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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

Dennison Answers Questions Regarding Venice Median Project

 

Becky Dennison, director of Venice Community Housing, answers the latest questions submitted by Venetians for the Venice Median project, which Dennison calls the Venice-Dell-Pacific

By Becky Dennison

Note: All questions and comments should be sent to venicedellpacific@vchcorp.org.  Also reach out if you’d like a tour of our properties, or to invite us to discuss our plans and vision with any group or organization that is interested.  If you are new to this list, or want to review past information about the plans for affordable and permanent supportive housing on the parking lots at Venice-Dell-Pacific, please visit our website:   http://www.vchcorp.org/new-developments/.

Is City land only being used to build permanent supportive and affordable housing in Venice?  

No.   In the past year or so, 30 City-owned properties have been awarded to developers of permanent supportive and affordable housing through a series of competitive bids.    More properties are expected to be released through this program.   Two are in Venice.   A map of the 30 properties awarded so far is HERE.  

Is it legally allowed to build low-income artist housing in the City of Los Angeles right now?  

Yes.   The federal tax credit program, located in Section 42 of the federal tax code and the main source of funding for affordable housing, currently allows preferential treatment for several groups of people, including artists.   H.R. 3221 specifically created the artist preference in 2008.   There is no LA City law or program that needs to be created or changed for us to move forward with our plans to include low-income artist housing at Venice-Dell-Pacific.   There are affordable artist communities similar to the proposal at Venice-Dell-Pacific already operating in Los Angeles and other Southern California cities.   Beyond being allowed by law, VCH heard from many community residents that they’d like to see low-income artists included and prioritized for housing at Venice-Dell-Pacific and we are looking forward to doing so.  

Please see examples of other low-income artist communities in the City of Los Angeles here:  

NOHO Senior Arts Colony

San Pedro Artist Housing

And another example in Ventura here:

Working Artists Ventura (WAV)

Will the City’s proposed Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) Ordinance apply to Venice-Dell-Pacific and/or exempt the project from zoning restrictions, size and density limitations, environmental review and community input?  

Venice-Dell-Pacific is not covered by the proposed ordinance due to its current zoning.   Therefore, none of the PSH Ordinance’s possible streamlining processes apply to the site or the planned affordable and permanent supportive housing development.   The Venice-Dell-Pacific approval process includes a full Environmental Impact Report, the highest level of environmental review, and will follow all regular public approval process with the City and Coastal Commission.   VCH and HCHC support the PSH Ordinance, as we believe it is a strong tool to help increase permanent supportive housing across the City and achieve the goals of Prop HHH.   But it does not apply to our work at Venice-Dell-Pacific.  

How many VCH caseworkers will have or need offices in the buildings?

Venice-Dell-Pacific residents will have access to 4 caseworkers working on site, all of whom will have private or shared office space.   These caseworkers will be part of a larger service collaborative that will ensure access to needed services and resources.  

How can I, or local artists I know living nearby, get on the waitlist for this housing?

Since the development process can be fairly lengthy, we don’t have a waitlist yet.   We will announce the process for opening the existing VCH waitlist, or another waitlist process, after the proposed development receives all approvals and financing.  

What were the delays mentioned in the last email, besides unit sizing?

The two main delays to date have been unit sizes (and associated design processes) and finalizing an approach to the public parking required on site. 

How many folks with serious mental health problems will be housed at the site? And will they be housed if they have had a criminal record with assault in the past? Also how many security guards will be on duty during the night? 

