Friday, February 27, 2009
I wrote it on February 26 and forgot to use 'Post Options' to automatically publish the post last Friday.
You will see the February 27 date, but I am actually writing this after I pre-published Odds and Ends 107.
Here is what you would have read, had I published this on its correct date.
(I knew something was amiss all week, but I didn't take the time to figure it out, until today.)
Have you Emailed Mr. Oswald yet, at: email@example.com? If not, why not?
Your opinions are just as good as the approximately 60 individuals who were expected to be interviewed, aren't they?
Many of the folks who have been interviewed neither live in the immediate area (within one mile) of the project, or can avoid Western Avenue in the area of the project's site.
Heck, there just might be 60 people living at Seaport (Apartments) by now, but I would not be willing to bet on that.
We know there are 62 units at The Tennis Club condos and 129 units at Casa Verde Estates, both sharing the same street (Well it's really the alley named Fitness Drive) as Seaport. ______________________________________________
Just when you are beginning to try to believe that the Ponte Vista Outreach Team is serious when they contend that Ponte Vista at San Pedro would have "Smart Growth" transportation elements provided, even thought there is still only ONE metro bus line going by the site, here is yet another story of interest, in the Los Angeles Times.
City planning chief: We have to 'bite the bullet and do the subway'
3:58 PM February 25, 2009
Any time I write about the "Subway to the Sea," I inevitably get a few e-mails from readers along these lines: If the subway is built, won't all the development the line attracts make traffic even worse?
In one sense, it's kind of a silly question. All civic improvements have the potential to attract more traffic. If traffic is a concern, it can be used as an excuse not to do anything in a city.
On the other hand, it's also a question that's fair given the city of Los Angeles' dubious history of urban planning. The city -- and most others -- routinely change their zoning codes to encourage denser developments around mass transit. The idea is to put more jobs and housing near rail and bus lines as a way to discourage people from driving everywhere and instead hopping on transit. If the bus and rail lines are no good and the buildings have tons of parking, it seems completely plausible that the subway could end up attracting more cars to the Westside.
With those thoughts in mind, I had a chance to throw the question at Los Angeles planning chief Gail Goldberg last Friday at the Westside Urban Forum, where she was on a panel . Here's what she said:
If we are going to continue to grow and prosper, more people are going to come here.... We can accommodate more people, we can't accommodate more cars. And so we have to give people other options. Other cities do this....
I think we are going to have to bite the bullet and do the subway. We are going to have to find other ways to get people through the Westside other than getting in cars. People have to have choices. We are going to have to deal with whatever the consequences on the ground are -- we can do that with land-use planning, but we have to give people other options. The car that gave Angelenos freedom in the '60s has turned into a cell in this era. We have to put a movie in the backseat of the car to keep the kids busy while we take them to school. This is no way to live.
I know Goldberg fairly well, having profiled her for the paper in 2007, and wasn't at all surprised by her response. She sees cities as dynamic entities that with good planning should grow and change, and she has little patience for residents who say "Let's do nothing" because of traffic. Agree, dear reader? Or think the subway is going to make a bad situation worse? That's why we have a comment board
Since there is only Line Number 205 traveling past the site and ending up at the Artesia Transit Center, then finally at the Imperial/Harbor Freeway Green Line Station, where might other transportation resources come from?
Sure, there is a rail line close to the site, but without the new road to Gaffey, it would be a struggle to get to that spur.
When the Outreach Team attempt to sway folks towards a denser project, using the concept of being able to live close to where one works, here is a reminder.
In 2006, information from Los County was provided that stated that there was only 6/10 of a job for each resident of San Pedro, in the San Pedro area.
Usually, a resident of San Pedro is 10/10 of a person, so it is troubling to learn where 4/10 of a person works. Of course there is no such thing as 4/10 of a person any longer, thank goodness.
So when Outreach Team members purport to suggest that there would be plenty of jobs in the local area for most residents of anything built at Ponte Vista at San Pedro, please ask them to show you 4/10 of a person.
The facts are, there are fewer than one job per San Pedro resident, in San Pedro.
Currently and for the forseeable future, there will be fewer jobs that folks normally would go to, in the entire Harbor Area and the rest of the greater L.A. area.
When one views the Ponte Vista Web site or blog and see the photos that include Longshore Workers, we should know that our ports are having a tough time offering work to potential buyers of units at Ponte Vista.
The days of getting two days of work as a casual, per MONTH, have also gone away. ____________________________________________
I wonder if Ted Fentin and Credit Suisse may want to temporarily put plans on hold at Ponte Vista and create more unemployment, at least temporarily, for the Outreach Team members. ____________________________________________
And now, here is a recent (Feb 11, 2009) article from Reuters UK.
Credit Suisse posts record annual loss
By Lisa Jucca and Emma Thomasson
ZURICH (Reuters) - Credit Suisse Group (CSGN.VX) posted its biggest-ever annual loss after a poor fourth quarter hit by trading losses and restructuring charges, but expressed cautious optimism for 2009 even as it cut some financial targets.
The Swiss bank said it had a made a strong start to 2009 and each division was showing a profit in the year to date, echoing relatively upbeat comments from rival UBS (UBSN.VX) (UBS.N) which on Tuesday reported the biggest annual net loss in Swiss corporate history.
"We are well positioned going into 2009," Chief Executive Brady Dougan told a news conference, but added: "This is not a light at the end of the tunnel message."
Switzerland's second-largest bank unveiled an annual net loss of 8.2 billion francs (4.9 billion pounds), worse than the average analyst forecast of 6.3 billion from a Reuters poll but in line with predictions from some Swiss newspapers and less than half the loss posted by UBS.
