Sunday, August 26, 2012

1,135: Still Too Many!

Click on Illustration to Enlarge it.

1,135 total number of dwelling units is too many to be constructed at Ponte Vista at San Pedro.

The current zoning for the site allows for up to 429 single-family detached dwelling units, on individual lots of not less than 5,000 square feet of land. This is the basic information for the zoning designation of  "R 1" or "R1" in the city of Los Angeles.

To have any greater number of housing units, the zoning of the lots on the site would see a requirement by the Los Angeles City Council approving new municipal ordinances that would change the existing zoning to some other types.

"R Neighborhoods Are 1" was an organization of concerned residents established to try to keep from having the existing zoning changed from what the Los Angeles City Council approved in the past, to something else that would allow for greater dwelling density.

When you view the site now, you see duplex units there. When the U.S. Navy owned the property and build units there, they were and are not required to follow municipal zoning ordinances and the city zoned the property to what it is now AFTER the Navy built the duplexes.

Those of you considering that the duplexes should just be renovated and/or duplexes of that type and number are what you would like to see on the site, it can't be done.

The duplex units and other remaining apartment block units found further east, near the site are all not part of R 1 zoning. ***

I sat and still may sit on the Board of "R Neighborhoods Are 1" even though I no longer demand that the site remain with its legal zoning designations. I still feel strongly that if enough community members demand no change with the site's current zoning, I have no problem with that, whatsoever.

The Gardens, a nearby development, consists of 1,100 units on 80 acres of land, according to facts and figures published in many places.

The Gardens is comprised of condominium dwelling units with many having a small outdoor patio and easy access to garage spaces established for each unit.

The Gardens has been around for decades.

Using a calculator, divide the number of dwelling units at The Gardens, "1,100" by the acreage listed as making up the development, "80" and you should find that there are "13.75" dwelling units at The Gardens, per acre of land listed for The Gardens.

Ponte Vista at San Pedro, according to records created during the sale and auction processes consists of a land area of "61.53" acres.

If you multiply the total acreage of land at Ponte Vista at San Pedro, "61.53" by the number of dwelling units per acre found at The Gardens "13.75" the product is about "846".

I have strongly felt, for the last several years, that a reasonable number of dwelling units approved to be built at Ponte Vista should be equal to less than the same number of units per acre found at The Gardens.

The Gardens has Westmont Drive, a four lane road, going through is and all of the units there have access almost directly to Western Avenue AND Gaffey Street.

Every single resident or visitor to whatever is built at Ponte Vista at San Pedro MUST be transported, at least partially, along a portion of Western Avenue. There would be no direct access to Westmont Drive or Gaffey Street.

I posted the "Product Type" illustration above to give you an idea of the types and numbers of units currently planned for the site. Here too, we find far too many of several different types of units planned for the development.

With "392" units (Product Type 7)that have been designated as "Rental" units, along with the "161" units illustrated for Product Type 6, that totals 553 units out of the current 1,135 units now being suggested. When 48.7% of a development consists primarily of rental units (my thought is that a majority of the 161 units would also become rentals), what might that say about the other Product Types and whether a significant number of them would also become rental or leased units?

In the illustration there is listed "143" units of 2 and 3 story detached, single-family units. We can easily see a smaller development (135 units) of homes like this being constructed along Gaffey Street, south of the Ponte Vista site.

I wonder how many, if any, of these housing units being built there will be occupied by renters or those who lease. 

Product Types 2-5 consists of 439 'townhomes', 'duplexes', and 'flats'. It appears that the majority number of units of these types are 'flats'. How many people do you feel would be interested in being owner/residents in a development with so many rental and leased units? 

I feel there is a comparable development to what might occur at Ponte Vista, with the currently planned product types and it is called Miraleste Canyon Estates.

Miraleste Canyon Estates is a housing development originally called Laurel Tree Apartments and it is between Miraleste Drive and Western Avenue.

