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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

CD11 Candidates Answer Questions Posed by Venetians for Venice Update Q&A

Last week the Venice Update submitted four questions to the incumbent and the two candidates for the CD11 Council Seat. These questions were composed by a small group of Venetians. The questions have been answered and are printed below.

The Update plans to continue to submit some of these questions each week to the candidates and answers will be printed the following week. The purpose is so that you, the reader, will be better versed on where your candidates stand on the issues that concern you. Each was asked the same questions.

If you have a question, you would like answered, email question to VeniceUpdate@gmail.com.

 

Incumbent Mike Bonin

1. Measure S, which is on the ballot this March, briefly would put all new building projects requiring spot re-zoning on a two-year hold. Are you for or against this measure and why? Have you received any campaign contributions from developers who would be affected by Measure S?

I think Measure S does a very good job diagnosing the problem of a broken planning system, but does a less than satisfactory job of treating the problem.

I support parts of Measure S – requiring the City to update and adhere to its community plans, and preventing developers from picking the consultants who perform environmental analysis, but I do not support the moratorium the Measure calls for. In the middle of an affordable housing crisis, it would impede our ability to build housing. Just as the county, the city, and voters (who approved Proposition HHH by enormous margins) are investing in solutions, it would halt progress on many of the city’s homeless initiatives. The moratorium would mean encampments on our streets will continue, providing no relief for our neighborhoods or for people who are homeless.

I am also gravely concerned that Measure S would have terrible unintended consequences, especially for Venice. By curbing zone changes, Measure S will drive developer investments into the types of “by right” projects Venetians take issue with most and the city has no discretion over – small lot subdivisions, the tear-down of smaller bungalows, and projects using the state “density bonus” law.

Accordingly, I will vote against Measure S and continue my aggressive campaign for development reform and campaign finance reform. In my first term, I have:

  • Co-authored legislation to require the city to regularly update community plans – and stick with them, ending “spot zoning” and a culture of speculation.
  • Co-authored legislation to take preparation of environmental documents out of the hands of developers and into the hands of city-approved, unbiased experts.
  • Led the fight to create an enforcement unit in the Planning Department, so neighborhood protections and requirements for open space and affordable housing can be enforced.
  • Proposed a online “Development Conditions Database” so neighbors can more easily hold developers accountable for the promises they make to communities
  • Initiated strengthening the Mello Act, which protects and preserves affordable housing in the coastal zone.
  • Successfully persuaded the state to reform its frequently abused “density bonus” rules, which were reducing affordable housing and harming neighborhoods.
  • Supported new rules to increase fees on developers to fund more parks and open space.
  • Proposed and am fighting for “Clean Money” campaign finance reform, which will take developer and special interest money out of politics.
  • My development and campaign finance reform agenda is in contrast to one of my opponents, a former lobbyist who worked for Donald Trump, fighting to build the tallest building in Los Angeles, lobbied for a landfill expansion against neighborhood wishes, and publicly condemned efforts by neighborhoods and elected officials to downsize development projects.

2. The federal government has announced that it will no longer provide “sanctuary cities” (of which Los Angeles is one) with Federal dollars. Given LA’s reliance on this money along with the HUD money for homeless services, can Los Angeles continue to maintain its current polities on immigration and still address the LA growing homeless crisis? If, for budgetary reasons, you must decide on upholding our immigration policy and cutting services to the homeless, how would you respond?

I believe the City of Los Angeles and the State of California must stand up forcefully to Donald Trump, opposing his administration’s efforts to tear families and our neighborhoods apart. I was glad to join hundreds of Venetians at demonstrations at LAX last month, and was honored to speak before so many constituents at the Women’s March on January 21.

I have and will continue to support Mayor Garcetti and Chief Beck’s orders to allow the LAPD to focus on keeping people safe instead of enforcing immigration laws.

The City is on very sound legal ground in opposing the administration’s immigration policies, and we feel very confident that the law and courts will not support efforts by the Trump administration to withhold or threaten funds for housing, homelessness or other purposes because of the City’s stance on immigration. We are not going to fall for the Trumpian tactics of those in Washington (or in this political race) who are trying to create a false choice between ending homelessness and standing up for our immigrant neighbors. We need to stand together – not seek ways to drive wedges between one another.

