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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

Venice is No.1 Provider Per Capita of Low Income, Supportive Housing in WLA; No. 8 in All of Los Angeles Community Plan Areas

The Venice community Plan Area (CPA) is the No.1 provider per capita of low income and supportive housing units on the west side of Los Angeles as defined by the borders of the West Los Angeles Area Planning Commission, according to Planning Urbanism, a research organization paid for by Frank Murphy, builder in Venice.

Furthermore, the Venice Community Plan Area (CPA) is the 8th largest provider per capita of low income and supportive housing units out of all 37 CPA in the City of Los Angeles

Within the West Los Angeles community Plan Areas

1) Venice provides 2.5 times the amount of the No.2 provider Palms – Mar Vista.
2) Venice provides 25 times the amount of the least provider Brentwood – Pacific Palisades.
3) Bel Air – Beverly Crest provides 0 units; therefore, they cannot be considered as a provider.

Santa Monica and Culver City are separate Cities but West Los Angeles neighbors.

!) Venice provides 5 times the number of units as does Culver City.
2) Venice provides 50 percent more units than Santa Monica

These figures do not consider the units planned for Venice:

98 units — the Thatcher Yard
140 units — Venice Median
34 units — 720 Rose project
46 units — the Lincoln project
154 Beds of Bridge Housing

“By any measure with which you would equate parity on the west side of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Area, Venice is the most densely populated with low income and supportive housing units,” said Murphy.

The spread sheet is the ranking of affordable units per 100 residents of all Community Plan Area’s in the City of LA. These numbers reflect the current and near past, so stated because categories are fluid such as HUD and subsidized housing terming out, vouchers moving around and etc.

This next spread sheet shows the source for the figures.

Thatcher Yard Project Approved at the Current VNC Board’s Last Meeting

By Angela McGregor

Election season was the mood of the evening at the May 2019 meeting of the Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC).

A table at the back of the room was covered in flyers, postcards and door hangers from various candidates as well as a big stack of 2019 VNC election guides, containing the pictures and statements from 47 candidates, 34 of them running for one of the 13 Community Officer at Large positions.

In his remarks, Election Committee Chair Ivan Spiegel stated that the election social media campaign has begun, election guides are being distributed around neighborhoods, and lawn signs are soon to follow. The election is 2 June from 10 am to 6 pm at the Oakwood Recreation Center, 767 California.

Thatcher Yard Project
Although the agenda was a long one, the marquee item, for which the majority of attendees in the packed auditorium had come, was the presentation on Thomas Safran & Associates’ (TSA) PSH/Affordable Housing project at Thatcher Yard. For details.

Tyler Monroe of TSA gave power point presentation of the 98 unit [68 seniors, 30 families; half seniors with low to extremely low incomes and half formerly homeless with 25 percent of that half being permanent supportive homeless (PSH)], coastal-craftsman style development, and also detailed the extensive interaction that TSA had over the past three years with residents in the Oxford Triangle which resulted in the project being scaled down from the initially proposed 152 units.

In public commentary, members of the #shedoes movement, current, formerly homeless residents of Safran’s Del Rey development and representatives from Venice Community Housing (both Linda Lucks and Becky Dennison) all rose to speak in favor of the project, although a few affordable housing advocates felt the project should be more dense. Three Oxford Triangle residents also spoke in favor of the project and reiterated Monroe’s description of the extensive public outreach that resulted in the neighborhood’s general approval of Safran’s design.

Board commentary was also generally positive. Jim Murez pointed out a couple of flaws — that the trees proposed for the project would, in this climate, never reach the tops of even the shortest structures, and so should be replaced with hardier and taller varieties. Also, he expressed concern that the front doors of the family townhouses that face the single family homes on Princeton and Oxford were facing inward rather that to the street, discouraging neighborhood interaction.

Ira Koslow felt the clock tower (a signature of every Safran development) was an unnecessary waste of space, given that “nobody tells time anymore, they all look at their phones”, but Ilana Marosi disagreed, pointing out that both the seniors and children who would be living at the Yard were “able to tell time”. Matt Royce — the lone dissenting Board vote — said he admired the project and commended TSA on their extensive outreach, but could not approve the project because, in his opinion the project is worth “at least a 40 or 50 million dollars” and funds from the City sale could have been used to build far more housing in a denser, less expensive development. In the end, the project pass 16-1-1.

The meeting did not adjourn until well past 11pm, and the next meeting, on June 18th, will feature the swearing-in of an entirely new Board, the first in three years.

LUPC Approves Oxford Triangle 98-Unit Affordable/Homeless/PSH Project

The Thomas Safran 98-unit affordable/homeless/psh project scheduled for the Oxford Triangle sailed through the Land Use and Planning Committee with Chairman Matt Royce making the statement to the neighbors and the builder that LUPC wished all “communities and builders could work together as well as these have done.” The vote was 4 to 2.

