Friday, November 19, 2010

Odds and Ends 195

We are all down to the final ten days to submit comments to the Initial Study.

I have not done a very good job so far and reading my copy and creating lots of comments.

This is the final weekend for "Seven Brides For Seven Brothers" at the Warner Grand Theatre in San Pedro.

On December 3 at Little Fish Theatre, also in San Pedro, a hilarious comedy that has elements of The Marx Brothers meet "Home Alone" bumbling robbers entering the world where there may be some "Importance of Being Earnest".

The two shows have eaten up quite a bit of my time in the recent weeks and several months and I hope you all take the opportunity to attend a performance of both shows.
Terri and I are very sad to see a vacant storefront where Z-Pizza used to be.

It sat between the Egg Roll King and Coldstone Creamery and we enjoyed the thin crust pizza and other food offerings.

I guess their pricing structure could not compete with the often discounted prices offered at Little Caesar's, Pizza Hut, and other similar businesses.

I am pleased that there are few empty businesses along Western and I hope the economies of both San Pedro and Rancho Palos Verdes improve in the coming months.
I have no new news to report concerning what might happen with motor vehicle traffic along Western Avenue associated with Marymount College and their off-campus housing facility along Palos Verdes Drive North, between Five Points and Western Avenue.

There is some speculation among some R.P.V. residents that a slate of candidates supporting on-campus housing at Marymount College will run in the 2011 election for three of the five seats on the Rancho Palos Verdes City Council that will have current members termed out.

I have been reassured that the Marymount College Traffic and Parking Section of the college's Expansion Project will be included in the new Traffic and Circulation Study Section of the Ponte Vista at San Pedro Environmental Impact Report.

With or without on-campus student housing at the college's Palos Verdes Drive East campus, daily trip generation will continue to increase between the 'Palos Verdes North' off-campus student housing site and the college campus.
If you drive south along Western Avenue, near First Street and there is water in the roadway, you usually have the chance to see an optical illusion.

Between First Street and the intersection of Weymouth Avenue, there is sometimes a gathering of water just next to the southbound fast lane and center median.

If you stop at the First Street intersection and look at the puddle, it appears to be on the incline portion of Western Avenue.

Since stopping or driving along through the First Street intersection means you are going downhill, your eyes tend to fool you into thinking that the water is not at the bottom of the decline/incline, but it really is.

There have been other optical illusions in the area, especially on that has been gone for some time on Miraleste Drive/9Th Street.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Odds and Ends 194

The Wednesday evening Scoping Open House for Ponte Vista at San Pedro was fairly typical of other Scoping meetings/Open Houses, including the first one for Ponte Vista.

The one remarkable thing I am taking away from the event is seeing Mr. David Shinder returning as the project's Traffic Engineer.

Even though there are a few representatives of the new development company who may not belive what I told them, I really did ask Mr. Robert H. Bison why his originale number of "2300" was the number of units he orginally applied to build.

Bob and I were seated next to each other on the return trip from an 1100-unit Apartment complex that was the model for the Bob's original designs.

As we rode south on the 110 Freeway to view another complex as a comparison, I asked Bob Bisno directly my question of why was the number of "2,300" selected.

His response directly to me was that he asked his Traffic Engineer, Mr. David Shinder, what was the most number of units that could be built at Ponte Vista at San Pedro by doing every one of the traffic mitigation elements proposed.

Bob Bisno said that according to Mr. Shinder, 2,300-units could be built as long as all traffic mitigation was applied.

Now I heard the word "lie" used by an unnamed representative of the current development team as to the truth of Bob's statements to me.

But I was sitting next to Bob when he offered what he offered, and I didn't feel I needed any more questions about the number of units he was considering at that time.

I do have photos of the group that toured the Newport Beach complex and Bob is in some of the photos.

One of the most heated parts of the debates concerning Ponte Vista was, is, and will be traffic.

There was little, if any, respect for the numbers generated in the first Traffic and Transportation Study part of the first Environmental Impact Report.

Why the new development team continues to use Mr. Shinder and his firm as their Traffic Consultants does not work with my considering the explaination I got on Wednesday night as to why Mr. Shinder is still around.

After Bob Bisno's departure and Mr. Alan Abshez's departure, I would have thought Mr. David Shinder would have been and maybe should have been, the third departure.
Most of the folks who attended the Open House I would refer to as, "the usual suspects".

Naturally I am a proud member of that group and it seemed revealing just a bit that the majority of those I saw in the auditorium were opponents of all of the previous plans coming during "The Bob Years" and Mr. Ted Fenton's tenure as developer.

There were some familiar faces of those who supported whatever the plans were for Ponte Vista as far back as 2005.
Please remember that you have until November 29, 2010 to get your comments on the Initial Study and Scoping Session to the Los Angeles City Planning Department.

No matter what your opinions and comments are, they are important and will be published in legal documents regarding the project.
Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council has a new site address. It is and that goup was opposed to the plans coming from Bob Bisno.

I do not believe that Council has taken a position on the newest parameters of the project.
Mr. Shinder did confirm to me that the Marymount College Facilities Expansion Project's Traffic and Parking Section of its Environmental Impact Report will be included in the new Traffic and Transportation Study for the Ponte Vista at San Pedro Development.

This is a good thing for all of us because it means that newer dialy trip counts along Western by those driving to and from Marymount's campus will be studies and this was something that could not be done for either the Marymount E.I.R. or the original Ponte Vista at San Pedro E.I.R.
I was very pleased to find a much more supportive attitude towards community members by everyone representing Ponte Vista at San Pedro at Wednesday's gathering.

I do think that the new Director of Communications for the Project might have his hands full trying to deal with R Neighborhoods Are 1, which has its Steering Committee back into having meetings. I also think challenges and issues by those stakeholders of the Northwest San Pedro Neighborhood Council might test the new fellow a bit.

It is still quite apparent that all five local Neighborhood Councils have the history and information to work with the folks at Ponte Vista towards having a nicer and better relationship between them and the new development team.

I it still to be determined whether the Communications Director would be invited to and/or accept an invitation to attend any meeting of the Steering Committee of R Neighborhoods Are 1.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I'm Still Looking

Now where did I leave my "Major Ranting Elitist" button I last wore during "The Bob Years"?

This post is my way of informing readers that the Steering Committee of R Neighborhoods Are 1 is back to the business of working to find ways to support the best Ponte Vista at San Pedro development for the entire community and not just developers of the 61.53 acre site.

Tonight many members of the Board will be at the Peck Park Community Center for the Scoping Meeting, and you should be there, too.

We all need the best and most complete information possible to determine whether the new plans for the site could benefit or impede our community's movement forward in peace and harmony.

While we appreciate the much lower number of units planned that what was attempted to be forced on us during "The Bob Years" the number is still too high and the types of housing are problematic and some are far too tough to swallow.

I wonder if Ms. Linda D'Ambrosi will attend and speak at the meeting. She was recently featured in a Daily Breeze article and she was the one who stated, matter of factly that; "Bob Bisno is going to save San Pedro"! It would be interesting to see if she speaks about the new plans or is too busy representing more Trump housing in the city where she actually lives, Rancho Palos Verdes.

I leave this post with the reminder that 831-total units at Ponte Vista would be equal to the dwelling density of The Gardens, so very close to Ponte Vista's Western Avenue address.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Odds and Ends 193

We have been informed that the Email address to send in your comments to the Notice of Preparation was incorrect.

The correct Email address is:
This is what has been consuming all my waking hours and some of my dream time this past week:

Click on image to enlarge.

Our production of "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers will star Ms. Kristin Towers-Rowles, the granddaughter of the late Ms. Kathryn Grayson.

The cast is fantastic, if I write so, myself and the role of "The Preacher" is played by a fellow who was last seen onstage as "The Dominee", another cleric part.

This production can be enjoyed by the entire family and I hope to see you before a performance as I greet you in my costume, probably holding a Bible.

Incidentally, there is a free performance at Noon on Thursday November 11 for folks like me who are 55 year's of age or better.
The Scoping Meeting is still planned for Wednesday November 10, 2011 inside the Peck Park Community Center's auditorium/gym/big and stuffy room.

It is an important meeting for all of you who are interested in learning more about the newest plans unveiled in more detail last week.

If you haven't been through any of the "rounds" during "The Bob Years" and want to know more about the California Environmental Quality Act, (CEQA) and how the processes should work beginning with this meeting and potentially ending with a vote by the members of the Los Angeles City Council granting or not granting approval of plans via a new municipal code that includes zoning changes, this meeting is even more important for you to attend.

This meeting is also the physical event in conjunction with the creation of comments by you and others to the Notice of Preparation which is probably online now and you will get more specific addresses to view or download the document, this coming Wednesday.

