Friday, December 19, 2008

Odds and Ends 96

A lot of information has been coming to me all week long and since the announcement was made about Credit Suisse removing Bob Bisno, has been troubling, weird, and questionable.

Whether information, conjecture, rumor, comments on the blogs, or comments received by directly talking to folks, one thing that I can report is there is quite a bit of skepticism about recent developments and issues surrounding Ponte Vista at San Pedro.

I'm still getting the feeling that Bob and others continue to create division within OUR community by not providing facts surrounding the recent events. This seems to allow many folks to wonder about how truthful information coming from the Outreach Team and even news sources is.

Several different rumors have come to me, but I am not going to deal with them without knowing what is really going on.

People are suspicious about Credit Suisse, the takeover, and what may come in the future.

Folks now representing the project currently seem tight-lipped about what is currently happening and what they may do in the near future.

This has led many folks to speculate that things were and are not as they seem to be.

I have my opinions about the future at Ponte Vista and they are that Credit Suisse may simply push forward with plans to build 1,196 non-age restricted condos on the sight, as soon as possible and not provide much in the way of amenities and mitigation.

This would be within the guidelines established by the Planning Department and the guidelines have seemingly found support with Councilwoman Hahn.

While I do not believe this is good for any of us, Ms. Hahn has repeatedly stated that she is tired of dealing with Bob and/or the project and I suspect she would use the guidelines provided by others to get the project approved and built.

My thinking is that Credit Suisse wants the monster off its books as soon as possible, too. Getting approval for the largest project size suggested by the guidelines and also providing 'low-income' housing via a density bonus, would also score points for the financial institution with government types in the city of L.A. (Tony Villar).

Since it also looks like Credit Suisse owns the paper for the purchase price for the land, it may be able to take some costs off as a write down or some other type of loss. This could generate either some tax savings or if Ponte Vista is bundled with lots of other projects that are turkeys for Credit Suisse, they may be able to go to Uncle Hank and get some money from all of us.

I don't know too many regular folk who knew back in 2005, when Bob did his deal, that things would have gotten as bad as they did. I also don't think Bob or anyone else could have known about the ability of the opposition to his schemes, and how strong the opposition became.

Let the rumor continue to fly and the ideas continue to come forth. Until we get some more true information about the project and its backers, we are only left to our imaginations and are willingness to try and learn more about things and dig deeper into fact-finding to find what is really going on.

I have found these last several weeks fascinating, albeit without much real information to pass along. I am disappointed that the whole thing continues to divide OUR community and I wish folks would care enough to provide their true ideas for what should be built on the site, whether it ever is or not.

Councilman Doug Stern of the cith of Rancho Palos Verdes sent this information out in Email form:

Update – Trump Gives RPV Christmas present -- Sues Rancho Palos Verdes Claiming Inverse Condemnation, etc.

Donald Trump apparently filed a $100 million lawsuit against the City of Rancho Palos Verdes on December 18, 2008. The Complaint lists 13 legal claims, including "Inverse Condemnation" (taking property without paying compensation), "Due Process," "Equal Protection," "Fraud," "Breach of Contract," "Unjust Enrichment," "Interference with Prospective Economic Advantage," and "Unfair Business Practices." It appears that the general basis for the 104 paragraph suit is Trump’s claim that he has been prevented from undertaking certain developments at the Trump National Golf Course which he desires.

The lawsuit alleges:

“[Trump] has a development plan for its [Trump National Golf Course] property. Besides improvements already in place, the plan includes the building of luxury homes and other improvements that are in keeping with the Trump image, and which will enhance the beauty and quality of life of the City. In accordance with its plan, [Trump] has been seeking to develop its properties in all of the following ways, among others:

a. By constructing 16 homes in the area now used as a driving range;
b. By constructing 4 homes landward from the existing clubhouse.
c. By constructing a terrace on the clubhouse.
d. By maintaining ficus trees on the property.”

Trump claims that he has sought permission to make these developments, but that permission has been denied, and those denials constitute violations of the Constitution. [These allegations are rather interesting, since RPV granted permission for him to place the terrace at the clubhouse years ago, but geological concerns have caused him to not pursue that project. Also, Trump chose to place a driving range in the area where he now claims he wants to place homes. The decision to change that area from residential use to a driving range was made by the Trump organization, not RPV.]

Trump also is displeased that RPV has required further geological review of a known landslide area on portions of the property following the devastating Ocean Trails landslide. That landslide, in June 1999, ultimately resulted in the Ocean Trails bankruptcy that led to Trump’s acquisition of the golf course from the Zuckerman family. He believes that he has been required to “spend millions of dollars on unnecessary, repetitive, unreasonable, and unlawful geologic and geotechnical studies and reviews,…” so as to violate his corporation’s Constitutional rights.

His suit complains that he has height restrictions on homes he builds which are not imposed on others.

All of this, the suit alleges, constitute inverse condemnation or regulatory taking under the United States and California Constitutions, as well as other legal wrongs.

Merry Christmas, from Donald Trump to the residents of Rancho Palos Verdes

The city of Rancho Palos Verdes also lost an appeal and now it must grant landowners of lots in the slide area, permits to build homes on those lots.

This was a more than silly court order and had the judge simply understood the physical problems of the lots, I am sure the appeal would have been won by the city.

In the Abalone Cove and Portuguese Bend slide areas, the lots are all moving towards the Pacific Ocean.

Case in point, the owners of lots on Cherry Hill lane probably bought those lots when Cherry Hill Lane was north of Palos Verdes Drive South.

Today, Cherry Hill Lane is south of Palos Verdes Drive South and is over land that was bought by folks south of Palos Verdes Drive South, decades ago.

Much of the land purchased close to the ocean in the slide area, decades ago, is currently IN the Pacific Ocean.

You lot is your lot where and when you bought it. If your lot moves, it may not necessarily be where you bought it and therefore it may be over someone else's lot. Should you pay rent on your land that is now sitting over the land owned by someone else?

Whether you want to build one house or many, sometimes a developer can do some fairly strange things.

Terri and I want to wish all of you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Happy Kwanze, and Happy Festivus.

Our Holiday Letter is on Issues to Ponder and you may save it to your computer and send it out as your own next year.

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