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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

Dennison Gives Update on Venice Median Project and Answers Questions

Becky Dennison, director of Venice Community Housing, gives weekly progress reports on the Venice Median Project and answers questions.

Upcoming Community Engagement

Presentation and Discussion
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,” wrote Dennison.  Email venicedellpacific@vchcorp.org to extend an invitation and/or give any other suggestions on expanding community engagement.

Questions and Answers

1) By saying the “city has approved…”  what does that mean exactly?
The Los Angeles City Council?  The Los Angeles City Planning Department? In December 2016, the City Council authorized City staff to enter into a two-year Exclusive Negotiating Agreement (ENA) with Venice Community Housing and Hollywood Community Housing Corporation, allowing our team to develop a proposal and pursue all public approvals needed to develop affordable and permanent supportive housing at the Venice-Dell-Pacific site.  The ENA was executed in January.  All other public approvals needed to formalize and finalize our proposal, including the Planning Commission and the City Council, have not yet occurred.  They are expected to happen over the next year or so.

2) What is the status of this project with the California Coastal Commission? 
Where does it fit within the Venice Plan? The proposed project has not yet been submitted to or approved by the Coastal Commission.  That process is expected to take place sometime in the next year or so.  The site is within the Venice Specific Plan area.

Becky Dennison Lists Events and Answers Questions Regarding Venice Median Project

Becky Dennison, director of Venice Community Housing (VCH), lists the upcoming events and answers questions regarding the project.

Upcoming Events

General Outreach: Flyering and Door-Knocking
Thursday, May 25th
4 ro 6 pm
Residences near the parking lots

Community Meeting to review Preliminary Project Design(s)
TBD, estimated in mid-June
(we will confirm soon)

Presentation and Discussion
Friday, June 23rd
1 to 2:30 pm
Israel Levin Center
201 Ocean Front Walk

“We have temporarily scaled back community engagement in order to work on design(s) for the site,” wrote Dennison.   “However, we can give tours of our properties upon request and we are continuing 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

1)    What are the boundaries for SPA 5? (the County’s Service Planning Area served by the Coordinated Entry System)?

Service Planning Area 5, or SPA 5, serves the communities of Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Culver City, Malibu, Pacific Palisades, Playa del Rey, Santa Monica, and Venice.  The website is here: http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/CHS/SPA5/index.htm.  In a previous Q&A, we described the Coordinated Entry System, or CES:

How Does the County’s Coordinated Entry System (CES) Work?

The CES system created centralized wait lists for permanent supportive housing throughout LA County.  Although the CES system is Countywide, the wait lists are regional.  This site is in Service Planning Area 5 (SPA 5), and therefore would receive referrals for permanent supportive housing tenants from the SPA 5 wait list, which includes people who are currently without housing and living in Westside communities.   CES is not one Countywide wait/referral list.

2)    What percentage or number of units could be set-aside for a master lease with Venice-specific outreach teams, as a method to target Venice street dwellers for this housing?

We don’t have a percentage or number for the master lease idea yet, as we are researching that piece of the project and that decision would be made much later in the development process.  We are committed to pursuing this option.

3)    The model/template for large scale buildings with concentrated populations is questionable to ineffective, such as Cabrini Green in Chicago being torn down and replaced with small building density.

Cabrini Green had 3,600 units and was home to 15,000 people.  We are proposing 140 units, or 4% of the size of Cabrini Green.  Our proposal is well within Housing Authorities’ new outlook on appropriately sized communities, in fact it’s much smaller.

4)    Is this the most efficient use of funds?  Are there better alternatives?  

Based on substantive research over the past decade, development of permanent supportive housing is a cost effective intervention that saves local governments money and successfully ends homelessness for most.  There are also other cost-effective programs and interventions, but permanent supportive housing development is greatly needed to supplement other programs in Los Angeles in order to end homelessness.

5)    What is the update on the design process?  Will you stop your design process until there is more opportunity for input?  

Our team, particularly the architects, are in the process of creating and refining possible design concepts for the site.  We estimate that we will have something to present at a community meeting by mid-June.  We will continue to accept and incorporate input throughout the design process, but we aren’t going to stop our process as we’ve heard overwhelmingly that people would like to have something more concrete to see, evaluate and respond to.

Venice Design Series Tour of Culver City Architecture Old and Future was Held

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This was the view from the Baldwin Hills Overlook where Venice Design Series participants had lunch. The Tour was dubbed the Culver City Preservation and Architectural Tour and was held Saturday from 9 am to 4 pm.

It was a whirlwind tour of the old landmarks with a glimpse of what is to come. It started at EYRC Architectural firm with Eurlich showing and explaining the Culver City “minimall” they were doing near Trader Joes. It went from there to the Ivy Substation in downtown Culver City for fun with the Acting Gang. It was a short walk for a tour of the Culver Hotel that Harry Culver built in 1924 and where he maintained his office on the second floor. After that it was a tour of Culver Studios where Gone With the Wind and Hong Kong were filmed. All of that was before lunch.