Historically, the Notice of Preparation and other CEQA documents can be viewed at the public library.

If I don't post a link to a site where you can read and even download a copy of the Notice of Preparation, please remind me sometime early Thursday morning.
I hope Councilwoman Janice Hahn attends the meeting and provides for all of us her initial views on the new plans with its 392 'apartment flats' and other types of condominiums and apartment flats.

I also hope to find supporters and opponents learning more about the plans so we can find better common ground to discuss all of the issues using much better forms of education and communication that we all suffered through during "The Bob Years."
I have nothing official or unofficial to report with regards to R Neighborhoods Are 1, at this time.

Whether I begin again posting on my in the near future remains to be seen and determined by me.

Please stay tuned.
I've written all that I wish to write about my personal views on the newest plans, until I get much more education on more of the elements of the plans to construct 1,135 total units at Ponte Vista at San Pedro.

If anyone reading this blog is new to the issues or wish to learn more about the plans, you are welcome to Email me at: or at the address listed at the top of this blog.

You should be able to also gather educational resources by visiting the one Web site for Ponte Vista I know is up and running.

You can get information at
We "fall back" this Saturday evening/early Sunday morning.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Odds and Ends 192

Click on image to enlarge.
I think it is important to demonstrate resolve to get the tanks moved.
There are places they can have their contents moved to and if the steel is not moved, it should be recycled for use in many different things.
I also think it is important for the good folks representing Ponte Vista at San Pedro to also become involved with getting the tanks moved.
They could show a real civic support and it would be a good marketing move that would show they are all concerned with the health and safety of all those who may eventually move into what might be built at Ponte Vista.
The numbers of units in each product type that now would make up 1,135 total units remains very troubling to me and others, I am finding out.
I do think we all need to sit in the dugout to learn as much as we can prior to the November 29 deadline for comments on the Notice of Preparation and Initial Study.
I can feel there will be some stiff opposition to some of the units being considered for development and I can see that having such a large percentage of units that could or would be rentals or leases makes what I was hoping to find a somewhat trouble-free discussion and debate period, now looking more like a period of hot debate and difficult discussions.
I think what we have with this latest plan is a carrot and stick approach of a carrot and stick plan.
Offering up to 143 SFR, detached units and then stating that 392 of the 1,135-total unit count would be 'apartment flats' suggests that the development team is using the detached houses as the carrot for the 392 'sticks' of apartment flats. And that's not even counting the other condominium building of four-stories.
But the overall carrot and stick plan could be that should too much opposition to the current development plans emerge, the developers may pull all their sticks out and head for offering up to 20% of the units for "low income" owners or renters and then applying for the almost certain approval of a density bonus that could add up to a total of about 1,532-total units, with at least 33% of those units being rentals or leases.
It could be that the housing market determines what, if anything will get approved, according to the current plans.
The developers have to gain a huge sum of money unless they allow the land to go back into the hands of the primary and secondary lenders.
Sunday is Halloween and Western Avenue will get even spookier than it normally is during the evening.
Please remain careful and take it from me, you don't want to be walking along the Avenue carrying uncooked eggs in your shirt pockets.
The vote on Measure P is Tuesday, finally.
The facts are now available for everyone to view and one of the facts contained in the measure is that a new library, maintenance building, athletic facility, residential halls, and a gallery "MAY" be built on the campus of Marymount College, but any or all of them may NOT get built, according to the actual language of Measure P.
If you have suffered with all the "Yes on P" mailers that contain factually misleading information, rest assured, we are only about to end the beginning of the saga and fiasco and a population of somewhat affluent residents (I am definitely not affluent) can do wonders should they not get what they want during Tuesday's election outcome reporting.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Notice of Preparation of Environmental Impact Report

Click on images above to enlarge them.
This is the official public notice of the seconf Public Scoping Meeting for Ponte Vista at San Pedro and the first public meeting dealing with the new Environmental Impact Report now undergoing studies.
The Public Scoping Meeting is scheduled for November 10, 2010 at the Peck Park Auditorium and it is important that everyone who has concerns either in support of the new plans or now having some opposition and those who just have questions and want to learn more, to come to the meeting and listen, learn, comment, and become active.
Also a very important date to remember is November 29, 2010 which is the ending date for submission of written comments to the Notice of Preparation and Initial Study.
Your imput is important and youre comments have weight and will be reviewes.
As for the actual plans of what MAY be built at Ponte Vista, more information will certainly be available at the meeting and throughout the course of the time between now and when the Los Angeles City Council finally votes on what will be approved or not approved at the 61.53 acre site.

More Than 1/3 "Apartment flats" and Only 143 Single Family Detached Residences

Click on images to enlarge them.
I must admit that I was caught off guard by the illustrations and Product Type Diagrams because I was at first delighted to see that 143 of the units MAY be single family, detached residents on basically no lot at all.
But when I got to the bottom and read that over one third of the Project is slated to be "apartment flats" in a four-story building, it demonstrated that all is not as well as it should be, in our community.
Like everyone, I need to learn a lot more about the proposal and product types. It is a really tough thing for me to have to swallow the idea of "apartment flats" even though I know many other townhouses and condos will also become rentals and leased residences.
It is not really now a stretch to consider than SHOULD Ponte Vista at San Pedro be built out as it is diagrammed right now, more than half of the residential units could be leased our or provided to renters.
This is a very real and big problem because the the more transient nature renters have and there could be an almost non-stop view on weekends of moving vans, pickup truck, and other vehicles specializing in moving renters in and out.
I do wish that some of the units were designated for seniors but I do understand the problems with trying to supply them in this day and age and housing problems.
I will continue to contend that Ponte Vista at San Pedro should have no more than 831 dwelling units to make that area equivalent in dwelling density to The Gardens.
Perhaps I am just frustrated with these new plans and I am remembering "The Bob Years" while I looked at the "392- apartment flats" and thought that here we go again with a great deal of opposition to these new plans.
I think it is a poor thing to see that over 1/3 of the planned units are scheduled to be "apartment flats" and I am hopeful that this time, the new development team of Ponte Vista will listen and learn.
I do have a feeling though, that should the "apartment flats" be taken out of the mix, the new Ponte Vista at San Pedro development team will then seek a density bonus, which is not a good option either, for our community I feel.
Please plan on attending the Public Scoping Meeting on November 10. I am sure we will all learn new details about Ponte Vista at San Pedro and we should be willing to listen before any real overt opposition shouts out.
But please do not be misinformed, there will be more than a little opposition to these new plans now that everyone now has the opportunity so see the product types and the numbers of each type.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Odds and Ends 191

With my focus on other issues like Measure P, The Marymount Plan, "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers", "And To All A Good Night" and just trying to work through the almost never ending wet weather, I've got nothing this week for Odds and Ends.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Odds and Ends 190

The following is on the Agenda under the Consent Calendar portion of this Tuesday's Rancho Palos Verdes City Council meeting:

3. Grant Application to Develop a Western Avenue Corridor Strategy

Western Avenue is State Highway 213 and beautifying it is simply a good thing to attempt and then do, in my opinion.

Naturally I and others support the city of Rancho Palos Verdes filing a Grant Application and if I am not at a rehearsal, I will head towards Tuesday's meeting and encourage all other supporters of the Grant Application, no matter where they live to attend and speak on the item.
For Rancho Palos Verdes residents who received yesterday's mailer from Marymount and all those who viewed the full page advertisement in The South Bay Daily News, isn't it remarkable that Marymount chose not to use any information about the 'assessed home values of residences adjacent to a College campus that has on-campus student housing?

Either they just 'missed' supplying Mr. Auerbach's opinion on dorms near houses, he didn't offer a quote on that subject or more probably, Marymount's campaign continues to use misdirection, and misleading misinformation in its (so far) $1,566,000 expenditure to get Measure P, The Marymount Plan passed by voters.
Fondness of this current weather pattern north of Ninth Street near Western Avenue is not something I am enjoying at the moment.

I need to build a huge 'Pontipee House' for November's "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" at the Warner Grand Theatre and the fog, drizzle, and recent rain is not helping.

Of course we need the moisture and cooler temperatures. I just want to implore Mother Nature to let the wetness fall during the nighttime, if she pleases.
I don't have anything specifically to report concerning Ponte Vista at San Pedro on this post.

I do feel that is now acceptable to compare Ponte Vista's current Management, current dealings with the public, and potential to offer a great Development based on community involvement with what is happening with Marymount College and what seems to be approaches similar to what we all suffered through during "The Bob Bisno Years".

