Friday, November 28, 2008

Odds and Ends 93

Oops! I was having so much fun I almost forgot that today is Friday.

If you never have taken the opportunity to read the comments in The Daily Breeze concerning some of the articles and letters to the editor published recently concerning Ponte Vista at San Pedro, there are some items that can be found entertaining and humorous.

We are all able to read some fiction created and looks to be coming from New York. Whether it is coming from the Big Apple or not is irrelevant, but it does demonstrate that perhaps there are drinkers of Bob's Kool-Aid concoction even thousands of miles away.
______________________________________________

Now please don't forget about the still scheduled Harbor Area Planning Commission meeting on December 2.

You should know by now what's going on with that meeting.

First Bob and the Outreach Team were hard behind having the Area Planning Commissioners give their nod to the project.

Opposition forces called for the complete cancellation of the meeting because three of the five-member panel have ties to organizations that received funds from Bob and the Outreach Team.

Members of the Outreach Team again reminded folks that the Area Planning Commission meeting was vital and they even offered to transport folks by bus to the meeting site.

The originally scheduled meeting was cancelled and rescheduled for what both sides feel was an unbelievable reason, but hey, what isn't unbelievable with much ado about Ponte Vista?

Then the Report was released.

Since the Report was released all mention of the newly scheduled Area Planning Commission meeting has been left out from Bob and the Outreach Team.

They wanted it. We opposed it. They really wanted it. We continued our opposition. The Report was released. Now they are ignoring it.

What?

Don't worry, if the Commissioners fear there won't be folks trying to speak at the meeting, they needn't worry. We will be there, at least.
______________________________________________

Are you ready for meetings and real decision-making in the coming two weeks?

December 2-Harbor Area Planning Commission meeting.

December 4-Facilities Committee meeting of LAUSD meets to rubber stamp the recently
released FEIR for SRHS 15 to be built at Angel's Gate.

December 9-LAUSD Board of Education meets to most probably approve the construction
of South Region High School No. 15 on the Upper Reservation of Fort MacArthur.

In between, there should be two Neighborhood Council meetings and other meetings you may or may not want to attend.
______________________________________________

Bob seems to have had issues with three of his three developments I have written about on this blog. City Place Santa Ana has not sold out and the Santa Ana Planning Commission put off its vote on Bob's plans for a 31 or 32-story condominium tower right across the street from the main development.

It seems the economy killed off Bob's plans to use the right of eminent domain to condemn residents and businesses into looking for new digs while he redeveloped the downtown area of Baldwin Park.

You already know about Ponte Vista at San Pedro.

Bob also seems to be having some issues with the house he got out of a foreclosure mess less than one year ago.

Bob's name will continue to overshadow many things at Lincoln Place in Santa Monica.

Bob has even found some folks who don't feel he is their knight in shining armour, in Berkeley, California.

I guess we all have something to be thankful for at this holiday time.......we're not in Bob's predicament.
_____________________________________________

Bob and the fans of keeping the Ponte Vista site with its current zoning forevermore received bad news when the Report came out and all of them and folks like me need to be concerned.

Now that the Planning Department has basically revealed its 'guidelines' for what could be built at Ponte Vista, and nobody is very happy about them, it means that some politicians and wannabe politicians can glam on to those guidelines and run with them.

Ms. Hahn, are you reading?

Backing the guidelines before the upcoming elections might not be the best idea, even if someone is not facing any real opposition.

I am not comfortable with the guidelines because it limits my ability to think of ways to lower the population density at the site to something I could consider living with.

Up to 1196-non age restricted units, with over 300 of them selling for below-market rates suggests that the area would become a haven for units becoming rentals and leased units and some folks buying units and renting out a room or two.

Having rentals and leased units in a project means more transitory residents, a higher density than calculated for simply owner-occupied units, more traffic than would be computed, more student turnover, and much more trouble for northwest San Pedro.

For Bob, trying to maximize his profits, which is why he is trying to develop Ponte Vista in the first place, would be very hard to easily accomplish with any number of units less than he wants at the site.

For fans (read fanatics) of keeping a zoning for a development was never really built there, has become somewhat harder to achieve since the Report was released.

The fight with Bob took about three years, untold hours of volunteer work, a whole lot of money so far, and determination you would not believe.

Now they/we are looking at having to fight City Hall and that is not as much fun as fighting against the out-of-town developer.

Mr. Dominguez, an untold number of others, and myself want some housing for seniors built. It looks like City Planners don't.

Lucie, Chuck, and a whole host of other continue their demand for keeping the site with its current zoning, no matter what. City Planners don't want that either.

Possibly hundreds of others who don't remember they swallowed the Kool-Aid and continue to try and follow Bob over the cliff seeming want as many units as Bob can get approval for. It doesn't appear that Bob and City Planners can get on the same page with the number of units and types.

The cliff-diving, Kool-Aid-drinkers never really took the time, energy, or will to truly educate themselves about the facts, so I guess I am not willing to be very sorry about that.

Even Ms. Hahn who correctly insists that something is going to be built at Ponte Vista might not be too pleased with the guidelines and I hope she is not pleased at all!
______________________________________________

I think we are now going to see some more years before the first concrete is poured for any foundations going in at the site.

Any delay in adding more traffic on Western Avenue cannot be a bad thing, can it?

Taking years longer to add to schools' enrollment means fewer students to teach.

It is going to be farther into the future before we find the infrastructure stretched out further.

Maybe the delays will finally allow everyone to really make some correct studies and allow the processes to be worked out without having time pressures put on people.

The identities of OUR community's 'leaders' may change and a whole new set of ideas will be allowed to emerge.

The 2012-2013 time frame around OUR community will be very interesting with issues already in the works. I think we can stand for some longer delay in having to deal with the 61.53 acres in northwest San Pedro.
______________________________________________

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Bob's Blog Regret and More

Bob had a statement released on the blog supporting his plans.

He offered his regret that he will not be able to do what was his "original plan".

I must have missed something in June of 2007. I thought I heard Bob telling everyone about his 'new' plan he created for 1,950-units.

Does Bob really regret not keeping his 2,300-unit plan?

We see it again in Bob's statement that he would not offer his promised community benefits including a right of way between Western Avenue and Mary Star High School.

Now here is the irony with this bit of information. Bob won't be able to provide access from Western Avenue to Mary Star, but I'll bet he will seek pedestrian and bicycle access across the Mary Star property for kids and others to get between Ponte Vista and Taper Avenue and Taper Avenue Elementary School.

According to Bob's statement, he is still going for some size of a project but without providing the amenities and community benefits he promised.

Could this have been his plan all along?

The statement is also critical of the Planning Departments recommendations for an up to 1,196-unit project IF a density bonus is applied and it looks like Bob may want the high number of units without the density bonus.

He claims that "310 home for low-income families" is too many for a development of about 1,200-units. It's a "heavy burden" when it is more than one out of four units at the site.

He goes on to claim that Ponte Vista under the Recommendations would mean it "leaves out the teachers, fire-fighters, police officers and union families that Ponte Vista provided for in its proposed specific plan."

I think there are less experienced members of all of those working groups that may just qualify for some real 'low-income' housing. I know there are union families that really don't make a whole lot of money.

Maybe Bob wanted a more employment-segregated type of community that had 'working families' that are the teachers, fire-fighters, police officers and union families. He then probably wanted his upscale town houses being bought up by doctors, lawyers, and business executives.

That would leave his senior section for the two groups that made up the folks in the last paragraph, when they got older.

So it may actually be that Ponte Vista was supposed to me lived in by higher-paying blue collar type jobs, career professionals and executives and then all of those who did those types of work before they retired.

Hey Bob, there is a whole lot of other professions, workers, and families that don't fit into the job categories described here that also want beautiful and new homes. What about them?

The statement also reveals that he is still trying to get entitlements for the largest number of units he can while claiming he will not be able to offer traffic mitigation.

Say what?

It should be made perfectly clear to everyone that if you are going to build up to 1,196-units on buildable land within a 61.53-acre site along Western Avenue, you WILL provide some, if not all of the traffic mitigation the current developer promised.

Bob's statement also left out any mention of the December 2, Harbor Area Planning Commission meeting. It was my understanding that the folks at the Outreach Team were making grand plans to bus folks between Ports O' Call and the theater when the meeting was scheduled for November 18. It just goes to show that when a report is released that blows smoke, or perhaps an inferno at your plans, you may not want so many opportunities for that plan to continue being commented on.

Bob stated that he is willing to work on a plan that "makes sense for all of us". Bob didn't seem willing at all to work on three different plans that came up in early 2007. He didn't even take the time to have any of his folks do any real evaluation on those three ideas.

If he is/was really willing to work on plans that would work for all of us, why hasn't he really tried to do so, even more recently? He continues to suggest that Councilwoman Hahn won't meet with him yet I haven't seen any plans created by a large group of differing minds to present to Ms. Hahn in the first place.

I have always stated that I am willing to be one of those in OUR community who is willing to work WITH Bob on new plans. My plan calls for some senior housing and no R1, yet I haven't heard from Bob or Elise, or anyone else on his Outreach Team to help come up with more plans.

I guess he only wants to work on alternative plans or compromises with folks who generally agree with his first two plans. I don't have any evidence to the contrary.

To end his statement, Bob reiterated that he continues to want to build a "resort style master planned community".

