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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

BID Board Meets with Members of District for First Time

Board members of the Business Improvement District (BID) from left to right are Jack Hoffmann, Sam Lopata, Matt Moore, Steve Heumann, Mark Sokol, Tara Devine(CEO), Jeremy Weinstein, Jay Goodfader, and BID Counsel Don Steier.

The Business Improvement District (BID) board members met for the first time with approximately 50 of the members of the BID. The BID consists of the commercial and industrial zoned properties enclosed in black as shown in the photo.

Proposed BID

The meeting was contentious with a room filled with property owners who had been assessed twice and had not received any services or communications since the November 2016 City Council approval. Mark Sokol, who chaired the meeting, explained that while members had been assessed, the board had not received funds until midAugust. All agreed that communications had to be improved. Members of the BID had questions and they asked them.

First part of business was to fill resigning member Carl Lambert’s place on the board. Jay Goodfader was elected.

The board announced they would meet the second Friday of each month and at 206 Main St unless announced otherwise. One assumes the time will be 10 am.

The board voted on selecting AlliedUniversal as the one for the “safe” ambassadorial services and Chrysalis as the company to do the “clean” service. Both AlliedUniversal and Chrysalis provided copies of their proposals for each attending member.

The board announced both “safe” and “clean” services were to commence in March. There would be a six-week startup period, before or after March was not explained. Tara Devine, BID chief executive officer, said “To request services, a hotline phone number will be established as well as an email account. There will be a web page.”

Residential use vs commercial, industrial zoning
One of the contentions the group had, and even before City Council approval, was the inclusion of residential used commercial and industrial properties. Those who had properties with residential use did not want them included. The argument continued. One man lived in a condo above the clown building at Main and Rose and wanted to know what he had to do with this group. They explained that mixed-use buildings were zoned commercial and Debbie Dyner-Harris, chief of staff to Mike Bonin, confirmed this. Tara Devine, chief executive officer, stated “zoned,” not “use” was the criteria for a BID.

Linda Lucks, representing Venice Community Housing (VCH), said their 25-unit VCH building on 4th had affordable residential units even though it was zoned commercial and they could not raise the rents. They had been assessed $7000 twice. ($7000 for one year would be $23 per month, per unit.)

John Okulick asked why Abbot Kinney, Lincoln and Washington Blvds were not included.

Public property in BID, gerrymandering
It was brought up that one third of the properties were public properties — the library, the Westminster Elementary School, parks, etc. Many in the group accused the City of gerrymandering the properties to get the BID vote approval.

Why these people on board
The audience wanted to know why these people were selected as board members. A lawyer explained the organizing.

Want my money back
Many wanted their 73 percent of what they paid back. The 27 percent was to be for administering the BID. They said they just wanted the 73 percent back since nothing had been done.

Clean and Safe are the responsibilities of City services
Some said safe and clean problems are citywide problems and should be handled by the City. It was brought out that the members didn’t feel they should be held responsible. It was mentioned that this was a form of gentrification. One said it was “privatizing rights to Venice Beach.”

It was asked whether the City services, such as police, would be stopped or diminished. Debbie Dyner-Harris said “No.” Services would not be diminished. They might be diverted to other areas, as needed, within the BID. The AlliedUniversal “safe” workers do not carry guns. They will be able to carry other protective equipment. They will be helpful, provide information, direction to citizens.

Tara Devine explained that the “clean” would take care of public right of ways and their response time would be must less than the City services. They would do graffiti, remove gum from sidewalks and power clean them. “We are supplemental to the City services,” she explained. “BIDs fit the areas they are in … they operate and cooperate with public services.”

Colleen Saro, president of the Oceanfront Merchants Association, suggested that a member of the Oceanfront association be a member of the board because person could provide grassroots  input.

John Okulick says he wants his money back for one year of nothing being done.

Marlene Okulick brought up the situation of the homeless moving to other areas.

Tara Devine addresses both poor communications and lack of services.

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