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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

Kip Pardue Meets with Councilman Mike Bonin About Building on Venice Blvd Median

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Councilman Mike Bonin announced earlier this year as part of his “End Homelessness in Venice” plan to build on the parking lot between North and South Venice Blvd between Pacific and Dell Avenues. Kevin “Kip” Pardue lives in close proximity and wanted to share his concerns and thoughts with the Councilman. Here is Pardue’s story of meeting with the Councilman. (And don’t miss Heidi Roberts’ story on our social services which all tie in together.http://veniceupdate.com/2016/05/19/roberts-tell-about-the-venice-social-services-system-and-why-it-wont-end-homelessness/ )

Last night I met with Mike Bonin for just over 2 hours. It was just the two of us – I really wanted to hear him out and try to understand what it is he trying to accomplish. I won’t bury my lead here: I slept VERY little last night.

Bonin is DEAD SET on building “housing for the homeless” in the Venice Blvd lot. He will not budge on the line that “housing needs to be built everywhere in LA, including Venice and throughout the Coastal Zone.” In his mind, this presents absolutely zero conflict in the neighborhood – he sees it as the best possible use of the land and resources. Bonin truly feels that because there are a few buildings of housing in and around Venice that people don’t know about or complain about that this one will be exactly the same – it will have little or no impact on our neighborhood, no one will know it’s there, and it actually will help people off the street. While he somewhat admitted that the bathrooms being open 24 hours and mobile showers might be a magnet for homeless, he in no way saw free housing as a magnet. The parallel to what he is proposing and St. Joseph’s Center was also lost on him. He feels this type of project will simply be another apartment building that happens to have homeless people in it. End of story.

The process seems to be this: In the coming weeks/months, two things will happen. The first is the acceptance of bids from ONLY homeless service providers. “VCH (Bonin’s long-time friends/Steve Clare) might come with a proposal of 90-units over the existing parking, Hollywood (another homeless service provider) might come with 60-units, some green space, and a coffee shop on Pacific,” etc. I would imagine that there would be some review of these renderings (not sure if that would be public at this point or not, probably not – there WILL BE public comments but I think those come further down the road when the options have been whittled down a bit). Another part of each service provider’s bid will be what type of person they house. It “could be families, battered women with children, the recently homeless.” He seemed to think that the meth-head on my front lawn “probably wouldn’t get past the screening process to get in to this type of housing,” to which I pointed out that he will still be in my front yard. He shrugged. I asked Bonin if he would accept bids from private developers at this stage…his firm answer was NO. I will get into this further in a moment.

The second thing that will happen shortly is a feasibility study. This is conducted by the CAO (City Accountability Officer). This person (not sure who he/she is, if anyone knows, please pass that along) will “run the numbers” on the 13 lots chosen by the city as potential sites for housing. Bonin repeatedly said that EVERY lot needs to be considered but the “master” list has only two lots in all of CD11, both in Venice (the Venice Blvd lot and the Thatcher Yard lot). I requested to meet the CAO and make sure that the feasibility study goes beyond simply numbers (though I can’t see how the city can turn down money – again, more on that in a moment) and takes into account the number of families bordering the lot, the 360 degree views of the parking lot by residences, and of course the existing meth/homeless problem we already deal with on a daily basis.

Bonin, with a straight face and zero apology, will tell you that homelessness is everywhere and Venice is not unique. He said homelessness is “up 60% in the Palisades,” to which I said percentages don’t mean shit, they went from 10 to 16 people, that’s 60%. If we grow 50%, we gain 500 people. He said the homeless in the Palisades could light fires in the forests and burn down houses and I said Venice kids encounter the criminal homeless, needles, etc. at their schools every single day. He simply nodded and admitted it’s bad, sure, but not worse than everywhere else. I reiterated that only in Venice do we see it DAILY ON OUR FRONT PORCHES. We are the only place in LA that has residents who deal with homeless encampments on their yards.