Geese, I thought that we are in a housing crunch, L.A. needs all the housing it can get built, the economic times remain uncertain for who knows how long, but Bob still wants some kind of resort style living accommodations provided.

And WE are supposed to put up with a "resort style" housing project along Western?

REALLY!

In fairness, because I quoted directly from the blog, here for the first and hopefully last time is the URL for Your Ponte Vista: http://www.yourpontevista.com/

**Note to Bob**

When you use the words "resort style" when you know there are at least 11,000 people in the area who have never liked your plans in the first place.....you don't get any 'atta boy' points in OUR community. And to top it off, it kind of makes your supporters look like elitists, the same word you used on me, Doug, and many others.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

False Alarm? Think About It

Police and firefighters were called out to the 129-unit Casa Verde Estates complex which shares part of the fence line with Ponte Vista at San Pedro.

It was suspected that a meth lab had been found and the complex was evacuated and that evacuation lasted for several hours.

No meth lab was found.

Now suppose that same evacuation is done sometime in the future when 1,196-units occupy the Ponte Vista site.

Even if it does turn out like the real evacuation of the 129-unit complex did, what do you think would be the consequences of evacuating a complex that is 9.27 times larger than Casa Verde. (1,196-units)

Now consider Bob's plan for 1,950 units and that factor of 15.11 times the size of Casa Verde.

If it could happen at least once at Casa Verde, the probability would be greater that it could happen at a complex that is 15 times bigger.

Now consider a real meth lab at the 61.53 acre site in northwest San Pedro. Then consider that lab blowing up, like so many of them do.

Today's Article In The Daily Breeze

I wish you all a good morning but come on, with the article that appears in today's Daily Breeze,
at: http://www.dailybreeze.com/news/ci_11067696 you now get a better grasp on Bob and his intentions, or lack thereof.

I think you might want to read the article, take a few moments to digest it, and then read it again.

Bob has claimed from day one that he would not provide any amenities or 'community benefits' if the site remains with its current zoning and only about 429 single-family, detached houses were approved for building.

When you read the article you can read for yourself that Bob would not provide those promised amenities and 'community benefits' even the the project were approved for 1,196-units a 279% increase over the number of units an R1 Ponte Vista could have.

He paid 252% of the opening bid for the land and now he would not be willing to keep his promises with 279% more units than the minimum number?

Bob is even attempting to scare folks into supporting his plans by repeating his claim that he would not be allowed to provide a road for Mary Star.

He is back to using scare tactics and veiled threats to have more people support a project that has been judged by urban planners and professionals in the Planning Department, as being too large of a density for the land and the area where the land is located.

How about his willingness to negotiate? Did that statement make you chuckle or hurl your coffee cup across the room.

If he really truly wanted to build up the area, why was he never involved in real negotiations with any group of people? Why in the world is he continuing to condemn Councilwoman Hahn for not negotiating with him when he has known since before April of 2007 that Ms. Hahn was not supportive of his plans?

Since the report was published, more than a few individuals have contacted me to suggest that Bob basically got what he really wanted with the recommendations the Planning Department offered up and that he was always intending to build only about 1,200-units in the first place.

I leave that issue up to your own beliefs, but getting just under 1,200-units and still not actually providing the amenities and 'community benefits' he has promised, is something to think about.

Today's article also can allow some folks to think that Bob will sell whatever entitlements he gets and that he has considered that, all along.

No amenities, no 'community benefits', no mitigation (read traffic mitigation), and no senior housing, while being able to leave the community with some profit and no really decent project, how does that make you feel?

I have created posts, illustrations, Google Earth-type photos of a roadway between the Ponte Vista site and Gaffey Street. As interested as Bob claimed to be with that idea, it went nowhere. What might that say about Bob's willingness to negotiate.

What do you think might have happened with the Planning Department Report had there been real plans and money set aside to provide such a roadway?

Please Bob, do not try at this late hour to offer to us your willingness to negotiate. As some of us have tried to actually work toward negotiating with you and creating some real compromises, we have heard nothing from you except what 'will' be at Ponte Vista.

Mr. Bisno, I have to repeat that I feel you did not 'work with the community' when you were unwilling to really deal with the COMMUNITY Advisory Committee.

It is true that some of the members of the Committee voted with an opposition vote to the Majority Report, but how many of those voters were business-type folks and members of the Chamber of Commerce?

It also appears that you focused on specific persons within OUR community to create your focus groups that became your advisory groups and you didn't seem to include anyone who have been that willing to oppose your plans. How is that for really negotiating with the community?

By now it seems to have been repeatedly demonstrated that taking the time and the city's money to deal with the City Planning Commission and the City Council with your current plans and application will be funds wasted and time not worth allowing for.

If the majority of the members of OUR community cannot now find that your current plans have absolutely no chance of approval, then something is a bit wrong, I feel.

How many more disapproval, denials, rejections, and roadblocks does anyone need to finally realize that Bob's current plans and application are unreasonable, unrealistic, irresponsible, and disrespectful to OUR community?

I noticed by the lack of comment by Bob in the article, that once again, the December 2 Harbor Area Planning Commission meeting is not mentioned by Bob, just as in the response to the report.

Perhaps Bob and his Outreach Team have thrown in the towel on that one.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Another Comment Elevated to a Post

Occasionally, I read comments to posts that are so good in my opinion, that they should be elevated to their own post.

The author of the comment is 'km' and is well known by many members of OUR community and the person offers many hours of volunteer work to OUR community and some very good endeavors.

The Comment was written to the post I published after the post: The Strange and Mysterious Case of The Day After.

Here is the comment.

"His (Bob Bisno) numbers were always ridiculous. He was proposing charging more per sqaure foot than comparable properties in RPV. Even at the market peak you could still get a single family home on its own lot in Pedro for the same or less than what Bisno was talking about charging for his attached units. Right now there's a 3 bedroom, charming little 1900 Vic going for 290K in a short sale near me.

It boils down to what I told him at the very first Ponte Vista meeting- "You knew that property was R-1 when you bought it. If you can't make a profit at the price you paid, that's not my problem. That's your bad business decision."

Of course, in a way you can hardly blame him. It's not as if it's a secret that, in LA, land is worth what you think you can change the zoning to. It's not as if LA stands up to developers."
---------------------------------------------------------------

It's Monday, Do You Know Where Bob's Plans Are Headed?

The title of this post asks the question that I do not know the real answer to, but I would love to read what you think is coming soon.

The Ponte Vista Outreach Team suggested in a response to the report that Bob is still going ahead to the City Planning Commission with his applications and other documents.

The response made no mention of the still scheduled Harbor Area Planning Commission meeting on December 2.

That is about all I know concerning the possible paths forward for Bob and the Outreach Team.

What do you think should happen?

Do you feel as some do, that Bob was always intending to get approval for approximately 1,200-units beginning at any point since 2005?

Do you think he is or was always of a mind to sell whatever entitlements were granted to him, rather than really developing Ponte Vista using the plans advertised?

Were you always skeptical that Bob was never going to really provided the 'amenities' and 'community benefits' he publicized?

Would you still want the amenities and community benefits no matter what the density of the site becomes?

Who do you feel got 'screwed' so far? Why do you feel that?

What do you think Councilwoman Hahn will support after Bob's current plans are formally rejected by the L.A. City Council?

Do you honestly believe Bob's current applications and plans have any chance of approval? Why do you think that, if you do?

Before I continue with my questions, here is a little trivial history concerning the site.

The U.S. Navy obtained the site in 1942 and built a firefighting school in much of the area.

After the school was closed down and demolished, in 1962, duplex housing units were built on the western side of the property, with a market located more easterly of the main duplex-filled area.

Just east of the market and community room, approximately where Mary Star High School now stands, the Navy built box-like apartment structures for lower grade enlisted members of the Navy.

To my knowledge, and correct me if I am incorrect, I contend that there has never been any development of single-family, detached residential units on lots of not less than 5,000 square feet on any of the property currently known as Ponte Vista at San Pedro.

There may certainly have been several ranch-type houses sprinkled throughout the area before the Navy built it up, beginning in 1942.

The Los Angeles City Council placed the current zoning on the land while it was under the control of the U.S. Navy which never needs to follow municipal zoning guidelines.

It is a fact that the area is zoned for single-family, detached residential units on lots of not less than 5,000 square feet and the open space associated with that type of residential zoning.

Now it is time to get back to the questions.

Knowing that there was probably never a housing development of R1-type residences, and there certainly is not one on the site now, might that change any of your opinions as to what should be allowed to be built at the site? If so, why? If not, why not?

Without an objective study or survey ever being conducted regarding the need or want for senior housing or more senior housing by residents of San Pedro, do you feel that there really is a need for that type of housing?

Do you think the land at Ponte Vista will eventually be foreclosed upon and new buyers will purchase the land far below the $122 Million Dollars that was the original price for the land?

How much do you think a developer would pay for the 61.53 acres?

Would you want to see several developers purchase pieces of the site and not the whole site?

If a sports complex is really desired for the site, how much should the land be priced at and who should pay for the land?

Your answers to any and all of these questions are as important as just about everyone else. There are no right or wrong answers to these questions. No score will be kept.

OUR community has been involved with these issues since 2005 and there seems to be no end in sight for when these issues will finally lead to something being built at Ponte Vista.

