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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

Conservative Ring Writes about the Demise of Venice Beach Because of Progressive Movement

Conservative Ed Ring writes another article about the progressive movement and the demise of Venice Beach. Read article.

He mentions the 40-unit on Lincoln Blvd, the 154-bed housing at Sunset, and the 140-unit Venice Median project.

Lincoln Apartments Approved Unanimously by City Planning Commission

Lincoln Apartments, a 40-unit project proposed by Venice Community Housing (VCH) and Safe Place for Youth (SPY), passed the City Planning Commission unanimously 28 May.

City Planning to Hear Lincoln Apartments 28 May at 8:30 AM

The City Planning Commission will hear Lincoln Apartments Thursday, May 28,  at 8:30 am. The Commission will hear public testimony and will be the final vote on the project.

“There are over 1,000 opposition letters from Venice residents and stakeholders! ” according to Venice Neighbors blog.  “The City Planning Commission report ignores this fact and states there are only 300 opposition letters.  They are also recommending that the commission approve the project, while ignoring the documented safety issues our neighborhood has had with Safe Place for Youth and Venice Community Housing. ”

Agenda: https://planning.lacity.org/dcpapi/meetings/document/66829, Number 9 on the agenda.

IF YOU WISH TO PARTICIPATE IN THE MEETING AND OFFER PUBLIC COMMENT, PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING INSTRUCTIONS.  Only members of the public who wish to offer public comment to the City Planning Commission should call 1 (669) 900- 6833 and use Meeting ID No. 965 8745 5027 and then press #. Press # again when prompted for participant ID. 
 
We assume they will give instructions at the beginning of the meeting about how to raise your hand and how much time people will have to speak.  They have not released those details ahead of time.
Crime Report: 2 more people on Garfield Avenue had their cars broken into last week – one person had their car broken into twice within a week.

First VNC Zoom Board Meeting is an All Night Effort; Says “No” to Lincoln Apartments

By Angela McGregor

Despite previous VNC Zoom meetings of the AdComm and LUPC Committees, there were still a few technical difficulties to be ironed out on May 21st as the Board and hundreds of attendees “arrived” to the Board’s first meeting since February.

It was 7:30pm before all Board members had logged in and popped up on screen, settings were adjusted, audio problems were ironed out and home computer issues were resolved (with the expert assistance of Empower LA’s Jasmine Elbarbary). 

Former VNC Board member Nisa Kove, now the Venice liaison for Councilman Bonin’s office, announced that the Councilman is well aware of the rapid growth of encampments in Venice, due in part to the lack of bulky item pickup service and CDC’s recommendation that homeless be allowed to remain in their tents during the pandemic.  Bonin has recently met with neighbors of the Rose Avenue encampments and, in Kove’s  words, “discussions are underway”.

With the removal of Matt Fisher and Nisa Kove’s departure to take the position in the Councilman’s office, there were two vacant, at-large Board seats to fill.  Nine candidates applied, and after two votes to break a tie between the two second place finishers, Vicki Halliday (https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1ZNp3zfH_Tme9exl66U1twLMl88NAdGDs) and Soledad Ursua (https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1ZNp3zfH_Tme9exl66U1twLMl88NAdGDs) were elected to finish out this term.  They will be sworn in at the next meeting, once they have received the mandatory ethics training.

Jim Murez’s request to move his Parking and Transportation motions to the front of the agenda, given his required, early morning, presence at Friday’s Venice Farmer’s Market, was granted.  First up was a motion to send a letter to the City requesting a Department of Public Works “Street Vacation” of the now unimproved (and overrun with encampments) sidewalk along Rose Avenue between Frederick St. and Glen Avon, handing control of the space to Parks and Recreation to create an “official” walking and running trail.  Public commentary in favor of the proposal noted that, until recently, that path had served as the “heart of the neighborhood” which had been lost to the encampments, many of which featured criminal activity.  Opposition to the proposal came from homeless advocates who insisted the motion be amended to include a mandate that any homeless who were displaced by the project be offered housing.  Jim Murez pointed out that the proposal was to set in motion a process at the City that would take several months to complete, and so wasn’t designed to offer immediate relief from the encampments.  The motion passed, 14-3-2.