I haven't found a single supporter or opponent of Ponte Vista's plans during "The Bob Bisno Years" that had even a 'good' time, some years after Bob was shown both sides of the door by way of a really large boot, I bet.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Odds and Ends 189

Here is an article from the Thursday October 7, 2010 Palos Verdes Peninsula News:

Ponte Vista owner presents new plans
By Ashley Ratcliff, Peninsula News
Thursday, October 7, 2010 11:20 AM PDT

The proposed Ponte Vista housing project, located on Western Avenue in San Pedro, is situated on a 61.5-acre site that formerly was used for Navy residences. Developers iStar Financial Inc. recently released a scaled-back project with 1,135 units.
SAN PEDRO — A project that seeks to develop homes on a parcel land, vacant since 1997, has undergone yet another transformation — units were reduced to less than half of the figure originally proposed.

In its first iteration, the proposed Ponte Vista project — located on the site of 245 former U.S. Navy houses in San Pedro — included 2,300 for-sale residential units for an estimated 4,300 people. Its most recent proposal, recently presented to Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn, includes 1,135 homes on a 61.5-acre site that borders the city of Rancho Palos Verdes.

“For years, I have joined with the community to push for a smaller project at the Ponte Vista site, and I was encouraged by my recent meeting with [developers] iStar [Financial Inc.],” Hahn said in a statement. “They have been listening and it looks like the concerns of the community, and the recommendations of the planning department, have finally been heard — as this number is much closer to what makes sense in this part of San Pedro.”

“It’s a step in the right direction,” added Mark Wells, an eastern RPV resident. “I prefer no more than 831 units there, because that’s the dwelling density equivalent to The Gardens, which is the large condominium development next to it.”

The L.A. Planning Department had previously recommended a density of 775 to 885 units on the property, located at 26900 S. Western Ave., directly across the street from Green Hills Memorial Park in RPV, just south of Palos Verdes Drive North.

Developers in L.A. are granted a “density bonus” if affordable housing is offered. With the bonus, the Planning Department’s number would increase to 1,195 units, according to Hahn.

However, Hahn said she is working to ensure that a density bonus will be prohibited at the site, limiting the total number of units to a maximum of 1,135.

Steve Magee, iStar Financial’s vice president, said the development will include a mix of housing types, such as townhomes and condominiums, which will be “accessible to a variety of households and income levels.”

While the plan, previously under the direction of Bisno Development Co., specified that 575 units would be reserved for senior housing for those ages 55 and older, the new proposal has eliminated that component altogether.

“The idea that older San Pedrans would move from their larger homes into condos at Ponte Vista [has] basically vanished,” Wells wrote in a blog post. “I don’t like that at all.”

RPV residents whose homes are adjacent to the proposed development are concerned about Ponte Vista because Western Avenue would be the only major thoroughfare for the project.

RPV Mayor Steve Wolowicz attended a June 2008 public hearing to speak on behalf of his constituents, which he called “the neighbor most affected by all of this.” He urged the developer to maintain RPV homeowners’ quality of life.

“This is not a NIMBY response on our part. It is not in our backyard — as a matter of fact, it is in our front yard,” then-Councilman Wolowicz said.

Wells said residents should be concerned about the Ponte Vista project for four reasons: traffic, the density bonus, the stability of iStar Financial — which, according to Bloomberg News report, may be on the verge of filing bankruptcy — and a general question of whether the new development will benefit or hurt the San Pedro community economically.

According to Wells, the climate has changed dramatically from prior interactions with Bob Bisno of former developer Bisno Development.

“I do appreciate very much how iStar Financial is trying to work with the community,” Wells said.

A new environmental impact report and traffic study currently are under way; however, the conceptual drawings have not been released and there hasn’t been any word of a public meeting concerning the latest project updates.

“We know the community shares our desire to improve this blighted piece of property with a development that addresses San Pedro’s needs for high-quality and mixed-income housing, while employing local workers to build the project,” Magee said in a statement. “As we finalize the site plans and begin the process of getting Ponte Vista built, we look forward to ongoing conversations with our neighbors, Councilwoman Hahn, and the community.”
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For those who may not know, I served along with three other Rancho Palos Verdes residents on Los Angeles Councilwoman Janice Hahn's Community Advisory Committee regarding the Ponte Vista at San Pedro Development several years ago.

Ms. Leah Marinkovich, Ms. Lucie Thorsen, Mr. Richard Brunner, and I were approved to serve on Ms. Hahn's Committee by the Rancho Palos Verdes City Council.

I am one of Ms. Ratcliff's 'go to' persons for comments and quotes about Ponte Vista at San Pedro and I appreciate her always correct, insightful, and most importantly, fair reporting concerning Ponte Vista at San Pedro.
I believe that the ongoing new studies that will lead to a new Environmental Impact Report do not need a new Notice of Preparation or Initial Study because they have already been written and commented on, about four years ago.

There will be ample time for interested parties to read and offer comment on the new Environmental Impact Report mandated by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

I will continue to post more information about the sequences that will be followed between now and the date the final vote by the Los Angeles City Council regarding any zone changing municipal codes that may or may not be approved for Ponte Vista.
It looks to me as if Dr. Michael Brophy and others representing Marymount College may have taken a marketing course from one Robert H. Bisno.

Throw money at a really bad idea and you end up with a really bad idea having money thrown at it.

Marymount has spent ninety two times the number of dollars the opposition of Measure P, The Marymount Plan has spent, according to required financial statements.

At this point, with the publications of a full page ad and a half page advertisement stating "The Rancho Palos Verdes Peninsula Chamber of Commerce endorses Measure P" I have reached my point of utter disgust with the misleading, deceptive, and false statements coming from the Yes on Measure P campaign.

The heading is deceptive, misleading, and utterly false because of several reasons.

It is clearly an attempt to single out Rancho Palos Verdes residents who are not aware that there is no such entity as The Rancho Palos Verdes Peninsula Chamber of Commerce.

The campaign wants potential voters to remain uneducated that the majority of businesses represented by membership in The Palos Verdes Peninsula Chamber of Commerce do not have addresses in Rancho Palos Verdes.

They probably don't like you to know that the Director of Communications of Marymount College sits on the Board of Directors of The Palos Verdes Peninsula Chamber of Commerce or that the Chamber endorsed The Marymount College Facilities Expansion Project about two years ago.

I support The Marymount College Facilities Expansion Project as does The Palos Verdes Peninsula Chamber of Commerce.

During "The Bob Years" we all saw the damage caused by Bob Bisno's marketing practices that created the most divided population of the San Pedro community.

What we see today is a virtual repeat of "The Bob Years" with "The Michael Years" and how one entity attempting to have its way over the residents and government of a community can tear the community apart with little regard for any resident or the future of the community.

The simple truth about Measure P, The Marymount Plan is that it seeks to rest control and authority from the people of Rancho Palos Verdes and provide an overwhelming revenue stream to a College that has been on academic warning in the past and which has seen harassment, death, and underage drinking all too common on too many campuses.

It's all about changing municipal codes just like what Bob worked so hard and poorly trying to do.

Thank goodness we have new leadership representing Ponte Vista at San Pedro and can only wait until Dr. Brophy is handed his papers and he flees the area, just like what happened to Bob Bisno.
Also for Rancho Palos Verdes readers of this blog, the election to determine whether Rancho Palos Verdes becomes a Charter City has been set.
Denny's on Western Avenue is conducting a petition drive which I am also helping out with via an unscientific poll on my site.

The owners, managers, and lots of other people want the restaurant to remain open 24 hours per day, 7 days a week.

According to at least one manager I talked with, longshore workers want more options with 24-hour restaurants.

Carrow's has either begun or soon will begin remaining open 24 hours per day, 7 day's a week as I have been told.

Do we want two nearby restaurants remaining open 24/7?

I don't object to either or both being open around the clock and I live extremely close to Denny's.

It would take a vote by the Rancho Palos Verdes City Council to allow Denny's to remain open 24/7 and that may be a very, very complicated thing.

There are only 4-7-11 stores out of over 263 in the greater L.A. Basin that are not allowed to remain open 24/7. Rancho Palos Verdes has two of the four stores.

If Denny's wins its wish to remain open 24/7, I think the Southland Corporation and the 7-11 L.A. area management would be right on the heels of Denny's, should approval for Denny's to remain open all the time is successful.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Odds and Ends 188

I will devote another post to my major concerns with the new plan.
Someone wrote a comment to something written in a newspaper questioning what some people were doing with computers while sitting by some intersections on Western Avenue.

Those folks were probably counting the number of cars passing through the intersection and how many and which direction drivers turned into or out of the intersection.

It is quite normal as a part of any full traffic study which we have learned will be conducted for the new Environmental Impact Report (EIR) that will be produced as the major study of the new Plan or Application to build 1,135-units at Ponte Vista at San Pedro.

I talked with Ms. Elise Swanson, the Vice-President in charge of the Ponte Vista site and the Team Leader of the Project and she confirmed to me that the traffic study for the Ponte Vista at San Pedro is now going on.

