Monday, January 24, 2011

Perception and Some More Comments

After pondering on the appointment of Ms. Elise Swanson as Deputy Chief of Staff to Councilwoman Janice Hahn, I have formed some early opinions about the matter.

Ms. Swanson began her current position with Ms. Hahn's staff at the beginning of this year.

As I am moderately affected by asperger's syndrome, I can place into my own vision many things as if they were right in front of me.

I 'saw' a newspaper headline, actually more than one that seems to be working for me at this time.

"Freshman Congressman appoints K Street lobbyist to a key staff position" This doesn't sit well with me at all and I feel it doesn't sit well with many others, either.

"Termed out Councilwoman appoints former Vice President of condominium project located in her District, to key staff position"


Ms. Swanson, after leaving the staff of Councilwoman Hahn, spent about five years aggressively supporting, leading, and lobbying for a change of zoning on a site within the Councilwoman's District.

Now I have read what I feel is a promise that Ms. Swanson would not be working on Ponte Vista at San Pedro issues. However, as Vice President of Ponte Vista at San Pedro, it was Ms. Swanson's job to do her best to have the zoning changed at the site to allow for "2,300" condominiums, or fewer numbers of condominiums being approved for entitlements on the site in northwest San Pedro.

I sent out an informational Email, with a few short comments, to a large number of community members, about Ms. Swanson's recent appointment.

I have received a surprising number of replies, both individually back to me and as a "reply all" to the original Email I sent out.

"Conflict of interest" has so far been viewed by me in the majority of the replies I have received.

I am not too sure that there really is a conflict of interest at this point, but I can certainly consider there could be.


I think from here on our, even though Ms. Hahn and all of her representatives might state that Ms. Swanson's appointment would mean nothing regarding Ms. Hahn's responsibilities regarding Ponte Vista, it can very well be perceived by many that just having a former Vice President of an operation that seeks to have entitlements granted for building within Ms. Hahn's District COULD smack at a potential conflict of interest, I feel.

The appointment also make it more difficult, I believe, for Ms. Hahn to get beyond having problems with her vote on the City Council on any and all matters related to Ponte Vista and the entitlement sought for that site.

I do not doubt the abilities Ms. Swanson brings to the position as Deputy Chief of Staff. I doubt that it was a wise and truly thought out appointment by Ms. Hahn.

Ms. Swanson was an active, concerned, and remarkable representative on the Western Avenue Task Force. She was a strong force when working for Bob Bisno.

During "The Bob Years" as I refer to the period of time when Bob Bisno first brought the Ponte Vista at San Pedro Project to northwest San Pedro and up until he was sent away, Ms. Swanson, myself, and many others were participants in activities that brought about probably the most divisive period in our community's history.

I know none of us want to go back and do any of that in the future, while we are all still considering whether or what entitlements would be allowed on Ponte Vista's 61.53 acres.


Now that Ms. Swanson is a key member of Ms. Hahn's staff, how might that really affect the Councilwoman's position now and into the future? is there enough perception of trust for the Councilwoman's position?

It is reasonable to equate part of Ms. Swanson's former position as a lobbyist for a particular development within Ms. Hahn's sphere of influence.

I have been under the impression that there is a growing call for former lobbyists not being hired to the staffs of elected representatives and that lobbyists who represented interests within the representative's voting area, should not be hired.

In the history of dealing with Ponte Vista at San Pedro issues I learned that when a development or project is backed by the Council person where the project or development is located, it usually gains approval by the majority of the City Council.

Similarly, when the Council person whose District contains a development or project that Council person does not support, the majority of the City Council will not support the project or development. This has been true in the vast majority of cases but it is not set in stone and some projects and developments have been approved without the support of the Council member in whose District it is located.

We have been told that Ms. Hahn is not supportive of having entitlements granted for the 1,135 units the current developer is asking for.

We don't yet know the number of units Ms. Hahn might agree to.

