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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

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CCC Says HSO Not Legal Without Coastal Development Permit

(2 July 2019) California Coastal Commission (CCC) says Venice needs a conditional development permit (CDP) for the implementation of the Home Sharing Ordinance (HSO) that went into effect 1 July.

Shannon Vaughn, district supervisor for South Coast area of California Coastal Commission, says Venice will need a Coastal Development Permit to be legal.

So far the council office has not responded with a statement for the Update regarding this situation.

Taylor Bazley, former Venice deputy for Councilman Mike Bonin, stated in a letter to Judy Goldman of Keepneighborhoodsfirst, “We are implementing the home sharing ordinance everywhere in the City and including the Coastal Zone. It is our attorney’s opinion that we are well within our legal grounds to do so without an amendment to our land use plan or file with the Coastal Commission.”

City Council Homeless Committee Approves MTA for Bridge Home; Goes Before City Council 11 Dec; CCC, 12 Dec



City Council Homeless committee members supported the MTA lot on Sunset between Pacific and Main for Bridge Housing last Wednesday along with places in Wilmington, San Pedro, Watts, and South Los Angeles. A full vote of the City Council members will be Tuesday, 11 December.

Homeless Committee member Councilman Mike Bonin agreed to exempt the MTA lot from a full California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). If approved by the City Council for a shelter, 11 December, the proposal will go before the California Coastal Commission (CCC), 12 December in Newport Beach, 100 Civic Center, Newport Beach, 92660

Executive Director John Ainsworth of CCC has provided exemption of the MTA lot for CEQA necessity because it is temporary. Four votes of the commissions will nullify the CEQA waiver.

Mark Ryavec, president of the Venice Stakeholders, does not agree that CEQA should be waived for the project based on noise and parking. The VSA plan is to present their case for a full CEQA report before the CCC and sue, if necessary, to obtain a CEQA report.

The following are comments Mark Ryavec has made regarding the decision not to have a CEQA.

Comments: I am writing to ask for an ex parte meeting to personally discuss the burden that the Bridge Housing project in Venice will pose for coastal resources, visitors and residents living nearby and request a full environmental review under a Coastal Development Permit application.

This project, the equivalent of a hotel for 154 people with dozens of support staff, including social workers, housing locators, teachers, security personnel, and kitchen and custodial staff, has only nine (9) parking spaces. Already there is no place for residents and visitors to park in this neighborhood, and this project will add an incredible parking demand. The city cannot exclude any applicants because they own a vehicle, so the project will inevitably bring even more vehicles (including campers and RVs) to an area that historically has little parking.

This project will also generate unacceptable noise for residents living as little at 50 feet away, at all hours of the day and night, with no mitigation, from outdoor dining areas, an outdoor kennel (with barking dogs) and the exterior HVAC equipment to heat and cool a huge 30 foot tall building that will house 100 people, along with HVAC equipment for other manufactured housing that will house another 54 people, not mention heating and cooling of many offices. The project also raises serious concerns about coastal pollution.

Encampments in Venice already leach human waste to the storm drain outfall at Rose Avenue, which has been documented by independent test results to contain high levels of e. coli bacteria. Each time new services have been added for the homeless in Venice, the population has grown, as has the resulting coastal pollution, from 400 people four years ago to approximately 1,000 today.

Instead of reducing the population it is likely that the Bridge Housing project will attract even more homeless to Venice. When they cannot be accommodated at the new facility they will camp out nearby, as they do now, for example, at the St. Joseph service center on Lincoln Boulevard. The city of Los Angeles has made no plans to mitigate parking demand, noise or the likely increase in coastal pollution.

Mark Ryavec, president, Venice Stakeholders Association, Founding Director, Board Secretary (1989 to 1999) and State Legislative Director (1999) at American Oceans Campaign, and Member, Board of Governors, Oceana (2005 to 2015)

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City Declares “Categorical Exemption” From CEQA; VSA to Challenge

The City is declaring a “Categorical Exemption” from CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) on the proposed MTA Bridge Housing project at Sunset between Main and Pacific.

The project is supposedly a temporary project that is for three years only.  The City emphasizes providing “emergency shelter.”

The “Bridge Home” on the MTA site is scheduled to be heard by the California Coastal Commission, 12 December at the Newport Beach Civic Center Drive, Newport Beach 92660 at 9 am.  This will be Item 18 on the agenda.


“One does not create living accommodations for 154 people, offices, food service, storage facilities and security personnel and not have any impact on the environment,” wrote Mark Ryavec, president of the Venice Stakeholders Association (VSA).”   “The VSA has retained legal counsel to challenge the categorical exemption and is also raising funds to litigate the matter.

“Contributions are welcome at venicestakeholdersassociation.org.  Our initial fundraising goal is $20,000.”