It is important to note that when people have a safe place to live, an affordable rent and supportive services, health and mental health improves and the costs to local government will be reduced.  There is no way to estimate how many people with serious mental health conditions will be housed at Venice-Dell-Pacific, though there likely will be some.   A criminal record of assault does not necessarily exclude people from housing.   There will be well-trained resident management staff on duty overnight, as well as other staffing in the evenings.   We aren’t likely to utilize traditional security guards unless issues arise at the property that warrant that approach.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Becky Dennison Updates Readers About Status of Venice Median Project and Answers Questions

By Becky Dennison, director of Venice Community Housing

It’s been a little longer than usual since we sent updates to this list.   Our team has been hard at work examining the site, project proposal, and community input in more detail, and we hit a few minor delays.   Please read below for some updated information and Q&A, and expect to hear more from us in December.   If you are new to this list, or want to review past information about the plans for affordable and permanent supportive housing on the parking lots at Venice-Dell-Pacific, please visit our website:   http://www.vchcorp.org/new-developments/

First, we wanted to announce some good news!   As most of you know, the Venice-Dell-Pacific site is part of a larger City-wide strategy to utilize City-owned land to increase affordable and permanent supportive housing.   Among the 20 sites across the City currently awarded to an affordable housing developer, 3 are in Council District 11 and two are in Venice.

wlasmallThe third site in Council District 11 is the old West LA Animal Shelter on Missouri Avenue – and the good news is that this month the West LA Neighborhood Council approved Tom Safran and Associates proposed project with 78 units of affordable and permanent supportive housing!      Our team, comprised of Venice Community Housing, Hollywood Community Housing, and Eric Owen Moss Architects, is excited about our planned project but also supportive of similar efforts in every neighborhood in our City.   We hope to announce more approvals ongoing, as the need for housing is so great.

Specific to Venice-Dell-Pacific, the last timeline we distributed included a goal of submitting documents for approval to the City in September.   We have resolved some of the issues that caused some delay, and are again moving forward on designs and other analysis to be included in our application.   We now plan to submit our application to the City in mid-December.  We will announce it on this list and the documents are public and will be made readily available.

Below is Q&A we’ve received recently by email.   Please continue to send any questions or comments to venicedellpacific@vchcorp.org.  Please also reach out if you’d like a tour of our properties or to invite us to discuss the planned project with any group or organization that is interested.  We continue to meet with small groups weekly, so send an invite anytime and we will get something scheduled.

Questions and Answers

Questions and other input can be submitted to venicedellpacific@vchcorp.org.

Has Venice Community Housing previously used the CES to house any of its current PSH tenants?  If so, for which buildings?
Yes.  We’ve used CES since its inception for all of our PSH units.  Those buildings include VCH properties on Horizon, Navy, 6th Avenue, Lincoln, Centinela and Slauson, as well as a few other individual units within our remaining buildings.
Note: visit our website or www.lahsa.org for background information on the Coordinated Entry System (CES)

Venice Community Housing and Hollywood Community Housing also co-developed Gateway Apartments, in the Del Rey neighborhood.   Are all 20 units at Gateway Apartments occupied by PSH tenants?   What is the total # of residents living in the 20 units at Gateway?
Yes, it’s 100% PSH.  There are 21 residents there currently, in the 20 PSH units.   There is also one unit onsite for the resident manager, for a total of 21 units.
Note:  visit VCH’s website at www.vchcorp.org or www.csh.org for more details about Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH)

Regarding the proposed 68 PSH units at Venice-Dell-Pacific, approximately how many are single units and how many are one and two bedroom units?
We don’t know yet.   One of our delays has been around unit size because some of our anticipated funding sources modified their program guidelines and it impacted the size of units in terms of the minimum required square footage.   Until we confirmed all minimum unit sizes, we couldn’t finalize the unit mix.   We are doing that now, and the specific numbers of each unit type will be in our application.

I want to understand the concept behind Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH).  Is there any limit on the time of stay?  What are the requirements for residency?  Are they required to participate in programs that help transition them away from government supported housing?
There is no time limit for PSH tenants.  PSH is permanent housing, not shelter or transitional housing.   The requirements for residency are generally that when applying for housing, you are homeless with a disabling condition, though some funding sources impose additional criteria that must be met for a homeless person to qualify for an apartment. The financing strategy for the Venice-Dell-Pacific site is still evolving, but we will let people know when we have our exact residency requirements.   Tenants of PSH are not required to participate in programs and services, though most tenants  do engage in services provided on-site and/or in the community.   The circumstances for each person vary, but the housing is permanent and not conditioned upon participation in a program.
Repeated Note:  visit VCH’s website at www.vchcorp.org or www.csh.org for more details about Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH)

