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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

City Homeless Committee Hears and Approves Thatcher Yard, Venice Median

By Kip Pardue

Note:  Pardue has reference to the LA City Committee on Homelessness and Poverty that met 7 December in LA to discuss the contractors for the surplus properties, such as Thatcher Yard and Venice Median.

Just got back from the meeting at City Hall and wanted to  pass on some notes to you all…

I walked in at 9:09 and there was already a line of speakers and no more speaker cards.  I did not get a chance to speak but many spoke against the Venice plans — usually bringing up the obvious economic folly of this entire thing (help at most 250 homeless in 5 years time at a cost of $100m OR raise $100m now and help thousands TODAY).  Several people spoke in favor as well – these people were mostly affiliated (read: make money – Linda Lucks was there speaking, Becky Dennison, etc) with Venice Community Housing (VCH).  The few others who spoke in favor lived in a Safran development (pretty unlikely that they just “showed up”).  Many others wanted to speak but the comment segment of the meeting was cut short due to “time constraints.” Incidentally, that is exactly the same reason the Business Improvement District (BID) was brought up for a revote….

So Far CAO Has Made All Decisions

What happened today is the City Homeless and Poverty committee agreed in principle to an ENA (exclusive negotiating agreement) with the selected developers for the 5 city lots (8 total lots, 2 are to be sold, 1 has been pushed – more on that later, and 5 to be developed).  Bonin made a point of saying that he has not seen ANY plans – he has no idea what has been proposed for each lot by each developer.  The only people that have seen these proposals are the City Administrative Officer (CAO) “board” which ultimately made the decisions to develop or sell.  They ostensibly used the developers previous experience as a determiner as well.

If this is true, it means that a completely anonymous board of unelected officials whom we have zero contact with is making decisions about our neighborhood that affect us tremendously.  A group that has zero accountability, zero responsibility to our neighborhood, zero involvement with the public is setting the course for our lives.  They are doing so without input or ideas from the communities most affected and without recourse from the elected officials (in our case, Bonin).

If this is true, it also means that a body completely unconnected to Bonin and without Bonin’s approval, has given the go-ahead to two of Bonin’s biggest donors to develop.  They made this “choice” from 49 proposals.  They chose a company that has zero experience developing a property like the Venice median lot, has only developed one building in its history (and that was accomplished with a partnership), and has a horrible track record of maintaining properties (Venice Community Housing VCH).  At the very least, Thomas Safran Associates has SOME experience developing these types of projects…but I still find it incredibly coincidental that Safran would get 2 projects of 5.  The collusion is blatant.

Bonin reiterated some points:

No plans have been submitted and there will not be plans without community outreach.  Since VCH has never done this type of project, who knows what their community outreach will be.  I can guarantee that Becky Dennison doesn’t really care what we think – she has already said that “there is no neighborhood there (Venice medial lot area, ie: MY NEIGHBORHOOD).

All plans will be subject to approval – just like any other development.  He also said they will be subject to EIR and Coastal Commission approval.  Yet another factor that the CAO board conveniently “forgot” when looking at feasibility for the Venice lots.

Bonin wanted to know if the ENA could last longer than a year (“because nothing gets built in a year in Venice”) and also wanted to know what would happen “if it became clear that nothing was going to work on that property.”  He was basically asking if the City has an “out” and could one day rethink this entire plan.  The answer is yes, that could happen.  That was Bonin’s way of tossing us a bone…and we should continue to guide this process as much as we can along the way.  There will be meetings and it will be hard, but we have to show up and voice our concerns as we learn more.

Bonin Says All Units Must be for Homeless

Bonin was very concerned about the rumors of some of these projects having “market-rate housing” built on them.  He will not stand by that.  He feels the entire purpose of these lots being developed is for low-income/housing for the homeless.  A mixed-use with market rate housing is out of the question for Bonin.  There was also some question about permanent supportive housing being mixed with low income housing – something that to my knowledge (and to Bonin’s) does not exist – but apparently PSH can be labeled as such if 50% of the units are PSH and the other 50% are something else.  But regardless, if Bonin gets his way, there will be no market rate housing on these lots.

Bonin also asked the board to readdress the lot in Manchester that is being recommended for auction.  He felt like it would be a good site for a Habitat for Humanity project.  He had no details, no plan, no idea what that actually meant….but he had been at en event and someone brought it up and now it is going to be explored.  THAT IS HOW THIS MAN THINKS ABOUT OR NEIGHBORHOOD.  He has an idea…and he waves his hand and some committee with no accountability or authority, goes off to make it so…just like that.  A complete 180 degree turn on a property all because Bonin thinks it might be a good site for something from Habitat.

