Saturday, March 28, 2009
I have talked to several sources and learned one piece of information.
If appears that Mr. Fentin, the Outreach Team, and others supporting developing Ponte Vista at San Pedro are hopeful that something other than complete disapproval and/or denial comes out of the Planning Commission meeting.
It looks like any hold, continuance, or anything other than complete repudiation of the current application and plans will be considered a victory by folks representing the developer.
It is clear to so many of us that everything must start over. There must be no holds placed on the plans and applications. There must be no continuances of the meetings.
This project must begin completely anew.
If the Outreach Team receives anything other than complete rejection of the current plans and applications, they can claim some victory or tacit approval of the plans and project.
No approval of anything should be granted, at this time. Too much has changed.
The environment is different than it was over three years ago.
1,395-units is far too many units at the site, according to the L.A. Planning Department and others.
If we are to believe Ted Fentin has told the truth that he would not use a density bonus, then he can build up to 886-units at Ponte Vista IF he begins again and goes through all normal channels.
Ted wants 157% of what the Planning Department's own guidelines allow for. He seems to want that without going through the necessary channels, it seems.
The total unit count shown for the project is 1,395-units with the following breakdown:
630 Town Houses
385 Multi-family condominiums
380 Senior Housing Units.
Now if you are wondering how many bedrooms would be included at Ponte Vista, go ahead and continue wondering.
If you would like to know the potential residential population living at the site, so would I.
If you wish to consider the number of vehicles that would be parked at the site, please remain considering.
There was no one from the developer to the assistant by any of the boards who was willing to provide suggestions about those numbers, except one.
The architect and I talked in general about the possible number of bedrooms in the various types of units. But since nobody else was willing to provide more information, I don't think it is fair to reveal what numbers he generalized.
The Gardens has 1,100 units on its 80 acres.
Mr. Fentin wants 1,395 units on 61.53 acres. That would be equivalent to having 1,814 units at The Gardens, 714 more than stand today.
There are plans to provide a total of 20% of the Multi-family and Senior Units with units priced for "working families". So up to 153 units would be for 'workforce housing' out of 1,395 units.
That allows for about 11% of the housing being the least priced.
Of course there was no mention of the possible prices, the median price, or the sizes of the different types of units.
All of the items displayed at the Open House were probably viewed by little more than about 100 people from OUR community.
There were times during the Open House when it seemed there were more representatives of Ponte Vista in the room that there were members of the public.
Apparently at the March 12 Open House there were individuals making a great number of comments.
At this Open House, the Outreach Team numbered the comment forms in a way to help prevent folks from making too many comments for their liking. They claimed they wanted a greater representation from the community.
I would imagine that there could have been folks on all sides of the issues who may have wanted to post many comments.
What surprised me was that there were so many comments reflecting the wish that the site remain R1. I knew there had been an event earlier in the week for folks who generally support the developer's plans. I thought there would be a much greater number of supportive comments of this latest plan.
There had been not much of a spirited drive to get folks demanding that R1 remain at the site this past week.
I have to acknowledge that there is now one member of the Outreach Team who is unwilling to engage every member of the public with answers to specific questions.
After what I have been put through by some supporters of the project, it looks like this cook remains in the kitchen while the other cook can't stand the heat.
This Open House did not reveal enough real information about the project to truly consider its merits, by a great number of people.
Since we do not know the potential population, number of bedrooms, possible prices, and potential number of vehicles using Western Avenue, how and why should we feel the developer and Outreach Team has provided us with enough information?
They may want folks to attend the Planning Commission meeting without being provided with as much information as they should have, in my opinion.
A final point.
I am still sad that so few folks who wrote comments in support of these latest developments have so little true knowledge about the project.
When someone attending this Open House has to ask what R1 is, that demonstrates a lack of knowledge.
When comments state that some folks either like or don't like the project without mentioning reasons, that too demonstrates a real lack of knowledge.
But I have to post one comment from a person who has been vocal in support of the project for several years. This individual hopefully is in the minority of supporters of whatever the developer wishes to build, whether it benefits the community or not.
This individual would most likely never live at Ponte Vista in the first place.
"Since the Village Green and Retail/mixed use areas will be open to all the public, security is a concern. The residents of Ponte Vista will be paying Association fees and should have first rights to use. I can envision people other than residents "reserving" spaces during weekends and holidays especially. We see that at Peck Park now. Residents must have the right to remove anyone causing a disturbance."
While I agree that folks who cause disturbances should be a concern, the reference to who uses Peck Park on the weekends and holidays seems to be racist in nature and should be condemned on its face.
Friday, March 27, 2009
Now for the folks who may want to read what is on the one Ponte Vista site that hasn't been taken down for work, (www.pontevista.com) here is what the Outreach Team is suggesting the Open House II is all about.
"Drop by Ponte Vista’s second Community Open House to review graphics and presentation boards describing the Land Use Concept for the Ponte Vista residential community. This is the concept that will be presented to the City of Los Angeles Planning Commission at the April 9th hearing. You will have the opportunity to share your comments at a series of information stations.