I am most concerned with the PSH category of housing.  Could this category of housing include non-sober alcoholics and drug addicts and individuals with a history of severe mental and emotional problems?
Yes.  PSH is specifically intended and designed to house people with addictions, mental illnesses, and/or other disabilities, and there is a very high success rate in doing so.   The housing itself has been proven to be an effective health intervention, and allows people the stability to address their health and mental health conditions far more effectively than when living on the street.   Tenants also have to follow all of the rules of a standard lease, and tenants’ actions must ensure that others peaceful enjoyment is not disturbed.

Members of FBV Hand Out Literature about Venice Median

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Darryl DuFay and Chris Wrede of Fight Back Venice (FBV) pass out literature at the Venice Farmer’s Market regarding the proposed 140-unit Venice Median project that will be both affordable and permanent supportive housing.

Venice Vision Group Responds to VCH About Spreading Misinformation Regarding Venice Median Project

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Last week, Becky Dennison, Executive Director of developer Venice Community Housing Corporation (“VCHC”), published a piece on Venice Update (and on the VCHC website) asserting that Venice Vision is spreading “misinformation” about the Venice Median Mega-Plex through “flyers and websites without contact information” and urging Venice residents to get their information on the project solely from the VCHC website.

Venice Vision is in no way opposed to providing services – or housing – for the homeless in Venice. We are proud of Venice’s heritage as a welcoming and warmhearted community, and believe Venice has an important role to play in addressing homelessness; however we do not believe we should be the sole area of concentration.

All Venice Vision materials – including our flyers and our websites ( www.fightbackvenice.org and www.venicevision.org) – contain contact information. Becky Dennison herself contacted us about our materials on or about the same day she submitted her piece to Venice Update claiming that our flyers and website had been “distributed … without contact information.”

We have never engaged in “spreading misinformation”. Our goal is to provide as much reliable information as possible so that sound decisions will be considered for the future of our community and our generations to come. We invite you to visit our websites and join our mailing lists for updates and correct information on this and other topics. Venicevision.org and Fightbackvenice.org.

Below we address each area VCHC has claimed that we have been ‘misleading’.

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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 .

 

 

 

 

 

Dennison Clarifies Misconceptions, Answers Questions About Venice Median Project

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Side view of Venice Median project that is proposed for the area between North and South Venice Blvd, Pacific and Dell.

By Becky Dennison, director of Venice Community Housing

Venice Community Housing, Hollywood Community Housing Corporation and Eric Owen Moss Architects look forward to helping alleviate the City’s housing and homelessness crisis, as well as promoting the arts and adding other benefits to the Venice community, through a well-designed and well-managed affordable and permanent supportive housing community on the parking lots at Venice-Dell-Pacific.

We are working to incorporate community feedback into the preliminary design proposals, moving closer to final designs, and preparing other documents for the City’s approval process. There are no large community engagement events scheduled for August and September, however, we are attending smaller events upon invitation.  Please reach out any time to venicedellpacific@vchcorp.org to invite representatives of our team to discuss the project, timeline, or other related issues.

If you are new to this list, please visit VCH’s website at www.vchcorp.org for background information on this site and proposed project, as well as previous Q&A.

Correcting Errors and Clarifying Plans

The Venice-Dell-Pacific team recommends that people join this email list and/or visit www.vchcorp.org to access up to date and accurate information about our plans for the site.  All information distributed by our team will have our names and contact information on it.  In response to many people inquiring about recent information being distributed via flyers and websites without contact information, one purpose of this email is to respond to some misinformation about the site and our plans.   Please reach out to us anytime for updated information, or to clarify other information received.

Zoning/Height Misinformation: A height of 45 feet will be allowed due to planned commercial uses.

Clarification:  It is likely that we will be applying for RAS3 zoning to accommodate for non-residential uses such as community arts space and micro-enterprise/small scale retail.    However, height limits specified in the Venice Specific Plan apply regardless of zoning designation, and are limited to a maximum of 35 feet for this site.

