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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

Robin Says Tesuque Market Proposal is Detrimental to Community

To all interested, RE: 600 Mildred/Tesuque Market Proposal

I am writing you to clarify my understanding of the proposed project for 600 Mildred/Tesuque Market… and why the presentation to, and vote by, the Venice Neighborhood Council was misleading, completely flawed and why the proposed project would be overwhelmingly detriment to the community.

1. A BAR not a mere corner cafe: The presenters referred only to this being a change of use from a market to a cafe restaurant. They omitted the fact that it is to be a bar. It’s to serve alcohol 7am-10:30pm and can increase that to 2am if they wish.

Over the past several years, the owners have always presented their Mexican Food Bar / Restaurant in Santa Fe as the model for what they want to create here. Googling that property we see something akin to Baja Cantina, and surrounded by parking.

In their presentation to the VNC they likened their project to Flake. The two could not be more dissimilar. Flake is only open 7am – 3:30pm. They do not serve alcohol. It is a tiny (maybe 20 seats) breakfast and lunch cafe on a major commercial street, Rose.

2. Insurmountable & Dangerous Traffic Problems: Most of the VNC Board and all of Tesuque’s speakers seem to be completely unaware of the uniquely problematic and insurmountable traffic issues posed by this site:

Once an unsuspecting patron drives onto Mildred from Ocean, as many people will, (apart from Tesuque’s speakers who do not own cars and live 10 blocks from the site)s, there is no way out. The Silver Triangle is referred to as The Bermuda Triangle. Once you turn in, it takes about 10 blocks to find your way back to Tesuque.

Mildred, the alley, and the whole Silver Triangle has sub-standard width streets. It’s not possible to make a U-Turn to get back to Tesuque.

The intersection of Mildred @ Ocean is the site of NUMEROUS traffic accidents. It’s a busy, skinny street with high volume traffic, particularly at rush hours… which is dinner time. I personally know a couple neighbors whose lives were severely, adversely affected by traffic accidents in that intersection

Frequently, only one car can pass through the intersection at a time. If SUV or trucks are parked on Mildred, as is frequently the case, only one car can pass through the intersection.

No one is blaming Tesuque for this problem, as some of their speakers said, but it’s not something that should be exacerbated, as a 44 seat bar/restaurant would do. Tesuque’s speakers all said that they bike or walk over and have never witnessed traffic at this site. Even if most patrons were in that unique category, the number of patrons that Tesuque would need 7am to 10:30pm, 7 days a week, to turn a profit would greatly exceed those few unique neighbors who spoke at the meeting.

This is a reason the the California Coastal Commission cited, PRIOR TO THE OWNERS PURCHASE, for it being impossible to build a restaurant (not to mention a bar) on that site.

There’s no space for delivery & trash trucks to stop on Mildred nor the tiny alley, nor on Ocean. There’s no space for a dumpster. The Owners representative said that there would be no increase in the number or frequency of delivery and trash trucks from its current situation. That’s not logical; and if it were, if they are not selling more food and drink, why create a bar/restaurant? They currently have very little business. I’ve never seen more than 4 customers inside, (even with their currently illegal patio seating). They are hoping to fill and turn over tables of this proposed 44+ bar/restaurant longer hours, and with 20 times the volume of customers.

3. Noises – Set Up, Clean Up, Delivery Trucks Beeping, Trash Trucks Banging, Patrons chatting, Patrons on cell phones strolling through the neighborhood, music playing over patron voices… That’s all normal for bars and restaurants. And it’s ok when they’re located on commercial streets that absorb the sound. This site is fully surrounded by residences, and in extremely close proximity. Also, sound travels. Neighbors on Ocean don’t want to hear the noise, nor do residents on the Canals and in the Silver Triangle. All would be subject to the noise. That’s not building community; it’s merely building the personal profit of one business owner.

