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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

DuFay Says Good-bye to CEQA for PSH and Motel Conversion Ordinances

By Darryl DuFay

The Los Angeles City Council was very busy pushing through new laws that will deny surrounding neighborhoods the existing protections to question new homeless projects (See LA Times article below). Those existing protections included an environmental review and a public hearing. The review takes place under the CA Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

The Los Angeles City Council has made and affirmed unanimously an “arbitrary proclamation” removing that protection:

“…that there is no substantial evidence supporting a fair argument that the Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) Ordinance will have a significant effect on the environment….”

“… based on the independent judgement… that no major revisions to the Program Environmental Impact Report (PEIR) are required and no subsequent Environmental Report (EIR), or Negative Declaration is required for approval of the project. Source: Council File 17-1422.

The new law affects where we live in the Venice Coastal Zone and specifically the Venice Blvd. “median” project with the proposed construction of 140 housing units, including Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) and services. CEQA issues specific to the proposed Venice “median” project include traffic mitigation, water and wildlife since the Venice Canals bisect the project, engineering and construction in a designated flood, tsunami, and liquefaction zone, along with “rising sea” concerns of the State of CA currently being raised in the development of the Local Coastal Program. Without the protection of CEQA public input is exclude and approval becomes automatic. It is called “ministerial” or “by right” approval.

What the City Council Action has done.
“Under the [PSH Ordinance] homeless housing projects that meet a list of requirements will be able to AVOID a lengthy process at City Hall that includes environmental review and can trigger a public hearing. The new ordinance will also slash parking requirements and allow “permanent supportive housing” projects to be built taller or denser than otherwise allowed.
The law will allow homeless housing projects to “go through our planning process a lot faster and for less cost,” Councilman Jose Huizar said before Wednesday’s vote. “That’s really what this comes down to.”

“Venice Vision” and its lawyer Jamie Hall were included in the article. “Some neighborhood groups have raised concerns about the new laws. Members of the group Venice Vision have argued that the city is eliminating crucial protections for neighbors by allowing more homeless housing projects to proceed without environmental review or public hearings.

“This is an important problem we need to solve,” their attorney Jamie Hall told the council. “But we need to make sure that we’re thoughtful about this and that we’re not removing all of the protections that we have embodied into our law.”

“People are going to be shocked” when they realize what has happened, Hall said after the meeting.”



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