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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

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.


Do not use PSH Ordinance … where are we now, coach

It is all so confusing! Understand no one is accusing anyone. People just want answers. People are all just trying to find out who is in charge so questions can be asked, answers obtained.

People want to know what the ground rules are for the Venice Median and the Thatcher Yard since now it is known that the PSH (permanent supportive housing) ordinance will not affect either project, yet everyone is acting like the PSH ordinance is or will affect both projects.

David Graham-Casio, chief of staff to Councilman Mike Bonin, said earlier in the month that the PSH Ordinance will not affect the Venice Median Project or the Thatcher Yard Project even if and when the PSH ordinance is passed. Taylor Bazley, Venice deputy for Councilman Mike Bonin, made the same statement at the Venice Neighborhood Council last Tuesday night.

PSH people are those who have a disability (alcohol, drugs, mental, physical ) and are homeless or are chronically homeless without a disability.

PSH Ordinance

PSH Ordinance says 50 percent or more of project units have to be PSH.

PSH Ordinance says PSH units do not require parking.

PSH Ordinance says Affordable units require only 1/2 parking per unit

Venice Median
Number of PSH units designated for the Venice Median is 50 percent plus two units for live-in help, 140 units. This can be changed. Now that the PSH Ordinance is not applicable, how about 2 percent PSH?

The parking requirements must be changed to reflect 1/2 for PSH and 1 for affordable.

Recently Becky Dennison, director of the Venice Community Housing, said no one has to create a new category to provide for low income artists. Yet a motion was made by councilmen Jose Huizar and Mike Bonin to create the artist category. See how confusing it is?

Thatcher Yard
Most confusing of all. Existing rules say yard should be rezoned R-1 which would create 18, (5000-sq-ft) lots. Councilman Mike Bonin says he wants the yard rezoned R1.5. Question is: Can a councilman change zoning when in conflict with City Planning rules?

But assuming he can rezone to R1.5, that would make it 62 units with two 35 percent bonuses for another 21.7 units each … 104 to 106 maximum. When this figure was printed in Venice Update 22 August 2016, Councilman Mike Bonin answered “Nuts.”

“The idea of 106 units of housing at Thatcher Yard and 260 units at the Venice Median (Dell and Pacific) … is something I would never support,” Councilman Mike Bonin wrote.

(The Oxford Triangle where the Thatcher Yard is located consists of approximately 350 residences.)

Yet, when the development crew met residents at the site, the developers mentioned rezoning to R-3, four stories, more than 150 units, 50 percent PSH. All against the Oxford Triangle Specific Plan and the LAMC for zoning.

Those on the inside monitoring the developer say that the developer is now down to around 100 units. David Graham-Caso says developer is “committed to using the existing development process.”

Local Architect Urges Defeat of PSH Ordinance and Explains Why; Comment Time Over 31 Oct

The white structure under the tree is a two-story house with a covered deck.  The 19-story building is the Waterside condominium, a C4-OX zoned project.

Dan Whalen, local architect, says new PSH ordinance is written specifically to put high-rise (C4-0x) zoning project next to single-family residences at Thatcher Yard.

Previously, the Los Angeles Municipal Code (LAMC), in order to protect surrounding properties to a PF (public facility) zoned property, stated that the PF zoned property, when rezoned, would comply with the “‘most restrictive” zoning of the prevailing surrounding properties, which would be R-1.

The new PSH ordinance says  new zoning will comply with the “least restrictive” meaning the highest zoning in the area within 1320 feet.That would be C4-OX, which has an adjoining building 19 stories. Venice doesn’t get higher than that.

Dan Whalen urges all Venetians to write letters to defeat this proposed PSH ordinance.

By Dan Whalen

The City has entered into an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement with Thomas Safran and Associates to develop the former Thatcher Maintenance Yard into a high-density multi- family Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) project.

The Thatcher Maintenance Yard site is currently zoned “Public Facility” (PF) and would need to be re-zoned prior to any PSH development. To ensure that the future use of a PF-zoned lot is compatible with adjoining properties, the Los Angeles City Municipal Code (LAMC) includes mandates to protect adjoining lower-density properties whenever PF- zoned sites are redeveloped.

The Municipal Code states that only those uses allowed by the most restrictive adjoining zones shall be permitted. Therefore, because the Thatcher Yard site is bordered on three sides by R1-1 single-family residences, any zoning other than R1-1 is not allowed under the current Municipal Code.

New PSH Ordinance
To bypass this long-standing code requirement, Councilman Bonin is supporting a new City Ordinance. This new Ordinance would eliminate the Municipal Code protections for adjoining properties if the PF-zoned property is specifically redeveloped as a PSH project (such as the one proposed for Thatcher Yard). In this case, instead of being limited by the most restrictive adjoining zoning, PSH projects on PF-zoned lots could be re-zoned with the least restrictive zoning within a quarter mile radius.

