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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

“Imagine Venice” Says Venice Gonna’ Lose Its Cool

Note:  This article originated by Marian Crostic and Elaine Spierer and published in their ImagineVenice.org,  Edition 25,  was picked up by “City Watch” with the headline “Shocker: Get Ready for a Very Different Venice!”  It is reproduced here with their permission.  Venice Update welcomes different views … let’s face it, Venice is comprised of varying views.

Some Words from the ‘Hood

It’s been a while since ImagineVenice had something to say. Why? …because no one likes to read an edition comprised of rants. It seems like all the action around here provokes one rant after another – so, we guess, it’s time to let it rip.

Residents often talk about how “cool” Venice is. You know, along with all the other platitudes about how much more Venice was before and how Venice has changed. We have. Many worry we are on an irreversible course towards losing our “uniqueness” maybe even our soul. We are. In the next breath these landed gentry complain “tsk, tsk my friendstill can’t find a place to live here with all these Airbnb’s taking over all our rentals.” If you are grousing about the changes around this town, you better get ready for the big one.

Last week our local Chamber of Commerce lead its business-minded membership, along with many restaurant owners, developers and architects to the polls to vote at the Venice Neighborhood Council election. They called in their chits and their dishwashers and Sparklett’s delivery guys marched dutifully to the polls along with anyone else who “owed” them. It was a rout. The election turnout was almost double from the last election.

Many of the newly “Venice committed” voters have absolutely nothing to do with the Venice community. They could care less about it. Their required declared “relationship” got them a ballot and they voted. That’s the way this election dumped the old team and brought in a new one.

We know it sounds ridiculous that non-residents or non-property owners could actually determine your future by voting in someone else’s local election. That’s what happened. An interpretation of the election rules allowed this corruption.

Manipulation like this of our local council vote has never happened before. The Chamber and all of its business-interested members have utilized their group power and joined together to serve their common interests using this avenue. It doesn’t matter whether it is moral. It is legal.

You would be right to question if anyone not focused on money-making development issues in Venice needs to pay any future attention to the happenings of the VNC. With this new group running the VNC show there won’t be a development they won’t like or a rule they won’t break or change or a rent stabilized apartment they won’t want to change into a short-term rental for a buck. Whatever it is, if it puts money in their pockets or in their friend’s pockets they will approve it.

Get ready for a very different Venice.


Enforcement? Not in Venice

If you want local laws enforced, better move to Brentwood. Somehow, even though we are in the same council district, trash cans are plenty over there and homeless people are not setting up tents on their sidewalks. Shops don’t get to illegally expand without parking and restaurants don’t get away with adding illegal seating. Citations mean absolutely nothing around here but somehow have their intended force and effect in Brentwood. There are no driveways on San Vicente or Wilshire converted into “pop-up” shops of one stripe or another or vendors setting up businesses right on the street out of their cars, vans and even on blankets. In Brentwood you won’t find apartment houses with illegal structures built in their front yard selling cookies. No amplified music event is approved if it is within 500′ of residences. The ABC doesn’t approve just about every request it gets to sell alcohol. We in Venice must live in another world. Maybe we do. Here, anything goes. Despite a year’s worth of citations our hottest restaurant still uses the neighbor’s driveway to provide seating for a no-seating-allowed takeout. That property owner continues to ignore citations demanding the seating be removed and his driveway returned to a useful driveway. There are numerous illegal acts, too many to list. For some reason, enforcement just doesn’t happen around here, no matter how egregious the behavior.

The newest hustler on the block, Greenleaf, asked for and got a permit for an outside parking lot “beer garden” to add to the mix during our last First Friday. Never before has a restaurant or shop on the street sold alcohol from an outside parking lot or a shop received a special event permit to sell alcohol on a First Friday. Greenleaf has now opened the floodgates to alcohol special event sales on First Friday. Thousands of young people pack our sidewalks those nights while eating from various food trucks. Now they have the “opportunity” to walk off the sidewalk and get a beer or three and return back to the crowd. Imagine kids all juiced up packed in like sardines on the next First Friday. Imagine your kid at this event. If it’s a hot night, it will take just one troublemaker to make this event a disaster. The decision makers use no discretion when they give out alcohol-related permits. It will take much more than common sense to say “no” to the powerful and connected — especially if the Chamber is behind them. You would think these “deciders” were Chamber members themselves! We dodged a bullet last Friday. It was a cool evening. We are unlikely to be that lucky in the future. Greenleaf now has a sidewalk sandwich sign advertising their parking lot alcohol event for future First Fridays. Looks like future approvals are in the bag for our avaricious new neighbor. It is all about making money.

Sometimes newcomers are the target of our disdain because of their disinterest in what made Venice, Venice. The new “new” matters most to them. They really don’t care if this place is turned into another Grove. But they are not villains. They are what they are. The real truth behind the big changes here can be found with our own “movers and shakers.” They are our villains — our very own — our super land rich. Because Venice has become a magnet drawing international businesses from all over the world, our own landed gentry are now so very rich and loving it. They never dreamed money of this magnitude would drop from the heavens right into their laps. All they had to do to get it was be here at the right time. Like a drug, they just want more, more, more. No matter the cost.

Venice in the word of that famous song just doesn’t get any R-E-S-P-E-C-T.