Not only will we be seeing folks counting vehicles at intersections, we will also see traffic counting tubes across many of the roadways in the area. You might even see some counters on streets you would not think need traffic counts for.

Personally I am pleased that the study is taking in traffic information at this time. All the schools are in session, just about every business along Western Avenue is open. There are a couple of temporary businesses now open for Halloween and I don't know if or how that might be a factor in the counts.

What I will be looking for in the Ponte Vista Traffic Study is an indication or counts related to the Marymount College Facilities Expansion Project approved by the Rancho Palos Verdes City Council at the end of this past March.

Neither of the two traffic studies for Ponte Vista and Marymount could have been incorporated with each other, but since the Marymount Traffic Study is published and approved, I think it needs to be incorporated somewhere in the pages of the Ponte Vista Traffic Study. I fully expect it will.
I am somewhat amazed that the roadway on Capitol Drive right over the long-lasting water seepage has not caved in.

Water has been dribbling out and onto the surface of Capitol Drive for quite some time and I would have expected the ground under the asphalt to get so wet that is would not support the weight of the asphalt thus creating at least a pothole.

It's a wonder for me.
Now here is a reminder to please check out: which Ms. Kristina Smith offers our community a great deal of information. Naturally I have it bookmarked so I can just click it and head there.

Look for the link on this blog.

You survived the hottest day. The fact that the hottest day was not during the Summer doesn't really matter because there are usually days long hot spells in September and October every year.

On the hottest day Terri and I were enjoying being in the surf of the Pacific Ocean at about 1:45 PM. On our way home from the beach I watched the thermometer in her Saturn as it reported different temperatures as we went north of 9th Street and the relative coolness (81 degrees) along Western between 19Th and 9Th headed back towards a more normal 106 degrees on the street we live on.

Eastview and northwest San Pedro share the same weather which is usually hotter, smoggier, and dryer than the rest of San Pedro and Rancho Palos Verdes.
The Marymount College Facilities Expansion Plan or The Marymount Plan, that is the question.
"Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them?" (Thank you William Shakespeare)

The answer for me, Terri, and I hope the majority of voters in Rancho Palos Verdes is to vote "No" on Measure P, The Marymount Plan.

I usually support on-campus housing at just about every College or University that wants them. I support the Salvation Army's Officers' College which has on campus student housing in Rancho Palos Verdes for students and even the family members of some students.

With Marymount College, I consider that on-campus housing of students would be unsafe and could not be mitigated to a level I would consider safe enough.

The case that there should not be an Initiative on the matter does not hold water for me. While I don't like local initiatives I continue to support the allowances for State-wide Initiatives.

I don't like the motto of Save RPV or Save Our City III. I do believe that The Marymount Plan provides special privileges to one particular business over other businesses and all residents on Rancho Palos Verdes. I just think "RPV is not for sale" could have been changed to something else.

Please vote "No" on Measure P, The Marymount Plan. Safety. Everyone. Everywhere. Every hour.

My Four Concerns About The New Plan

The day before The Daily Breeze published the article about the new plan for Ponte Vista at San Pedro, Councilwoman Janice Hahn called me and we talked about some of the new plans for the development.

Some of what I said to Councilwoman Hahn was also used by Ms. Donna Littlejohn in her article.
Since the calls and some more investigation about iStar Financial on my part, I started really considering what my thoughts, concerns, and considerations are.

So this post begins my contribution of those thoughts, concerns, and considerations.

First and before we begin, I need to clear up some misinformation repeatedly posted in print and mentioned.

Ponte Vista at San Pedro is a 61.53-acre site and NOT "62.5" acres Yes. it is a really petty thing to mention, but unless the site grew one acre since it was surveyed, then it is still 61.53 acres. Let's move on.

My four major areas of concern are:
Density Bonus

iStar Financial
New Residential Support To San Pedro Versus The Costs By The Community.

will require its own post.

Density Bonus

A Density Bonus of up to a 35% increase in the number of units planned has been encouraged for developments where some 'low income' or 'affordable' housing is offered.

As of today, there has been no indication that the developers of Ponte Vista at San Pedro will offer 'low income' or 'affordable' housing that would qualify the Project for any density bonus.

An example of the number of units that could be built using 1,135-units as a base number would allow for up to 1,532-units actually being approved for construction.

Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa and many others have strongly encouraged developers in Los Angeles building more projects using density bonuses to offer more housing to people.

Since iStar Financial and just about everyone else affiliated with Ponte Vista at San Pedro have made statements that iStar would not seek a density bonus for Ponte Vista, that part I am fine with.

I was encouraged during my talk with Councilwoman Hahn when she told me she and her staff would work with others in the city to try and find a way to block any density bonus from ever being applied to the Ponte Vista at San Pedro site.

Ms. Hahn worked with a group of wonderful residents of the Vista Del Oro neighborhoods to place onto commercially zoned lots a "Q" qualification classification that would permanently ban multi-unit residential construction on those lots.

It was the first attempt by Councilwoman to apply that type of building restriction on lots and it passed the full City Council unanimously.

A "Q" qualification classification is a very rare zoning classification in Los Angeles and the rest of the country.

Unfortunately, I am finding it harder to find where a density bonus restriction could be permanently applied to any development the size Ponte Vista at San Pedro is now.

Concerns that once entitlements are granted for the (about) 22 existing lot at Ponte Vista, they could be sold to other developers who might want density bonuses on the lots they purchase.

Note* There are approximately 245 duplex units currently standing at Ponte Vista. The most recent surveys of Ponte Vista, done for the original project list (about) 22 different lots at Ponte Vista. Technically, one or more lots or even all of the lots could be sold by iStar Financial once that Company receives entitlements to build.

This is not all that uncommon that developers receive entitlements then sell them without actually building anything the original developer states they would build.

My contention that Ponte Vista should have not more than 831-units is based on the dwelling equalivancy with The Gardens and the fact that there is no outlet for Ponte Vista traffic onto or off of Gaffey Street.

So for me, any density bonus by any developer is a major concern that I feel needs to be dealt with by a municipal code that would permanently restrict a density bonus on all of the 61.53 acres now known as Ponte Vista at San Pedro.

I think should no such restriction be applied to the property, then I am leaning very heavily toward having the zoning at Ponte Vista at San Pedro remaining what it currently is.

iStar Financial

Although I am favorable towards iStar Financial, the financial backers of Ponte Vista at San Pedro, recent education by me has placed this company as a major concern of mine.

The majority of more educated former opponents of Bob Bisno's original plans continue to believe that once iStar Financial receives entitlements to build at Ponte Vista, they will sell those entitlements and the land and be gone with whatever loss or gain they can get.

In complete defense of iStar Financial I need to educate those that do not already know that the original bid for 41.95 acres of land at auction was purchased by Bob Bisno's business interests for two hundred fifty two percent of the opening bid for that portion of Ponte Vista at auction.

Bob's winning bid was $88,000,000.00 which equals $2,097,753.40 (approx) per acre.

Bob was required to purchase the remaining 19.58 acres from the Volunteers of America for $34,000,000.00 which equals $1,736,465.78 (approx) per acre.

In a nutshell: 61.53 total acres for $122,000,000.00 equals $1,982,772.63 (approx)
Per acre.

Today, the land is worth nowhere near 1.99 Million Dollars per acre.

There have been articles in Bloomberg News and other sources that offer information that I find conflicting and I need more information about.

A Bloomberg News article offered the question whether iStar Financial is close to bankruptcy. I found another article on the Web that illustrated that iStar Financial just bought the common areas of a large condominium development back east.

In doing further searches related to iStar, different pictures seem to surface.

I used the post from Your Ponte Vista on this blog that has information from an iStar Manager.

I gave a tip to Ms. Donna Littlejohn that ended up being a useful and great article Ms. Littlejohn had published in The Daily News.

Will iStar Financial continue its participation with Ponte Vista until entitlements are granted?

I don't know and because it may take a year or so for the Los Angeles City Council's voting on entitlements and a new municipal code changing the current zoning of the Ponte Vista site, I don't know if anyone else knows, either.

What I can write is that I am so pleased that "The Bob Years" are over and that as long as iStar Financial is in the picture, that is a good to very good thing, in my opinion.

Should iStar Financial have to rid itself of the huge dept that Bob Bisno built prior to the vote by the City Council, I have no idea what would then happen. I don't know who might know, either.

Should iStar Financial receive entitlements for Ponte Vista, looking at the prices Bob paid, the current land values, and wondering how iStar could make any money, the prospect of iStar Financial selling pieces of Ponte Vista or perhaps the whole site to another development entity, provides a great deal of concern in me.

