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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

Wrede Questions WSJ Author Over Venice Article

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Venice Median project, proposed by Venice Community Housing, is to have 138 units for homeless, 10,000 sq ft of commercial, plus 188 covenant parking spaces.

 

This is Chris Wrede’s letter to Laura Kusisto in response to her article in Wall Street Journal entitled Venice Beach Is a Hot Place to Live, So Why Is Its Housing Supply Shrinking?

By Christian Wrede

Dear Ms. Kusisto:

As a Venice resident who is concerned about the future of his community– for himself and his family — I was hoping you could send me additional information regarding the study The Wall Street Journal apparently commissioned by Issi Romem of BuildZoom in connection with your article “Venice Beach Is a Hot Place to Live, So Why Is its Housing Supply Shrinking.”

I will tell you that as a regular reader of the WSJ, I was struck by the lack of transparency as to the data, methodology and reliability of the study, particularly given the inherently challenging nature of the task you purport to have accomplished — a comparative, nationwide survey of how “tough” it is “building housing” in different neighborhoods (whatever that
means).

In any event, your article made no mention of the fact that Venice is characterized in a Los Angeles Times survey of housing density as “about average for the city of Los Angeles but among the highest densities for the county,”  with 12,000 residents per square mile, at last count – 25% to 33% more than its coastal neighbors to the north and south (Santa Monica and Manhattan Beach, respectively) and 6 to 10 times more than uber-affluent Westside communities like Brentwood, the Pacific Palisades and Bel-Air.

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Venice is one of the most densely populated communities in Los Angeles County. (The dark colors indicate higher population density.)

Similarly, your article makes no mention of the numerous massive apartment buildings either under construction or in the planning stages directly to the south of Venice in Del Rey and Marina del Rey (communities completely intertwined with and functionally indistinguishable from Venice) or the massive strain that new development is placing on our North-South corridors – all three of which
(Pacific, Ocean and Abbot Kinney) are just one lane in each direction.

You also make no mention of the fact that Venice has among the highest ratios of AirBNB units per capita in the nation or the impact that such a large number of short-term rentals has on demand for housing and housing costs.

Finally, your benign characterization of Venice Community Housing’s
development is naive and off the mark.

Becky Dennison applauds herself for limiting the project to  “140
apartments after encountering opposition from local residents.”

But did she tell you that our councilmember, Mike Bonin, originally said
that there would just be “up to 90 small units” on the site?

That the project will occupy almost 3 acres in a community where the
average lot size is just 3,600 sq. ft.?

That she will build not one, but two 3-story parking structures smack
dab in the middle of residential neighborhood?

That there will be more than ten thousand square feet in “social
enterprise space” for businesses now based on Skid Row?

That, by law, no space can be reserved in the project for either
homeless or low income members of the Venice community, and that we
will, in fact, be housing in equal number people from wealthier cities
– including Beverly Hills, Santa Monica and Malibu — that are not
providing any land or funds for the construction of these facilities?

That there will be at least 500 residents?

Or that her project is just one of three projects — ranging from 2 acres to 3.5 acres in size – that Councilmember Bonin has planned in Venice within a mile of one another?

In closing, let me just say I also take issue with the photo of
“graffiti-covered abandoned beachfront houses in Venice Beach,” as if
that is a result of opposition to development. Those houses are as they
are  because they abut one of the largest homeless encampments — in
length, width and number — in the entire world (which Councilmember
Bonin is seeking to grow by spiking funds for clean up and through the delivery of new services including 24/7 bathroom facilities).  Also those houses will be replaced by  a new restaurant that is in the planning process.

I would be so happy to talk with you anytime about what is really
happening in Venice — it is, indeed, a community on the boiling point
– but it would really help the rank-and-file, work-a-day Venice
resident if you would refrain from writing about us in connection with
such contentious issues until you have all the relevant facts.

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