Thursday, July 25, 2013

Ponte Vista: 830 Units or Fewer?

Hello to all former and new readers to this blog.

I have not posted since I moved from Rancho Palos Verdes to Murrieta, California, although I probably should have.

The issues revolving around the 61.53 acre site commonly known as Ponte Vista are very much back into discussions and studies and more comments, opinions, facts and details are finding their way onto social media, much more than we have seen since 2005.

This blog contains a great deal of facts, trivia, opinions and history of the project, most concerning what I call "The Bob Years" when Mr. Robert H. Bisno held court on the project.

You can learn lots of facts about what what then, but this is now and I feel it is time I also make comments on the project.

In consideration of the number of units being proposed at Ponte Vista, I don't like 830-units, but then again I have opined that I really can't object too much about that number.

But for a project with ONLY Western Avenue for ingress and egress, there are items which are important to discuss.

The Gardens is a community which almost borders Ponte Vista. It is 1,100 units on about 80 acres. It has been successful for decades. It has a dwelling density of about 13.75 units per acre.

The tract map for Ponte Vista is for a project of 61.53 acres in total.

In consideration of roads and open spaces, I estimated that as many as about 831 dwelling units 'could' be built at Ponte Vista. Whether there should be as many as 830 dwelling units on the site if the focus of many discussions, arguments, studies and the current writing streams that are appearing on social media.

The Gardens have dwelling units where residents have access to both Western Avenue and Gaffey Street. Westmont runs between two large sections of The Gardens, the Ponte Vista site would not have such a large street, like Westmont.

Opinions very and there are those who wanted as many as 2,300-units on the site.

I was one of the founding board members of the group R Neighborhoods Are 1 and I suggest that all readers of this block study the position of that group.

The Northwest San Pedro Neighborhood Council is also a very important source of information, discussion and dialog, about the project.

When considering how many units could be successfully constructed and resided in, for many decades to come, the one, overall, over riding, and most important element to consider is traffic and transportation.

Every single person entering or leaving Ponte Vista IF the access through Mary Star of the Sea High School is closed off, MUST use at least a part of Western Avenue, every time they go into or out of, Ponte Vista.

IF access through the Mary Star campus is closed off, EVERY public school student living in Ponte Vista will have to travel along at least a portion of Western Avenue, even students attending Taper Avenue Elementary School.

Marymount California University has big plans for increasing the use of the "Palos Verdes North" facility, located along Palos Verdes Drive North, between Western Avenue and '5-Points'.

While the number of students living on that site will probably increase over the coming years, there are plans to put classrooms and other student-related facilities on that site which will be used by all students whether they live in other parts of San Pedro or in some other surrounding community.

The mitigation proposed by the current developers of Ponte Vista have offered what many believe is too few items of traffic mitigation.

There is one (1) bus line, (#205) that would serve residents of Ponte Vista and there are no plans, whatsoever, to create any new access from the Ponte Vista site to either Gaffey or Westmong.

Infrastructure issues within the San Pedro community are also a concern of many, when considering whether so many units should be built at Ponte Vista. While it is obvious that '830'- units is far fewer than both '2,300' and even '1,950'  there are many who consider even 830 to be far too many.

I don't necessarily disagree with those who continue to demand "R-1" which, for reminders sake is 'a single-family detached dwelling on a lot of not less than 5,000 square feet'.

During 'The Bob Years' a total "R-1" illustration and study within the EIR was conducted. That portion of the Report showed '429' single-family houses and the illustrations and tract maps showed a very crowded and congested community.

Also, during 'The Bob Years' the L.A. Mayor during those years, along with other community leaders stated that L.A. was no longer a place where new construction of R-1 housing should be done, Angelinos needed to provide more housing for others because of some type of responsibility they opined L.A. residents had and no projects except for the massive R-1 housing approved for years earlier and being built on the bluff overlooking Playa Vista, were approved.

The current plan calls for '830'-units, but could more actually be constructed? The short answer is, YES! A 'density bonus' would be allowed if the project managers conclude they would build at least a certain number of units considered to be 'affordable housing'. There have been lots of projects built in Los Angeles that qualify for an up to 35% increase in the total number of units actually approved for.

If the developer of Ponte Vista, while they currently deny wanting a density bonus, ends up creating the project such that they get the maximum number of density bonus units built, the '830' could actually swell up to as many as '1,121' total units. (120.5) After dealing with the Ponte Vista Project during "The Bob Years" might some or all of us question the people in charge of any development?

The last tract of true R-1 housing in San Pedro was built in about 1975.

Other considerations I hope folks think about includes:

Has all the newly built condominium and apartment complexes built in San Pedro become occupied?

What is the vacancy rate for units near the Ponte Vista site?

Should residents living closer to the Ponte Vista site incur all the negative impacts of an 830-unit development?

It is any resident's responsibility to adjust their lifestyle because of some sort of civic duty to increase the local population?

If the number of units being sought would get the financial institution involved in the project to at least break even, is it the communities responsibility to basically 'bail out' that company by supporting so many dwelling units at Ponte Vista?

Is there another total number of dwelling units you feel could successfully be built at Ponte Vista, fewer than 830?

One of the things I have found interesting about the debate are those who support the current number of units and even those who supported a far greater number of units because of some generational issues, in the community. There is at least one 'third generation' San Pedran who supports the current plan. During "The Bob Years" there was an individual who traces his San Pedro roots back 5 generations. Could anyone explain why that matters in this current discussion?

There are also many in the community that will want folks to consider escape routes, terrorists attacks in the harbor area and the twin tanks whose rupture and explosion would simply wipe out the entire eastern side of The Hill and take Ponte Vista and surrounding neighborhoods with it. All of these considerations should be considered with the current Ponte Vista project, in my opinion.

If an evacuation order is given South of Palos Verdes Drive North and you are not out of the area within the first 15-30 minutes, you will be trapped, no matter which escape route you try to take. That is true unless you are an Olympic caliber swimmer.

In conclusion, I did opine that up to '831' dwelling units could be built at Ponte Vista. I remain maintained that there should not be even 830 units.

I don't think the current L.A. City Council member for the 15th District will fight as hard as former Councilwoman Janice Hahn did, in opposing Ponte Vista's number of units.

You are not responsible for the trouble iStar Financial got into and you are not responsible for getting them out of trouble or bailing them out by supporting or approving 830-units.

Now I live around so many trails, close to the Temecula Vally wine country and its open spaces and then reading about the lack of parks and open spaces in the San Pedro area recently, I think I have a better number of dwelling units to suggest.

How about up to 285 dwelling units, with the remainder of the site becoming park lands and open spaces?

Thank you for reading.

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