4. Parking – It sounds cool to have a neighborhood cafe that we can all get to walking, on bike or scooter. I ride my bike, a lot. Maybe that will be the reality in the future. It’s not, now. Now, the site will attract automobile commuters on Ocean Ave – HEAVY TRAFFIC!!! and beach goers along Venice Blvd. They won’t know that there’s no parking. So the traffic issues described above will happen, constantly, and dangerously, day and night.

Additionally, there are no parking spaces on site, (a fact that the Owners tried to hide from the City) and none are offered, anywhere. The City will not permit the Owners to use the City parking lots, despite the Owners requests over the past 4 years. At the VNC meeting, that was left as an option. It’s obviously not.

Meanwhile, the Coastal Commission will not allow any restrictions on parking on the neighboring residential streets, because their mandate is to keep the beach accessible to all. So residents in the Silver Triangle, Ocean and East end of the Canals are rightfully concerned that they would lose all of their street parking. Many residents rely in part on street parking, as is the case in most residential neighborhoods of Venice. For this reason, too, to put a bar / restaurant in the residential neighborhood is an unfair burden on the neighbors.

The Bermuda Triangle problem, coupled with no parking lots available, also makes Valet Parking impossible.

5. Smells – Standard restaurant practice: Cooking and cleaning smells are emitted from 2 hours prior to opening to 2 hours after closing. There is zero buffer to residences which are 100% of the neighbors. Some residences are within 6 feet of the Tesuque.

6. Loitering, Loud Voiced Patrons, Urinating, Vomiting, Littering, Cell Phone Chatter… all are common to bars. A commercial street, with parking, can restrict these activities and clean up after them. This corner site in a small residential neighborhood cannot. That’s not a reasonable burden on the neighbors.

7. Community – All of Tesuque’s speakers at the VNC meeting said that they love Tesuque because it’s a great community building venue. NO ONE is questioning whether it can remain as it is!!!! Even with its current illegal patio seating and food preparation on site (as stated by Tesuque’s rep), neighbors have let that exist. But that is far from the 44 seat bar / restaurant open 15 hours a day, 7 days a week, with no parking. Allowing this project would undermine the community’s interests.

8. Commercial vs Residential streets – One can walk three block in any direction to get to bars and restaurants: Zinque, French Market Cafe, James Beach, Canal Club, to name a few. Note: they are all on commercial streets and have parking and are great community neighbors

All Venice restaurants, including Gjusta on Sunset, are NOT in 100% residential neighborhoods, are not at a Bermuda Triangle no outlet street, are not at sub-standard width intersections with extremely high volume traffic…

9. Prior to purchasing the property, the Owners of Tesuque (who are not locals but rather shrewd business partners who have built bars in NYC and Santa Fe), were told by the VNC and Coastal Commission that the site is strictly not suitable for a restaurant (not to mention a bar).

None the less, the Owners have used every sort of tactic to try to slip their project through. It has only been through the diligence of neighbors on Ocean, the Canals and the Silver Triangle, working together, that false documentation and misleading information about the site has been brought to the attention of City Planning. (This only passed LUPC because we did not know of that meeting so more misrepresentations were allowed to go uncorrected).

That too is a far too great a burden to place on neighbors!!!!!

The owners can sell the property at a profit and build a restaurant on a commercial street in Venice. Or, as some neighbors have suggested, they can sell good coffee, like Blue Bottle or Groundworks and have a popular profitable business in compliance with the current zoning regulations.

10. The VNC Board process was completely flawed. They allowed the Owners to make a presentation, of any length, and to bring in their bus load of “neighbor” speakers, while no rebuttal nor correction of inaccurate and misleading information was allowed.

I am told that the most recent LUPC presentation was similarly, completely, flawed. Most neighbors did not know of the presentation; no changes were made to the plan yet LUPC changed it’s vote from unanimously opposed, (when neighbors had been present to correct information), to supporting of the project (when we didn’t have a voice).