A motion to put K rails on the east side of Main Street failed, 8-8-3, and a motion to re-instate overnight parking restrictions on Main Street passed, 13-5-1.

The night’s “main event” was the consideration of LUPC’s motion to deny the VCHC’s Lincoln Apartments project at the site of Safe Place for Youth’s current facility at 2567  Lincoln Blvd presented at their meeting last week (see:  https://veniceupdate.com/2020/05/15/lupc-rejects-lincoln-place-apartments-at-special-meeting/), and public commentary did not commence until 11:30pm.  Consideration of the motion was restricted to an hour, and each commenter was granted 30 seconds to speak.  According to Ira Koslow, the Board has, to date, received about 2000 emails regarding the project, and in the interest of time management he stressed the need for stakeholders who had already expressed their opinions via email to not repeat themselves by raising their hand on Zoom.  Nevertheless, dozens did, and their observations followed a similar pattern to those given at the special LUPC meeting:  opposition cited numerous incidents of violence and harassment of the children who attend both Coeur d’Alene Elementary and St. Mark (including several lockdowns of both campuses due to threatening behavior by SPY’s clients).  Proponents of the project characterized such objections as without basis in fact and defended VCHC’s refusal to consider criminal background checks of prospective tenants to be justified by  “fair housing laws”, and their refusal to forbid drug and alcohol consumption and the retention of deadly weapons within the facility as accepted best practices.

The VNC Board agreed with LUPC that the project, as presented, should be denied, and voted to approve the motion 14-0-1 shortly before 1 am.  The project will now go before City Planning on 28 May.  (see https://planning.lacity.org/pdiscaseinfo/search/encoded/MjMyODgy0).

 

LUPC Rejects Lincoln Place Apartments at Special Meeting

By Angela McGregor

Land Use and Planning Committer (LUPC) held a special meeting Thursday (14 May) exclusively to hear input and issue a decision on the Lincoln Place Apartments project prior to the Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC} 19 May Board meeting and the Planning Commission 28 May online meeting (see: https://planning.lacity.org/dcpapi/meetings/document/66666).

Over 120 persons attended the online meeting.

At its 26 February meet, last pre-pandemic meeting, LUPC sent Lincoln Apartments applicants — Venice Community Housing Corporation (VCHC) and Safe Place for Youth (SPY) — back to the community for more input before rendering a decision on the project.

Since then, City Planning has fast tracked approval of the project, apparently using the current pandemic to bypass the Venice Neighborhood Council usual approval process, especially for such a large and controversial project.

The meeting opened with VCHC Director Becky Denison delivering a somewhat revised presentation on the project, stating that VCHC had met with representatives from St. Mark School (which is adjacent to the project), who made 26 recommendations for the project, of which VCHC incorporated just 12 (the rest they deemed “unreasonable”).

This including adding some greenery and a gate to overcome the fact that the project’s roof deck offered direct line-of-sight above the school’s playground and insisting that there had been “no firm decision” on whether or not the project would be built with Prop. 2, “No Place Like Home”, funds, which would mandate that (according to VCHC) roughly one third of the residents be suffering from severe mental illness. VCHC then offered several examples of what they said were similar projects that had either been granted the kind of density bonuses they are requesting (over 100 percent, as well as a 22-foot height increase and waiver of step back provisions).

Public commentary was overwhelmingly opposed to the project, and continued for over two and a half hours. Speakers (many of whom are active participants in the St. Mark parish programs to benefit the homeless) primarily emphasized the historic threat to public safety and the poor track record of SPY in ensuring that their clientele did not terrorize the surrounding neighborhood and the children at the two nearby schools. In neighborhood discussions with VCHC, the applicant had refused to take Prop 2 money off the table, promise to screen prospective residents in the sex offender database, or add parking.

