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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

First VNC Zoom Board Meeting is an All Night Effort; Says “No” to Lincoln Apartments

By Angela McGregor

Despite previous VNC Zoom meetings of the AdComm and LUPC Committees, there were still a few technical difficulties to be ironed out on May 21st as the Board and hundreds of attendees “arrived” to the Board’s first meeting since February.

It was 7:30pm before all Board members had logged in and popped up on screen, settings were adjusted, audio problems were ironed out and home computer issues were resolved (with the expert assistance of Empower LA’s Jasmine Elbarbary). 

Former VNC Board member Nisa Kove, now the Venice liaison for Councilman Bonin’s office, announced that the Councilman is well aware of the rapid growth of encampments in Venice, due in part to the lack of bulky item pickup service and CDC’s recommendation that homeless be allowed to remain in their tents during the pandemic.  Bonin has recently met with neighbors of the Rose Avenue encampments and, in Kove’s  words, “discussions are underway”.

With the removal of Matt Fisher and Nisa Kove’s departure to take the position in the Councilman’s office, there were two vacant, at-large Board seats to fill.  Nine candidates applied, and after two votes to break a tie between the two second place finishers, Vicki Halliday (https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1ZNp3zfH_Tme9exl66U1twLMl88NAdGDs) and Soledad Ursua (https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1ZNp3zfH_Tme9exl66U1twLMl88NAdGDs) were elected to finish out this term.  They will be sworn in at the next meeting, once they have received the mandatory ethics training.

Jim Murez’s request to move his Parking and Transportation motions to the front of the agenda, given his required, early morning, presence at Friday’s Venice Farmer’s Market, was granted.  First up was a motion to send a letter to the City requesting a Department of Public Works “Street Vacation” of the now unimproved (and overrun with encampments) sidewalk along Rose Avenue between Frederick St. and Glen Avon, handing control of the space to Parks and Recreation to create an “official” walking and running trail.  Public commentary in favor of the proposal noted that, until recently, that path had served as the “heart of the neighborhood” which had been lost to the encampments, many of which featured criminal activity.  Opposition to the proposal came from homeless advocates who insisted the motion be amended to include a mandate that any homeless who were displaced by the project be offered housing.  Jim Murez pointed out that the proposal was to set in motion a process at the City that would take several months to complete, and so wasn’t designed to offer immediate relief from the encampments.  The motion passed, 14-3-2.

A motion to put K rails on the east side of Main Street failed, 8-8-3, and a motion to re-instate overnight parking restrictions on Main Street passed, 13-5-1.

The night’s “main event” was the consideration of LUPC’s motion to deny the VCHC’s Lincoln Apartments project at the site of Safe Place for Youth’s current facility at 2567  Lincoln Blvd presented at their meeting last week (see:  https://veniceupdate.com/2020/05/15/lupc-rejects-lincoln-place-apartments-at-special-meeting/), and public commentary did not commence until 11:30pm.  Consideration of the motion was restricted to an hour, and each commenter was granted 30 seconds to speak.  According to Ira Koslow, the Board has, to date, received about 2000 emails regarding the project, and in the interest of time management he stressed the need for stakeholders who had already expressed their opinions via email to not repeat themselves by raising their hand on Zoom.  Nevertheless, dozens did, and their observations followed a similar pattern to those given at the special LUPC meeting:  opposition cited numerous incidents of violence and harassment of the children who attend both Coeur d’Alene Elementary and St. Mark (including several lockdowns of both campuses due to threatening behavior by SPY’s clients).  Proponents of the project characterized such objections as without basis in fact and defended VCHC’s refusal to consider criminal background checks of prospective tenants to be justified by  “fair housing laws”, and their refusal to forbid drug and alcohol consumption and the retention of deadly weapons within the facility as accepted best practices.

The VNC Board agreed with LUPC that the project, as presented, should be denied, and voted to approve the motion 14-0-1 shortly before 1 am.  The project will now go before City Planning on 28 May.  (see https://planning.lacity.org/pdiscaseinfo/search/encoded/MjMyODgy0).