He simply doesn’t care. I offered him a personal housing swap for a month, my house on Venice Blvd. for his house in Mar Vista – he has a young son as well – he didn’t bite. I told him he would change his feelings over that month. He just smiled and dismissed it as a joke (it kind of was but the sentiment was there).

I asked several times in crystal-clear language: Would $30 million from a developer change your mind? Would you be swayed by a developer coming in and giving the city that money, building a project that was completely within the VSP (height, density, 20% affordable) with commercial and parking (think Trader Joe’s and some Grand Central Market-like area with housing above and parking below ground – ALL VERY POSSIBLE and able to be built much quicker than anything from the city)…He said NO. His reason? There “is no other city-owned property in Venice that will suffice.” Per a new law, all surplus ($$$) from the sale of city owned property MUST be used for housing for the homeless. Wouldn’t $30 million help that? “Not necessarily. The land is often times more valuable than the money.” What about buying another property in a less residential zone and using the extra money to build the project itself? What about the lots by Bonin’s office in WLA? “Something is being done there already that includes housing and it’s also NOT IN VENICE.” Why does it have to be in Venice? It has to be EVERYWHERE, he says. According to him, Brentwood is exempt because of the VA – a huge swath of land completely isolated from residents. The Palisades will get some “down the road.” He said he was willing to lose an election over this. I told him he will lose for sure if he keeps pushing this. Again, he shrugged.

We discussed the MTA lot near Gold’s as well. Because that is owned by MTA (obviously still the City but…different??), specific rules apply. IF MTA sold that lot, the money must be used towards transportation in some way – a new bus depot, a rail line, etc, and not towards housing. If MTA keeps the land and leases it, which is the current plan, it MUST have 35% affordable housing. His plan there is to take proposals from developers that would include parking, commercial, and residential (with the 35% affordable – in this case probably “work-force” housing for teachers, artists, firefighters, etc). I said that would be wonderful in the Venice lot as well! He was not interested.

There are some very small good bits…I stress the small…

The feasibility study could be a saving grace. No one, including Bonin, has done ANY work on this thing. He is simply shouting words from a podium and destroying our neighborhood with his “plan.” (That was an actual quote from me btw.) When the LA Times wrote an op ed for this “plan,” they were backing up an idea with zero specifics. No set number of units (he admitted he made up the 90 number), no specific location on the property, no EIR, not even what exactly the type of housing will be (he swore he has never said “permanent supportive housing” will be built there – so it could be number of models but all under the “housing for the homeless” banner). We have to help the city understand just how unfeasible this is for most of us. We should have that opportunity during the feasibility study. We will certainly have that opportunity when the public comments portion comes to light (it could be years but it WILL happen). Bonin encouraged EVERYONE to be involved in that process. I told him we would, with pitchforks and torches.

The BID (business improvement district) seems to be moving forward for 2017. I will believe it when I see it, but Bonin assured me it was in the budget. One hurdle had just been cleared – the MTA lot will contribute to the fund, meaning that all that is left is the final approval from the businesses. If they all vote in favor, it will move forward. This will (hopefully) provide private security, graffiti removal, trash pick up, landscaping for most of the boardwalk and further east along Rose Ave and Venice Blvd (along with other locations, but not AK).

The bottom line is this: Bonin WANTS Venice to be the forever home of the homeless. He does not see it that way or name it, but that is the reality. He doesn’t think that this type of project would seal the fate of Venice. We all know differently.

I started this chain to connect Venice residents for just such a reason…There are better, more sensible ways to help people off the streets. Bonin wants NONE of those. I have to reiterate, I sat with Bonin for 2 hours and he didn’t budge, even a little bit. He was uninterested in hearing the neighborhood perspective or taking any steps to work with us. He never once acknowledged the residents of Venice. So that leaves it up to us to force him to take us into account. We must come together to stop Bonin and the City from the constant neglect we are now subjected to.

