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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

Dennison Takes Issue With Wrede Article; Wrede and Venice Update Answer Dennison

Becky Dennison, director of Venice Community Housing, takes issue with the article Christian Wrede wrote for Venice Update recently, and accuses Venice Update of not checking the facts and printing misinformation.   Both Christian Wrede and the Venice Update have answered Becky Dennison.  Perhaps, all will benefit from the questions and the answers.

Note that opinion pieces are printed in the Update frequently, and they are usually by lined and explain that person’s  view.    Perhaps, we need more people expressing their views regarding the projects proposed for the Venice Median and the Thatcher Yard.

By Christian Wrede

Yesterday, the Executive Director of Venice Community Housing
Corporation (“VCHC”) – which is poised to become the largest developer
in Venice since Abbot Kinney – posted an article on Venice Update
asserting that there were “glaring factual errors” in my recent piece
stating that the “law doesn’t allow” for the use of public funds to
build affordable housing that is reserved exclusively for artists.

VCHC correctly points out that Section 42 of the Internal Revenue Code
was revised in 2008 (under pressure from real estate developers) to
create a so-called “artist preference,” allowing (to use VCHC’s words)
for “preferential treatment of several groups of people, including
artists” in affordable housing financed by federal tax credits.

Such tax credits, however, have to be combined with other sources of public or private funding. In Los Angeles, the primary source of municipal funding for affordable housing projects is the Affordable Housing Trust Fund (“AHTF”), which is administered by the Housing and Community Investment Department of LosAngeles (“HCIDLA”) (see City of Los Angeles Affordable Housing Trust Fund Pipeline Regulations, Policies and Procedures, August 1, 2016), whose “Fair Housing Policy” (http://hcidla.lacity.org/fair-housing-policy-regard-disability) expressly states that “applicants for any and all units shall be considered for occupancy without prejudice in regard to race, color, religion, sex … [or] source of income,” even while expressly recognizing that protection based on “source of income” is not provided by federal law.

Thus, the City Council Motion at issue in my article, in which Councilman Huizar – and our very own Councilman Bonin – call on HCIDLA (which currently prohibits preferences based on “source of income”) to work with the City Attorney “to report back on the feasibility of an artists’ affordable housing program, and the steps and department needs required to establish such a program.” No such program currently exists.

VCHC has already admitted that the Venice Median Project will be a financial Frankenstein with more sources of funding than you can shake a stick at – Section 8, Prop HHH, private investors and so on – so it may be that they have found a way to skirt the HCIDLA “Fair Housing Policy,” but that leaves valid questions about the changes Bonin and others are making to city law in the fields of housing and development and the effect that those changes will have on small and vulnerable communities like Venice.

By Venice Update

“There are some glaring factual errors in this week’s article in Update about Venice Community Housing (VCH), ” wrote Dennison.     “I understand there is disagreement about our work and planned expansion of affordable housing in Venice, but I would hope that some basic fact-checking would be done before publishing misinformation about us and our plans.

1. ” The article published on Monday claims that the low-income artist housing that VCH is proposing at Venice-Dell-Pacific (Venice Update refers to this as the Venice Median)  “is not allowed under the law.'”  “This is not true.   No City law or program needs to be created or changed for us to move forward with our plans.   The federal tax credit program, located in Section 42 of the federal tax code and the main source of funding for affordable housing, currently allows preferential treatment for several groups of people, including artists.   H.R. 3221 specifically created the artist preference in 2008.   Therefore, there are affordable artist communities similar to the proposal at Venice-Dell-Pacific already operating in Los Angeles and other Southern California cities.   There is no “VCHC scam”.   Beyond being allowed by law, VCH heard from many community residents that they’d like to see low-income artists included and prioritized for housing at Venice-Dell-Pacific and we are looking forward to doing so.   Please see examples of other low-income artist communities here:      http://www.wavartists.com/ and https://www.bisnow.com/los-angeles/news/affordable-housing/housing-for-las-starving-artists-opens-in-san-pedro-45561.”