Some years ago, the housing site changed from rental apartments to a condominium, owner/occupied site. It is fairly old now. I don't know the ratio of owner-occupied units to leased or rented units there, but it might make a good study to determine what might occur for most of the 'flats' projected currently at Ponte Vista.

To me, the more rental units and leased out units there are in a development, the more transient the residential population becomes. I think there are more traffic issues to deal with than developments where the majority of the residents own AND occupy their spaces.

Some might offer a guess that, of the 439 units of Product Types 2-5 have 50% renters or leasees, then there could be as many as 219 units added to the 553 units of types 6 and 7.

I don't think it is unreasonable to suggest that at least 772 of the overall 1,135 units now planned would become rental or leased units and I know that the Traffic and Transportation section of the Draft Environmental Impact Report that will 'officially' be coming out this Fall does not take that into any consideration.

During The Bob Years, the developer came up with a percentage of condo units to be built and designated for seniors to live at. Of course Bob would not segregate seniors from living in other areas of the complex, but he did offer senior housing. My feeling on that was that it may have been a good idea, but I learned quickly that he probably offered that as a marketing incentive to get more support for an overly huge over development from seniors living in the area.

With the new plans, no 'senior housing' is illustrated or planned. As I have seen in the last few days, there are seniors out there who are writing negatively about not having senior housing at Ponte Vista and that seems to confirm my earlier opinion that Bob offered his senior housing as a marketing ploy.

I am quite sure that should the current developers change some of the types of housing to offer seniors housing meant specifically for them, there would be even fewer folks objecting to having 1,135 total units built, on the site.

It could be argued that should approvals be given to built 1,135 units, over 772 of them, 68% of the total number of units, would probably become rental or leased units within the first three years after the project is completed.

So now, is there wiggle room in the total number of units the developers would be willing to discuss? I hope so.

I will remain strong in my work to find fewer units being built at Ponte Vista at San Pedro and if the commuinity wants R1, I'm perfectly fine with that.

I do have my high end limits. I know there must be fewer than 1,135 units approved, at the sight. If R1 (429) gets rejected by the majority and L.A. City Councilman Buscaino, some other number should be put forth. I have offered my high end limit being up to 831, but perhaps because of some calculations in error, maybe no more than 846 units could be successfully constructed there.

I feel I am settled with 'fewer than 850 units' and must consider that all of them might become rental or leased out units. I can live with that or R 1 (429).

I hope most others learn more and conclude that the number of total units closer to my wishes becomes the best for our community.

What we see and will see with traffic along Western Avenue, as well as with other housing being planned or under construction in our area, is that Western Avenue and the residents and visitors who use it cannot help but to realize that it has become more of a parking lot than a reasonable access route.

Let's give the developers 74.8898678% (75%) of what they are asking for at Ponte Vista and then let's continue to move forward. 

Remembering The Past So We Don't Mess Up The Future

Ponte Vista at San Pedro is a housing development that has been around since 2005 and the former developer of the project created quite a stir in our community.

This post has been written to remember the past and work towards the best future possible for the greater community, including residents living at Ponte Vista.

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it"-George Santayana. Even though the 'new' details concerning Ponte Vista at San Pedro are different, I feel if we don't remember how the project got to this point, we may find that approvals for construction are given to housing our community does not want or need.

For references now and into the future, here are two illustrations you might find valuable and interesting.

Click over illustration to enlarge it.

Click over illustration to enlarge it.

These two illustrations might offer the best overall information readers may want to help them decide how they feel about the 'new' plans for Ponte Vista at San Pedro.

Now, back to some history.

The original developer of Ponte Vista at San Pedro was Mr. Robert H. (Bob) Bisno and I reference the past history while Bob Bisno was at the helm of his organization that sought to bring a 2,300-unit condominium project to the site and call it "The Bob Years".

Bob Bisno, possibly in a final move to seek approval for a project, lowered his overall number of units to 1,950, but it is still important to remember the "2,300" units he tried to get approval for, as we go forward.