Bob ordered the anchor lowered and then unfortunately it looks like iStar got its neck wrapped around the anchor's chain.

iStar Financial representatives have repeatedly stated that they will not seek a density bonus. I hope they are still around when any building begins.

New Residential Support To San Pedro Versus The Costs By The Community.

Original studies conducted my me and others found that a huge development at Ponte Vista at San Pedro would cost more to the San Pedro community than what the community could afford.

Because there are no major shopping areas like malls, multi-screen theatres, large car dealerships, huge furniture and appliance stores in San Pedro and particularly in its downtown district, a large development at Ponte Vista would tax the San Pedro community in several ways.

It is wonderful that Target is here and it provides benefits we all need and want. it wasn't around during "The Bob Years".

Home Depot, American Furniture, Nader's, and other small furniture and appliance stores are in San Pedro.

But would residents of Ponte Vista go to many of the smaller stores in San Pedro?

Home Depot and Target supply some good and newer revenue to the city of L.A. even though very little of that revenue comes back to San Pedro.

Water continues to be in short supply and any new water requirements could affect water requirements for San Pedrans and everyone else in L.A.

Other infrastructure issues need to also be considered because our community has been consistently neglected by too many at L.A. City Hall.

L.A. takes our community's money, including our port's money and then does not really provide enough support back to San Pedro and other nearby communities. This has gone on for what seems forever.

Before the 2008 financial meltdown and the beginning of all the layoffs, only 6 out of ten San Pedro residents could go to local jobs in and around the community.

Having less than one job per working resident means that many residents have to commute.

Ponte Vista at San Pedro with its Western Avenue ONLY in and out route and the fact that there is currently only one bus line that goes along Western, along with the distance to and from the freeway and park and ride facilities prove that Ponte Vista can't really be considered commuter-friendly.

Since there are not longer plans to have a specified Senior section at Ponte Vista, the idea that older San Pedrans would move from their larger homes and into condos at Ponte Vista as basically vanished. I don't like that at all.

It has already been estimated that the vast majority of residents moving into Ponte Vista would not come from the 'local' area which consists partially of San Pedro.

What is of a major concern of mine right now is that a large development at Ponte Vista would take more from the residents of the San Pedro community than it would give back to the economy, infrastructure, and society in San Pedro.

Most new residents of Ponte Vista would not shop in downtown San Pedro because of tough access to Gaffey and Pacific. They would choose to either stick to businesses along Western Avenue or head out north and west to venture into Torrance, Rolling Hills Estates and even farther out except when they can visit Target and Home Depot, here.

I haven't seen any numbers yet about the proposed number of bedrooms in each unit of the proposed 1,135-unit Project. That could also indicate spending trends, too.

Ponte Vista will almost certainly become a neighborhood with rental units and leased units. More transitory residents may help Target and Home Depot, but the heightened number of comings and goings by renters is also a concern that adds to the major concerns I have on this particular topic.

But this is a topic I feel strongly that the community can come together with the Ponte Vista at San Pedro Development Team to work on solutions.

I have found no reason to be as contentious as I was during The Bob Years. I think 1,135-units is far less unreasonable than the previous three sets of numbers.

I have now found respect where is wasn't found during "The Bob Years" and that is a very big plus.

I have used four "R" words in considering three Developments I have dealt with:

Reasonable, responsible, realistic, and respectful. During "The Bob Years" not one of the four were thought of my me and many others when thinking about Ponte Vista at San Pedro.

That has thankfully and wonderfully changed for the better, in my opinion.

Is the current plan reasonable? I'm still a 832-units guy but I can now imagine many of the former opponents find the new plan reasonable and I now consider it (at 1,135) not unreasonable, but not all that much reasonable.

Is it responsible? Easily that is a yes in part because is now demonstrated a much more responsible view towards the community and the infrastructure.

Is it realistic? Now that is the one question I still don't know the real answer to. That is why we see traffic counters out and about. That is why we also find that other new studies are being undertaken at this time. "1,135-units" might very well be realistic, I just need to wait this one out.

Is it respectful. It certainly is compared to the previous plans, I believe.

I think iStar Financial is respectful and needs to continue to be respectful if they want to receive entitlements they seek.

The good people at Ponte Vista at San Pedro could show a thing or ten to those who support Measure P, The Marymount Plan in Rancho Palos Verdes.

Doing things differently and better could offer to those in "The Marymount Community" chances to improve their lot(s), so to write.

It is remarkable for me now to use the folks at Ponte Vista as an example of betterment towards the community and I hope Dr. Brophy and Mr. Burt Arnold read this post.

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Statement From an iStar Manager

Here is a post from

The site is owned by Ponte Vista and it claims to be the official Ponte Vista at San Pedro site.
I don't have any problem with that and I never have.

This blog predates the site from where this post came from and the more information everyone has about Ponte Vista at San Pedro, the better all of us can enjoy a successful new development in our community, I feel.

Statement by Steve Magee, Vice President, iStar Financial regarding Ponte Vista project
Sep 24th, 2010 by Ponte Vista

As the new owners of the Ponte Vista site, iStar Financial is committed to working with the community to ensure that the project reflects the unique character of the Harbor Area. We are committed to a high quality, residential development with a mix of housing types, including; townhomes, condominiums, and apartments that will be accessible to a variety of households and income levels. We are responding to community concerns raised over density and we will be proposing fewer than half the number of homes initially proposed by the original owner. Even at this lower unit count, the plan still provides an abundance of open space and public walking trails, a new park to serve all area residents, and a road from Western Avenue to Mary Star of the Sea High School for students, parents and faculty.

We know the community shares our desire to improve this blighted piece of property with a development that addresses San Pedro’s needs for high quality and mixed income housing, while employing local workers to build the project. As we finalize the site plans and begin the process of getting Ponte Vista built, we look forward to ongoing conversations with our neighbors, Councilwoman Hahn, and the community.

iStar Financial has a global reputation for integrity and expertise in the real estate market. We have carefully reviewed the strengths and weaknesses of the previous plans, and look forward to working closely with the community to create a new vision for Ponte Vista. Working together, we can build a project that benefits all of the residents of the Harbor area. “
I also posted a Bloomberg News article on a previous post that mentions the possibility that iStar Financial may see bankruptcy protection in the near future.

I also read an article in these last several days about iStar Financial purchasing the common areas of a housing development back east.

It is better to work with the folks representing Ponte Vista at San Pedro than fighting against them. In these last several months I have been feeling better about being able to work with them, always remembering the battles and turmoils of "The Bob Years".

I hope we don't go back there however prepared we are to do so.

Friday, September 24, 2010

An Article From Bloomberg News

IStar Said to Weigh Pre-Packaged Bankruptcy Filing Next Year
By Jeffrey McCracken and Jonathan Keehner - Sep 21, 2010 2:40 PM PT

IStar Financial Inc., the commercial real estate lender trying to restructure some of its $8.6 billion of debt, may seek bankruptcy protection after creditors blocked it from amending loans, said people with knowledge of the plan. IStar fell 13 percent.

The company expects to begin meeting with creditors in coming weeks to discuss potential terms of a so-called pre- packaged bankruptcy, which wouldn’t occur until sometime next year, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the plan isn’t public. IStar, led by Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jay Sugarman, hasn’t yet held talks with creditors on a possible bankruptcy. That process is likely to begin as soon as next month, the people said.
IStar, which has a market capitalization of about $316 million after shares lost more than 90 percent of their value since 2007, hired Lazard Ltd. and Kirkland & Ellis LLP to advise on the debt restructuring, the people said.

The New York-based company made loans on properties including the Trump SoHo hotel- condominium building in lower Manhattan.

“IStar grew as the markets shot up and concentrated in asset classes that are particularly cyclical such as hotels and construction,” said Ben Thypin, an analyst at Real Capital Analytics Inc. in New York. “Their fortunes are closely tied to the market and their future is now uncertain.”

Bankruptcy is one option the company is weighing. It is also considering a proposal to extend maturities on its debt as well as a potential exchange offer, according to two people familiar with the situation.

Silver Point, Monarch

Andrew Backman, a spokesman for iStar, didn’t return a phone call or an e-mail message seeking comment. Sugarman didn’t return a call.

Hedge funds that hold some of iStar’s $2.9 billion of second-lien loans include Silver Point Capital LP, Davidson Kempner Capital Management LLC and Monarch Alternative Capital LP, according to two of the people. Some of the funds, which are represented by Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld LLP, opposed iStar’s bid to amend terms of the loans to repurchase debt at a discount, the people said.

IStar withdrew the proposed revision and has begun the process of planning for a potential bankruptcy as it is faced with about $2.6 billion in debt coming due next June, one of the people said. The company also has an optional $500 million first-lien debt payment due at the end of September that it may not make, according to the person.