But as Councilwoman Hahn, Bob Bisno and many others in OUR community firmly believe, something WILL be built at the Ponte Vista site.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Strange and Mysterious Case of The Day After

It is now almost the end of the day after the report was released.

A new strange and mysterious case has been brewing throughout the day.

It seem both supporters AND opponents of Bob's current plans are finding reasons to feel negative and down because of the recent publication's recommendations.

It should be obvious to anyone who can read that supporters of Bob's would be a little more than extremely unhappy with the repeated disapproval, denials, and opposition that run all through the document.

Some knowledgeable opponents are also very unhappy that the report illustrates recommendations that would allow for twice the density as The Gardens development, in San Pedro.

Some opponents contend that Western Avenue could see 30% more traffic and up to 480 more school-age children could be living in a 1196-units project IF the Ponte Vista site is developed to the highest density recommended by the Report.

There are a few folks who are now contending that the recommendations created for what could be built at Ponte Vista, by City Planners is probably what Bob has always been looking for.

1196-condominium units is far more than the 429-single,family, detached houses on lots of not less than 5,000 square feel as would be the case for and all-R1 Ponte Vista, with its current zoning.

Even with a density bonus included with the R1 zoning, that would move the 429 figure up to about 733-735 houses.

The report initially recommends between 775-886 residential units. With a density bonus being applied. With a density bonus applied, the total number of units move up to between 1,046-1,196-units.

I tried running some numbers through my calculator this evening. Bob paid $122 Million Dollars for the land at Ponte Vista. I am having quite a lot of difficulty attempting to calculate a reasonable price for a unit within a 1,196-unit project when the cost of the land is so very high.

Just on the outset, I can't imagine that anyone could afford to spend $122 Million Dollars for property and then be able to break even when they can only build as many as 1,196-units.

With a density bonus, the developer would be required to offer about 35% of the units built at lower than market-rate prices.

It would probably be quite tough trying to market housing with such a premium price simply because Bob paid too much for the land that only up to 1,196-units could stand on.

Now here is something that has been strange for several years.

In the Initial Study for the project, the sizes of the units were listed as being between 700 square feet and, get ready for this.....3,000 square feet, with the average size of units being 1,400 feet.

The house that I live in is only about 1,200 square feet, by the way.

Bob and his Outreach Team have never stopped complaining that keeping the site R1 would only allow for houses that cost quite a bit of money.

Well, what does it say when Bob and his bunch complain about R1 housing prices when they were willing to offer units of 3,000 square feet in size?

But wait, here is something strange, trivial and has nothing to do with the project.

Federal campaign contribution records are public records anyone can access.

In 2004, Robert Bisno donated $2,000 to the reelection campaign of President Bush.

In 2008, Robert Bisno donated $2,500 to the Presidential campaign of.......Barack Obama!

Thank you Bob, that was wonderful of you.

In the response created by Ms. Elise Swanson, concerning the Report, she wrote nothing about the scheduled Harbor Area Planning Commission meeting on December 2.

Her response did mention the December 11 meeting of the City Planning Commission.

I wonder if the Outreach Team has already given up on presenting their issues before the Area Planning Commission.

I bet that meeting will be canceled before the close of business on Monday, anyway. But I could be wrong and stranger things have happened.

I'm not going to solve the mystery of the minimum number of units Bob was willing to build and still include the promised amenities. All that is over now, anyway.

There are many other mysteries and strange things that have surrounded the Ponte Vista project that I am aware of, but I don't feel it is time to reveal many of them.

We'll just have to wait until Bob and his current applications are filed in the history drawer of the cabinet.

I can state that the horizon still holds more strange happenings and mysteries and we need to watch out for all of them.

It's Now Saturday Morning, Let's Review

Good morning,

Have you taken the time to digest the latest news about Ponte Vista?

Maybe it is time for a review of things that have happened lately.

In early November, Bob Bisno's City Place Santa Ana held a marketing-type auction for many or the unsold units at that condominium project.

The Ponte Vista Outreach team claimed Mr. Bisno was very pleased with the results. But had sales and the economy been better, Bob's marketing team might not have found it necessary to have the auction for 114 unsold properties in the first place.

Bob Bisno was mentioned in one of two articles detailing the lawsuit between residents of Beverly Park North and Beverly Park South, where approximately 64 properties make up some of the most expensive and exclusive housing projects in the city.

The folks living in Beverly Park North don't like having to deal with construction, maintenance, and other traffic going between Mulholland Drive and Beverly Park South, a smaller enclave to the south of where Mr. Bisno and others live.

Later in November the Tentative Vesting Tract for the Ponte Vista at San Pedro project was disapproved of. It may have only been technical in nature, but to some folks it represented a psychological setback for Bob's plans.

On November 20, 2008 the Mayor of the city of Baldwin Park announced that Bob Bisno and his development company had pulled out of plans to redevelopment approximately 125 acres of downtown Baldwin Park.

Late in the afternoon of November 21, the Recommendation Report by the Department of City Planning was released. The document deals with Ponte Vista at San Pedro.

The recommended actions for both the Harbor Area Planning Commission and the Los Angeles City Planning Commission are as follows:

1. Disapprove a General Plan Amendment to the Wilmington-Harbor City Community Plan from “Low Residential” and “Open Space” to “Medium” Density Residential land use.

2. Disapprove a Zone Change from the existing R1-1XL and OS-1XL to a Specific Plan Zone proposed to be created as part of this action.

3. Disapprove the establishment of the Ponte Vista at San Pedro Specific Plan proposed to be created as part of this action.

4. Disapprove a Development Agreement between BDC Ponte Vista Partners LLC and the City of Los Angeles.

5. Not Certify Environmental Impact Report ENV-2005-4516-EIR, Not Adopt a Statement of Overriding Considerations, and Disapprove the Mitigation Monitoring Program.

Note: The words in boldface are as they actually appear in the document.

There are so many issues to review in the document, it would be better for you to read them yourself by visiting: http://www.box.net/shared/hxe1d75o95.

I have heard of no plans yet for the cancellation of the upcoming Harbor Area Planning Commission on December 2.

The more important meeting by the Los Angeles City Planning Commission, concerning Ponte Vista is still scheduled for December 11, 2008 in downtown Los Angeles.

Efforts are still ongoing to have that meeting held in San Pedro.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Department of City Planning Recommendation Report

Click on images to enlarge.


These are the first three pages of a 37 Page report that I have not read thoroughly yet.

I wanted to post these three pages as soon as possible to allow folks to learn what the Planning Department, its urban planners, staff, architects, and management have considered regarding the Ponte Vista at San Pedro project.

You may view the entire document by clicking on: http://www.box.net/shared/hxe1d75o95

I've Read It And I Am Still Shocked

I took the time to read the report.

It is still hard for me to think of words to write because it was so very different in its findings than I thought it would be.

It seemed almost too absolute. Each page that dealt with the plans Bob has proposed had negative comments about his plans.

It looks now more likely that Bob has a real beef with his urban planners and folks who were supposed to advise him. I am not suggesting that I could possibly defend anything Bob has done with his latest proposal, but as I read the document I saw how very far apart Bob's ideas were from all the people at the Department of City Planning.

There was seemingly not one thing that escaped opposition by the Department of City Planning.

I was more than amazed to read how planners ripped apart Bob's plans for senior housing where he wanted to put it, at Ponte Vista.

I will stop for a bit and let you know that if you visit www.rneighborhoodsare1.blogspot.com you can read the four pages of the document that made up the recommendations by the Planning Department for what could be possible at the location in northwest San Pedro.

When you read that section and think about what Bob planned, you can see that the two groups are very far apart in their thinking about the use of the land.

Now back to the document and the issuance of so much negativity.

City Planners didn't seem to spare one area of Bob's plans from criticism. The location of the site so far away from community centers, transit hubs, pedestrian availability and many other things were blasted by planners.

Am I sad to read what I read? Well, I did opine that I 'dreamed' of a project that included some senior housing, upscale town houses, and regular condominiums. I was pleased to read that my 'dream' number fell within the number of units recommended using a density bonus by planners.

I also have flashes of anger when I read how far apart what Bob wanted compared to the recommendations made by city planners are. How could Bob have gotten away with what he has done to so many of his supporters for far too long?

The document was so critical of Bob's plans that it can't be believed he didn't know, long ago, that his project plans would not fly, or even taxi.

Had Bob's plans been even remotely close to what the recommendations suggests, he might have had a chance. But from day one, the only time he reduced the total number of units, he did so by such a miserably low number, everyone, even his supporters should have called him on it.

Would he have listened? Apparently not, it seems.

I tried calling the Outreach Team the last two days and I have only gotten through to the recorder.

It would not be that unimaginable to consider that layoff notices may have gone out to the members of the Outreach Team yesterday or today, but I hope that didn't happen. There are already too many folks without jobs around here.

Now Bob might simply batten down the hatches and sit on his land while the continuing economic turmoil goes on.

He now knows what can be considered for Ponte Vista, if he really wants the Planning Department to approve things.

As far as boxing related things go, Bob got knocked to the canvas. Whether he gets up is not yet known. He may be able to make it to the end of the round, but that is not known either.

Should the Harbor Area Commission meet on the Ponte Vista subject?

My opinion is no. If the Planning Department had come out with a different document, one that was closer to creating some kind of avenue towards approval for the project, then perhaps, they could have met.

