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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

Incumbent, Candidates Answer Your Questions in Venice Update Q&A

This is the second set of questions the Venice Update submitted 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.

The order of people answering the questions was questioned by a reader. Councilman Mike Bonin was placed first because he is the councilman; second and third were selected in the order they were strictly because women go first.

Councilman Mike Bonin

1. Climate change is supposedly increasing putting coastal cities at greater and greater risk for flooding. In addition, Los Angeles is at the tail-end of a six-year-long drought, and climate scientists have warned that the rate and intensity of local wildfires will increase as global temperatures rise. With all this evidence of an already overstressed local environment, how can you advocate for adding density to Los Angeles’ housing stock in order to (presumably) make the City more affordable for greater and greater numbers of inhabitants?

We can make our city more livable, affordable and sustainable at the same time, and I have championed big initiatives and ideas to make protecting our environment – and thus our communities – a central priority of my work as your Councilmember.

It is crucial to note that climate change isn’t “supposedly” putting coastal cities at greater risk of flooding – it is absolutely and scientifically proven to be putting our communities at risk. Much of the gorgeous coastline of the neighborhoods I represent will literally be underwater within decades if we do not take dramatic action to stop using harmful and climate-polluting fossil fuels.

I am the co-author of legislation that will help chart the pathway to 100% clean energy in Los Angeles. The legislation is already groundbreaking, as it made LA the largest city in the nation to commit to a completely clean energy portfolio. As the pathway to 100% is mapped out and then pursued aggressively, Los Angeles will be able to show the rest of the world that clean and sustainable future is achievable and that cities can thrive when they invest in more sustainable solutions.

At the same time, we must create more housing in Los Angeles. The population of the City continues to grow, and if we do not create additional housing stock (while preserving additional affordable housing), prices will continue to climb higher and higher, forcing hundreds of thousands of people out of the housing market. That will mean greater numbers of people commuting longer distances to work, creating increased traffic congestion, and greenhouse gas pollution, exacerbating our climate crisis.

Where and how we build the housing is key. We should build near transit lines, allowing residents to use mass transit or go “car lite.” And we should focus on and increase sustainable design and building requirements — making energy efficiency a priority, and using and new and innovative ways to use power and water more effectively, so that even as our population increases, our reliance on resources is reduced.

2.  Do you support a community-neutral homeless housing strategy in which housing facilities for the homeless  are distributed evenly across all 15 Council Districts and across the neighborhoods within each district?

Every neighborhood in Los Angeles is suffering the effects of the homelessness crisis, and every neighborhood should share in the solutions to the crisis.

Los Angeles and our neighborhoods not only have a tremendous homelessness crisis – but we have one of the largest unsheltered homeless populations in the United States. It has created a city of shanties and tents in our neighborhoods, and we very clearly need to house our way out of the homelessness crisis.  Historically, affordable housing and homeless housing are incredibly difficult to build, facing challenges in financing, site selection, and much more.

Venice should not be — and is not being — asked to be the exclusive or primary area to provide housing. Our neighbors in Santa Monica has provided significant housing over the past several decades. Nearby Del Rey has three new housing complexes with formerly homeless residents. Under the recently approved Veterans Administration Master Plan, the Brentwood and West LA areas will see nearly 2,000 units of permanent and transitional housing for homeless veterans.  Hollywood, downtown Los Angeles, the Harbor area have all added significant homeless and affordable housing in recent years. And in addition to city-owned properties in Venice, the City of Los Angeles is exploring the potential of housing on every vacant, surplus or under-utilized property owned by the City.  This includes every part of Los Angeles.

3.  What do you think of the role of neighborhood councils and should they be abolished or strengthened and why?  If strengthened, how?

