Thursday, April 09, 2009

A More Subjective Look at the Planning Commission Meeting

It is now time for me to allow R1 to fade into a wonderful memory.

Had it not been for so many fantastic folks demanding only the best for OUR community, we would be hearing construction equipment starting to build a 2,300+-unit monster in northwest San Pedro.

For R Neighborhoods Are 1, we were, are, and will be together to help create the best Ponte Vista possible.

Many of our members will change their focus and there will still be a number of folks who will continue to demand R1, but I think we can savor a real victory and help restore OUR community.

It is time for me to pull my R1 sticker off the back of my vehicle. It served me well and it demonstrated that there are folks who kept watch for OUR community.

Senior Units at Ponte Vista are not dead yet. Even though the City Planning Department does not want any segregated senior area, there is still a desire by many for that type of housing.

I will continue to defend those who wish for a separate Senior Housing area as I wish to see some built, too.

HOWEVER, there was some very outrageous things that occurred at the meeting that cannot go unwritten.

First, for those of you who want jobs now, where were you in 2005 when jobs could have been created for construction work at Ponte Vista?

Bob Bisno and Ted Fentin have ALWAYS been able to begin construction, hire folks, provide income to the community, and bring revenue into San Pedro had they wanted to.

It is Bob and Ted who have kept construction jobs from the site. It is Bob and Ted who have continued to keep revenue from San Pedro.

It is Bob and Ted who did not begin construction as soon as they could.

How much income has been lost in OUR community because Bob and Ted opted to not begin construction when they could have?

How much has the economy of OUR community suffered because of the jobs Bob and Ted refused to create when they could have?

People who don't understand that Bisno Development Co. LLC, BDC Ponte Vista Partners, LLC, and Ponte Vista Partners, LLC could have already have had units completed at Ponte Vista at San Pedro demonstrate their ignorance whenever they open their mouths.

Jobs should and could have been created, but they aren't yet.

Every single day a construction worker is not working at the Ponte Vista site is a direct result of decisions made by the current development team, now headed by Ted Fentin and formerly led by Bob Bisno.

Not a single person from R Neighborhoods Are 1 has kept one single person from having a job at Ponte Vista. In fact, an R Neighborhoods Are 1 member has allowed someone to take a job they were initially offered!

San Pedro's current Honorary Mayor doesn't seem to understand that he is the Honorary Mayor for ALL the residents of San Pedro and not just union members and proponents of Ponte Vista.

Joe used the words "affordable housing" when talking about Ponte Vista and that is another example of the ignorance of so many folks about the real truths of the project.

Stephanie Mardesich, another long time supporter of whatever may or may not be planned at Ponte Vista chimed in with the fact that San Pedro businesses would be helped by the "huge population" that would live at Ponte Vista.

I guess Ms, Mardesich lives nowhere near Western Avenue.

It is understandable that leaders of Chambers of Commerce endorse projects that may provide revenue to businesses which are members of the Chambers.

But within a five-mile radius of Ponte Vista and still within San Pedro/Los Angeles, there is little revenue generation that will come, no matter how many folks live in Ponte Vista. Factual statistics on file continue to point this out.

One of the fellows wearing a "Start Over" button provided some insight for some of the folks who came in support of Ponte Vista while wearing orange shirts.

The shirts had writing of union laborers. The fellow we spoke to noticed that very few of the individuals wearing the orange shirts had callused hands. Hands of union construction workers do not look like hands of folks who do not work construction jobs.

The "Start Over" fellow opined that many of the orange shirt-wearing individuals were probably not really employed construction workers.

There was also a report that the Outreach Team offered an 'outing' to residents of the Senior high rise building in San Pedro to attend the Planning Commission meeting.

Some of the supporters of the developer's position actually wore real buttons!

Most of the yellow circles viewed in the chambers were simply paper stickers though.

The Outreach Team supplied at least two buses for their folks while a group of us thanked Councilwoman Hahn for providing a bus for anyone and everyone.

The meeting was teleconferenced to the San Pedro City Hall. Only supporters of the developer's current plans spoke.

Jack Weiss, the candidate for City Attorney running against Carmen Trutanich walked through the Chambers trying to hustle votes.

I guess he still doesn't get that when you enter a room filled with members of OUR community, you had better be our own Nuch.

Councilwoman Hahn did the political thing and asked that there be a continuance on any decision by the Planning Commission. Thankfully that did not happen.

From sources I have been told that Janice is very tired of all of this and wants things settled as soon as possible.

As soon as possible may be at least 6-9 months, if the development team doesn't fold up their flying carpet and sail away.

There has been and always will be the distinct possibility that the developer will be granted entitlements that he will then simple sell off and not build anything.

We were very pleased by the reaction of Planning Department members who considered that a new traffic study must be accomplished. All of the members responding about traffic agreed that new studies must be done!

