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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

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.

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 Cancelled Because Too Many People Showed Up

Land Use and Planning Committee (LUPC) of the Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) was cancelled Monday night (3 February) because there was insufficient space for the number  of people attending the outdoor event at SPY (Safe Place for Youth) site at 2469 Lincoln Blvd.

Hearing of the 40-unit Lincoln Apartments building project proposed by Venice Community Housing was postponed until early March.  Alix Gucovsky, chair of LUPC, said she would  get Westminster Elementary School at 1010 Abbot Kinney in March for the hearing.  The 40-unit building project is scheduled to be heard by LA Planning in March.

LUPC to Hear the Proposed 40-Unit Site on Lincoln Blvd, Monday, 3 February

 

Land Use and Planning Committee (LUPC) of the Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) will hear the proposed 40-unit project by Venice Community Housing,  Monday, 3 February, 7 pm at the SPY building, 2469 Lincoln.

The project to be located at 2469 – 2471 Lincoln Blvd will have 40 units of affordable/PSH housing that will include studios, one bedrooms and two bedrooms.  The ground floor will still be used for Safe Place for Youth.  Project particulars.

LUPC Agenda.

 

More Facts Known About the Bridge Home Proposed for MTA Lot


This is the 30 May version from the council office of the Bridge Housing facility at the MTA lot on Sunset.   A newer, more readable version will be released shortly.  A is the pet area; B is the large 100-bed facility that will have the tent membrane over it and the women (to the west) will be separated from the men; C is the bathroom, laundry facilities; D is the offices for the supportive staff; E is the secured entrance from the parking lot and walk-in off the street; F is the bathroom, laundry facilities for the youth group; G is the 20-car parking lot; H is the five trailers for the 18 – 24 youth;  I is the eating courtyard.  Meals will be prepared offsite and delivered three times a day.  Buildings to the north of the pet area are existing buildings.

Venetians are starting to get acquainted with the facility that will be on the MTA site on Sunset between Main and Pacific.

A coffee get together was held last week with members of PATH and SPY, the newly appointed Venice Deputy for Bridge Housing Allison Wilhite, and about 10 members of the community.  Ten community members are all that are allowed.

Two stories have been written about the first meeting.  The one with the most site peculiar facts is McGregor’s story. The other story gives Frequently asked Questions.  So the facts revealed in the two stories and these following are the only facts in writing at this point.  At the first meeting Venice Update posed 5 questions.  The five questions and answers are:

1.   What are the house rules for occupants?

PATH operates under a low-barrier harm-reduction approach—we have four basic program rules:

  1. No acts or threats of violence

  2. No drugs or alcohol on site

  3. No theft or destruction of property

  4. No possession or use of weapons.

2.   What is the criteria for selection?  Please consider the fact that Venice is so transient.  According to a former pacific division police captain and Regina Weller, 90 percent of Venice homeless are transient.

The list for prospective guests is compiled by the assigned outreach teams in the Venice area. Guests are drawn from the defined outreach catchment area, which is limited to the Venice neighborhood. This is the same area from which additional guests will be drawn as people move through the Bridge Home. In addition to living on the streets within the area, people are prioritized based on an evaluation score which determines the level of need or urgency for the individual.

3.  How about those that will not go to the bridge home; they want to live on the streets?  Will they be allowed to continue living as they are on the streets?  Will sanitation and police discourage their presence on the streets of Venice.

As we know, in Martin v. City of Boise, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals says that it is cruel and unusual punishment for any city to prohibit sleeping on public property unless  shelter is available.  A priority for the City is to provide the services and attention to connect people experiencing homelessness with alternatives to living on the street as quickly as possible.

The City’s CARE+ team, comprised of sanitation workers, outreach specialists, and local police, will conduct weekly comprehensive, posted cleanups at the encampments with the greatest need while providing mobile hygiene services. Additionally, the District’s CARE team, comprised of sanitation workers and outreach specialists, will deliver regular trash removal and cleaning services four days a week. These teams will work to mitigate the negative impacts of encampments on the neighborhood while abiding by the law as it stands. Each individual is unique and the pathway to housing will vary on his or her circumstances, which is why services like the Bridge Home and targeted outreach are so necessary.

4.  At closing, when the 3 years are up, what will you do with the people who remain within the bridge home?

Prior to closing, the site operators will wind down intake services on site and prepare for the transition. The plan is to move everyone into permanent housing before the closing of the site.

5.  Will you establish a neighborhood committee, group to represent those in close proximity so that their complaints regarding operation of the bridge home can be heard and solved?

In collaboration with the Council District, PATH will host a quarterly neighborhood advisory council to share information and data as it relates to the Bridge Home site.

 

VCH Proposes 40 Units Affordable/PSH on Lincoln Blvd

Venice Community Housing (VCH) will be hosting a meeting Wednesday, 8 May, 6 to 8 pm at St. Mark’s Community Center, 2475 Lincoln Blvd, to explain their proposal for 40 affordable/PSH units at 2469 -2471 Lincoln Blvd (Next to McDonald’s.)

The plan is to provide studio, one and two bedroom units and to incorporate the existing Safe Place for Youth building with lots of open space.