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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

2019 Homeless Count Shows Venice Up 13 Percent; CD11 Up 12 Percent; Shows Venice Has Almost 50 Percent of CD11 Homeless

2019 LAHSA Homeless Count for Venice

(20 June 2019) The LAHSA (Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority) 2019 homeless count for Venice is 1101, an increase of 13 percent; homeless count for CD11 is 2284, an increase of  12 percent.  Further comparison of the figures shows that Venice has almost 50 percent of the CD11 homeless.

The 2018 homeless count for Venice was 975 and the 2018 homeless count for CD11 was 2041.

There is a discrepancy in the individual count of communities which comes to 2102 in comparison with CD11 which shows 2284, a difference of 182.

As figures change or information becomes clearer, this story gets changed.

There is also a discrepancy for 2018.  There are 30 more in the individual count than in the total provided. Once again these figures are subject to change.

These are the communities that comprised CD11 in 2018 with their numbers and the coinciding numbers for 2019.  First column is 2018 and second column is 2019.

Pacific Palisades           108             82

Mar Vista                       134            159

Del Rey                           211            107

Brentwood                      60              19

West LA /Sawlelle       178           262

Westchester/Playa      334           308
del Rey

Marina del Rey               10              12

Venice                            975          1101

Playa Vista                      61              52

2019 Homeless Count is Out

Quick figures for the 2019 Homeless Count show that the LA County has increased 12 percent and the City has increased 16 percent. Count for Venice is not available yet.


City Council Passes “REQUEST” that LAHSA Produce Detailed Accounting Within 60 Dayas

Note: It is the Venice Update opinion that the same should be requested of St. Joseph Center.   This is a public institution operating without answering questions.  Any public, charitable institution should be available for questions and answers,

Darryl DuFay is making the motion request to be presented at the Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) at the 18n February meeting that a Community Impact Statement (CIS) be passed by the Venice Neighborhood Council in support of this City motion (shown below) and be presented to the Los Angeles City Council.  A CIS in effect states Venice agrees, supports  you or does not agree and for such reasons,

A motion was brought by residents at the Venice Homeless Committee to add a restriction to the City’s Homeless and Poverty committee motion of a 500-foot restriction for parks and schools to include no homeless within 300 feet of property with a certificate of occupancy for R-1.. The Venice Homeless Committee turned the proposed motion down. Eva Greene has stated they have more than enough signatures to bring the motion to the Venice Neighborhood Council, bypassing the Venice Homeless Committee, at the February meeting. The Venice Neighborhood Council does not make laws. They make suggestions to the City Council for action.

Venice is the homeless capital for CD11.  It should definitely stand up and state its position!

By Darryl DuFay

Homelessness is in a crisis. Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority ( LAHSA) is the premier organization in charge. It is a joint-powers behemoth of the County and City of Los Angeles. It administers over 400 million dollars a year. The accusations, finger pointing, and complaints about the sad state of effectively dealing with homelessness has reached a point where the City Council’s Homelessness and Poverty Committee demanded to know what is going on.

The Committee passed and sent a Motion on Jan. 15th to the City Council demanding to know what LAHSA has done over the past four years. It is a momentous action and reads like an indictment. A copy is below. It was adopted by the City Council on January 28, 2020.

When the VNC Board meets 18 February, Agenda Item 13D (see below) is a request for a VNC Community Impact Statement (CIS) in support of the City Council’s Homelessness and Poverty Committee Motion. This will create a permanent file. As of this date no other CIS has been filed.

Raucous Homeless Committee Meeting Fails to Deliver Motion

By Angela McGregor

The public meeting room at the Venice Public Library was packed with an overflow crowd on Thursday night to weigh in  on the Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) Homeless Committee’s single motion:

MOTION TO AMEND LAMC 41.18 The Venice Neighborhood Council calls upon the Los Angeles City Council to Amend LAMC 41.18 as follows: (d) No person shall sit, lie or sleep in or upon any street, sidewalk, or other public right-of-way as follows: (1) At any time in a manner that restricts fifteen feet of clearance from any utilizable and operational entrance, exit, driveway or loading dock. (2) At any time in a manner that restricts passage to less than 36” in any and all directions, as required by the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). (3) At any time: (i)Within 300 feet of any structure, with a Certificate of Occupancy, that is in residential use. (ii)Within 500 feet of a park. (iii)Within 500feet of a school. (iv)Within 500 feet of a daycare center. (v)In or upon any tunnel, bridge or pedestrian subway that is on a route designated by City Council resolution as a school route. (vi)Within 500 feet of a facility opened after January 1, 2018 to provide housing, shelter, supportive services, safe parking, or storage to homeless persons. (vi) Bike and other recreational paths. (vii)Public areas(non-sidewalk) posted with No Trespass signs for safety purposes. (viii)Public areas posted with closing times for safety and maintenance purposes. (ix) Crowded public sidewalk areas like those exempted in the Citywide vending ordinance and other large venue-adjacent areas. Upon passage this Resolution shall be presented as a Community Impact Statement to the City Council and attached to Council File #19-06Q2-S1.