But as you read the document all the way through, the idea that an appointed body would even consider going against the overall demeanor of the document and even suggesting some kind of positive comments about the project, would be hard to believe.

Harbor Area Commissioners are already down to just three potential members who would possibly meet on the subject. How red-faced would they be coming out with positive comments against a backdrop of the results from the document?

There are still opponents of Bob's who want you to prepare for the December 2 meeting. If you feel very strong about Ponte Vista, one way or another, then you should probably stick to reading whether the meeting will still be held.

I am sure there are some supporters of Bob's plans who may now be embarrassed to have followed Bob for so long, down the path to where we are now. Some of these folks need to remain embarrassed for their continued support of plans that have been found to be so wrong for OUR community.

I know this is mean, but I will not apologize for the following:

Remember when the supporter of Bob's plans got up during a CAC meeting and firmly stated, "Bob Bisno is going to save San Pedro!"

I think this is the end, for the time being, for Bob Bisno in San Pedro. I may be wrong, but his failures recently combined with the downward spiral in the economy indicates it is not time to build large or even low-medium density projects at this time.

Perhaps Bob will just pay the property taxes on the land, keep the Western Avenue gate open to Mary Star and allow law enforcement to use the site for educational purposes.

He could probably deduct from taxes because he allows use of the road and the houses on the site. He would continue to provide a benefit for law enforcement and get some tax relief on the side.

Bob may just want to rely on more economical means to really work with OUR community and a different set of urban planners than he used for Ponte Vista. His urban planners were definitely not in tune with the realities of doing a project in the particular area where Ponte Vista is located.

I don't think Bob can blame his failures completely on the current economy and housing market. He had the time, the opportunity, and the interest of members of OUR community to come up with compromise proposals that may have found approval, even two or so years ago.

I can't imagine his support base remaining as strong as it seems to have been, now that the report has been made public.

Supporters of Bob's plans, as I have written before, it is time for you to rethink your support for a plan that now has been proven by educated people dealing with urban planning to be too large and so filled with problems.

You do not need to turn on Bob or his Outreach Team, but you should let them know that you supported what now amounts to a hopeless cause that was carried out with not that much regard for your own needs and wants.

Some of you may also feel 'sold out' by Bob for your support for something that has been judged by the City Planning Department as being something that had really no chance for approval.

Of course, I have to continue to state that whatever is finally built at Ponte Vista should use unionized labor. The recommendations supplied by the Planning Department to suggest what could be built at Ponte Vista are probably too few in number to allow for unionized labor, but it is still something OUR community should still call for.

The Response From the Ponte Vista Outreach Team

The following post is from the blog published by the Outreach Team for Ponte Vista at San Pedro and I will offer no opinions about this post.

Ponte Vista Specific Plan Denied — Our Response
November 21, 2008

We are deeply disappointed to inform you that the City of Los Angeles Planning Department has issued a staff recommendation that denies the proposed Ponte Vista Specific Plan.

The staff report did not recommend a single family home development; however, it also did not recommend a unit count high enough to achieve many of the community benefits planned for Ponte Vista. The staff report recommends a unit count in the range of up to 1,200 units with a state approved density bonus.

The Planning Department has had the proposed Ponte Vista specific plan for over two years and has not commented or provided staff input on the plan.

We find it sad that the department put the community through two years of discussion without mentioning the concerns listed in the recommendation. Ponte Vista paid for a full time city planner to work on the details of specific plan with the development team and the community and that obviously did not happen.

We look forward to bringing our project to the City Planning Commission on Thursday, December 11. We will be in front of appointed leaders who put good land use ahead of politics as we pursue our vision of a truly mixed income neighborhood that will provide the maximum benefit to the community.

Please contact me if you have any questions at (310) 241 – 0699.

I want to personally thank you for your continued support.

Elise Swanson

Odds and Ends 92

Downtown Baldwin Park Redevelopment

At the City Council meeting of November 20, 2008, Mayor Manuel Lozano made the following statement on behalf of the City Council, regarding the proposed downtown redevelopment project:

“Bisno Development Company has informed the City it is no longer able to pursue the downtown Baldwin Park revitalization project due to current market conditions.

While disappointing, this news is not a surprise given the condition of today’s economy. The unprecedented economic meltdown has adversely impacted countries, financial institutions, state and local governments, as well as industries and businesses large and small and has frozen the capital markets. As a result, the Bisno Company has advised us our Baldwin Park downtown revitalization project is no longer feasible at this time, based on the deterioration in the housing, commercial and financial markets."

The full text of Mayor Lozano's comments can be found by visiting www.baldwinpark.com.

"Oops, there goes another rubber tree plant!" (Some lyrics from an old song).
____________________________________________

The Baldwin Park Redevelopment Project envisioned by Bob and some government and business leaders in the city of Baldwin Park could have eventually seen the right of eminent domain used to clear lower-income residents and businesses from the downtown Baldwin Park area to be replaced by up to 8,000 residential units, 130,000 feet of retail space, a 1,000-seat Charter K-12 school, a 300-room Hotel, and many other amenities that most of the residents of Baldwin Park could not necessarily afford to use, rent, or buy into.

Well that is all gone now and the good folks can get back to dealing with their own lives and not worry about their out-of-town developer creating about 17-years worth of changes that many residents of that area didn't want in the first place.
_____________________________________________

The more I read the following line, the more I am amused, confused, perplexed, and smiling.

"Many Ponte Vista opponents insist that Bob Bisno knew that the property was zoned as R1."

That line is from a post authored by "I" from the Ponte Vista Outreach Team. It can be found on a site supportive of Bob's plans, whatever they are.

The fact of the matter is that Bob did know what the zoning on the property he eventually bought was and still is. Why would anyone even think he didn't know.

The statement above did not state that Bob didn't know that the property was zoned as R1.
--------------------------------------------------------------
I regularly read the blog supportive of Ponte Vista at San Pedro and it seems our blogs 'debate' each other.

I use "Ponte Vista" in this blog's URL because it was the name provided by an agency contracted by the Federal Government to deal with marketing and selling the property in northwest San Pedro. "Ponte vista" or "bridge view", "scaffolding view" or "crane view" in the Italian language was not created by anyone at Bisno Development Co., LLC.
_____________________________________________

Can you tell I am trying to stall while we wait for the Staff Report to be released?
_____________________________________________

I am now trying to work with Ms. Elise Swanson from the Ponte Vista Outreach Team, every single supporter of Bob's plans, and every single opponent of Bob's current plans to join together and strongly request that the December 11 meeting by the Los Angeles City Planning Commission meet in San Pedro!

I encourage EVERYONE to send Emails to: planning@lacity.org and, using your own wording, positively request that the upcoming meeting that is very important to the future of the Project and the whole community be held IN the community that the Project is located.

There are many seniors who support Bob's plans and there are many seniors who don't. There are many workers who support or oppose Bob' plans, and there are parents on all sides who have children attending schools in the community.

We would all have a harder time getting large groups to downtown Los Angeles. The members of the City Planning Commission and their staffs are fewer in number than we are and San Pedro can offer them free parking at a meeting site closer to our neighborhoods and the Project.
_____________________________________________

'Hot off the presses' is an article just published on www.citywatch.com. It is written by San Pedro's own Doug Epperhart and here it is.
----------------------------------------------------------------

What Happens When a Lobbyist has a Commissioner for Lunch?
Ethics

By Doug Epperhart

Since ethics is the topic du jour for neighborhood councils, here’s a story illustrating the real problem facing city officials—the cozy relationships between government and the people who want something from government.

There’s no Form 700 or 52 or 53 that discloses what happens when a lobbyist has lunch with a commissioner. In fact, most commissioners aren’t required to tell anyone about these outside communications.

Even when commissioners have obvious conflicts, they tend to be overlooked or deliberately ignored. But not always. A Century City-based developer, Robert Bisno, wants to put nearly 2,000 condos on Western Avenue in San Pedro. The three nearest neighborhood councils—Northwest San Pedro, Coastal San Pedro, and Harbor City—are on record opposing the project known as Ponte Vista.

A community advisory committee created by Councilwoman Janice Hahn spent nearly a year looking at the project and voted to oppose it. Recently, the planning department rejected Bisno’s tract map.

The developer created an “advisory board” whose primary function seems to be cheerleading for the project. He has lavished money on advertising, made donations to local charities, and hired an army of lobbyists.

Despite this, Bisno has not had a lot of success. So far.

Enter the Harbor Area Planning Commission (HAPC). Because Ponte Vista is too big to fall within the group’s jurisdiction, they are not part of the legal process involved in creating the specific plan that guides the project.

However, the Harbor Area planning commissioners asked that Ponte Vista be put on their agenda. The planning department agreed to allow “review and comment” by the HAPC because a specific plan is involved.

Two of the commissioners run chambers of commerce that have endorsed Bisno’s project. Their organizations have taken thousands in sponsorship money from Ponte Vista. The board chairman of one of these chambers is a paid lobbyist for Bisno. A third commissioner is in charge of a nonprofit that has received thousands in contributions from Ponte Vista. This commissioner has also publicly testified at a planning department hearing on behalf of the project.

Commissioners’ pro-developer bias seems clear to many of us. Even though this commission has no authority in this case, their opinion becomes part of the record and may carry added weight with the decision-makers downtown.

An added bonus for Bisno would be a press release probably headlined “Commission approves Ponte Vista.”

