder why Mr. Bisno is seeking 1,950-units that could actually find entitlements for 2,633-units. He will need that increased value, unless he sits on the land for several years, until the market is released from the mental institution it is now in.

I am now leaning more towards the idea that Bob will sell whatever entitlements he can get out of the L.A. City Council and not build anything at Ponte Vista.

I challenge anyone to use fact-based public knowledge that has any legal standing to persuade me otherwise. But I don't think anyone has the fact-based public knowledge.

Friday, September 19, 2008

A News Release

For Immediate Release September 17, 2008

Broad Coalition of Neighborhood Groups From Across Los Angeles Sue the City For Violating Mandatory Duties Regarding Development and City Infrastructure.

Nine Groups Request the Court Halt Major Development Projects Until the Case is Decided.

Los Angeles, CA:Community groups and Neighborhood Councils across Los Angeles filed a lawsuit today demanding that the City of Los Angeles cease and desist from approving anymore upzoning ordinances, specific plan or general plan amendments, or development agreements until City planning officials take a hard look at the adequacy of existing infrastructure needed to support the major development projects.

At least nine community groups representing over 30,000 residents have joined in a lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles to stop the City Council from approving developments until required annual reports regarding growth and infrastructure are produced.

The amended complaint (Saunders et al., v. City of Los Angeles, case number BS115435) was filed today in Los Angeles Superior Court and includes the following groups from across the City:

La Brea-Willoughby Coalition
Westwood South of Santa Monica Blvd. Homeowners Assn.
San Pedro Pennisula Homeowners Coalition
San Pedro Pennisula Homeowners United, Inc.
La Mirada Avenue Neighborhood Association of Hollywood
Granada HillsAlliance for Smart Growth Old Granada Hills Residents’ Group
Comite de La Esparza Hollywood Heritage, Inc.
R Neighborhoods Are 1
ReACT (Residents Against Cut-thru Traffic) Mar Vista

The groups say the City of Los Angeles is not complying with mandatory duties set forth in the City’s own General Plan (its “constitution” which guides land use planning within the City), and is therefore in violation of law.

These mandatory duties include preparing an annual report regarding the status of the City’s infrastructure to support development projects, so that City planning officials can make informed land-use decisions.

Despite the fact these reports are required on an annual basis, the City has not produced such a report for over 10 years. Thus, the groups say, the City cannot possibly know whether development is outpacing infrastructure capacity.

Although neighborhood councils (NCs) are prohibited from signing on to lawsuits against the City, several NCs, including the Los Angeles Neighborhood Council Coalition (LANNC), the Mar Vista Community Council, and the Venice Neighborhood Council have also drafted or passed resolutions echoing the requests of the plaintiffs.

The suit is not seeking a monetary settlement with the City. It merely seeks obedience to the law.

Pat Nave, Chair Executive of one of the suing groups, R Neighbors Are 1 ( represents over 500 property owners and over 2,000 residents between the Santa Monica and Culver City the Mar Vista area) says: "Without an updated infrastructure database, the City is driving our planning bus blindfolded and relying on developers to describe the road.”

Today, infrastructure capacity studies, when they are done at all (which is rarely) are put together by developers who do them to justify their projects and the densities they want to build. “All we are asking for is responsible, sustainable development,” says Lucille Saunders who is the lead petitioner in the case.

Bill Pope, Chair Executive of ReACT (a group of 200 property owners presenting about 2,000 residents) says that the traffic concerns around the City are well known.

“Development on the Westside without regard to transportation infrastructure has resulted in heavy congestion on roadways from Santa Monica to Culver City, leaving the Westside paralyzed.”

CONTACTS: Lucille Saunders Lead Petitioner/Plaintiff (323) 939-2754

Sabrina Venskus Law Offices of Sabrina Venskus (213) 482-4200 or (310) 985-3168 cell
Make of this news release what you will.

If the city of Los Angeles cannot manage itself, then something must be done and many somebodies must step in.

