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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

Activist Mark Ryavec, City Council Seat Candidate — Platform, Background

Mark Ryavec Photo

Candidate for CD11 City Council seat Mark Ryavec will be on the ballot 7 March. He is one of the two candidates for this position other than incumbent Mike Bonin. Following is his platform and his biographical sketch. Hopefully, this will acquaint you with this candidate. Next week Update will run Robin Rudisill’s platform and biography.

Platform — Issues

From a listening tour I have been conducting across the district I see the four priority issues of residents as:
1.  Increasing police presence and police response times.  This will require a revision of the LAPD deployment protocol.

2.  Stopping over-development and mega-projects such as the Martin Expo project and the Archer School 400 percent expansion, which Bonin supported.  In this regard, I long ago endorsed Prop. S, the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative.  Bonin opposes Prop. S.

3.  Fix the traffic mess.  Instead of waiting for the build out of huge infrastructure projects the city should act quickly on local fixes.  I would strongly consider in Venice, for example, converting one parking lane on Lincoln in the morning and the opposite parking lane in the evening to a traffic lane during rush hour.  This is common practice in other areas of LA. I also would deploy white-gloved traffic control officers to move traffic more quickly through highly impacted locations such as the Sunset Corridor and the Lincoln and Washington intersection.

4.  Implement a program to respond to the homeless crisis in CD 11 that more quickly helps both parties – the homeless and residents.

I support much more rapid re-housing for the homeless, along the lines of the work of the Homeless Task Force (Chaplains Weller at the Four Square Church) and the Teen Project, including transport to shelter beds, rehab beds, and shared housing anywhere these are available in Los Angeles County, and providing bus fares and meal vouchers for transport to safe, vetted family members out-of-state when they can be identified.

I also would support allocating City funds for use in CD 11 to the “Housing for Health” program to provide rent vouchers to the most medically-challenged to subsidize immediate housing (see Doug Smith’s column on this in the LA Times about three weeks ago).

I would direct some of the first HHH funds to remodel old motels and apartment buildings into 300  sq. ft. units with shared bathrooms to more quickly create additional housing.

I do not believe many of the service resistance individuals and “travelers” living on our sidewalks will accept housing without the possibility of some enforcement.  Thus I support the ban on private possessions being stored in parks and along the Boardwalk and ocean front, enforcement of the 60 gallon bin limit on items stored on sidewalks and parkways, and a gradual and compassionate return to enforcement of LAMC 41.18, which bans sleeping on sidewalks 24 hours a day, within 300 feet of residences, and only in instances when a credible offer of, and transport to, shelter beds, shared housing, Section 8 housing or bus tickets to return to distant family members has been made. This will only be practical when an inventory of shelter beds, shared housing, transitional housing beds or “Housing for Health” vouchers is available.

5.  An issue that is close to my heart is continuing the ban on oil drilling in coastal waters.  With a climate-change denier taking over at Interior Dept. and Rick Perry, the former governor of Texas, taking over at Energy, I expect we will again see a move to allow oil drilling in federal waters off our coast.  CD 11 is LA’s coastal district and the responsibility to lead the opposition to such a federal challenge to our coast and coastal-dependent tourist economy will fall to the councilperson of the 11th District.  As the former lobbyist for No Oil, Inc. and a founding director of American Oceans Campaign (now Oceana) I’m prepared to take on a Trump challenge to our coast, if it develops.


Westside Native
Mark’s parents Ernie and Gaye were living on Woodgreen Street in Mar Vista when Mark was born at St. John’s Hospital. His Dad was a naval officer and would drive every day up to Port Hueneme where he was assigned. Later his family, including his five siblings, moved to Santa Monica, where Mark attended Roosevelt Elementary, Lincoln Jr. High, and Santa Monica High School. Mark was active in track and field and volleyball as well as the Boy Scouts; he became an Eagle Scout in 1968. Mark went on to UCLA where he majored in psychology, volunteered as a counselor on the Ex-Helps Hotline, and served as an intern in the Student Counseling Center. During his time at UCLA he also worked in the Assembly Office of Research in Sacramento on legislation to improve services to children and youth, which triggered a life-long interest in public policy and government. After UCLA, he was selected for the Coro Foundation Fellows Program in Public Affairs, then a joint program with Occidental College leading to a Masters Degree in Urban Studies.

Community Activist
Mark has lived in Venice for 23 years and has volunteered for numerous local causes. Early in his tenure in Venice he received training from TreePeople as an Urban Forester and led 200 residents in planting the 40 Italian Stone Pines and New Zealand Christmas Trees around the Postal Annex and along Windward Avenue. He is a lifetime member of the Sierra Club and served on an LA County committee to make the Los Angeles River more accessible to residents. In 2008-9 Mark co-chaired the Venice Neighborhood Council Ad Hoc Committee on Homelessness.