There were three conditions of approval:

The building of the property is to be contingent on obtaining and installing road blockage at Thatcher prior to any work on the property, including demolition. The haul route for pavement and soil removal, the ingress and egress for the construction work, and the parking for the construction workers, all need to take place on the project-side of the road barrier and not in or through the neighborhood, and if the City does not approve the haul route on Princeton, the project can not go forward.

The developer shall work with Harbor Crossing to make the Harbor Crossing exit into an entrance/exit.

The developer shall maintain the street surface during demolition and construction, shall restore the street surface after the removal of the pavement and soil, and shall restore the street surface after completion of construction

The following entitlements from the contractor were approved:

First of Affordable/Homeless/PSH Housing to Go Before LUPC, 2 May

The 98-unit affordable/homeless/permanent supportive housing project at the formerly City Yard on Thatcher Ave in the Oxford Triangle will be reviewed by the Land Use and Planning Committee (LUPC) of the Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC), Thursday, 2 May, 6:45 at Oakwood Recreation Center, 767 California Ave.

Safran Explains Building for Thatcher Yard to Oxford Triangle Residents

Residents of the Oxford Triangle assembled Saturday morning to hear representatives of Thomas Safran Associates explain what they plan to put on the old Thatcher Maintenance Yard.

The property, which was to be rezoned RD1.5, makes use of two 35 percent bonuses.

Safran’s plan is to put 98 affordable units on the property, 68 will be for seniors and 30 for families. Half of the 98 units will be for formerly homeless individuals and half of that half will be for permanent supportive housing. The affordable units will be for low and extremely low incomes. Permanent supportive housing is for people who have been homeless and have a disability, such as a physical disability, reliance on drugs or alcohol.

Next step is to go thru the land use and planning committee (LUPC) of the Venice Neighborhood Council.

Safran’s Group Meets with Residents of the Oxford Triangle to Show Their Project

Thomas Safran and Associates met with member of the Oxford Triangle to display their latest ideas for the Oxford Triangle Thatcher Yard.

Safran plans to build 98 units of affordable and permanent supportive housing on the 93,347 sq ft lot located on the south end of the Triangle. The lot which will be rezoned RD1.5 would have afforded a maximum of 62 units but with two 35-percent density bonuses allowable for affordable housing, Safran could have gone to 106 units.

Construction according to their plan should start second quarter of 2020 and continue thru the fourth quarter of 2021. A planned contingency for the project is a fire gate across Thatcher to be built prior to any work. Gate is intended to keep all vehicular traffic for the project from entering the Triangle residential area. All construction and future tenant vehicle ingress/egress will use Princeton east to Carter to exit onto Lincoln Blvd at the Jefferson Marina Way light.

Planning land use approvals, entitlements, contingencies should start mid 2019.

There will be 68 units for seniors, 30 units for families, 82 parking spaces.

. Half of all households will have access to supportive services
. Complies with intent of Oxford Triangle Specific Plan, the comparative heights and setbacks of surrounding buildings
. Architecture has been redesigned to be more traditional and consistent with dominant style in the neighborhood
. Maximum height is 40-feet, 6-inches at clock tower on Thatcher Avenue.
. Increase in height of fence along Princeton Ave to 48-inches
. Relocation and modification of the gate along Thatcher Ave,
for controlled vehicular and pedestrian access

Of the 98 units, some will be apartment type and others, on side adjacent to Triangle single family homes, will be single family dwellings, some one-story, some two-story.

The height will be a maximum of 3.5 stories, which includes the garage that will be subterranean. There will be a total of 128 bedrooms so some apartments, houses will include 2 bedrooms. There will be a managers unit.

The six-foot tall fence across Thatcher will have an opening for fire trucks and an opening for pedestrians. All vehicle access will be from Jefferson Marina Way off Lincoln to Carter to Princeton, east, to Thatcher.

At this point the placement of the pedestrian ingress/egress on Thatcher is in contention as to whether it should be placed on east side or west side of Thatcher. East side, which affects more Triangle residents, is next to Jefferson-Marina and Triangle homes. West side is where the Safran project will be. It was on the west side and has been submitted to planning for the east side.


Safran Presents Another Architectural Style to OTA, Answers Memo Regarding Thatcher Yard Project

Entrance off Princeton (east). Frederick Fisher’s more contemporary approach.

Steven Giannetti’s more residential approach.

By Casey Truit and Angela McGregor

The Thomas Safran Associates (TSA) group met Monday (19 March) with members of the Oxford Triangle Association (OTA) to show members a new, more “residential” design for the Thatcher Yard project and to answer questions regarding the OTA memo sent to TSA in response to their initial proposal.