At this point I feel that as long as Ms. Swanson remains on Ms. Hahn's staff, Ms. Hahn must recuse herself from all official debate, voting, or most other things associated with the site Ms. Swanson has been a Vice President of, for about five years.

There will be a strong and probably growing call for the site to remain with its current zoning. That zoning already allows for the construction of up to 429-Single Family, detached housing on lots of not less than 5,000 square feet. (This is commonly known as R-1 or R 1)

There would be no conflict of interest concerns or perception issues relating to Councilwoman Hahn and her appointment of Ms. Swanson if Ms. Hahn states that she supports keeping the site with its current zoning and there being no vote coming before the Los Angeles City Council.

*NOTE. I have stated and written that I can live with not more than 831 total units being constructed at the site. That is many more units than R 1 allows.

I do not doubt that Ms. Swans is qualified to be a Deputy Chief of Staff to any L.A. City Council member other than Ms. Hahn.

If you are going to use a former paid lobbyist as a key member of your staff, you should not appoint a lobbyist to your staff that worked for years lobbying for something in your own District.

A New Year. A New Job

Ms. Elise Swanson left serving Councilwoman Janice Hahn back in 2005, to become a Senior Vice President for Ponte Vista Partners, LLC when she Joined Bob Bisno in the development of Ponte Vista at San Pedro. Ms. Swanson was in charge of the onsite operations and local community events while employed there.

Ms. Elise Swanson is now the Deputy Chief of Staff to Councilwoman Janice Hahn.

Ms. Swanson's position will take her away from dealing with almost all of the issues surrounding Ponte Vista at San Pedro, according to one source.

I don't know how I feel about this news.

Beginning in 2005, Ms. Swanson was a local participant in attempts to bring "2,300" condominium units to northwest San Pedro and she was among those who worked for a developer who divided us as a community, rarely in a good way, I feel.

Ms. Swanson was one of the women who was attacked in writing by an elderly person who was scolded severely by those of us who know him and she and other women should have never been commented on in that way.

With the number of units now proposed for the Ponte Vista development and an observed tiredness within our community to deal as we have dealt with the previous plans, I remain troubled that Councilwoman Hahn and others within our community might want to just 'give up' and allow the new plans to gain approval by the full City Council.

It certainly doesn't look good to me that the former head of the on-site marketing unit for Ponte Vista now holds a high position in Ms. Hahn's office, as far as how much Ms. Hahn is willing to deal with the Ponte Vista matters.

This is concerning because Ms. Hahn will be termed out of her position most likely after the entitlements are granted for the 61.53 acre site.

I have no information at this time, as to who has taken over the position at Ponte Vista or whether the position still exists.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

New Ponte Vista Web Site

The marketing arm of the Ponte Vista at San Pedro Development published to the World Wide Web, its new Web site.

The URL is and I found it interesting, even during its first day.

Many times a Web site will be published before it has lots of primary information on it and this I find to be the case with Ponte Vista's new Web site.

On the right side of the homepage are a list of articles. I am going to put the titles of the link pages down and then copy/paste what I found under the links.

Please remember that the editors of the Web site published it to the Web before much of the information was edited.

"Visit or new Ponte Vista blogat"

Maecenas eget diam in mi sagittis mattis quis aliquam elit. Pellentesque nec nibh urna; ac dignissim tortor? Vivamus sollicitudin adipiscing malesuada! Duis a consectetur nulla. Curabitur magna libero, elementum eget tempus et, mollis id erat. Integer sagittis neque vel purus malesuada non tristique ligula auctor. Mauris et nisi augue, ut sagittis est. Fusce pulvinar varius scelerisque massa nunc.

***This blog has been around for several years and it looks just about what it looked like when its most recent post was published.

"Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO Supports Ponte Vista"

Aliquam nisl est; tempor eget suscipit iaculis, aliquet sed orci. Nulla pellentesque imperdiet consectetur. Duis augue libero, interdum at egestas ut, elementum in tellus. In aliquet sapien id turpis pellentesque luctus? Pellentesque sem nibh, vehicula vitae elementum id, posuere ut purus? Praesent lobortis lacinia dolor, id mattis lectus dictum vel! Nulla bibendum dapibus tellus, at blandit amet.

***I think before somebody publishes the title of a post, they should be able to post the body of the post, don't you?

"East View Little League Finds New Home at Ponte Vista"

Etiam semper consectetur adipiscing. Proin ut tincidunt leo. Aenean elementum, nisl et mattis tincidunt, dolor elit posuere massa, nec ultricies turpis ante sit amet neque. Vivamus mi massa, viverra sit amet adipiscing ac, semper eget nibh. Morbi hendrerit congue augue vel auctor. Morbi a purus vel risus elementum laoreet ut et justo. In mi lectus; varius a faucibus vel, pulvinar at velit posuere.

***Perhaps the editor of the new site is just using the link title without regard to whether it is true or not.

"City of Los Angeles Releases Final Environmental Impact Report"

(Empty Space)

*** This page of the link is empty of body. I suspect the editor forgot to copy/paste the wording used in other links.

What got me to the original page was an Email about the Traffic Study now being conducted for Ponte Vista at San Pedro.

The following can be found under the larger heading of "Transportation" at the top of the site.

Then click on "Traffic Study" at the bottom of the "Transportation" heading.

"Traffic Study"

Intersections to be evaluated as part of the traffic study are determined by LADOT (Los Angeles Department of Transportation) as well as from public comments received during the scoping period of the Draft EIR (Environmental Impact Report).

Proposed study intersections include the same intersections evaluated in the traffic study contained in the November 2006 Draft EIR for the prior Ponte Vista project, as well as additional intersections identified as areas of concern by the public during the previous Draft EIR process (for example, Western Avenue/Peninsula Verde Drive).

For a full list of study intersections, please click here [link to list of intersections, Board 6-3]. For a map of the study intersections, please click here [link to map from Board 6-2].

In traffic engineering practice, and as required by LADOT, potential impacts due to development projects are assessed by evaluating changes to operations at intersections.

Intersection traffic counts were conducted in September and October 2010. Weekday counts occurred on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday when local schools were in session. Based on LADOT requirements, weekday counts were conducted in the morning from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., and in the afternoon from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Saturday counts were conducted from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The peak hour is determined from the 3 hour counts at each intersection based on the 60 minute period with the highest amount of traffic.

As required by LADOT and based on traffic counts, intersections will be evaluated during the weekday commuter morning (AM) and afternoon (PM) peak hours. In addition, intersections along Western Avenue near the project site will be evaluated during the Saturday midday peak hour corresponding with the peak shopping period.

***Thank you very much for providing this information. It allows folks to learn what has been going on and answers questions some might still have about the Traffic Study.

I tried to sign up for the 'eNEWSLETTER' on this site, but it would not work.

Now folks, please don't go thinking I now endorse the latest project plans, by reading this post.

I do believe that information is critical when making decisions on such a large project as Ponte Vista at San Pedro is.

I don't feel we need to be at such odds as so many supporters and opponents of previous plans were.

I have real problems with '1,135' units and the fact that the developer stated to me that the majority of the traffic mitigation supported by Bob Bisno during "The Bob Years" will not be on the table going forward.

I have been told that there is nowhere in the developer's budget to offer the traffic mitigation we all were looking at, back in the earlier years of the project.

When I looked up the developments old Web site, "" I found an under construction mention on a site maintained by Network Solutions. It appears that "" is also under the umbrella of Network Solutions.

Maybe the site I am writing about will migrate to "" in the future. That would be a good thing for the folks at Ponte Vista at San Pedro and me.

When you 'google' "Ponte Vista", I come up first followed by their Your Ponte Vista blog.