In a pre-packaged bankruptcy, a company negotiates terms of a reorganization with its key stakeholders before filing for Chapter 11 protection, allowing the proceedings to finish in weeks or months rather than years.

Representatives of Lazard, Akin Gump and Silver Point declined to comment. Representatives of Kirkland, Davidson Kempner and Monarch didn’t return messages for comment.

The company had net debt obligations of $8.6 billion as of June 30, according to a regulatory filing last month. IStar had about $3 billion of non-performing loans as of June 30 and reported an $83.4 million second-quarter loss, excluding income from property sales.

“Convincing lenders that iStar can repay its obligations in full at some point down the road appears to be a tough sell due to uncertainty around the value of its collateral,” analysts at debt-research firm CreditSights Inc. wrote in a report last month. “Negative earnings continue to be driven by the weak credit performance of iStar’s portfolio.”

Credit Rating

IStar foreclosed on nine properties during the second quarter and said loss reserves totaled $1.18 billion, or about 16 percent of the loan volume it manages.

The company, a real estate investment trust, began in 1993 and was previously called Starwood Financial Trust.

IStar’s debt and equity plunged in the second half of 2007 as commercial-property prices fell and capital markets seized up as losses on subprime-mortgage securities spread to corporate bonds. Moody’s Investors Service in September 2008 cut the company’s credit rating to below investment grade.

While iStar shares have risen more than 36 percent this year, investors who held the stock from the end of 2007 would have lost about 85 percent.

IStar fell 53 cents, or 13 percent, to $3.48 as of 4:07 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading, after reaching $2.88 earlier today.

The firm’s $501.7 million of 8.625 percent bonds due in 2013 fell 5.6 cents to 78 cents on the dollar, the lowest since March, according to Trace, the bond-price reporting system of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. IStar’s $448.4 million of 5.95 percent bonds due in 2013 fell 3 cents to 75 cents on the dollar, according to Trace.

“The firm should not become insolvent and has ample liquidity to operate through 2010, but management faces a significant challenge with $3 billion in debt coming due in 2011 and $3.5 billion due in 2012,” Standard & Poor’s said July 30.

S&P earlier said it believed there was a “likelihood” the real estate investment trust would use a so-called distressed exchange to restructure the debt maturing next year and in 2012.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jeffrey McCracken in New York at; Jonathan Keehner in New York at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jeff St.Onge in London at; Alec McCabe in New York at

Odds and Ends 187

I don't usually post newspaper articles before they come out in the day's newspaper, but since I am quoted in the article, I think you know that I knew what was coming out.

Here is today's article by Ms. Donna Littlejohn regarding the newest plan for Ponte Vista at San Pedro:

Ponte Vista developers offer new scaled-back plan
By Donna Littlejohn Staff Writer
Posted: 09/23/2010 07:08:13 PM PDT
Updated: 09/23/2010 07:28:51 PM PDT

After months of silence, developers of San Pedro's controversial Ponte Vista housing project have announced another revision that further reduces the number of homes proposed.
They also indicated an entire new round of traffic and other studies will be conducted on the new proposal for the site, which has been vacant since 1997.

The latest incarnation - which already has a received favorable reaction from Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn - calls for 1,135 homes to be built on the 62.5-acre former Navy housing site on Western Avenue.

That's less than half the original number - 2,300 homes - proposed in 2005. But it's still higher than than the 800 to 900 homes that many critics had called for to keep the development within its current zoning.

"My thoughts are it's higher than my particular preference of 831, which is the equivalent of the housing density of the Gardens (a nearby San Pedro town house project)," said Mark Wells, a long-standing and early critic of Ponte Vista.

But he added that the scaled-down numbers may be enough to finally move the stalled project forward.

"I am certainly encouraged by the new management team's ability to work with the community and to come up with better plans," Wells said.

John Stinson of the Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council said the new housing proposal is "a nice place to start negotiations from" but that the issue "is still about protecting our quality of life here in San Pedro and on the Peninsula."

In a written statement, Hahn said she was encouraged by a private meeting she'd had recently with iStar Financial, the owner of the Ponte Vista property.

"... This number is much closer to what makes sense in this part of San Pedro," she said.
As part of the revised proposal, a new environmental impact report - which will include new traffic studies - will now be done. That will take about a year.

Steve Magee, vice president of iStar Financial, said in a written statement that developers were "committed to working with the community to ensure that the project reflects the unique character of the Harbor Area."

While no details or drawings have been released, Magee said the project will be of "high quality" with a mix of housing types, including "town homes, condominiums and apartments" for a range of income levels.

Stinson said whatever happens next, "it should be an open, public and transparent" process.
Ponte Vista has been mired in controversy since former developer Bob Bisno first rolled out the plans five years ago.

Bisno Development, which had become a lightening rod in the community during Ponte Vista's first few years, was bumped from the project in December 2008. Credit Suisse and DLJ Real Estate Capital Partners took over the project after that and, in April 2009, the Los Angeles Planning Commission directed developers to work more with the community to bring the housing numbers down.

Five months ago, iStar took the reins and has been reviewing alternatives since then.

Traffic and housing density have been the major sticking points with critics who say Western Avenue already is too congested.

But the project also has had its supporters in the community who contend that more housing stock, especially for seniors wishing to downsize, is needed.

Meanwhile, the stretch of abandoned Navy housing at 26900 S. Western Ave., across from Green Hills Memorial Park and just south of Palos Verdes Drive North, has become an eyesore in the northwest part of town.

In a 2007 letter published in the Daily Breeze, Wells called building 1,950 units on the property "irresponsible, unreasonable, unrealistic and, most importantly, disrespectful to the community. ..."

Will a reduction to 1,135 homes be enough to mollify critics?

Perhaps, he said, although it will depend on the new studies that are yet to be done.

"I wonder if most of us on the board (of the opposition organization) will simply kind of travel into the sunset after we make our comments," Wells said.

Others, like Stinson, aren't so sure.

When Hahn called him Thursday to advise him of the new proposal, Stinson said, "I tried to curb my enthusiasm. ... I was wondering when the issue would rise again like a monster from the deep."
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
What I talked to both Councilwoman Hahn and Ms. Littlejohn about included my thoughts that Ponte Vista at San Pedro should have the same housing density as The Gardens, nearby.

The Gardens is an 1,100-unit condominium development on 80 acres of land and residents there have much greater access to Gaffey Street, thus usually avoiding having to take Western Avenue.

To have an equivalent housing density as The Gardens, Ponte Vista's 61.53 acres should have no more than 831-units, in my opinion.

My opinion isn't really going to change on the number, but I doubt that I will strenuously oppose 1,135-units at this time.

What I really need to see if that no density bonuses could be applied for by future owners of the site, should iStar Financial simply be granted the entitlements and then sell them off to other groups who could seek a density bonus of up to a 35% increase in the number of units approved for construction by the Los Angeles City Council.

A 35% increase in the now-planned Ponte Vista community could create a new neighborhood of up to 1,532-units.

I think there is still great opposition to having as many as 1,532-units built at Ponte Vista so I am hoping Councilwoman Hahn will be successful in attempting to find ways to prevent future landowners from building any more than 1,135-units at Ponte Vista, if that is the number voted approval for.

I am very encouraged that a brand new traffic study will be conducted as part of a new Environmental Impact Report for the project.

Much of the information that needs to be gathered in the traffic study will focus on the anticipated number of daily vehicle trips on Western Avenue resulting from a completed Ponte Vista project.

Since 2005 it has been estimated that daily vehicle trips along Western Avenue on portions from Palos Verdes Drive North to 25Th Street have increased about 1,900 daily trips per weekday.

The increase is based on the Western Avenue Task Force's finding that in 2005 there were about 37,500 daily vehicle trips along Western Avenue and that there will be a 1% growth each year in that rate, until at least 2025.

What is also very important to note and remember is that during the studies conducted for the Western Avenue Task Force's report, summary, and recommendations is that NO NEW vehicle trips were estimated for Ponte Vista because it was not being considered for development when the Task Force did its work.

So what we need to focus on is both the reality of what is going on today along Western and the accurate study of potential daily trips generated for a 1,135-unit Ponte Vista development.

Traffic will continue to be the number one issue regarding whatever is built at Ponte Vista.

I will write more in the future about some of the things that were talked about over the years and perhaps we can all work together to find more ways to deal with the expected huge increase in traffic.
Personally I am becoming more and more embroiled in the Marymount College issues relating to its development projects.

A recent full page advertisement by the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Marymount College has, some folks believe, singled me out for critisism of The Marymount Plan and Measure P.

Naturally I am critical of something I oppose. I really didn't feel all that bad about Mr. Arnold's inclusion of "online blogging" about The Marymount Plan in his 'letter to the editor' which was not really a letter to any editor but was actually the first of two full pages Marymount College paid for in Thursday's Palos Verdes Peninsula News.