Those wishing to be kept informed, contact Kip Pardue at venicealliance@gmail.com

Comments (11)

  1. VeniceMom

    You are so transparent and provide a typical response, Graham. You can do better than that. I didn’t say there are no homeless in Mar Vista. (Surprised you didn’t call me a racist as LivingFreeInVenice did. LOL) I simply said that Bonin can go home at night and not worry about someone breaking into his house (unlike if he lived in Venice). YOU don’t know what the hell you’re talking about, Graham. You can’t even address the fact that hundreds of families who have made Venice their home and work hard for a living to provide a safe environment for their children don’t want to live amongst the mentally ill or drug addicts.

  2. VeniceMom

    You are so transparent and provide a typical response, Graham. You can do better than that. I didn’t say there are no homeless in Mar Vista. (Surprised you didn’t call me a racist as LivingFreeInVenice did. LOL) I simply said that Bonin can go home at night and not worry about someone breaking into his house (unlike if he lived in Venice). YOU don’t know what the hell you’re talking about, Graham. You can’t even address the fact that hundreds of families who have made Venice their home and work hard for a living to provide a safe environment for their children don’t want to live amongst the mentally ill or drug addicts. Obviously, it’s because you have your own agenda which doesn’t include raising families in Venice.

  3. Angela McGregor

    Thank you for writing this. Bonin is a liar, not just in his ridiculous equating of the Palisades 16 homeless with the 1000+, disproportionately male, mentally ill/addicted adults who pose a threat to the health and well-being of our community.

    Another lie: Several months ago, Mr. Bonin’s representative came to visit the Oxford Triangle and told the residents there that any future plans for the Thatcher Maintenance Yard would absolutely follow the Oxford Specific Plan. The project he apparently actually has planned (supportive homeless housing, high-density)would run completely counter to the OSP.

  4. Graham

    So I take it Kip that you think Mike Bonin is lying when he tells you with “a straight face and zero apology that homelessness is everywhere and Venice is not unique” ? As of last count there were over 28,000 homeless people in Los Angeles. Venice has about a thousand of them. You’re entitled to your own opinion Kip but you’re not entitled to your own facts. And the fact is Mike Bonin is absolutely correct when he tells you that Venice’s homeless problem isn’t “unique.” No wonder you got nowhere with him after 2 hours. It’s pretty much impossible to find any common ground with somebody like you whose entire agenda is based on the big lie that a situation that is affecting all of Los Angeles is actually only happening in your neighborhood.

    • VeniceMom

      Hi Graham. Kip is absolutely correct and his facts are correct. I have friends that live up and down the coast and no one is affected half as much as the Venice residents. I have been a Venice resident for 20 years and raising a daughter and it’s pretty pathetic when she is afraid to walk with her friends in her own neighborhood because she is being harassed by mentally ill, drug addicted homeless people. You have absolutely no respect for hardworking, Venice families who want to provide a safe community for their children. The one who is perpetrating the big lie is you. Mike Bonin won’t even hold a public meeting to address the concerns of the Venice families. Very nice that he can go home at night in Mar Vista and not worry about someone breaking into his home. Why don’t you have any compassion for hardworking folks with children? Thanks for detailing your experience, Kip.

      • Graham

        So you think Mar Vista doesn’t have any homeless people ? No disrespect meant lady but you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about

        • VeniceMom

          I’m surprised that a “forward thinking” person such as you profess to be, Graham, would call me “lady”. Not cool, Graham.

    • VeniceMom

      Mike Bonin is a politician. He won’t meet with the community and address their concerns. Why not, Graham?

      • Graham

        Actually what you wrote is ” Very nice that he can go home at night in Mar Vista and not worry about someone breaking into his home” which is a ridiculous statement due to the fact that there is no part of the City of Los Angeles where you don’t have to worry about something like that. And there is no part of the City of Los Angeles that doesn’t have homeless people either. It’s not just Venice. They are everywhere due to the fact that there is nowhere in Los Angeles anymore that has reasonable rents unless you have lived somewhere for the past 20 years or more. Current market rate these days is over 1,000 a month. And that’s just for a single apartment.

      • Graham

        He just held a big town hall meeting here in Venice a couple of months ago so this is just another ridiculous statement.

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