Sunday, August 26, 2012

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.

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