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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

Lincoln Apartments Approved Unanimously by City Planning Commission

Lincoln Apartments, a 40-unit project proposed by Venice Community Housing (VCH) and Safe Place for Youth (SPY), passed the City Planning Commission unanimously 28 May.

LUPC Rejects Lincoln Place Apartments at Special Meeting

By Angela McGregor

Land Use and Planning Committer (LUPC) held a special meeting Thursday (14 May) exclusively to hear input and issue a decision on the Lincoln Place Apartments project prior to the Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC} 19 May Board meeting and the Planning Commission 28 May online meeting (see: https://planning.lacity.org/dcpapi/meetings/document/66666).

Over 120 persons attended the online meeting.

At its 26 February meet, last pre-pandemic meeting, LUPC sent Lincoln Apartments applicants — Venice Community Housing Corporation (VCHC) and Safe Place for Youth (SPY) — back to the community for more input before rendering a decision on the project.

Since then, City Planning has fast tracked approval of the project, apparently using the current pandemic to bypass the Venice Neighborhood Council usual approval process, especially for such a large and controversial project.

The meeting opened with VCHC Director Becky Denison delivering a somewhat revised presentation on the project, stating that VCHC had met with representatives from St. Mark School (which is adjacent to the project), who made 26 recommendations for the project, of which VCHC incorporated just 12 (the rest they deemed “unreasonable”).

This including adding some greenery and a gate to overcome the fact that the project’s roof deck offered direct line-of-sight above the school’s playground and insisting that there had been “no firm decision” on whether or not the project would be built with Prop. 2, “No Place Like Home”, funds, which would mandate that (according to VCHC) roughly one third of the residents be suffering from severe mental illness. VCHC then offered several examples of what they said were similar projects that had either been granted the kind of density bonuses they are requesting (over 100 percent, as well as a 22-foot height increase and waiver of step back provisions).

Public commentary was overwhelmingly opposed to the project, and continued for over two and a half hours. Speakers (many of whom are active participants in the St. Mark parish programs to benefit the homeless) primarily emphasized the historic threat to public safety and the poor track record of SPY in ensuring that their clientele did not terrorize the surrounding neighborhood and the children at the two nearby schools. In neighborhood discussions with VCHC, the applicant had refused to take Prop 2 money off the table, promise to screen prospective residents in the sex offender database, or add parking.

Project has questionable safety provisions
In three years, there have been 117 calls to police and fire for incidents at SPY, which include violent crimes that resulted in school lockdowns, and the record for the SPY Bridge Housing project on Main Street is even worse — 202 police calls in two months, including one SPY client who was allowed back into the facility after vandalizing multiple cars and assaulting two women.

Lincoln Apartments would not require sobriety or treatment (several speakers mentioned SPY clients openly using drugs near SPY’s current facility). At a projected cost of $500K per studio apartment, opponents contended the project was an unconscionable waste of money in light of the nearly 60,000 homeless in Los Angeles. Finally, Venice has more current and planned PSH and affordable housing projects than all of CD11 combined: Five units of affordable housing per 100 people.

80 percent of residents within 500 feet say “no”
In all, at least 80 percent of residents who live within a 500-foot radius of the project oppose it.  There was much less public commentary in favor of the project, mainly from people who identified themselves as board members or volunteers for either SPY or VCHC. Their comments were less specific to the project and focused on the overall need in Los Angeles for this type of housing.

Longtime VCH representative and former VNC Board President Linda Lucks stated that “VCH will be managing the property, and VCH is not SPY. They have a good reputation for managing their properties, including full-time, onsite social workers.”

SPY representative Alison Hurst stated that the problems at the Bridge Housing were due to challenges posed by the pandemic and the stress it was putting on residents, “especially vulnerable youth. We need to say yes to housing of all kinds!”

Board commentary opened with questions for the applicant. LUPC member Tim Bonefeld, who was the LUPC staffer on this project, stated that he lived very close to the Bridge Housing, and that, in his estimation, “incidents are through the roof.” He asked whether onsite security guards would be hired for the new project, to which Becky Dennison responded that that was “not considered best practices” and that “people underestimate how effective social service managers are in providing security.” Alison Hurst then stated that Bridge Housing is a “very different model” from the proposed project, and does have full time security officers on site.

Both LUPC Chair Alix Gucovsky and LUPC staffer Shep Stern cited the “overwhelming and unprecedented” outpouring of opposition to the project in the form of over 800 letters, many of whom were clearly very heartfelt, from parishioners and parents torn between their sense of obligation to the less fortunate and their responsibilities as parents for the safety of their children. By contrast, the letters in support of the project, of which there were hundreds, were clearly auto-generated, many with the same name and verbiage, and over 48 percent of them came from outside of Venice.

Bonefeld suggested that, in light of the upcoming hearing at City Planning wherein the project would likely be approved, LUPC make a motion to support the project, but with a long list of recommendations that would address residents’ concerns. However, the other board members seemed to feel that the project was irredeemable, given that its primary fault was its location so close to a school and the undeniably poor public safety record of SPY. At around 10:30 pm, three and a half hours after the start of the meeting, LUPC voted to dismiss the project, 5 votes to 2.

The project will now be taken up by the VNC Board, at their online meeting on May 19th at 7 pm.

VCHC Goes Directly to Planning with Lincoln Apartments, Leaps Past Neighborhood, LUPC, and VNC Approvals

Venice Community Housing Corporation (VCHC) leaps past Venice neighborhood critiques, and both the Land Use and Planning Committee (LUPC) and the VNC approvals, according to Fight Back Venice, a neighborhood group opposed to the project as presently presented.