Setbacks and Density Misinformation:  The property is being designed without setbacks from the sidewalk and to maximize density.

Clarification:  The current design approach provides a range of setbacks, with a minimum of a five foot setback provided around the perimeter of the site.   A 15 foot setback is proposed along the canal and a number of areas on the ground level are intermittently deepened to be up to 30 feet from the property line.   The current design approach also includes a varied roofline, with heights ranging from 25 to 35 feet.   This approach meets or exceeds all setback requirements and height limits in the Venice Specific Plan, and therefore does not maximize density.

Design/Final Renderings Misinformation:  The designs/visuals presented at prior public meetings are final, and represent what the project will look like.

Clarification:  We do not yet have a final design or final renderings.  Early-stage project massings, which show a general shape and size of a building without details, were shared for conversational and community input purposes at a workshop in July.   Photos of those preliminary drawings have been shared by others as if they are actual project designs or renderings, and they are not.   More detailed designs will be included in the application for City approvals, and the designs may continue to evolve throughout the approval process.

Number of Units and People Misinformation:  The proposed project will house 500 people.

Clarification:  The current proposal includes 140 units, a combination of studios (including artist lofts), one bedrooms and two bedrooms.   The exact combination of unit sizes has yet to be finalized, but using best estimates and VCH’s current occupancy rates, including the reality that most formerly homeless individuals live alone, the estimated number of people that will likely be housed at the site is about 250 – 275.   Even if every unit, as currently configured, had the maximum number of occupants, the maximum total residents would be 420.   Neither HCHC nor VCH has experienced any building maximizing its occupancy, and don’t expect that at Venice-Dell-Pacific.

Project Cost Misinformation:  The cost per unit will be $700,000, including land costs.

Current Status:  The City is retaining ownership of this land, preserving the current parking use, and adding value to the land by including other uses including the urgent Citywide need for affordable housing.   Therefore, estimates being circulated of “$700,000 including land value” are inaccurate, as there is no transfer or sale of the land.  In our application to the City, we estimated total development costs (including construction, permits and fees, necessary consultants, required building reserves, and other costs) at $340,000.   We will release updated estimates as plans and financing are closer to finalized.   The average cost of building permanent supportive housing in the City of Los Angeles is between $350,000 and $400,000 per unit, but the savings in public funds associated with providing long-term housing to homeless people far outweighs the upfront cost.

Non-Profit Affordable Housing Development Misinformation:   The development team includes corporations that stand to profit from the project and/or can sell the buildings at market rate.

Clarification:  Both Venice Community Housing Corporation and Hollywood Community Housing Corporation are non-profit affordable housing developers, and in accordance with our respective articles of incorporation, we are obligated to irrevocably dedicate this property, and all of our properties and funds, to charitable and public purposes.   The buildings on this site will be required to be used as affordable housing for at least 55 years.

Environmental and Traffic Analysis Current Status:  An Environmental Impact Report, including traffic analysis, will be completed for this project.   It is not complete now, because it is related to the final project proposal and will take about 12 months to complete both the study and the public approvals of the report.   The reports are public documents, and require public hearings and City approval.   Updates on the progress and public input opportunities will be announced on this email list.

Recently Submitted Q&A

Questions and other input can be submitted to venicedellpacific@vchcorp.org. Will units for people with disabilities be included at this site?

Yes.  At a minimum, we will provide a specific number of units that are fully accessible, along with accessible common areas, as required by law.  We are also likely to use funding for development and/or rental subsidies that further target and/or prioritize people with disabilities, such as the new No Place Like Home state funds, the County’s Housing for Health program, and others.  However, we are not yet at the point of financing the project, so the specifics of the populations to be served aren’t yet known.  We will keep people updated as we go through the process, but it is certain that people with disabilities will be served by this project.

Will the City have public hearings to discuss what goes into the Development and Disposition Agreement (DDA)? 

In our experience, the City generally does not hold public hearings to inform the content of a DDA in advance of drafting.  However, there is a public approval process for any DDA, which includes public testimony.