Finally, the portion of the meeting about housing came to an end with the Councilman from the 8th district (Marqueece Harris-Dawson) saying that his community already deals with homeless enough and thinks “wealthy” communities should start to do their part and not kick the problem around.

Note:  Venice is second only to Santa Cruz in state as far as having a high homeless ratio to resident.  It is 1 homeless person to 40 residents.

With that, every single person associated with VCH and homelessness in general left the room.  The meeting, however, was still VERY MUCH about homelessness and in particular about vehicular dwelling.  Difficult questions about where (industrial v residential areas, number of spots – the committee felt 25 per district was enough, Bonin pushed for 50 and reassessing after 6 months), about who, and about how vans and RV’s would be dealt with…but not one person there from VCH actually cared about those people or those solutions.  They only care about the money they stand to make on building housing.  They are only interested in their tired old model that has gotten us into the mess we are in today.  They strutted out of the room — happy that they will profit while people sleep on the streets and in their cars for YEARS until this housing is built.  It’s sickening and vile. I have never seen such a smug group of self-righteous people in my life.  They truly think they are doing the “right” thing and will not listen to anyone who questions them.  They hide behind being “good,” but they showed how little they care when they cleared out that room while important decisions were still being made.

 

Safran Group Responds to Questions Regarding Thatcher Yard

Thatcher Yard

Thatcher Yard

Tyler Monroe, member of the Thomas Safran development team for the Thatcher Yard, answered Venice Update questions, such as what is the process, where are you with the process, and what was proposed for the site.

We do not yet have official written approval of our selection. The City staff recommended us to Council; two council committees already voted to approve. The City staff expects full City Council approval by mid-December. The staff report to Council recommends TSA “in writing” for the site.

Our Proposal. The goal of our proposal was to demonstrate flexibility and willingness to consider all options to make the best project for the site, the community and the City. Therefore, we proposed multiple “mixed income” options for this site. The options vary in density (from 84 to 152 units) and the mix of populations served (market rate, independent affordable and permanent supportive). We don’t yet know what the City staff prefers. We specifically state in our proposal that once selected, we will “work with the City and the local stakeholders to find the right tenant population.”

As a starting point, we proposed 60% market rate, 30% independent affordable and only up to 10% permanent supportive housing. I think that this may be quite different from what many people expect. We also expressed willingness to increase affordability if it was acceptable and City funds were provided (Proposition HHH or other) to make it work. The final project size and housing types will be determined by the community engagement process.

Next Steps. Once approved, we will do very thorough community outreach (including public meetings with ample opportunity for input) to determine the best solution on this site for all stakeholders and then; go through the city planning process for land use approvals plus, the Coastal Commission for a Coastal Development Permit. We are absolutely at the earliest stage. The final project program will be born out of a robust community input process.

We look forward to discussing further how we make this a wonderful project for all!

Santana Says Venice Median and Thatcher Yard to be Developed; Names Developers

Venice Median

Venice Median

 

Thatcher Yard

Thatcher Yard

 

Note: This announcement is almost verbatim from the Council Office and written by David Graham-Caso, communications director.

 

The City Administrative Officer (CAO) Miguel Santana is recommending that eight city-owned parcels throughout Los Angeles be the first wave of properties considered for housing development.

In Venice, the CAO is recommending that Thomas Safran & Associates be given the chance to work with the community to design a proposal for the old Thatcher Yard, and that the team of Hollywood Community Housing Corporation and Venice Community Housing Corporation be given the chance to work with the community to design a proposal for the Dell Pacific parking lot.The size and type of housing in each proposal will be determined following the community input process that Mike has insisted the developers conduct.

Once Thomas Safran Associates or Hollywood Community Housing Corp/Venice Community Housing Corp. create and submit their proposals, they will be subject to the same process as any development proposal in Venice – which includes review and public input at the neighborhood council, through the Department of City Planning, the full City Council, and most likely, the California Coastal Commission.

Thomas Safran & Associates has three properties on the Westside: Del Rey Square, 124 units of low-income housing for seniors, including 30 formerly homeless seniors, in Del Rey; Redwood Village, 50 units of low-income senior housing in Marina del Rey; and the newly opened The Woods at Playa Vista, 83 units of senior low-income housing in Playa Vista. (Thomas Safran & Associates was also selected to create a proposal for a former animal shelter in West Los Angeles.)

Venice Community Housing & Hollywood Community Housing have a recently opened building in Del Rey, the Gateway Apartments, offering 21 units for formerly homeless people. VCHC operates more than 16 buildings and offers more than 200 units of housing on the Westside. Hollywood Community Housing Corporation has more than 20 buildings and 700 units of housing, mostly in the Hollywood area.

