Illustration shows that within three square miles Venice will have three major projects–Westminster Senior Center Storage, Venice Median, and Thatcher Yard. In addition Venice will have the MTA lot. Venice already has more homeless than any other city in Los Angeles.
Note: Wrede responds to all the Venetian NIMBYism proclaimed by the LA Times. No one from the Times seems to want the Venetian side of the story.
By Chris Wrede
In recent months, the Los Angeles Times has lauded the Los Angeles City
Council, and especially Councilmember Mike Bonin, for plans to build
taxpayer-funded apartment buildings for the homeless on city land.
According to a recent memorandum from Los Angeles’s Chief Administrative Officer, members of the City Council have so far identified eight lots — measuring more than half-a-million square feet – for this purpose.
All in Venice
Four of the lots are in Bonin’s district, and two of those –
representing 40% of the total square footage that has been designated
for homeless housing citywide – sit just a mile from one another in
residential sections of Venice. Bonin has also tagged small lots for
development in Westchester and West Los Angeles, but 80% of the Westside land he plans to use for homeless housing is in Venice, with no construction at all planned for other parts of his district, like the Pacific Palisades, Brentwood, Mar Vista and Playa Vista.
Venice is also the only neighborhood in all of Los Angeles in which more than one non-contiguous lot has been selected for development, and to date, 10 of the 15 members of the City Council have not made any lots available in their respective districts for homeless housing. Indeed, Bonin has volunteered as much land – almost entirely at Venice’s expense – as the other 14 members of the City Council combined.
Some accuse Venice residents who oppose Bonin’s plan for Venice of
“NIMBY-ism.” That is false and unfair. Venice has a long tradition of
embracing people from all walks of life, including the homeless and
others in need, but Bonin’s plan would place disproportionate and
crippling burdens on our community.
Getting the full measure of Bonin’s plan for Venice is not easy. Bonin
has held just two public meetings on the topic and did not provide
meaningful details at either of them. And Steve Lopez incorrectly
suggested in an October 22, 2016 article on the Los Angeles Times
website that Bonin’s plan consists merely of a single housing project
and a single storage facility.
Penmar Park Storage
In truth, Bonin is pushing the two homeless housing projects referenced
above, as well an affordable housing development (which enjoys broad
support among Venetians), one or two storage facilities (one rumored for the popular Penmar golf course and the other currently under
construction at Westminster Park), special lots for overnight parking
and toilet access, mobile shower services, and 24/7 access to toilets
and showers for the massive beach encampment that now extends from
Windward Avenue, at the southern edge of the Boardwalk, up to Santa
Westminster Park Storage
Bonin’s plan for a storage center at Westminster Park triggered outrage
among many parents – and a lawsuit by neighborhood organization Venice
Kids Count – because Westminster Park is directly across the street from an elementary school and is limited, per a standing court order, to “recreational” use.
No Restrictions on Tenants
The housing projects Bonin wants to erect in Venice would have no
restrictions as to the use of drugs or alcohol, and no funding has yet
been secured for services of any kind, which would have to be provided
(if at all) by the County.
Del Rey Project
A housing project in Del Rey that Bonin touts as a success cost $500,000 per unit to build. Under the City Council’s housing scheme, as championed by Bonin, taxpayers give private developers land and capital at the front end, and the same developers collect market-rate rents on the back end – also paid by taxpayers, through bonds, taxes and entitlement programs.
Note: Becky Dennison, director of Venice Community Housing, says land acquisition and structure, which is totally handicapped provided, was 7.38 million, which equates to 351,428 per unit for the 21 units, 20 tenants and one resident.
Venice measures less than three square miles and already provides more
beds and services for the homeless – and more affordable housing – per
capita than any place in Los Angeles outside of Skid Row. If Bonin gets
his way, Venice as a whole will be transformed into a de facto dormitory for the homeless, with permanent homeless facilities in every corner of our community.
Finally, even Bonin does not pretend that his plan, which has no
meaningful provisions as to security or law enforcement, will reduce the encampments that already litter the beach, Rose Avenue, the streets
surrounding Gold’s Gym, and so many other parts of Venice. In a recent
study by UC Santa Cruz, 75% of the homeless population in Santa Cruz
said they believe homeless are drawn to Santa Cruz by a combination of
the climate and services. Expanding services in Venice on the scale
Bonin proposes without any measures addressing inevitable migration to
Venice from other homeless hubs will only make a bad situation worse.
Venice is proud of its inclusive heritage, and we want to do our part to address the Citywide homeless epidemic. We are not wrong, however, to demand better – much better – from our elected representative to the City Council. Bonin should table his plan for Venice until he and the other members of the City Council can come up with a comprehensive, evenhanded strategy that respects the rights of Venice’s families, fairly distributes the impact of homelessness across the City as a whole, and ensures that the taxpayers’ investment will truly work to reduce homelessness in all parts of Los Angeles.”