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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

VNC Approves Venice Suites as Apartment Hotel

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By Angela McGregor

A large (upwards of 80 people), contentious crowd was on hand at the last Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) meet to voice their opinions on a motion to change the use of 417 Ocean Park Walk (the Venice Suites Hotel) from an existing (per zoning) 32-unit apartment building to an apartment hotel with 30 guest rooms and two long-term tenants.

Carl Lambert, the property’s owner, was there to defend the motion. He stated that there have been no complaints from former tenants and that more hotels were needed in Venice to staunch the rising numbers of AirBnB’s. In addition, the building, which is designated as historic and was built as a hotel in the 1920’s, is, in his opinion, legally allowed to revert to its original use despite decades as a rent-stabilized apartment building prior to his purchase of it.

Nevertheless, Mr. Lambert is currently being sued by the City of Los Angeles for illegally operating a hotel. The Coastal Commission, on the other hand, has already approved another of Lambert’s Venice properties for hotel use and appears to be predisposed toward favoring hotels on the Boardwalk over permanent housing.

Public comment centered around the loss of affordable housing in the area; 417 Ocean Front Walk was formerly a rent-stabilized building.

Board comment centered around the ongoing lawsuit and questioned whether LUPC should be weighing in on the project in advance of a decision by the City Attorney’s office. Board members also pointed out Venice’s dire need for more hotel rooms. In the end, the motion to allow for the change of use passed with 8 votes in favor, 5 against and three abstentions.

In other business:
Laurie Burns, a Community Officer, has resigned from the VNC, and there is an application to fill the now open seat on the VNC’s website. The deadline for applying is July 10.

In light of California’s recent legalization of recreational marijuana, the VNC will be forming a cannabis task force to make recommendations regarding commercial use. Interested parties should contact the Board through their website.

In public comment, opponents of the recent “Great Streets” initiative on Venice Blvd between Inglewood and Beethoven (which involved a two-lane reduction) announced the formation of an organization (www.restore-venice.com). In light of the fact that the project went forward without any input from the VNC, they are hoping to place a motion on a future VNC Board agenda to advise the city to undo the changes.

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