We need a 'bailout' from developers who have overdeveloped the greater L.A. area without existing regulations and laws having been enforced for far too long.

As the nation undertakes a turn around in its attempts to deal with the financial crisis, it is high time our area undertakes a turn around in attempts to deal with runaway over development and the misery it causes everyone.

If the government is compelled to step in where people have faltered with the economy, it should be people who step in where the government has faltered with development issues.

When one third of the groups bringing the lawsuit are concerned especially with the Ponte Vista at San Pedro project, it focuses more on Bob Bisno and his attempts to build a project that is simply too many units for the area.

Meeting Reminder

During the regular meeting of the Rancho Palos Verdes Traffic Safety Commission, a public forum will be conducted dealing with traffic issues in the city of Rancho Palos Verdes regarding the proposed Ponte Vista at San Pedro development.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 7:00 PM in the R.P.V. City Council Chambers at Fred Hesse Park.

The park is located at 29301 Hawthorne Blvd, R.P.C. CA 90275.

The Council Chambers are NOT at the R.P.V. City Hall.

During the public forum, the Commission will take comments from the public regarding their thoughts on what traffic issues, within the boundaries of Rancho Palos Verdes, may be affected by what is proposed for at Ponte Vista.

The comments provided to the Traffic Commission will be forwarded to the R.P.V. City Council and Staff to continue the processes of considering the many issues of having Ponte Vista at San Pedro developed on the city's border.

Anyone and everyone is invited to provide comments to the Commission.

Odds and Ends 83

There have been rumors flying around about the Planning Department and whether they will publicize their take on what could successfully be built at Ponte Vista.

Since these rumors are just that, I don't think they are worth publishing any longer.

The rumor that there would be something coming from the Planning Department around the end of September or the first week in October is something I now regret publishing. I apologize for that.

Joe Caccavalla is a great gentleman.

We can't be farther apart on what we both believe should be built at Ponte Vista, but that doesn't detract from his true goodness and his love for OUR community.

Joe is the creator and organizer of the Tri Art Festival which held its second annual event this past weekend.

Joe wanted me to include some of his words about the Festival on my blogs and I am more than happy to provide space.

Here are some of his comments:

Well it happened for the 2nd time and all went very well.

The dancers at the Warner Grand (were so pleased,) they are signing up for next year. They loved the theater, the lighting designer, and tech person I hired to work the show.

As usual my hats off to Lee Sweet and his wonderful staff. They are what make the Warner Grand so great.

Thanks to the Legends Car Club and the Rascals Car Club who showed up for the car part of the festival.

Of course the artist that did attend and the judges of the juried show thought the selection that was shown was as good as any in the south bay area.

To these artists I say thank you!

The crowds may not have been there, but I was glad to hear the sales were (strong) and that is what is important.

We know that making something like this festival (continue) will take time, money, and self endurance.

It was suggested by my staff that we move it next year to port area, so that more people, who might not want to attend the Festival in the downtown area will come.

If that's what it takes to make the Tri Art Festival a success then I don't think it will every be.

I will not move it anywhere but where it is.

We will not close 7th street no matter how big the car show grows ( because there are those that only want it then) and don't want to be part of the growing process.

Well, we have set the date for next Tri Art Festival for September 12/13, 2009.

The hours next year will be from noon to 6 PM.

Next year, not only will the artists be on Mesa Street, the car show will be there, too.

There will also be a movie shown during the Festival, at the Warner Grand Theater.

Performances by dance groups will also be held at the Warner Grand.


I attended the Tri Art Festival this year on Saturday. I brought Terri along.

Terri found a necklace created by a San Pedro artists that she loved and we purchased it.

My hope is that the Tri Art Festival finds many more participants and attendees to enjoy the work of local and regional artists dealing in varied forms of art.

The Car Show is a prime example of a different kind of art that should be enjoyed, I feel.

Along with theater pieces, a movie, and 'art' from artists, viewing examples of cars that are really more like works of art rather than just a mode of transportation, is another way to appreciate art in all its forms.