Neighborhood Councils are important and essential bodies that have the ability to give voice to community concerns, develop grassroots solutions to problems, and promote understanding and consensus about neighborhood issues and controversies. I am proud to have some of the most robust neighborhood councils in the City of Los Angeles, and I have been glad to author and support legislation to strengthen and increase funding for neighborhood councils. I have been proud to partner with the Venice Neighborhood Council on outreach efforts, community festivals and I am working closely with members of the VNC’s Homelessness Committee to explore options for providing people an alternative to storing their belongings on streets and sidewalks.

I take the input of neighborhood councils seriously, and weigh their advice carefully. I do the same with homeowners associations, renters, chambers of commerce, political advocacy organizations, environmental organizations, people who invite me into their homes to meet with neighbors, people I meet at “pop up office hours” or door-to-door canvasses, and people who approach me at Ralph’s or Whole Foods. There is no one unified and definitive voice of, by and for the people of Venice, so I make a concerted effort to hear as wide an array of voices as possible.

4.  How should Proposition HHH money be spent effectively on housing in CD11.  Can this money be used to provide services?

Thanks to the overwhelming approval of Proposition HHH last November, we now have a funding stream that can help us build much of the housing we need to actually end the homelessness crisis on our streets. I am very grateful for the nearly 80% of voters in many areas of Venice who supported HHH and voted to help solve the homelessness crisis. (A sharp contrast to one of my opponents who wrote the ballot argument against this solution — as he has opposed so many other solutions.) Now the challenge is to get the housing built, get people off the streets, and eliminate the need for encampments in our neighborhoods.

Because Proposition HHH was a bond measure, funds can only be legally used for capital expenditures and acquisition of property. Services will be provided by the County of Los Angeles, which is seeking voter approval March 7 of Proposition H to help fund those services.  (Please vote Yes!)

But just because HHH is limited to capital and acquisition does not mean we need to wait years for homeless housing. I have been advocating for ways to spend the money and provide housing quickly — by converting or retrofitting existing vacant structures into housing. A perfect example is a project we have all driven past and probably never noticed: a former motel on the Culver City/Mar Vista border (Washington and Beethoven) that was converted by Upward Bound House into transitional housing for homeless families with children. We can use HHH funds to acquire or convert former hospitals, motels, etc, into housing at a very fast clip.

The city’s Proposition HHH and the county’s Proposition H are not the only way to provide services quickly.  Back in 2015, I proposed that the City invest in the County’s Housing for Health program, which provides master leasing to more quickly house people. I am currently pushing LA County Metro and Los Angeles World Airports to do the same, by housing people living on Metro or airport property. Ocean Park Community Center in Santa Monica uses a similar model, and I am working to expand master leasing into LA-funded programs. We also can (and do) invest in rapid rehousing vouchers, and I have been working to shift the City into supporting quicker and nimbler solutions to homelessness — such as shared housing and family reunification.

 

Candidate Robin Rudisill

1.  Climate change is supposedly increasing putting coastal cities at greater and greater risk for flooding. In addition, Los Angeles is at the tail-end of a six-year-long drought, and climate scientists have warned that the rate and intensity of local wildfires will increase as global temperatures rise.  With all this evidence of an already overstressed local environment, how can you advocate for adding density to Los Angeles’ housing stock in order to (presumably) make the City more affordable for greater and greater numbers of inhabitants?

Los Angeles County Health Department’s climate change action framework is distinct from the City’s self-imposed hardship from “infrastructure abuse” caused by its refusal to enforce its own regulations.  Even before planning infrastructure restoration needed in order to accept increased density, we must stop allowing illegal destruction of affordable housing and begin protecting families from illegal conversions and evictions.  It’s the City’s job to manage developer expectations, starting with enforcing existing laws.

The City can even decide to make more stringent laws if needed in order to assure that we’re not destroying current affordable housing and displacing families. But if the incumbent remains as the councilmember in our District, which has lost many times more affordable housing than the other districts during the last four years, the opposite is going to happen - developers will continue to be given false freedom, which will continue to harm communities and eventually backfire on everyone.

Choose me to make sure that both housing affordability AND infrastructure relief are addressed; and I will also work with the Coastal Commission on the global warming and rising sea level issues, in order to protect our coastline and our City.