Project has questionable safety provisions
In three years, there have been 117 calls to police and fire for incidents at SPY, which include violent crimes that resulted in school lockdowns, and the record for the SPY Bridge Housing project on Main Street is even worse — 202 police calls in two months, including one SPY client who was allowed back into the facility after vandalizing multiple cars and assaulting two women.

Lincoln Apartments would not require sobriety or treatment (several speakers mentioned SPY clients openly using drugs near SPY’s current facility). At a projected cost of $500K per studio apartment, opponents contended the project was an unconscionable waste of money in light of the nearly 60,000 homeless in Los Angeles. Finally, Venice has more current and planned PSH and affordable housing projects than all of CD11 combined: Five units of affordable housing per 100 people.

80 percent of residents within 500 feet say “no”
In all, at least 80 percent of residents who live within a 500-foot radius of the project oppose it.  There was much less public commentary in favor of the project, mainly from people who identified themselves as board members or volunteers for either SPY or VCHC. Their comments were less specific to the project and focused on the overall need in Los Angeles for this type of housing.

Longtime VCH representative and former VNC Board President Linda Lucks stated that “VCH will be managing the property, and VCH is not SPY. They have a good reputation for managing their properties, including full-time, onsite social workers.”

SPY representative Alison Hurst stated that the problems at the Bridge Housing were due to challenges posed by the pandemic and the stress it was putting on residents, “especially vulnerable youth. We need to say yes to housing of all kinds!”

Board commentary opened with questions for the applicant. LUPC member Tim Bonefeld, who was the LUPC staffer on this project, stated that he lived very close to the Bridge Housing, and that, in his estimation, “incidents are through the roof.” He asked whether onsite security guards would be hired for the new project, to which Becky Dennison responded that that was “not considered best practices” and that “people underestimate how effective social service managers are in providing security.” Alison Hurst then stated that Bridge Housing is a “very different model” from the proposed project, and does have full time security officers on site.

Both LUPC Chair Alix Gucovsky and LUPC staffer Shep Stern cited the “overwhelming and unprecedented” outpouring of opposition to the project in the form of over 800 letters, many of whom were clearly very heartfelt, from parishioners and parents torn between their sense of obligation to the less fortunate and their responsibilities as parents for the safety of their children. By contrast, the letters in support of the project, of which there were hundreds, were clearly auto-generated, many with the same name and verbiage, and over 48 percent of them came from outside of Venice.

Bonefeld suggested that, in light of the upcoming hearing at City Planning wherein the project would likely be approved, LUPC make a motion to support the project, but with a long list of recommendations that would address residents’ concerns. However, the other board members seemed to feel that the project was irredeemable, given that its primary fault was its location so close to a school and the undeniably poor public safety record of SPY. At around 10:30 pm, three and a half hours after the start of the meeting, LUPC voted to dismiss the project, 5 votes to 2.

The project will now be taken up by the VNC Board, at their online meeting on May 19th at 7 pm.

LUPC Holds Special Meet Tonight (14 May) to Discuss Lincoln Apartments

A special meeting will be held tonight to discuss 40-unit project called Lincoln Apartments proposed for Lincoln Blvd. Meet will be 7 pm. To join this meeting use Zoom per the following paragraph.

To JOIN this meeting, Please Use This Link:
us02web.zoom.us/j/88266983304​
OR ZOOM US AT – MEETING ID: 860 3314 3804
PASSWORD: 157287

YOU CAN ALSO DIAL IN BY PHONE:
+1 (669)900-6833,, 86033143804#,, #, 157287#
+1 (346)248-7799,, 86033143804#,, #,157287#
iPhone one-tap : US: +16699009128,,88266983304# or +12532158782,,88266983304#

Please click on Agenda Link:
https://www.venicenc.org/admin/productphotos/LUPC%20AGENDA%20May%2014,%202020.pdf

To submit public comment please use the “Raise Hand” feature on Zoom. If you are dialing in by phone, please enter #9 to raise your hand.

