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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

Abbot Kinney Blvd Will Not be Getting Parking Meters

Los Angels Department of Transportation (LADOT) says they will not be  installing parking meters on Abbot Kinney Blvd based on feedback from residents.

LADOT gas agreed to move forward with other, more popular projects to improve parking and relieve traffic congestion on the Abbot Kinney corridor.  Right now Abbot Kinney has the largest variety of painted curbs in Venice.  When question, the Venice Update was told that a store can have whatever color they want in front of their store.  They have green, yellow, white and red without rime or reason, other than, as they claim, preference.

LADOT’s revised plans for the Blvd now include:

  • Marking 203 parking spaces along Abbot Kinney to maximize parking efficiency;

  • Installing parking sensors to collect real-time parking data and guide motorists to available spaces with smartphone apps;

  • Standardizing posted parking time limits at 2 hours between 8 AM and 8 PM;

  • Installing nine new parking corrals for dockless scooters and e-bikes;

  • Preserving two existing bike parking corrals and maintaining the existing Metro bike share station;

  • Adding a series of several motorcycle parking spaces, spread out along the boulevard; and

  • Reorganizing passenger and commercial loading zones to allow traffic to flow more smoothly on the street.

“LADOT is doing this work because I asked the agency to come up with proposals to address the issues neighbors, visitors, and merchants raise with me all the time: a lack of parking, too much traffic, scooters blocking the public right-of-way on sidewalks, and other related issues,” wrote Councilman Mike Bonin.  “The initial proposal called for the installation of 196 new parking meters, but LADOT has dropped that part of the proposal after hearing so many public concerns and objections.”

More Questions than Answers at Town Hall on Abbot Kinney Smart Meters

By Angela McGregor

In its announcement on proposed changes to parking on Abbot Kinney of a Venice Community Town Hall held 9 January at Westminster Elementary, LADOT/LA Express Park stated: “Eleventh District Councilmember Mike Bonin and the Abbot Kinney Merchants Association requested LADOT to review the parking policies for Abbot Kinney Boulevard.”

The Councilmember and the Merchants Association desire to introduce parking meters to make the curb more attainable and accessible for the public, to increase parking turnover in the area, and to encourage more visitors to their shops.  In response to this request, LADOT developed a plan to install parking meters on Abbot Kinney and along commercial frontage on all the intersecting streets.”

The plan, as described by LADOT reps at the Town Hall, would involve the installation of so-called “smart meters” on both sides of Abbot Kinney from Venice Blvd, as well as the two lots behind the businesses, on Irving Tabor Court, which don’t already have meters. Time limitations and pricing on these meters would vary, with a two-hour limit imposed during “high demand” hours, between 8 am and 8 pm. Meters would be payable by credit card and smartphone. It would also include new parking corrals for both bicycles and e-scooters.

When asked whether the Abbot Kinney Merchants Association and the Venice Chamber of Commerce had been consulted, one rep stated that representatives from both organizations had expressed strong approval for the project. In fact, the LADOT website on the project only specifically mentions the Merchants Association, and, as reported in the Venice Update back in February, the Merchants held a meeting to explore a proposal from the City regarding metered parking installation that stated “the restrictions would be the same as existing” (whereas those proposed appear to be far more than what currently exists).

The Town Hall featured explanatory posters from LADOT and reps from that agency answering questions from the two dozen or so concerned Venetians who stopped by. Among the concerns of residents who live nearby was spillover traffic from the businesses from customers and employees who needed to spend more than two hours on AK. Prior to the installation of meters behind the businesses on AK, employees of those businesses had ample spaces to park while they worked. One resident suggested at least an un-metered, permit only lot for those employees. As for Abbot Kinney’s famous food trucks, the Council Office is proposing new regulations which would govern where they park, and allow for trucks to receive more than one parking ticket when they are in violation of the two-hour limit, a measure which would discourage them from simply adding the cost of a ticket to the price of doing business.

VNC Board member and head of the Parking Transportation Committee, Jim Murez and VNC Parliamentarian Ivan Spiegel both voiced their dissatisfaction with the fact that these changes had never been brought to the VNC, which Murez maintained was in violation of the City’s charter. Murez went on to state that they were also in violation of the Venice Specific Plan and should have been brought before the Coastal Commission. With the VNC on hiatus this month for a planned Board Member Retreat, it is unclear whether they will have the opportunity to weigh in on this plan prior to its scheduled implementation in late February.