According to the presenter of the motion, VNC Board member Mark Ryavec, 90 percent of the motion was drafted by the City Attorney at the request of City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, in response to the recent Boise decision by the US Supreme Court.

Prior to the motion being presented, dozens of attendees spoke during general commentary to give their opinions and/or experiences with the homeless population of Venice. Many had been victims of violence by the homeless, including three stakeholders who recounted elderly neighbors being assaulted and robbed.

Others pointed out to cheers from the crowd that the homelessness crisis in California is not due to housing but rather mental illness and substance addiction, and that services to address this need to be prioritized over other solutions.

When CD11 Bridge Housing representative Allison Willhite introduced herself, she was asked whether the Bridge Housing facility being built on the site of the MTA bus yard (due to open late next month) on Main Street would feature rehab and/or mental health treatment. She declined to state, but suggested holding a special committee meeting in the future to discuss concerns regarding the facility.

Commentary from the loud and occasionally rowdy crowd was almost universally in favor of the motion. Board commentary from the four committee members who attended (Will Hawkins and Liz Wright were absent) was as follows:

Brian Ulf, who described himself as a long time recovering addict, member of the LAPD’s advisory committee and board member of SHARE (Self Help and Recovery Exchange) Collaborative Housing, stated that it was clear to him that the community has “reached a crisis level and deserves answers, and a response.”  He offered to meet  with anyone with questions after the meeting. He voted in favor of the motion, he said, because Venice is suffering more than any other community, and this would send a “small message” to the City council that things are becoming intolerable.

Michael Rapkin, a local attorney who has advocated on behalf of the homeless for several years, stated that the measure was legally unenforceable and so he could not support it after a somewhat long-winded explanation that included his recounting of taking in a homeless couple for four months and arguing on behalf of a woman living in her RV.

Committee Co-Chair Frank Murphy, a local developer who has pushed for denser housing in Venice, also voted against the measure. He acknowledged that Venice has both a disproportionate number of homeless as well as services, but stated these needed to be dealt with “in a smart way” and that the motion, which he also deemed unenforceable, was “not smart”.

Committee Co-Chair Charles Rials, elected to the VNC Board as an at-large community officer last year, also voted against the motion. He stood and described himself as “formerly homeless” and said he knew “what it’s like not to have any place to live on the street because no one wants you there”. In a 2019 article in the Argonaut, Rials said that he had arrived in Venice at the age of 15 after escaping foster care in Texas. Rials was convicted in November of 2015 of assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury, after a widely publicized incident in which he and a gang of local skateboarders pinned a 16 –year-old girl to the ground and opened her skull with a skateboard. After leaving prison in April 2016 he became an outreach worker for Safe Place for Youth.

The crowd responded angrily to the vote, and immediately a petition was circulated to get the motion onto the agenda of the next VNC meeting, which will occur in February.

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

Small Lot Subdivision, Wabi Sabi, Venice Median Rezoning Were on Agenda for last VNC Meet of 2019

By Angela McGregor

Despite the presence of two contentious motions brought forward by stakeholder petitions (and drawing a large crowd of would-be commenters), the Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) chose to front-load their December 2019 meeting with a long list of Land Use and Planning Committee (LUPC) items requiring length presentations and discussions.

701 Vernon Ave
One of these — the project at what is currently 701 Vernon Avenue — would have converted a single, 6300 square foot lot into two parcels, each featuring a large, single-family home. While LUPC recommended the project as presented, discussion on the Board focused on the misuse of the small lot subdivision ordinance, which was initially implemented in order to increase density (and therefore affordability) in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods like Venice, but instead has been used by developers to increase the amount of money per square foot they can glean from local real estate.

This, along with the project’s implementation of a roof-deck in order to bypass the Venice Specific plan’s height restrictions, resulted not only in the motion to approve the project failing, but a subsequent motion to deny the project passing (in both cases with votes of 10-8-2). A denial by the VNC of a particular project still allows the applicant to re-submit their project to LUPC at a later date once it has been substantially changed.