The TWO Halloween stores just yards apart from each other are now open along Western Avenue.

Between Caddington and Toscanini, the "Trick or Treat" Halloween store is open.

on the lowest level of The Terraces, the "Spirit" Halloween store is open.

When you learn that the city of Rancho Palos Verdes is going to have its first new Apartments built in the last 22 years, I hope you understand that in San Pedro, the last R1-zoned houses were built in 1975, or about 33 years ago. Unless my year is wrong and it was actually in 1971.

You can read the article at:

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

One Question, Two Views

I wish I could remember who asked me one simple question last week.

The wonderful questioner asked, "Why aren't there any photos of Ponte Vista seen from higher overhead?"

There are several answers to that question, and I think I have to blame myself for not doing what I have done, sooner.

Below are two "Google Earth" illustrations with a conceptual illustration of Bob's current plans for Ponte Vista at San Pedro "Photoshopped" into the illustrations.

Before anyone even attempts to suggest that the conceptual illustrations of Ponte Vista are larger in proportion to the rest of the illustrations, I suggest they look very closely at the photos to learn that I made the Ponte Vista illustration just very slightly smaller than what fits into the boundary lines.

Ponte Vista at San Pedro is illustrated in the two depictions as a light green/yellow/drawing just above the center portion of both photos.

If you look closely you can see the "6 acre" park that Bob has stated he will include in the project, on the southern side of the Ponte Vista view. It is a little arc of light green.

Click over illustration to enlarge.
Just to the south of the Ponte Vista site, you should be able to see The Gardens.

While The Gardens look quite similar in size to Ponte Vista, you should know that Bob's current plans for Ponte Vista suggest that the number of residents at Ponte Vista will be approximately three times the number of residents living at The Gardens.

Perhaps the folks who are members of the Ponte Vista Outreach Team don't want to have anyone view Ponte Vista within a larger view of parts of San Pedro, Rancho Palos Verdes, Harbor City, and Lomita.

I did not include any illustration of the new Mary Star of the Sea High School campus which is now open just to the east of the Ponte Vista site. I thought that having two illustrations might have some feel that the Mary Star site was somehow part of the Ponte Vista site, which it is not.

The Little Birdie Seems Confused

In the last "Odds and Ends" I wrote that a little birdie told me to watch for something coming from the Planning Department around the last week in September or the first week in October.

I think I should just refill our bird feeder rather than listen to that little birdie.

More 'non-news' that has been overheard is that there may be nothing coming from the Planning Department folks until the Planning Commission meets.

We can't say when the L.A. City Planning Commission will actually take up the matter, but it could be in the December time frame, perhaps.

Even before the full L.A. City Planning Commission takes up the matter, there is the possibility that the Harbor Area Planning Commission might attempt to meet concerning Ponte Vista.

There are many individuals who have opined that three of the five members of that body would probably have to recuse themselves from dealing with Ponte Vista because of probable conflicts of interest.

If there are only two members of the Harbor Area Commission that would be qualified to meet, then that would not be enough for a quorum, so no meeting could be held

So, no news becomes good news for those who oppose Bob's current plans, it is believed.

If the Planning Commission gets to the issue in December, it probably means that the L.A. City Council's Land Use and Planning Committee might not get to the issue until 2009.

We can wait.

Back in 'the day', many folks were told that work would be underway on building 2,300 condos at Ponte Vista in 2008. The 245 duplexes are still sitting on the land.

We have time.

If folks are thinking that Bob's funding is coming from a financial institution that is in trouble, that would be some inappropriate thinking, perhaps.

Perhaps Bob has time, too.

I may be retiring from AT&T tomorrow. I think I will have lots of time until I find other employment.

R Neighborhoods Are 1 has begun a funding drive. They need time to build the funds required to go to battle with a Developer and his Limited Liability Corporation, concerning Ponte Vista at San Pedro.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Odds and Ends 82

A very tiny trickle of information has seeped out of the trailers of the Ponte Vista Outreach Team as to the minimum number of units Bob will accept at the 61.53 acre site.