It was unclear that VNC Board members who voted on this project have ever driven to the Bermuda Triangle, much less on Ocean at rush hour nor most any time of the day. Nor do they seem to have any background in assessing the burden that a bar / restaurant would have on neighboring residences.

An important concern that was raised by Jim Murez, VNC Board member with experience (and, disclaimer, my brother who I have not conferred with) but disregarded by too many Board members: IF a permit is to be issued, it should have all restrictions to prevent “the worst case scenario.” This vote was carte blanche to do anything. Maybe these owners are wonderful loving people who will lose their shirts so as to make a quiet neighborhood hangout that does not negatively impact the neighborhood…. but what if they sell to someone else? Or what if they decide to increase their hours to 2am (as their representative said they could) and do not provide any parking nor valet (as they said they wouldn’t), and what if they do not or cannot clean up after messy, noisy patrons in the neighborhood?

No matter their intentions, I believe that no one could make a bar / restaurant at this 100% residential site that would not unduly burden the community, exacerbate traffic issue such that severe bodily injury becomes a real risk, and all due to the unique problems of this site.

THE DETRIMENTAL BURDENS AND RISKS TO THE NEIGHBORHOOD FAR EXCEED ANY POSSIBLE BENEFITS.

We all want wonderful neighborhood cafe’s, but not to the extreme detriment to neighbors’ quality of life and safety.

Sincerely,

Robin Murez
Current Canal Homeowner
18 year Silver Triangle Homeowner
Creator of the Corner Ball Park on Ocean @ S. Venice & Mildred – across from 600 Mildred – made to make the already dangerous busy intersection safe and engaging for the whole community.

718-720 Rose Goes Before City Planning

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The Rose project proceeded to the City Planning Wednesday.

“They approved the tract map, which includes a slight decrease in the size of the sidewalk dedication,” said Mark Ryavec president of Venice Stakeholders Association. “All the other matters, the Coastal Development Permit (CDP), CEQA exemption, Project Permit and Density Bonus Waivers were taken under advisement by planner Oliver Netburn who will prepare a set of recommendations to the City Planning Commission.

“I would urge the LUPC to reconsider the project in light of the fraudulent project description and non-operable parking covenant and submit a new recommendation to the VNC.”

Westside Community Plan Update Starts 28 August

Westside Community Plan update will begin Tuesday, 28 August at the Windward School, 11350 Palms Blvd, 7 to 8:30 pm.Screen Shot 2018-08-27 at 9.06.02 PM

Drop In at Library to Comment on LCP

City Planners will once again be hosting Office Hours in Venice! We welcome you to drop by the Library any time between 2 to 7 pm on August 23.   It will be the same format as the last Drop-in Office Hours visit,

Planning says “we’ll be on-site to help answer any questions and hear any comments you have about the Venice Local Coastal Program. Your participation is important to this process and we look forward to seeing you there!”

 

 

MTA Site, Online Voting, Cityhood, Upgrade of Venice Specific Plan Were All Discussed at VNC Meet

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A large group of people attended to hear the MTA presentation at the VNC meet Tuesday.

By  Angela McGregor

An MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority) spokesperson announced MTA will be starting community outreach in the fall for the structure on their site (not bridge housing), a spokesman for City Planning said they were going to upgrade the Venice Specific plan, it was decided for the VNC election to have both online and in-person voting, and the cityhood motion was tabled.  All of these actions happened  at the July Venice Neighborhood Council meet Tuesday night.

Wells Lawson

Wells Lawson

VNC Meeting featured a presentation by Wells Lawson of MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority) officials regarding the long-term (post Bridge Housing) plans for the MTA lot on Main Street.  He said the environmental cleanup was finished, and demolition would begin shortly.  MTA’s outreach to the community to determine what type of development Venetians will take roughly 6-9 months, beginning in the fall with Town Halls and VNC Board meetings. 

Late next year, the MTA will present their findings to the Metro Board and, once approved, issue a request for proposals to interested developers.  They anticipate construction will begin on the lot no sooner than 2021.  

