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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

Councilman Meets with Canal Residents about Venice Median

By Darryl DuFay, editor Voice of Canals

“I’m Done With Something Not being Done,” said Councilman Mike Bonin.

I start this Informative with that statement from Councilman Mike Bonin.

On Tuesday evening, August 23rd, Councilman Mike Bonin held a public community meeting in the Venice Canals on his proposal for Homeless Housing on the public parking lot on Venice Blvd. between Pacific Ave. and Dell Ave. The meeting was with the leadership of the Venice Canals’ two community organizations, the Voice of the Canals (VOC) and Venice Canals Association (VCA). Twenty-three people attended at the home of the president of the VOC Marjorie Weitzman. Also attending, was Josie Scibetta, president of the VCA. Mike’s staff was in attendance: Taylor Bazley, Venice Field Deputy, Debbie Dyner, District Director, Ezra Gale, Senior Planner for Projects, and Chuy Orozco, Del Rey/Playa Vista Rep. Also in attendance was Will Hawkins, VNC At-Large Officer, who lives in the canals.

The hour and a half was filled with Mike’s opening presentation and wide ranging question and concerns from the audience. Here is a “brief” summary in no special order:

—Mike gave an historical background on homelessness in Venice with emphasize that homeless population has changed. It is younger and less “rooted” to the community.

—LA has the largest unsheltered homeless population in the country. There has been an 87% increase in encampments in LA. Note: The 2016 Homeless Survey listed the top four reasons for homelessness in our Council District 11: Mental Illness, Substance Abuse, Physical Disability, and Domestic Violence. Venice, one of the 10 communities of CD11, has 35% of the CD11 homeless.

—Court decisions, especially in the “Jones” case, say that homelessness cannot be criminalized. A settlement outside of a trial to provide 1,250 units to allow the City to return to some enforcement towards sleeping on sidewalks, public land, etc. is still in flux. Attorney Carol Ann Sobel and Community Activist Mark Ryavec are at odds on this issue. The City remains “handcuffed” in enforcement options.

—There is an absolute need to provide more permanent homeless housing. The City of Los Angeles has sent out to builders, contractor, etc. a “Request for Qualifications and Proposals” RFQ/P for “Affordable Housing Opportunity Site for 12 properties. Two are in Venice. Venice Blvd parking lot and Thatcher Yard in the Oxford Triangle. The proposals are to be returned on September 15th. No one knows what they will be, nor their size. Mike has said those proposals that meet the construction specifications will be “vetted” by the communities and Venice Neighborhood Council for their practicability, location’s desirability, and type of homeless population to be served. That will be an “interesting” undertaking. There was an observation that the Venice parking lot could take up to three years to develop. This is partly because it is the “dual jurisdictional” area of the City of Los Angeles and Coastal Commission and that takes time. However, no one really knows. Some developer might have it “all together” and you could see something happen in a year or so. Time is money.

Mike discussed “intermediate” and “long range” actions. Intermediate to involved a move from 12-hour Shelters to 24-hour “Bridge Housing.” The Storage of homeless belongs such as at the Westminster Senior Center is part of this effort. Emphasis however is on “long range” permanent housing. He spoke very highly about the “HousingFirst” concept of housing with services. Also of note, a recent decision by the Federal government to terminate funds for “transitional housing” and focus on “permanent housing” is of concern. He also had photos of three projects in Venice of permanent housing.

Discussion of “housing and service resistant” homeless people. Many are afraid of their fellow comrades in close quarters, some just want to be “out and about.” Also discussed the “transient/vacation” homeless. No good statistics on this, but that is not to say it is insignificant.

The City and County are now working together on Homelessness. A multiple strategies document has been produced. It it “mammoth” in its reach. The costs over ten years is way over one billion dollars. The County is responsible for health services, the City the structures involved.

Question asked about selling the parking lot property. Such a sale has a number of number of steps. First choice on the property are other agencies within the city government for their use. If the property is sold the money will go into the long existing Venice Surplus Fund. This fund can ONLY be used for projects in Venice.