The number, in my personal opinion, is still way, way too many units no matter what types they are.

Since the information is coming out by the Ponte Vista folk(s), I think if you wish to learn that number you should inquire of them as to that figure.
The above now allows those of you who have been thinking that Bob has had a certain number in mind all along, but has been trying for more, some grounds for more speculation.

Perhaps the number that came out of the trailers is the number Bob really wanted all along.

Perhaps the number suggests that Bob and the Outreach Team may have been 'playing' supporters with two different sets of numbers, but really are willing to accept a number Bob established long ago.

Now of course I think it is perfectly natural and probably justified to learn from the Outreach Team that my 'perhapes' are totally incorrect, but it might make some wonder.

I have always tried to believe that the numbers given out by Bob and the Outreach Team are the numbers he is/was trying to get acceptance to build.

I use "Bob's current plans" liberally throughout my postings because as the numbers have changed in the past, so might they change in the future.

Since Bob and his Outreach Team seem to now know the number he and they will accept, I will continue to use "Bob's current plans" rather than suggesting any other number.

I can imagine that between now and the reveal by the Planning Department, Bob and the Outreach Team may open up their reveal of the minimum number of units that has trickled out in a last ditch attempt to garner more support for that number of units.

Are there, already in the works, illustrations of Ponte Vista at San Pedro with the number of units that Bob may be willing to build on the site?

A little birdie told me to look towards the last week in September or the first week in October to learn what comes out from the Planning Department.

It is with great joy that I announce the demise, passing, folding, end of, and exiting of R Neighborhoods Are 1's Rudderless Steering Committee.

The group has decided to place a rudder on itself and you will not believe what is in store, for the group.

I am not going to issue a report about what is going to happen, but I strongly believe that when we hear from the newly ruddered Steering Committee, there will be some really big news items that will not be liked by folks in the trailers.

Just about everyone reading this blog and thousands and thousands of individuals now know that R Neighborhoods Are 1 is ramping up their fundraising drive.

An Important Message From R NEIGHBORHOODS ARE 1
We need your help!

The developer of Ponte Vista is working hard to change the zoning at the old Navy property on Western Avenue so he can build as many as 2,633 condominiums, including a “density bonus”.

He has several big money lobbyists working to convince the planning commission and city council that San Pedro actually wants his mega-project.

The planning department will soon make a recommendation; its report will then go to the planning commission and city council.


If you are concerned about adding 8,000 new residents, if you are concerned about adding 60 percent more cars on Western THEN PLEASE DONATE AS MUCH AS YOU CAN.

Here is a way to contribute to this important cause:

Send a check payable to “R Neighborhoods Are 1" with a notation that it is for the legal defense fund to:

R Neighborhoods Are 1
1840 S. Gaffey St. #316
San Pedro, Ca. 90731-5361

Several people have asked whether we can recoup our attorney fees. The answer is maybe. For example, if we are successful in an action against the city or the developer, we could receive an award of attorney fees. If we do, we will return pro rata shares of donations. If you have further questions, please respond to this e-mail or leave a message on the website and we will contact you as soon as possible.

Thank you in advance for all you can do
to help preserve our community’s quality of life!


Here is an explanation about the use of "2,633" used by R Neighborhoods are 1:

If Bob were to be approved for a Specific Plan that would allow for "1,950" units, and having approximately 340 of them with prices set for "workforce families" and "first-time home buyers" it is strongly suggested that he would be automatically allowed to have a "density bonus" that would allow for a total of 2,633 condos on the 61.53 acre Ponte Vista at San Pedro site, instead of the "1,950" he is currently using according to his current plans.

Since the city of Los Angeles continues to claim that there is a housing shortage in the area, it is almost guaranteed that Mr. Bisno would be granted such a "density bonus" that would allow him to build almost 700 more units that his current plans includes.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Ouch! Ow-ee! Heck! Drat! Bad News! "TS"!

Lately, things are not looking good at all for the folks at or supporting Ponte Vista at San Pedro, it seems.