The emerging Land Use Concept will feature:
A Senior Village for active seniors with its own club house, shuttle service and pool
Condominiums for first-time home buyers, young professionals and working families (including workforce housing for police officers, firefighters, nurses and teachers)
More courtyard and row townhomes
Neighborhood serving retail for Ponte Vista and the surrounding community
Access to Mary Star of the Sea High School
An environmentally sensitive community with water conservation measures and dedicated open space
Please join us to view and comment on the Land Use Concept! The Open House will be on Saturday, March 28 between 1 PM and 4 PM at the Port of Los Angeles Boys and Girls Club Auditorium. The address is 100 W. 5th Street, San Pedro. We hope to see you there!"
This is from www.yourpontevista.com
I don't believe I forgot to copy and paste the number of units the developer wants to have at the site, because we still don't know how many units they are really trying for.
Here is my own take on the items mentioned by the Outreach Team for their land use concepts.
A Senior Village for active seniors with its own club house, shuttle service and pool.
This might be a good idea if the L.A. City Planning Department hadn't dealt some heavy blows against such plans with their guidelines for the site.
Condominiums for first-time home buyers, young professionals and working families (including workforce housing for police officers, firefighters, nurses and teachers).
I think there are quite a few condominiums and other houses in San Pedro which are up for sale or lease or rent.
More courtyard and row townhomes.
By having up to 831 townhomes with courtyards at Ponte Vista, it could be a brand new rival for The Gardens while keeping the same dwelling density as the older project.
Neighborhood serving retail for Ponte Vista and the surrounding community.
As this item was included as part of the final phase during the "Bob years" perhaps it would still be included in the final phase that may never get built in the first place.
Access to Mary Star of the Sea High School.
As long as access to Mary Star continues using Western as the primary access, there is little benefit to either the Ponte Vista residents or to the rest of OUR community that uses Western Avenue.
An environmentally sensitive community with water conservation measures and dedicated open space.
This is the one item that is necessary and should not even be considered an amenity or a 'community benefit'. It must be mandatory just like having roofs on buildings.
If Mr. Fentin continues to use access through Ponte Vista for those going to and coming from Mary Star High School, it must be mandatory that an entire new Traffic and Transportation Section of the EIR be fully redone.
The benefits to allowing the route to remain open apply to so few people that the detrimental effects to the majority of members of OUR community far outweigh those fewer in number.
The residents of the Westmont neighborhood and some in The Highlands should have considered all possibilities before they agreed to allow Mary Star High School to be built where it is and restrict access via Taper Avenue.
The majority should not suffer because of some benefits for few people.
As far as I an concerned, if Mr. Fentin wishes for more that 831 total units, everything regarding Ponte Vista at San Pedro must start over!
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
"Ever since the mid 1990s when I was a City Councilmember. I wondered what actually happened with the conditions we imposed when approving development projects. The City often sets requirements to shape and improve a project, promote safety and mitigate negative impacts to communities.
Now as Controller, I have circled back to answer the question: "Who ensures that the
requirements attached to these developments are followed,?" The answer is: "No one." We are
actually often relying on voluntary compliance by the developers.
My report found that. in general, there is no single Department in charge of development projects from beginning to end. The Planning Department is indeed the lead agency in imposing
conditions. However other Departments, such as Building and Safety, can add or change
conditions without including the Planning Department.
The Planning Department's new data management system was intended to be a central database that tracked conditions for approval. However, this is not the cure-all it was intended. Instead we have ended up with three stand-alone systems that are neither integrated not coordinated. Further, a new computer system alone won't solve the problems in the current development process, unless accompanied by key changes in our business processes.
It is clear some significant changes must be made here. If proJects are approved with conditions
attached, is it not in the City's best interest to ensure those conditions are met? Certainly that is
what the public expects."
Mr. Farid Saffar, the Director of Auditing has contracted to produce the draft report:
"Performance Audit of the City of Los Angeles' Process for Planning Conditions for Development".
The report was recently released and the review and advisement is due back to the Controller's Office by April 23.
The 105-page report has key findings listed below:
The City of Los Angeles’ community plans, which represent the Land Use Element
of the General Plan, are outdated and not specific enough to consistently and
predictably direct the development project approval process.
The Department of City Planning recommends conditions of approval that are not
clear or specific.
The Department of City Planning does not actively manage other City departments.
Department of Building and Safety’s modifications can materially alter the project
from the initial project plans that were submitted to and approved by the decision
The Department of City Planning lacks department-wide documentation standards
for clearing conditions on development project plans and maintaining records.
The Department of City Planning does not actively monitor project compliance with
the determination letter’s conditions of approval once the building permits have
None of the City departments directly involved in the development process have
adequate controls to ensure that the project complies with the conditions of
The Department of City Planning’s new data management system (Condition
Development and Management System, or CDMS) automates many of the
Department’s manual processes but the system alone does not fully address
processes for managing development project conditions of approval in an adequate
City departments do not consistently track, plan or budget for maintenance of
public improvements installed as a result of conditions of approval for development
projects. In addition, Some City departments do not collect sufficient fee revenues
to cover the costs of maintaining public improvements.