I signed up for Google Alerts using "Ponte Vista" as key words. That is how I found out about the new site.

I haven't tried Bing or other search engines, but I bet I will be at or near the top and that should not be what the marketers for Ponte Vista at San Pedro would want you to see.

So we start of the new year with a new site and I hope a much better discussion that is open and honest on all sides.

I'll write more and I hope to end the hiatus of my "Odds and Ends" posts.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

A Long Dry Spell Must End For Me

This post is written for several of my blogs because I have taken an extended absence from writing on any of my blogs for quite some time.

So much has happened in our extended communities since I stopped writing on the blogs and I want to get back to pondering, questioning, commenting, arguing, and dealing with many issues common to the communities I live in and events and conditions in and around the communities most of my readers live in.

Nothing is more common in all of the communities we all deal with than John and Muriel Olguin. Right now, nothing is more important for all of us in those communities.

Most of us know that a great gentleman, very long into life and even longer in adventures would pass from us, far too soon.

We all knew the day would come that we would make us sad and drive our memories into overdrive.

We all knew none of us can and could measure up to the personhood we all now honor with the passing of John Olguin.

Muriel was and always will be the 'winner' of my writings about our community members who were closer to being "more like John Olguin" than the rest of us. She is in our hearts as she and the rest of us remember John.

Starting 2011 with the new adventure of working on ways to honor John's memory and try to be more like him in the acts of kindness and teachings he showed us, is a task we need to do. It is the first task of what is going to be one heck of a year for all of us.

As we move forward, please include in your visions and dreams the smiles your remember beaming from John's face as he taught you something you didn't know or how he was so happy when you understood how he regaled in your learning.

Let's work towards a public memorial that includes contributions of whatever you can provide to those in need and a clear demonstration that we all 'got' the fascination, wonder, and joy John offered, all supported by Muriel, a true inspiration, artist, and gift to all of us as she was to John.

One way to honor John and all those who volunteered for us is to volunteer to work on issues and projects that interest you in ways that promote those things that benefit 'community'

Not only are your acts, deeds, thoughts, comments, and wishes important, your means of demonstrating those things are also important on many issues you might want to concern yourself with.

Here is just a partial list of things that I am pondering about and I hope your list is at least as long as mine:

John's public memorial, the U.S.S. Iowa, Charter City status and vote in Rancho Palos Verdes, Ponte Vista, SRHS #15, downtown San Pedro, protecting our environment, Western Avenue, community goals, park lands, politics, arts in communities, good citizenship, the local economy, working for those less fortunate, San Ramon Canyon, Marymount's Expansion Project, educating everyone, recession recovery, working for peace, celebrating, family, neighbors and friends, contentious issues, common goals, fun, faith, play, and experiencing a full and productive life. Grandchildren, perhaps someday.

I hope to get back to writing on a much more regular basis on several of these blogs.

I know Ponte Vista is important and should see posts and comments from others throughout the year.

I live on the eastern side of Rancho Palos Verdes. San Pedro in heart, Rancho Palos Verdes in thought. I feel strongly that residents of Rancho Palos Verdes need to be better informed and more able to deal with and comment on their government and city.

There are "Issues to Ponder" regarding San Pedro. It may have a continuing set of problems in its downtown area but it has a growing vibrant aspect in its arts and entertainment and there will be new things popping up in the future throughout the community.

I know that "R Neighborhoods Are 1" and there is more to be considered in our community, for our community, and with our community.

As I am still a caveman, my 'dairy' needs to be updated with stories and learning this caveman has encountered over the last couple of years.

Whether I can manage to work harder to be more like John is something that I don't yet know, but I really need to try.

I hope readers will learn or argue or agree or disagree or ponder or rant or rave or just read. But with all blogs, it is truly more for the writer to write than the reader to read. If that was not the case, there would be no blogs and just look how many there are now compared to when I first wrote, in September, 2006.

Thank you and please return from time to time.

Mark Wells
aka M Richards