The OTA memo, dated 7 January, was sent in response to the December presentation by TSA showing 98 units. The memo asked for 62 units which would be normal for a 93,000 sq ft lot zoned R1.5. The 98 units would be in line with two additional 35 percent bonuses, which are allowed for affordable housing.

The memo also asked for increased parking, two performance bonds that would insure ingress/egress rights of way thru Jefferson-Marina Drive via Princeton (east) and complete vacation and fencing of Thatcher Ave at Princeton (west) after planning approval and prior to any testing, construction, building.

The fire department has been known to approve a project during the planning process only to say “No” after planning approval and during the construction approval process which is past the time for citizen intervention. The bonds would prevent TSA from building without these approvals.

Parking was increased from 64 to 86 which is better than required for affordable housing.  The memo asked for many other concessions as shown REL.

Most people preferred the second design, done by Steven Giannetti.

In response to the community’s wish that the development retain more of a single-family look, both renderings restricted the height of buildings fronting Princeton & Oxford to 25 feet (no more than the maximum height of the single-family homes facing the Yard on those streets). They also increased setbacks to mirror those of nearby homes. The project is 3.5 stories in one place.

Also discussed were TSA’s standards for determining who can occupy their developments (they currently manage close to 60 properties), security concerns (the facility will have a full-time, on-site manager), energy and water usage efficiency standards in the finished development, regulations and expectations for resident retention, and community concerns and requirements for the construction process.

Elena Theisner, of Safran management staff, explained the process for tenant selection for the TSA properties. Prospective tenants for both affordable and permanent supportive type housing have both a credit and a criminal check. If drug use or alcoholic use is indicated on the criminal check that goes back seven years, the tenant is disqualified.

TSA estimates that, once community approval on a proposal is reached, the permitting process would take at least one year, followed by two years of construction.

Frederick Fisher’s design showing project at Thatcher.

Steven Giannetti’s design showing project at Thatcher.

Screen Shot 2018-03-19 at 6.16.23 PM

Confessions of a Venice NIMBY

By Christopher Wrede

Note the author is a founding member of Venice Vision (fightbackvenice.org)

Venice Vision argues that oversized housing projects and an over concentration of services will exacerbate the impacts of homelessness.

There has been a lot of talk in the press and among politicians lately about how “NIMBYs” must not be permitted to interfere with the city’s mission to build housing for the homeless. Theft and murder are still frowned upon, but these days it seems like there is no greater crime in Los Angeles than NIMBYism.

Well, I confess. I am what proponents of pedal-to-the-metal development of homeless housing would call a NIMBY. As a 15-year Venice resident, I have studied Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin’s so-called “Plan to End Homelessness in Venice,” and I am against it for several reasons.

First, while I welcome housing for the homeless in my community, Bonin’s plan puts too many large projects here. The average size of affordable housing developments ranges from 35 to 60 units throughout Los Angeles, but Bonin’s plan calls for three separate projects in Venice that are many times that size. These include 98 units of Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) — a subset of affordable housing designed specifically for chronically homeless persons — on the two-acre Thatcher Yard, almost abutting Marina del Rey; 136 units of PSH and standard affordable housing on a 2.8-acre lot a block off the sand on Venice Boulevard; and an undetermined (but presumably comparable) number of PSH and affordable housing units on the 3.5-acre Metro lot along Main Street between Gold’s Gym and the beach.

Bonin has also started converting the former senior center at Westminster Park into a storage facility for the homeless and secured approval to keep existing restrooms on the Venice Boardwalk open 24/7 for the encampments there, while working to install what he refers to as a “system of portable public restrooms” on public rights of way in other parts of Venice.

Claims that measures such as these will end homelessness in Venice are not true. As a matter of federal law, none of the units being built in Venice can be reserved strictly for Venice’s homeless, and the continued expansion of services will make Venice even more of a magnet. According to the Los Angeles County Homeless Services Authority’s annual homeless counts, the homeless population in Venice spiked 34% between 2016 (the year Bonin began rolling out his plan) and 2017, while dropping in the rest of Bonin’s district (including a decline of about 50% in Pacific Palisades) during the same period.

Which brings me to the second reason I oppose Bonin’s plan: While asking far too much of Venice, it does not ask nearly enough of other communities in Bonin’s district. The City Council long ago reversed the “policy of containment” that gave rise to Skid Row on the grounds that it is not good for communities or the homeless, and Bonin himself recently threw his support behind a new resolution calling on all 15 council members to approve 222 units of PSH in their respective districts by 2020 in order to ensure “geographic equity” in the distribution of Prop. HHH projects.

As an established homeless hub, those same principles — reversing “containment” and ensuring “geographic equity” — should apply to us. Yet more than 80% of the land Bonin has selected for Prop. HHH development is in Venice. And all told, Venice (which accounts for just 5% of the land in Bonin’s district) currently has nearly 200 PSH units in the pipeline, which is close to the goal of 222 PSH units that the council’s “geographic equity” resolution sets for entire council districts. Meanwhile, Bonin does not have any PSH planned for Pacific Palisades or Brentwood, even though they are each more than five times larger than Venice.