Will Hawkins asked probing questions about what can be done now, mentioning illegal drug violations on the beach as something that should be enforced. This then led to a discussion of the present atmosphere surrounding law enforcement in general and specifically their interaction with the homeless. The situations are so fluid, atmosphere often hostile with media attention overwhelming, and potential lawsuits possible. If there is some reluctance to enforcement it is understandable.

The successful work with the homeless of the Foursquare Weller Chaplains and Laura Burn’s Teen Project among others was mentioned. Also, there is a brand new program of the LAPD called “HOPE” for working with the homeless. Don’t know much about it.

The Business Improvement District (BID) program, with 74% participation, will be approved.

It was a good and informative meeting. And, use of the word complex to describe it is an understatement.

Mike announced that he will have another community-wide meeting at Westminster School on Homelessness in early September.

Granny Unit Before Council Tuesday; Write Councilman

It is critical that the City Council hear from those who oppose the measure that will REPEAL the City’s Second Dwelling Unit Ordinance (SDU) as an urgency measure leaving the City to default to the state’s generous standards.

Those state standards permit “granny units” (SDU’s) of up to 1200 square feet to be constructed on R1 properties. State standards would legalize large second dwelling units on all single family residences (including those on substandard lots/hillside lots).


On the Westside, Councilmember Koretz is opposed to the repeal. However, Councilmember Bonin needs to hear from the community as he has NOT joined those opposed.

We understand that Councilmembers Ryu, Martinez and Koretz are solidly opposed, that three others are considering joining them in opposing the repeal, and three more are ID’ed as on the fence. Because the repeal action is written as urgency legislation it will require a 3/4 vote of Council to pass. So it is very important that some of the uncommitted Councilmembers hear from their constituents and others (cc: the full Council on any letter to your Councilmember) urging opposition to the repeal measure..


1) Write now. Refer to Council File: 14-0057-S8
Send your letters to your Councilmember and copy the full Council and Mayor. ******A sample letter appears below at the bottom of this email along with additional background information.
Submit CIS statements from NC’s, motions from HOA’s and CC’s, etc.

2) Plan to attend the hearing if possible.

3) Spread the word. It is important that all are aware of the consequences of this effort to repeal LA’s SDU/granny unit law as an urgency measure and default to state standards. IF the City wishes to adopt new standards, there should be an open public process to do so.


As you may know, the City has proposed to repeal its Second Dwelling Unit ordinance, and to do so on a fast-track emergency basis. This action would replace the City’s current standards with state default rules that allow for much larger second units (up to 1,200 square feet) than allowed under the City’s ordinance. In addition, the City’s current ordinance does not permit Second Dwelling Units to be built in hillside and some other areas. These larger Second Dwelling Units would be permitted virtually everywhere in the City by right.

Several rationales for the change offered by the City’s Planning Department suggest that the repeal is required by a recent Superior Court ruling that struck down the City’s previous unlawful administrative policy, or that it is necessary to conform to the Housing Element of the City’s General Plan. These arguments are false, as explained in recent articles by environmental and land use attorney Carlyle W. Hall:

Proponents also argue the fast-track repeal is needed to provide relief to homeowners who relied on the City’s now-illegal process. But this is not true. The City can take action to “grandfather” any permits issued and second units built under the old process to clarify that those rights are vested. The fact is, there is no reasonable justification to repeal the City’s ordinance on a fast-track basis. An ill-advised emergency repeal that removes existing protections for hillside and other areas is neither an adequate nor transparent way to change carefully considered and long-standing policy.

The fast-track repeal will be considered by the City Council Tuesday, August 23. Please contact your councilmember immediately to oppose repeal of the Second Dwelling Unit ordinance. For your convenience, you may cut and paste the message below into an email.

Thank you!