Comments (11)

  1. Eric Ahlberg

    This is the VNC too easily caving to Fight Back Venice’s campaign of fear mongering against this project, and voting against supportive housing. The vote is only advisory to Bonin, who gets regularly trashed by these kooks, and is free to ignore them, so now they are going to picket him. Stand fast against this Mike. Meanwhile, on the state level I hear there may be laws made to prevent this kind opposition to supportive housing, because there are nimby groups all over, Preventers of Solutions to Homelessness. They all say the same thing, the kids are in danger, and it is too expensive here. That means poor people not welcome.

    • OnTheStreet

      Or maybe it means adults aren’t free to terrorize, ridicule, and endanger 4-year-olds? The parents on the call were pretty clear that there wasn’t a threat of “potential danger” from SPY clients, but that there have been a couple of years of ongoing problems with them yelling at and threatening small kids as they enter and exit the back entrance of SPY on Garfield Ave.

      SPY needs to get their house cleaned up and managed before being given keys to a bigger one.

    • Beth Baker

      Glad to see Venice resident have grown some balls and sent these people packing. Take you bums somewhere else. Time to clean up Venice and take it back.

  2. Mike Bravo

    I always wonder how the votes would go if we actually had a real Venice vote—an inclusive VNC board that wasn’t inundated with gentrifiers, polite racism advocates, and real estate property gangsters.

    • Chío

      It’s a small miracle that the bickering council members agreed on anything, but the prospect of little kids getting more harassed, endangered or attacked than they already have been by SPY’s mostly adult clientele scared them into a nearly unanimous vote.

      It’s probably going to take a child getting shot or seriously wounded for the city to see just how mismanaged SPY was all this time, and considering the last Assault with a Deadly Weapon one of their clients went on was a just a few feet from kids in the spring, I’m guessing it’s just a matter of time.

      • Mike Bravo

        I believe there is something to further investigate with the concern of endangerment but from what it looked like it was mostly a NIMBY factor that gave it the edge. None of the people on the board minus one or two even like VCHC so regardless of any valid or meritless arguments the vote would have remained mostly the same.

  3. Lita J.

    Didn’t Abundant Housing LA just get its hand slapped for ethics violations when they tried meddling in Los Feliz council meetings?

    Why are they popping up in Venice and doing the same thing all over again, under the cover of darkness?

    “It’s unethical and shady that someone working for @abundanthousing got on a Venice community call, used a pseudonym, and feigned having a personal stake in a local issue. It doesn’t speak well of the organization. If you’re proud of what you do, do it right.”


  4. Ms. Puddintane

    Checked out the project plan and noted it’s a reuse of a philanthropic center which should mean there are obligations to the environment, local community, and the society at large. I do hope Safe Place for Youth addresses last night’s feedback from the community and begins to improve operations at their facilities. While Alison Hurst’s attempt to stir up a squabble between religious denominations was distasteful, it really did sound like the neighbors and church support housing. Perhaps after proving themselves capable for several months maybe S.P.Y. could resubmit a proposal to develop housing at a better location. I thought the meeting was awesome as it showed just how involved the community is and the importance of the Venice Neighborhood Council. Just an observation but supporters constantly referred to homeless as stakeholders. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a stakeholder is a person or business that has invested money in something.

  5. Nick Antonicello

    A victory for the residents of Venice and an overwhelming defeat for VHC and it’s terrible leader who has no plan to solve the homeless issue and why that ridiculous proposal was rejected without a single vote of support. It should be a wake-up call for the incompetent Mike Bonin whose candidates for the VNC were trashed and his continued opposition to normal residents for thugs, criminals, drug dealers, drug addicts, meth heads, prostitutes and the other dregs of society who roam the streets of Venice with his stamp of approval! The patients are running the asylum known as Venice thanks to his incompetence and hatred of homeowners, taxpayers and tenants!

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