Credit Suisse racked up a fourth-quarter loss of 6 billion Swiss francs, missing an average analyst forecast of 4 billion while further reducing its exposure to risky asset classes as it slashed its dividend and staff bonuses.
On average bonuses were slashed by 60 percent, with managing directors getting no unrestricted cash. The overall bonus payout for 2008 was 2 billion Swiss francs, mostly for junior staff.
Dougan said the bank had made mistakes but now had a stronger capital base than most of its peers thanks to a Tier 1 ratio of 13.3 percent and less than 12 billion Swiss franc of toxic assets on its books and was still managing to attract client inflows at its private bank.
West LB analyst Georg Kanders said: "Results are negative and not much better than UBS in Q4. But there were lots of extraordinary items ... Toxic assets are now less of an item. They have confirmed they have been significantly reduced.
"Overall I would say that wealth management did much better than UBS. They have also had a positive start in January and just confirmed they have new inflows in the period."
After falling as much as 7 percent, shares in Credit Suisse later turned positive, rising 1.1 percent to 31.22 francs at 11:51 a.m. British time, while UBS shares, which gained strongly on Tuesday, rose 1.3 percent to 13.80 francs, compared with a 1.1 percent drop in the DJ Stoxx European banking index .SX7P.
BIG TRADING LOSS
CS also cut some of its long-term targets, including its goal for an annual return on equity which was pared back to "above 18 percent" from a previous 20 percent.
It said it would pay a 2008 cash dividend of just 0.10 francs, compared to 2.50 francs in 2007. Credit Suisse had already warned in December that it made a net loss of about 3 billion francs in October and November and would take restructuring charges of about 900 million in the quarter as it moves to cut 5,300 jobs, or 11 percent of staff.
Analysts were also anticipating the 538 million franc loss it booked in the quarter for selling part of its fund management arm to Aberdeen Asset Management (ADN.L), but said they were surprised by the extent of trading losses in December.
The bank was hit by a trading loss of 6.7 billion francs in the quarter, of which about 1.7 billion francs came in December.
Credit Suisse said its private bank recorded net new assets of 50.9 billion francs in 2008, but only 2 billion in the fourth quarter, as strong net client inflows of 13.8 billion francs were offset by deleveraging.
"Inflows in the private bank look disappointing. A good aspect is that they have said January was positive, but the first impression is that the report is weak," said Citibank analyst Jeremy Sigee.
Walter Berchthold, CEO of private banking at Credit Suisse, said half the deleveraging happened in Switzerland while inflows mainly came from the U.S. onshore business: "I think the worst is behind us," he said, talking about the trend in deleveraging. Credit Suisse said it had achieved about 50 percent of its targeted job cuts to bring headcount down to 47,800 by the end of 2008. It reiterated a target of paring its investment bank to 17,500 staff by the end of 2009 from 19,700 at the end of 2008.
Dougan said Credit Suisse, which contrary to UBS did not need state help, will focus more on private banking, where he sees the best growth environment in a generation, and asset management.
(Additional reporting by Martin de Sa'Pinto; Editing by Will Waterman and David Holmes)
Credit Suisse is one of the stronger financial institutions remaining on the planet.
Bob probably picked one of the best financial institutions to do business with.
I guess he was such a good salesman that the bankers really believed Bob could pull off the impossible.
Me thinks that there were several individuals at Credit Suisse who had dollar signs in their eyes, instead of views that were coming out, even back in 2005. ____________________________________________
Thanks so much to all of you who attended the regular production of I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change at the Warner Grand Theatre.
I was able to greet folks supporting all sides of the Ponte Vista issue and everyone got along extremely well!
Since I don't feel there are any "Supporters" and "Opponents" at this time, it is wonderful to see how we all can get along so very well, when not divided by a greedy developer.
If you are a regular theater, sports, or concert attendee, may I recommend http://www.goldstar.com/ where you can purchase tickets to many things going on, at far lower prices that regular tickets run for.
Goldstar.com is offering tickets to "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change" for the low price of just $10.00 per ticket, plus a $3.50 service fee.
The $10.00 ticket price is HALF the regular ticket price, found at the door of the Theatre. ______________________________________________
Friday, February 20, 2009
Elise and the gang did not post the names of the "Community Leaders" that were interviewed.
Four of the five members of Councilwoman Janice Hahn's Community Advisory Board who all held the position that the current zoning must not be changed were also not selected to be interviewed.
The only one of the five members who continues to state that the site must remain R1 is the President of a Homeowners Coalition representing residents in both San Pedro and Rancho Palos Verdes.
One of the two members who supported anything Bob Bisno wanted was not only interviewed, but their spouse was interviewed too, according to that member.
At least two City Council Members will have been interviewed when all is said and done. You should not infer that the City Council Members are from the same city and there may very well be even more City Council Members interviewed.
I did get a reply when I Emailed Mr. Oswald at firstname.lastname@example.org. I think if you, your friends and neighbors, and anyone else you can think of wish to offer your comments to Jim, you should probably do so.
It is also a bit funny to read the blog by Elise and the gang that offers the community a chance to comment on 'amenities and benefits' at the March 12 Open House event. There is no mention that Jim, Ted, Elise, or anyone else wishes to learn the number of units you feel might be successful at the site.
I know this next bit has nothing to do with Ponte Vista other than the fact that there is no advertisement for the development on the program, however.....
The Relevant Stage Theatre Company is extending the run of its 2009 Season opening "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change" at the historic Warner Grand Theater in San Pedro.