Jonathan Hershey

Jonathan Hershey

The Los Angeles Department of City Planning, according to Jonathon Hersey, is embarking on a 3-year process to update neighborhood community plans, including Venice’s, which was last updated in 2000 (seen here:  https://planning.lacity.org/complan/pdf/vencptxt.pdf).  On Tuesday, October 2 they will hold a kickoff event at Westminster Elementary to begin to gather community input, to be followed up with surveys, walking tours with stakeholders and questionnaires.  The website, which is still a work in progress, will be found at www.planning.thewestside.org.  

Taylor Bazley, spokesperson for Mike Bonin’s office, stated that electronic scooters are by far the biggest issue currently concerning Venice residents, judging by the amount of emails the Councilman’s office receives.  He announced that legislation to regulate Birds and Lime Bikes is currently in process and on its way to the city’s Public Safety Committee.  It will include a citywide 2500 device cap per company, and forbid riding the bikes on the sidewalk.  This should be finalized within 1-2 months.

The Board engaged in a contentious discussion of implementing online voting in the next VNC election, which will happen in June of 2019.  Former California Secretary of State Deborah Bowen, a longtime Venice resident, spoke against online voting primarily on the basis of difficulties with accessibility, especially among older residents, since Venice is a “documentation” neighborhood council requiring proof of residency in order to vote, which would presumably mean that voters would have to scan such proof and upload it.  Conversely, VNC Parliamentarian Ivan Spiegel pointed out that with such a system there is nothing to prevent homeless residents, who are exempted from the documentation requirement, from voting multiple times.  Nevertheless, the Board voted to go with both online and in-person voting for the 2019 elections, at an additional expense of $5,000.

Finally, the Board considered a motion regarding cityhood for Venice, in which the Board would call upon the City to amend and revise their current regulation governing local government reorganization.  Currently, in order for neighborhoods such as Venice to separate from Los Angeles, the entire City of Los Angeles would vote on the issue.  The requested amendment would rest that decision solely upon Venice Stakeholders.  

Before the Board could vote, Venice Stakeholders Association President Mark Ryavec rose to explain that he had created a revised motion with Los Angeles’s Local Agency Formation Commission (see:  http://www.lalafco.org/) that would be more Venice-specific, since, as written, the measure on the Board’s agenda might open the door to any neighborhood that had previously been a separate city to easily secede (including San Pedro, the City’s major port), and as such would inevitably be a non-starter when sent to the City Council for consideration.  The Board ultimately decided to table the motion until next month, in order to give the Cityhood Committee time to do more research and present a revision. 

Jocelyn Williams

Jocelyn Williams


New board member Jocelyn Williams was sworn in.

The meeting adjourned around 11pm.  The next meeting of the VNC Neighborhood Council will take place Tuesday, August 21st.

FBV Says 11:30 for PSH Ordinance Hearing Thursday

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Planning Commission’s Staff Report on PSH Ordinance Debunks VCHC Falsehoods

By Fight Back Venice (FBV)

For months, the Venice Community Housing Corporation has been leading Venice residents to believe that the PSH Ordinance does not apply to the Venice Median Project; that space will be reserved in the Venice Median Project for “local” artists and homeless; and that, at 140 units, the size of the Venice Median Projects is appropriate. As set forth below, the Recommendation Report prepared by the Planning Department Staff in connection with the PSH Ordinance proves none of that is true.

