web analytics

Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

LA Homeless Numbers Increase; Homeless Youth Numbers Increase; What About the Money to Help

Los Angeles Homeless Services Agency released the homeless count for Los Angeles County and Los Angeles City last week. The individual community tally will come in June. The demographic breakdown will be available in July. Several stories have come out of this count release by the LA Times.

The overall breakdown for City and County numbers. See LA Times article.

Increase in youth homelessness. See LA Times article.

The story about the money allocated for the homeless. See LA Times article.

CAO Analyzes Five Storage Options for Venice Homeless

Westminster Senior Center on Pacific between Westminster and Clubhouse.

Interim City Administrative Officer Richard H. Llewellyn, Jr. answered Councilman Mike Bonin’s request for analysis of five storage options for storage of homeless stuff.  This is the analysis from the CAO of five systems to create storage capacity for homeless in Venice.


Analysis for each option is presented.

storage3 1
storage5 1

Thatcher Yard — Residents Want to Know What is Happening


(Photo courtesy of Linda Vaughan.) Thatcher Maintenance Yard. Soil tests for an Environmental Impact Report?

Neighbors really want to know what is going on with the Thatcher Maintenance Yard.

The Yard, 93,000 sq feet, was designated as one of the first City salvage projects. It was to be rezoned to RD1.5 and designated for affordable housing. City Administrator put out RFQ/P to developers. Thomas Safran Associates were selected for the Yard with their dual proposal of 86 to 152 units with a mix of 60 percent market rate, 30 percent affordable, and 10 percent permanent supportive housing.

That was November. Plans are supposedly to be presented to City in March. It is March. No one has approached the Oxford Triangle members regarding this project. Blake Coddington of Safran group was supposedly talking with individual residents regarding the project at one of the Venice public meetings.

Meanwhile, proposition HHH was passed which would provide funds for building 100 percent affordable projects on the Yard — no market rate. A neighborhood request by a small group of residents went thru the LUPC and the VNC requesting that the Yard stay City maintenance or be rezoned R-1. VNC almost unanimously voted that down and asked for “multi-housing” use.

March 7 is an election for City council seat and a Measure S. Measure S would stop spot rezoning projects… except for affordable housing projects unless project requires general plan changes. Both these projects require both spot rezoning and general plan changes. So a “YES” for Measure S supposedly would stop both projects for at least two years. A vote “No” would mean business as usual, spot rezoning and changing the plans.

Incumbent Mike Bonin is for developmening the two lots. He wants Measure S to be defeated so he can build affordable housing on both. Mark Ryavec is not for developing either property for homeless. He is for Measure S. In the case of the Yard, he wants property zoned R-1 and sold to a developer. Robin Rudisill supports Measure S. She says keeping the Yard for maintenance should be reconsidered; otherwise, the community has spoken for R-1. The Venice Median she says she would honor the Land Use Plan certified by the California Coastal Zone, which means it would not be developed. So incumbent is only candidate for developing both lots and Measure S.

To add confusion to the pot, Councilman Mike Bonin, who is for developing the properties, answered a Venice Update question regarding the sale of the properties and using the monies for homeless in other areas as follows:

It is also important to note – despite repeated assertions to the contrary – that the City has not decided what or even whether to build on these properties. The City has only allowed affordable housing developers the opportunity to propose at these sites. At this point, there are no actual proposals. The housing developers who were assigned to each of the Venice sites are conducting community and neighborhood outreach before they propose something. Then, those proposals must be reviewed by the Land Use and Planning Committee of the Venice Neighborhood Council, the full Venice Neighborhood Council, and then the City planning approval process and likely the California Coastal Commission.

Meanwhile, a local resident and architect, wrote to Councilman Mike Bonin and all the council members:

You have bypassed not only the VNC and their LUPC, but also your constituents. None of the documents regarding site selection, contractor selection or RFQ submissions have been made available to the public. The development is being fast-tracked with virtually no public review, and without open and transparent procedures that the City would demand of any developer.

Tent with occupant in front of  Yard.

Tent with occupant in front of Yard.

Meanwhile, a tenter was happy living in front of the Yard for about a week until the rig disturbed his solitude or someone moved him on. Residents asked if the tenter was first in line for a place.

Residents really want to know what is happening? Residents know the rules, yet things are happening without their knowledge, input, or due process.

Transparency of City Officials is Questionable

Many Venetians have written the CAO office to get the appraisals of the properties, to obtain the criteria used, to determine that the Venice Median, Thatcher Yard should be developed as opposed to being developed.

Susan Beckman, as well as Kip Pardue, and several others have queried Cielo Castro, Transparency Officer, Office of the City Administrative Officer Manual Santana. Santana announced his move to manage the County Fair earlier this month.

These are some of the questions Susan Beckman asked of the transparency officer.

1. How many appraisals of current market value were done per property and who did them?

2. Were they evaluated based on current zoning or spot zoning that might be required for proposed projects?

3. Were highest and best use studies done in relationship to current market value done?

3. What criteria was used determining selling and adding proceeds to Affordable Housing Trust versus development on sites.

