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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

Fight Back Venice Analyzes Reese-Davidson (Venice Median) Housing Project

By Fight Back Venice

The Hollywood Community Housing Corporation (“HCHC”), the Venice Community Housing Corporation (“VCHC”) and architects Eric Owen Moss and Eric McNevin last month filed an application with the Los Angeles Department of City Planning for the so-called “Reese Davidson Community” (a.k.a. the “Monster on the Median”). Not a mere housing project – an entire “community.”

The application was filed over the holidays to avoid attention and does not include any signatures of support from surrounding neighbors or any review by the Venice Neighborhood Council, even though the application calls for both.

The Reese Davidson Community is five times larger than the typical supportive housing development and will consume approximately 40 lots on nearly three acres (commonly referred to as the Venice Median) on one of the most heavily trafficked corridors in Venice, immediately adjacent to the historic Venice Canals and just a block off the sand at the very gateway to Venice Beach and the Venice Boardwalk.

True to form, VCHC has only posted a handful of documents on its website, but we collected the plans and the application in their entirety, and the proposed project is even more gruesome (and more profoundly disrespectful to our community) than we feared.

As described in the application, the Community will straddle the Grand Canal, range from 3-5 stories with setbacks of 5 feet (or less), and include:

140 residential units (68 permanent supportive housing (“PSH”) units / 34 general affordable housing units / 34 affordable “live/work lofts” for artists / 4 manager units)

a 4-story parking structure on the lot to the west of the Grand Canal and a 5-story parking structure on the lot to the east of Grand canal (395 – 436 spaces total), with roof top parking that will extend the effective height of the parking structures to 42’

a 67-foot “cantilevered architectural campanile” at the northwest corner of the property (facing the iconic mural of Abbot Kinney)

685 sq. ft. of social services office space

8,220 sq. ft. of retail/restaurant/art studio/community space

According to the application, the total number of occupants and the extent to which “special events” will be hosted on site are “TBD.” There are no clean living, job counseling requirements and, as a matter of law, units cannot be reserved for residents of Venice encampments.

Financial details have not yet been disclosed, but VCHC’s less complex project on Rose Avenue is projected to cost $430,000 per unit not including land, and the Venice Median is conservatively valued at $90 million so the per unit price tag – including land and construction costs – could well be $1 million or more per unit!

In keeping with Eric Owen Moss’s style, the buildings are essentially oversized concrete boxes, and the developers are seeking numerous concessions, including:

exemption from all requirements under the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) as to “aesthetic character, shade and shadow, light and glare, and scenic vistas or any other aesthetic impact”

amendments to the Venice Community Plan and the Venice Coastal Zone Specific Plan converting the Venice Median from “open space” to “commercial” and stripping all references to “open space” on the Venice Median from the Venice Community Plan

an increase of applicable height limits from 22’ to 35’ on the south side of the Project facing the Venice Canals

an increase of applicable height limits to 67’ – and complete elimination of any setback – for the “cantilevered architectural campanile” and corresponding roof access

elimination of the varied roofline requirement

elimination of incremental setback requirements for roofs in excess of 30’

further reduction of substandard sidewalks and roadways on Dell Avenue, Pacific Avenue and Venice Boulevard

It appears HCHC and VCHC are working hand-in-glove with the City to move the project forward as quickly – and surreptitiously – as possible.

The Reese Davidson Community is one of six major homeless projects currently in the pipeline for Venice, and the fourth housing project for which plans were released in 2018.

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