Please visit http://www.therelevantstage.com/ for more information.
The development of a Senior Housing project on Hawthorne Blvd ended last month after the hillside on the site was stabilized.
Money ran out, interest in more senior housing has ebbed recently, and the plans finally fell through.
Whether this portends any type of delay in developing Ponte Vista is a question many members of OUR community can't answer.
The stability of Credit Suisse has also been discussed in articles and by folks recently, too.
It could very well come to pass that Ted Fentin decides to allow a long limbo period for the Ponte Vista at San Pedro development as so many other projects seem to be in, in the greater L.A. area these days and months.
I did not attend the recent meeting dealing with building on hillsides in the city of Los Angeles.
I was not eager to step out to a meeting while I continue to live in a house built on a hillside and in the city of Rancho Palos Verdes.
Some humor may have been missed by me, but that was my decision to keep away from possible frivolity.
There is land on the Ponte Vista at San Pedro site that cannot be built on because of its steep hillside structure.
There has also been documentation provided concerning errors with regards to the amount and placement of the hillside areas that will not support residential construction on the site.
The errors are minor and deal more with the documented location of the areas.
Retaining walls in specific areas would have to be provided on the site to allow for residential construction closer to the hillsides near the fence line with the Defense Fuel Supply Point on the northwest side of the Ponte Vista property.
There is a group call the Concerned Citizens Coalition/Marymount Expansion (CCC/ME? which is advocating for the Living Campus/Academic Campus Alternative to the Marymount College Facilities Expansion project.
The group is calling for denial of the College's plan to have a 255-bed set of residential halls built on the Rancho Palos Verdes campus and also the denial of the construction of a new gym, large field, and other athletic amenities on the main campus of the College.
CCC/ME supports the demolition of the existing off-campus housing units on the College-owned site along Palos Verdes Drive North between Western Avenue and Five Points.
That facility is called "Palos Verdes North".
CCC/ME also advocates the construction of more student housing on the Palos Verdes site, more than replacing the existing 86 units that currently hous about 300 students, faculty, and student advisers.
CCC/ME wants all the athletic facilities for the College built at the Palos Verdes North site, including a new gym and the large field.
Currently, CCC/ME does not have a well defined position on whether the College should attempt to purchase land and existing dwelling units the Volunteers of America currently own in the area adjacent to Palos Verdes North and Rolling Hills Prep.
All of this can and should be of concern to all sides dealing with Ponte Vista at San Pedro, in my opinion.
If the Preferred Plan is approved of with the construction of two residential halls on the Marymount Campus, there will be an increase of about 1,561 vehicle trips to and from the campus.
40% of that added weekday traffic would utilize Western Avenue from Crestwood Street, north along Western Avenue.
There is not sufficient documentation to consider the added daily trips of the Living Campus/Academic Campus Alternative.
Also, there were no trip generation studies or levels of service rates taken at the intersection of Western Avenue and Palos Verdes Drive North. This fact should be taken seriously by all of us having to discuss Ponte Vista and general traffic along Western Avenue.
I have spoken and been in written communication with many folks who consider on-campus housing to be beneficial for students, their parents, and others. I don't think there is a real dispute in that particular matter.
However, Marymount College is, by no means, a College situated where it is that, can provide reasonable and realistic on-campus housing for its students.
Marymount College is a private junior college in its second year of academic probation. Its student body consists of approximately 99% full time students. This is an extreme example of a vast difference between Marymount and other junior colleges that are also considered to be "commuter colleges" as Marymount continues to be.
The location of the main campus just above the switchbacks along Palos Verdes Drive East is another factor, as are the facts about the general size and condition of all of Palos Verdes Drive East.
The closest four-lane roadways to the college's main campus are Western Avenue and 25th Street.
With all of the issues surrounding on-campus housing, we all should not lose sight of the impacts many of us would face by having the Palos Verdes North facility expanded greatly.
The Marymount College Facilities Expansion project is closer to the approval or denial processes by the Rancho Palos Verdes City Council than the Ponte Vista at San Pedro project is to any decisions made by the Los Angeles City Council.
Right now, Marymount may be ahead in the race to see what get built in northwest San Pedro and it looks like neither projects will truly benefit the residents of northwest San Pedro, eastern Rancho Palos Verdes, south Lomita, south Harbor City, and west Wilmington.
Anyone and everyone has the right to create comments and attend the Rancho Palos Verdes Planning Commission's meeting scheduled for March 10, 2009 when the Marymount comment period continues to be extended.
Currently there is no name for the proposed residential development along Gaffey Street, on the site of the former Kinder-Morgan facility.
I talked with a representative of the 134-unit 'patio home' project and wondered if the development company might want to sponsor a development naming contest.
Once upon a time, Jimmy Cochran's mom entered the contest to find the name of a new hotel and golf course project above the corner of Western Avenue and Weymouth.
Mrs. Cochran won $100.00 in the early 1960's by creating the winning entry of The Hacienda Hotel and Golf Course. Back then $100.00 was quite an award for that contest.
Several years ago I heard that the new project on Gaffey would be named "Highland Park" and "Highland Park, San Pedro". I was wrong about that.
The "Highland" refers to the neighborhood that was constructed in about 1962 along Gaffey Street. I remember the name of that huge project was "The Highlands" is my memory is still correct.
When my first wife was young, she moved into a brand new house that was built west of Westmont. We called that smaller development just "Westmont".