I think I need to remind readers that there was a noticeable division in our community during the period between 2006 and late 2009 when there were discussions, arguments, both good and bad times and a number of thing separated our community more than find it coming together.

A 'grass roots organization' called R Neighborhoods Are R1 was formed to fight against over development of the Ponte Vista area and taking into account what became our 'friend', the crumbling housing market, together we and the economy dealt a death blow to Bob's plans for the site.

Of course we must never forget what many of us believe Bob did to our community back then and use that as a means to make sure no other housing developer comes in and tries to over build in our community, like was found during The Bob Years.

So, now some historic trivia that hopefully, you mind find useful.

The site where Ponte Vista at San Pedro now is located is former U.S. Navy property that was used by the Navy for a fire fighting school and for housing for decades.

The Navy moved the residents out of the site in 1998. The fire fighting school, boxing club and other buildings were long gone when the 'current' housing was built in 1962.

There were 242 duplex units and a number of block-type two-story apartments built on the site and when I was in the U.S.A.F. I shopped at the small convenience store that was also located on the site.

When the U.S. Navy deeded the property it actually 'gave away' many lots, not necessarily where Ponte Vista now stands, but in areas that we now find Mary Star of the Sea High School, Rolling Hills Prep School, the Palos Verdes North off-campus housing site for Marymount College and land set aside for Volunteers for America and their housing needs.

In 2005, Bob Bisno 'won' an auction where he paid up to 252% of the opening bid for land that would become part of Ponte Vista at San Pedro. He also was required to purchase property deeded to Volunteers of America to create the 61.53 acres of land we now call Ponte Vista at San Pedro.

Bob planned to build 2,300 condominium units and he included some units to be designated for senior housing as well as providing a small retail area and a '6 Acre' public park. He also offered access from Western Avenue to the campus of Mary Star of the Sea High School and there were discussions that he would also provide a secondary access road for those residing on Fitness Drive.

You are most welcome to read all sorts of facts and figures within the first posts of this blog and I will also include 'reminders' as we move forward.

When the U.S. Military owns land, they can build just about anything in the way of housing they wish to build. Municipal zoning laws do not apply to the type and number of housing the U.S. Navy built on its site and there was no requirement to have any city zoning applied to the site while the Navy owned and operated it.

However, even during the time the U.S. Navy own the overall sites that included the area now known as Ponte Vista, the city of Los Angeles did apply specific zoning ordinances to the area.

For what is now Ponte Vista at San Pedro, the Los Angeles City Council adopted two zoning types for that area:

R 1 is a zoning type designated for residential housing. It allows for one, single-family detached housing unit built on a lot of not less than 5,000 square feet in size. This is important to all previous discussions and many future discussions, many of us strongly feel.

OS 1 is a zoning type for open space in an area zoned around R 1 zoning. This type of zoning also includes areas where parks can be built as well as areas where no buildings are able to be built.

With the zoning designation approved for what is now the site of Ponte Vista at San Pedro, there can legally and easily be up to 429 single-family detached housing units built on the land WITHOUT any zoning changes/new city ordinances by the Los Angeles City Council.

Any developer wishing to have great than R 1 zoning for dwelling units MUST receive zoning changes , voted on and approved by the Los Angeles City Council.

Bob knew that going in, when he overpaid for the land, but he didn't seem to think that was a problem for him.

I don't think he nor anyone else could have imagined what was to happen in our community and the housing market, during The Bob Years.


I have had some real interesting discussions directly with Bob in the past. I know why '2,300' was the number of units Bob set his sights on. I included that information on at least one previous post.

I have also talked with member of the development team that is going forward with the 'new' details. They DO NOT seem to be like Bob Bisno was. I feel there is 'wiggle room' with these developers and I hope they wiggle more than I have to.

For those of you new to discussing matters related to Ponte Vista at San Pedro and to those more familiar than they originally wished they didn't need to be, this blog as history, details, opinions, facts and comments that might be useful as we go forward.