The HAPC put Ponte Vista on their agenda for November 18.

The Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council passed a resolution asking the city attorney to rule on whether the three commissioners in question had conflicts of interest. A second letter questioning the commissioners’ potential conflicts was sent by several individual members of the Northwest San Pedro, Central San Pedro, and Harbor City neighborhood councils.

We have yet to receive a reply from the city attorney’s office. However, our city attorney liaison told us the matter was being acted on. Subsequent conversations with Councilwoman Hahn’s staff, the planning department, and at least one HAPC commissioner confirmed that the two commissioners who manage chambers of commerce were informed they should recuse themselves.

We have heard the third commissioner is being given a pass because the HAPC won’t have a quorum if this individual can’t participate.

I’ve had numerous discussions regarding ethics and conflicts of interest with city attorneys advising our neighborhood council during the past six years. I’ve also had talks with staff at the city ethics commission. I have no doubt that all three HAPC commissioners would have been told in no uncertain terms they should recuse themselves if they were serving as neighborhood council board members, even if it would kill the quorum.

If there’s a different standard for commissioners, I’d like someone to explain it to me.

The most distressing thing is that it apparently never occurred to the HAPC commissioners their participation might violate the city’s ethics rules, particularly since L.A. claims to adhere to an “appearance of conflict standard” that says if it looks like a conflict, it is a conflict.

By the way, the November 18 meeting of the Harbor Area Planning Commission was canceled. It has tentatively been rescheduled for December 2, only one week before the city planning commission will be meeting to vote on Ponte Vista.
_____________________________________________

Well, it is 11:53 AM on November 21, 2008. Is anybody surprised that no Staff Report has been released to the public regarding Ponte Vista yet?

Perhaps we should all donate to buy refrigeration units to be sent to that fiery place where the Devil lives so we can speed up the freezing process to try and get something from the Planning Department, sooner.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Oh Really? The 'Funny' Supportive Blog

I keep reading the publications coming from a blog that is supportive of Bob's plans for Ponte Vista. I have no idea how many other are visiting it, but it is quite a hoot sometimes.

I have never published the URL for the site because I figure if you really want to read it, you can find it on YOUR own. (Yes, YOUR is a hint)

Here is one of the funniest lines I have encountered on that site.

"Many Ponte Vista opponents insist that Bob Bisno knew that the property was zoned as R1."

That is not only comical, but if Bob didn't know the zoning when he bought the property, what does that really say about his judgement and planning?

It is true that back in 1999 there were all sorts of ideas for the use of the 61.53 acres of land and it is also true that many of those plans would have created more traffic congestion that Bob claims his project would create.

But those plans never got to the stage Bob is right now, unless we don't know what Bob knows.

We also know that had those former plans been considered to the stage Bob's plans are at right now, then there would have been plenty of studies and the acknowledgement that R1 zoning would have to be removed from the area.

The Los Angeles City Council adopted the current zoning at the Ponte Vista site well before 1999 and if Bob didn't know that, well.........

In fact, the City Council adopted the current zoning for the land during the time the U.S. Navy owned and used the land and had absolutely no obligation to even consider what the municipal zoning is or was on the site.

The post went on to state what Bob wants to provide as an explanation. The post did not bother to answer whether Bob actually knew what the zoning was when he entered into a protracted bidding process to acquire the land.

This post was funny to me because it illustrates that some folks on the Outreach Team may believe you are not as intelligent as I give you credit for. I think you can all easily see straight through the smokescreen being applied to the project.

But wait, there's more!

Not only did we get comedy on a post, we also got some more interesting reading with a second post created recently to suggest that Bob is the one who is willing to compromise and not too many others.

That post suggested that the number of units, 1,950, was "not a magic number". If that is the case, then why hasn't Bob produced the labor agreements that could state the number of units Bob would build and still use Union labor?

I guess the Outreach Team believes the reduction in total unit numbers from 2,300 to 1,950 is real compromise. I have a hunch and interviews to back up my claim that hardly anyone I have talked to, written to, or heard from believe that is anywhere near a realistic and respectful compromise.

It seems the post singles out Councilwoman Janice Hahn as the one who is not willing to compromise.

I was not only in the room, but sat as a member of the Community Advisory Committee when both Bob and Councilwoman Hahn began the Committee meetings with positive intentions and goals that we all hoped could be reached.

I was not only in the room, but sat as a member of the Community Advisory Committee when Bob rejected outright all three of the illustrations for compromises suggested by the CAC.

I have been dealing with the issues for several years and I am still waiting to be invited to a large group meeting of supporters and opponents, with facilitators present to hash out compromise ideas. Bob rejected the CAC's attempts at compromise, what should make anyone think he will really start negotiating with OUR community on real compromises after all this time?

Bob has had much more than two years to sit down with others, including opponents of his plans to try and work something out. Where were those meetings?

The post also states that; "there is significant support for senior housing". Oh really? Where are the independent studies to bolster that statement?

Has the Ponte Vista Outreach Team found potential buyers of all 850 senior units now being planned?

If it has, then o.k. I had in mind only 550 in my 'dream', but what the heck.

Bob Bisno may be willing to sit down with Councilwoman Hahn to discuss real compromise, but so many of us feel it is two years too late, and he wasted all of his chances that he could and should have used to really respect OUR community.

Lastly, all the amenities listed in the post would only be provided by Bob IF he gets a certain minimum number of units and entitlements at Ponte Vista.

And the Outreach Team has offered NO GUARANTEE that Bob won't simply sell his entitlements once they are given to him and provide NOTHING at Ponte Vista.

Let's Set the Record Straight(er)

There is a site supportive of Bob's plans for Ponte Vista at San Pedro that publishes the views of Bob and his Outreach Team.

One of the recent posts began with, "Let's set the record straight". The post then went on to issue proclamations that may or may not have been true.

Now it is time for this blog to publish a contribution from a very well informed source that contradicts what the Outreach Team seems to believe are the facts regarding the planned Harbor Area Planning Commission meeting on December 2.

The following set of comments if from Mr. Jerry Gaines, a former member of the Harbor Area Planning Commission and one of the informed leaders who helped create the regulations as they relate to Planning Commissions.
--------------------------------------------------------------
"As a former Charter Reform Commissioner I participated in the drafting of the regulations as they relate to Planning Commissions.

It is important to note that any development project that has a minimum of 50 units or more is assigned to the Citywide Planning Commission for decision making purposes. Area Planning Commissions (7 areas of the city) are given authority to review local small scale land use matters only. We felt that large scale projects could have a potential significant impact on more than just one region or area of the city. Therefore, projects such as the Ponte Vista project are only under the jurisdiction of the Citywide Planning Commission.

Therefore, all that is being done with the Ponte Vista Matter is to permit (if time permits) a local informational session to be scheduled during a scheduled meting of the Harbor Area Planning Commission. This commission has no authority to vote on this project. Although the Mayor appoints the five local commissioners, their views are officially just their individual views, and in effect are no more significant that those of the area Neighborhood Councils or other community agencies (public or private) and local citizens. From what I can see this December 2 meeting (if held) is just for convenience of the community to learn about the Planning Departments views on this proposed project.

Hopefully, there will be time to review and respond to the City Planning Departments Report and Findings prior to the Citywide Planning Commission meeting on December 11. My advice to all interested stakeholders is to prepare to make responses to the report at the Citywide Planning Commission meeting next month."
------------------------------------------------------------------
With my reading and re-reading of Mr. Gaines' comments, I believe that the Area Planning Commission is also not authorized to vote on even a recommendation being sent to the City Planning Commission.

I understand that during a prior Area Planning Commission, the members voted unanimously to have the upcoming meeting with regard to Ponte Vista and to make a recommendation. I now believe those members were in error when they believed they could vote on a recommendation concerning Ponte Vista, at any time.

I agree with Mr. Gaines when he suggests that all interested stakeholders be prepared to make comments on the upcoming Staff Report, and attend and speak at the Los Angeles City Planning Commission meeting on December 11.

Many members of OUR community have learned from Mr. Gaines. He has been of great service to OUR community for many, many years. I hope he knows how appreciated his willingness to share views and information with the rest of us is.

Thank you Mr. Jerry Gaines.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

New Meeting Date!

The Harbor Area Planning Commission has rescheduled its meeting concerning the Ponte Vista at San Pedro project.

The new meeting date is Tuesday December 2, 2008. The meeting time is 4:00 PM

A new location for the meeting has been found. It is the Port of L.A. Boys and Girls Club. The add address of the Club is: 100 W. 5th Street, San Pedro, California.

The phone number to the Club is: 310-831-5232.

This information has been confirmed on November 19, 2008 With at least one representative of local government.
----------------------------------------------------------------
Here is a letter to the editor that appeared in last Friday's Daily Breeze. The signature the paper used was from Mr. Bruce Horton. He was just one member of the R Neighborhoods Are 1 Steering Committee who signed the letter. His signature was not the only signature on the original letter.

"Here we go again. Yet another Ponte Vista hearing.

This one is important. It is at the Warner Grand at 4:30 PM on Tuesday, November 18th, before the Harbor Area Planning Commission.

The trouble is, three of the five members of the Commission have already made up their minds. While all are fine persons, they are not impartial on this project and should recuse themselves..