Dear Councilmember ____________:

RE: CF 14-0057-S8

I oppose repeal of the City’s Second Dwelling Unit ordinance through an emergency, fast-track action. The City can “grandfather” permits issued under its previous administrative procedure to provide relief to homeowners who reasonably relied on it, but must not change long-standing City policy and rules protecting hillside and other areas. The City should change the ordinance only through an open and customary deliberative process that allows for the views of all impacted stakeholders to be thoughtfully considered.



councilmember.cedillo@lacity.org, councilmember.krekorian@lacity.org, councilmember.blumenfield@lacity.org, david.ryu@lacity.org, paul.koretz@lacity.org, councilmember.martinez@lacity.org, councilmember.fuentes@lacity.org, councilmember.harris-dawson@lacity.org, councilmember.price@lacity.org, councilmember.wesson@lacity.org, councilmember.bonin@lacity.org, councilmember.englander@lacity.org, councilmember.ofarrell@lacity.org, councilmember.huizar@lacity.org, councildistrict15@lacity.org,
mayor@lacity.org, vince.bertoni@lacity.org, matthew.glesne@lacity.org

For Council/Council file: alan.alietti@lacity.org, sharon.gin@lacity.org

Murez Says Stop … Let the Stakeholder Look

The following, in letter form, is a motion that Jim Murez, community officer, will present to the Venice Neighborhood Council board Tuesday night at  6:30 pm, Westminster Elementary School, 1010 Abbot Kinney Blvd hopefully to stop the listed project from going thru a short-cutted process that has bypassed the stakeholders and the Venice Neighborhood Council.  If the motion is passed, the letter will be sent.

Dear Councilman Bonin:
The Venice Neighborhood Council by-laws were certified by the City of Los Angeles in shortly after Charter Reform in 2000. These governing rules were designed to give Stakeholders an opportunity to voice their opinions on all developments and budgetary items within the boundaries of our region.

City government has taken actions which have potential financial impacts to our community. Additionally, some of these actions involve land development issues none of which have been shared with our neighborhood council.

We believe the City just like any private developer should share anything that is going to affect our community in an open and transparent process.

Therefore, we request the City present the following projects to our council in whatever state they are presently and stop taking any actions until such time as our council and stakeholders have had a chance to voice our opinion on any and all proposals.

List of Projects including but not limited to:

    A project in DOT Parking Lot No. 731 has had City resources allocated for a new project
    A parcel commonly known at the MTA Division No.6 is under construction with a CDP
    City resources have been allocated to the Venice Senior Center / Dog Park located at Westminster Ave.
    Resources are being spent to rezone the Thatcher Ave Maintenance Yard
    Ocean Front Walk Business Improvement District is having resources allocated and City properties included without any public input.


Respectfully submitted,

Ira Koslow
Venice Neighborhood Council

cc. Mayor Garcetti
California Coastal Commission

Ryavec Says May Run for Bonin’s Job

Mark Ryavec, president of Venice Stakeholders Association (VSA), said he was thinking of running for city council seat now held by Councilman Mike Bonin. Ryavec said he would be making the final decision to run in a month or so.  Bonin is up for re-election next year.

Ryavec has established himself as a fighter for the rights of those who live and work in Venice — owners, tenants, and business owners.  While there are many groups defending the rights of the homeless,  only Ryavec has established himself as a human rights advocate for those who live in Venice and are subject to a growing presence of homelessness.



Single-Family Housing Today; Tomorrow Single-Family Plus One?

By Barbara Broide, A West LA Homeowner

It is important that you and your community be aware of the pending action of the LA City Council to legalize Second Dwelling Unit (SDU)/Granny Units across the City to state standards which allow for SDU’s of up to 1200 square feet with no minimum lot size requirement and which will essentially re-zone R1/single family neighborhoods into multi-family duplex properties.

The article from CityWatch (see link below) summarizes the current situation. Neighborhood councils should consider making CIS statements and/or emergency motions to oppose the current recommendations. Individuals should consider writing as stakeholders/taxpayers.

SEE: http://www.citywatchla.com/index.php/the-la-beat/11502-on-the-brink-of-folly-will-city-council-unwittingly-upzone-la-s-single-family-neighborhoods

The last paragraph from the CityWatch article closes with:

“The Council can easily reject the Department’s proposed repeal ordinance and act to protect our single-family neighborhoods. For example, the Council can simply amend the SDU ordinance to keep the current protective standards while removing the discretionary CUP elements. Alternatively, the Council can decouple the grandfathering provisions to protect the reliance interests of property owners whose SDUs were stopped by LADBS and issue a new administrative memorandum that applies the existing SDU protections ministerially. Anyone who cares about their neighborhood should call or email their Councilmember immediately to stop the repeal ordinance!”