For those of us now needing to get back up on the saddle of a very grumpy horse just to have to slog our way through, I hope you don't forget what we went through, how we felt and how we helped to make sure Bob didn't get the monster begun, that he wanted.

It turned out that by 2009, there was simply no way Bob would be able to build anything on the site and I think he knew that.

Thanks for reading.

Odds and Ends 196

The last "Odds and Ends" was published in November, 2010. The vacation from that is now over.

"Odds and Ends" deals with more general issues. It was designed to touch on various matters but not deal with much of the specifics of any particular item or issue.

So, what have I been doing since November, 2010? Basically a whole bunch of old and some new things.

Many readers know that I was 'retired' by AT&T in 2008 because they no longer allowed me to do my job because of my right hip being replaced. I was quite thankful that AT&T sent me my retirement funds in March, 2009 when the stock market was at 6,500. Again, thanks AT&T, you have no idea how you helped me out.

2010 found me writing much less about Ponte Vista and more about the city I live in, Rancho Palos Verdes. That continues on, but writing about issues in R.P.V. did taper off, too. We'll see how it goes from here on out, especially with discussions about extending the timeline for The Marymount College Facilities Expansion Project.

Phil and I built too many theatre productions in 2010 but we 'setteled down in 2011 and now are very happy to consider that we should only build up to two productions per year, going forward.

2012 found up constructing the set for "Camp Logan" for the Robey Theater Company, in downtown Los Angeles and we just finished building the set and some props for "Oklahoma" with Scalawag Productions, at The Warner Grand Theatre in San Pedro.

In 2011 and with fewer productions to build AND after about 45+ years dealing with behind the scenes of theatre, movies, television and associated things, I though about getting in front of cameras, just to see what that is like and to make some 'fun money' being a background artist and working on student film and TV productions.

I'm now in my second year of background artist work and I also continue to work with college and university students on productions they do. With T.V. and Film, you are not supposed to notice me in the background. Think of me as garnish rather than what's in the middle of your plate.

Unless you frequent film festivals, you probably wouldn't notice me, either.

No, I don't want to be anything other than a background player for films and T.V. or helping out on student productions.

One irony with all this is that I frequently question the motives and actions happening at Marymount College, Palos Verdes, but to date, I have done 16 film and T.V. productions associated with Loyola Marymount University.

Last February, we sent to rest in peace our beloved Cookie. She was our for seventeen years and naturally, we will miss her.

In March we met "Tessa" who is a rat terrier mix puppy, born in November, 2011.

What is the difference between a rat terrier and a terrorist? Scientists are still trying to figure that one out.

She has been a handful and she is trying to train us as we are trying to train her. At 9 months, she still has her puppy moments (too many) and we are learning more about terriers, especially rat terriers, all the time.

Chipotle Grill is now open, at Park Plaza. Goody!

PVPUSD schools go back into session this coming week. Oh Boy, so does Marymount College. Traffic/Western. Western/Traffic...try to avoid Western as much as possible.

I think 850, which is about 75% of 1,135 is a reasonable number if it can't be R 1 (429).

Saturday, August 25, 2012

It's Back!!!

Here we go again.

Look for the new Draft Environmental Report for Ponte Vista at San Pedro coming out.

1,135 units, 392 of them listed as 'rental' units.

Yes, they do plan on single family residences...about 49 of them on small lots.

There is quite a lot of history beginning with the earliest posts on this blog. Much of which is now trivial but hopefully funny to some.

Please don't be confused between Ponte Vista at San Pedro and the new Harbor Highlands condominium project now under construction just west of Gaffey Street.

You are, as always, free to post comments to this blog or Email me directly at:

Life for me is now a bit more than quite different than when we last were visited by goings on regarding Ponte Vista at San Pedro. That's something to explore on another of my blogs.

So, welcome back. UGH! Yes, it's back.

Be well and thanks for reading this blog!