Commissioners Camilla Townsend and Joeann Valle are the CEOs of two local Chambers of Commerce. Both Chambers have endorsed the project. In addition, the Chair of the San Pedro Chamber, John Ek [Townsend’s boss], is a paid lobbyist for Ponte Vista. Ms. Townsend has personally drummed up support for the project from local groups as part of her paid work. Ms. Valle has also been actively supporting the project. In fact, she is a member of Ponte Vista’s Advisory Board.

The third Commissioner, Gloria Lockhart, is the President and CEO of a local nonprofit organization in San Pedro that has received major contributions from Ponte Vista. Ms. Lockhart has appeared at previous hearings, complete with big “Ponte Vista Supporter” sticker, and spoken in favor of the project.

We deserve better. We deserve an impartial Commission. Los Angeles ethics rules say that a Commissioner should step down where the public might be reasonably concerned about their impartiality.

By now, these three commissioners should have recused themselves or the Mayor should have instructed them not to participate. Because this hasn’t happened, the Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council and several board members of the Northwest San Pedro, Central San Pedro, and Harbor City councils have asked the City Attorney to rule on the matter.

We are still waiting for a ruling. We haven’t heard from the Mayor either.

The three Commissioners should do the right thing and not participate in the hearing on (November 18th.)" December 2, 2008.

Bruce Horton
San Pedro, California
______________________________________________

It is no secret that Bob Bisno needs to find a way to get some more support for his massive project.

He and his Outreach Team are trying their best to get some kind of recommendation from even three members of the Harbor Area Planning Commission, if it supports his plans.

The Harbor Area Planning Commission voted unanimously, earlier this year, to take up the Ponte Vista issue, receive comments about it, and then offer a recommendation to the Los Angeles City Planning Commission.

Since that vote was taken, it was learned that the Harbor Area Planning Commission is not authorized to take on votes concerning large developments, including Ponte Vista at San Pedro.

Whether a recommendation from a majority of three members of the Commission is going to happen is still up in the air.

Of course, it is not certain that the December 2 meeting will even take place. The Harbor Area Planning Commissions record of actually meeting on a regular basis is not good at all, with many canceled meetings already in their more recent history.

It is strongly suggested though, that all parties on any side of the Ponte Vista issue be prepared and willing to attend the scheduled meeting and speak on the topic.

Naturally, thousands of us would prefer that the majority of speakers oppose Bob's current plans, but I know that the Ponte Vista Outreach Team will be doing the paid work required to get as many supporters to show up at the meeting as possible.

It is also true that the Steering Committee of R Neighborhoods Are 1 will be doing the all-volunteer work at having the majority of speakers talk in opposition to Bob's current plans.

Whether Union members will come to support Bob's current plans is still up in the air.

In an earlier Daily Breeze article, an attorney representing Mr. Bisno suggested that the number of units in a new plan from Bob Bisno might only have "1700" units. Whether the agreements between Bob and some Unions were written to allow for unionized construction work at Ponte Vista on a number fewer than 1,950 is unknown.

I must comment here that I do know a total number of units Bob earlier suggested he could build and still be willing to use unionized labor, and still provide all the 'amenities' he has promised. That total number is less than "1700" units.

Whether you wish to attend the December 2 meeting or not, many of us feel certain that the most important of the two meetings coming up regarding Ponte Vista at San Pedro is the Los Angeles City Planning Commission meeting on December 11, 2008.

At that meeting, a recommendation could be provided to the Los Angeles City Council as to what the Commissioners feel should be allowed for at the 61.53 acre site in northwest San Pedro.

The City Planning Commission meeting will commence in the morning and the meeting site is in downtown Los Angeles. I know that this site and meeting time may be a struggle for many people, but it is absolutely vital for as many opponents of Bob's current plans to show up at that meeting as possible.

Please 'stay tuned' to this site, look for Emails, and keep your eyes and ears open as we move much more quickly towards real decisions regarding Ponte Vista.

The release of the Staff Report from the Planning Department is still somewhat expected on November 21, but do not bet the farm or even a chicken coop on that.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Update On Canceled Meeting and More

It has been reported that the Staff Report that was to be issued prior to the Harbor Area Planning Commission was not ready to be presented even as late as this past Friday.

It has been about eight months since the Staff Report was called for and it I don't really know what it was not ready in time.

I have been told that the issue may come up at the December 2, Harbor Area Planning Commission meetings because the planners are looking for a large site to hold that meeting.

It is not certain whether the Harbor Area Planning Commission will meet on December 2, but it would be the last time they could meet on the issue prior to the City Planning Commission meeting still scheduled for December 11, 2008.

There are several opinions floating around as to the reason the Staff Report was not ready. I have heard and read that it may become available on November 21, but I no longer hold my breath for anything regarding Ponte Vista.

A site supporting Ponte Vista seems critical of the delay and has offered the Email addresses for Councilwoman Janice Hahn and City Planning Department Head, Ms. Gail Goldberg for supporters to state their opinions about the delay or 'inconvience'.

After all this time and including the delay, it is hoped that the Staff Report 'gets it right' and is a strong enough document to hold up to criticism from supporters of Ponte Vista or opponents, depending on what it reports.
____________________________________________

The fire on the Palos Verdes peninsula was caused by a bird landing on energized wires and being electrocuted. The bird's body fell into brush and the fire was started very close to the Rancho Palos Verdes City Hall and the Salvation Army Campus.

No structures were damaged and about 150 firefighters assisted by aircraft put out the fire.
____________________________________________

I have learned that the "I" who writes posts on sites supportive of Bob's plans for Ponte Vista is actually the collected thoughts and posts by the members of the Outreach Team for Ponte Vista. No single person is taking credit for writing the posts.
___________________________________________

If you are of a mind to be critical of the Planning Department and vent frustration to Ms. Hahn and Ms. Goldberg, here are their Email addresses:

janice.hahn@lacity.org

gail.goldberg@lacity.org

Friday, November 14, 2008

MEETING CANCELED!!!

Click over image to enlarge.

The Harbor Area Planning Commission meeting scheduled for Tuesday November 18 at the Warner Grand Theater will NOT be held on that date!

The latest information I have received from a staff member in the Planning Commission offices is that a December 2, 2008 date for the meeting is currently being considered.

It is VERY important that you advise everyone you know who was planning on attending the November 18 meeting, that there will NOT be a meeting held on that date, at the planned location.

Earlier today quite a bit of information began swirling around about the cancellation of the meeting and it is necessary that we all keep up to the minute on whether, when, and where the meeting may take place in the future.

It certainly may come to pass that the meeting is cancelled altogether, with no new Harbor Area Planning Commission meeting on the issue being held. The reason for this is because the Ponte Vista at San Pedro matter is still scheduled to go before the full City Planning Commission on December 11.

The Harbor Area Planning Commission would have to meet PRIOR to the City Planning Commission's meeting concerning Ponte Vista, and the date of December 2, 2008 is still being considered as the date for the Harbor Area Planning Commission meeting, IF is occurs.

In my conversations with the staff member of the Planning Commission, it is now my greater understanding that the Harbor Area Planning Commission meeting would be held ONLY to take and make comments and that NO recommendation by that body would be passed forward to the City Planning Commission.

If you have already made plans to be in downtown San Pedro on Tuesday afternoon, please enjoy the many restaurant choices and businesses in the downtown area. They need your support and if you have already set aside the time, there is still much to do in downtown San Pedro.

Odds and Ends 91

When this blog was younger and perhaps even two years ago, I wrote a post titled "The Ugly Truths".

That post commented on some factual details that could come about if Bob was not granted the entitlements to build what he wants to build at Ponte Vista.

If should be understood by all that the fewer number of units built at Ponte Vista, the fewer amenities and less mitigation could take place.

I even agreed with Bob in that, if the site is to remain with its current zoning, Bob could take away the only amenity he has already granted; the private access from Western Avenue to the Mary Star High School Campus.

Even though some in the Planning Department and elsewhere state that he could not close that road, I believe Bob was correct when he stated he could not be forced to give up his land for the roadway, without his consent.

Many folks now know the minimum number of units Bob would be willing to get entitlements for and then perhaps, offer all the amenities and mitigation he has promised.

The 'jury' is still out as to whether Bob would be given new entitlements to lots at Ponte Vista and then simply sell them to others without providing any of the amenities, mitigation, or housing he has promised.
___________________________________________

"Let's set something straight." (LSSS) Those words were published on a site created by members of the Ponte Vista Outreach Team and I am using those words to support some true beliefs I have has for some time.

LGSS, the facts about my opinion of Ponte Vista is NOT that I don't 'like' Ponte Vista. I do not like or agree with Bob's and Eric's current plans for the 61.53 acre site.

I understand and agree that, according to both Robert H. Bisno and Councilwoman Janice Hahn, "something will be built at Ponte Vista." What that 'something' is is still under consideration.

LSSS, I am still the only sole on the R Neighborhoods Are 1 Steering Committee that has publicly stated that I 'wish' or 'dream' that there would be some senior housing units at Ponte Vista. I am still mystified that so many supporters of Bob's current plans keep attacking me with providing any credit that I do have opinions that differ from others on the Steering Committee.

Of course, as long as Bob continues with his current plans and refuses to offer a compromise number of units at Ponte Vista that is reasonable, realistic, responsible, and respectful to OUR community then the site must remain, R1, NO COMPROMISE. What part of this paragraph do so many supporters not understand?