I live in the tract of houses that brought the name "Eastview" into the area. Rancho Palos Verdes also includes housing in the Rolling Hills Riviera, Peninsula Verde, Palo de Encino, Strathmore, and Mira Costa Terrace neighborhoods.
I must admit that I still don't know the name of the tract of houses in the area of Crestwood Street School, but it just migh have been named "Crestwood" when it was begun around 1955-1957.
It is also semi-humorous that so many folks who live in Mira Costa Terrace don't know they live in Mira Costa Terrace. Perhaps they have never pondered the lettering on the wall on Caddington where the housing project begins.
The largest single condominium building along Western Avenue houses the "Crestwood Homeowners Association" and there are numerous other condo and apartment projects along Western between Avenida Aprenda and Summerland.
If you look around this blog, you will find the English translations for the Italian "Ponte Vista", including secondary meanings.
Of course, "bridge view" is the primary translation, but "bridge" can also mean where the Captain of a ship commands from.
I offered a tiny bit of humor with that particular post.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
After much pondering about my 'dream' of seeing up to 550-Senior Housing Units, 130-Upscale Town Houses, and 400-Regular Condominiums built on the 61.53 acre site has been relegated to the files on my computers and into my memories.
Although I still consider that some senior units could be built and successfully sold at Ponte Vista, there have always been far too many obstacles to having so many total units on the site.
In place of my former 'dream' is a dream I created about two years ago that I will now consider less of a 'dream' and more of a 'demand'.
Illustrated below are superimposed illustrations of the Ponte Vista and Mary Star High School sites on a Google Earth photo.
Looking more closely, you should be able to see the illustration of a roadway between the border of Ponte Vista and Mary Star and the intersection the new road would have with Gaffey Street.
Far down in this blog's archives are other illustrations of a road to Gaffey and there are also illustrations depicting a new roadway to the 110 Freeway, complete with an on-ramp and an off-ramp.
Simply put, there is absolutely no number of total units at Ponte Vista greater than the 429 single-family, detached houses on lots of not less than 5,000 square feet that could be built at Ponte Vista at San Pedro without a second road to a major route, Gaffey Street.
Western Avenue will be hard-pressed to handle the additional traffic created by building housing according to the current zoning that has been at Ponte Vista for decades.
More than 429 units at Ponte Vista demands that a new road be constructed to allow for eastern access to both Ponte Vista and Mary Star of the Sea High School.
It is only common sense. There are already quite a few Mary Star students who approach the campus coming south along Western Avenue. It would be much easier for everyone to have both Ponte Vista and Mary Star have two-four lane routes as primary access routes.
Click over image to enlarge.
It is absolutely true that land on the Defense Fuel Supply Point would have to be used to build the new route.
The new roadbed could be elevated above the ground over the Supply Point using supporting columns, piers, and concrete pillars.
I learned years ago that both Bob Bisno and Councilwoman Janice Hahn support having a new road placed to Gaffey.
It is time to stop thinking about what can be successfully built at Ponte Vista until everyone does their very best to get a new road authorized, funded, approved of by the U.S. Navy, and built for the benefit of the entire community.
Janice, Ted, Jim, Antonio, the San Pedro and Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, the local Realty Board, elected, selected, appointed and volunteer officials all need to work together to get that road built.
The Ponte Vista Outreach Team needs to support a new road if they truly have the best interest of OUR community and new residents of Ponte Vista in their minds and hearts.
The Northwest San Pedro Neighborhood Council should get behind demanding the new road which would go next to ZERO houses currently within their boundaries.
CalTrans, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, the Port of Los Angeles, the city of Rancho Palos Verdes, and every other agency or government entity that is supported by taxpayers in San Pedro, Rancho Palos Verdes and Los Angeles need to support the new road.
Ted, Elise, Bob, and far too many folks are going to want 1,500 units or more at Ponte Vista. The Los Angeles Department of City Planning guidelines for up to 1,196-units also would provide far too many units for all of the Ponte Vista traffic using just Western Avenue.
Even a density bonus applied to the current R1 zoning would find too many units built with regards to added traffic along Western Avenue.
So many former supporters of Bob's plans kept stating that we all needed to understand that change occurs and that we have to live with change. Having a new road to Gaffey is certainly quite a change that OUR community must have if condos are built at Ponte Vista at San Pedro.
There are older residents living in San Pedro Highlands who have threatened to sue because of attempts to build a new road to Gaffey. Let them get in line because one thing is for certain, there will be lawsuits brought by individuals and groups should one particular side of the issue gets what others do not want.
Just read the newspapers and go online. The only other residential project in the city of Los Angeles larger than Ponte Vista, Playa Vista is continuing to deal with a second Environmental Impact Report on Phase II of that development project and lawsuits continue on Phase II issues AND problems residents are having in Phase I.
Groups and individuals may have to sue the Federal Government to get a new road built to Gaffey Street. But lawsuits would be worth it if OUR community has any chance of creating the best results for Ponte Vista and the folks dealing with Mary Star of the Sea High School.
The 'dream', 'demand', 'suggestion' or whatever, there needs to be a new road to Gaffey Street.
Friday, February 13, 2009
This particular Odds and Ends was written beginning at 11:06 AM on Thursday.
I am the newest member of The Relevant Stage Theatre Company and our new show, "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change" is opening on Friday and I have been working late, during rehearsals and I probably won't want to produce this post tomorrow morning.
Please visit, www.therelevantstage.com and plan on attending a very funny musical about relationships between men and women.
So, you may be wondering what Bob has been up to lately.
You may want to take a gander at: http://www.bisnodevelopment.com/ and see what is still listed as one of his prime projects.