Finally, I am concerned about what will happen to Venice, as ground zero for Prop. HHH development on the Westside, if the city’s experiment in large-scale homeless housing fails. To date, the city has committed roughly $230 million of its $1.2-billion Prop. HHH budget for about 1,200 PSH units (PSH units cost about $450,000 each, but funding is also provided from other sources), so it appears the city is on track to deliver just 6,000 — or 60% — of the 10,000 PSH units it originally promised voters. The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, similarly, has acknowledged that it is facing shortfalls in excess of $150 million per year despite the hundreds of millions of dollars it gets each year from last year’s Measure H sales tax increase.

Venice is world-famous for its big heart and open mind, and we want to continue doing our part to help address homelessness with both services and housing. But Bonin’s plan is not fair. Piling on small communities without electoral clout is easy, but the risks and burdens of dealing with a crisis of this magnitude must be distributed evenly across all communities — including wealthy, well-connected communities that have historically been insulated from such pressures. That is what leadership on this issue looks like, and so far Bonin is not providing it.

Ryavec Speaks Out Against Waiving Environmental Impact Reports

Mark Ryavec, president of the Venice Stakeholders Association, spoke on KPCC AirTalk with anchor Larry Mantle opposing the City Council’s proposal to waive environmental, height and parking requirements for homeless projects such as those proposed for the Venice Boulevard Median and Thatcher Yard in the Oxford Triangle.  To Listen.

TSA Unveils 98-Unit Homeless Complex for Thatcher Yard

Rendering of entrance to Thomas Safran Associates’ Thatcher Yard Project that will have both senior (69) and family housing (29) for a total of 98 units with 50 percent being permanent supportive housing.

TSA (Thomas Safran Associates) was shy a couple units for a full R1.5 zone with two 35 percent density bonuses when associates and Thomas Safran discussed their proposed project to the members of the Oxford Triangle Association (OTA) Monday night in the Woods at Playa  Vista.

TSA proposed 98 units.  The Venice Update had an article 15 August 2016 showing the number that could be put on the 93,000 square foot lot when rezoned to R1.5.  The number was 104 – 106.  Councilman Mike Bonin said no way would he let that happen.  Thomas Safran said he was told by Bonin to work it out with the OTA.  Mark Shockley, president of the Oxford Triangle Association made the statement that TSA started with 150 units and he had asked TSA for less than a hundred.

TSA complied by two less of a hundred at 98 and a little less than what could have been with two 35 percent bonuses totally implemented at 104 – 106. 

The Oxford Triangle single-family area consists of approximately 350 single-family homes so an increase of 100 would be almost a 30 percent increase. 

Vehicles will be restricted access into the Triangle but pedestrian access will be allowed. Vehicle ingress/egress will be via Marina Point Drive.

The project will be for seniors and families.  How the PSH will be divided is not known.

It will consist of 98 units, 50 percent of which will be permanent supportive housing (PSH).  People who qualify for PSH have a disability as well as are homeless.  It was asked if being a senior constituted having a disability and a social worker said it did.  A senior is one 62-1/2 years old and older.   Safran further defined the tenant housing makeup as 69 for seniors and 29 for families. 

A coordinated entry system  (CES) implemented by County, City, Community (C3) will be used at least for the PSH selection.   Selection is supposedly based on worst case first and this writer was not familiar with selection by category, such as a senior.

Breakdowns for the senior building bedrooms and the family building bedrooms are shown in photo.

Many residents wanted the density reduced but that was never discussed in detail and they wanted more parking.  Safran said he had complied with parking and that these people did not have vehicles.  One resident mentioned that many were sleeping in cars.  

One resident brought up the fact that Coeur d’Alene school was just maxed out.  He asked if taxes for schools from the project could be directed directly to the Coeur d’ Alene system.  TSA said they would look into that.

Security was mentioned and Safran explained he would have lighting and many cameras and then he added spinklers.

One resident wanted both pedestrians and vehicles restricted from the single-family homes as are the five high-rise buildings on the southern tip of the Triangle.   TSA said that was impossible and most homeowners wanted their exercise path.  One said he would like to have the pedestrian turnstiles that are used for the Jefferson-Marina apartments repeated in the project; otherwise, motorcycles could enter the Triangle.  

Many wanted the project fenced and wrought-iron fencing was mentioned.  One asked how high but a figure was not presented.  One brought up the fact that there was insufficient setback from the sidewalk to put up a fence.

One mentioned that some agenda he had did not list another meeting prior to going to planning for this project.   Thomas Safran said there would be other community meetings.

Unit Breakdown

Complex from Thatcher.

Complex at corner of Princeton (west) and Oxford.

Plot plan view.