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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

Big Words–Mass, Scale and Character

This is the Shores on Via Dolce in Marina del Rey

This is the Shores on Via Dolce in Marina del Rey

This is the Shores on Via Dolce in Marina del Rey. To those familiar with the Marina, this is an invasive development that is an example lacking in mass, scale and character in relation to its neighborhood. It is invasive to the neighborhood.

What everyone is searching for is a neighbor, developer, builder who builds a new structure that adds to the neighborhood–fits in with, but doesn’t distract from. This is a builder, a neighbor who does not invade a neighborhood, is not overpowering, offensive. This builder is complementary to the neighborhood.

Subjective?–yes. Hard?–oh, my yes. Impossible?-no. Because it is rather subjective, neighbors have been at each other when a project is proposed in a neighborhood.

Challis Macpherson, former chair of land use and planning committee (LUPC) said “All neighborhoods have this problem. It is not unique to Venice.”

Marina Del Rey is an example with the Shores.

VNC Committee is Working on This
The Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) has a committee headed by Sue Kaplan to help determine some of these features that would give a builder direction, guide lines for blending his building into the neighborhood “ambiance.”

The committee met once a month for about a year. Members of the committee were listed as: Joe Clark, Brian Finney, Derek Harbaugh, David Hertz, Laura Stoland, and Lilian White. They did surveys, read other cities’ plans for preservation.

Other neighborhoods just in California, such as Santa Barbara, Monterey, and San Francisco, to name a few have written guidelines to follow for mass, scale, and character. They too have felt the significance, exclusivity of their communities and need to preserve such. Venice need not feel they are exclusive in the effort to preserve that “peculiar” “indefinable” charm that which makes Venice “Venice.’

What is A Venice?
Who can define Venice, who can define ” A Venice?”

One thing that was discovered in the meetings with the study of other areas, questionnaires, etc. was that in Venice, neighborhoods can be considered on a block-by-block basis. They agreed that a block could be considered a Venice neighborhood.

They discussed whether the minimum requirements for defining a neighborhood are setbacks, number of stories, age, window treatments, fences, trees, and placement on lot.

“I think we can come up with guidelines that offer both quantifiable guidance and flexibility which the design community wants for Venice in order for it to remain the creative laboratory it is justly famous for,” wrote Sue Kaplan, committee chair.

The committee at this point has no conclusions and will probably be reinstated with the new council, and hopefully, then there will be definitive guidelines.

Perhaps Preservation
Sue Kaplan did say that “One thing that I am coming to consider is that preservation holds a key to the retaining of the character of Venice. Preservation would include the support of the diversity of our architectural creativity and the preservation of our older buildings which with respect to new projects should incorporate consideration of mass and scale. Or is this a whole ‘nother discussion?”

The problem with all this is that lots are small in Venice per city standard, which is 5000 or 50×100. Many Venice lots are around 40×100 and some are even smaller. Venice in most areas has a height limit with a limit of two stories and yet people want to subdivide a 40×100 lot into two saleable pieces of property with four parking spaces. After setbacks and parking spaces, how many square feet are livable for each unit? What if you don’t have an alley?

Consider an RD1.5 lot with 5000 square feet. One can get three saleable units on it but with parking for six cars, height limit and setbacks, how many livable square feet would each unit have?

SB1818 has allowed for 30 plus percent increase in square footage and other
limits but with the restrictions of Venice, what does that really do?

These are the dilemmas facing a builder, developer and these in turn are inherited by the ones, the committee members trying to provide a guideline for these people yet trying to retain a neighborhood ambiance, sincerely trying to keep Venice, Venice.

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