“Thomas Safran & Associates and the team of Hollywood Community Housing and Venice Community Housing are already part of the solution on the Westside, and I am excited to learn there is a potential for these organizations to provide more housing here for those who most need it,” said Councilmember Mike Bonin. “Voters just approved Proposition HHH, allowing us to help build 10,000 units of affordable or homeless housing in Los Angeles. I hope Thomas Safran & Associates, HCHC, and VCHC will be able to be among the first to help fulfill the voters commitment. I look forward to the start of their community outreach efforts, and I am eager to see what sort of proposals they offer.”

The types of housing that the CAO recommends be included in the proposal include: permanent supportive housing, affordable multi family housing, mixed income housing, affordable homeownership, and what the CAO describes as “innovative methods of housing.”  Innovative methods of housing in this case are described as “modular, prefab, or micro units.”

CAO to Announce Mid-November Fate of Venice Properties; More City Sites To Be Designated

The fate of the two Venice properties designated for homeless, affordable will be announced mid-November, according to David Graham-Caso, communications director for Councilman Mike Bonin. The City Administrative Officer (CAO) Miguel Santana met with members of Council District 11 Tuesday.

There are 12 sites that were designated earlier this year to be developed by the City for homeless, affordable or sold and monies used for homeless elsewhere. Two of the properties are in Venice and have become the talk of the town for Venetians.

The two properties in question are the Venice Median site between north and south Venice Blvd at Pacific, zoned open space, used as a parking lot, and designated for homeless; and the Thatcher Yard in the Oxford Triangle, formerly used as a public utility yard, and designated for affordable housing.

“I can tell you that 49 developers responded to the request for proposals and qualifications with 73 development strategies (that is the total for all 12 vacant or underused properties throughout the city – not just the two in Venice),” according to David Graham-Caso. “When the CAO reports to the Council in mid-November, the report will include recommendations for either selling the properties or for developers to be given the opportunity to go out to the communities near the properties and try to come up with site-specific proposals for those specific properties.”

The Venice Update has asked the CAO office for the criteria used to determine development or sale but has not been given the information.

“As we have discussed before,” wrote Graham-Caso, “the approval process (if a development is pursued at a site) is one proscribed by law. Like any other development proposal, it needs to go through the various steps of the planning process (neighborhood council, planning commission, council). And in Venice, most projects get appealed to the California Coastal Commission.

“Additionally, the CAO informs us that in the next few months they will be also be examining an additional two dozen properties — in other parts of the city — for potential use or sale for affordable housing.”

March Ballot Initiative Might Curtail Homeless Plans for Venice Median, Thatcher Yard

Venice Parking
Venice Median located between north and south Venice Blvd at Pacific would go from parking lot to units.

Yard 5.02.55 PM
Thatcher Maintenance Yard is located at the south end of the Triangle with access only from Washington.

The Neighborhood Integrity Initiative on the ballot in March is billed as a way of cracking down on large, out-of-place developments but it could also derail the City of Los Angeles’ plan to help house the homeless.

The LA Times claims that Mayor Eric Garcetti and the City Council have spent months developing plans for converting as many as 12-city owned sites. Opponents of the initiative claim that 11 of those 12 would be halted for two years if the measure passes.

Opponents say that exemptions do not include changes to the General Plan. Both identified Venice projects—Venice Median, Thatcher Yard—scheduled for the homeless would require changes to the General Plan. See LA Times article.

The Venice Median lot is proposed to be rezoned from Open Space to R-3. The Venice Median has provided for much needed parking and particularly during the beach days. Parking is such a premium in Venice. If Venice had adequate parking, the coastal commission would allow residents to have preferential parking, such as other sister beach cities have. Yet, this project would remove present parking and increase parking problems at the beach. Conceivably, with two 35 percent bonuses, the area could have 260 units. Venetians are aware of what Venice beach area is like during the summer and warm days.

Councilman Mike Bonin has said he would not build that many units and has said he would keep the present parking. Just how many units the plan has, is unknown. But going from Open Space to R-3, from parking to units at the beach should require a General Plan change.

Thatcher Yard is nestled in the R-1, single-family home area of about 350 homes and is called the Oxford Triangle. It is governed by the Oxford Triangle Specific Plan as well as the Venice Specific Plan.

The area in question would allow for less than 20 single-family homes according to LA Planning standards, but if rezoned to R1.5, would allow for 62, and with two 35 percent bonuses, would bring the total to 106. A thirty percent increase in street traffic in one small area would certainly qualify for General Plan change. This project would also ingress/egress solely via Washington Blvd, near Lincoln, another reason for a general plan check.