Although one LADOT rep stated the new parking restrictions were “on the books”, those who attended who had suggestions and concerns were advised to fill out comment cards. Residents of streets near Abbot Kinney worried about being overrun by tourists eager to park for free were handed pamphlets titled “Preferential Parking Districts” explaining how residents could contact their Council Office to set up permit parking in their Neighborhoods. This despite the fact that the California Coastal Commission has repeatedly denied Venice residents’ requests for permit parking in their neighborhoods, most recently in 2013, on the basis that, in light of the lack of unrestricted parking in Venice, such limitations would unfairly limit beach access.

For the history of preferential parking see the Venice Stakeholders history.

LADOT reps also said that these new meters were to go into effect in late February of 2020. When asked whether the City had plans to bring this new scheme before the VNC or Coastal Commission, one rep informed said that this was unnecessary because the Venice Local Coast Program specified the installation of parking meters on Abbot Kinney Blvd.

In fact, the relevant portion of the Venice Local Coastal Program Land Use Plan states:

“Policy II. A. 7. Metered Parking on Abbot Kinney Boulevard. The City shall install 4-hour parking meters in the commercial district along Abbot Kinney Boulevard to encourage turnover and discourage long-term beach parking, which in turn should help to increase parking availability for short-term commercial customers.”

It is unclear how the City and LADOT have resolved the clear discrepancy between the VLCP’s stipulation of four-hour parking meters on Abbot Kinney with their upcoming installation of two-hour meters during daylight hours.

 

Parking Lot Murals on Abbot Kinney

Two Abbot Kinney merchants share the same parking areas and have murals to decorate their areas.

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alley1

Parking Lot Behind Abbot Kinney to be Dedicated

parkinglot

Parking lot behind Abbot Kinney Blvd at 1600 Irving Tabor Ct will be officially opened with a ceremony Monday (19 September) 9 to 9:30 am. on the site conducted by Councilman Mike Bonin.

The site has permeable pavement, paid meters, lighting, landscaping and  a perimeter wall.

Curb Coloring on Abbot Kinney Has Not Changed

CurbcolorsA
Red goes for 70 feet.

What is happening to the curbing? Answer: Nothing. Elisa James gave information to the City and somehow nothing has happened. How many parking places could be added? How many parking tickets could be averted? One curb has both yellow and red and neither is necessary.

Contact Elisa James at urbanescape@aol.com for complaints, ideas.

Abbot Kinney Gets 50 More Parking Spots

parkinglot
(Photo courtesy of David Graham-Caso.) Councilman Mike Bonin, with shovel on the right, broke ground on Irvin Tabor parking lot last week.

Councilman Mike Bonin broke ground on the gravel parking Lot 760 at Irving Tabor last week. New lot, when finished, will have 50 metered parking spaces and bike racks.

Chuy Orozco, field deputy for Councilman Mike Bonin, said the metered time would be “four hours, and hopefully, this would keep workers from parking in the neighborhood streets.” Orozco said a few places near Venice Blvd would be metered for two hours to accommodate customers for the new market opening on Venice Blvd.

The parking lot, as the others have been, will have environmentally-friendly permeable concrete paving and will be lighted and landscaped, according to David Graham-Caso, communications director for Councilman Mike Bonin.

Bonin to Break Ground on Another Abbot Kinney Parking Lot

Councilman Mike Bonin will do the groundbreaking ceremony for the new parking lot at 1600 Irving Tabor Court (corner of Palms Irving Tabor) Monday at 9 am. This will add parking capacity for the retail stores on Abbot Kinney.

It will be a metered lot and be composed of the same materials the previous lots have been.

Abbot Kinney Parking to be Dedicated Thursday

Meters
How welcome the parking is for Abbot Kinney.

New parking lot at 1300 Electric Ave will officially be opened and dedicated between 9 and 9:30 am Thursday, August 6, in a ceremony hosted by Councilman Mike Bonin. More parking for Abbot Kinney–66 spaces!

Councilman Bonin will be unveiling the installation of permeable pavement, meters for paid parking, lighting, landscaping, and a permeable wall. In addition to meters, the new 66 spaces have striping and bumpers.

CCC Rejects Amendment for 1305 Abbot Kinney

Black Beast
This is the restaurant at 1305 Abbot Kinney Blvd being built by Fran Camaj. He owns Gjelina/GTA on Abbot Kinney and Gjusta at 320 Sunset. This one, which is yet to be named, has unofficially been dubbed the “Black Beast.”

BlackBeastBack
Parking in area is normally underground. This is the first for Abbot Kinney on the roof. Residents are fearful that owner will once again use parking for service use. Although not permitted as a restaurant, 320 Sunset parking lot is being used as a dinning area. Gjelina on Abbot Kinney has a garage that is used for the restaurant, not parking.


