Neighborhood Councils Get Sophisticated

San Pedro, CA is the scene of a battle between developers and locals, and local neighborhood councils are using increasingly sophisticated organizing tools to bring residents to the table.

"The boarded-up duplexes line a stretch of Western Avenue in San Pedro -- decaying relics of an era when the Navy needed housing for its Long Beach shipyard workers. A decade after the yard closed, the property is now home only to a handful of goats brought in to keep down the weeds.

The inactivity masks a heated battle over the massive Ponte Vista development planned for the site, one that proponents say would bring much-needed housing and jobs to the area but also, critics maintain, an unacceptable level of traffic congestion and a drain on services.

In 2005, developer Bob Bisno bought the property, which offers views of the Vincent Thomas Bridge, and proposed squeezing 2,300 condos onto its 61.5 acres.

In proposing what officials say would have been San Pedro's largest residential development ever, Bisno unwittingly galvanized potent opposition from within the community's increasingly sophisticated neighborhood councils."

Full Story: San Pedro residents organize to oppose Ponte Vista development



This is sad

This is a very sad situation, because the development process has been hijacked by a very vocal group of people who are apparently not willing to listen to reasonable arguments. A dense, mixed-use, mixed-income development is a great opportunity to have a neighbourhood that is not car-dependent. And with this essentially being an infill development, it's very construction will discourage sprawl on the outskirts of the area.

But neighbourhood groups such as this often can't see past even the thought of increased traffic. To that end, they hired a traffic consultant (not a transportation consultant - they are very different) who will of course find that traffic will increase substantially. As a transportation engineer, I know intimately that that is exactly what traffic engineers do because they approach their analysis of site development and travel patterns from the perspective that nearly everyone will drive - end of story. Nuanced, context-sensitive analysis of ways of reducing auto-dependence simply don't play into the picture because, from the outset, the analysis is centered around traffic, rather than multimodal transportation.

The residents should be pushing for approval based on the developer working with the area government to develop a comprehensive, multimodal transportation plan, alongside some commercial development to reduce the need to travel.

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