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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

Comments–25 November 2013

Ruth L of Stanford …
I believe the best solution for the alley traffic is speed bumps which would make the alleys a lot less advantageous to anyone trying to get to Lincoln faster! Also, we need to have the Do Not Block Intersection Law enforced. Getting in and out of Stanford is an absolute nightmare all the time!!!

Carolyn G of Oxford …
The police should be stationed before Lincoln at Washington. After waiting patiently on Washington to go to Costco, I see many cars using the turning lane three to four blocks before turning left. This is an accident to happen! The police should be stationed there when traffic is busy.

Joseph W of Oxford …
As a resident who lives on Oxford my concern with the Alley solution is that it would just increase the already large amount of traffic that races down our street (and others) to get to Carter.
I understand why people living along the alley would want this. That picture of the cars using the alley that update sent out was ridiculous. However we are a neighborhood here, the goal shouldn’t just be to get the cars away from YOUR house. Instead of shifting more of the problem to streets already feeling the burden we need to find a solution to eliminate the problem.
Is it really impossible for the Walgreens complex to have its Lincoln opening be entrance only? Seems that would take care of the issue right away.

Elsa Zamparelli of Thatcher …
Website (http://www.planetizen.com/node/39107) has a picture of an unobtrusive garbage disposal system that I saw in Paris last year. I thought it was very clever. The post is bolted down, strong liners are secured at rim. Easy for city or volunteers to remove. No denting, tipping over or stealing of cans. If you Google trash disposal receptacles in Paris you will see other web sites with better pictures. Just a thought I wanted to share. The garbage is not picked up enough in Venice. That may be one of the problems also. If you happen to have a contact which city person I can send it to I am more than willing.

Shannon M of Yale …
Guys, as some of you know we bought the house next door. The previous
owner left a bunch of electrical equipment, 5 ft high welding tanks,
spools of wiring, lighting casings. So much stuff can’t even list it.
Bottom line is if you know any electricians, contractors, plumbers etc.
We have stuff that hasn’t even been used or opened. Send them my way to
3124 Yale 90292 starting tomorrow Saturday November 23rd at 7am. It’s all
gotta go!

Jason Teague, Architect for 1414 Main …
The following is a letter by the architect, Jason Teague, to the foes of 1414 Main.

As you know, a few months back, I began community outreach for my new mixed-use development at 1414 Main Street. I have lived in Venice for over sixteen years, and I am well aware of what it is like to try to get a building built in Venice. It never ceases to amaze me, however, the lengths that people will go to keep the status quo. I never thought that I would hear Venetians say that we do not need more parking, but that is exactly what I’m being told.

As a long-term Venetian, I am well aware that Venice is desperately in need of three things: parking, low/ moderate income housing, and reasonably priced market-rate housing. 1414 Main Street provides all three.

1414 Main Street has NO variances. We are employing SB 1818, a state law that allows height, density, and floor area ratio bonuses for buildings that provide 20% low income housing. This is not a “loophole” that I am exploiting. This is the ONLY way that building affordable housing in Venice makes any financial sense. Our few commercial arteries are the ONLY places that it makes any sense to use the law.

The project boasts a whopping 242 parking places, over 40% more than we are required by code. I believe that the reason this particular stretch of Main Street lacks the vibrancy of some of our other commercial areas in Venice is the severe lack of parking in the immediate area. My project will help to solve this problem with hourly, daily, and even monthly parking rental options, which do not exist in the area. Better yet, the parking garage will be fully automated– you will simply pull into a parking space roughly the size of a two car garage, and your car will quickly and safely be robotically transported to a subterranean garage away from thieves, door dings, vandals, and errant shopping carts. The excess parking will allow neighboring commercial properties to meet their required parking needs as well as providing residents and visitors a safe and secure parking option.

Finally, the C2 zoning allows us to provide a higher volume of smaller, more reasonably priced market-rate units. The majority of Venice is suburban, with small residential lots that allow no more than two market rate units per lot. The low density, combined with the high (and ever-increasing) cost of the land, results in a median residential dwelling prices approaching $1.5 million, and houses climbing well into the multi-millions. Mixed-use developments along our commercial corridors are the only place that we can build lower cost living options.