The report produced by Henry M. Rose Associates, LLC can be viewed here:
There are actually a total of 19 findings in the Summary of the Report.
Whether this report will have any impact on the lawsuit pending against the city of Los Angeles by the La Brea Coalition in not known.
Whether this report will have any impact on the approval processes for Ponte Vista as San Pedro is also not known.
Anything that can help fix existing problems with rampant overdevelopment, during better economic times and even today, is welcome.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Ocean City, Maryland
Soak up the sun and fun in Ocean City, this state’s famous beach desTANation. Stroll along Ocean City’s popular historic boardwalk and enjoy three miles of entertainment. Shoot a game of miniature golf or play skee ball in the arcades. Get your adrenaline flowing on an amusement ride or take a time out for ice cream. You can even drop a line off a fishing pier. During the summer, Ocean City hosts children’s activities, festivals and live entertainment. Visit Northside Park’s extended pier to watch the sunset over the Assawoman Bay or visit Assateague Island Park, home to hundreds of horses that roam the beaches freely. Ocean City is a desTANation for surf and sun, and of course, family fun.
Ponte Vista, a two-bedroom, two-bath unit, is located about one mile from the beach. It features a queen-size bed in the master bedroom, two twin-size beds in the second bedroom and a queen-size sofa sleeper in the living room. Ponte Vista has a full kitchen with a dishwasher and microwave, two TVs, a VCR player, two DVD players, washer and dryer, heat, air conditioning and a balcony. Ponte Vista also features an outdoor swimming pool and on-site fishing.
Nearby attractions and activities include Assateague Island Park, Frontier Town, Jolly Roger Amusements, golf courses, horseback riding, water sports, fishing, parasailing, shopping, restaurants and the boardwalk.
For more information regarding activities, locations, ticket information and more, please phone the Maryland Tourist Information line at 800-543-1036 or check out the website at http://www.mdisfun.org/. For local information, call the Ocean City Tourist Information line at 410-213-0552 or visit the website at: http://www.oceancity.com/."
Perhaps the solution for OUR community lies with developing Ponte Vista on the east coast!
Saturday, March 21, 2009
From the March 19 edition of the Random Lengths News comes this:
Some Vue Condos Will Be Leased
San Pedro—In yet another sign of the slumping economy, developers behind
the Vue condominium complex recently signaled that some of the
316 units will now be made available through a lease agreement,
as opposed to a for-sale basis.
The news comes on the heels of an event marking the building’s
grand opening, which was held earlier this month on March 7.
The event, which included a tour of the high-rise complex,
allowed members of the public to see the building in person for
the first time since its completion.
The announcement marks the second project in downtown and the
third condominium project in San Pedro to change its marketing
strategy in recent years. Along with the Vue, the Bank Street Lofts
and Seaport Homes, both condominium projects completed within
the past three years, moved from forsale units to lease agreements
after completing construction.
For more information, visit http://www.dwellatvue.com/
Friday, March 20, 2009
I am expecting another ambiguous type of Open House and I don't think we will learn much of the concrete numbers that may be presented to the Planning Commission on April 9.
Isn't it amazing that just about all the same development folks have been together over three years now and they still can't find a project that can be approved of?
I haven't heard much about my two options for Ponte Vista. That's quite fine for me.
I still think the development team will be marketing their 1,375-1,470-unit concept, whether OUR community wants it or not.
I'll do my best to make it to the March 28 meeting, being held between 1 PM-4
PM, at the Port of Los Angeles Boys and Girls Club.
Unfortunately, many of us who won't be able to find parking spaces in the various parking lots may get stuck parking by what I am now considering to be a Hahnmeter.
Spring has sprung.
The grass has riz.
I wonder where
The flowers is.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
If you have followed this blog or take time to review some of its posts, you should be able to understand how much knowledge I have attained to offer the two options.
The first option is actually the "No Project" Alternative that either of the developer's of the site have always had.
"No Project" means that a developer can use about 49.5 acres of the 61.53 acre site to build up to 429 single-family, detached houses on lots of not less than 5,000 square feet.
It is the reality that Bob and or Ted would have very little trouble finding all the permits and approvals necessary to build according to the current zoning on the site.
It's like Dorothy always having been able to go back to Kansas. The option was there from the date the property was sold, back in 2005.
It is already approved as far as the Planning Department and the City Council goes.
It would provide no traffic mitigation from the developer.
It is what the City Council considered it should be as far back as 1981.
It would probably not allow for an access through the Ponte Vista site for Mary Star High School, but that has always been something everyone should have known since the Federal Government sold part of the property to a private party and gave the rest to Volunteers of America.
It is an option OUR community could live with, I believe.