3. Would you introduce an ordinance giving verified members of the Venice homeless community priority as to permanent supportive housing units in Venice, and second priority to CD11 cities?

I am fully supportive of making sure that programs and projects in Venice prioritize housing and serving people who are homeless in Venice and became homeless in Venice.

Additionally, I am fully supportive of a wide-range housing and services being provided throughout the City and County of Los Angeles, with specific resources and housing targeted for homeless families, homeless women, homeless seniors, homeless veterans, homeless youth, the recently unemployed or evicted, survivors of domestic violence, and people suffering from mental illness or addiction. We require a wide range of services throughout the entire region to address the crisis of homelessness, permanently house people, and prevent people from living on our streets and sidewalks.

This is why I played a key role in shaping the city and county Comprehensive Homelessness Strategies, why I campaigned so hard for Proposition HHH, why I worked with Supervisor Sheila Kuehl to bring more health and mental health resources to Venice, why I am providing funds the Regina and Steve Weller and the Homeless Task Force, and why I am pushing hard for the city to use a quicker and nimbler strategy – shared housing – as a solution to homelessness.

4. Do you believe the existing Venice homeless encampments, such as the encampments on 3rd Avenue, on Ocean Front Walk, and at Penmar, should be eliminated or permitted to remain in some form? What role, if any, do you see for law enforcement in managing or eliminating such encampments?

My goal and fervent desire is for there to be no encampments anywhere in Venice, in District 11, or in Los Angeles. I do not want anyone to be homeless, or to be living on a sidewalk in front of our homes, our businesses or our children’s schools.

Venice has suffered for too long from the advocacy by one of my opponents for an approach that the federal government and the courts have slammed, repeatedly. A decade ago, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals called the city policies one of my opponents has advocated for us to use “cruel and unusual punishment” and said we cannot prevent encampments until we provide sufficient housing and shelter. The courts have repeatedly made clear that the City cannot enforce its way out of homelessness; it needs to house its way out of homelessness. That is why I supported and helped craft the county and City’s Comprehensive Homeless Strategy, why I fought successfully for $130 million for homeless programs citywide, including Rapid Rehousing Vouchers. It is why I was proud to open three buildings in Del Rey that house people who were homeless, why I campaigned hard for the successful effort to convince the federal government to build nearly 2,000 units of homeless housing in Brentwood, and why I have proposed homeless housing in Venice and West LA.

The role of law enforcement is to prevent crime and protect public safety. LAPD can and should: enforce laws to keep sidewalks passable and accessible; cite or arrest people for disturbing the peace, harassing people, dealing illegal drugs, or trespassing. LAPD should aggressively pursue and arrest perpetrators of both property crime and violent crime. And LAPD should enforce those laws equally and in a non-discriminatory manner, regardless of neighborhood, and regardless of the age, race, gender, social status or housing status of the perpetrators.

Our biggest obstacle to proper enforcement by LAPD of crime and quality of life issues is the LAPD brass does not deploy enough officers for neighborhood patrols. That is my colleague Joe Buscaino, a former senior lead officer, and I have proposed a comprehensive plan to redeploy officers into our neighborhoods.

 

Candidate Robin Rudisill

1. Measure S, which is on the ballot this March, briefly would put all new building projects requiring spot re-zoning on a two-year hold. Are you for or against this measure and why? Have you received any campaign contributions from developers who would be affected by Measure S?

I’m 100% FOR Measure S. We need to restore integrity to our land use planning. The City of L.A. has proven it’s incapable of updating its General Plan and Community Plans, but it uses their age as an excuse to give developers what they want, no matter what it does to communities. I agree that Measure S is the only clear way to break this corrupt system of mutual back-scratching that’s destroying our neighborhoods and hobbling our City’s ability to plan effectively for the future.

I have not taken contributions from developers who would be affected by Measure S, although I would not rule that out. This is not about demonizing developers.