4. If the above information was used to determine the conclusions in the report being presented to the City Hall, shouldn’t it all be of public record in order for the Council-people and their constituents to evaluate these conclusions.

This is the answer from Cielo Castro:

In response to your initial request, please be advised that this Office finds that unusual circumstances exist with respect to the request under the California Public Records Act (CPRA), as the term is defined in California Government Code Section 6253(C). Unusual circumstances exist because of the need to consult with another agency having a substantial interest in the determination of the request.

Given the unusual circumstances, we expect to make a determination concerning your request on or before December 12, 2016. So far no one has heard anything further regarding this. The city council is suppose to vote on these projects this week.

Santana Quits CAO Homeless Post; Will Be CEO of County Fair

Note: Councilman Mike Bonin’s office says there is no replacement at this time and added that “this will not affect the process for exploring development at underused and vacant city properties.”

In 2009, I was proud to accept an exceptional opportunity: City Administrative Officer of the great City of Los Angeles. Today, I am announcing that I will leave this position effective January 16, 2017 to lead the Los Angeles County Fair Association as President and Chief Executive Officer.

In 2009, faced with an unprecedented fiscal crisis, working in partnership with then Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the City Council led by then Council President Eric Garcetti, Labor leaders and the community, we were able to strengthen the City’s finances and change the City’s trajectory from a projected billion dollar deficit to investment and fiscal sustainability.

As a result of the renewed stability gained, we have been able address some of the greatest challenges impacting the quality of life of Angelenos, including: homelessness, infrastructure, the cleanliness of our neighborhoods and the restoration of basic services.

In so doing, I’ve been fortunate to work alongside some of the most committed and talented public servants in the nation, including Chief Legislative Analysts Gerry Miller and Sharon Tso, City Attorney Mike Feuer, Controllers Wendy Greuel and Ron Galperin and each one of the City’s departmental General Managers.

I am most appreciative to have led a hard-working, independent thinking and resourceful team of analysts and professionals.

I am proud of the work we have been able to achieve together and excited to begin this new role to unleash the unprecedented potential of one of the County’s most expansive and important public asset.

See LA Times article.


Pardue Requests Venice Median Documents in Accordance with California Public Records Act

Kevin Pardue, advocate for the Venice Median, has written to City officials requesting certain documents of public record,in accordance with California Public Records Act, pertaining to Venice Median Parking Lot.

He has written Cielo V. Castro, Transparency Officer, Office of City Administrative Officer; Miguel Santana, City Administrative Officer; Mike Bonin, City Councilman of District 11.

Dear Ms. Castro,

Under the California Public Records Act § 6250 et seq., I am requesting an opportunity to inspect or obtain copies of public records that pertain to the development of the Venice Median lot, located at 200 N Venice Blvd, Venice CA 90291, whether in written or electronic format. All communications between those listed above and their employees (“the City”) and Venice Community Housing (“the Developer”) should be included. Communications discussing meetings, planning, selection committees, architects, and housing should be included.

Also requested are the bid proposals from all other developers for the Venice Median Lot project.

This information is in the public interest and will contribute significantly to the public’s understanding of the process used to determine how City-owned lots were designated per the announcement made November 18, 2016 by the City Administrative Officer. This information will also contribute to the understanding of the process used to select certain developers and specific projects, as well as decisions made to sell properties for fair market value.

This information is not being used for commercial purposes. Please inform me of any costs related to searching or copying of these records.

The California Public Records Act requires a response within ten business days. If access to the records I am requesting will take longer, please contact me with information about when I might expect copies or the ability to inspect the requested records.

If you deny any or all of this request, please cite each specific exemption you feel justifies the refusal to release the information and notify me of the appeal procedures available to me under the law.

Thank you for considering my request.

Kevin “Kip” Pardue

Can “Neighborhood Integrity Initiative” Stop Venice Median, Thatcher Yard?

Many Venetians have pointed to the “Neighborhood Integrity Initiative
as a stopper to the homeless projects planned for Venice. The initiative goes on the ballot in March.

The initiative is intended to stop “spot rezoning” for large projects that disrupt the “integrity” of the community, and in many cases, re-identify a community. The initiative calls for a two-year moratorium first.

Affordable Housing is Exception but not General Plan Change
One of the exceptions to the initiative is “affordable housing.” But the initiative also states that the project must be consistent with the General Plan.

Rezoning that is planned for the two Venice projects is not consistent with the General Plan, so a Plan change would be necessary. Of particular interest is Section 4.B which deals with General Plan changes and Section 4.E which deals with the affordable housing exemption.

The Venice Median is zoned “open space” and the plan is to rezone it R-3, which is a zone for apartments. The Thatcher Yard has been used as a “public utility,” since becoming part of Los Angeles. This might fit under industrial use as stated. But the intensity of going from flat land to apartment-type use is definitely addressed under 4.B.1,2,3.