Option number two will find me at odds with the majority of the folks wanting R1 and wanting a larger project, with more senior housing.
The second option is to build out Ponte Vista at San Pedro equivalent to The Gardens.
I can feel comfortable with up to 831-units, of varying types.
I would like to see the vast majority of the units being built as upscale town houses. I can still wish for some senior housing, as long as the total number of units remains with the up to 831 units.
This option may also not allow for an access to Mary Star High School via Western, but the folks in the Westmont neighborhood need to share the problems with the rest of OUR community and not resort to the 'backroom' deal they made with Mary Star and the City Council some years ago.
It is not the fault or responsibility of the members of OUR community to suffer because of prices paid for land that is not worth as much as it was when it was purchased.
If the equity fund doesn't make the profit it thinks it should, tough!
327 units on Fitness Drive is plenty of density for that area and there really should not be more density than The Gardens at Ponte Vista.
I also would demand that any zoning change that will allow for up to 831 units, requires significant traffic mitigation for Western Avenue.
The option for up to 831-units also carries the necessity that a new EIR be conducted, because the Planning Department only considers two access points to Western be viable.
Up to 831-units falls well within the "775-886" number of units without a bonus density that the Planning Department's guidelines suggests.
The idea of between 8,000-10,000 square feet of retail space at Ponte Vista would probably not work out, but the whole site is close to the Westmont Shopping area.
If the developers of Ponte Vista wish to have something they do not already have the rights to build, the there will need to be zoning changes on the property.
To have those zoning changes approved, there needs to be a new EIR created and new studies accomplished. There needs to be a "start over" of all the processes, including an entirely new application.
There should be an understanding that either of the two options listed on this post would be in the best interest of the members of OUR community whether the developers wish to understand that or not.
DLJ, Ted Fentin, and others had the option to change more than one individual in the processes and they chose not to support that option.
They chose their options, now I have chosen mine.
Up to 429 or up to 831, those are the options.
Friday, March 13, 2009
Ms. Swanson, Ted Fentin, Tim McOsker Steve Afrait, the Architect, and just about all the others from The Bob Years are still in place.
What is true is that the marketing strategy is very different.
The name of the applicant's equity funding group simply changed its name by dropping "BDC" and the idea that Bob is out of the picture.
When the group still wants to build units that are between just over 1-1/2 times and 1-2/3 times the maximum number of units that the Planning Department's guidelines suggest, there is still something very wrong.
The group, while suggesting that single-family houses would be too pricey for the area, seem to be willing to build the majority of their units as upscale Town Houses.
The Town Houses suggested during The Bob Years would have been sold for at least $900,000 and he was suggesting many units at over 1 Million Dollars.
Of course back then there would have only been about 10% of those types of units.
Now it is up to over 50% of the most expensive type of housing.
Ted also wants only 20% of the senior units and mixed-family condos set aside for "workforce housing."
That would me only as many as 175 of as many as 1,575 units.
I do appreciate that he wants up to 425 senior units even though the Planning Department suggest a total of 0 of those segregated units on the site.
I also appreciate that Ted want the fewest number of multi-family condos which would undoubtedly become the haven for leased and rented units, which is a very bad thing.
So, how many total units should be built at Ponte Vista?
For the answer, all we need to do is compare.
The Gardens has 1,100 units on 80 acres of land. the dwelling density per acre is 13.5.
I have to real numbers as to how many of those units are being leased or rented out, but I am sure that not every single units is owner-occupied.
The folks who live at The Gardens can use Westmont or even Toscanini and other roads to access either Western Avenue or Gaffey Street.
Ponte Vista residents will only have Western as their ingress and egress route and may only have two access roads into or out of Ponte Vista.
The Gardens do not have the same number and types of amenities that the Ponte Vista folks want to put into their site, but The Gardens is very close to Eastview Park.
Each units in The Gardens seems to have its own garage and the communal land is maintained and not unsightly.
If we use equivalent numbers of The Gardens and Ponte Vista, there would be only 831 units at Ponte Vista. Well actually it would be 830.655 units, but who would want to live in .655 of a unit?
The number of units being 831 fits quite well into the Planning Department's guidelines for the Ponte Vista project not havin a density bonus applied.
Ted doesn't want a density bonus applied to Ponte Vista even though the Mayor of Los Angeles is hoping every large residential project has some inclusionary housing.
830 units would not allow for union participation in construction at Ponte Vista because it would not allow for any profit and it could actually cause quite a loss for the developer.
That number of units would also probably preclude Mr. Fentin from keeping a route open between Western and Mary Star High School.
There is no route between The Gardens and Mary Star at this time and there probably never will be.
830 units would also not allow any senior housing area specifically set aside for those 55-years of age and older.
If you look at the skyline of San Pedro and notice the third tallest building, it is an entire senior housing building.
I think there are some San Pedro seniors who may wish to live in a segregated area of Ponte Vista, but it is unlikely that will happen, even though I still wish for some units of that type.
