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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

Picnic Area Packed Sunday

b. mother's beach

Mother’s Beach picnic tables were filled Sunday with family party goers. Kids were enjoying themselves at the playground equipment, the sand, and the water.

Behind Abbot Kinney

b.  Abbor Kinney trash (Photo courtesy of Elaine Spierer)

What is behind the classy stores on Abbot Kinney?

It’s Marriage A Go-Go!!

a marriage a go-go

“Divorce A Go -Go” is a limo with a full bar?

Radio Shack Break-in

a. radio shack

Radio Shack at the corner of Lincoln and Washington Blvd, Walgreens shopping area, was broken into Friday night. Sales people said approximately $5000 worth of items was taken.

Big Words–Mass, Scale and Character

This is the Shores on Via Dolce in Marina del Rey

This is the Shores on Via Dolce in Marina del Rey

This is the Shores on Via Dolce in Marina del Rey. To those familiar with the Marina, this is an invasive development that is an example lacking in mass, scale and character in relation to its neighborhood. It is invasive to the neighborhood.

What everyone is searching for is a neighbor, developer, builder who builds a new structure that adds to the neighborhood–fits in with, but doesn’t distract from. This is a builder, a neighbor who does not invade a neighborhood, is not overpowering, offensive. This builder is complementary to the neighborhood.

Subjective?–yes. Hard?–oh, my yes. Impossible?-no. Because it is rather subjective, neighbors have been at each other when a project is proposed in a neighborhood.

Challis Macpherson, former chair of land use and planning committee (LUPC) said “All neighborhoods have this problem. It is not unique to Venice.”

Marina Del Rey is an example with the Shores.

VNC Committee is Working on This
The Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) has a committee headed by Sue Kaplan to help determine some of these features that would give a builder direction, guide lines for blending his building into the neighborhood “ambiance.”

The committee met once a month for about a year. Members of the committee were listed as: Joe Clark, Brian Finney, Derek Harbaugh, David Hertz, Laura Stoland, and Lilian White. They did surveys, read other cities’ plans for preservation.

Other neighborhoods just in California, such as Santa Barbara, Monterey, and San Francisco, to name a few have written guidelines to follow for mass, scale, and character. They too have felt the significance, exclusivity of their communities and need to preserve such. Venice need not feel they are exclusive in the effort to preserve that “peculiar” “indefinable” charm that which makes Venice “Venice.’

What is A Venice?
Who can define Venice, who can define ” A Venice?”

One thing that was discovered in the meetings with the study of other areas, questionnaires, etc. was that in Venice, neighborhoods can be considered on a block-by-block basis. They agreed that a block could be considered a Venice neighborhood.

They discussed whether the minimum requirements for defining a neighborhood are setbacks, number of stories, age, window treatments, fences, trees, and placement on lot.

“I think we can come up with guidelines that offer both quantifiable guidance and flexibility which the design community wants for Venice in order for it to remain the creative laboratory it is justly famous for,” wrote Sue Kaplan, committee chair.

The committee at this point has no conclusions and will probably be reinstated with the new council, and hopefully, then there will be definitive guidelines.

Perhaps Preservation
Sue Kaplan did say that “One thing that I am coming to consider is that preservation holds a key to the retaining of the character of Venice. Preservation would include the support of the diversity of our architectural creativity and the preservation of our older buildings which with respect to new projects should incorporate consideration of mass and scale. Or is this a whole ‘nother discussion?”

The problem with all this is that lots are small in Venice per city standard, which is 5000 or 50×100. Many Venice lots are around 40×100 and some are even smaller. Venice in most areas has a height limit with a limit of two stories and yet people want to subdivide a 40×100 lot into two saleable pieces of property with four parking spaces. After setbacks and parking spaces, how many square feet are livable for each unit? What if you don’t have an alley?

Consider an RD1.5 lot with 5000 square feet. One can get three saleable units on it but with parking for six cars, height limit and setbacks, how many livable square feet would each unit have?

SB1818 has allowed for 30 plus percent increase in square footage and other
limits but with the restrictions of Venice, what does that really do?

These are the dilemmas facing a builder, developer and these in turn are inherited by the ones, the committee members trying to provide a guideline for these people yet trying to retain a neighborhood ambiance, sincerely trying to keep Venice, Venice.

Way to trim

a. trim job

Now this is the way to trim a hedge. Not one branch hangs in or over the sidewalk. Two people can and just did walk side-by-side on the sidewalk.

Where’s the Doc?

a.  Suga r

This building redo is certainly a sign of Ocean Front Walk changing for the better. What has been home to a menagerie of different discount T-shirt operations, hawkers, and a marijuana prescribing doctor is going to be a candy store called “It’s Sugar.” For those who appreciate the renovation of historic buildings in Venice, this is one to put on the list. Each day of work, the building sparkles a little more.

Encampments at the Beach

a. encampment

a. encampment grass

There are many such encampments along the grassy areas between the beach and boardwalk on Ocean Front Walk.