In order to be able to afford and to fit the affordable housing component, the project will have a fourth floor. Unlike other recent projects, our fourth floor is by-right, and does not require a variance. Regardless, we have been receiving some negative feedback from immediate neighbors. In response, we have removed our roof access vestibules. However, the fourth floor will stay. I am not promoting four floors on the canals, or high-rises in NoRo, but I am saying that we need to allow taller buildings along our commercial corridors. Controlled, well-designed, smart growth will allow Venice to cope with our growing pains, while still maintaining the feel of Venice.

As mentioned earlier, I am also receiving push-back where I never would have imagined– parking. People are telling me that I am providing TOO MUCH parking. Hard to believe. Contrary to their arguments, parking does not create traffic, it reduces it. Rather than having people driving in circles all afternoon looking for street parking, they will know where to go. Well located commercial and retail reduces traffic as well– we would all rather walk to the store than get in a car. We are located along a large commercial artery, walking distance from both the beach and Abbot Kinney.

The link below will take you to a petition to support the project. Please sign– it will only take you a moment. I would like to demonstrate to the LUPC and the VNC that the vast majority of Venetians are in favor of smart, well-designed development. And they are especially fond of projects that provide PARKING!

www.change.org/petitions/council-district-11-and-the-venice-neighborhood-council-please-support-the-proposed-development-at-1414-main-street

Joe Murphy of Venice …
Ref: architect Jason Teague’s letter.

I have a question regarding parking in general.
The VNC Walkability Vision Goal was adopted by the VNC Board over 4 ½ years ago. It requires the VNC to: Consider strategies that reduce the use of cars …

My question is whether providing additional parking in Venice is a strategy which can ‘reduce the use of cars’?

    • If so, how?
    • If not, what alternative strategies – if any – can the VNC use to make your project compatible with the VNC Walkability Vision Goal.

Comment (1)

  1. Rebuttal to Jason Teague, Architect for 1414 Main

    It is no mystery why nearly every resident within a 2-3 block radius of 1414 Main Street opposes real estate developer Jason Teague’s proposal to erect a 4-story, mixed-use development on the property: the 26-unit retail/condominium complex is grossly out of scale and character with our community, and will negatively impact the quality of life for all its neighbors.

    After all, these are the Venice residents who would be cast into shadow by Teague’s folly, and see the developer’s “new-urbanism” for what it is – a hollow attempt to turn the singular charm of Venice into a cookie-cutter copycat of Marina del Rey or the business district of downtown Santa Monica. Teague recklessly misrepresents the surrounding community’s opposition to his plans as anti-development or anti-growth (and even more preposterously anti-parking!), which is patently untrue, and only serves to sow further distrust amongst his neighbors. Everybody respects Teague’s right to erect something on his property, but the bottom line is that it must comply with the Venice Specific Plan and the Los Angeles Zoning Regulations, which were put in place by the California Coastal Commission and city planners to protect the historic character of Venice and the quality of life for all its residents.

    With a brazenly selective interpretation of California State Law 1818 (i.e., the Affordable Housing Law), which was designed to protect the less fortunate among us, the mixed-use developer is attempting to hoodwink everybody into believing he and his partners have a lawful right to height and density bonuses which not only spit in the face of the Venice Specific Plan but are solely intended for residential projects. Sadly, this act of deception is but one of many by the developers which also include the price and availability of public parking, the lack of adequate infrastructure in the neighborhood to support the project, efforts to classify Main Street as a highway, and an astonishing array of off-menu requests.

    In recent meetings with local residents as part of a public relations campaign laughably called “community outreach,” these same developers have refused to take into account any of the community’s well-founded concerns, and even urged longtime residents to “just move” if they didn’t like the project. They’ve challenged the idea that Venice has a particular identity, insisting, in fact, that it lacked character and needed “to evolve.” If any of the legendary character of Venice (arguably a national treasure and a certifiable international tourist attraction) has gone missing of late, it is precisely because short-sighted and purely profit-driven developers such as these, without any respect for Venice’s unique character, have been busy erecting character-free, hi-density buildings that disregard the nearby communities and serve to obliterate the history and identity of Venice, while lining their pockets with profits.