Public comment is limited to 2 minutes per speaker, unless extended or reduced by Chair of the meeting. Alternatively you may submit public comment via email in advance to:
Chair-LUPC@VeniceNC.org and LUPC@venicenc.org.
For troubleshooting during the meeting please email: LUPC@venicenc.org.

VCHC Goes Directly to Planning with Lincoln Apartments, Leaps Past Neighborhood, LUPC, and VNC Approvals

Venice Community Housing Corporation (VCHC) leaps past Venice neighborhood critiques, and both the Land Use and Planning Committee (LUPC) and the VNC approvals, according to Fight Back Venice, a neighborhood group opposed to the project as presently presented.

Many times a project is already set for a planning hearing so the planning director, if they hear the project, will normally say subject to approval by the VNC. The project is on the agenda to be heard by LUPC 14 May, and normally, will be heard by the VNC at the next scheduled meet, which would be 18 May.

At the last meet of the LUPC, LUPC directed the VCHC to work with the community and do more outreach. The community showed a large amount of disapproval for the project and LUPC, instead of voting it down, asked that VCHC take the project before the neighbors and try to work out some of the problems. Now according to Fight Back Venice, the project is using the Corona Virus to secure approval from the City Planning Commission without further outreach, without approval from LUPC, without approval from VNC.

The City Planning Commission is meeting to vote on the Project in a strictly virtual meeting on May 28. Information regarding the meeting is available here: https://planning.lacity.org/dcpapi/meetings/document/66666

Fight Back Venice says “since Venice has no friendly representation whatsoever at City Hall, we need to get as many emails on file opposing the Project as we possibly can by Friday, 15 May.

“Our goal is 1,000 emails, so please, take 10 seconds to send the one-click email yourself and rally as many friends and family members as you possibly can to do the same by taking 3 more seconds to forward this email to them.”

A short video about VCHC’s Lincoln Apartments Project is available here: https://www.fightbackvenice.org/

Fight Back Venice Gives Rebuttal to VCH Lincoln Apartments

Fight Back Venice gives their facts regarding the 40-unit project proposed for Lincoln Blvd near Washington Blvd to be built by Venice Community Housing Corporation. Half the residents will be between the ages of 18 and 26 and the other half is proposed for mentally ill.

LUPC to Hear Lincoln Apartments, 12 March

Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) Land Use and Planning Committee (LUPC) will hear the 40-unit project called Lincoln Apartments Thursday, 12 March, 6:30 pm at Westminster Elementary School, 1010 Abbot Kinney Blvd.

The project will consist of 39 supportive units and one unit for live-in staff member. Fifty percent will be 18-24 year olds with no sober living requirement. The other 50 percent will be serious mental illnesses since Venice Community Housing is going for Proposition 2 funding.

Tracy Carpenter, activist who lives in neighborhood, asks if this is the proper place to put kids on drugs and alcohol and mentally ill people next to where there are schools and preschool and a neighborhood. Over 800 children attend schools in close proximity to proposed project.

Is Placement of 40-Unit Project on Lincoln Apartments Next to Schools and Neighborhood the Wise Choice?


Venice Community Housing and SPY (Safe Place for Youth) want to build 40 units on Lincoln Blvd a short distance from St. Mark’s School and Coeur d’Alene and a few nursery schools. Is this a wise choice?

Tracy Carpenter, a neighbor, says “no.” Too many dangerous incidences as reported by police and paramedic responses to area.

This is the speech she gave at the Land Use and Planning Committee meeting that was recently held over for lack of outreach in the community. It is reprinted here because of the facts. Date for a new hearing has not been set; however, the Venice Neighborhood Council, is set to hear the project 17 March.

I live down the street from Safe Place for Youth. I volunteer with an organization that supports homeless people, but I think that saying yes to every single homeless housing project without using common sense is irresponsible.

