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."
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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.

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