LSSS, where where and are the supporters who suggested almost two years ago that the plans that Bob was using back then were too big for their liking? Why didn't supporters who have been concerned for some time that Bob would not get approval to build such a massive development, meet with folks like me to come up with our own compromise proposals and present them to Bob and Councilwoman Hahn and demand a redo of Bob's plans?

Thousands of opponents of Bob's current plans have their opinions about what could be built at Ponte Vista and that must mean there should be thousands of supporters who also have their own opinions. What has kept so many of them from speaking out?

LSSS, Bob 'gambled' with his purchase of land in northwest San Pedro. In referring to developers who buy land that has particular zoning already on it and then seek to have that zoning changed to allow for denser housing, Ms. Gail Goldberg, the head of the Los Angeles City Planning Departments was quoted as stating, "can you spell s-p-e-c-u-l-a-t-i-o-n?".

LSSS, Bob may also be a victim of the real estate crash and the dreadful economic downturn we are all facing and neither Bob nor everyone else who regularly reads this blog had any direct part in the collapses. But Bob could have most probably have received entitlements to begin building units some time ago had he used the total number of units he recently used as a minimum number of units he might build that included all the amenities and mitigation promised.

Bob's seeming unwillingness to compromise from the beginning is partially to blame for what may ultimately come to be at Ponte Vista and no one other than Bob and his senior assistants should be blamed for what may happen.
____________________________________________

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Death of '1,950'

I think I have learned enough information for a long enough period of time to be able to state with a great deal of certainty that Bob Bisno will NOT build 1,950-units at Ponte Vista at San Pedro.

We don't know yet what the number of units the Planning Department and its City Planning Commission will ultimately recommend, but it is safe to state that it will not be "1,950-condominiums and/or town houses."

In fairness to everyone, the passing of '1,950' was done months ago and has been kept as quiet as possible for some time.

As we all prepare to learn new numbers of units suggested for Ponte Vista, so too must we prepare to learn what Bob will not provide as the number of units go down. As his numbers go down, he will not provide amenities on the same scale or number that he promised at Ponte Vista.

We also may see a change in the types of units he will propose.

The largest and most vocal support for Ponte Vista as it currently is planned by Bob is by seniors wishing for senior housing at the site. Bob has a 'Senior Advisory Board' supportive of plans to build senior housing at the site.

If the senior housing component of Ponte Vista were to disappear I imagine that Bob will find a whole lot of his supporters joining the ranks of R Neighborhoods Are 1.

Since I also 'wish' or 'dream' for some senior housing at Ponte Vista, I feel it would be the straw that breaks the camel's back if senior housing is eliminated from Bob's plans.

Everyone also needs to be prepared for the fact that if the final set of entitlements does not include a minimum number of units that is in Bob's mind, he will not use Union labor to build anything at Ponte Vista IF he actually sticks around after the entitlements are granted.

Everyone should also realize that if Bob abandons ship with profits from entitlements, the other developers would, most probably, not use Union labor for their smaller projects.

For many months now I have used "Bob's current plans" instead of numbers of units in much of my posting. One reason I have done that is because I only can deal with the plans Bob is currently suggesting. He has changed his plans in the past and I think folks will learn quite a bit more during or after the Harbor Area Planning Commission meeting.

For supporters, may I suggest that when you speak about Ponte Vista at the Harbor Area Planning Commission meeting, you speak about the type of housing you would purchase at the site. The more folks that speak about one particular type of housing over others may provide Bob and his Outreach Team with more insight into what type of housing you thinks must be the most important housing at Ponte Vista.

For those supporters who are worried about losing opportunities to buy the housing at Ponte Vista you are really looking for, I think threatening Bob and the Outreach Team with your withdrawal of support for Ponte Vista would be a good thing.

For supporters, you need to stand firm for what you want, even though you may not get enough of the type of units you want and therefore not be able to move into Ponte Vista.

For opponents of Bob's current plans for Ponte Vista at San Pedro, I feel we can claim victory in the first several rounds of a fifteen round fight.

Round One was the majority decision of Councilwoman Janice Hahn's Community Advisory Committee.

Round Two was the disapproval of the Vesting Tentative Tract.

Round Three can not go into our corner as the death of both '2,300' and '1,950'.

Round Four is the delay cause by many reasons that has kept Ponte Vista from being approved for two years longer than Bob had envisioned and revealed in the Notice of Preparation and Initial Study. Today's economy, real estate market, and R Neighborhoods Are 1 have teamed up to be the best 'corner' for the opposition.

I am fairly confident that Round Five, the Harbor Area Planning Commission meeting will go in our favor.

Round Six may be a new plan for Ponte Vista that will see a great deal of supporters learning that they have fought for a project that will never be built and then become opponents of having a massive housing project built in northwest San Pedro that they will not be able to buy into.

There are still many more rounds to go and no one can say how it will end. I think opponents are leading on points but we must never let our guard down!

Obituaries to '1,950' are welcome.

Monday, November 10, 2008

"Let's Set Something Straight" According to the Outreach Team

A Web site from the Outreach Team with an author only identified as "I" continues to try and put a favorable spin on the Project, which is what the site was set up to do.

I have commented on that Web site, but have never seen my comment in print even though it supported what "I" was attempting to state.

Ponte Vista supporters deserve to learn the facts as illustrated in documents supported by reliable sources and not just by the folks at Ponte Vista or any opponent.

The following paragraph is taken from a site supporting Bob’s current plans at Ponte Vista at San Pedro. The post is dated November 10, 2008.

"Let’s set something straight. Ponte Vista has invested in a population study to determine the average number of residents per unit in the development. These numbers weren’t pulled out of the sky. In examining similar residential communities in San Pedro, Harbor City, and Wilmington to arrive at our population of approximately 3,500 residents, our consultant studied the number of residents in actual condominiums and townhomes in the area in addition to examining current census data."

Now here is some more information from the Initial Study for Ponte Vista at San Pedro.

Ponte Vista Initial Study-July, 2005
Section 12. Population and Housing

Discussion: a) Potentially Significant Impact.

“The proposed project would induce direct population growth by adding 2,300 multi-family units and approximately 7,343 new permanent residents to the project site” (note 15)
Note 15. “Based on a ratio of 3.59 persons per dwelling unit for the non restricted multiple-family units (Source: Wilmington-Harbor City Community Plan, SCAG community projection for 2010), and an average of 2 persons per dwelling-unit for the senior-restricted units.”
----------------------------------------------------------------

Here is another piece of information that may help.

There is no apparent documentation to reveal the actual number of bedrooms or sleeping spaces (in studios) that has been given by the Developer.

If we don't really know the number of bedrooms or beds at the Project, how can we accurately presume the real potential number of residents that may live at Ponte Vista?

Bob did opine directly to me the possible number of bedrooms per type of units during a January 18, 2007 meeting. I have listed that opinion much earlier on this blog and you are free to read Mr. Bisno's opinion of how many bedrooms he thought could be built in a 2,300-unit project.

If the Outreach Team really wishes to "Let's get something straight" then I hope they finally provide to the public the number of bedrooms now being considered for Ponte Vista and not keep the guessing game going.

Also, it would be useful if they would not continue to change the numbers of what they are considering as the potential population of Ponte Vista.

If you read the output of the Initial Study, it illustrates a number of 7,343 residents in a 2,300-unit project.

However, in the DEIR, the number of potential residents is listed as 4,313. Both numbers have notations for sources to back both of them up.

A question that remains unanswered by the Outreach Team is where are the 3,030 potential residents that were thought to be moving into Ponte Vista in July 2005, compared to the number of potential residents illustrated in the DEIR.

I could, at any time, go into my source documentation and demonstrate that whatever number of potential residents at Ponte Vista, it would be different than any number provided by the Outreach Team, the Initial Study, the DEIR, and the FEIR.

The basic concept is that nobody really knows how many people might live at Ponte Vista. As long as the Developer and the Outreach Team keep information about the planned number of bedrooms and sleeping spaces at the site, we can't really know how many people might live there.

Did the 'consultant' study the number of people and families living in leased or rented condos or town houses? How about apartments and SFR's?

In this current economic situation, it is reasonable to believe that more than one family needs to find shelter in one condo, town house, apartment, or SFR is areas that are economically deprived.

The Outreach Team has never provided an estimate, to my knowledge, as to the number of units purchased at Ponte Vista that will probably be turned into leased or rented units that will attract more people and have more transitions as apartments usually do.

It is reasonable, realistic, responsible, and respectful to conclude that there may be very few people who may actually know the real probable number of residents at Ponte Vista.

City Place Santa Ana Auction Update, (Such As It Is)

City Place Santa Ana is currently Bob's largest attempt at developing residential units. The Development has combined business/residential units as well as strictly residential units for sale.

On November 9, a private Auction Company held an auction for 140 selected units.

City Place personnel are not giving out the number of units that actually were purchased yesterday.

I was told however, that a number of units at that Development will be offered with "special" pricing, according to the person I spoke to, after 2:00 PM on Tuesday November 11.

Below is the list of units and their original pricing and their reserve pricing.

The Auction was not a forced one and had nothing to do with foreclosures by financial institutions.

The Homeowners Association dues were estimated to be between $160 to $220 per month.


Click over illustration to enlarge.

For more information about City Place, please visit: http://livecityplace.com/




Ponte Vista By The Numbers, A Refresher

About two years ago I published a fact sheet concerning Ponte Vista at San Pedro.