California Coastal Commission (CCC) rejected the Amendment Request by Fran Camaj for providing bike parking inlieu of three car lifts originally planned and permitted for his project at 1305 Abbot Kinney.

CCC issued permits for the car lifts. Owner then got City to change permit to provide bike racks inlieu of three lift parking places. Permit changes have to be made by CCC.

The following video is of the commission hearing and is provided by Roxanne Brown whose commentary follows the video. Video is admittedly bad but audio is great.

By Roxanne Brown, Member of Concerned Neighbors
Restaurateur Fran Camaj’s promise of car lifts at 1305 Abbot Kinney (called the Black Beast by some local residents) seems to have been a bust.

Chronology of all Events
2010 – CCC decided that 1305 Abbot Kinney required 13 parking spaces. Camaj agreed to park 9 cars 3×3 in tandem with 3 single car lifts on the roof top parking lot, and one disabled space on ground level.

2012 — Construction commenced and lifts were not built.

2014 — Greg Shoop at City Planning granted a permit allowing Camaj to remove the lifts and replace them with bike racks.

OOPS: The City is not allowed to override the CCC.

2015–Concerned Venetians alerted the CCC and Building and Safety (B&S). B&S investigated and filed an intention to revoke permit.

    Camaj agreed to rescind permit and said he would comply and build lifts.
    Camaj then applied for an amendment with CCC to not build lifts and instead, to supply an electric charging station and bike racks.

Vitalich Testimoney
Stephen Vitalich, Black Beast architect and representative, said that the building at 1305 Abbot Kinney can’t support the weight of 3 lifts.

Vitalich went on to say that they would always have 3 attendants doing valet parking and that there are paid parking lots between Electric and Abbot Kinney. He also claimed that most of the time there would not be more than 10 cars requiring parking. If there were more, two cars could be parked on the (steep) access ramp to roof.

Venetians Presented
Meanwhile, the valet only rooftop “parking lot” was paved with beautiful stonework and planters with lovely vegetation were installed. Additionally, a gorgeous staircase was built to wind up from the small restaurant interior to the ample rooftop “parking lot.

Venetians presented photos of alley dining at Gjelina/GTA, “parking lot” dining plus unpermitted patio dining at Gjusta, and photos of the Black Beast’s beautiful rooftop “parking lot.”

One Venetian pointed out that Gjelina’s food has a great reputation and people come from far and wide for that food. He said it would be unlikely that these diners would be riding bikes or taking buses to 1305 Abbot Kinney’s Black Beast.

CCC Decision
One commissioner said that it was noble of Camaj to look outside the box for parking.

Commissioner Jana Zimmer commented that Venice residents and beach goers are already competing for scarce and on street parking. Outdoor “parking lot” areas are not permitted for dining. What is the record of enforcement?
Commissioner Roberto Uranga noted that the project seems to have been disingenuous from the start. It seems there was never any intent to build parking lifts.

COMMISSIONERS VOTE – 6 to 5
GREGORY COX – YES JANA ZIMMER – NO
DAYNA BOCHCO – YES CAROLE GROOM – NO
MARTHA MCCLURE – YES ERIC HOWELL- NO
MARK VARGAS – YES STEVE KINSEY – NO
WENDY MITCHELL- YES ROBERTO URANGA – NO
RANDY PESTOR – NO

Conclusion
Had Camaj been a good neighbor at Gjelina/GTA, Venetians would be clamoring to have one of his restaurants in their neighborhood. Unfortunately, Gjelina’s/GTA’s neighbors have complained that his restaurant/take away has not been in compliance and has been a nuisance for eight years. The consequences of residents experiencing this are that many Venetians do not want Camaj’s establishments near their homes.

Camaj’s restaurants include Gjelina/GTA, Gjusta, and the Black Beast. He will also manage 259 Hampton (Sauce). Currently all five seem to be ignoring permits and have compliance issues.

Listen to Us
Developers, please work with residents, work with transparency and within the City’s laws, permits, and compliance policies. This will save developers, the City, and Venetians time, energy, and money. Do the right thing. It’s easier.

Peddle to Your Desires

pedicab

Entrepreneur John Berry will peddle you around town to your heart’s desire. Captured here on Abbot Kinney in front of Hal’s at 9 am just waiting for the action. Beats the parking situation on Abbot Kinney and the beach. It is $30 for half an hour and $50 per hour. Phone is 310-697-9494.