UPDATE!!! Somebody from the Bisno Organizations apparently read this post after it was published and the site is no longer easily found on the Internet.
No matter. If I choose to publish more information I saved from the site on this blog, I just may do so.
First you will certainly find Ponte Vista all over the site. I guess Bob either didn't get the memo that he is out of the picture.........or he really isn't and he may ultimately make a bundle of money after others (seemingly) create a new project without his input.
Then, looking more closely, you can find out what Bob's plans for with an old apartment development he is changing.
Chase Knolls in Sherman Oaks used to be an apartment complex with older units that probably rented out to folks with lower incomes that what Bob wants in his developments.
It looks like Bob wants to clear out the interiors of the historical buildings, modernize them and charge a bundle of cash in new rents.
But that's not all, as they say. Bob also wants to build an additional 140 apartment units on the site and it also looks like he wants about 498 condominiums there, too.
Anyway one looks at it, Bob is looking to raise the rents on those who live at Chase Knolls.
We haven't learned yet whether he is using some of the same tactics he used at Lincoln Place, to move out renters that lived in that project for many years.
There is a tiny cadre of folks who will be looking into Bob at Chase Knolls and be reporting back what we learn.
I continue to be hopeful, but cautious with what is currently happening with regards to Ponte Vista at San Pedro.
There are many folks I have talked to who have strong opinions about the development, but were not asked to participate in the interviews currently being conducted by Mr. Oswald.
Not everyone I have talked to or have discussed the latest ongoings via Email are R1 demanders or wanted the fewest number of units on the site. I continue to ask opinions of just about everyone who I believes lives in the area and has an opinion.
If Ted Fentin ultimately comes out with a number at or above 1,300 units, then it will be clear that "Oswald's folly" was just a ruse to gauge the community members and try and get them to allow too many units at the Ponte Vista site. __________________________________________
The Planning Commission of the city of Rancho Palos Verdes voted 5-1 to oppose a new "affordable" housing project for seniors at the intersection of Crenshaw Blvd. and Crest Road.
The site was questionable at the outset and it really isn't close to the amenities seniors want and need for enjoying their lives.
The site would have required some zoning changes and there was land that is zoned as Open Space Hazardous in the mix.
Being one who feels that some seniors may want some units set aside for them at Ponte Vista, I keep looking out for more senior housing on the peninsula.
However, there have been senior units built in Torrance that haven't found buyers yet.
The Rancho Palos Verdes City Council will vote on the proposed Affordable Senior Housing proposal at its March 3 meeting, it is expected.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Should we buy into their claims? Please be cautious.
We can read the Outreach Team's account. We can read Ms. Littlejohn's article. You can read this blog and other blogs. You can talk to your friends and read information from other sources.
It now looks like Mr. Oswald is going to interview folks picked by Ms. Elise Swanson, the head of the Outreach Team. He MAY also take opinions from 'regular' folks during a planned Open House.
Here are some ways Ms. Swanson and Mr. Oswald can provide some information that actually attempts to show they are being fair and impartial IF they are truly going to make it look like they really are attempting to get the pulse of OUR community.
Publish a list of the approximately 60 names of 'community leaders and others' who are being interviewed.
Publish any and all formal questions Mr. Oswald will be asking the folks.
Provide an Email address directly to Mr. Oswald that won't first be viewed by the Outreach Team or Mr. Fentin.
Provide more than just one Open House event for folks to make comments. There just might be more folks wanting their opinions heard than can be accommodated in just one evening.
Share the outline of what ranges, if any, the Outreach Team and Mr. Fentin have established for the number of units necessary for DLJ and Credit Suisse to remain at least neutral on the project.
If Credit Suisse, DLJ, Mr. Ted Fentin, Ms. Elise Swanson and her Outreach Team, and the remaining members of the development team truly want this outreach plan to be viewed as open and honest, they all need to be completely forthcoming about the process and the policies they are using.
It is also unreasonable for all of them to believe they will be able to take whatever they come up with to the April 9, 2009 meeting of the Los Angeles City Planning Commission.
To keep in place an application backed by studies that have been found by many to be fatally flawed, demonstrates that they just might not be willing to accept and adhere to what OUR community is calling for.
The do over the Ponte Vista at San Pedro folks are being provided may be the last time OUR community allows them to attempt to build a large number of units on the site.
If they are not willing to be objective, forthcoming, honest, and open, why should any of us believe they are really going to listen to all of us and attempt to find the best solution for OUR community?
I have already heard and read from a number of individuals who are very skeptical about this new process. They fear the outcome has already been planned.
They have also commented that except for Bob Bisno, all the players from before are still in place.
Ms. Swanson can probably do well by publishing who is still in the picture and who has left. That might provide some skeptics more information that may make them less skeptical
I hope that is not the case and I am still willing to remain objective IF the Ponte Vista folks subscribe to many of the things I am asking for in this post.
Elise did not include me to be interviewed. I can understand why she didn't ask me. I get to comment any time I wish.
I have also already written my 'dream' and provided it to her. She and Mr. Oswald can easily find just about anything they might want to know about my views.
Let's hope that the Outreach Team is open enough to provide information on their site during this time and into the future.
Please don't be too optimistic or too pessimistic. Be objective for as long as you can, keeping all issues in mind.
Go and see "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change" at the Warner Grand Theater over the next two weekends. Go to www.therelevantstage.com for information.
It is a funny musical about relationships between people who are much younger than I am.
It is a great evening of theater and it is truly less expensive than going to most other live shows in the Los Angeles area.
