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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

VNC Board Approves 720 Rose and Bridge Housing Feasibility Study

By Angela McGregor

Tuesday night’s Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) meeting was packed with dozens of supporters of the Venice Community Housing  (VCH) permanent supportive housing project at 720 Rose Avenue. Most were wearing identical black t-shirts declaring their support for Bridge, Affordable and PSH and many were holding a long-stemmed red rose. Over 70 of them offered public commentary, loudly applauding one another as they did so.

The project as proposed is considerably larger in mass and scale than the Venice Specific plan allows. It is 45 feet tall and includes only 17 onsite and seven offsite parking spaces for 35 residents (including one on-site manager) plus 1850 square feet of commercial for seven VCH staff members. In their presentation (seen here: http://www.vchcorp.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Rose-Ave-Powerpoint-8-30-18Part1.pdf), the applicants stated that it’s their belief that state law, in the form of Assembly Bill 744, supersedes the Venice Coastal Specific Plan, although it’s not a “fate accompli” and the project will require many more approvals (including Coastal Commission) going forward.

The four story complex, which features a center courtyard in lieu of air conditioning, is 45 feet tall, or roughly 20 feet taller than would otherwise be allowed by the Venice Specific Plan. The developer said they have provided step-back on the roof to bring the front of the building in compliance with the VSP limit. Of the 34 residents, 50 percent would be for chronically homeless and 50 percent for homeless transition-aged youth. All units would be earmarked for supportive housing and two full time social services staff members would have offices onsite. The project is designed by Santa Monica architects, Brooks + Scarpa.

Proponents of the project, many of whom were from Safe Place for Youth, cited the crushing need for youth housing in the area and stated that some of their clients were working in Venice businesses while still sleeping on the streets.

Others pointed out that there has been no new, affordable housing development in Venice in over 20 years despite widespread gentrification. (Del Rey on Beach is one new one that VCH claims for Venice. It was stated that VCH manages 16 buildings, 226 units.) Still others offered a more political view which devalued density and parking concerns in light of what they termed a “humanitarian crisis”.

Those directly involved with the project insisted that the state has ruled that local zoning restrictions on parking are unnecessary for PSH developments, since the residents simply do not own cars.

The Venice residents who spoke against the project were no less impassioned (although greatly outnumbered). They pointed out that VCH has yet to meet with neighbors and present a proposal that would meet VSP requirements and allay their concerns about insufficient parking, and that a project this out of scale with the surrounding neighborhood would set a precedent for future, oversized development.

Board comment on the project focused on the need for such dense, affordable housing in Venice in order to preserve the community’s diversity, as well as to address the obvious, growing homelessness crisis. Board members also voiced concerns about the scale of the project, in light of how strictly they have enforced the VSP for other types of development. In the end, the motion to approve the project passed, 9-4-1.

In the other LUPC item of the night, the Board voted to approve Jim Murez’s suggested feasibility study for Bridge Housing at other other potential sites in CD11 as the City  analyses  the MTA Lot for such a project.

Murez’s PowerPoint presentation (seen here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/11i5x7RCh6124DsJdeObZwbCPeeMARxiz) pointed out a number of LUPC concerns with the MTA Lot project as described on the city’s website (seen here: https://11thdistrict.com/a-bridge-home/venice-faq/), including the lack of kitchen space in the plans and implying the delivery of over 400 meals a day with parking for just seven vehicles), the lack of laundry space for residents, and the lack of office space for onsite staff.

The alternative sites presented — the West LA Municipal Center, the Westchester Municipal Center, Daniel Freeman Hospital and the LAPD  Training Center and Operations Center — all include such facilities and could be permanent

Another VNC Board member — Steve Livigni — has resigned from the Board, leaving two vacancies to be filled at the December meeting. Application forms can be found on the VNC’s website. The entire Board will be replaced in an election in June, and anyone interested in running for the Board can file an application to do so this February.

The next meeting of the VNC Board will be Tuesday, December 18th.

Comments (4)

  1. Roman Marsh

    I am a longtime Venice resident and I don’t want bum housing in Venice. The only thing worse than the bums are the bum supporters.

  2. Nick Antonicello

    The Venice Housing Corporation is flush with cash, but is committed to turning Venice into a slum. The VNC does not represent the community, but rather the Bonin followers and other non-Venice residents who play social engineering with the future of the community. Jim Murez is to be congratulated for taking on the bridge housing issue with a real and true alternative that will be ignored by Bonin because he does not care about the people who actually contribute and live here. He is an ambitious, career politician living off the government tit for decades.

    • Marie Hammond

      I would venture to say that most of the Venice residents at the Board meeting in support of 720 Rose love living in Venice because of the protections the VSP has offered them in their Venice community.
      Savvy developers will soon find a way to make this oversized, under-parked project work in their behalf…..

    • Nicole

      They represent me. I’m all for this!! I’m a longtime resident who supports bridge and affordable housing.

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