Comments (5)

  1. Rick Feibusch

    LOSE ITS COOL??? You got to be kidding… It lost it years ago, sometime it the mid-1990s when it was overtaken by the amalgamated social services/Ruth Galanter Council Office(Mike Bonin was her Venice Deputy)/Linda Lucks cabal and added a seediness that was welcomed by many locals (especially the Oakwood area drug dealers) as the way to scare away “Yuppies” and keep rents and property values down… Years of contention and stupid meetings with City officials and social service people, who only came with excuses and open hands, but no solutions, cleaned it up a bit, but that was all reversed with Bonin’s new “Home Of The Homeless” plans… This is some of what is written about Venice beach on Trip Advisor:

    “A beach but hardly Venice”

    Just after 10AM we set off on the walk down to Venice Beach from Santa Monica. There is a great walkway along the beachfront, there was a nice gentle breeze but it was still quite warm. It was forecast to be in the low to mid 30 degrees today. There are separate paths for bikes and pedestrians, which is great. It was a very pleasant walk if a little warm. We passed the site of the original Muscle Beach, just a few pieces of exercise equipment and a few men using it. Lots of volleyball courts set up on the sand.

    After about ¾ of an hour we got to the start of Venice Beach. We were greeted by a shantytown of homeless people against a small wall. They were in the throes of packing up. We have noticed that this happens near our hotel every morning with the homeless people packing up their belongings around 7 am in the morning.

    The whole are is pretty seedy with dodgy stores, graffiti on the walls and lots of homeless and other dodgy people. Being a long weekend it was quite packed. What was disappointing was the lack of street performers you are always hearing about. We kept walking and eventually came to the new Muscle Beach. Quite an impressive setup with exercise equipment, lots of older guys showing off their prowess on punching bags, half court tennis etc. We ordered a coffee from a small takeaway store and a traditional lemonade for me. We sat and watched the athletes for a while before heading back.

    Quite disappointing as a supposed major tourist attraction unless you are into looking at the most socially disadvantaged members of our society. I am glad I saw it for real rather than the glamorous and sanitised version you see on TV shows but definitely not a highlight, just really sad.

    “Full of homeless and pot”

    I was taken to Venice Beach by someone who had previously visited here many years ago with his children. My first impression of the beach area was not good as I felt unsafe by cyclists using the boardwalk, groups of homeless people hanging around and the smell of pot being used regularly. This together with some very strange people just made it feel like a place where I would want my children to be unsupervised. The beach itself seemed great being relatively clean, but the many street sellers and run down shops didn’t make me want to go back. Although there were some glimmers of talent in the items for sale, many were just desperate attempts to earn a dollar or two. When we walked to the end of Venice Beach towards Santa Monica, it was clearly evident where one ended and the other started. Although there were police around I didn’t feel particularly safe and would choose to go elsewhere.”

    Makes ya proud, Don’t it…

    • It’s pretty disappointing for you to see people suffer? That is what is killing the “vibe”. The reality is people are suffering and all you can do is bash them to bits. What kind of Venice do you imagine? Imagine if we all actually were able to get along with each other. This is wake up call time and all of a sudden people start fearing loosing their millions. We all get equal Venice Beach time freedom. Equal beach rights for everyone.

      • Rick Feibusch

        LivingfreeinVenice – You are truly a misguided soul – Asking Venice homeowners, families with children, to accept a Mad Max style quality of life to offset the greed of a few “flippers” and real estate speculators. Get it through your thick head – NOT EVERYONE IS A SPECULATOR/DEVELOPER and it is unreasonable for you to DEMAND that people be allowed to live on the streets and beach because this is some sort of a trade off for the high property values – and all of your shaming and name calling (yes, calling regular Venice residents “developers” and “greedy speculators” IS as offensive as calling the homeless “bums and addicts”…)makes little difference to any civilized person… It don’t fly here, hell, it don’t fly anywhere…

        • I never said that everyone is a developer or greedy speculator. I said that greed is a sickness. I’m not saying we should create a “Mad Max” city. I never said that either. I only used that as an example: “The Blame Game Example”. It is true that greed is very much playing a major role in this fight over Venice. Equal beach rights should be for everyone to enjoy. The homeless issue is now a California Crisis. City leaders are totally for building homeless housing in Venice. It’s not just homeless housing. We need more low income housing in Venice. Here is the bottom line: There is money in the bank now and each and everyone of us is getting there fair share. When this ends up happening property values start to stabilize and slow down for a long time. What the investor class wants is to keep making more millions non stop. The reality is greed is the culprit and the government is finally stepping in and saying enough is enough. It’s just too late sir. It got to the point where people were trying to get Venice Incorporated before the government stepped in. This is why we have a government. We will never become a corporate entity. America has it’s fair share of mistakes but with the government we have equality on demand 24/7. Now that we are going to have homeless housing in Venice and low income housing people are going crazy. I’m not sure what kind of world these people live in but the reality is always going to be this: Venice is for everyone. Living is free in Venice. Meaning we all have equal rights.

  2. Michael Lipson

    In response to the post by “Imagine Venice.” My understanding is that there were well less than 200 votes cast by “employees,” rather than residents in the VNC election…which would mean that no significant “manipulation” took place. Instead, this may well be nothing more than an empty rhetorical rationalization by a bunch of sore losers.

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