    Despite Teague’s assertions that he is saving the neighborhood from its parking woes by building a 3-story, subterranean, automated parking structure (effectively making this a 7-story behemoth), every resident knows the project would greatly increase the amount of traffic in the surrounding residential neighborhood and severely impact parking availability on all nearby streets. One need only look to other examples around Venice of buildings which offer parking (e.g., Lemonade and Café Gratitude) to recognize just how empty this promise of relieving the parking problem is. Those garages often remain empty while customers and employees comb the surrounding streets in search of parking. Teague’s plans to sell ‘excess’ parking to restaurants, stores and office buildings in the area leaves even fewer spaces for tenant guests and his own stores and restaurants, yet he somehow still promotes this fantasy that his development won’t have serious repercussions on traffic and neighborhood parking.

    Safety concerns are especially worrisome about heavy traffic and congestion on nearby narrow streets and alleys that cannot accommodate two-way traffic and are literally the lifelines of the neighborhood. For the vehicles that do end up using the parking structure, the absence of a Main Street entrance effectively turns Market Street, Horizon Avenue, Riviera Avenue, and the two narrow residential alleys that run between them into the development’s driveways. Once one factors in the steady stream of garbage and delivery trucks, and the waiting line to get into the paid parking garage, the resulting bottleneck could potentially be the difference between life and death.

    On Toledo Court, alone, the developers are proposing that a full 40% of the property’s daily traffic of nearly 400 cars and trucks enter and exit through a narrow, block-long, residential alley that is only 15’ wide. Two mid-size cars sandwiched side-by-side measure almost 14’ from side-view mirror to side-view mirror. What happens when a full-size car and an SUV are trying to pass in the alley? What happens when there are 15-20 cars filled with beachgoers in the residential alley all at once on a hot summer day waiting for a parking slot to open up?

    What happens in the case of a fire or emergency?

    In proposing a paid parking plan that effectively commercializes the main arteries of a residential neighborhood so they can maximize their profits, the developers not only devalue the quality of life of all its surrounding residents, they risk their very lives.

    Speaking of safety, with the host of difficulties faced doing deep excavation 40’ below sea level on beach lagoon property that has a high risk of liquefaction, danger assessment studies are imperative on the seismic and structural impact of the project’s pile-driving and dewatering processes on nearby homes and structures, many of them built in the early 1900’s at the historic dawn of Abbot Kinney’s Venice. Likening the effect to a sustained series of violent earthquake tremors, reports from residents living adjacent to similar deep excavation projects include cracks in ceilings and walls, and catastrophic damage to building foundations.

    With construction optimistically expected to go on every day for over 18 months (which in all likelihood means 2-3 years), local residents and business owners must have every assurance that the sustained insult to the integrity of their homes and nearby historical Venice properties does not result in irreversible damage that forever changes the face of the community, not to mention the health and well-being of the buildings’ occupants should any of those buildings collapse. Liability extends to the city for endorsing such a dangerous plan.

    Teague pins the need to dig such a deep, expensive ($5m) hole on the fact that his building is going to be so tall – tall enough, in fact, to exceed the historic area’s nearly sacred 35’ height restrictions by an entire 11′ story, in addition to rooftop decks. Otherwise, his profit margins won’t be wide enough. There are a number of obvious solutions to this problem (namely, don’t build it so tall, and you won’t have to dig it as deep), but there is a more pernicious threat hidden in Teague’s reasoning: he expects the neighborhood to pay for his profit margin with a dramatic drop in its quality of life.

    The 35’ height limit was set in place by the City Council and the Costal Commission to protect both the heritage of Venice and the quality of life for all its residents, not just those who can afford multi-million dollar condos. While we each live in Venice for our own particular reasons, it’s safe to say the basic elements we are afforded here – sunlight and an ocean breeze – are among the most treasured. They are so ingrained in the Venice lifestyle, in fact, that we often take them for granted….until they’re gone. A development of this scale, bulk and density would indeed get them gone, and is more appropriate to downtown Santa Monica, Marina del Rey, or next to the Grove in midtown than it is here. It will have a dramatic impact on neighbors in every direction, and sets a dangerous precedent for the historic community’s future. Don’t let it happen.

    Please sign the petition opposed to this development in its current form: http://www.change.org/petitions/save-our-historic-neighborhood-from-the-proposed-real-estate-development-at-1414-main-street-venice-ca-90291

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