The Planning Dept. staff report can be found at:

You may wish to write your Councilmember, the full Council and Mayor to voice your opposition to the measure under expedited consideration which will repeal existing subsections of the LA Municipal Code (sections 12.24 W.43 and 12.24 W.44) and by default place the City under the STATE’S Granny Unit law. The City’s standards limit SDUs to 640 square feet with minimum lot size requirements. As noted in the staff report, “the City’s standards are more flexible and tailored in some ways………”

If the City wishes to update its SDU ordinance, it should not repeal the ordinance and give up our local control (and the policy that was adopted as a result of broad community participation) to the state’s less detailed and more permissive standards. There should be a citywide discussion of what kind of revisions are to be considered.

Contact City Council ASAP re: CF 16-0348.

“Safe Parking” Passes Committee, City Council Next

School1 On Main next to Westminster Elementary School.

school2Man with his mattress next to bus stop on Main and next to Westminster Elementary School.

Councilman Mike Bonin’s proposed “Safe Parking” program, which will prohibit homeless from parking in residential areas and near schools, was approved by the Homeless and Poverty Committee and will go before the City Council after the City Council summer recess, according to David Graham-Caso, communications director for Councilman Bonin.

John Betz, an activist who lives in Westminster Senior Center area, consistently is reporting the area conditions around Westminster Senior Center and Westminster Elementary School and he has a following who read his weekly reports.  The two photos are examples of what he sees daily.

The  “Safe Parking” program that Bonin proposes would be for one year to get the RV and car livers away from schools and residential areas.  Bonin is hoping to find other areas and designate them for “homeless” parking.  Other areas would be church parking lots, etc.  If that is not possible within one year, then the “Safe Parking” program would dissolve and parking would be back on the streets.




BBB Routes Change But Not All Happy

good bus copy
(Photo courtesy of Darryl DuFay.)

After much controversy and a town hall meet, the Big Blue Bus, that services Venice and now Marina del Rey, has changed Routes 1 and 18 again, and will reroute starting 21 August. Route 1 will not go on Ocean which was so controversial. But route 18, which was also changed, is still controversial.   For bus service schedules go to BBB.

All are happy to see the Bus Route 1 changed off of Ocean Ave, which was determined to be too narrow to be safe.


Route 1


Route 18 still goes down 4th, which is as narrow as Ocean and adds a steep hill. The other disagreements one group of advocates has with Route 18 are Rose, 7th, and California. These advocates will be meeting with Councilman Mike Bonin next week to discuss further changes to Route 18. Another group of advocates is concerned about Abbot Kinney and their concerns are listed below.


Route 18

Bus stops are projected to be at Abbot Kinney and Coeur d’Alene Ave, Abbot Kinney and Boccaccio/Marr Aves, Abbot Kinney and Venice Bl.

Weekdays: 5:30am to 11:00pm
Saturday: 5:50am to 10:00pm
Sunday: 6:20am to 10:00pm

Buses every half hour, increasing to every 20 minutes during rush times.

There were  three neighborhood meetings with BBB and CD11 and advocates are left with

1) BBB sold this service to us as running from 6am to 9pm. Now they are extending that by 1 to 2 1/2 hours per day into the quietest times of each day. This is a significant change of the service parameters sold by BBB and will likely negatively impact the quality of life for residents.

2) Noise. The stops are 3-4 blocks apart. The buses could be braking and accelerating for the entire trip; their noisiest operations.

3) Parking. We will lose some parking on Abbot Kinney for the stops. But potentially more important, since there is little parking for cars around the Santa Monica Downtown Expo Line Station, people may use our neighborhood streets as their free parking lot taking up scarce parking
and then commute by bus to Santa Monica. Farfetched? LAX travelers have been doing it for years.

4) Schools. Coeur d’alene has two Elementary Schools. Is this intersection a good place for a bus stop considering the volume of vehicle and foot traffic to and from the schools?

5) Safety and Lane Width. Bikes, cars, trucks, RVs already compete for lane space. Vehicles of all sizes park on both sides; delivery trucks park in the center lane; leaving cars, trucks, bikes and now buses to compete for the driving lane. Will the proposed wide and long buses squeeze among these existing users safely?