Maybe it is finally time to reason that Ponte Vista should be developed equivalent to a large residential project that has worked for OUR community for decades.
The actual site of Ponte Vista requires some open spaces because some of the land is not suitable for residential structures and a security zone by the Defense Fuel Support Point must be maintained.
If 1,100 units at The Gardens on 80 acres of land is good enough, why wouldn't 831 units on 61.53 acres be good enough for OUR community?
If Ted wants to build 831 upscale Town Houses valued at over $800,000 each, might that not be the best result for OUR community?
It is 193% of the 429 single-family dwellings that the "No Project" Alternative allows Ted to build on the site.
If he's suggesting a maximum number of 700 in his current thoughts, perhaps an extra 131 will help his financials.
Even if the Planning Department and the Planning Commission suggest he can build 885 town houses, that may be something OUR community can discuss more, in a favorable light.
Without a road to Gaffey or a public access through Mary Star High School to Taper Avenue, it is still very difficult to find enough mitigation for Western.
While I am still leaning towards my dream, I can probably see 831 upscale Town Houses being successfully sold at Ponte Vista.
If it works for The Gardens, it should work for Ponte Vista.
If that is all you need to know to make up your mind about the project, thanks a lot. Have a nice day. See you later. Bye.
The Open House.
Lots of people came which increased traffic along Western Avenue during some of the busiest hours for traffic.
I was quite impressed with what I saw until the very end when a truth was revealed.
On March 28, 2009, at the Port of Los Angeles Boys and Girls Club in San Pedro, and between the hours of 1-4 PM, there will be another Open House dealing with the land use concept of the site.
According to folks representing Ponte Vista, a concept will be presented, based on input from folks who were interviewed by Mr. Jim Oswald and members of the public who attended the Open House, and others.
The concept may propose the exact number of units that will be discussed at the April 9 meeting of the city of Los Angeles Planning Commission.
What will probably NOT be proposed is the population density, number of bedrooms, number of residents' vehicles, and some other important information I feel we all need to know.
Ms. Elise Swanson repeated to me and others that we should fill out comment cards and place them at stations so they can be reviewed between now and March 28.
How much weight those comment cards will have is a matter of whether you trust the 'new' regime or not.
I went into the Open House and stayed through almost ALL of my time there trying to believe that everything was new. Unfortunately, I can only wish I could have written that it was.
Actually, I found lots of things I considered to be good about the Open House and Mr. Fentin's interest in answering every question I had.
I am very grateful that the Ponte Vista folks have abandoned their claim that the project would be built as part of the "Smart Growth" concepts. I and other have been claiming for years that Ponte Vista at San Pedro has no business claiming to be part of the "Smart Growth" agenda and I am glad we finally got through to them about their former fantasy.
I enjoyed reading both the the positive contentions folks have that the warts the Ponte Vista folks were willing to reveal on the large information panels.
It does appear that things are now 'different' as far as appearances go.
It is also good to hear the acknowledgement that Bob's plans were far to much for this community.
I was very happy to see the publishing of the dwelling density of The Gardens. At that site, there are 1,100 units on 80 acres, with a dwelling density of 13.5 units per acre.
It allowed folks attending the Open House to figure if Ponte Vista is built with the same dwelling density as the Gardens, 831 units would be equivalent at Ponte Vista.
Why shouldn't Ponte Vista be built with the same unit density as The Gardens?
The interaction between all the people attending the Open House was wonderful and remarkable.
As I have been commenting lately, there really should be no "Supporters" and "Opponents" right now and OUR community came out and demonstrated we all could share ideas in friendship. I saw more smiles than frowns from the members of OUR community.
Mr. Fentin commented that IF the project were approved of with at least 1,375 units included, he would honor the Project Labor Agreements that have been made for union members to work on the site.
Mr. Fentin provided information about the 'new' financial arrangements he has been using.
Mr. Fentin is head of the new Ponte Vista Partners LLC, which is the 'new' group that replaced BDC Ponte Vista Partners LLC.
Mr. Fentin manages the equity fund that has been around for years to deal with financial matters regarding Ponte Vista.
In writing on a board was the following: "DLJ will NOT pursue any type or form of density bonus." That means no low-income or inclusionary housing is being currently considered.
I think there MAY have been some real two-way communication which is refreshing compared to the dogmatic approach during the The Bob Years.
1,375-1,475 units is still far too many units to be considered.
The boards compared the number of units using a density bonus of between 1,046-1,196, stated there would be NO DENSITY BONUS and then added units to come up with 1,375-1,475.
To be more honest, they should have compared apples to apples. 885 units is the maximum number of units the Planning Department suggested for a project having no density bonus.
It seems to me they should have compared 885 to 1,375-1,475.
For a project having no density bonus, they want 155%-167% of the maximum number of units the Planning Department wants.
Their breakdown of:
625-700 Town Houses
300-450 Senior Condominiums
350-425 Multi-family Condominiums makes for some even fuzzier numbers.