Mike Bonin has filled his campaign chest with contributions from developers, as well as from their lawyers, lobbyists, architects, contractors, PR flacks, construction unions, and on and on and on. His campaign Co-Chair in the last election was one of L.A.’s biggest, “insider” developers. Mark Ryavec has worked for developers including Donald Trump and BFI, a waste disposal company.

If the point of your question is whether or not the candidates’ integrity can be trusted, each of our records speak for themselves. I have an unblemished record in a decades-long career with responsibility for billions of dollars of assets, and my activism in the community has never been done for money.

2. The federal government has announced that it will no longer provide “sanctuary cities” (of which Los Angeles is one) with Federal dollars. Given LA’s reliance on this money along with the HUD money for homeless services, can Los Angeles continue to maintain its current polities on immigration and still address the LA growing homeless crisis? If, for budgetary reasons, you must decide on upholding our immigration policy and cutting services to the homeless, how would you respond?

First of all, the main issue here is: do we really want to join Trump in his anti-immigrant campaign? I don’t. But the way the question is posed is like asking if we’d rather be drawn and quartered, or burnt at the stake. The answer is NO and NO.

We have a problem with homelessness that’s not going away on its own, whether or not we get Federal funds, the money we’ve already agreed to via Prop. HHH tax assessments should go a very long ways towards housing the homeless.

If we don’t stand up to Trump now, what’s his next threat going to be? The Governor was very smart to hire recent Attorney General Eric Holder to guide the state through the minefield of Trump’s threats. No matter what our personal positions are on immigration, and there are legitimate issues on all sides, this will work out best if we should follow the governor’s lead on this.

BTW, the reason big city police chiefs are so opposed to taking part in rounding up immigrants is that this makes it extremely difficult for them to enforce other laws, since it makes them “the enemy” to entire communities. If we want effective policing, we shouldn’t do something that would hobble the police.

3. Would you introduce an ordinance giving verified members of the Venice homeless community priority as to permanent supportive housing units in Venice, and second priority to CD11 cities?

I certainly favor giving preference to Venetians for supportive housing in Venice. I don’t generally believe people should be removed from their communities, where they may have friends, relatives, and established relationships with service providers. Those things generally contribute to a better outcome for the person and savings to the taxpayer.

However, we shouldn’t paint ourselves into a corner. There are many considerations that might affect such a decision. For instance, the County’s “First Fifty” program focused exclusively on the most severe, chronically homeless cases, who created the greatest strain on emergency services and so forth, and therefore cost the most to leave on the street. Getting them into housing first frees up more money to help others.

There are a lot of variables, because there are many different kinds of homelessness, from women and children escaping domestic abuse to people with serious mental illness to people driven from their homes by medical bills. And there are some people just drifting through, or dealing drugs to others who are addicts. With so many moving parts involved, it doesn’t make sense for a political officeholder to try to impose an inflexible dictate on agencies and service providers, who are the ones closer to the ground. There may also be restrictions on funds for treatment, or State and Federal mandates that need to be addressed.

4. Do you believe the existing Venice homeless encampments, such as the encampments on 3rd Avenue, on Ocean Front Walk, and at Penmar, should be eliminated or permitted to remain in some form? What role, if any, do you see for law enforcement in managing or eliminating such encampments?

Law enforcement officers in Venice spend a large percentage of their time dealing with problems associated with homelessness and encampments. Homelessness should be eliminated, and the encampments along with it.

If we wait for Councilman Bonin’s approach, that could take years, especially since he’s turning a blind eye to activities that make more people homeless, like landlords converting apartments into office space for tech companies or kicking elderly tenants out of rent-stabilized apartments to create short term rental “fauxtels.”

On the other hand, the kinds of actions Mark Ryavec has demanded are part of what got us into this fix with encampments in the first place. Entrenched encampments bring other problems, from drug use to trash and blight to health and sanitation issues. However, criminalizing the homeless and pushing them from neighborhood to neighborhood has brought the courts down on the City with a vengeance and warnings from Federal agencies. We can’t even do the kind of normal policing Santa Monica and other cities do until we live up to court settlements, and that means getting the homeless housed. More than that, it simply means giving care to those who need it. We can do that and get our streets back. It doesn’t have to take forever.

