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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

Local Architect Urges Defeat of PSH Ordinance and Explains Why; Comment Time Over 31 Oct

The white structure under the tree is a two-story house with a covered deck.  The 19-story building is the Waterside condominium, a C4-OX zoned project.

Dan Whalen, local architect, says new PSH ordinance is written specifically to put high-rise (C4-0x) zoning project next to single-family residences at Thatcher Yard.

Previously, the Los Angeles Municipal Code (LAMC), in order to protect surrounding properties to a PF (public facility) zoned property, stated that the PF zoned property, when rezoned, would comply with the “‘most restrictive” zoning of the prevailing surrounding properties, which would be R-1.

The new PSH ordinance says  new zoning will comply with the “least restrictive” meaning the highest zoning in the area within 1320 feet.That would be C4-OX, which has an adjoining building 19 stories. Venice doesn’t get higher than that.

Dan Whalen urges all Venetians to write letters to defeat this proposed PSH ordinance.

By Dan Whalen

The City has entered into an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement with Thomas Safran and Associates to develop the former Thatcher Maintenance Yard into a high-density multi- family Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) project.

The Thatcher Maintenance Yard site is currently zoned “Public Facility” (PF) and would need to be re-zoned prior to any PSH development. To ensure that the future use of a PF-zoned lot is compatible with adjoining properties, the Los Angeles City Municipal Code (LAMC) includes mandates to protect adjoining lower-density properties whenever PF- zoned sites are redeveloped.

The Municipal Code states that only those uses allowed by the most restrictive adjoining zones shall be permitted. Therefore, because the Thatcher Yard site is bordered on three sides by R1-1 single-family residences, any zoning other than R1-1 is not allowed under the current Municipal Code.

New PSH Ordinance
To bypass this long-standing code requirement, Councilman Bonin is supporting a new City Ordinance. This new Ordinance would eliminate the Municipal Code protections for adjoining properties if the PF-zoned property is specifically redeveloped as a PSH project (such as the one proposed for Thatcher Yard). In this case, instead of being limited by the most restrictive adjoining zoning, PSH projects on PF-zoned lots could be re-zoned with the least restrictive zoning within a quarter mile radius.

For the Thatcher Yard, that would mean the allowable new zoning would be the same as for the three high-rise residential towers located at the south end of the Oxford Triangle. This new zoning would be C4-OX-2D, one of the densest allowed for any residential project.

Of all the proposed PSH sites within the City, the Thatcher Yard is the only one located on a PF-zoned site with adjoining single-family homes. The new Ordinance appears to be specifically written for the Thatcher Yard project alone.

In addition to the zoning change for PSH projects, the new Ordinance would also allow 35% increases in the allowable height, 35% increases in the allowable floor area, and decreases in both the minimum required setbacks and minimum amount of open space.

At least one-half of all PSH units will be reserved for the formerly homeless. The new Ordinance does not require any parking for these units. The Ordinance allows additional parking reductions for the remaining PSH units, as well as reductions in the required guest parking.

Impact of New Ordinance
This Ordinance attempts to override the Coastal Act, the certified Venice Land Use Plan and the Oxford Triangle Specific Plan.

The Ordinance allows for high-density zoning that will overwhelm adjoining single-family homes and our residential streets. The allowable increases in the mass, scale and character of the new PSH projects will negatively impact all adjoining single-family homes.

The new Ordinance eases parking requirements and will force at least half the PSH residents to park on adjacent residential streets. With the existing parking shortage in Venice, this Ordinance would only make a bad situation much worse.

The decisions made today for new PSH projects will be contractually fixed for the next
55 years. If the new Ordinance is allowed to pass, it will have a profound and long-lasting negative impact on our neighborhood and a very small positive impact on the homeless crisis.

Call to Action
Councilman Bonin assured our neighborhood that the “planning process would be followed”. Let’s make sure he honors that commitment and is not allowed to remove essential Municipal Code protections.

Changes to the Municipal Code should not be taken lightly, and certainly not because of single project. I urge you to tell Councilman Bonin, Mayor Garcetti, the Planning Department, other City Council members, your Venice Neighborhood Council, and the California Coastal Commission that this Ordinance is short-sighted and not in the best interests of our community.

The proposed PSH Ordinance is seriously flawed and needs to be defeated in its current form. However, the City is on the fast-track to get it approved. The public comment period ends on October 31 with a City Council vote for approval in November.

LA City Planning PSH Ordinance Point of Contact

LA City Officials:
david.ryu@lacity.org paul.koretz@lacity.org

Venice Neighborhood Council

California Coastal Commission Official:

Comments (6)

  1. Patrick

    What in the $@#%^& is a PSH? Please define such terms before you use them!!!! Otherwise this blog will appeal only to zoning geeks.

  2. Billy Z

    I have written everyone to pass the ordinance. Thanks for the tip.

  3. Anonymous

    Agree with everything written but would like to be clear – Thatcher Yard AND the Venice Median project are BOTH abutting single-family homes. In fact, the Median project is directly connected to single-family homes with no street barrier.

    • reta

      The PSH ordinance states “least restrictive.” In Venice Median it would be, I think, your R-3. Your “most restrictive” would be R-1 as would the Thatcher Yard.

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