I trudge on though, with my: postings. I must be making some difference if I am now considered slightly more than a nobody in Marymount's eyes.
I want all of you to come and enjoy "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" opening on November 12 at the historic Warner Grand Theatre in San Pedro.

I know I stated that I was done being onstage focusing more on my backstage job as the carpenter in residence of the Relevant Stage Theatre Company.

But I played a man of the cloth last year onstage and the new show has a preacher's role that I just could not pass up.

Playing preachers onstage and doing ministerial duties (not often) in real life is something that takes me away from things like Ponte Vista and Marymount College.
So, who has NOT been to Amalfitano Bakery yet? I know there are some folks out there who have not stood in line for some of their great treats.

Please visit all the shopping and dining opportunities in Rancho Palos Verdes and I will continue to shop in San Pedro, too.
Summer has officially FALLen away and autumn is here.

The days are now growing shorter but there are still lots of activities, events, and issues to keep everyone able to participate in many things.

The next meeting about the U.S.S. Iowa is in early October and should it or another former Naval vessel (Amphibious Assault Ship/Carrier) come to our port, it could provide jobs, volunteer work, a new tourist attraction, and some very needed revitalization to the downtown area and just about all of San Pedro and eastern Rancho Palos Verdes, I believe.

We can't stop the future so we should prepare for it and be active in it when it becomes our present.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Friday, September 17, 2010

Odds and Ends 186

It still seem a little bit remarkable that it took over 5 years for someone to touch a button right next to another button and reach me instead of the Ponte Vista at San Pedro offices.

I have received so many fewer calls during the years compared to the Ponte Vista site.

I have no idea if or how many people trying to reach Terri or me has instead, had their calls picked up by someone at the trailers just east of Western Avenue.
If you saw an advertisement in a newspaper or read anything supporting Measure P, The Marymount Plan that just might make it appear that Rancho Palos Verdes City Councilman Anthony Misetich supports Measure P, The Marymount Plan, he DOES NOT!

Councilman Misetich was one of the five members of the five-member City Council to approve The Marymount College Facilities Expansion Project and to the best of my knowledge and after talking to him on many occasions and hearing his many comments during City Council meetings, Councilman Misetich opposes on-campus student housing at Marymount College and that is really one of the only reasons Measure P, and The Marymount Plan was created in the first place.
Today marks the end of the first week of classes at LAUSD schools, including the ones near Western Avenue.

If you travel along Western Avenue, you must have noticed that traffic got worse and delays got longer.

It is time for those of us who can use alternate routes to avoid adding to the woes of those who must utilize Western Avenue, to do so.

Any number of fewer cars and drivers on Western, especially from about noon to about 7:00 PM each weekday, helps. Thank you.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

It FINALLY Happened!

Many people know that my phone number is different by one digit from the Ponte Vista at San Pedro's site office.

I got my phone number in 1998 and the trailers were wired for their phone number in 2005.

When I first learned that the two numbers were so similar, I 'knew' someone would misdial the phone number for Ponte Vista at San Pedro and get me, instead.

If finally happened at about 10:20 this morning.

A pleasant woman who allowed me to inform her of her 'first ever' was trying to reach Ms. Elise Swanson, Vice-President in charge of the Ponte Vista site and also an active member of our local Chamber of Commerce.

The woman asked to speak to Elise and she chuckled when I told her that she was the first person in over five years to try and reach Elise and have me answer my phone.

Naturally I explained the difference in our phone numbers and told her about how to reach Ms. Swanson.

Since "The Bob Years" are relegated to the bad memories/sad memories/ridiculous memories area of history, I hope everyone has much better feelings and attitudes about what might eventually become of Ponte Vista at San Pedro.

The management there is wonderful in allowing first responder training and the eco-friendly method of weed mitigation.

It is amazing that it took five years for me to experience my first mis-dial and I can only guess that those on all sides of the issues are careful and pretty darn smart!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Odds and Ends 185

If you have been following the most recent events in newspapers or on blogs, surrounding the two lawsuits recently heard, about ballot arguments for Measure P, The Marymount Plan, it gets more juicy,

Judge David Yaffe ruled on Wednesday that Marymount's Rebuttal of Arguments Against Measure P contained a statement he found false and misleading.

Judge Yaffe ruled that the following had to be removed from the upcoming voter information pamphlet for the November 2, Special Election:

(The passage of Measure P) "guarantees that Marymount College meets all City codes and obtains City permits with strict construction time limits , for every part of the plan."

Along with that ruling, Judge Yaffe, earlier in the hearings ruled the following to NOT be false and/or misleading as contained in the Argument Against Measure P:

"-The Initiative eliminates City oversight. The Initiative supersedes the Municipal Code making Marymount a land use island, preventing your locally elected leaders from addressing many issues that arise in the future. The City Council imposed conditions that allow the City to monitor the development and operation of the campus to avoid adverse impacts on the City's residents. The Initiative will eliminate these conditions. The Initiative largely exempts Marymount from the same rules that apply to all other landowners in Rancho Palos Verdes."

The attorney for Marymount argued that because passage of Measure P would 'amend' municipal code, it didn't necessarily supersede it. HOWEVER, that attorney, Mr. Gough acknowledged in open court that some elements of the Campus Specific Plan zone would supersede some municipal codes.

Judge Yaffe followed a quote from Thomas Jefferson that opined that open debate and discussion between people should prevail in determining what is believable on a level playing field. This basically means that we all have our First Amendment rights to say what we wish to say and to discuss issues and the factual merits of those issues.

But Marymount sent out a tri-fold mailer asking for support of Measure P with the following bullet point almost smack dab in the middle of the inside:

"Strict time limits for construction , from the city for every part of the plan."

The timing of the delivery of the mailer seems to indicate that it was probably mailed after both lawsuits were filed and that somebody at Marymount didn't consider that their position could lose in court and they didn't bother to hold off on sending it out before Judge Yaffe's rulings.

The only remedy persons have against receiving a mailer with false and misleading information carried in it is to tell others about the facts and allow them the opportunity to make up their own minds on whether to support something or oppose it.
Naturally many of us who have dealt with both Ponte Vista during "The Bob Years" and who are currently dealing with Marymount College's Project and Plan during what can now probably be called "The Michael Years" have used these times to learn and become much more educated as to what is false, misleading, deceptive, not factual, argumentative, and just plain wrong.

This is a good thing from me and others to learn more about what to look for at Marymount and whatever is in store for the Ponte Vista at San Pedro site.

I think the current management and financial team for Ponte Vista at San Pedro also have learned about the fact that more folks can sniff out the B.S. and they have actually done a few things to make better attempts at not offering B.S. and I applaud them for that.

"The Bob Years" are truly in the past, it seems. As Martha might say, "that is a good thing."
We learned that a meeting planned for more discussion concerning the U.S.S. Iowa to our harbor has been delayed.

While I do support bringing the U.S.S. Iowa here, I think you have had a chance to read about my 'better' idea on what type of Naval vessel could come to our port.
Monday the 13th could be a bit like a Friday the 13th in that this coming Monday the 13th welcomes Dodson Intermediate, Taper Avenue, Cooper Community Day, Park Western Place, Crestwood, and other LAUSD schools beginning a new term.

Traffic along Western will again be greatly affected by the opening of these schools so let's all take our calming mantras, yoga sessions, drugs, or attitudes and use them as we try to travel along Western which has seen about a 1 percent increase in traffic since September, 2009.
Those of us living in the Western View Homes neighborhood of Eastview and those using Trudie but not living in the neighborhood would like everyone attempting on leaving the parking lot for Western Plaza, especially the "millions" of good people swarming into and out of Amalfitano Bakery to use routes out of the parking lot other than the two driveways on Trudie Drive.

There are three other exits and entrances for Western Plaza including one with a signal at the intersection of the parking lot, Western Avenue, and Park Western Drive.

It is so much easier on everyone if folks choose those alternate routes rather than trying to get onto or off of Trudie Drive.

This is especially true for those attempting to exit Western Plaza then head north on Western Avenue.

There are remedies available through the city of Rancho Palos Verdes to have the entrances and exits changed and I hope we don't have to head the about 8 miles to our City Hall or the 12 miles to the Council chambers to seek legal relief to the added congestion now found at the intersection of Trudie and Western.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Why Not The U.S.S. Tarawa?

While the battle for the U.S.S. Iowa is being fought, I still must contend that is a battle about and for the wrong battleground.

The U.S.S. Tarawa would allow for a great many more opportunities for static displays by all the branches of the service, larger physical areas for displays in order to gather more opportunity for volunteerism and tourists as well as greater educational opportunities, all in a better-spaced warship, than the U.S.S. Iowa.