I am going to reprint it and add some new calculations based on the revised number of units, at the site.

Most of the numbers I used had be come from the Draft Environmental Impact Report and from its Project Financial Analysis that was published in September, 2006.

I tried to provide new calculations based on the fewer number of units now part of the application. There are questions I have added that you may wish to answer in your own mind.

We are all now very much into the final determination processes concerning the Project. In less than 9 days we will have the chance to provide comments about Ponte Vista at the Harbor Area Planning Commission meeting on November 18.

I know there are so many people who have opinions about what should be built on the 61.53 acre site. There may be others who are concerned about some of the financials of the Project.

Unfortunately, I had to use the $712,500.00 average price for a unit at Ponte Vista because it is the only figure I can find that is illustrated in a document sent to a governmental entity. There has been some talk around that the average sale price for a unit may actually be lower, but I haven't seen any formal illustration of that. I would be happy to provide calculations based on a lower average sale price for units if those figures came from a document that also is part of a document that may have legal status, like a FEIR, new application, or some other form.

Ponte Vista by the numbers

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 ( Volunteers of America) using a “Housing Assistance Conveyance” from an act that became law in 1994.

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.

61.53 acres equals 0.09614 Square Miles. (Source: Math.com)

7,343 permanent residents (Source: Ponte Vista Scoping Comments)

Population Density is a ratio of the number of residents within a given area. The U.S. Census figures density as persons per square mile.

7,343/0.09614 equals 76,378.198 persons per square mile.

2,300 housing units within 61.53 acres is equivalent to 23,923.44 units per
square mile. (P.S.M.)

1,950 housing units within 61.53 acres is equivalent to 20,282.92 units per square mile.

Population densities based on 2000 U.S. Census.

State of New York 402 P.S.M.
New York City (all boroughs combined) 26,403 P.S.M.
Manhattan Island and the Borough of Manhattan 66,940 P.S.M.


Here is some information derived from the DEIR, Appendix IV, F1 Project Fiscal Impact, September, 2006.

The Construction costs are estimated to be approximately $817 Million dollars, (2005 $) for 2,300-units. This is not counting the purchase price for the site which was $122 Million Dollars.

Within the same document, the average price for a unit at Ponte Vista, using 2,300 total units was estimated to be $712,500 (2005 $).

$817 Million/2,300 units may be equivalent to $692.7 Million/1,950 units

DEIR Appendix IV, F1 Fiscal Impacts

D. Economic Impacts of the Completed Project

The economic impacts of the Project once it is completed were also derived from the IMPLAN model. First, the total income from all Project Households was estimated (i.e., $334 million in 2005 $), based on assumptions about mortgage payments on homes at the Project (i.e., $712,500 average sale price), plus all other related housing costs (e.g., real estate taxes, property insurance and Homeowners Association Dues. (This is the source documentation for the average sale price of units at Ponte Vista.)

$712,500 X 2,300 Units equals $1,638,750,000

$712,500 X 1,950 Units equals $1,389,375,000

$817 Million Dollars plus $122 Million Dollars equals $939 Million Dollars.

If Bob’s costs are about $939 Million Dollars versus an estimated income of
$1.389375 Billion Dollars, here is what the difference between income and expense would be:

$1,389,375,000 minus $939,000,000 equals $450,375,000

How much of the approximate difference will Bob have to pay in interest? If the interest is already calculated in the overall costs of the Project, do you think a profit of about $450 Million Dollars is a good thing?

How much profit do you think is fair? Do you feel that OUR community will be ‘paying’ for much of the profit Bob may be getting?

What if Bob sells his entitlements BEFORE he actually spends much of the $817 Million Dollars of construction costs?
---------------------------------------------------------------

The last time I looked at Property Tax rates in that area of San Pedro, the rate was 1.179045.
If new buyers cannot take their Prop 13 benefit from their old home to a new unit at Ponte Vista, the property taxes may be calculated based on the purchase price of the unit.

If someone paid about $467,000 for a unit at Ponte Vista, might their Property Taxes for the year be about $5,506 for the year.

City Place in Santa Ana is currently the largest project Bob has attempted that included many residential units. Currently the monthly Homeowners Association Dues at that location range from $160 to $220 per month. I have never had to pay Association dues so I don't know if those rates are high, low, or just about right.

When I was working for Pacific Bell, I did work in condos along Wilshire which had about $2,000 per month dues and fees, but I believe that is very high compared to most condo projects.

I hope both supporters and opponents of Bob's current plans can use the information within this post to help them with their comments.

If folks want a Senior unit and can easily afford to move into Ponte Vista, perhaps this post has helped them think about the costs, fees, and how much they can afford.

For opponents of Bob's current plans, you may wish to use some of the profit issues in this post.

Probably no one will change their opinion about Ponte Vista because of this post, but you may learn something you didn't already know and knowledge is power.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Odds and Ends 90

I am starting off this post by using wording directly from a site supporting Ponte Vista.

I agree and accept the confirmation below that states the developers of Ponte Vista at San Pedro will NOT request a density bonus.

"One issue that the Ponte Vista Development opponents have raised has to do with housing density. We would like to clear up the misconception that Ponte Vista will be asking for a density bonus from the state or from the City of Los Angeles. The reality is that Ponte Vista will be restricted from applying for a density bonus because our Development Agreement with the City expressly states that no density bonus will be requested or given. This picture shows the type of density that the architect for Ponte Vista is reflecting based upon a similar housing development."
----------------------------------------------------------------

While it is true that other developments have recently been granted the rights to have a density bonus, Bob Bisno has consistently stated that all of the units he wants built at Ponte Vista will be priced at 'market-rate' levels and not be subject to 'low-income' types of regulations.

Whether the "Development Agreement with the City" can be renegotiated is a good question.
______________________________________________

It is hoped just about everyone knows by now that the disapproval of the Vesting Tentative Tract may have much broader psychological implications than factual implications.

If the L.A. City Council finally approves a project at Ponte Vista at San Pedro, early next year, it won't matter that the Tract map was disapproved.

But in the hearts and minds of many people on both sides of the issue, it looks like a defeat for the project, whether it really is or isn't and I bet the members of the Outreach Team know that.

The deck is more decidedly stacked against Bob's current plans, at this time. It is clearly probable to blame the sour economy and housing market.

Had Bob originally used the minimum number of units he can build and still include all his promised amenities, it looks very good that the approval process for the project would have been done early this year and there would have been much less opposition to his plans.

Since the original number of units was lowered by only 350-units, that too caused a longer delay in seeking approval for the project.

Councilwoman Janice Hahn has been very clear for well over a year now that she feels that the site must remain with population density equivalent to R1 type housing. She still does not necessarily demand only R1 housing on the site. She has steadfastly stated that "something will be built at Ponte Vista".

Many people on all sides of the issues understand that the value of the land purchased in 2005 for $122 Million Dollars has dropped.

The financial institution primarily backing the project, Credit Suisse, has had some problems recently, but is still considered to be one of the stronger financial institutions, right now.
In this regard, what happens in Europe may have significant impacts on what happens with Ponte Vista, because of involvement by Credit Suisse in those places.

Another piece of straw the Ponte Vista camel has to bare is with another Bisno Development project in Santa Ana.

The marketing of City Place is taking a change of course this weekend with an Auction style event to attempt to sell 140 units at that site that have gone unsold for some time now.

The Auction has nothing to do with any foreclosure and it is just another way of trying to unload units that haven't been sold as they normally would have been.

The 'reserve' price, the minimum bid of a unit, is significantly lower than the asking prices for the units. Some units have minimum bids at least 50% below the original asking price for the same unit.
______________________________________________

I think I need to remind some senior citizens who read this blog that I am the only R Neighborhoods Are 1 Steering Committee member who has publicized a 'dream' or a 'wish' for Senior Housing at Ponte Vista.

Dreams and wishes do not always come true, as we all know. But I still 'wish' for 550 Senior units, 130-upscale town houses, and 400-regular condos, whether it ever happens or not.

My 'dream' for 1,080 units is based on a concept, rational or not, that the population living in the project I 'wish' for is equivalent to the number of residents in an all R1 Ponte Vista WITH a density bonus applied, even though Bob isn't asking for one.

Bob's original plan was for 2,300 units. He lowered that total number to 1,950-units. In a recent article it was opined that he may lower the total number down to "1,700-units".

All of these numbers of units are still higher than the total number of units that was told to a friend of mine by a senior member of the Ponte Vista Outreach Team.

I have to opine that I feel Bob is still being unreasonable by not creating a compromise we all can live with.
______________________________________________

We still have not received word yet from the Los Angeles City Attorney or the members of the Harbor Area Planning Commission whether there will be any recusals necessary, by members of the Commission.

Supporters and opponents of Bob's current plans need to still plan to attend the November 18 meeting of the Harbor Area Planning Commission and extend comments about the Ponte Vista at San Pedro project.

We will see the 'usual suspects' on both sides with Bob probably busing in some folks into San Pedro from other areas and a strong showing by Union members. This is all perfectly fine because we live in a country that endorses freedom of expression and speech.

So, Tuesday November 18, 2008, beginning at 4:00 PM at the Port of Los Angeles building is the time and place for the Harbor Area Planning Commission hearing, if it is held.
_____________________________________________