Residents proposed Alternatives to BBB and CD11 regarding BBB’s impending use of Abbot Kinney:

1) New Route 18 is advertised as a feeder to the Expo Line. From all directions of this area of Venice, it is more efficient to go directly to the Culver City Expo Station at Venice Bl/Washington Bl and National Bl using existing bus lines on Venice Bl or Washington Bl rather than travel to downtown Santa Monica Expo Station to then backtrack towards Downtown Los Angeles. And there is parking at Culver City Station.
BBB, other Bus lines and the City could/should be promoting this idea.

2) Instead of running Route 18 on a mostly residential section of AK, use the existing bus infrastructure on the commercial streets of Washington Bl/Lincoln Bl/ Venice Bl to swing around Abbot Kinney and still provide an efficient service. In tests drives, we found the time difference between the two is 4-5 minutes.

City Hall Wants Property Owners to Pay for County Failures

Mark Ryavec

Note: The author is president of the Venice Stakeholders Association and the former chief deputy assessor for Los Angeles County.

When it comes to the City of Los Angeles’ proposed $1.2-billion bond for homeless housing, residents should look past the obvious question of whether this will really get the 27,000 people living on our sidewalks into housing.

Instead they should focus on more fundamental questions:

Is this the city’s responsibility?

Is a new tax really needed?

Will the tax burden be spread fairly?

Is an adequate process in place to avoid mismanagement and corruption?

The answer to all four questions: No.

Under California Welfare and Institutions Code Section 17000, counties — not cities — are the government entities primarily responsible for taking care of mentally incompetent, poor, indigent and incapacitated persons.

Yet Los Angeles County provides only $221 per month in general relief (which jumps to a grant of $877 from Social Security if a person is totally disabled). As an old saying goes, the only problem with poor people is that they don’t have any money. If the county had regularly indexed the $221 figure to account for decades of inflation, a significant number of the homeless would be able to afford to live in shared apartments and houses.

In the face of the county shirking its duty, the goodhearted folks at L.A. City Hall have volunteered to help — as long as someone else pays for it.

Before residents let City Hall again put its hand into their wallet, they might consider that the City Administrative Officer is projecting the city’s budget will grow from $5.55 billion to $6.20 billion in just the next four years, with about $650 million in new revenues each year by 2020. If the city simply committed 10% of its planned budget increase over the next 20 years, it could easily pay off the $63 million needed each year to service the bond without a tax increase.

If adopted in November, the bond’s tax burden will fall unevenly, with most of the cost being covered by those who have more recently purchased property, whether houses and condos, apartments, or commercial and industrial buildings. This is due to the operation of Proposition 13, which reassesses properties to market value upon sale (or new construction).

Renters — including those who are quite wealthy — will pay nothing, and those who have owned their property since 1978, when Proposition 13 passed, will pay very little.

While city officials say the average yearly increase would be $44.31 per year for a home assessed at $327,900 (the current median in Los Angeles), the tax on the Westside and other places with more expensive real estate will be far higher.

My duplex, purchased in 1989, is assessed at about $800,000. Over the expected 28 year life of the bond, I would pay an average of about $106 a year (on top of the $1,470 I already pay each year to retire school and community college construction bonds). However, a new buyer of my property, at about a $3.5 million sales price, would pay an average of $473 per year, with a spike in the 11th year to about $800.

These effects play out much differently between apartments and commercial property. The city’s rent control ordinance does not allow apartment owners to pass on property tax increases to renters, so the apartment owners will have to absorb all the increase. But commercial property is frequently under a triple net lease, which requires the lessee to pay the property taxes — meaning lots of mom-and-pop businesses will have to pick up the bill.

With more than $1 billion at play, the potential is high for mismanagement, favoritism and corruption.

However, the oversight committee designed by the City Council has the foxes guarding the hen house.

Four are appointed by the mayor; three by the City Council. And there are no qualifications required — such as 10 years or more of multimillion-dollar construction management experience, or being a certified public accountant. There also is no funding for the committee to hire independent staff or retain experts. Nothing in the bond ordinance prevents the appointment of political cronies or individuals from the affordable housing industry who have a financial interest in which projects are funded.