Wave to the fellow in the balcony, if you see him. Or just say, "Hi" in the lobby.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Ponte Vista tries to build support
Facilitator offers stakeholders a chance to see new plans and voice their concerns.
By Donna Littlejohn, Staff Writer
With former frontman Bob Bisno now out of the picture, developers of the controversial Ponte Vista housing project in San Pedro this week are relaunching efforts to strike a community compromise.
A series of private meetings with more than 60 stakeholders will begin today with Jim Oswald, a facilitator who has been hired by the developers to get the project back on track in time for a Los Angeles Planning Commission hearing on April 9.
A community open house to unveil project plans, expected to be scaled back from the 1,950 homes currently proposed, is tentatively scheduled for 4to8p.m. March 12 at Peck Park Community Center.
"I think it's fair to say we know it's going to be a smaller project," said Tim McOsker, who is serving as an adviser to the developer.
Oswald said he has a "cursory" knowledge of the development and intends mostly to listen to those he interviews.
"I'm going out on behalf of the developer to talk to the community and find out more about what the specific concerns are and what the developer needs to do to make changes," Oswald said.
The private meetings -- with individuals or small groups -- will continue through February and possibly into early March.
Among those to be interviewed today is John Greenwood, who served as the chairman of the Ponte Vista Community Advisory Committee appointed by Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn.
"They have to start over with a new application,"
Greenwood said, calling the earlier application "fatally flawed."
Oswald said he anticipates traffic on Western Avenue and housing density to be the key issues raised in his sessions.
Los Angeles city planners recommended that 775 to 1,200 condominiums should be built on the site.
While many opponents remain staunch supporters of holding the line at the site's current single-family home zoning -- limiting the number of homes to just over 500 -- Hahn said she's supportive of the city's recommendations.
"That's a lot more than what some people would like to see there, but it's over 50 percent less than what was originally proposed," Hahn said.
Hahn said the developers appear willing to "go through a process of listening to the community and starting over to design a project that San Pedro can be proud of."
Developers, however, have indicated they believe the existing environmental report should still be usable.
Hahn said she's requesting a list of people the developer wants to meet with to ensure a broad spectrum is included.
"I just want to make sure they handpick people from all viewpoints," Hahn said. "One of the things I stressed to Jim Oswald was that he was coming into a very sophisticated community. This is a community that has spent a lot of time studying this project."
Participants have been selected largely by Ponte Vista spokeswoman Elise Swanson, and come from neighborhood councils, the community advisory committee and other stakeholders.
The 30- to 45-minute interviews will include some formal questions, Oswald said, but also some open-ended discussion.
Oswald said his goal is to identify what most of the concerns are and where the developer can make changes to better satisfy those concerns.
"I'm not going in with an agenda," Oswald said. "My agenda is their (the community's) agenda."
Whether a consensus is possible, though, remains to be seen.
"A lobbyist's dream is to be able to go to the City Council and Planning Commission and say everybody likes our project," said Ponte Vista spokesman Steve Arr. "I'm probably not going to be able to say that."
In the end, he said, "We'll probably have new supporters and new opponents."
Hahn said the project, first proposed in 2006, fell off course when the developer failed to listen to community concerns during the process in which a formal advisory committee tried to work toward a solution.
"They met for a year and it was a good group of people," Hahn said. "They were really open-minded and sat down with Bob Bisno for what was really to be a give-and-take. But that never happened."
Bisno finally agreed to lower housing numbers, but only from 2,300 to 1,950.
"That was the point when it went bad," Hahn said of the process. "That that group had been so disrespected that he came down only a couple hundred units was an insult. At that point the community lost trust."
Bisno was ousted from the project's development team in December.
But the same core developer -- DLJ Real Estate Capital Partners, a subsidiary of Credit Suisse -- remains in place.
The poor economy in some ways is an asset, developers said, noting that by the time anything is ready to be built the nation's financial picture should be better.
I have been given some information that Mr. Oswald seems to be a fair person, willing to listen to all sides. This is encouraging, finally.
I do feel that all the 'formal question' Mr. Oswald poses should be placed on the Ponte Vista Web site, Your Ponte Vista.com, on my blog so the largest number of stakeholders have a chance to respond to those questions.
60 interviews out of a great number of residents of San Pedro, Rancho Palos Verdes, Harbor City, Lomita, Wilmington, and other communities seem like too small of a number, in my opinion.
I would also like to see Ms. Swanson offer a way for any and all of us to write our opinions that could be forwarded to Mr. Oswald.
Ms. Swanson already has a copy of my 'dream' proposal for the Ponte Vista at San Pedro site and there really should be thousands of 'dream' proposals that Mr. Oswald and the Outreach Team can review.
I still contend that there are no longer 'supporters' and 'opponents' regarding Ponte Vista. We all get a do-over where we should be able to voice our own ideas, without being placed into a category.
The one thing that really needs to be accomplished soon is the removal from consideration of the current application and that there is no reasonable way to amend that application to find approval of anything that may come out of Mr. Oswald's interviews and future plans.
OUR community and the Ponte Vista at San Pedro team have the opportunity to start from scratch and find ways to provide the best new project for OUR community.
Let's work with everyone to achieve that result.
Friday, February 06, 2009
If you simply just drive by the Ponte Vista as San Pedro site, you can probably feel that absolutely nothing has been done since the property left the hands of the Federal Government and the Volunteers of America, years ago.
If you have that thought, you are both correct and incorrect.
We are still many months, or even perhaps years, away from any destruction of the current buildings on the site begin and the later construction of anything that may get approved.