• The PSH Ordinance Does Apply to the Venice Median Project: As set forth on A-8 of the Staff Report and in the Proposed Mitigated Negative Declaration for the PSH Ordinance, the PSH Ordinance affects “all parcels in the City of Los Angeles zoned for multifamily residential use and located within High Quality Transit Areas (HQTA).” As unbelievable as it may seem, virtually all of Venice falls in an HQTA (see Staff Report at A-8) and the Venice Community Housing Corporation has already indicated that it intends to rezone the Venice Median from “open space” to RAS3, a high-density, mixed-used designation that allows for “multifamily residential use.” Thus, the PSH Ordinance does apply to the Venice Median Project. Indeed, page A-11 of the Staff Report admits as much, stating disingenuously that “[i]t is not clear the extent to which the proposed ordinance may apply to any projects proposed for [the Venice Median or Thatcher Yard] sites,” without denying that, depending on the parameters of each project, the PSH Ordinance could very well apply to both. Indeed, the one and only reason provided in the Staff Report as to why the PSH Ordinance would not apply to the Venice Median Project is that the Venice Median’s current “open space” zoning does not allow for residential development, but as noted above, that zoning is going to be changed.

• By Law, No Space in the Venice Median Project Can Be Reserved for Venice “Locals”—Homeless, Artists or Otherwise: The Venice Community Housing Corporation talks about setting “POSH” lofts aside for “local artists” and reserving (smaller and less hip) apartments for members of the local homeless community, but page P-6 of the Staff Report expressly states that space cannot lawfully be reserved for Venice residents to the exclusion of people who reside elsewhere and that supportive housing developments, like the Venice Median Project, that receive “funding from local government will be required to utilize the Coordinated Entry System” to ensure “centralized intake” from “all service providers and outreach teams in the County.”

• Even in New York City, the Median Size of PSH Projects Is Just 48 Units: The only evidence cited in the Staff Report to show that permanent supportive housing does not adversely affect property values is a 2008 study of housing projects in New York City. As set forth in that study, however, the average size of the 123 supportive housing projects that opened in ultra-high-density New York City between 1985 and 2003 is just 48 units—slightly larger than public housing projects in Santa Monica (35 units) but just one third the size of the Venice Median Project (140 units), the Thatcher Yard Project (150 units), and, most likely, the MTA Lot Project (which will sit on 3.5 acres and is likely to be 100% affordable/PSH Housing). Needless to say, the study provides no meaningful information at all as to Venice property values, but it shows, yet again, that despite assurances from the Venice Community Housing Corporation, all of the projects planned for Venice are way, way too big.

FBV calls on the Venice Community Housing Corporation to come clean on all three of these crucial issues so the free people of Venice can make informed decisions about the future of their community.

THE FBV “BE HEARD” EMAIL PLATFORM IS WORKING…BUT WE ARE OUTNUMBERED AT HEARINGS

According to the Staff Report, the Planning Department “received more than 670 public comment letters” in connection with the PSH Ordinance—80% of which were opposed to the ordinance and the “vast majority” of which pertained specifically to the Venice Median and Thatcher Yard Projects.

So the good news is that our “Be Heard” email platform—through which more than 250 emails in opposition to the PSH Ordinance were delivered to the City—is working. Our friends at the Oxford Triangle Association submitted a similar number of emails through their platform, bringing the Venice total to more than 500 emails in opposition to the PSH Ordinance. Thank you, again, to all who participated in this important effort.

The bad news, though, is that opponents of the PSH Ordinance have apparently been outnumbered by supporters—largely paid activists with lots of free time during the day— at hearings by more than 2 to 1.

We can’t let paid activists dictate the future of our communities! Please join us on December 14!

THEN WHY IS VIRTUALLY ALL OF THE PSH HOUSING IN DISTRICT 11 IN VENICE?

“It is important that all areas of the City provide a fair share of PSH.”

Department of City Planning, Recommendation Report, Case No. CPC-2017-3136-CA, page A-9.

City Planning Commission to Hear PSH Ordinance, 14 December

Los Angeles City Planning Commission will hear the Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) Ordinance 14 December at City Hall, Council Chambers Room 340, 200 North Spring Street.

It has been stated that the ordinance will not be heard until noon but it is recommended by groups to arrive before 8:30 am to find a place to park, to fill out speaker cards, to get a seat etc.

Both the Fight Back Venice (FBV) and the Oxford Triangle Association want as many people as possible there to represent Venice’s opposition to the ordinance.