Using the least number of each type, we could have 1,275 units. Adding up the maximum numbers in each category, we could see up to 1,575 units.
I do not agree that the processes should not start over, as the developer contends.
So much has changed since the original (and considered flawed by many) studies were first undertaken.
Even though there is a claim that a new application is not required, there is a claim that the financial backers are different, the applicant is different, and the project falls within between 'No Project' and the applicant's original application.
Many of the representatives talking to folks at the Open House were not representatives of the developer's and I bet I know a whole lot more about the project and issues than they do.
I was impressed with much of the overall look and feel during most of my visit. But in the end, I had to remind myself that there is still at least one person who is holding onto the old ways and not willing to be able to separate herself from some of the old ways.
I think when anyone representing Ponte Vista continues the pattern used for The Bob Years, it is a real sign that maybe too little has really changed.
At the very end of the meeting I asked whether the number of bedrooms and the projected population of the project would be revealed at the March 28 meeting and I was told that I should fill out a comment form and they will look into it.
Why could I not get a straight answer? Perhaps it is because they will not be willing to provide that vital information before they go to the Planning Commission, when they might not even reveal those numbers to the members of the Planning Commission.
Bob never published the projected numbers of bedrooms and that relates to the possible number of residents of the site, the number of vehicles, and the real congestion issues that may come about.
During my questioning, the person seemed peeved at me and tried to suggest that everything is different now.
This individual was very dogmatic when she related what would be at Ponte Vista during The Bob Years and stated her opinion that I/we should not deal with The Bob Years.
Nowhere has there been any atonement from this individual about her being the spokesperson for such a bad former project and her steadfast support to a developer who divided OUR community.
I can't trust that there really is a whole new development and team as long as she and folks like Steve Afriat and so many others that were connected during The Bob Years are still left around.
Only one individual is gone, but his subordinates are still around, claiming things in basically the same manner and form as before.
I also have some issues with there not being a density bonus applied when DLJ wants to build 279-392 MORE units than a density bonus would allow, according to Planning Department guidelines.
It seems DLJ doesn't want inclusionary housing residents close to residents of Million Dollar Town Houses. I don't blame them for that, but then they really should not have added units, don't you think.
As long as all but one of the old team is still on board, I don't think our trust has been sufficiently earned.
Mr. Fentin is a welcome difference as a developer compared to Bob, but is one person enough to wipe away all the foulness that went on for too many years?
The last of my comments on the Open House.
It is difficult to understand why Lt. Col Ramer, the Commander of the Defence Fuel Support Depot was not interviewed by Mr. Oswald.
Lt. Col Ramer is a powerful voice for what cannot be done, concerning a road to Gaffey and he should have been included as such a strong and long neighbor of the Ponte Vista site.
Even the minimum number of units Mr. Fentin is willing to go to the Planning Commission with is still far too many.
This may be a make it or break it issue. If the applicant can't get approval for at least 1,375 units, they may fold up their tent and head out of town.
Is that such a bad thing?
If there is not going to be R1 for the site, then 885 units should probably me the absolute maximum number of units on the site, unless they build equivalent to The Gardens, with 831 units.
The race continues between the Marymount College Facilities Expansion project approval processes and the Ponte Vista at San Pedro approval processes.
Marymount's public hearing with the city of Rancho Palos Verdes Planning Commission keeps getting continues, but there may be a public hearing on March 31 that will not have a vote by Commissioners, to move the process along.
Since DLJ is pushing ahead for the April 9 hearing with the city of Los Angeles Planning Commission, Ponte Vista has moved slightly into the lead.
It does not look likely that Marymount is going to receive approval to build on-campus student housing.
There backup plan is to expand facilities at it Palos Verdes North off-campus housing facilities on Palos Verdes Drive North.
The winner of the battle of the projects will, most likely, kill the plan or Alternative of the other project.
Whichever project wins, the drivers and passengers using Western Avenue will lose.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Wednesday, March 11, 2009, by Dakota
The power of neighborhood councils to stop proposed developments--that's the crux of today's LA Times' story on San Pedro Ponte's Vista, a development that at one point was a proposed 2,300-unit project.
Spearheaded by developer Bob Bisno, the development was supported by locals businesses, but "facing potent opposition from within the community's increasingly sophisticated neighborhood councils," the planning commission shot down the project, which was set to rise on a 61-acre site on old Navy property, last December.
Bisno is now out of the project, which is being handled by DLJ Real Estate Capital Partners, a subsidiary of Credit Suisse Bank.
Tomorrow DLJ will hold a community meeting to get input on the new, revised development (likely it'll be much smaller) and then the project will head off to the planning commission on April 9th.
Via the paper:
[Councilwoman and San Pedro resident Janice Hahn] "said the original proposal was much too big and now developers must come up with a smaller project -- perhaps of about 885 units -- that will offer enough benefits to justify a zoning change."
Meanwhile, to get a sense of the neighborhood councils and how they're operating, check out the "R Neighborhoods Are 1" web site (the name invokes one of the zoning changes desired).