2.  Do you support a community-neutral homeless housing strategy in which housing facilities for the homeless  are distributed evenly across all 15 Council Districts and across the neighborhoods within each district?

No, I do not support an even distribution of housing facilities for the homeless across all 15 districts. That is a short-sighted, NIMBY idea. I support a crisis approach that uses the money that the Public will be entrusting in us, as well as the City land, in order to maximize the amount of housing that can be provided for our Homeless population, in the soonest possible timeframe.

3.  What do you think of the role of neighborhood councils and should they be abolished or strengthened and why?  If strengthened, how?

My view is that we should change the City Charter’s definition of “stakeholder” to include only the residents of each neighborhood, the owners and tenants. It needs to follow how the Community Plans are set up. The General Plan and its Community Plans are in place as the “Constitution” and “blue prints” for planning for the City of L.A. and its communities, for the residents/citizens who live in L.A. and are the voters for Los Angeles’ elected officials and legislation impacting the City or its districts. Out of town investors and developers don’t get a say in how our City is run, but rather the City must be run in the best interest of its citizens. The Charter should also be updated to reflect the recommendation that I authored and the LUPC, which I chaired, recommended to the Venice Neighborhood Council, who unanimously approved it:

            Neighborhood Council Land Use and Planning-related recommendations shall be disclosed in a “standing” 

            section of all related City Staff Reports and Determinations, called “Neighborhood Council Recommendation.” 

            Along with such recommendations, if the Neighborhood Council recommendation has not been followed, the 

            City “decision maker” shall provide an explanation.

These changes must also be implemented via an amendment to City Ordinance 176704, the implementing regulations for Neighborhood Councils.

4.  How should Proposition HHH money be spent effectively on housing in CD11.  Can this money be used to provide services?

This money is for housing and facilities. It should be spent in a way that maximizes the amount of housing so the maximum people can get off of the streets, in the fastest way possible, using existing facilities that can be converted to transitionary housing wherever possible. It should not be co-mingled with money from developers to do market rate housing or used for projects that require added incentives such as height bonuses, zone exceptions or general plan amendments. It will be used in conjunction with city land.

In conjunction with this, the loss of the City’s affordable housing must be curtailed by requiring every city department to take all steps necessary to stop the loss of affordable housing, including tightening all procedures used by that department in decisions related to affordable housing, whether for Mello Act and Venice Land Use Plan replacement affordable housing, Specific Plan replacement affordable housing, Community Plan and General Plan requirements to preserve and protect affordable housing, Rent Stabilized housing protections or Ellis Act enforcement. The City cannot continue to tolerate the significant loss of affordable housing at the same time its citizens and the citizens of the County are footing the very significant bill to build affordable housing and homeless housing.

Also in order to assure the money is effectively spent, the audit requirement must be changed to be an independent annual financial audit, as opposed to the current requirement the city put onto the measure, which is an internal city annual financial audit.

 

Candidate Mark Ryavec

1.  Climate change is supposedly increasing putting coastal cities at greater and greater risk for flooding. In addition, Los Angeles is at the tail-end of a six-year-long drought, and climate scientists have warned that the rate and intensity of local wildfires will increase as global temperatures rise.  With all this evidence of an already overstressed local environment, how can you advocate for adding density to Los Angeles’ housing stock in order to (presumably) make the City more affordable for greater and greater numbers of inhabitants?

I believe that the effects of global warming are largely unrelated to LA’s housing shortage.  The population needs to be housed.  The question is how to do it in sustainable ways that do not exacerbate global warming.  Housing/jobs balance to cut commuting is one answer.  More mass transit and electric vehicles are others.  More energy efficient buildings yet another.

2.  Do you support a community-neutral homeless housing strategy in which housing facilities for the homeless  are distributed evenly across all 15 Council Districts and across the neighborhoods within each district?

Yes, housing for the homeless should be fairly distributed across the city but this does not mean that such facilities must be in largely single family neighborhoods, as the incumbent is trying to do in Venice.