This all suggests the county, with funding from Sacramento, should finally step up and assume its legal requirement to take care of the homeless. If the city still feels it wants to help, it can fund a housing bond from future revenues. Even without a new tax, strengthening the independence and qualifications of the oversight committee would be prudent.

WIC 1700 reads: Every county and every city and county (i.e.; San Francisco) shall relieve and support all incompetent, poor, indigent persons, and those incapacitated by age, disease, or accident, lawfully resident therein, when such persons are not supported and relieved by their relatives or friends, by their own means, or by state hospitals or other state or private institutions.

City to Pre-qualify Builders for Affordable/Homeless Housing

Rumors and statements abound in Venice regarding the Thatcher Yard and the Venice Median parking lot between Dell and Pacific, properties that Councilman Mike Bonin identified for affordable housing and homeless housing, respectively.

The latest is that builders are being pre-qualified for these properties and there have been no public hearings. The council office was queried of such action. Debbie Dyner-Harris, district director for Councilman Mike Bonin, issued the following statement clarifying the procedure.

The City Administrative Officer (CAO) has identified eight potential development sites throughout the City (including Thatcher Yard and the Dell/Pacific parking lots). Rather than issue eight separate Request for Proposals (RFP) for those lots, the idea is to pre-qualify developers who would be qualified to do work in the City. Once we get them and see their visions for any of the sites, we’ll try to do a match up, kind of like setting up blind dates. If someone has a vision for a property that matches what we may want to do in Venice, then they would be assigned to Venice.

We’d then start the community meeting and input process, trying to match everyone’s vision for what makes sense at each site. If we can’t make a match, then we can find another blind date.

I can imagine this may not be a simple process for some, but it actually greatly simplifies it for the City. The thought of eight RFP with who knows how many bidders for each site, I think, was just too much for the CAO office.

I hope this clears it a bit.

Bonin, Sobel, Ordundo, Shannon on Panel to Discuss Homelessness

Carol Sobel, advocate and attorney for the homeless; Councilman Mike Bonin; Alisa Ordundo, Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Homelessness Policy Director; and Susan Shannon, of Department of Public Social Services.

Note: This reporter had no intention of covering the panel discussion. Just wanted to attend and listen. Ended up taking notes to pass along.

The four comprised a panel discussing homelessness and what to do about it at a local Democratic club.

Carol Sobel, advocate and attorney for the homeless, said she tried to prevent confiscation of private property and criminalization of homelessness.

Regarding funding, it was stated that the Governor did not want to declare a state of emergency, county wanted a millionaire’s tax, and the city wanted a fee on developers and a bond on the November ballot.

Councilman Mike Bonin, who was lauded as the councilman spearheading help for the homeless, mentioned that two of the eight City lots identified for sale or development were in Venice. He said the City will provide the land and the county will provide the services. The City plans to either build on the City property or sell and build elsewhere.

Susan Shannon mentioned “Brilliant Corners” which finds places for individuals and guarantees to landlords that the apartment will be in present shape when vacated, provides supportive services to tenant, and is paid for by vouchers. Another program she mentioned was the “Master Lease” which takes over a building and fills it with homeless and provides them services.

Councilman Mike Bonin mentioned the “Safe Parking” program as one of the new programs he is proposing. He wants to designate commercial, industrial properties as a safe place for motor homes amd people who live in cars to park during certain hours. This will last one year until safe parking areas are identified, such as parking lots in church lots, empty parking lots, etc. Bonin said there were 4600 in vehicles in Los Angeles. The ordinance is to be considered this week. See LA Times story http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-homeless-car-ban-20160623-snap-story.html

One of the panelists mentioned that it saves the city $25 to 35K per year when a homeless person is put in permanent supportive housing. Someone mentioned that the Veterans Administration is finally helping to reduce the number of veterans on the street.

The plan is to house people first and then give them services. This was tried as Project 50 and was successful. There is also a plan to place those with animals. Right now it is hard to find places for people with drug or alcohol problems or with an animal.

Someone brought up the situation with Manchester Square where approximately 100 motor homes will be displaced when work starts on the LAX project. All agreed this was a problem because these people had established community and finding places for them would not be easy.

All panelists agreed that every method needed to be tried, not just one.

All panelists agreed that homelessness is a situation, not an identity.

All panelists also agreed that now was the time.