There's an update posted by Northwest San Pedro Neighborhood Council member John Greenwood about the meeting tomorrow.
Here's their position: "We think that the developer must begin again with a new proposal and an updated traffic study. Simply revising the existing proposal prior to the April 9th hearing would not allow for a sufficient public input process for consideration of a project of this magnitude."
You can read the PDF of the Greenwood's statement here.·
San Pedro residents organize to oppose Ponte Vista development [LA Times]·
NW San Pedro NC [Official Site]·
R Neighborhoods Are 1 [Official Site]
As a matter of fact, the 61.53 acre site is currently zoned for single-family dwellings on lots of not less than 5,000 square feet, which is R1. The two types of zoning on the site are; R1-1XL and O1-1XL, those being the lot zone for residential structures and the open space zone compatable to the R1 zoning. The "1XL" stands for structures of not greater than two storys or 30 feet tall, maximum.
San Pedro residents organize to oppose Ponte Vista development
Al Seib / Los Angeles Times
Doug Epperhart, left, and John Stinson are representatives of R Neighborhoods Are 1.
Neighborhood councils along Western Avenue have come together to campaign for reductions in the project's scope and demand that the city maintain the property's single-family zoning.
By Jean Merl March 11, 2009
The boarded-up duplexes line a stretch of Western Avenue in San Pedro -- decaying relics of an era when the Navy needed housing for its Long Beach shipyard workers. A decade after the yard closed, the property is now home only to a handful of goats brought in to keep down the weeds.
The inactivity masks a heated battle over the massive Ponte Vista development planned for the site, one that proponents say would bring much-needed housing and jobs to the area but also, critics maintain, an unacceptable level of traffic congestion and a drain on services.
In 2005, developer Bob Bisno bought the property, which offers views of the Vincent Thomas Bridge, and proposed squeezing 2,300 condos onto its 61.5 acres.
In proposing what officials say would have been San Pedro's largest residential development ever, Bisno unwittingly galvanized potent opposition from within the community's increasingly sophisticated neighborhood councils.
His move to scale back the project to 1,950 units -- with nearly half reserved for seniors -- did nothing to mollify the well-organized opponents. The city planning staff gave the project a thumbs down in December and suggested the site be limited to about 1,200 homes.
Credit Suisse, the bank that had been Bisno's biggest investor, ousted him shortly after that, and its subsidiary DLJ Real Estate Capital Partners is now scrambling to salvage the project in time for an April 9 airing before the Los Angeles Planning Commission.
Since early this year, facilitator Jim Oswald has been interviewing scores of San Pedro residents to help DLJ come up with acceptable revisions.
"I was hired [to find out] what people felt could make a better project," Oswald said Friday, as he wrapped up about a month of interviews with about 60 people.
Community members will be able to get updates on the developers' thinking, and to add their opinions, at an open house from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Peck Park Recreation Center in San Pedro.
From the start, Bisno, no stranger to development controversies in other parts of the city, took steps to line up support for Ponte Vista, putting a public park into his proposal, promising to build a baseball field for an about-to-be-displaced Little League team and providing an access road for a nearby Catholic high school. When a cash crunch nearly forced a small nonprofit, Clean San Pedro, to close its doors, Bisno donated $25,000.
He got labor leaders on board with the promise of construction jobs. He set aside units for residents older than 55 and said Ponte Vista would have homes the community's working- and middle-class families could afford. He offered some improvements to already-congested Western Avenue, the only way in and out of the site.
Business and union interests, as well as residents hoping for affordable housing and an end to the blighted, abandoned housing, quickly lined up in vocal support.
But others, centered in the three neighborhood councils along Western, mobilized to counter traffic and density, among other issues. They gathered some 15,000 signatures demanding that city officials retain the property's current single-family-home zoning, which would allow only about 500 individual homes. They formed a political and fundraising arm, R Neighborhoods Are 1, hired a traffic consultant, handed out bumper stickers and lawn signs and enlisted support from the neighboring cities of Lomita and Rancho Palos Verdes.
"None of this would have happened without the neighborhood councils," said Doug Epperhart, a leader of the Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council. "We got together to decide what to do about this."
Pat and Diana Nave, of the council that represents Northwest San Pedro, hope their organizing can be a model for neighborhood councils across the city and bring about changes in the city's planning processes, including how it calculates a proposed development's effect on traffic and municipal services.
"Nobody should have the right to tell somebody else what to do with their property, but this will have a huge impact" on traffic and on the demand for police, water and other services, said Pat Nave.
But labor attorney and former city commissioner Diane Middleton called opponents "a vocal minority" who are holding up much-needed housing and other benefits.
"It's time for the project to move forward," she said.
Project opponents want the developer to start fresh with an entirely new proposal, but DLJ spokesman Steven Afriat, a veteran of many City Hall development battles, said that is not realistic.
"We're trying hard to hold to that" April 9 date, Afriat said.