But for many of us, we need to remind ourselves that there was a time that some people truly believed that 2,300 brand new condominium units would be under construction in phases, and that the first phases would be under construction as I am writing this post for Friday.
Ms. Swanson and her Outreach Team is continuing efforts to create a "whatever" type of group, advisory board, committee, or "whatever" to deal with what special members of OUR community will consider is something the rest of us can live with at Ponte Vista.
There will be an "Open House" in March, according to Ms. Swanson. Us regular folks will be invited to share our thoughts, comments, rants, raves, and numbers of units we think we can live with.
I have learned a number of more names of folks who have been asked to be interviewed.
I know what type of interview will be conducted, who is conducting the interviews, and what the process will be just after the interviews are finished.
I don't think anyone knows what will happen after the interviewer sends his comments to Credit Suisse and Mr. Ted Fentin.
If you want to see a Web site that looks impressive, go to: www.gensler.com.
I guess it will be up to Mr. Fentin to tell us what goes forward from the end of the interview process.
We can state that there is at least one person being interviewed that would not consider anything other than keeping the current zoning as it is on the site.
We also know that there will be folks interviewed that run the gamut between R1 and 2,300 units. There are also some who want the most number of units possible, with or without a density bonus.
I am interested in the processes and the outcome of the interviews.
I am still keeping much of my information private because I want the processes to proceed and succeed. It has been too long since compromise has been really considered and we shouldn't simply oppose the current processes and ideas coming forth.
I have a post at: http://www.sanpedroissuestoponder.blogspot.com/ that deals with a recent meeting from representatives of Mayor Villaraigosa and his housing initiative.
If you look at that post, be sure to carefully look at the illustration that was presented to everyone at the meeting held in San Pedro, for San Pedrans and others, again in San Pedro.
The illustration is just about exactly how it was first presented on a big screen, in San Pedro.
That's San Pedro, California 90731.
It is one more example of what too many downtown L.A. bureaucrats think about San Pedro, one of the leading revenue generation areas of the entire city.
Also, the folks presenting the meeting didn't seem to realize they were speaking in San Pedro, a community that is debating and discussing the largest residential development project in the city of Los Angeles after Playa Vista.
It continues to look like the largest organized group opposing new residence halls on the campus of Marymount College wants to have a complete remodel and more off-campus student housing built at the College's Palos Verdes North site along Palos Verdes Drive North between Western Avenue and Five Points.
Currently there are no private junior colleges that are also considered "commuter colleges" in the State of California.
There are public colleges, four-year private and public educational institutions that have on-campus housing.
If Marymount is allowed to build on-campus student housing, 40% of the 1,561 daily vehicle trips associated with the college would pass along Western Avenue from approximately Crestwood Street to Palos Verdes Drive North.
There are no sufficient studies to determine the amount of new vehicle trips that would be generated if the housing units were greater in number than they currently are at the Palos Verdes North facility.
In fact, the intersection of Palos Verdes Drive North and Western Avenue was not studied with any detail or sufficient traffic counts no matter where student housing is located.
I understand that students being able to live on-campus during their college years may be a great thing. But for those of us having to deal with traffic in eastern Rancho Palos Verdes, northwest San Pedro, and Western Avenue, it is not such a good thing.
Currently 70 of the 658 students currently enrolled at Marymount actually live in Rancho Palos Verdes while at least 400 students live in the two housing sites Marymount owns in San Pedro.
Wednesday, February 04, 2009
According to the Email, it suggests that the Ponte Vista Outreach Team will not have or take input or hearings where citizens can participate.
Ms. Elise Swanson, the head of the Ponte Vista Outreach Team assured me that there will be a public "Open House" where members of the public can offer their opinions, number and types of units they want, rants, raves, suggestions for amenities, and whatever members of the public wish to speak about.
Ms. Swanson stated that they will try to schedule the "Open House" in March.
As for the rest of the Email, I happen to agree with everything else, but I felt it is only fair to correct an unfortunate miscommunication the writers of the Email may have with Ms. Swanson.
I am a member of the Steering Committee and I believe everyone needs to keep their eyes open and consider what they would like to see at Ponte Vista.
I hope readers of this blog will also realize that the current application cannot successfully be changed using only minor changes to find approval from the Planning Department and I have to agree with the Email that it is necessary to demand that all of the processes beginning with a brand new application based on realistic numbers and what is best for OUR community is in order.
So now that I have corrected the one item I don't happen to agree with, here is the body of the Email in question:
Almost everyone has heard that Credit Suisse First Boston has replaced Bob Bisno at Ponte Vista. However, everyone else except Bob remains on the Ponte Vista team.
Right now, the Ponte Vista application for 1950 units [2633 with the density bonus] is on the April 9, 2009 Planning Commission agenda. This was continued from February 12th at the request of Credit Suisse. However, while Planning Department staff recommended denying Ponte Vista’s application, they also said that, based on a proper application, approximately 885 units might work. Since this equates to 1196 units with the density bonus, far greater than the density of the Gardens, we question whether that is appropriate.
What Is Ponte Vista Up To?
Why would Ponte Vista continue a hearing they are sure to lose? Here’s why:
They will try to use the time to negotiate minor changes with Planning Department staff and ramrod it through the City Planning Commission without input from the community and without any of the hearing safeguards that are normally required. .
Ponte Vista has stated that they want to ‘reach out” and “work with the community” on a plan. We understand that they intend to meet with “key individuals” of their choosing. However, the rumor is that they may consider reducing the size to 1500 units [2025 with density bonus] and will try to negotiate this change with City Planning Department staff with no input or hearings where citizens can participate.