 

Candidate Mark Ryavec

1. Measure S, which is on the ballot this March, briefly would put all new building projects requiring spot re-zoning on a two-year hold. Are you for or against this measure and why? Have you received any campaign contributions from developers who would be affected by Measure S?

I endorsed Measure S many months ago. The residents of the City of Los Angeles desparately need to stop the corrupt, pay-to play-development process, take a time out, and set new rules for development. The “sky is falling” propaganda spewed by the opposition to S is ludicrous. Less then 5% of building in Los Angeles results from general plan amendments and zone changes; most development is “by right.” A property owner designs within the limits of the zoning, takes the plans into Building and Safety, gets a permit and starts building. I believe that much of the capital that is now intended for projects that hope to secure general plan amendments or zone changes (the 5%) will shift to “by right” development. Most affordable housing in this city is also “by right,” so that will also continue. S will also transfer the supervision of preparation of Environmental Impact Reports from developers to independent consultants under the supervision of city experts. This will produce independent analyses of the impact of development and the measures that are necessary to mitigate the impact. Finally, S will force the city to finally up-date its 35 community plans, which in many instances are over 20 years old, with widespread resident involvement to set new planning rules for neighborhoods based on current conditions, such as traffic capacity.

2. The federal government has announced that it will no longer provide “sanctuary cities” (of which Los Angeles is one) with Federal dollars. Given LA’s reliance on this money along with the HUD money for homeless services, can Los Angeles continue to maintain its current polities on immigration and still address the LA growing homeless crisis? If, for budgetary reasons, you must decide on upholding our immigration policy and cutting services to the homeless, how would you respond?

I come down on the side of supporting LAPD’s Special Order 40, which focuses policing on enforcement of state and city laws and curtails LAPD involvement in questioning of immigration status or enforcing immigration law. This policy has long encouraged reporting of crime and assistance of witnesses in catching criminals. If necessary I would support legal action by the City to secure any funds which the federal government denies to Los Angeles for following Special Order 40.

3. Would you introduce an ordinance giving verified members of the Venice homeless community priority as to permanent supportive housing units in Venice, and second priority to CD11 cities?

I doubt that this would be legal, but I am willing to take a look at it. I think we would have to establish at some point what defines a ” verified member of the Venice homeless community” considering that few of those on the streets in Venice come from Venice initially.

4. Do you believe the existing Venice homeless encampments, such as the encampments on 3rd Avenue, on Ocean Front Walk, and at Penmar, should be eliminated or permitted to remain in some form? What role, if any, do you see for law enforcement in managing or eliminating such encampments?

Encampments near residences should be slowly and compassionately removed, with individuals going to housing, rehab, or safe family members (and the young “travelers” going back to Seattle, Portland or wherever they came from). This will involve law enforcement working with mental health and social service agency personnel in teams. Here’s my plan to implement rapid re-housing for the homeless and enforce protections for residents:

  • Add City funds to the “Housing for Health” program to provide rent vouchers to the most medically challenged to get them off the street immediately.
  • Use Prop. HHH funds to remodel old motels and small apartment buildings on inexpensive inland sites into 300 foot units with shared bathrooms to more quickly create a supply of housing.
  • Give more funds to the Homeless Task Force (Wellers) and the Teen Project to fund more counselors, rehab, shared housing and bus fares home.
  • Make firm offers of housing to homeless campers and enforce “no sleeping on a sidewalk” near residences.
  • Establish a 300-foot buffer between residences and places where homeless possessions can be left.
  • Enforce 3-foot passage way on all sidewalks 24/7; it’s required by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Limit possessions left on sidewalks to the legal limit: only what can fit in a 60 gallon bin.

I will also block plans for dense housing on the Thatcher Yard and the Venice Blvd. Median, and stop the conversion of the Westminster Senior Center to use as storage. It’s too near the elementary school and residences. If storage is indeed legally required, I would embrace and fund the VNC’s mobile storage proposal, with stuff being transported to remote storage facilities and brought back by text or telephone request.

I will re-zone Thatcher Yard to R1, sell the land, and put the proceeds into the City’s Housing Trust Fund to build three times as much affordable housing on less expensive inland sites.