If the project clears the Planning Commission, it still would need approval from the City Council and ultimately the mayor, Afriat noted.
"Most are not asking us to start over, just come in with a smaller project, which the developer is willing to do," Afriat said.
Afriat also rejected as unrealistic opponents' calls for single-family homes on the site, citing among other things the high prices they would have to fetch, at least $1 million apiece.
Both sides have been working hard to enlist Councilwoman Janice Hahn, a longtime San Pedro resident.
Hahn, in a recent interview, said the original proposal was much too big and now developers must come up with a smaller project -- perhaps of about 885 units -- that will offer enough benefits to justify a zoning change."The community has followed this very closely . . . and with great sophistication," Hahn said.
"I want this new development team to be very careful about this," she added." I want to be sure that [a revised proposal] doesn't compromise the community."
The photo at the top of this post has the leader of the Ponte Vista Outreach Team, Ms. Elise Swanson appears in the background while Doug and John are photographed as they stand outside the gates of the development.
Steve Afriat, now apparently speaking for DLJ was hired by Bob as one of his primary lobbyists.
Mr. Afriat is still the largest lobbyist in the city of Los Angeles according to the workload he has.
If DLJ is allowed to take the application by BDC Ponte Vista Partners, LLC to the Planning Commission, it means a subsidiary of Bisno Development Co., LLC and that firm's Chairman Robert H. (Bob) Bisno will still be very much in the picture despite what the Ponte Vista Outreach Team has been purporting.
The author of the article is certainly correct in that, without the support of both Northwest San Pedro and Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Councils, Bob would already have earth-moving equipment on the site, creating a community of as many as 2,300 units.
What the author omitted was that Ponte Vista at San Pedro was the largest planned community since Playa Vista began construction.
The players are in place. The room with be ready for March 12. We will have an opportunity to find out whether OUR community can come together to suggest the best possible outcome for the site and whether DLJ can deal with it.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Lt. Colonel Jon Ramer, provided two sets of interesting comments that I feel should be shared for all to consider.
Here is an Email and Lt. Col Ramer's reply:
It has been reported recently that a public facilitator is interviewing roughly 60 people within the community at San Pedro City Hall to determine what is an acceptable solution at Ponte Vista. As neighbors of the Ponte Vista project, I am writing to inquire whether you have been invited to attend any of the interviews that are currently being conducted by the developer.
It would be important for the community to know this, since your operations will potentially be impacted from the project."
Here is Lt. Col Jon Ramer's reply:
No, I have not been invited. It would be interesting to hear the comments though, especially since other folks may be under the same impression that the Ponte Vista project will impact our operations. The opposite is actually more accurate, the Ponte Vista development is more likely to be affected by our operations. Mr. Bisno was well informed about that when he purchased the land.
Lt Col Ramer "
Lt. Col Ramer then added more information to the second source elaborating further on that sources' Email.
Here is a portion of that elaboration:
"This will of course affect how the development proceeds.
Additionally, the developers have been clearly and repeatedly informed that there will be absolutely no further easements, land grants, access,or fence line changes into the base to accommodate the development.That specifically includes no access roads across any part of the DFSP.
There is also the security clear zone of 10 feet from the perimeterfence and encroachment issues of building near it (probably not a worry due to the shape of the terrain). Mr. Bisno has to design his development plans with all this in mind, all of which has been relayed to him. Lastly, it is his responsibility to inform his potential customers that they will be residing next to an operational military fuel storage depot and that occasionally they will smell vapors, not often, but it does and will happen.
Our operations will not stop if his residents complain."
Lt. Col Ramer also include the provision that IF a new school were built on the Ponte Vista at San Pedro site, it would have be situated at least 1,500 feet from any storage tank.
It seems to appear that Bob knew that the operations of the DFSP may affect folks living at Ponte Vista, but I don't have any other documentation or recollection about the matter.
Could this be one more 'dirty little secret' Bob, Ted Fentin and the Outreach Team don't want you or potential residents to know?
Friday, March 06, 2009
Click over image to enlarge.
I must have received 6 or 7 of the illustrations of the flyer. I added my one comment at the bottom of it.
The Traffic and Transportation Section has been considered to be flawed by many individuals who are professionals and other well educated persons.
The current water problems and the draught was not considered in the Environmental Impact Report, when it was written. A dramatic change in the water resources to support construction at Ponte Vista is more in question now.
New and improved studies must be taken to insure that whatever is built at Ponte Vista at San Pedro meets or exceeds current standards and looks far into the future of OUR community.
Everyone has the chance to start over and get everything correct, this time.
OUR community cannot afford to have such a large development in such a sensitive area, for so many years to come.
New studies on employment, revenue generation, tax bases, and all other areas of the EIR must be done.
The studies must be done for the benefit of future residents of Ponte Vista, residents who live within 2 miles of the project site, and for all others in OUR community.
Ponte Vista, Bob, and too many other got it wrong the first time, as it now has been proven.
Why trust anything that was done in the past and why trust that these same folks won't foul it up again?