Answer:  Question from Venice Update.  Then why did Councilmen Jose Huizar and Mike Bonin create a motion coming before the City Council to allow artists to reside in low-cost affordable housing.  If the law is already there, isn’t the effort by Huizar and Bonin redundant?   Why?

2)  “The same article claimed that the City’s proposed Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) Ordinance will “exempt Bonin’s housing projects from zoning restrictions, size and density limitations, environmental review and community input,”  wrote Dennison.  “Again, this simply isn’t true.   The implication in the article is that “Bonin’s housing projects” are the communities being proposed on city-owned land, including Venice-Dell-Pacific.   Venice-Dell-Pacific is not covered by the proposed ordinance due to its current zoning.   Therefore, none of the PSH Ordinance’s possible streamlining processes apply to the site or VCH’s project.   The Venice-Dell-Pacific development process includes a full Environmental Impact Report, the highest level of environmental review, and will follow all regular public approval process with the City and Coastal Commission.”

Answer:  Zoning restrictions, size and density have changed as a result of the PSH Ordinance.   There  is no parking  requirement for PSH (It is possible there is a PSH zoning of no car requirement in existence now.) and the ordinance says that one has to provide at least 50 percent PSH for a project.   These are just two differences.   The properties in question are now zoned Open Space for Venice Median and for the Thatcher Yard, Public Facility.  The Venice Median will be rezoned to a zoning similar to R-3 that allows for commercial also.  I believe it is RS-3.  Property will be rezoned to fit the project.

Thatcher Yard.  The PSH ordinance changes completely the rezoning restrictions for any PF property.  Prior to PSH ordinance approval, PF zoned property would be rezoned in accordance with LAMC 12.04.09.B.9 which states:  “Any joint public and private development uses permitted in the most restrictive adjoining zones if approved by the Director utilizing the procedures described in Section 16.05E to H. The phrase “adjoining zones” refers to the zones on properties abutting, across the street or alley from or having a common corner with the subject property. If there are two or more different adjoining zones, then only the uses permitted by the most restrictive zone shall be permitted.”  In this case for the Thatcher Yard, two of the sides are zoned R-1 (most restrictive) and the other side is C4-OX.  

The PSH ordinance comes along and says completely the opposite by stating:

If the joint public and private development is a Qualified Permanent Supportive Housing Project developed pursuant to Section 14.00 A.11 of this Code, the uses and standards permitted by the least restrictive zone within a 1,320 foot radius shall be permitted utilizing the procedures described therein.  The “least” restrictive would be C4-OX, which is 19 stories.

David Graham-Caso, Bonin’s Chief of Staff,  stated in an email to the Venice Update last week  that the PSH ordinance would have no bearing on the PF zoning or development of the Thatcher Yard, even if approved.  Yet, the developers during site inspection, made the statements regarding the site of upward of 3 stories, 150 units, 50 percent PSH–all qualifiers for the PSH ordinance.  There are two contracts to be considered  — the “get together with the community” and then the development contract.  Will both exclude the PSH ordinance?  Graham-Caso says yes.

Thatcher yard, if rezoned in accordance with existing LA municipal codes, would be rezoned R-1 and based on a 5000-sq foot lot, would have approximately 18 houses.

If rezoned to RD-1.5 as the RFQ/P stated and Councilman Mike Bonin stated in the Town Hall, the property would yield 62 units and two 35 percent bonuses of 21.7 each, which would be 62 to 104 or 106.   That is approximately one third the size of the total R-1 Oxford Triangle population.

If rezoned to C4-OX, it is one of the City’s densest.

Note:  Yes, Becky Dennison is concerned about the accuracy of her project and rightly so.  Venetians see the big picture of three large projects in Venice –the Thatcher Yard, the Venice Median, the MTA lot.  These are community changing plans .  The Venice Specific Plan, if followed, doesn’t allow more than two lots being combined. The Venice Median is combining many lots.  The Thatcher Yard will be rezoned what?  One of three options.