The safety of the 800 children who go to school and live in this neighborhood, is our primary concern. Since SPY’s inception we’ve had many problems. Most recently, there was a man from SPY wielding a chain and threatening people and smashing windows, shutting down Garfield Ave and causing a lockdown at St. Mark’s School. There are some people who go to SPY for help, but they are also a magnet for people like that man. People that go to SPY aren’t screened to see if they are sex offenders or pedophiles and they literally share a property line with a school.

In the last 3 years police and fire have been to SPY numerous times – with recent responses for Assault with a Deadly Weapon, Violent Mentally Ill, Overdose, Battery, Burglary, and Vandalism (and that’s with them only having drop in hours 3 afternoons a week). At Gateway Apartments, VCH’s other supportive housing project that is half the size of Lincoln Apartments, in the last 3 years, the fire dept has responded 132 times, and the police have responded 46 times.

Lincoln Apartment has 39 supportive units of which, 50% of units will be for 18- 24 year olds, with no sober living requirement. Since City records show VCH is seeking Prop 2 funding, the other 50% of units will be for those with serious mental illness (with symptoms of psychosis or violence), with no requirement for them to seek treatment. Keep in mind that it’s illegal to have a liquor store or pot dispensary within 600 feet of a school.

This project is not Compassionate –
The units at Lincoln Apartments will cost taxpayers about $500,000 each to build, for a total of $20 million. There simply is not enough money in the budget to give all of the 60,000 homeless people in LA County a $500,000 apartment (plus the cost of services). Spending all of the money on a small percentage of people, while leaving the vast majority to languish on the street is not compassion, it’s corruption. And it’s certainly not cost effective as claimed in VCH’s slideshow. We need to utilize more efficient solutions, like collaborative housing.

A committee of the US National Library of Medicine “examined studies that claimed to assess the cost-effectiveness of supportive housing and found that, at present, there is insufficient evidence to demonstrate that the supportive
housing model saves health care costs or is cost-effective.”

This is not a nonprofit project. According to public records, VCH will build the project using public funds and then will sell 99.99% to private investors – those investors collect rent subsidized by our taxes, while VCH takes the capital from the sale to invest in new properties to achieve their goal of building more projects in Venice.

Our small community of Venice has more current and planned homeless housing projects than all of the other communities in Council District 11 combined. They are making the assertion that Venice is not doing its part to supply subsidized housing. This is false. VCH’s analysis looks only at supportive housing units funded by HHH, while ignoring those funded by other sources, like Prop 2.

According to Planning Urbanism, Venice has the 8th highest rate of subsidized housing in all of Los Angeles (with 1860 low income and supportive housing units), and the highest rate, by far, in Council District 11. And this is not including the planned projects: Thatcher Yard (98), Median Project (140), Rose Ave (34), Lincoln Apts(40), Bridge Housing (154) – which is an additional 466 units – which brings it to over 2300 low income and supportive housing units in Venice.

Not even including the planned projects, Venice has over 5 units of affordable housing per 100 people. Brentwood and the Palisades combined have .21 units of affordable housing per 100 people. The over concentration of housing and services in Venice, has only caused the homeless population to go up in our community, while going down in surrounding communities (Source: LAHSA). And, keep in mind, those homeless in Venice do not get priority for the Lincoln Apartments.

Scale/Density/Parking
With 4 stories and a rooftop deck (overlooking St. Mark’s playground area), the height of this building will set a dangerous precedent for Lincoln, Venice Blvd, and Washington Blvd in Venice. We’ll see traffic and parking problems like we’ve never seen before. Current plans contain only 6 parking spots for staff, volunteers (of which, they have 20 volunteers on any given day), guests, and residents. They currently have drop-in hours 3 afternoons a week and want to expand to 7 days a week, which means more traffic to this area and into our neighborhood.

I’ve e-mailed you all a copy of our petition against this project with over 1000 signatures.

By law, if approved, this building must remain affordable housing for a minimum of 55 years. Societies require balance to avoid problems. We don’t advocate putting a motorcycle track next to a nature center. Those are both fine, but put them side-by-side and there will be problems. Those experiencing homelessness and the children who go to school and live in this neighborhood deserve better.