Your website states that an application to develop the site will be submitted to the City in September.  Does this mean all public input on design and other related work is over?  Does this mean that at this time we will know what the project is going to look like, number of units, square footage, etc.? Does it make sense to apply to develop the site now if the development agreement has not been approved yet? 

The project approvals will likely take 12 – 14 months, and there are a lot of public hearings and other interactions during that time so public input on design and other related work does not end when the application is submitted.   The application will include our proposal details, and is a public document and will be made available.  Lastly, it does make sense to start the process prior to approval of a development agreement, as the development agreement is just one part of the overall approval process.  We need to go through the development process concurrently – not all of the steps happen sequentially.

VCH Gives Update on Venice Median Project

Becky Dennison, director of Venice Community Housing (VCH), provides updates to the Venice Median project, which VCH refers to as Venice-Dell-Pacific project.

Venice-Dell-Pacific Update
Venice Community Housing, Hollywood Community Housing and Eric Owen Moss Architects are working to incorporate community feedback into the preliminary design proposals, move closer to final designs, and prepare other documents for the City’s approval process. Therefore, there are no large community engagement events scheduled for August and September.  However, we are attending smaller events upon invitation – please reach out any time to venicedellpacific@vchcorp.org to invite representatives of our team to discuss the project, timeline, or other related issues.
If you are new to this list, please visit VCH’s website for background information on this site and proposed project, as well as previous Q&A.

Recently Submitted Q&A
Is a boat rental/tourist-focused service being planned for the canal portion of the site?
No.  There is an existing public access point in the canal between North and South Venice, which is also the access point for the City’s maintenance team for the canals.   We plan to preserve this existing access point.   We aren’t adding any additional access or commercial enterprise to the canal.

What is the timeline and next steps for this proposed project?
The approximate timeline for approvals/final design and program elements is:

July-August 2017                     Finish designs and other architectural work

September 2017                     Submit application to develop the site to the City of Los Angeles                                   Note: This application includes requested zone changes, design plans and other details, is a public document, and will be made available to the public by the development team

September 2017 thru
September 2018                     Public hearings and public approvals, including:
Venice Neighborhood Council
Coastal Commission
City of Los Angeles (likely multiple City hearings/approvals)

September 2017 thru
September 2018                     Complete Environmental Impact Report and related public hearings/approval

December 2017                      Target date to enter into a development agreement with the City.                                   Note: Under the current Exclusive Negotiating Agreement, this can take place anytime up to December 2018

Fall 2017 thru
May 2019                                Complete public funding process, including applications for:
Prop HHH funds (City of LA)
LA County affordable housing funds
No Place Like Home funds (State of CA)
Tax credits and tax-exempt bonds (federal source, administered by CA)
Note:  Some, but not all, funding approvals include public hearings.

In addition to the formal, public approval process described above, the development team is committed to ongoing dialogue with the community. Both processes will inform the details of the final, approved development. Please feel free to invite us to any formal or informal neighborhood meeting to discuss the project and progress to date.

Please send meeting invitations, questions or comments to: venicedellpacific@vchcorp.org

VCH Director and Architect Moss Unveil Plans for Venice Median

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A crowd anxiously awaited the unveiling of the plans for the Venice Median last week at the Pacific Resident Theatre on Venice Blvd and then vented their responses.

Becky Dennison, director of Venice Community Housing, introduced Eric Owen Moss, the architect. Moss wanted to explain the process that took place in determining the structure/s that he was going to introduce to the audience but members in the audience kept heckling him to show the building.

He explained that he had met the setback and height limits of the Venice Specific Plan and in some cases had exceeded these requirements. With the proposed RAS3 zoning, which means Residential Accessory 3 that translates into a combination of commercial and R-3 zoning, he could go a maximum of 45 feet. He did show an example but it got confusing to the audience. One architect said this zoning was the closest to the RFQ/P  requirement of R-3 with commercial added.