The Commission will not consider the PSH Ordinance until after 12:00 noon, but those who wish to comment must arrive before to submit speaker cards and secure seats. For the complete agenda https://planning.lacity.org/InternetCalendar/pdf.aspx?Id=59215.

“The Planning Department has reported that 80% of the 670 emails and letters it received on this issue were opposed to the PSH Ordinance—and that the vast majority of those pertained specifically to the Venice Median and Thatcher Yard Projects—so our “Be Heard” platform is working as planned,” according to a spokesperson for FBV. “Unfortunately, we working stiffs have been outnumbered by professional activists 2 to 1 at hearings, so we hope as many Venice residents as possible will find time to show up and speak out on behalf of our community at this crucial meeting.”

If one needs transportation, email fightbackvenice.org by 12 noon, Sunday, December 10 and FBV will try to assist with arrangements. Also, “Venice Says No on the PSH Ordinance” placards are available.

The PSH Ordinance would allow some combination of a reduction in parking, a 20 percent decrease in required setbacks, a 20 percent reduction in required open space, a 20 percent increase in lot coverage limits, a 35 percent increase in density, and up to a 35 percent increase in height or one additional story for housing projects on City land, while also creating a streamlined “ministerial review” process that would give the Director of the City Planning Department the power to approve PSH projects with no appeal, no environmental review and no public input.

City Hosts Information Displays and Answers Questions Regarding Proposed PSH Ordinance

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City hosted an information display/question & answer meet at the Gateway Apartments, 13368 Beach Ave, Tuesday night. In front of each display was someone who was available to answer questions regarding the proposed PSHO Ord .

Re-Code Document Ready for Review

City Planning has been trying to standardize the review of all projects before the City.  City Planning team called Re:code now has a document for review.

Today, the re:code LA team of City Planning unveiled a proposal that will cut the number of project review processes in half. This new set of processes & procedures will maintain long-standing opportunities for public participation, and make it easier for both applicants and the public to clearly understand how the Department considers use and development proposals and how to navigate the decision-making process.

Currently, there are over 100 different paths for project review scattered throughout the Zoning Code. For example, there are four types of adjustments for projects covered by overlays – an additional layer of design and building standards. While the same process applies for all four types of adjustments, they have different names and are located in different sections of the Zoning Code. The team identified each instance of redundant workflows and consolidated them down to about 50 processes with unique actions. Check out our latest article for more details!

Join us online or in-person to learn more and let us know what you think!

Online: The proposed processes & procedures are posted on our project website’s MarkUp system and will be available for direct commenting from now until September 30, 2017. MarkUp lets you browse, download, and comment on draft documents, and provides a great opportunity to directly shape re:code LA. If this is your first time using MarkUp, we’ve prepared a quick walk-through on how it works.

In-person: City Planning will hold a series of open houses and public hearings in September to gather feedback on the proposal, after which time a revised recommendation will be considered by the City Planning Commission and City Council for approval. Below is the list of open houses and public hearings:

Open House & Public Hearing #1:
LOCATION: City Hall, Room 1050
200 N. Spring Street, Los Angeles
DATE: Tuesday, September 19, 2017
TIME: 10:00 am – 12:00 pm

Open House & Public Hearing #2:
LOCATION: Felicia Mahood Multipurpose Center, Community Room
11338 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles
DATE: Tuesday, September 19, 2017
TIME: 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Open House & Public Hearing #3:
LOCATION: Marvin Braude Constituent Service Center, Community Rooms 1a & 1b
6262 Van Nuys Blvd, Los Angeles
DATE: Wednesday, September 20, 2017
TIME: 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Open House & Public Hearing #4:
LOCATION: Constituent Service Center, Community Conference Room
8475 S. Vermont Ave, Los Angeles
DATE: Thursday, September 21, 2017
TIME: 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm

For more details on these meetings, please refer to the Public Hearing Notice.