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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

Pardue Comments on Town Hall, Westminster Senior Center

By Kevin “Kip” Pardue

Just wanted to send out a quick recap of last night’s meeting with Bonin for those of you who were not able to attend…

Bonin opened with a report on general homelessness in LA and the county. It was the usual evidence that permanent supportive housing works, needs to be built, and is the focus for the future. He talked about things to do today – what he calls “street services.” These include things like 24-hour bathroom access, mobile showers, and the Westminster Senior Center storage program. It was informative and insightful. Homelessness is truly awful and ever expanding – thanks in large part to politicians like Bonin who have done nothing to try and get people OFF the streets.

Now that the focus has shifted to a “housing first” model, the city is looking at “every city owned property” in LA. No one has ever made clear why that means on 8 lots are being analyzed (anyone who says there are 12 lots is being super slippery and should not be trusted – there are 12 on the “master” list but the first four are contiguous lots just east of downtown). No one has ever explained why only 3 of LA’s 15 districts have been included in this – with HALF of the lots in Bonin’s CD 11.

What I have said before, and what was evident again last night, is that Bonin SIMPLY WANTS it here. Period. He has a canned “reason” why it can’t be at Dockweiler (“That is county operated,” even though he had been applauding the new partnership between the County and the City during the presentation). A canned “reason” for why it can’t all be somewhere less residential (“Homelessness is everywhere and the solution must be everywhere.”).

When it came time for comments, the tenor of the room changed dramatically. Virtually everyone there was vehemently opposed to the Westminster Storage Center plan. Bonin said it was not the greatest plan but in five years they had not come up with a better solution. The ad hoc committee on homelessness in Venice came up with a better, cheaper, more thorough plan in 45 days. Many residents spoke about Thatcher Yard and how building housing for the homeless there is a terrible idea. There was zero discussion about the Venice median lot until I spoke briefly and again encouraged Mike to sell and build MORE HOUSING IN A BETTER AREA helping MORE PEOPLE in LESS TIME.

As yet, no details have been released about these projects – the deadline for submissions from developers is the 15th of September.

It was so painfully obvious that pretty much the only people in that room who supported building housing on these lots were those that stand to make money on the development. VCH trotted out several employees. The mobile shower company (which has been contracted and will start in Venice by the end of the year) was happy. Anyone who is pro building fewer units and jumping the myriad hurdles Venice possesses is only interested in one thing – money – not in actually helping the most people. Their ideology shows their goals. Their endgame is not ending homelessness by housing everyone. It is doing it IN VENICE. While nearly all of the speakers made comments suggesting that reasonable percentages of low-income and PSH would be lauded, that simply wasn’t good enough for Bonin. His tone was EXACTLY the same as it was when we met a few months ago…He is “listening,” but he doesn’t seem to be changing his behavior in any fashion.

I thank all of you who came and stood up for our neighborhood. If Bonin were more willing to work with us – rather than talk at us – I think we could actually make everyone happy. But watching him move unilaterally on the Westminster Storage Center project is frightening to say the least. Bonin is acting like a tzar – taking over properties, allocating resources to his projects, and plugging his ears to block the voices of residents. Maybe the hundreds of people who spoke made a dent this time. We have to hope so.

I will continue to keep you posted on things as I learn more. Thank you again.


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