Later he founded the Venice Stakeholders Association (VSA), a local non-profit organization, which has advocated for preservation of the Venice Post Office, increased parking for residents, the removal of recreational vehicles from residential streets, prosecution of those dumping human waste onto city streets, and enforcement of existing city laws against the occupation of public property by large transient encampments on grounds of public health and safety. To secure the right to overnight restricted parking for residents, Mark filed a lawsuit against the California Coastal Commission, which had blocked the parking districts, which are available to residents everywhere else in Los Angeles.

Coastal Activist
Mark’s cover story in the L.A. Weekly in February,1985, entitled “How Occidental Petroleum Rented the Democratic Party” was the definitive expose of the questionable tactics employed by Occidental chief Armand Hammer to win approval to drill 100 oil wells near the beach just south of Temescal Canyon in the Pacific Palisades. Following publication, Ryavec became the pro-bono lobbyist and press secretary for No Oil, Inc., the citizens group fighting the oil drilling plan. After four years of litigation against the City of Los Angeles challenging the EIR for the drilling project, Mark led the effort to raise the initial $40,000 to place Proposition O on the City ballot, which passed in 1989, banning oil drilling on Los Angeles’ coastline. Mark also secured the endorsement of then U.S. Senator Pete Wilson in favor of Prop. O.

In 1987 and 1988 Ryavec assisted actor Ted Danson and others establish American Oceans Campaign (AOC) and served for ten years as Secretary of the Board of Directors of AOC. He organized AOC’s first press conference in Washington, D.C. and on several occasions joined Mr. Danson in lobbying congress to ban off-shore oil drilling. AOC’s efforts were matched by the efforts of thousands of coastal activists from around the nation and eventually resulted in the moratorium on drilling in federal waters, which lasted until just recently. He also staged the first AOC press conference with Danson, James Garner and Kris Kristofferson to draw public attention to the widespread use of driftnets, which “strip mine the sea,” killing all marine and bird life in their paths.

In 1996 he joined the staff of AOC as its State Legislative Director and helped pass four ocean protection bills in Sacramento, including the beach closure bill which set statewide standards for beach water testing and closure policy. Working with the Coastal Commission, Baywatch stars and artist Wyland, he also directed the AOC’s media campaign that successfully recruited enough new subscribers for the State’s “Whale Tail” license plate to secure it as a permanent means for California drivers to support coastal protection programs.

Ryavec later was appointed to the Board of Governors of the international ocean protection organization Oceana, the successor to American Oceans Campaign, and served from 2003 to 2011 as a member of Oceana’s Ocean Council. In his role as an Ocean Council member, on May 21, 2007 Ryavec was on board the Oceana Ranger, a research and monitoring vessel, off the coast of San Raphael, France, when it was attacked and disabled by the crews of seven illegal driftnet ships. The boarding of the Ranger by the angry driftnetters, who were demanding the video discs that documented their illegal fishing, was only avoided by the arrival of a helicopter from the French coastal protection service. The subsequent press and public outcry about the incident and video documentation by the Ranger of the blatant violation of European Union regulations against driftnetting led to the French government’s finally enforcing the ban on use of driftnets.

Advocate for Hollywood Guilds
In 1996 Mark was retained by the Writers Guild of America, West , the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, the Musicians Union Local 47 and other Hollywood entertainment guilds to win repeal of the City of Los Angeles Home Occupation Permit.

“Mark organized a forceful coalition of creative artist guilds and writers groups and then led them on a relentless campaign in city hall and in Sacramento until the author of the Home Occupation Permit cried “uncle” and repealed her own ordinance,”  said Brian Walton, former Executive Director, Writers Guild of America.

Experienced in Local Government
In 1975 Mark joined the staff of the Office of the Chief Legislative Analyst, the think tank for the Los Angeles City Council. He conducted research for the Council on redevelopment, planning, Harbor Department management, federal and state grants, and personnel and employee compensation issues. After several years he resigned to take a trip around the world and when he returned signed on to help elect his former mentor, John Greenwood, to the Los Angeles Board of Education. He continued to work on political campaigns for several years, handling Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties for former California Assembly Speaker Leo McCarthy in his campaign for Lt. Governor and setting up “Californians for Efficient Local Government,” chaired by former California Governor Pat Brown, to oppose Proposition 36, the “The Son of Proposition 13,” which would have raised property taxes on new owners to allow those who bought before 1978 more tax cuts.

In 1985 Mark was named Special Assistant to former County Assessor Alexander Pope and later became Chief Deputy. At his urging, Assessor Pope for the first time in California history reduced property assessments on a whole class of property owners whose condos had significantly declined in value, without requiring that each owner submit a written request. Mark later directed the statewide press relations for the successful “Yes on Prop. 60” campaign, which allows senior citizens to transfer their low, existing property assessments when they move to similar or smaller homes.

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