The ILWU confirmed in a letter to Ms. Janice Hahn that the Union DOES NOT endorse the Ponte Vista proposed by Bob. They endorse only the concept of utilizing Union workers on whatever is built at the site.

The city of Rancho Palos Verdes has budgeted money for another review of traffic studies.

The Rudderless Steering Committee of R Neighborhoods Are 1 will be securing a rudder on itself and that group is becoming even stronger and more determined to stop Bob's current plans.

At least one representative of the Outreach Team have let slip out the minimum number of units Bob will accept. This leads to the following......

Perhaps all folks who have considered that Bob was actually going for a specific number of units below 2,300 or 1,950 ALL ALONG, may have been correct from the get-go.

What does that say about the honesty and forthrightness of Mr. Bisno?

Last month, the Central San Pedro Neighborhood amended then approved a resolution that appeared suspiciously crafted with the help of Ponte Vista personnel. Many individuals watching Ponte Vista Outreach Team's react to the vote by Central's Board, stated that those folks appeared disgruntled by the outcome.

And then there was the September 9 election of five members to the Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council's Board.

All 308 votes cast were cast by certified stakeholders of Central and ZERO provisional ballots were cast.

A slate of candidates supported by R Neighborhoods Are 1 basically 'cleaned the clock' on the slate of write-in candidates that were put up at the very last minute by those supporting Ponte Vista at San Pedro and Bob's current plans.

The five winning candidates do not all oppose Bob's current plans, but they all will greatly improve everything at Central with the help of many of the remaining Board members in that organization.

Four of the five current officers of Central's Board were last minute (4:37 PM, Sept. 8, 2008) write-in attempt were soundly rebuked by the voters.

The current treasurer of Central, Mr. Aphram Khalbourji, received only 15 votes compared to the top vote getter, Mr. Phillip Trigas, who received 198 votes.

One current Officer, Honorary Mayor Joe Donato was not even entered as a write-in candidate.

The five winning candidates, supported by R Neighborhoods Are 1 are:
Phillip Trigas: 198 votes
Linda L. Alexander: 194 votes
Frank B. Anderson: 165 votes
Art Almeida: 163 votes
Raymond Lee Parker: 154

The current Officers of Central, running as write-in candidates were:

Joe Gatlin, President: 73 votes
Mayra Perez, Vice President: 62 votes
Pam Foster-Newsom: 62 votes

The slate of write-in candidates brought in at the 'last minute' included as its top vote getter:

James Brown: 80 votes

I hope nobody even thinks about attempting to suggest there are no Ponte Vista at San Pedro supporters who are also stakeholders within Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council.

Where were they on Tuesday?

Could it be that the voting suggests that the support for Ponte Vista at San Pedro and Bob's current plans continue to erode, even in Central's area where the project won't be built?

Now here is another issue that I was reminded of by a member of the Ponte Vista Outreach Team.

It appears that 'everyone is placing the blame on over development on The Hill firmly on the shoulders of Ponte Vista'.

That is not a quote, but it is similar to what I have heard more than a few times.

Some Ponte Vista supporters decry the fact that San Pedro residents and government representatives were not included in what I refer to as 'Ronald Frump's Irrational Ocean Fails Golf Course' and the Long Point/Terranea projects, by the city of Rancho Palos Verdes.

Please! Come on! Does anyone seriously wish to suggest that a city (Los Angeles) of over 3 Million residents, a 15-member City Council, and one of the largest municipalities in the U.S. can supply any influence on a city of about 44,000 residents and five volunteer City Council members?

Giveth to me a breaketh!

The issues surrounding both 'Frump' and Terranea have been settled for some time.

One of the members of the Ponte Vista Outreach Team was working for Councilwoman Janice Hahn when some, if not all, the decisions regarding the two projects were made.

Now folks are ?????????????? (no I am not going to use the word, whining) about the fact that Ponte Vista at San Pedro and Bob's current plans are facing so much opposition when other projects, less than 1/10 the size of Ponte Vista were not opposed of as vigorously in R.P.V.