His design puts the required 188-parking spaces in the front building (on Pacific) and puts the required parking for all the residential and commercial units in the second building (near Dell). Apartments are planned to wrap around the parking, which is to be in the center, and the commercial will be on the first floor. The final design will incorporate the public boat access and access for the City maintenance contractor and the required parking for both.
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He showed views in mockup form of the surrounding buildings which he said he tried to capture the various roof-line variations into his design. The design consists of two buildings separated by the canal.  This is what will go in structures.

  • Housing = 75,000 sq ft
  • Neighborhood serving retail/Social enterprise/Flexible arts spaces = 10,500 sq ft
  • Parking = 420 spaces (including 188 existing public parking spaces); Footprint of parking = 37,400 sq ft (continuous ramp layout)

This is the largest piece of property to be developed in Venice, probably since Abbot Kinney’s day. The MTA lot on Pacific-Main, yet to be developed, is larger. The Thatcher yard lot is smaller.

One thing one can count on about Venetians is that the number of people in the group is equal to the number of opinions.

In general people were concerned that the design was not charming, when Moss explained that charming meant a combination of old and new. It looked to them like a large building even though it displayed a lot of architectural relief. Not enough play area for children. The roof will be grassy area; the beach is a block away. Why commercial, “if we are housing the homeless.” At previous workshops, people wanted commercial space.  One person said he would like to move in.

Below is the timeline for the project from final design to funding and pictures of various sides of the buildings.

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Image shown is between the buildings where the canal is.

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Side view.

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Front view of commercial.

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Looking at east end of building facing Dell Ave.

Venice Median Plans Unveiling Will Be 27 June Only

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Plans for the Venice Median will be unveiled for the first time Tuesday, 27 June, 7 to 8:30 pm at the Pacific Resident Theatre, 703 Venice Blvd.

It was stated in a previous article on the web and on the email blast Monday that another meeting would be held at the Israel Levin Center, Friday, June 23, and the plans would be unveiled there too. Not true.  This meet will only be informational and mainly for members of the Center.

“Venice Community Housing will  continue engaging the community by scheduling small, 1- to 2-hour events all summer to introduce and discuss the proposed Venice Median affordable housing development,” wrote Linda Lucks of Venice Community Housing.”Small, invitation-only meetings allow people the time and space to express their concerns, offer ideas, and ask detailed questions.” 

Contact Linda Lucks by 15 July at llucks@vchcorp.org if you are interested in hosting a gathering and/or sign up for regular email updates at Venicedellpacific@vchcorp.org.

Plans for Venice Median to be Unveiled 27 June

Plans for Venice Median will be unveiled for the first time Tuesday, June 27, 7 to 8:30 pm at the Pacific Resident Theatre, 703 Venice Blvd. This story originally stated they would be unveiled first at the Israel Levin Center 23 June. This was incorrect.

Each week Becky Dennison, director of Venice Community Housing, gives the forthcoming events regarding the Venice Median and provides answers to questions asked.

Upcoming Events

Presentation and Discussion 
of Plans for the Parking Lots at Venice-Dell-Pacific 
Friday, June 23rd
1 to 2:30 pm
Israel Levin Center
201 Ocean Front Walk

Community Meeting to Review Preliminary Project Design(s)
Tuesday, June 27th
7 to 8:30 pm
Pacific Resident Theatre
703 Venice Blvd.

In addition to larger community events, we give tours of our properties upon request and we continue to attend community meetings as invited – please feel free to invite us to come to any formal or informal group of neighbors or stakeholders.  Email venicedellpacific@vchcorp.org to extend an invitation and/or give any other suggestions on expanding community engagement.

 

Questions and Answers

What is the topic for the presentation and discussion on 6/23? Why is it set up during business hours on a weekday?

The main topic of any meeting or event posted on this email list is the proposed affordable and permanent supportive housing development at the parking lots at Venice-Dell-Pacific.  We are presenting our plans and having dialogue about them at as many venues as possible.  Israel Levin Center chose the date and time for this meeting, as they are hosting and are meeting the needs of their users/members, but it is open to anyone who is interested.  We have another meeting the following week in the evening, and we have held community engagement events at varied times of day and on all days of the week throughout our process to meet the needs of varied schedules.