Comment (1)

  1. Stan Becker

    Becky Dennison claims to understand that there is “disagreement about our work.” There really isn’t much disgreement about the violent, infested, slumlord conditions she KNOWINGLY insists upon forcing her tenants to withstand, or expire from. the Coroner Van no stranger there. The Horizon building is the scene of at least two sexual assaults by their own Management staff. Steve Clare – Linda Lucks – Becky Dennison – Carol Sobel, Jaclyn Wilcoxsen, Nilsa Gallardo, ALL Know and are involved in these constant and dangerous Cover-ups. Abuses by their highest Execs like Bridgett Bell and especially Asset and Property Manager Max Harris, (who just suffered a “recission” of one of his false “Cease & Desist” he files to a government Agency targetting Tenants who protest the Infestations and Violence. Becky and Max claim their Subsidized Cameras are “out” during each of the many violent assault batteries on the Property they were given for free; and do not maintain. Ownner Steve Clare and certainly Becky Dennison directy knows that more LAPD and LAFD first-reponder deployments for violence, happen at that address than any other address in the zip code; and an overwhelming several dozens of constant Inspection Fails and the constant miseries related to those dangers that VCH and St. Josephs Center force people to live with. This is beyond the pathologization of any particular maligned Whistleblower/Tenant, or couragous abused woman making a Patients Rights Report. This is un-impeachable information and I have specfics; and am ready and willing to be challenged point by point by ANYBODY on these matters. Dennison refuses public contact that is not highly controlled by her own team. It’s important to understand a conciousness of business that creates and ensures ‘Poverty Pimp’ level dangers. VCH (C) will single-out and Target a critic or Tenant with responsible information, and I expect that will continue. It’s a horror-show of the all too epidemic Poverty Pimp abuses and vicious continual assaults in an environment that ensures, encourages and actually Enforces dysfunction and despair. There is a sucide cluster ther as well. Steve Clare hides after the double-deaths and brings in Policy Activist Dennison at 140k (plus plus plus) to increase their hundred million dollar Real Estate Equity Investment Portfolio. They ‘care’ not at all about the vulnerable in society; they actually literally abuse them while three agencies multiply and endlessly bill for Services and Departments that never existed. Rather than attack me personally; debate me or check the facts independently and responbsibly, there will be accusations and phantom events manufactured to dismiss a critics legitimacy and distract from the clear established facts of how VCH manages ‘wrap around services’ models. Dennison is a community danger. Developers here ALWAYS use “the arts’ as a wedge for their piracy or to finesse ‘variances’ and last-minute changes. I remember the mall that was an Art Museum for about a month or so…then folded, in order to reduce a mandatory restriction on a construction aspect. Don’t put it past VCH to play these games. This is the sum and total of Steve Clare’s actual skill-set. Every single ‘program’ these agencies cover in their constant Subsidized Professional Multi-Media Production Companies, is a matter of “Self Reporting,” according to GuideStar and other Industry leading Sites. They are illusionists and Becky Dennision has lied to my face about simple things that would have been easier to tell the truth about. These people do not CARE to adminstrate the mopping of a garage floor. Their own offices and re$idences are free from virulent constant dangerous infestations, and constant violence. VCH with St. Josephs in these expensive and unaccountable projects, create and ensure violence and misery for others who have worked in the “actual,” non-subsidized economy, where money is real. Because you have to earn it. These people are not elected but have more power and influence as the years go by; and can never be removed, even when they create such chaos and misery so regularly? Perfect unaccountable Real Estate Social Engineering scam with zero Oversight and systemic dysfunction that is smart enough to ensure that there is no Accountability. Here Dennison equivocates about the rash of changes and Houdini tricks they play with their mini-mall retail dreams (artist housing? who picks? Max or Dennison?) It’s another fuzzy and warm Distraction to wedge themselves into more countless Millions for creating misery for tenants and community. And further enriching themselves as Empires expand.
    Stan Becker
    Horizon Health Action Coalition
    Tenant Rights Are Human Rights

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