For the Thatcher Yard, that would mean the allowable new zoning would be the same as for the three high-rise residential towers located at the south end of the Oxford Triangle. This new zoning would be C4-OX-2D, one of the densest allowed for any residential project.

Of all the proposed PSH sites within the City, the Thatcher Yard is the only one located on a PF-zoned site with adjoining single-family homes. The new Ordinance appears to be specifically written for the Thatcher Yard project alone.

In addition to the zoning change for PSH projects, the new Ordinance would also allow 35% increases in the allowable height, 35% increases in the allowable floor area, and decreases in both the minimum required setbacks and minimum amount of open space.

At least one-half of all PSH units will be reserved for the formerly homeless. The new Ordinance does not require any parking for these units. The Ordinance allows additional parking reductions for the remaining PSH units, as well as reductions in the required guest parking.

Impact of New Ordinance
This Ordinance attempts to override the Coastal Act, the certified Venice Land Use Plan and the Oxford Triangle Specific Plan.

The Ordinance allows for high-density zoning that will overwhelm adjoining single-family homes and our residential streets. The allowable increases in the mass, scale and character of the new PSH projects will negatively impact all adjoining single-family homes.

The new Ordinance eases parking requirements and will force at least half the PSH residents to park on adjacent residential streets. With the existing parking shortage in Venice, this Ordinance would only make a bad situation much worse.

The decisions made today for new PSH projects will be contractually fixed for the next
55 years. If the new Ordinance is allowed to pass, it will have a profound and long-lasting negative impact on our neighborhood and a very small positive impact on the homeless crisis.

Call to Action
Councilman Bonin assured our neighborhood that the “planning process would be followed”. Let’s make sure he honors that commitment and is not allowed to remove essential Municipal Code protections.

Changes to the Municipal Code should not be taken lightly, and certainly not because of single project. I urge you to tell Councilman Bonin, Mayor Garcetti, the Planning Department, other City Council members, your Venice Neighborhood Council, and the California Coastal Commission that this Ordinance is short-sighted and not in the best interests of our community.

The proposed PSH Ordinance is seriously flawed and needs to be defeated in its current form. However, the City is on the fast-track to get it approved. The public comment period ends on October 31 with a City Council vote for approval in November.

LA City Planning PSH Ordinance Point of Contact

LA City Officials:
david.ryu@lacity.org paul.koretz@lacity.org

Venice Neighborhood Council

California Coastal Commission Official:

New Ordinance Proposes to Fast-track and Facilitate Venice Median and Thatcher Yard “Affordable” Projects

City of LA Planning is proposing a Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) Ordinance that will remove many of the restrictions and fast-track the process for the Venice Median and the Thatcher Yard affordable housing projects.  A hearing will be held 12 September,  6:30 to 8:30, at Gateway Apartments, 13368 Beach Ave, Marina del Rey. RSVP is required. Contact Cally.hardy@lacity.org or call 213-978-1643.

LA City Planning Department is proposing this ordinance establishing new regulations to facilitate the production of Permanent Supportive Housing for PSH homeless individuals and families. In general, people who qualify for PSH have a low income and have at lease one disability, such as mental illness, HIV or AIDS, substance abuse, or another chronic health condition, or are just chronically homeless.

The ordinance is intended to remove regulatory barriers that impair the construction of new supportive housing projects by streamlining the approval process to significantly reduce the average time it takes for a PSH developer to begin construction. Additionally, requirements for minimum lot area per unit will be reduced allowing higher density plus parking would not be required for any of the PHS units.

Other ordinances for PSH running parallel to this one are for motels and hotels.

This is the proposed ordinance PSHO Ord and the summary and frequently asked questions PSH Ordinance Summary .






Snapchat Discussed, VNC BBQ Cancelled, Oxford Triangle Resolution Rescinded … VNC Meet


Residents of Oxford Triangle wait their turn to speak regarding the Oxford Triangle resolution they wanted rescinded.

By Angela Mcgregor,

Snapchat’s impact on the Venice community was discussed at Tuesday’s VNC Meeting. Community Officer Colleen Saro discussed her meeting with Snap, Inc. representatives, in which she expressed many of the community’s concerns — mainly about the Snap Security Squad and their apparent hostility toward tourists and transients alike. According to Snap, the security detail was hired to protect their employees, who have had incidents of harassment with the homeless as they make their way from one Snap location to another. Company reps pointed up Snap’s numerous, charitable contributions to the community, including coding classes at St. Joseph’s, showers at Safe Place for Youth, and a variety of projects at Venice’s elementary schools. Ms. Saro invited representatives from Snap to attend an upcoming VNC meeting, in order to address community concerns, but they refused (for now).

Various residents followed up her presentation with their own commentary about Snap, including the news that the Venice Freak Show on Ocean Front Walk will be closing in May due to Snap’s taking over their lease.

Both LUPC Consent Calendar items — a demolition/new build at 2334 Cloy and a demolition/new 2 unit condo build at 656 California, were approved.

