Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Just A Hearing

The Harbor Area Planning Commission meeting held today was simply a hearing as it turned out.

Only one member of the now-four member Harbor Area Planning Commission attended.

At the hearing we learned that Ms. Eleanore Montano had resigned from the Commission.

Two other Commissioners did not attend because they were "disqualified" according to Mr. Ponce.

Ms. Camilla Townsend was unable to reschedule her plans to allow he to attend the December 2 meeting.

Mr. Michael Ponce, the President of the Harbor Area Planning Commission presided over the hearing that was held to hear comments and allow him to make his own recommendation to the City Planning Commission.

Mr. Ponce is a longshoreman and he lives in Wilmington. Mr. Ponce sends one of his children to Dodson Middle School in San Pedro and another child to Taper Avenue Elementary School, in San Pedro.

During the hearing, Mr. Ponce complained about the traffic on Western. Please remember this is from a Wilmington family member who sends to children to San Pedro schools, with one of the schools having Western Avenue as its only major artery route.

The hearing began with Mr. Ponce having the Planning Department Representative talk about the Report that was recently released.

After Mr. David Olivo completed his presentation, Mr. Ponce invited Mr. Alan Abshez, the attorney for the Applicant for Ponte Vista at San Pedro to come and present the applicant's views.

Mr. Abshez basically stated that since the hearing date had been changed to after the release of the Report and because of what was included in that Report, he didn't wish to provide any presentation.

Mr. Abshez stated that he and the applicant would be meeting with members of the Planning Department prior to the City Planning Commission meeting, tentatively scheduled for February 12, 2009.

Mr. Abshez notified Mr. Ponce that there seemed to be no wish or need for members of the Ponte Vista Outreach Team and/or supporters of Bob's to attend the hearing/meeting and in fact, only two recognized supporters of Bob's were in the room.

Councilwoman Janice Hahn was invited to speak at the hearing and she stated that during her first face to face meeting with Bob Bisno where he offered a plan for 2,300-units, Ms. Hahn stated directly to Mr. Bisno that 2,300-units were too many for the site.

Ms. Hahn indicated her full support for the recommendations made by the Planning Department in their Report. Ms. Hahn also stated that she supports the 'Guidelines' provided in that report.

I will create a post concerning Ms. Hahn, the 'Guidelines' and other issues around the Report on my R1 blog.

After Ms. Hahn finished her remarks, Mr. Ponce opened up the floor for public comment.

I don't know why my name came first, but it did, so I got up.

Mr. Ponce did have questions for the Planning Commission specifically about the three larger buildings directly to the south of the Ponte Vista site. He seemed interested in the population density of the buildings.

Mr. Olivo provided some information about the density on the approximately 6 acres of land that made up the sites for the buildings, but my comments were geared to allow for more information.

I stated to Mr. Ponce that the three buildings had 62, 136, and 129-units respectively and that the 136-unit building was made up entirely of lease-type units.

I provided that the total number of units that Bob has indicated on his application were about 17 times the number of units as the total combined number of units for those three buildings and that Bob wanted to put up his number of units on under 10 times the land area the three other buildings stood on.

During the second speaker's set of comments, Mr. Abshez exited the meeting room and was not seen there again, during the meeting.

When I was completed, another 21 folks took their turns to state almost 21 different sets of why they were opposed to Bob's plans.

Nancy and Art were quite correct in their statements about how long time San Pedro seniors live and die in their homes and do not generally move out of their homes. They both stated different reasoning and I think they both had some good points.

(I still 'wish' for some senior housing, but what Nancy and Art said is completely understandable.)

There were only two or three folks who commented about the increased traffic on Western. They also offered differing ideas including how emergency vehicles would have greater problems.

Of the 22 speakers who were called up to provide comments, zero of them offered any comments in support of Bob's current plans, the one's that may be voted on in the future.

Of the two supporters' of Bob's who showed up, Ms. Mary Jo Walker deserves repeated commendation for her public statement, made some time ago, that Bob's plans included too many units for her liking.

The other 'supporter' Ms. Irene Mendoza apparently works for Rudy Svornich and Rudy had been hired to lobby for Bob Bisno and the project.

At the end of the meeting, Mr. Ponce finally offered his own comments and recommendations that he would pass along to the City Planning Commission.

Mr. Ponce stated his recommendation that the City Planning Commission follow the recommendations made by the Planning Department and deny or disapprove everything brought before them concerning Ponte Vista at San Pedro.

However, Mr. Ponce did state he does not support keeping the current zoning at the site. When asked more about that position, Mr. Ponce stated that he has his "own opinions" yet when pressed further, would not reveal those opinions to the public, which are folks he is supposed to represent.

Nancy's suggestion that opponents of Bob's plans wear red to the hearing we met by many of the audience wearing red, including the R1 buttons.

The loudest anyone got in the room was when Pat reminded everyone that the site is included in the Wilmington/Harbor City Community Plan Area and that Ponte Vista is NOT IN WILMINGTON and NOT IN HARBOR CITY!

The fact that the site is located so far from the commercial and retail center of the Wilmington/Harbor City Community Area Plan was mentioned as one of the reasons for denying the application.

Another problem with having it in the Community Plan Area but not the community is that it skews the density plans for both the San Pedro Community Plan Area and the Wilmington/Harbor City Community Plan Area.

The overall general recommendation that Mr. Ponce brought out and Ms. Hahn agreed with is that Bob should work better with the Planning Department and OUR community to find the best possible project plans for all of us. Isn't that what so many of us have been saying for all these years?

My personal opinion right now is that IF Bob is truly interested in working with OUR community, he would simply cancel his current applications, vesting tentative tract map, community agreements, and other plans so this process can begin again with a fresh start as soon as possible.

Subjecting any of us to having to deal with the City Planning Commission and the L.A. City Council using what is currently on the table is a waste of time, money, effort, and the potential for good will between Bob and OUR community.

There is absolutely no reason to carry on with this current situation any longer. There can be no agreement made between Bob and the Planning Department for anything else, at this time.

No compromise proposals can come forth and be dealt with unless the processes are started over and all public input can be accomplished.

There can't be any behind-the-scenes negotiations going anywhere now that the Report has been made public and the Area Planning Commission has held its hearing.

1,950 died some time ago. It was buried without any services, and the grass has all grown back.

The gravestone has been chiseled and is more than ready to be permanently placed over the grave. There is no reason that that gravestone needs to sit in storage one more day.

It is time for all of us to come together and help OUR community by coming up with some real proposals that have some chance of seeing the light of day.

We must now stop being opponents and supporters of Bob's plans because those plans are only memories mixed with bitterness and shrouded with sadness.

Let's let it go and get on with it!

We now have issues with the 'Guidelines' to consider and whether we like them or not.

Do we support Ms. Hahn's support for those 'Guidelines'?

How can we all now work together to get the best results at the site for OUR community?

Bob's plans are history unless and until he attempts to come up with plans that OUR community finds as bad as his original plans.

We are going to need to work together if there will ever be an access road from Western Avenue to the Mary Star campus, whether we like that idea or not.

There can be no stopping and no real relaxation if we are going to provide something at the site that is the best for OUR community.

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