3.  What do you think of the role of neighborhood councils and should they be abolished or strengthened and why?  If strengthened, how?

The role of Neighborhood Councils should be strengthened.  This is reprinted from my February, 2016, YoVenice column:

The other option (to de-annexation) is for Venice and other like-minded districts to pursue amendments to the City Charter to create a means to matriculate from the neighborhood council model to a new, yet to be defined borough government model.  Under a borough system, control of many city services and decision-making powers would devolve to local residents. 

Here are some examples for consideration:

A new seven member borough council – elected by district to ensure representation of all parts of Venice – would be able to choose a local police commander from three candidates submitted for consideration by the Los Angeles Chief of Police.  The commander would be physically officed in Venice and would control officers assigned to Venice.

Under a similar system, there would be Venice administrators for most city departments chosen from qualified candidates submitted by the heads of certain city departments.  So, there would be borough-appointed heads of parks, street services, sanitation, urban forestry, planning, parking enforcement, etc., in Venice  (We probably would not need a local director for DWP service, and certainly not for the Harbor Department or LAX.)

Planning decisions would be made by a zoning administrator assigned and officed in Venice and initial appeals would go to a Venice Planning Commission appointed by the borough council.  The Venice commission would replace the West Los Angeles Area Planning Commission, with appeals going to the borough council not the City Council, as is the current practice.

Planning laws – such as revisions to the Venice Local Coastal Specific Plan – would be drafted by the Planning Department’s Venice representative in consultation with the Venice Planning Commission, though would require final approval of the Los Angeles City Council.

Eventually a percentage of all revenue generated in Venice would remain in a separate Venice account of the City’s Finance Department and it would be used for discretionary projects selected by the borough council.

Under a borough model, the voices of Venice residents would move from being advisory to a degree of local control.

The process to move towards borough councils with devolved city powers would be initiated by a charter reform commission – appointed by the City Council – charged with developing the specific language to submit to city voters.  In my model, moving from a neighborhood council to the borough model would require a vote of each district’s residents.  The City might also set some minimum period for operation of a district’s neighborhood council before it could propose to graduate to the borough system.

4. How should Proposition HHH money be spent effectively on housing in CD11.  Can this money be used to provide services?

Prop. HHH funds cannot be used for services.  However, Measure H on the March 7th ballot will fund about $330 million in services for the homeless each year.

I would like to see a portion of HHH funds spent on transitional housing and on conversion of existing buildings to 300 units with shared bathrooms, so more housing would be created more quickly.  The old “tax credit” model used, for example, for the recently built 20 units on Beach Street in Del Rey, takes years and costs about $500,000 per unit.  At that rate it will be five years and more before LA starts to make a dent in the homeless population with HHH funds.  It’s good for developers and for unions, but not for the majority of the homeless who will remain on the streets for years as the city tries to build its way out of the problem with an expensive, time consuming process.

Comments (5)

  1. Anonymous

    BECAUSE… there is no beach in lancaster that is policed by officers who are instructed by lawsuit to stand down, filled with legal pot shops that allow the homeless with weed cards to buy supplies to sell to the visiting kiddies along with the other drugs theysell. How do you think that these guys make enough money to live here, even on the street. That and selling the shit that they steal. Doesnt anyone wonder where the bums get the money to live? This is their job. Also, I bet the people of lancaster would be just as pissed off if the county sent a bunch of homeless to live out there

  2. Anonymous

    Don’t see Bonin moving any homeless in his neighborhood. Why not move the homeless to Lancaster where there is lots of land. People living in the Marina and Venice work their asses off to afford to live here not the homeless. Dirty needles, etc. send them away to open land away from here.

    • Billy Zanatakos

      That doesn’t make a heck of a lot of sense for Bonin to move the homeless anywhere. It makes more sense to bring services to where the homeless already are living. Since when is it the duty of an elected official to violate the civil rights of people who chose to stay in an area of their choosing.

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