Councilman Bonin has also stated that he would not put the maximum number of units on the Thatcher Yard either but has not stated what he would put.

The numbers given for the Thatcher Yard and the Venice Median are those that fit the parameters of LA Chief Administrative Officer Miguel Santana’s RFQ/P.

Mike’s Plan for “Ending Homelessness in Venice” on Prop HHH Brochure

Mikeplan
Councilman Mike Bonin presented his plan to End Homelessness in Venice, 29 March of this year. It has since been dubbed “Mike’s Plan” and the Councilman now refers to it as Mike’s Plan.

 

Councilman Mike Bonin has a mailer coming out in support of Proposition HHH, which would according to the brochure, “authorize $1.2 billion in bonds to build permanent supportive housing and affordable housing for people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.” This money would be used to pay for the projects proposed in Venice.

Note: The Councilman asked if Update would post his brochure. Update posts flyers but this brochure-flyer could not be duplicated. Also Update does not normally print Proposition information but since this pertains to Venice and the homeless, the facts and figures have been reproduced here but not the photos.

Data from 2016 LAHSA Homeless Count

In Los Angeles there are 28,464 homeless individuals, of which 21,338 are not sheltered. Females make up 33 percent, males 67 percent

In Venice there are 758 homeless individuals, 72 family members. Females make up 19 percent, males 81 percent.

homeless1
This is a breakdown of the ages.

homeless2
This is a breakdown of the circumstances.

 

Mike’s Plan

BUILD AFFORDABLE HOUSING

MTA BUS YARD

Mike and Supervisor Sheila Kuehl have proposed that the former bus yard located at 100 Sunset Avenue in Venice be turned into housing, with a significant portion dedicated to affordable housing for people making at most 60% of the area median income (about $33,000 a year).

CITY PROPERTIES

The City is asking affordable housing developers to evaluate every city-owned property that is surplus, vacant or under-used and consider proposing housing there (alternatively, the city may sell the properties and use the funds to build housing elsewhere). The first round of properties under consideration are: a former Fire Station in Westchester, a former Animal Shelter in West LA, the former Street Services Yard in the Oxford Triangle, and the parking lot on the Venice Boulevard median.

 

PROVIDE HOMELESS HOUSING

WESTSIDE HOUSING

The neighboring community of Del Rey has recently welcomed a series of housing projects for the home- less, including: PATH Villas (23 units), Gateway Apartments (21 units) and Del Rey Square (12 units).

DELL/PACIFIC LOT

Mike is proposing building housing for the homeless at the surface parking lot located between North and South Venice Boulevard and Pacific and Dell avenues.

VENICE FORWARD

Venice Forward is a new collaborative created to more rapidly move people into housing. The cooperative venture between government, social service agencies, businesses, and residents embraces the “Housing First” philosophy, which rapidly moves people into housing and supportive services.

EXPANDING RAPID REHOUSING

The City is expanding its funding for Rapid Rehousing – rental subsidies and services. RRH is the most effective and efficient intervention for more than 50 percent of homeless individuals and families. RRH is also more cost effective than other options.

 

EXPANDED SERVICES AND OUTREACH

TREATING MENTAL ILLNESS

The County Department of Mental Health has reopened Exodus Recovery Treatment facility, and now offers Urgent Care beds for those in a mental health crisis. Additionally, the County funds and St. Joseph Center operates the Venice Chronic Homeless Assertive Case Management Team — an intensive Mental Health unit that focuses on treating the most vulnerable individuals on the street.

HEALTHCARE

Integrated mobile health teams now provide street-based health and mental health treatment to chronically homeless and severely mentally ill individuals in Venice. Integrated teams (supported by the County, City, and local nonprofits) reduce the number of costly emergency room visits by people living on the street.

TRAINING FIRST RESPONDERS

LAPD Officers are now being trained on how to best respond when interacting with people who might have a mental illness. Special teams include officers and mental health professionals who help assess people with mental illness in the field. LAPD and Bureau of Sanitation officials are now also working with homeless outreach specialists to provide shelter and housing to people living on the streets.

211 AND VENICE FORWARD

People concerned about homeless neighbors or people in crisis living on the streets can log on to www. VeniceForward.org to ask a service provider to respond. Residents may also call the County’s 211 line, and after selecting their language, dial 7 to be connected to a community resource adviser.