CCC to Hear Oxford Basin/Bird Conservation

a. oxford basin

California Coastal Commission (CCC) will hear the Department of Public Works’ (DPW) proposal for the Oxford Retention Basin (Duck Pond) Friday, June 13 at 9 am at the Huntington Beach City Hall, 2000 Main Street, Huntington Beach, 92648.  It will be item 10.b. Contact Matt.Stone@coastal.ca.gov for more information.  Item is as follows:

Application of Los Angeles County DPW to improve flood risk management, water quality, habitat quality, aesthetics, and recreational opportunities in Oxford Basin, including: 1) excavation of 2,900 cu.yds. of sediment; 2) in-kind replacement of 2 tide gates; 3) construct 2-ft. high parapet wall; 4) remove and replace existing vegetation with native vegetation; 5) excavate 6,700 cu.yds. of contaminated sediment; 6) construct circulation berm; 7) replace existing perimeter chain link fence with ornamental aluminum; 8) construct walking trail and 6 observation areas; and 9) install vegetated parkway buffer along Admiralty Way, located in unincorporated Marina del Rey, Los Angeles County. (MS-LB)

Douglas Fay, local environmentalist, said he tried to get hearing set for July to give one time to prepare after receiving the staff report.

Fay is against the “duck pond” being used for any water retention program.  His claim is that it was always a duck pond and was dedicated as a bird sanctuary back in the 1960’s.

Doug Fay claims that building the harbor destroyed habitat and that the Oxford Basin was to be a mitigating feature for habitat.  He wrote:

“The only mitigation identified in the plan to offset the habitat loss was a bird refuge that was to be 800 feet by 2500 feet in size. Eventually the harbor was built and a downsized 300 feet by 900 feet, 10.7 acre Bird Conservation Area was dedicated in 1963.”

Todd A. Cardiff’s letter to the Coastal Commission regarding opposition to the project is provided and explains history in detail.

Many Address Small Craft Harbor Commissioners


x. Nahhas tells what went wrong

Jon Nahhas, Boaters Coalition, is shown addressing the Small Craft Harbor Commission at Burton Chase Park Wednesday night. Nahhas presented a slide show and  visually explained to commissioners what went wrong with their procedures.


There was standing room only as representatives from groups throughout the Marina  listed objections to the plan for updating the Marina and explained such to the Small Craft Harbor Commissioners at Burton Chase Park Wednesday night.

Various tenant,  lessee and boating association representatives, residents representing the birds and the environmentally sensitive habitat area (ESHA),  individual boaters, and individual boating experts were all there to let the group know they were not happy with the plans for updating as presented. They were prepared and presented their cases, one by one.

Most concerned were those who objected to the moving of the boat launch to Fisherman’s village and described boat launch design as poorly considered and very dangerous for boaters.

One waterway designer said he would give any student he had an “F” if he designed something as dangerous as this proposed design. “Obviously he said designer is not familiar with tide and prevailing winds.” Designer said he would be happy to be an expert witness at any liability trial for a plaintiff. Right now the new design is to launch boats into the main channel and perpendicular to prevailing winds. Another speaker described it as dangerous for boaters as throwing puppies onto the 405.

The Meet
by Jon Nahhas
The Special Night Meeting for the Small Craft Harbor Commission on the Marina del Rey Visioning Plan was somewhat of a success for fans of the Marina. County Residents filled the Community Room at Burton Chace Park and overflowed into the outside quad area. Some very alarming details surfaced in the meeting which clearly exposed the fraudulent “public process” promised to the stakeholders in front of the California Coastal Commission on the MdR LCP Periodic Review hearings (November 3, 2011).

1) Gina Natoli from the Dept. of Regional Planning, mastermind of the MdR Visioning Process, divulged that the County did not need to report the results of the $Million dollar Visioning Process to the Coastal Commission for an LCP Update. This dysfunctional, fraudulent “public process” was essentially going to be a receive and file.

2) Many speakers stated that they never knew the Visioning Process was occurring. The Harbor Commission acknowledged that noticing obviously was inadequate and also found that there was substantial evidence of public input that was ignored in the Visioning Statement.

3) Long-time Harbor Consultant, Ron Noble, sat quietly as many experienced boating experts ripped apart his study for the relocation of the MdR Public Launch Ramp. One of the last speakers of the night was the former MdR Harbor Consultant who just couldn’t believe the ineptitude of the study and its findings for the relocation. We did not expose the County’s illegal verbal contract regarding this study nor the fact that Noble started it before the Visioning Process even began – didn’t want to incite a riot.

4)  Residents from Mariners Village (MV) testified on their redevelopment issues but the County at several points tried to prevent them from speaking.  A conflict arose when the Dept. of Beaches & Harbors Director, Gary Jones, suspiciously contradicted Gina Natoli (Visioning Chief) and stated that Mariners Village was not part of the Visioning Process.  This now opens the actions taken at the meeting to a violation of the Brown Act.  In speaking to the MV residents after the meeting, they didn’t understand the ramifications of the conflict but were glad that Chair Allyn Rifkin gave them a chance to speak.

5) The conflict also exposed that not only do the Commissioners of the MdR Small Craft Harbor Commission (SCHC), MdR Design Control Board, and attending public not know what the MdR Visioning Process is, but that the Dept. of Beaches & Harbors (who manage the Marina) don’t know what it is either!

6) The resulting action that was taken by the SCHC was in the form of a resolution (for their Commission) with commissioners acknowledging after the meeting that it won’t really mean much. Even if they deny the future projects for violating terms of their own resolution, it will continue on to the Regional Planning Commission (the ultimate rubber-stamp collective). The resolution involved 4 parts:

a) No increases in development density
b) No increases in building heights
c) Recreational Boating will be the #1 priority
d) The Public Launch Ramp is to remain on Parcel

7) The big victory was that many of the area residents came out and spoke on their concerns. The sad part is that most of the residents and boaters were not knowledgeable about the County’s plans already in progress for the development of the Marina and what is about to hit them in the next few months to continue over several years.