Why is a New Plan Important?
Ponte Vista needs to withdraw their existing application and start over, thereby allowing for consideration of a wider number of options for use of the property, obtain a credible traffic study, and permit public input in the planning process.
What Can You Do?
Send an email to the Planning Commission, with a copy to Janice Hahn, asking the City to
 turn down the present Ponte Visa application,
 require a new project application, and
 hold the April 9th hearing and future hearings on it in San Pedro. A sample e-mail letter is printed below. Cut and paste the subject line CPC 2006-8043 GPA-ZC-SP-DA, Ponte Vista into your email subject line.
Please email your letter to the Planning Commission (email@example.com) with a copy (cc:) to Janice.Hahn@lacity.org stating that you support the staff recommendation for denial and asking that the meeting be held in San Pedro. You might also want to send us a copy (cc:) at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can cut and paste and personalize the following message:
Subject: CPC 2006-8043 GPA-ZC-SP-DA, Ponte Vista
I support the staff recommendation for denial. I am concerned about allowing Ponte Vista to continue the hearing on its current application while at the same time, they are telling the community that they intend to change their project. It sounds like they intend to negotiate with the City without the public input that would be required of a new application and without submitting adequate traffic and other analyses.
I am also concerned that all Planning Commission hearings are held downtown. These are very difficult for me to attend. I would like to request that any hearings on this project be held in San Pedro.
Thank you for listening.
Thanks to everyone who has already help fund this cause, but additional contributions are still needed to help pay the attorneys' fees. You can still make make your contribution by using PayPal on line at http://www.rneighborhoodsare1.org and click on the donate button or by sending a check payable to
“R Neighborhoods Are 1" to:
R Neighborhoods Are 1
1840 S. Gaffey St. #316
San Pedro CA 90731-5361
Please note on the check that it is for the legal defense fund. We are keeping track of donations. If there are funds remaining after all the legal work is completed, we may be able to return some portion to the donors.
Volunteer to help get the word out. We are developing a list of individuals who will help get the word out in their respective neighborhoods. Please e-mail us at email@example.com with your contact information if you are willing to help.
Check www.rneighborhoodsare1.org for the latest information
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
I guess for me, it is a double edged sword. Even though I have lots of opinions and have produced more than a few ideas for the site, others will be able to advise Ted Fentin and others about what they feel can be successful at the 61.53 acre site. I'll get to keep writing.
The public will have a chance to offer their views at an Open House in March, according to Outreach Team leader Ms. Elise Swanson.
But for now, there is a group of folks from a number of areas and concerns who have been asked to be interviewed for positions on the new advisory group.
There are candidates who are "staunch opponents" according to Ms. Swanson, who have been asked to participate in the interviews. I am a little confused because I don't yet know what anyone will support or oppose since no new plans have been offered.
I do know some of the names of interviewees, but it is not my place to spill the beans on who may be on the group.
As for public meetings of the new group, I would not hold my breath for something like that.
I do hope that whoever participates with the new group keeps the best interests of OUR community as their first and most important goal.
I have been told that communities other than San Pedro will be represented on the new panel, with community leaders, according to Ms. Swanson, being part of the new team.
I do hope there is some way that members of the public could have an ongoing stream of input to the group. Perhaps Emails can be distributed to members so they can learn what folks they essentially represent are thinking.
Members of the public must be provided means to inform folks representing their wishes, how they feel and what suggestions might be worthy of providing to the group.
If OUR community is to be involved, it must be allowed to assist the new group and the rest of the development team in offering comments and suggestions that would create the best new housing project possible.
I hope the new panel contains members who actively support some senior housing at the site. I also think there needs to be some members who object to multi-tenant buildings in favor of some type of single-family housing.
From the names of folks I already know, it is unlikely that the new group would ever demand or truly support keeping the current zoning on the land.
Somewhere between more than 429 single-family, detached houses and less than (hopefully) 1,300 dwellings, the new group will advise the money managers and the rest of the development team what is best for OUR community that can be successfully built at Ponte Vista at San Pedro.
I'm still sticking with my 1,040 count containing 550-senior housing units, 130-upscale townhouses, and 400-regular condominium units as being my choices for what I feel is best for OUR community and that could successfully be built, bought out, and managed for decades to come.
But there are other views out there and perhaps those views will find a much better result than my dream creation.
Maybe the new group will be a very short-lived entity. Perhaps it might be a group that is gathered to try to sell whatever the development team is trying to do, with some alterations made by the new group.
It is hoped that the members of the new panel do not take their status within the community they have been chosen to represent as a means by others to help sell whatever comes out of the decision-making processes.
Having august and distinguished representatives from throughout OUR community come out and support a plan can signal to the development team that OUR community supports whatever is decided. That may not come to pass.
Having notables working on the issues also can be viewed as a marketing tool for the development team. I'd watch out to make sure that the new group has some regular folks representing regular folks.
We need to give the new panel a real chance to observe, learn, and serve OUR community from the get-go, though.
If you are truly interested in having the best results for OUR community, then it is probably a good idea to either support these new activities or remain neutral.
Please keep thinking about what you feel is best for Ponte Vista at San Pedro AND OUR community and that way we may be able to communicate with our selected representatives on the new panel, with our suggestions.
Your suggestions are important even though we will not be serving. Keeping the fires burning of our thoughts demonstrates that we are still involved in the processes to an extent and that we may be able to help in the processes.
A person who I am acquainted with stated, "Something is going to be built at Ponte Vista." Lets move forward to make sure whatever is built there is simply the best that can be built there.