OUTREACH TEAMS

The City recently added additional Homeless Emergency Response Teams to offer services to people who are homeless or at risk of experiencing homelessness, including direct emergency services and transportation, shelter, and outreach services to homeless encampment dwellers. Mike is supporting the work of LAPD Chaplains Regina and Steve Weller with a $62,000 grant. The Wellers have placed hundreds of homeless people in housing, focusing on family reunification and shared housing placements.

 

STREET STRATEGY

STORAGE

In order to keep our streets and sidewalks clean, the courts have made it clear that the City needs to offer people who are homeless alternatives to leaving their belongings on sidewalks. The City is asking Chrysalis to operate a voluntary storage program at the former Westminster Senior Center on Pacific Avenue.

SHOWERS

Lava Mae, a San Francisco-based non-profit that provides mobile showers for people who are homeless, is planning to launch a pilot program in Venice this fall.

BATHROOMS

The Department of Recreation & Parks will be opening some of the beach restrooms 24 hours per day to allow tourists and people who are homeless an alternative to defecating on public and private property.

SAFE PARKING

The City Council is considering legislation to create a program similar to one operated in Santa Barbara, allowing small numbers of people who live in their cars or RVs to park safely in non-profit, church or city parking lots overnight, where they have access to restrooms and can be connected with service providers.

 

PRESERVE AFFORDABLE HOUSING

 

MELLO ACT REFORM

Mike has proposed legislation to reform and strengthen the Mello Act, the law that protects affordable housing in the coastal zone, making it harder for developers to reduce or eliminate affordable housing in Venice.

SHORT-TERM RENTAL REGULATIONS

Mike has proposed legislation governing short-term rentals, preventing rogue operators from buying entire buildings, removing rental and affordable units from the market and converting apartments into permanent short-term rentals.

 

Pardue Comments on Town Hall, Westminster Senior Center

By Kevin “Kip” Pardue

Just wanted to send out a quick recap of last night’s meeting with Bonin for those of you who were not able to attend…

Bonin opened with a report on general homelessness in LA and the county. It was the usual evidence that permanent supportive housing works, needs to be built, and is the focus for the future. He talked about things to do today – what he calls “street services.” These include things like 24-hour bathroom access, mobile showers, and the Westminster Senior Center storage program. It was informative and insightful. Homelessness is truly awful and ever expanding – thanks in large part to politicians like Bonin who have done nothing to try and get people OFF the streets.

Now that the focus has shifted to a “housing first” model, the city is looking at “every city owned property” in LA. No one has ever made clear why that means on 8 lots are being analyzed (anyone who says there are 12 lots is being super slippery and should not be trusted – there are 12 on the “master” list but the first four are contiguous lots just east of downtown). No one has ever explained why only 3 of LA’s 15 districts have been included in this – with HALF of the lots in Bonin’s CD 11.

What I have said before, and what was evident again last night, is that Bonin SIMPLY WANTS it here. Period. He has a canned “reason” why it can’t be at Dockweiler (“That is county operated,” even though he had been applauding the new partnership between the County and the City during the presentation). A canned “reason” for why it can’t all be somewhere less residential (“Homelessness is everywhere and the solution must be everywhere.”).

When it came time for comments, the tenor of the room changed dramatically. Virtually everyone there was vehemently opposed to the Westminster Storage Center plan. Bonin said it was not the greatest plan but in five years they had not come up with a better solution. The ad hoc committee on homelessness in Venice came up with a better, cheaper, more thorough plan in 45 days. Many residents spoke about Thatcher Yard and how building housing for the homeless there is a terrible idea. There was zero discussion about the Venice median lot until I spoke briefly and again encouraged Mike to sell and build MORE HOUSING IN A BETTER AREA helping MORE PEOPLE in LESS TIME.

As yet, no details have been released about these projects – the deadline for submissions from developers is the 15th of September.

It was so painfully obvious that pretty much the only people in that room who supported building housing on these lots were those that stand to make money on the development. VCH trotted out several employees. The mobile shower company (which has been contracted and will start in Venice by the end of the year) was happy. Anyone who is pro building fewer units and jumping the myriad hurdles Venice possesses is only interested in one thing – money – not in actually helping the most people. Their ideology shows their goals. Their endgame is not ending homelessness by housing everyone. It is doing it IN VENICE. While nearly all of the speakers made comments suggesting that reasonable percentages of low-income and PSH would be lauded, that simply wasn’t good enough for Bonin. His tone was EXACTLY the same as it was when we met a few months ago…He is “listening,” but he doesn’t seem to be changing his behavior in any fashion.