Section 4 Temporary Moratorium Stops Council Approvals of Projects that Seek Spot Zoning and General Plan Amendments to Intensify Land Use

B. Notwithstanding any section of the Los Angeles Municipal Code and during the effective period of the moratorium imposed by the Act no project that seeks a General Plan amendment, a zone or height district change shall be approved by the City Council if such approval would result in:

1. changes of existing zoning to permit more intense land use (as defned by a zone change from a more restrictive to less restrictive zone according to the Los Angeles Municipal Code section 12.04A, or to a height district permitting the construction of a higher structure); or

2. an increase in floor area ratio, density or height; or

 3. a net loss of land zoned open space, agricultural or industrial.

E. Exceptions. The moratorium prohibitions specified in this Section 4 of the Act shall not apply:

1.  to any project in which 100% of the units are deed restricted Affordable Housing Units, that seeks a zone change or height district change only, but not a General Plan amendment.

An Affordable Housing Unit is defined as a unit that is affordable to households with a gross household income at or below Low Income levels (including Extremely Low Income and Very Low Income) as determined by the California Department of Housing and Community Development (or successor agency) for Los Angeles County on an annual basis, and that is rented or sold for no more than the percentage of gross household income required by Health and Safety Code section 50052.5.

Santana Says Venice Median and Thatcher Yard to be Developed; Names Developers

Venice Median

Venice Median


Thatcher Yard

Thatcher Yard


Note: This announcement is almost verbatim from the Council Office and written by David Graham-Caso, communications director.


The City Administrative Officer (CAO) Miguel Santana is recommending that eight city-owned parcels throughout Los Angeles be the first wave of properties considered for housing development.

In Venice, the CAO is recommending that Thomas Safran & Associates be given the chance to work with the community to design a proposal for the old Thatcher Yard, and that the team of Hollywood Community Housing Corporation and Venice Community Housing Corporation be given the chance to work with the community to design a proposal for the Dell Pacific parking lot.The size and type of housing in each proposal will be determined following the community input process that Mike has insisted the developers conduct.

Once Thomas Safran Associates or Hollywood Community Housing Corp/Venice Community Housing Corp. create and submit their proposals, they will be subject to the same process as any development proposal in Venice – which includes review and public input at the neighborhood council, through the Department of City Planning, the full City Council, and most likely, the California Coastal Commission.

Thomas Safran & Associates has three properties on the Westside: Del Rey Square, 124 units of low-income housing for seniors, including 30 formerly homeless seniors, in Del Rey; Redwood Village, 50 units of low-income senior housing in Marina del Rey; and the newly opened The Woods at Playa Vista, 83 units of senior low-income housing in Playa Vista. (Thomas Safran & Associates was also selected to create a proposal for a former animal shelter in West Los Angeles.)

Venice Community Housing & Hollywood Community Housing have a recently opened building in Del Rey, the Gateway Apartments, offering 21 units for formerly homeless people. VCHC operates more than 16 buildings and offers more than 200 units of housing on the Westside. Hollywood Community Housing Corporation has more than 20 buildings and 700 units of housing, mostly in the Hollywood area.

“Thomas Safran & Associates and the team of Hollywood Community Housing and Venice Community Housing are already part of the solution on the Westside, and I am excited to learn there is a potential for these organizations to provide more housing here for those who most need it,” said Councilmember Mike Bonin. “Voters just approved Proposition HHH, allowing us to help build 10,000 units of affordable or homeless housing in Los Angeles. I hope Thomas Safran & Associates, HCHC, and VCHC will be able to be among the first to help fulfill the voters commitment. I look forward to the start of their community outreach efforts, and I am eager to see what sort of proposals they offer.”

The types of housing that the CAO recommends be included in the proposal include: permanent supportive housing, affordable multi family housing, mixed income housing, affordable homeownership, and what the CAO describes as “innovative methods of housing.”  Innovative methods of housing in this case are described as “modular, prefab, or micro units.”

Santana to Announce Fate of Venice Median and Thatcher Yard 14 to 18 November

Venice Median

Venice Median

Thatcher Yard

Thatcher Yard

City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana will announce the fate of the two Venice Properties — Venice Median and the Thatcher Yard before Thanksgiving, according to David Graham-Caso, CD11 communications director. Saturday’s LA Times article said it would be the week of 14 to 18 November.

The Venice Median is that area between North and South Venice Blvd at Pacific zoned open space and now used for beach parking. The Thatcher Yard is area in the Oxford Triangle formerly used for city sanitation and street services. Both are set to be rezoned, and according to the specifications, would allow for building 260 units on Venice Median and 106 on Thatcher yard.

Opening date for the Westminster Senior Center as a storage facility for the Venice homeless has not been set. The San Pedro storage for the homeless has been shelved according to the Los Angeles Times. There was a public outcry when citizens found out about proposed facility.

LA Times article said a mobile storage plan was being considered. Venice Neighborhood Council Homeless Committee proposed a mobile storage plan in early September, but it was not considered supposedly because it could not be brought into service in time for 1 November opening that coincides with the shelter openings.

At present the Westminster facility is not open and an opening date has not been announced.