I think proponents of the current plans also came away from the meeting at least pleased about a few things.

There was no outright rejection of the concept of having a development at Ponte Vista that is not R1.

In fact, it appeared very obvious that there is no real support for R1 remaining by Planning Department Commissioners.

They also though Senior Housing and a walkable site were good things.

They all seemed pleased with the LEEDS Certification concept even though it will probably be mandatory by the time the first bulldozer moves earth.

Both sides can claim some victory.

But for R Neighborhoods Are 1 and supporters of a smaller development that the one applied for, it was quite a remarkable victory!

A whole big group of all volunteers, working on less that shoestrings, halted the largest residential development in the city of Los Angeles after Playa Vista.

Now we need to work on something we all can live with. We need to remember the past so nobody attempts to repeat it.

We need to understand that Ted Fentin's 1,395-units may actually be 1,883 units no matter what his current opinion is.

We've said "NO". We meant "NO". We won "NO" to a monstrous over development. It WILL NOT BE BUILT!

An L.A. Times reporter and photographer attended the meeting. There may also have been a sighting of the "Z-Man", David Zanhiser in the Chambers.

It will be interesting to see and read the reactions from so many others.


John S said...

Nice job speaking yesterday. The Planning Commission, in it's killing of the 1,950-unit plan, also killed the perception that an R-1 project was going to be acceptable for the site as well. With their unanimous support for a senior housing complex and workforce-accessible housing, the notion that these can somehow be built within the R-1 restrictions is simply incorrect. However, the basic issues the signatories to the R-1 petition want addressed, traffic and environmental impact, are still among the highest priorities of the commission and the planning staff, and the community has the R-1 group to thank for those staying high.

But now is the time to evaluate the new proposed plan of 1,395 units, mostly townhomes, and compare it to the planning staff project that will not have any of the infrastructure or traffic mitigation improvements required when a zoning change is required.

Residents concerned with traffic should be advised that more traffic is coming, and a plan that can reduce traffic even below what is projected for a new R-1 development should be one that this group can endorse. PV has brought forward a study that shows the 1,395-unit project having less traffic than an R-1 development, and I think this study needs to be vetted for credibility. Once it is, if the study does hold water, the R-1 group should express this.

As for Environmental Impact, no one in the state, and possibly the country, knows more about designing enviro-friendly developments than Michelle Kauffman Designs. Her firm's work is held in the highest regard by the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters, and these would be excellent objective groups to come evaluate her firm's proposed plans.

Four years is a long time to simply say "NO, just as it was far too long for Bob Bisno to dig his heels in as well. The developer has removed Bob for that very reason, and now it is time for the R-1 group to undig its own heels from the sand. Your comments have shown that you've personally done just that, and I will always praise you for that. I hope you can use your influence on the rest of the group's leadership to do the same.

Very Best Regards,

M Richards said...

Thanks John S, for your comments.

Now that we can finally regard the past using the extremes as examples that were not going to be implemented, we can move forward.

I still am looking for reasons why having Ponte Vista with the same dwelling density at The Gardens is not something that would be realistic, reasonable, responsible, and respectful.

I can certainly imagine having about 300 Senior Units at Ponte Vista with the remaining 531 units being either all town houses or a combination of town houses and multi-family housing.

As it looks right now, many of the proposed 630 town houses could be priced over 1 Million Dollars each, if we look at the previous town house ideas were.

The idea that a total of only 143 of the proposed 1,395-units would be priced for 'workforce' folks is also something that looks like too few units available for a majority of folks who may want them.

I have changed focus a bit to consider that there are actually two large developments that will probably impact the same portion of Western in the future.

Now matter what the added vehicle count with Ponte Vista is, we will need to add at least 624.4 vehicle trips per day along north Western because of the Marymount College Facilities Expansion Project.

Neither EIR considered the added vehicles the respective projects may add to Western Avenue between Trudie and P.V. Drive north.

No matter what one's stand on Ponte Vista is, we all need to consider the 'smaller elephant in the room' that could put a real crunch on Western if the two projects are not considered in each one's approvals.

As far as my current idea for an equivalent dwelling density as The Gardens are, my 831 units fits into the Planning Department's guidelines. If it is built with a density bonus of 35%, that means 1,121-units could be built.

Yes it is lower than what the developer currently wants, but now that we are more willing to work hard together, maybe we can find a number that is best for OUR community all around.

The average between the developer's 1,395 and the Planning Department's 886-max without a density bonus is just over 1,140-units.

Should we all look at the possibility of splitting the difference and allowing for 1,141 units at Ponte Vista with the types of housing determined by the development team?

With the majority of the housing being town houses, that is a real warm fuzzy I think I could agree upon.

But let's work all together like OUR community should have done from the beginning.