I thank all of you who came and stood up for our neighborhood. If Bonin were more willing to work with us – rather than talk at us – I think we could actually make everyone happy. But watching him move unilaterally on the Westminster Storage Center project is frightening to say the least. Bonin is acting like a tzar – taking over properties, allocating resources to his projects, and plugging his ears to block the voices of residents. Maybe the hundreds of people who spoke made a dent this time. We have to hope so.

I will continue to keep you posted on things as I learn more. Thank you again.

 

Pardue Feels LA Times Reporter Holland Pushes Own and LA Times Agenda

By Kevin “Kip” Pardue

Note: Gale Holland is the LA Times reporter who covers homelessness and poverty.

I recently spoke with Gale Holland, the LA Times homeless reporter, about the possible implementation of a Business Improvement District and Mike Bonin’s housing proposals. We spoke off the record – for a few reasons, some of which are personal and others which I will get to – for about an hour. It was my second lengthy conversation with Ms. Holland about Venice and Councilman Bonin’s plans. I put Ms. Holland in touch with two other neighbors who were willing to speak on the record as well.

All three of us came away with the same feeling – that Ms. Holland was pushing her own (and the LA Times’) agenda. While I respect the opinions of Ms. Holland and the paper itself, I feel it is important to have facts correct before making judgement.

There is VERY MUCH a story to be told in Venice. Several, in fact. I assure you, however, that one story on the BID and it’s possible future will not tell it effectively.

Ms. Holland wanted very much to tie homelessness in Venice to the rising real estate of Venice. While these things might be related on the broadest of spectrums, that is not the reality we see in Venice. In the past 5 years, Venice has become a magnet for “traveler” homeless from out-of-state or even out-of-country – usually 20-somethings – who sleep in their cars and openly desecrate our neighborhood. They get “passes” from LAPD and the City under well-intended homeless laws. This new type of “homeless” has actually driven out most of the older, more traditional homeless in Venice. They are aggressive, drug-fueled, and often commit crimes (petty theft is up tremendously in Venice). Their arrival does coincide with rising real estate in Venice but the two are largely unrelated.

One of the reasons Councilman Bonin was a vocal proponent of the BID was to protect the “traditional” homeless in Venice from these “travelers.” But even without Bonin’s support, the BID would still have passed – business owners voted with a 77% approval.

The BID is very much in it’s infancy – there are zero hard facts about its goals or how it will accomplish them. Time will tell. The organizers of the BID – most of whom are reluctant to speak with the LA Times on the record because of this exact scenario, a reporter pushing her own agenda rather than reporting the facts – would love nothing more than for the BID to be a model of how successful cities can be run. Outreach, beautification, safety, and community will be tenets of the BID. Certainly BID’s throughout LA and the country have checkered pasts…Venice will hopefully become a model for future BID’s to follow to avoid these pitfalls.

The housing proposed by Councilman Bonin – which Ms. Holland purported to know about – is also in it’s infancy. Ms. Holland had not done basic research to better understand the current situation. Here are the FACTS as of now:

The feasibility studies were conducted nearly two weeks ago on all 8 city lots. These studies will tell us which lots are recommended for sale (and use of surplus to build housing in other locations) and which are recommended for development of housing.

The lot Ms. Holland was initially interested in is between Dell Ave and Pacific Ave – that is about the only concrete fact we have heard. The proposed building will be on that lot. I found Ms. Holland far to the east of that location. Clearly, Ms. Holland had not done the most basic of research and has little understanding of Venice. The other lot in Venice is Thatcher Yard, a location Ms. Holland also knew little of.

Once the feasibility studies are returned, a bidding process will begin. This bidding process will be very broad strokes and will only include Homeless Service Providers. These HSP’s will determine what could be built, who will be housed, and what services will be provided.

After that, more detailed plans will be presented to the public with time for public comment and input. This entire process will take at least 3 years for construction to begin. Coastal Commission and Venice Specific Plan will also be in play (limiting height and density).

My feeling – and the feeling of many of my neighbors – is that the most compassionate, reasonable thing to do is to sell both Venice lots in order to build more housing faster. Ideally, those transitioning from homelessness to housed would be spread throughout the city in equal proportion. Waiting three years, and only accommodating a small number, seems like a relatively poor plan. Passing up the tremendous value of Venice real estate (estimates put the lots at about $100 million together – not to mention the potential property tax revenues for years to come) seems folly. If the goal of the city is to help as many people as possible as quickly as possible, the plan to build housing in Venice is poor.