I would open the discussion of the Venice Blvd. Median lots to residents and the Venice Neighborhood Council. The lots could stay as is or be reconfigured for subterranean automatic parking, low income artists studios, some market rate and work force housing, open space, maybe some ground floor community-serving retail along Pacific. The point is that I will not shove any proposal down the throats of residents. We would open the discussion up and hold a series of design charettes to come up with a plan the community is comfortable with. Conceivably a long term ground lease of the parking lots to a developer or development team would produce $30 to $50 million cash flow over a number of years, which would go into the City’s Housing Trust Fund to build affordable housing on less expensive land inland.

The Westminster Center might be redeployed as a Venice Historic Museum and Interpretive Center, a Rec. and Parks Ranger station, or both, with full involvement of the nearby residents and the VNC in the planning and decision-making.

Comments (16)

  1. Anonymous

    Mr Z posted: “Bonin relized early on who butters his bread.” Like big developers and the social service providers. Certainly not residents. Does anyone here know that there was a major hit piece published on a well known Brentwood newsgroup dissing Ryavec (who was virtually unknown in Brentwood up until then) by activist Santa Monica lawyer Carol Sobel. The same person who has been suing LA to not support the laws in Venice?

    • Billy Zanatakos

      Anonymous, that is mathematically impossible that Bonin is only supported by developers and social service provides. He will win by a landslide by the resident vote. You must be smoking crack if you think different.

  2. Heather Kahler

    Mark Ryavec’s plan and comments appear last. Free both of the other candidates accusations which do not concur with his plans. People will read Bonin and robin and tire of the length and never even get to Rayveck’s statements. There is absolutely nothing inhumane or uncompassionate in his proposals. They are far more immediate solutions and designed to house people faster and more logically which is what is needed. Realistic immediate action that is not at the expense of the life working tax paying residents work so hard to achieve. His voice is at the bottom. It should be at the top before his opponents make untruthful opinionated claims with no evidence to back it up. He is the voice of the working law abiding tax paying residents of Venice. His opponents attempt to portray him as they do ago even more loudly how deaf they are to the voices of the hardworking residents of district 11.

    • reta

      Interesting theory. The incumbent, to me, should have the honor of going first and then it was female, before male. I don’t want to dishonor the office, nor the sex.

  3. Nick Antonicello

    It might be a better idea for the candidates to have the option of submitting an audio file or video which is easier to follow and more interesting than all of this print.

  4. Anonymous

    The homeless can vote in local elections? I can understand national elections, but really, what prevents hundreds of people living anywhere in Los Angeles registeing on Venice streets and voting in this local election? Does not seem very fair to the people who actually live and are taxed here.

    • Billy Zanatakos

      Yes, the homeless can vote in the election and it is perfectly legal, just as long as they vote once. Not to worry Trump has you covered on that one. Bonin relized early on who butters his bread.

  5. Anonymous

    INSANITY!!!!!!

  6. Billy Zanatakos

    News flash The homeless can vote and will turn out big for Bonin. Many have already been registered.

  7. Anonymous

    Probably, but I hear that he is not well liked all over the district for many reasons. Different issues for each community. With big developer money behind him, we should expect our mailboxes filled with glossy advertisements. The homeless can not vote. Could be an upset if the people who are not passionate Bonin suporters do not come out to vote.

    • Jack Herman

      Homeless people don’t lose their right to vote Anonymous. If you want to register to vote and you’re homeless all you have to do is register with either a street intersection or landmark like a park where you are homeless at and you are registered in whatever district that street or landmark is located. I’ve lived in Los Angeles since 1979, the last 8 of which I’ve been homeless and I am currently registered to vote in this district. And there’s nothing that people like you can do about it. I am no less a resident of Los Angeles now than the all of the years preceding it when I wasn’t homeless.

  8. Billy Zanatakos

    Bonin knows exactly what he is doing. And that is why he will win by a landslide.

  9. John mcmanamy

    Very telling that Mr Bonin does not want prop S to pass. Unless I’m misinformed he has already accepted $100,000.00 from Developer Rick Caruso.

    This type of pay to play must stop, it’s flat out screwing the middle class.

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