Rebuild of Wabi Sabi
The re-building of the former Wabi Sabi location was also on the evening’s agenda. The sushi restaurant at 1635 Abbot Kinney was devastated by a fire about a year ago and subsequently ordered to rebuild, even though the neighborhood favorite has since moved to another location. The owners wish to start construction on a new restaurant space in April (a new tenant — as yet undisclosed — has been found), which would be open until 1 am and serve breakfast and brunch on the weekends. The proposal easily passed the Board — 18-0-2.

Zone Change for Venice Median was Voted Down
It was well past 9:30 pm when the Board finally heard the motion the majority of the crowd had come for — the denial of a zone change from open space to commercial for the Venice Median (the proposed site of a low income housing/retail project), primarily due the imminent impacts of climate change and a rise in sea level.

Eva Greene (175 stakeholders signed the petition which placed the motion on the agenda) delivered a detailed, 10-minute power point presentation which gave the history of flooding woes in Venice (in particular the El Nino of 1982-83 which resulted in severe flooding of Venice Boulevard) and its vulnerability to the increasing impacts of climate change. Complicating matters is the fact that, with the shift in funding of the project from Prop HHH funds, which are now entirely earmarked to Prop 2 funds, the project must now be used to house the severely mentally ill, a replacement parking lot, and various retail establishments.

All but two of the intrepid public speakers who had stayed for the motion were in favor of it. Several pointed out that alternative solutions, which would house more homeless at a more cost-effective, less climate-vulnerable location, have been proposed, such as shared housing solutions currently being implemented by Venetians Heidi Roberts and John Betz, or the proposal for a project near LAX by VNC Board member Jim Murez. Others pointed out that the current estimate of $90 million to complete the project was simply an egregious waste of tax payer dollars for a facility that might be underwater or sold to a private developer after a mere 30 years.

Board comment focused on the zoning issue rather than the particulars of the proposed project. Board President Ira Koslow pointed out that the VNC has already voted on the issue of this project three times.   In response to this, Mark Ryavec pointed out that, according to the City Charter, any change in zoning is required to first be brought before the Neighborhood Council prior to any specific plans for a given site being made, and in this case, the city had failed to do that.

Therefore, a vote specifically addressing the change in zoning was both essential and important. LUPC Chair Alix Glucovsky pointed out that “conversations about the impact of sea level rise” are going on all over the country in flood prone areas, from Florida to Texas, and that several of these communities had banned dense residential development in flood zones for this reason.

In opposition, Board member Matt Fisher stated that the project was already a “done deal” and he would “see you at the ribbon cutting.” Homeless Committee Chair Charles Rials stated that “if you’re going to come with a motion that blocks housing in Venice, then you need to come with a solution” and called the motion “redundant.” The motion passed, 13-6-1. A subsequent motion, to file the item as a Community Impact Statement, was tabled until the next meeting.

No Confidence Motion for Councilman was Delayed to February Meet
The final item on the evening’s agenda was a motion to issue a vote of “no confidence” in CD11 Councilmember Mike Bonin. A motion to delay a vote on this item was immediately entered, and the majority of board members in favor of a delay noted that the motion (put forward by Venice Stakeholder Nick Antonicello) is vague, overly general, does not cite the recent Venice Stakeholders Survey (which indicated broad-based dissatisfaction with Bonin) or recommend specific ways in which the Councilman could address their dissatisfaction. The motion to delay the motion passed, 11-7-1, and it will be taken up at the next VNC Board meeting, which will be held 18 February 2020 at 7 pm.

There will be no VNC Board meeting in January in order that the Board may instead attend a Board Retreat.

Judge Decides Against VSA and Clears Road for 154-Bed Homeless Shelter

An LA County Superior Court judge ruled against the Venice Stakeholders Association (VSA) members in a suit that VSA wanted CEQA invoked at the MTA site for the 154-bed homeless “bridge home”project.

At question was the validity of Assembly Bill 1197 that exempts homeless projects only in Los Angeles from complying with the California Environmental Quality Act.  The bill was passed after the MTA homeless project in Venice at Sunset and Pacific was started.

President of the VSA Mark Ryavec said “It is simply unfair for the state to  say that everyone in the state — except for the residents of LA — has certain rights under CEQA to question the environmental impacts of a project and ask that they be mitigated.  The City got the state to move the goal posts.”

Attorneys for VSA were still evaluating whether to appeal.  “It is an untested law singling out the City of Los Angeles,” said attorney Jeff Lewis.  “The legislature may have stepped out of the bounds of its authority.”

Fight Back Venice also lost its law suit recently regarding AB1197.

LA Times article.

First Homeless Committee Meet Brings Up Many Issues

Left to right are William Hawkins, chair of the former Homeless Committee, Frank Murphy, co-chair, Charles Rials, co-chair, and Elizabeth Wright. Not present were Michael Kaplan and Brian Ulf.