VNC Board President Ira Koslow announced that there will be no Venice Community Barbecue in 2017. After 10 years of organizing the event, the organizers are simply “worn out”, he stated. It should be noted that a component of the Venice community called for a boycott of the BBQ last year after what they stated were “micro aggressive comments” made by the organizers at a VNC meeting (see: http://savevenice.me/boycott-venice-nc-bbq. Despite that, the 2016 event was a success and the BBQ will be missed.

Koslow also announced that the selection of a new Board member to fill a seat on the Board left vacant by the resignation of Erin Darling would be postponed until the April meeting, due to an incorrect date being posted on the nomination form.

Finally, a motion passed last month regarding development at the Thatcher Maintenance Yard in the Oxford Triangle was rescinded. At the February 21st meeting, a motion was presented calling for the VNC Board to support only R-1 (single family) housing there; this motion was amended to replace “R-1” with “multi-family”, thereby reversing the original intent of the motion. Many of the dozen or so Triangle residents speaking in favor of motion to rescind pointed out that amending a motion in order to reverse its original intent appeared to be a violation of Robert’s Rules of Order.   The motion to rescind passed the board 13-0-1.

The May 2017 VNC Board meeting will be held on the third Wednesday in May, rather than the third Tuesday, due to a conflict with a local election.


Thatcher Yard — Residents Want to Know What is Happening


(Photo courtesy of Linda Vaughan.) Thatcher Maintenance Yard. Soil tests for an Environmental Impact Report?

Neighbors really want to know what is going on with the Thatcher Maintenance Yard.

The Yard, 93,000 sq feet, was designated as one of the first City salvage projects. It was to be rezoned to RD1.5 and designated for affordable housing. City Administrator put out RFQ/P to developers. Thomas Safran Associates were selected for the Yard with their dual proposal of 86 to 152 units with a mix of 60 percent market rate, 30 percent affordable, and 10 percent permanent supportive housing.

That was November. Plans are supposedly to be presented to City in March. It is March. No one has approached the Oxford Triangle members regarding this project. Blake Coddington of Safran group was supposedly talking with individual residents regarding the project at one of the Venice public meetings.

Meanwhile, proposition HHH was passed which would provide funds for building 100 percent affordable projects on the Yard — no market rate. A neighborhood request by a small group of residents went thru the LUPC and the VNC requesting that the Yard stay City maintenance or be rezoned R-1. VNC almost unanimously voted that down and asked for “multi-housing” use.

March 7 is an election for City council seat and a Measure S. Measure S would stop spot rezoning projects… except for affordable housing projects unless project requires general plan changes. Both these projects require both spot rezoning and general plan changes. So a “YES” for Measure S supposedly would stop both projects for at least two years. A vote “No” would mean business as usual, spot rezoning and changing the plans.

Incumbent Mike Bonin is for developmening the two lots. He wants Measure S to be defeated so he can build affordable housing on both. Mark Ryavec is not for developing either property for homeless. He is for Measure S. In the case of the Yard, he wants property zoned R-1 and sold to a developer. Robin Rudisill supports Measure S. She says keeping the Yard for maintenance should be reconsidered; otherwise, the community has spoken for R-1. The Venice Median she says she would honor the Land Use Plan certified by the California Coastal Zone, which means it would not be developed. So incumbent is only candidate for developing both lots and Measure S.

To add confusion to the pot, Councilman Mike Bonin, who is for developing the properties, answered a Venice Update question regarding the sale of the properties and using the monies for homeless in other areas as follows:

It is also important to note – despite repeated assertions to the contrary – that the City has not decided what or even whether to build on these properties. The City has only allowed affordable housing developers the opportunity to propose at these sites. At this point, there are no actual proposals. The housing developers who were assigned to each of the Venice sites are conducting community and neighborhood outreach before they propose something. Then, those proposals must be reviewed by the Land Use and Planning Committee of the Venice Neighborhood Council, the full Venice Neighborhood Council, and then the City planning approval process and likely the California Coastal Commission.

Meanwhile, a local resident and architect, wrote to Councilman Mike Bonin and all the council members:

You have bypassed not only the VNC and their LUPC, but also your constituents. None of the documents regarding site selection, contractor selection or RFQ submissions have been made available to the public. The development is being fast-tracked with virtually no public review, and without open and transparent procedures that the City would demand of any developer.

Tent with occupant in front of  Yard.

Tent with occupant in front of Yard.

Meanwhile, a tenter was happy living in front of the Yard for about a week until the rig disturbed his solitude or someone moved him on. Residents asked if the tenter was first in line for a place.

Residents really want to know what is happening? Residents know the rules, yet things are happening without their knowledge, input, or due process.

Triangle Resident Says “No” to Bonin Homeless Plan for Thatcher Yard

Dan Whalen, Oxford Triangle resident, architect, and co-author 1988 community input for the final City-approved Oxford Triangle Specific Plan, is against any plan to construct a high-density complex at the Thatcher Maintenance Yard and has written Councilman Mike Bonin to state his reasons. The letter is addressed to all the City Council members so they too will understand.