Like the Republics demanded after the 2000 election, "get over it".

Ponte Vista is not in Rancho Palos Verdes and any front door of any house in San Pedro is at least a portion of a mile away from 'Frump' and miles away from Terranea.

I do admit and concur completely that 25th Street, Gaffey, Western, and other streets in the San Pedro area are going to be hit with more traffic because of 'Frump' and Terranea.

If San Pedrans and L.A. City government and bureaucracy weren't involved as much as they probably should have been, back in the day, it is not the fault of residents in eastern Rancho Palos Verdes and others in other communities.

The decision to build a golf course in Rancho Palos Verdes was made long before "The Donald" became involved. The original developers of Ocean Trails ("Ocean Fails") seem to have received the wrath of their opponents, already.

What is next for the Ponte Vista folks and supporters of Bob's currently published plans?

The L.A. City Planning Department will have a 'reveal' late this month or early next month.

Then, the L.A. City Planning Commission has their work cut out for them.

Following anything coming out of the Planning Commission, the Planning and Land Use Committee of the L.A. City Council gets their take on the issues.

Finally, if Bob is still around (there is no guarantee that he will be) the whole of the Los Angeles City Council will take up the matter and the MAY adopt ordinances that would allow for new construction on the 61.53 Ponte Vista at San Pedro site.

Oh, and another thing.

While all of this is going on, the La Brea Homeowners Coalition and 9 other groups have joined in a L.A. citywide lawsuit to place a moratorium on ALL new large development until the City of Los Angeles complies with existing laws and regulations about development and infrastructure.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Public Forum Concerning Traffic, R.P.V., and Ponte Vista

A public forum will be conducted at the next regular meeting of the Rancho Palos Verdes Traffic Safety Commission, concerning potential traffic and transportation impacts caused by Ponte Vista within the city of Rancho Palos Verdes.

The forum will be conducted on Monday September 22, 2008, beginning at 7:00 PM inside the Rancho Palos Verdes City Council Chambers at Hesse Park, on Hawthorne Blvd.

The purpose of the forum is to receive comments on the proposed traffic and transportation mitigation for Ponte Vista within the area of R.P.V. along Western Avenue and some intersecting streets.

Comments received during the forum will assist the Rancho Palos Verdes City Council members in their ongoing discussions dealing with whether the city should accept, rejects, or seek changes to the proposed mitigation within R.P.V. city limits.

The Los Angeles Departments of Transporation and Planning have both stated their opinions that the city of R.P.V. is a stakeholder in the decision making processes concerning traffic and transportation mitigation for the proposed development.

Note* If folks supporting Ponte Vista attend the forum, I guess this "some obscure blog" is not as obscure as at least one Advisory Board member contends.

The public forum is scheduled to take place at the beginning of the Traffic Safety Commission's regularly scheduled September meeting.

Rancho Palos Verdes is different than most cities. Our City Council Chambers are some miles away from our City Hall and I hope everyone who wishes to attend the forum and provide comments knows that.

It is probably easier to get to Hesse Park by using P.V. Drive North to Hawthorne Blvd.

You can turn left onto Hawthorne Blvd and begin traveling along that road, and continue traveling on that road, and continue traveling on that road.

Hesse Park is southwest of Peninsula Center and on the more west side of Hawthorne Blvd as one travels down the hill.

For those folks coming from central and southern San Pedro, you can have the opportunity to drive along P.V. Drive South and on P.V. Drive West until you get to Hawthorne Blvd.

Turning up the hill onto Hawthorne Blvd and continuing your journey, you might be tempted to drive into the parking lot of our City Hall. Please do not do that.

Our Council Chambers is still miles up the hill from our City Hall.

Approaching Hesse Park, it will be on your left side as you go up the hill.

Mayor Stern, R.P.V. staff members, and I tried to get Dodson Intermediate School's multi-purpose hall for the meeting, but it cannot be used for our purpose that evening.

I'll poke my head into the office of the Principal at Miraleste Intermediate School to see if we can use their room, but I am not holding out much hope for that. It is worth a try, though.

