Sunday, June 07, 2009

My Interview with Mr. Oswald

In this second round of interviews I finally had my turn with Mr. Jim Oswald, the facilitator hired by the Ponte Vista Development Team in this second round.

I had met and spoken to Mr. Oswald at the April Open House and I found him interesting and willing to listen.

During my interview with Mr. Oswald, he was pleasant and seemed to really want to know my thoughts.

So of course I gave my thoughts to him.

Folks who normally read this blog know pretty much what I spoke to Mr. Oswald about, but I did add some new twists when he asked what questions I specifically had for the next round of open houses.

I am a firm believer that there has always been a real underlying problem concerning access through the Ponte Vista site for the new Mary Star of the Sea High School campus.

I provided to Mr. Oswald what I knew of the history as to how the 'deal' went down between supporters of the high school's development and the neighborhood surrounding Taper Avenue.

My questions I would like real answers to is whether a governmental agency can require an easement to a private, religious school over and through private property owned by others.

I also wanted to know if the folks at Mary Star would allow Ponte Vista residents access through their property to get young children to and from Taper Avenue Elementary School without needing to go along Western Avenue.

It seems to me that if Ponte Vista allows Mary Star students and parents access over their land, then, for safety reasons, accessing Taper Avenue School through the Mary Star property is logical and fundamentally necessary.

Of course all of this could and should end up in the court system.

Traffic can be somewhat mitigated along Western Avenue by not allowing students and parents access through Ponte Vista to get to and from Mary Star.

Why should drivers using Western but not needing access to Mary Star suffer because of a private school and the 'deal' made with residents local to the Taper Avenue end of the private drive?

I don't think it was legal to allow access to the Mary Star campus through the site when the Federal Government owned the land now known as Ponte Vista. 

Let's say you owned property and a governmental agency came to you and demanded that you allow access over your land for not only another private property, but also one that is a church-based school.

Also, who ultimately pays for the road to Mary Star through Ponte Vista? Would it be fair to pass on the costs of the road to buyers of units at Ponte Vista when they probably won't sent children to the campus?

Should buyers be assessed charges for a private, church-established campus?

This issue is not about a specific religion. Consider if you will, that the campus is run by the Muslim faith and test yourself to see whether that changes your mind. If it does, then what does that say about the whole issue?

During my talk with Mr. Oswald, I opined that I thought that if there is some senior housing, then some of that type of housing should be town houses.

I would also trim back the number of senior units receiving lower prices and more more of that category into the "multi-family." 

Since only about 20% or up to 168 of the total units would be 'workforce' housing priced or lower prices for some seniors, I also opined that the marketing strategy should have an asterisk placed next to the wording for lower priced units and then an explanation of how few of these units would probably be available.

I also opined to Mr. Oswald that the folks who want R1 and/or equivalent population density to R1 need to still be considered.

That opinion was borne out later in the day when I talked to a group of local residents who are still very much concerned with keeping the population density to that of what R1 or the current zoning allows for.

The Ponte Vista developer is using numbers for senior units to mitigate the population of the project. 

I spent some time talking about the real need for objective considerations and studies to state once and for all whether senior housing units are really needed and/or wanted in the community.

Since the strongest support for Ponte Vista comes from a strong and vital group of seniors that have populated advisory boards, it is a marketing goal to provide senior housing to attract and keep the strongest group of supporters possible.

Had there never been a consideration of having senior housing on the site in the first place, I am sure that there would not have been anywhere near whatever support was given for the project for the get-go.

I stop here to remind everyone that the Los Angeles City Planning Department contends that Ponte Vista at San Pedro should NOT have any specific senior housing unit section.

I also suggested to Mr. Oswald that a pedestrian bridge be built over Western Avenue for the students going to and from Dodson and other folks who want to cross Western Avenue.

Too many of us older residents remember too many kids getting hit by cars and even buses while they were trying to cross Western Avenue when the Navy Housing was occupied.

One of Mr. Oswald's questions he repeatedly asked me was what was I hearing 'out there'.

I pretty much answered "nothing" or "not much" to those questions. There are reasons I gave those answers and there have been times recently that I have been to busy to deal with the issues surrounding Ponte Vista.

But the musical is done and I am getting back on track. It will be interesting to see what happens at the July Open House(s). I think the number of units Mr. Fentin wants will still be 1,395, but he may package them slightly differently to better market the project through the Planning Department and Planning Commission as it weaves its way to the City Council.

At the trailer where the interview was conducted, the old boards with the current marketing wording and illustrations were all over the large room. Either they are keeping them up for folks who are not being interviewed or they are still going to go with what they currently want.

I did commend the Outreach Team and Mr. Fentin to Mr. Oswald for their seemingly new approach to OUR community.

Time will tell and I hope we all get to learn who was re-interviewed or interviewed for the first time.

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