MTA Lot to Go Before City Council 11 Dec; CCC, 12

The MTA lot at Sunset between Pacific and Main for Bridge Housing will go before the City Council 11 December and the California Coastal Commission, 12 December.
The  Commission assistant director is reviewing the City’s request for the Bridge Housing project in Venice and that report should be posted on their website 3 December.

VNC Denies Developer; One Building Built and Sold






By Angela McGregor

At the most recent VNC Board meeting, two projects from developer Thomas James Capital were discussed. The first was a single family home at 2819 Grayson. The original permit obtained in November, 2015, from the City of Los Angeles described the following project: “A 2-story addition to an existing 832 square foot 1-story single family home”, adding 2438 square feet to the original structure and maintaining at least 49 percent of the original structure.

Based upon this description, the City of Los Angeles issued a Coastal Development Permit (CDP) exemption and also a building permit, at which time demolition commenced. In March, the Coastal Commission received a request for an appeal to the exemption, due to the fact that the scale of the project was clearly beyond that described in the original permit and the original structure had been entirely demolished (see: https://documents.coastal.ca.gov/reports/2016/4/th17e-s-4-2016.pdf).

The Coastal Commission sided with the appellants, and denied the exemption, stating: “the fact is that most of the entire structure, with the exception of some of the wood framing, has been demolished. Thus, there is no existing structure to “add on” to or improve, which as a result, invalidates the exemption.”

The Coastal Commission then revoked the City’s permit, and yet the work continued. Sadly, not only had the original structure been demolished, but a massive tree in front of the property containing a hawk’s nest was also taken down illegally and improperly. The new home constructed on the property in apparent defiance of this stop-work order was sold in late August for $3.5 million (see: https://www.redfin.com/CA/Los-Angeles/2819-Grayson-Ave-90291/home/6734845).

The motion on the VNC’s agenda recommended the CDP approve the project with maximum fines (which could total up to $1.63 million), and that those fines be imposed on the developer and not the current homeowner. Jim Murez argued in favor of this option, since in his opinion, based upon numerous conversations with all involved parties, the permitting process was deeply flawed and the developer contended that the City had never notified them of the stop work order issued by the Coastal Committee. Furthermore, the Coastal Committee found the size, mass and scale of the development to be in keeping with the rest of the neighborhood, implying that they would have approved the development had it gone through the appropriate legal process. The Coastal Committee recommended, therefore, that the developer “pay off” the community with a large donation to a local non-profit, since the City would not likely fine the developer, anyway.

Board President Ira Koslow disagreed, and stated that the developer and/or architect clearly received a stop work order and chose to continue the work, and that there appeared to be collusion to do so between the occupant and the developer. He felt the Board should deny the motion to approve the development and send a strong message to developers in Venice — “no cheating!”. This motion was amended to include the recommendation of maximum fines, and passed 12-2-2.

The second project from this developer on the Board’s agenda was 213 Ruth Avenue. The motion on the agenda recommended denial of the project for similar reasons to the previous project: lying to neighbors regarding the existence of plans and ignoring stop work orders from the Coastal Commission. Also, they found the project not to be in keeping with the mass, scale and character of the neighborhood. This motion passed, 15-0-1.

During the discussion of these issues, a couple of broader points were brought up:

1) The VNC Board should have more authority over tree removal. The tree removed in front of 2819 Grayson was described as an important, heritage tree whose loss (ostensibly, to repair the sidewalk) was deeply mourned by the neighborhood.

2) The loophole used by this developer to bypass Coastal Commission approval is one widely used by many developers in Venice, who, under the pretense of retaining “49%” of the existing structure will often leave a single wall (or less) and proceed with development that, in fact, required a CPD.   In fact, several public speakers pointed out that there are more developments from this particular developer in the pipeline which will come up at future VNC Board meetings which use similar tactics.

All motions on the general consent calendar were passed without dissent, including the motion for the Holiday Reunification Program made by the Homeless Committee.

L.A. Department of Public Works President Kevin James made gave a 20 minute presentation on the Department’s ongoing projects, including fixing L.A.’s broken sidewalks and streets. To request service, dial 311 or use the LA311 app.


Coastal Commission Urges Closure of Venice Redevelopment Loophole; Gives Notice to City Officials

Note: This is a press release from Noaki Schwartz, public information officer for California Coastal Commission.

The Coastal Commission has asked the city of Los Angeles to stop its practice of approving the demolition and reconstruction of homes in Venice by mischaracterizing them as remodels.

“It’s been deeply frustrating for all parties and could easily be avoided at the city level,” said Commission Chair Steve Kinsey, who sent a letter to the city’s planning director urging action on the matter (attached).

The commission, at its April hearing, considered 13 projects that had been recently appealed to the state agency by Venice residents. The city of Los Angeles determined the projects were minor remodels even though more than 50 percent of the structure was being demolished and reconstructed. This mischaracterization created a loophole whereby homeowners did not get the necessary coastal development permit from the commission to build substantially larger houses.