The newly formed Homeless Committee of the Venice Neighborhood Council met 14 November, Thursday night at the Extra Space Storage on Venice Blvd for the first time to a standing-room audience.

Frank Murphy started the meeting by reading the committee mission statement, which is: Homeless Committee shall analyze and address the various sides of homelessness and its effects on the Venice community. Using experience, understanding and inclusive resolutions, it will work closely with service providers, local government, enforcement agencies and most importantly Venice stakeholders, to help propose solutions that will address everyone’s needs.

That set the pace and people started bring up issues that they wanted clarification on. It was decided that the person in charge of the count with the LAHSA annual homeless count would be invited to explain the count. It was decided they should consider the motion put forth by the City Council’s Homeless and Poverty committee regarding restricting homeless from schools and parks. An effort in Venice is now requesting that in addition to the motion put forth that homeless be restricted from residential areas within 300 feet.  People wanted to know the homeless services and shelters available.

Many issues were brought up that were new and issues that one was looking for qualification or clarification. One lady had three people interested in housing but did not know how to proceed. Rick Swinger brought up the fact that the Venice Family Clinic was dispensing needles without exchanging for the used needles. One person mentioned that he thought things had gotten out of control and that the Federal government should be considered.

Homeless in Venice — Life is Good!

Man sleeps comfortably in his hammock between two trees on private property at the Thatcher Yard.

Note: Statistics for homeless in Venice show that  90 to 95 percent of homeless are transient and 75 percent have substance abuse problems according to a former Pacific Division police captain and the LAPD Homeless Task Force originators Steve and Regina Weller.

Free food at Bed and Roses on Rose Ave; free medical at the Family Clinic; free showers and clothes at St.Joseph on Lincoln. Free showers at Rose beach parking lot and 3rd Ave once a week. Free all night toilet facilities at Rose and Horizon beach toilets. Free needles at Family Clinic.

Drugs and alcohol are not free but are accessible.

… and that Venice beach weather that Venetians pay a lot of money to enjoy. Who wouldn’t want a piece of that action?

… and no mom or pop with the rules. You can throw your trash on the street. (Free cleanup.) Police won’t bother you other than insist that you put your tent down and provide ADA compliance. You can drug and drink yourself to death.

… and the social services will help get you on public assistance. If you are clever, perhaps an SSI disability.

… and you can’t discount the camaraderie of people in the same boat. Party at night and sleep on the beach during the day. You can always move to another area when the crowd gets boring or home beckons.

… and now the possibility of housing nearby without having to give up the addiction.

Life is good!

LAWA Answers City and LA Times About Using Northside Runway Land for Homeless

In a memo addressed to all the LA City Council members, Legislative Representative Glenda Silva Pantoja for the Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) said the land Jim Murez, Venice activist, spoke of for the LA Times article could not be used for homeless purposes as proposed because the land is prohibited by the FAA to be used for residential use. It is considered a noise buffer between LAX and the community.

The LA Times had an article about Jim Murez, Venice activist and member of the Venice Neighborhood Council, and his proposal to use the 340 acres next to the LAX north runway for homeless … a large bridge home so to speak. The Venice Update had an article of this nature in August 2016. The late Councilman Bill Rosendahl and Councilman Mike Bonin have both tried to use this land for the homeless.

Jim Murez in the Venice Update article did recognize that the LAX land in question was restricted but offered the land at Lincoln and Manchester Blvd, which is used as a park and the council office for the westside area.

The question arises: Are there other lands owned by the City that could provide a large area for temporarily housing the homeless and moving them into permanent housing. It would seem that this would be a City solution for sanitation and public livability and safety.   During the war, this country did not hesitate to move Japanese-Americans to areas away from the City.  Dr Kenneth Wright, who is again running for US congress, recommended using closed army bases, federal land. The resources used for individual encampments throughout the City seems to be financially not feasible and results are not forthcoming.   The endangerment to the public health and safety is an ever increasing concern.

The following is the memo addressed to all the City Council members and explains in detail why the City cannot use the land to provide for the homeless.

Venice Carries the Burden of the Homeless for CD11

By Darryl DuFay

LAHSA, after many requests, has submitted the Data Summery of homeless within each Council District 11 (CD11) community.  This was reported in the Update in June but this is the latest official count.

This summary allows Venetians, and perhaps the politicians, to see the impact of the homeless that is burdening Venice in comparison with other communities. Figures show that Venice has 47 percent of CD11 homeless. Is not Venice’s 3 square mile community, the smallest community within CD11 which makes the impact even more.  Somehow, the smallest area with the largest homeless count does not appear equitable.

Below are the homeless figures within each  community and that numbers’ percentage of CD11 homeless.