Many times a project is already set for a planning hearing so the planning director, if they hear the project, will normally say subject to approval by the VNC. The project is on the agenda to be heard by LUPC 14 May, and normally, will be heard by the VNC at the next scheduled meet, which would be 18 May.

At the last meet of the LUPC, LUPC directed the VCHC to work with the community and do more outreach. The community showed a large amount of disapproval for the project and LUPC, instead of voting it down, asked that VCHC take the project before the neighbors and try to work out some of the problems. Now according to Fight Back Venice, the project is using the Corona Virus to secure approval from the City Planning Commission without further outreach, without approval from LUPC, without approval from VNC.

The City Planning Commission is meeting to vote on the Project in a strictly virtual meeting on May 28. Information regarding the meeting is available here: https://planning.lacity.org/dcpapi/meetings/document/66666

Fight Back Venice says “since Venice has no friendly representation whatsoever at City Hall, we need to get as many emails on file opposing the Project as we possibly can by Friday, 15 May.

“Our goal is 1,000 emails, so please, take 10 seconds to send the one-click email yourself and rally as many friends and family members as you possibly can to do the same by taking 3 more seconds to forward this email to them.”

A short video about VCHC’s Lincoln Apartments Project is available here: https://www.fightbackvenice.org/

Fight Back Venice Gives Rebuttal to VCH Lincoln Apartments

Fight Back Venice gives their facts regarding the 40-unit project proposed for Lincoln Blvd near Washington Blvd to be built by Venice Community Housing Corporation. Half the residents will be between the ages of 18 and 26 and the other half is proposed for mentally ill.

VCH Gives Dates for Lincoln Apartments


40-unit building proposed by Venice Comminity Housing (VCH) near Washington Blvd.

By Venice Community Housing

VCH now has a calendar of public hearings in February through April that will take us to final approval for 40 new units at Lincoln Apartments! Lincoln Apartments will provide affordable, supportive housing for transition aged youth who have experienced homelessness and people who have experienced chronic homelessness. Please show your support for Lincoln Apartments by attending hearings, giving testimony and submitting a support letter! CLICK HERE to download the letter and email to supportletters@vchcorp.org.

Please mark your calendar for following public hearing dates and share with your friends and neighbors! Please note that all dates are subject to change, as long as a 72 hour notice is provided. VCH will email reminders closer to each date.

Thursday, Feb 20th, 7:00 pm — Place TBD (likely Westminster Elementary). Neighborhood Council’s Land Use and Planning Committee (LUPC) hearing.

Monday, March 16th at 9:30 am — City Hall. City of LA’s Zoning Administrator/staff hearing. No decisions are made at this hearing, it’s public testimony only.

Tuesday, March 17th at 7:00 pm — Westminster Elementary. Venice Neighborhood Council meeting.

Thursday, April 23rd at 8:30 am — Van Nuys City Hall. City Planning Commission Hearing and final vote to approve the project (not including appeals).

Comments may be sent to LUPC@Venicenc.org.

LUPC Cancelled Because Too Many People Showed Up

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

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

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

 

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

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

LUPC Agenda.

 

Legal Aid Foundation Sues City

The Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, allegedly consisting of Barrett S Litt, Michael Rapkin, Scott Rapkin, Susan Millmann and Carol A. Sobel, has filed a Civil Rights complaint against the City of Los Angeles on behalf of Plaintiffs Cheyenne Desertrain, Steve Jacobs-Elstein, Bradford Eckhart, Patricia Warivonchik, Leroy Butler, William Cagle and Terry Hendrickson.

What the complaint is was not stated.

Reference article.

Planters Installed on West Side of 4th Ave at Public Storage

(5 August 2019) Approximately 30 metal planter boxes were installed today on west side of 4th Ave from Rose Ave, the length of all  the Public Storage buildings, to the Venice Community Housing apartments that go from Public Storage to Sunset Ave.

The Public Storage manager said he knew nothing about it.  He said maybe corporate did it but he would probably not be informed.    Police arrived and made sure that the planters provided adequate ADA spacing, which they did.  Whether the planters will be installed in front of the VCH apartment complex is not known at this time.

Neighbors were excited and gathered to talk about watering the plants, what to plant, etc.

One person said that Becky Dennison, director of Venice Community Housing, called the police to try to stop the planter placement.

One woman who lived near by said that the VCH building had people with wheelchairs and they couldn’t pass because of the homeless camping out on the sidewalk on 4th Ave.

One woman was so happy.  She said she smelled the marijuana smoke, saw the drug dealers, heard the loud noises all day and night.

One lady stopped by to inquire if the planters were going to be put on 3rd.  The police said they had no idea.  When asked where she lived, she refused to say other than just “Venice.”

This story will reflect any additional facts as they become known.

 

Dennison Shows Residents Concept Drawings of the Reese-Davidson Affordable/PSH Housing Project


(11 July 2019) Becky Dennison, director of Venice Community Housing (VCH), shows the concept drawings that they have decided represent the input from the neighborhood for the project they plan to construct between North and South Venice Blvd, between Pacific and Dell Ave.  Dennison asked for more input.

Formerly called the Venice Median, the Reese-Davidson Community project will consist of 136 residences for affordable/psh housing and four residences for property management staff. The project will have 395 parking spaces, 188 of which will replace the present 188 spaces available on the lot. The two buildings will range in height from two to three stories and will have the parking inside the units that will form the perimeter of the project.

The project will also have 3100 square feet of community arts space, community serving retail, rooms for tenant and public use.