After hours of testimony which included weeping homeowners, images of houses stripped to their foundations and frustrated Venice neighbors who see the quirky and unique character of their community disappearing, the commission denied the vast majority of exemption requests. Go to http://www.coastal.ca.gov/meetings/mtg-mm16-4.html to see those projects that were denied/approved.

In his May 6 letter, Kinsey alerted the city to the problem and urged its immediate attention.

“The commission would like to work with the city of avoid these types of appeals in the future, which result in increased workload for both our staffs, costly delays and confusion for applicants, and anger and frustration by applicants,” Kinsey wrote.

Ltr to City of LA Permit Exemption Processing 050616_000001

Ltr to City of LA Permit Exemption Processing 050616_000002

Steve Lopez’s Column Features Venetians’ and Their Problems with One Commissioner

Steve Lopez’s “The Coastal Commission is learning the meaning of sorry—not sorry” highlights the Venetians who have gone to the California Coastal Commission meet and tried to talk with Commissioner Mark Vargas. It is truly a would-you-believe story. One wonders what the future acts are for the California Coastal Commission whose duty it is to protect the coast and to provide access for all.

Venice Ad Hoc Coastal Coalition Invites all to Attend Press Conference, Wednesday, 9 March, Before CCC Meet

(Photo courtesy of Judy Goldman.) Photo taken at the latest California Coastal Commissiom meet at which Dr. Charles Lester was fired.

MORE Lester
(Photo courtesy of Judy Goldman.)

Venice Ad Hoc Coastal Coalition group invites all to attend the pre-hearing rally and press conference preceding the California Coastal Commission (CCC) meet at 8 am, March 9 at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, 1855 Main Street, Santa Monica 90401. The CCC meet will commence immediately after at 9 am.

Following the much-contested ouster of Executive Director Charles Lester the group has outlined several demands. They are:

• An ethics investigation of the commissioners who voted to oust Lester in order to determine whether conflicts of interest may have influenced their votes;

• New standards for commissioners that prevent real or perceived conflicts of interest. We should not have commissioners who advance the interests of industries that pay them in their day jobs;

• That the commission reinstate Dr. Charles Lester as Executive Director unless they can clearly disclose their valid reasons for firing him;

• If a new director is hired, he/she must have a proven commitment to the Coastal Act and its social, economic, racial and environmental justice standards; and that they have no real or perceived conflicts of interest;

• That social, economic, racial and environmental justice advocates be directly involved in the job search and hiring process for the new director.

Keep Neighborhoods First wrote that “We hope to work with state legislators to strengthen the Coastal Act, putting affordable housing creation and preservation directly back in the purview of the Commission and strengthening the state’s commitments to making coastal access real for all California communities.”

I want to purchase parking spot in front of my house …

by reta moser
I want to purchase the parking place in front of my house for $18K. I am ready to write the check.

It is my understanding that businesses and restaurants can grandfather and buy their parking way thru our City planning to the tune of $18K per space. It has gone too far. Doing such leaves customers, employers, and employees totally dependent on parking in front of residents’ homes. It is purchased parking. So I want to purchase the space in front of my house. At one hearing, I offered to do such and I was told it didn’t work that way. Why not?

This parking space “given” or “purchased” by businesses and restaurants means blatantly that businesses and restaurants can operate without parking and use mine. Some businesses and restaurants even rent out their parking and let their tenants, customers, employees find on-street parking, which is in front of my house.

Some businesses are zoned for “in-home” businesses and have twenty employees with no place to park. Apartment owners rent out their visitor and extra spaces, giving one space per apartment and leaving overflow for residential parking. All are examples of what I call illegal, but apparently it isn’t, and even if it were illegal, LA has no enforcement. They park in front of my house.

This is why I want to purchase the spot in front of my house. The price of $18K is doable and I am ready to write the check.

The system the City has now is inequitable and can never be mended once the heaven should bestow Venice with permit parking. What would happen to businesses, restaurants without residential parking? Customers forced to use a bike?

Councilman Mike Bonin, you want to get people out of their cars and on their bikes? Get the California Coastal Commission (CCC) to give us permit parking for residents. I know it requires an acceptable Land Use Plan. Get City Planning to stop this “buy your parking” space for $18K or let residents do such too. And 18K … we won’t mention that price.

Another way to look at it is to let me buy the spot in front of my house and rent it out. One restaurant in contention now requires 12 spaces, four will be grandfathered, and the rest the owner will buy. One of those phantom–purchased spaces will be in front of my house. Why can’t I buy the spot in front of my house and use it or rent it to the restaurateur?

They have petitions and protests for everything. Venetians, let’s unite and protest. I will be first to put my signature on this petition. Go for it Venetians.