Venice real estate IS climbing. The working poor and even the middle class are being driven out. That is VERY MUCH a problem. Building low-income and work force housing in the lots would be a wonderful compromise most of Venice would cheer. I am not a NIMBY screamer – but if the lots are to be developed, we as a community deserve some say. Entirely free housing at the beach seems utterly unacceptable and incredibly narrow in scope. Low-income housing for the working poor mixed with some housing for the homeless and some market rate and a commercial component seems beneficial for all. Using the profits of the sale to build mid-rise housing on Lincoln Blvd or even further east and to convert existing building to housing also seems like a smarter use of limited funds.

The city of Los Angeles has a horrible homeless problem that needs to be solved. Venice feels those effects in an almost unique way. We are crushed by tourists and beach-goers. The blend of commercial and residential is seamless. Most Angelenos encounter the homeless at intersections and off-ramps, see encampments from their cars. Almost all over the city, homelessness is felt and seen. But very few neighborhoods in LA deal with the daily interactions most Venitians do. Skid Row is a mostly commercial district. The homeless in Hollywood are mostly kept away from homes. Encampments in Venice are IN front yards and on sidewalks directly in front of homes. Vans and RV’s are parked just outside windows. Noise, garbage, drug paraphernalia, human waste, and unpredictable behavior are daily facts in Venice. This needs to change for everyone – the homeless and residents alike.

I encourage the LA Times to dig further into the reality of today’s Venice. I look forward to helping you tell that story. In the future, I trust it will be done with more thorough reporting.

Two Lots in Venice for Homeless are Talk of the Town–Venetians Have Questions

Venice Parking
Venice median. Property is between North and South Venice Blvd and between Pacific and Dell.

Yard 5.02.55 PM
Thatcher yard is on Thatcher Ave in the Oxford Triangle.  (Fence is finished.)

By Reta Moser with special assistance by Darryl DuFay

Note: If you have questions, please submit to Update and they will be presented to the proper authorities and reprinted in Update with the answers. Venetians want to know. Submit questions to VeniceUpdate@gmail.com.

The topic for the day in Venice, and obviously for days to come, is and will be the status, disposition of the two Venice City properties destined for homeless, affordable housing.

Venetians cannot put their finger on why the City would even question not selling these two properties to the highest bidder, take the money and build somewhere else and many more than these two properties would yield in Venice. These two properties are prime to say the least. They are less than a 1000 feet from the water, where only a few Venetians can afford to live.

So the people who wrote the Request for Qualifications/Proposals (RFQ/P) from the City Administrative Officer (CAO) were queried. Cielo Castro, Transparency Officer for CAO, willingly answered the questions. Perhaps, this will answer some questions, perhaps it will bring up more.

A couple of the questions have been restated to make them clearer. The answers are verbatim.

1)  What are the city’s options for these properties?

Answer: The sites will be developed into affordable housing or they will be sold to generate funds for affordable housing. 

2)  What is the criteria you plan to use for whether it is better to sell or lease?

Answer: The decision will be made based on the proposals for the site that are received through the RFQ/P, or through subsequent Requests for Proposals or Bids.  Decisions on the disposition of each site will be made in coordination with the City Council.

3)  Apparently the money will be considered part of the $138 million Mayor Eric Garcetti budgeted for homeless this year.  If you lease the property how do you figure its values for the $138M figure?

Answer: A calculation will be used to determine the present value of a future stream of lease payments.

4)  When will property be rezoned?

Answer: The timeline will vary based on the development strategy selected for a specific site.

5)  If you do not get a prospective bidder on a site, what will you do then?

Answer:  Decisions on the disposition of each site will be made in coordination with the City Council.

6) Have these properties been declared surplus.  Will the proceeds go to the 138M homeless fund?

Answer:  These properties have not been declared as “surplus properties.” The City has elected to actively leverage its real estate assets to achieve a number of public benefits including but not limited to affordable and permanent supportive housing.

Proceeds from the sale of any of these specific surplus properties that are sold during Fiscal Year 2016 – 2017 will go to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund.  Proceeds from properties sold within Venice would be earmarked for use for affordable housing in Venice. 

Pardue Analyzes Eight Properties to be Built On/Sold for Homeless

By Kip Pardue

This is an update about the proposed developments in Venice (and beyond). I hope this helps all Venetians understand this process a bit better…

The city has sent out a sort of “bulk” request for proposal in the name of expedition. They combined all 8 of the city properties they want to develop into housing for the homeless. This RFP is open ONLY to pre-approved developers – they are pre-approved based on past work they have done for the city or for private affordable housing projects.

These developers will then look at the list of properties and will make proposals on one or even all the lots. The proposals are due in mid-September sometime. These will not be detailed drawings or include things like EIR’s or mock-ups or models…it sounds like they will be a bit broader in spectrum. The city will then look at these bids and select the ones they like best or the ones they feel are the most feasible (the public info has zero explanation on this process). After that, the public process SHOULD begin – more detailed information will start to come to us on what the city has determined (things like number of units, type of person living there, if there is a commercial element, etc).