The U.S.S. Tarawa is an amphibious assault carrier with a flight deck, hangar deck, amphibious landing deck, island, and many more decks more similar to modern day Naval vessels than what is found on and within the U.S.S. Iowa.

The U.S.S. Tarawa was decommissioned by the U.S. Navy in 2009 and is moored in Pearl Harbor awaiting final disposition by the Navy. So far, no group apparently has asked the Navy for the ship.

I have never found the lure in having a battleship as a historical display compared to a carrier-type warship that allows so many greater availabilities to share all of our military branches rather than just the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corp.

However, if the U.S.S. Tarawa is sold for scrap before it could be given to a group, there are similar ships of its class that either have been decommissioned or very soon will be.

The U.S.S. Tarawa is about 834 feet long compared to the U.S.S. Iowa which is about 888 feet long. This means that the U.S.S. Tarawa might find a better fit in our harbor.

San Pedro is not and was not just a "Navy town". There has been a U.S. Army fort named after Lt. General Arthur MacArthur here for almost 100 years.

Current members of the U.S. Air Force are now residents of San Pedro in several locations throughout the area.

The U.S. Coast Guard still has an installation and housing on Terminal Island and at Point Vicente.

While the old Navy housing still exists at Ponte Vista, when it housed families, some of those families were families of members of the United States Marine Corp.

When all the branches of our great military have lived, worked, or had interests in and around San Pedro, it should make sense that all of the branches could and should be represented in a historical place that has the opportunities to celebrate and honor all of the branches.

Such a place could be a small 'flat top", one with a flight deck, flat hangar deck, and docking deck to offer plenty of space for displays and honors for all the branches of the service.

A ship the size of the U.S.S. Iowa could not probably fit well on either side of Fisherman's Slip, but that is probably not the case with the U.S.S. Tarawa.

The U.S.S. Iowa is about 888 feet long with a beam of 108.2 feet while the length of the U.S.S. Tarawa is about 834 feet long with a beam of 106.6 feet. The U.S.S. Tarawa is shorter and narrower than the U.S.S. Iowa but has much, much more deck space and hangar deck space the U.S.S. Iowa never had.

Since there are so many fewer fishing boats now berthing at Fisherman's Slip, berthing an amphibious assault ship on the north side of Fisherman's Slip offers an almost complete package of display opportunities and the parking is already built and there are more than a few great business opportunities so very close at Ports O Call that is could find an unprecedented resurgence of business and tourism.

I also feel that there would be a much greater number of volunteer opportunities having a ship in San Pedro that could offer displays from all branches because veterans from every branch may want to work on the ship in or near where their branch has displays.

The U.S.S. Tarawa and her sister vessels are warships and they did and do carry guns. The service provided to our country by each one of the ships in the class the U.S.S. Tarawa can actually be documented as being greater than the service provided by the U.S.S. Iowa.

There are most likely greater histories of different types of service by the two true warships mentioned in types of service such as rescue efforts, civilian support during disasters, as well as multiple types of warfare including aircraft, landing assaults, missile deployment and usage, gunfire, and other means of warfare.

The U.S.S. Iowa demonstrated 'big gun' and cruise missile technology. The U.S.S. Tarawa demonstrated air technology, amphibious assault technology, missile technology, bomb and lighter gunnery technology, and more.

Apart form Pearl Harbor and its battleship on display, I wonder what the visitor comparisons are between displays involving aircraft carriers like the U.S.S. Midway and U.S.S. Intrepid, versus other battleship displays or other surface or submarine displays.

I feel quite comfortable that, as attractions, warships that have flight decks find greater numbers of visitors than any other type of warship on display, other than those revered at Pearl Harbor.

Another consideration is that there are many, many more Navy and Marine veterans who have served on amphibious assault carriers than there are former sailors and Marines who saw service on the four battleships of the U.S.S. Iowa class. This is in part to the fact that there were only four battleships within the class that the U.S.S. Iowa is in that saw real service beyond the 1950s and both classes of amphibious assault carriers of the U.S.S. Tarawa and U.S.S. Iwo Jima classes had more than four ships in each class built.

I believe that except for the U.S.S. Missouri, now berthed very near the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial, no other battleship currently on display as an attractions draws anywhere near the number of people who board the U.S.S. Midway in San Diego and the U.S.S. Intrepid in New York Harbor.

Another consideration is that the entire Western Museum of Flight now located at Torrance Airport could easily fit on and inside the U.S.S. Tarawa and that Museum would find a much higher number of visitors that they now get annually and the planes are already close to the harbor.

It is very true that when looking at images of the U.S.S. Tarawa do not offer as much 'might', 'power' and 'offense' that the big guns of the U.S.S. Iowa could offer, but the U.S.S. Tarawa or another ship in its class is newer and would provide San Pedro with a much better attraction, in my opinion.

Odds and Ends 184

After doing quite a little pondering, I have decided to alter this blog, just a bit.

I hope readers don't mind.

One of my other Blogs is San Pedro Issues To Ponder. I haven't been good at all updating that blog and with not much going on at or with issues relating directly to Ponte Vista, I hope folks don't get upset if I meld the two blogs together, on this blog, until the time activities and issues more related to Ponte Vista at San Pedro ramp up....if they do.
Matters relating to Ponte Vista at San Pedro should be of some importance of residents of a wide area of the communities surround the Ponte Vista site.

Both San Pedro and Rancho Palos Verdes have 'intimate' relationships with everything about Ponte Vista at San Pedro.

Lomita, Harbor City, Rolling Hills Estates, Wilmington, and to some extent, Palos Verdes Estates and Rolling Hills all have residents who are interested in what may happen to the 61.53 acre Ponte Vista at San Pedro property.
To really begin this now-combined blog, I've got nothing new to report about development at Ponte Vista.

I continue to thank and wish the best for the owners and management of Ponte Vista at San Pedro for their continued offering first responders probably the best urban training facility in all of California.

I did see the Torrance Police Department's Mobile Command Post set up inside the fences at Ponte Vista and training of Police Officers from that Department was being conducted.

For those who are not familiar with the fact that training goes on there, training has been conducted by a greater number of Departments and Agencies that one might imagine.

During "The Bob Bisno Years" many locals viewed Elk Grove, California Police Officers undergoing tactical training in an urban environment at Ponte Vista.

Elk Grove is a suburb of Sacramento. Police and other Agencies from all over California and even from other states, I believe, have use Ponte Vista at San Pedro as a training site.

If the owners of Ponte Vista receive any type of tax benefits from offering their property for training, I feel it is quite justifiable and necessary to help protect first responders and all residents of every community where Ponte Vista has provided benefits for training.
Two lawsuits will be adjudicated this coming Wednesday, involving Marymount College's attempts to have on-campus student housing built.

Mr. Jeffrey Lewis, an attorney, filed a lawsuit that includes language that could allow a Superior Court Judge to decide whether elements of The Marymount Plan and language contained in ballot Measure P provide to Marymount officials the right to have their "campus specific plan" supersede some municipal codes and some regulations and some guidelines established by and for the city of Rancho Palos Verdes.

Both lawsuits challenge claims by both sides of Measure P that the other side's ballot arguments are misleading and/or deceptive.

This is also an issue I hope the judge decides on Wednesday, before the cutoff time to get the ballot measure to the printers, for printing.

September 8 is the trial date for both lawsuits to be tried together and the cutoff date to get the wording to the printers in time to legally distribute all ballot arguments prior to the November 2, General and Special Elections, in Rancho Palos Verdes.

A post containing a recently published article about the two lawsuits will be posted under this post.
All schools, school systems, and school districts are back in session with the exception of LAUSD. The largest district in the communities will welcome students back on September 13 or 14.

Let's all drive more safely than we did when Summer placed so many kids away from classes.

Please remember that traffic patters along Western Avenue will change and get worse as they always do when schools are in session.

The enrollment at all schools in the area is up, including Marymount College. Their enrollment jumped about 75 students from last semester with the implementation of the College's new four-year programs.

This means more younger drivers driving more vehicles along Western Avenue unless those students opt to do the correct thing and park their vehicles at the College's Palos Verdes North off-campus student housing facility and have trained shuttle bus drivers execute the commutes.
The Tri-Art Festival is coming and I will create a post for it on this blog.

There will be other San Pedro and Rancho Palos Verdes community events I will post on this blog, from time to time.
Has anyone else noticed water coming out of a manhole in a southbound lane of Western Avenue?

It is never a good sign when water or any other liquid is viewed coming up and over the surface of a roadway.

The continuing seepage on Westmont is bothersome and since it wasn't dealt with during schools' summer vacation time, I hope repairs don't require closing a lane or more along the important route between Western and Gaffey.