The Traffic Safety Commission and the members of staff and the City Council are interested in learning what your concerns, especially as they deal with traveling along Western within the city of R.P.V., might be if Bob is given the opportunity to build Ponte Vista according to his current plans or other plans.

Of course the forum is open to the public and all comments will be recorded.

If you are a resident of Rancho Palos Verdes, this may be the very first time you can use your opportunity to visit our Council Chambers and learn just a little bit more about R.P.V.

If you are not a resident of R.P.V., you are most welcome to visit the Chambers way up on a hill that is part of a peninsula, in the southwest portion of the Great Mojave Basin.

I will try to see if our CATV station will show the meeting live and record it for future broadcast.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Odd and Ends 81

A little bird informed me that Target will have a pre-Grand Opening opening on October 8.

I have received word that at the regular September meeting of the Rancho Palos Verdes Traffic Safety Commission (TSC), which I am a member of, there is tentatively scheduled a public forum concerning traffic and transportation issues related to residents of Rancho Palos Verdes.

The public forum would be conducted to receive comments on what people think of the proposed mitigation for the area along Western Avenue and connecting streets, within the city of Rancho Palos Verdes.

Opinions coming from the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) that the folks at Ponte Vista claim LADOT agrees with all their mitigation proposals, the city of Rancho Palos Verdes has a standing on mitigation proposed for areas within its border.

Also, opinions from the Los Angeles Department of City Planning also concur with LADOT and their thoughts that R.P.V. has standing on whether to accept, deny, or seek changes to proposed mitigation within R.P.V.

If the public forum is held, it will be within a regular meeting of the TSC beginning at 7:00 PM on Monday September 25, 2008.

The location of the meeting is currently stated as being at the R.P.V. City Council Chambers at Hesse Park, on Hawthorne Blvd, on the western side of R.P.V.

There has been a request made to move the meeting site closer to the Ponte Vista site, possibly at Dodson Intermediate School, but nothing about moving the meeting site has been finalized.

It is believed that comments received during the public forum will be read and/or heard by members of the Rancho Palos Verdes City Council.

The R.P.V. City Council are the 'deciders' in all matters concerning how the city deals with Ponte Vista and the TSC probably will make no recommendation to the members of the City Council.

I will post more information about the tentative public forum at a regular meeting of the Rancho Palos Verdes Traffic Safety Commission as I learn any new information.

There are lots of folks that seem to be 'antsy' about hearing from the Los Angeles City Department of Planning concerning their take on what should or could be built at Ponte Vista.

Please don't fret, or remain 'antsy' Information is coming. When the information is coming is something I don't know exact dates for.

I will state that 'normally' 60 days after a 'public hearing' is conducted, like the one conducted at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, a report moves along through more of the processes within the Planning Department.

This doesn't mean that something has to be reported '60 days' after the hearing is conducted.

We should be in no hurry to learn what the city planners are thinking. We do certainly want them to 'get it right the first time' though, I feel.

We MAY hear something towards the later part of September, but do not hold your breath and please be patient.

The election for five seats on the Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council is this coming Tuesday. I have posted information about that election on this blog or my R1 blog and my San Pedro Issues to Ponder blog.

I brought up the 'Alternative' to build South Region High School No. 15 on the Ponte Vista site at the rollout meeting for that proposed school's DEIR.

I reminded the LAUSD leaders in attendance and for the record that the 'Alternative' currently listed in that DEIR is fiction and is not a realistic, responsible, reasonable, or respectful 'Alternative' and it was just put into the document as a filler.

There is absolutely, positively no way, as long as Bob Bisno owns the Ponte Vista area that any new school of larger than 500 seats would ever go onto the site.

Yes, the site is still on too many documents as a possible site for either SRHS 15 or SRHS 14, but neither proposed school would be built there as long as Bob, myself, and several thousand others have any say in the matters.

This is just one more balloon LAUSD has attempted to put into flight that has no ability to get off the ground.