Bits I took away from the RFP that I find interesting:

There are 8 lots on this list. They continue to say they might be used to build on or they might be sold depending on feasibility.

Here is a breakdown of the list:

The first property is actually 5 contiguous lots east of the 5 freeway in Lincoln Heights. It’s a commercial district – lots of retail and close to transportation hubs, employment opportunities, and services. To my eyes, this is a perfect place for a large mixed-use development that includes housing for the homeless.

The second is an undeveloped plot of land in Sylmar, north of LA. It’s in a lightly populated area – somewhat close to a few apartment complexes – that borders the 210 and the Angeles National Forest beyond that. Pictures show it as a hill next to a highway…Tough to say how close it is to transportation or services but a large development there would seemingly have very little impact on current residents of Sylmar.

The third is a smaller lot near the 110 freeway. It currently sits as an empty lot in a commercial district with no residents in shouting distance. The highway is just to it’s west. Because it is small, the city is recommending stacked housing or even micro-units on this site. This lot has seemingly zero value as of now but could be a great place for this type of development.

The fourth through the eighth are comprised of the four CD11 lots and one in CD15. These five lots represent a VASTLY different perspective from the first three.

The Thatcher Yard is obviously in a 100% residential district, surrounded almost entirely by single family homes.

The Venice Blvd Median lot is in a 100% residential district, surrounded almost entirely by single family homes in the heart of Venice’s tourist district. The area is congested as is – crushed by tourists, residents, and an already-huge homeless population.

Neither of the Venice locations are close to transportation hubs or commercial areas that might better provide employment opportunities, shopping alternatives, and easy assimilation for a transitioning formerly homeless individual. The Venice properties also have the California Coastal Commission to contend with (and the Venice Specific Plan). The Venice properties also happen to have real estate values that dwarf any of these other properties – almost comically so. These two properties are easily worth a combined $100 million (more depending on rezoning potential) that, if sold, could be used towards housing the homeless (in fact, the city’s well-publicized $138 million budget to combat homelessness INCLUDES the sale of properties – thought none have been sold as of yet).

The sixth property is a parcel in WLA – just off Bundy near Olympic Blvd. The area is a mix of commercial and residential, quite near single family homes. The lot is currently occupied by a former animal shelter. It is close to the new Expo Line station and does have access to commercial spaces. The land is certainly valuable from a financial prospect, but not anywhere near the Venice lots. This location – if handled delicately – could be a nice location for a mixed development – one that serves the current residents and provides a combination of low-income and housing for the homeless.

The seventh property is an abandoned fire station in Westchester that has been vacant for over 10 years (??!!). This property is also in a residential district – surrounded by single family homes. It is somewhat close to the more commercial Sepulveda Blvd, which provides some transportation and employment opportunities, but is by no means “part” of that area. The property is in a quiet neighborhood that would certainly be impacted by a development for housing homeless.

The final property is another abandoned fire station (??) in San Pedro. This lot is also in a very residential area and surrounded by single family homes and multi-unit structures. It has relatively zero options for employment, transportation, or commercial opportunities.

What will happen now:

According to the RFP and per Mike Bonin, the city will conduct feasibility studies of ALL the properties in August. I hate to assume anything, but it sure seems to me like the first three properties have far fewer hurdles than the final 5 and also happen to be far less valuable if sold. Hopefully the feasibility study will agree. I will do some research to try and learn more about this study but do not have high hopes for it being a “transparent” process.

The “scoring” for the returned RFP’s will be on a 100 point scale – with 60 points awarded to the developer based on PREVIOUS projects and 40 from their idea for the lot (or lots) on this list – which seems utterly shocking to me given the obvious hurdles ALL of these project will face.

Every private developer, architect, engineer, and real estate person I have spoken with is quick to say just how difficult it would be develop the two Venice lots. Both are so large and so detailed they would far surpass the abilities of most “not-for-profit” developers.

This process is certainly moving forward per the city…but I just cannot imagine how the feasibility of the these 8 lots – when compared to each other – could put the solution in Venice. The money, the CCC, the size, the already huge and terrifying homeless population, the growing population of families with children in Venice, the lack of transportation access, lack of employment opportunities, the lack of reasonable shopping alternatives, the tourists, the parking…all of it HAS to be taken into account. The first three are more ideal in EVERY CONCEIVABLE WAY.

This is, of course, my opinion…but as a resident who will potentially be affected in myriad ways, I hope it holds some weight.