Jack Prichett will provide details and the after lunch tour later.

Groups Listen/Question Architect On-Site of Venice Median Project Regarding the Project

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The proposed Venice Median Project between North and South Venice Blvd and between Dell and Pacific.

Venice Community Housing (VCH) had another meeting with community members for “community input” regarding the Venice Median project.  This time it was on site and the architect or his affiliate answered questions posed by members of the groups as they walked the site.

Eric Owen Moss, architect, was asked questions regarding parking.  “Will you be able to adhere to the Venice Specific Plan as stated in the RFQ/P with all the parking requirements this project entails,” one person asked.  His answer was that if the RFQ/P said he had to adhere to the Venice Specific Plan, he would, but maybe he would have to “ask for a favor.”

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Group 1.  Several groups were sxtarted and at various times.  Q&A was to go from 10 am to noon.

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Group 2.

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The canal that divides the property.  One person made a comment on internet regarding Kip Pardue’s story saying that all this had been cleaned up.  This photo shows property worse than Pardue’s photo.

VCH to Have On-Site Discussions of Venice Median Parking Lot Saturday, 10 to Noon

Becky Dennison, director of Venice Community Housing, lists the upcoming events and answers questions posed by the community members during the week.

Community Design Event/Site Visit

Saturday, April 15th
10 am – 12 pm
Venice-Dell-Pacific parking lots: meet at the corner of North Venice and Pacific
*Please note that you can come by anytime, and 30-minute small group walks/discussions will start every 15 minutes between 10 am and 11:30 am.
This event provides an opportunity to visit and walk the development site, give input on site layout and design, and allow the architects to hear directly from the community before preparing their preliminary design(s).

Flyering and Door-Knocking
Friday, April 7th and 14th
9 am – 11 am
Farmer’s Market and residences near parking lots

Community engagement dates are updated on an ongoing basis and we are also continuing 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

Considering the exorbitant cost per unit, why not build out of retired transport storage containers? These units can be had for about $4,000 – $5,000 per unit, offer structure, can be mounted on top of each other, and are being used in NYC for micro-living units for taxpaying citizens, and in Boston as well.
Based upon initial research and feedback during the community engagement process, it is likely that the uses and design of this property will prevent the development team from using retired storage containers as housing. However, it is our understanding that the City’s housing team is researching effective implementation of this option for Los Angeles.

All Q&A to date are available at vchcorp.org.

Please email venicedellpacific@vchcorp.org to submit any new questions, as well as other feedback.

Dennison Lists VCH Upcoming Venice Median Events and Answers Questions

Becky Dennison, director of Venice Community Housing, lists the upcoming events and answers the latest questions, all regarding the Venice Median project.

Events

Community Design Event/Site Visit
Saturday, April 15th
10 am – 12 pm
Venice-Dell-Pacific parking lots: meet at the corner of North Venice and Pacific
*Please note that you can come by anytime, and 30-minute small group walks/discussions will start every 15 minutes between 10 am and 11:30 am.

This event provides an opportunity to visit and walk the development site, give input on site layout and design, and allow the architects to hear directly from the community before preparing their preliminary design(s).

Flyering and Door-Knocking
Friday, April 7th and 14th
9 am – 11 am
Farmer’s Market and residences near parking lots

Community engagement dates are updated on an ongoing basis and we are also continuing 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.

 

This Week’s Q&A

Has the specific zone change and/or floor area ratio (FAR) been decided? 
No, not yet.

Will some of the rental units be occupied by people with mental illness and if so what support services will be on site available to them?
It is likely that some of the units will be home to people with mental illnesses.  At this time, we are including 4 full-time case managers for the site and we are building a multi-disciplinary social services collaborative that will include mental health professionals on and off site.

How is a disruptive tenant evicted, and will it be a long drawn out process or a quick solution? 
Both VCH and HCHC occasionally have to evict tenants that are negatively impacting the peaceful enjoyment of the building for others, or otherwise violate their lease.  We follow required legal procedures and engage outside counsel to ensure that we follow the relevant laws and ordinances.

Will there be 24-hour security?
At this point, we are including 24-hour on-site staffing.  All staff are trained and prepared to address security issues.  The complete security plan has not yet been prepared.

Are all of your properties in Venice?
No.  Venice Community Housing also has properties in Mar Vista and Del Rey and Hollywood Community Housing Corp. has properties in Hollywood and other neighborhoods throughout the County.

Is Venice-Dell a new property?  How do I apply?
Yes, this will be a new property.   Application procedures will be announced later in the development process, and will include specific steps for low-income artists and other low-income households.  Units designated for people who are currently homeless will be filled through the coordinated entry system, so individuals and families should ensure they have completed the process to be in that system.  Individual questions about application procedures will be answered at venicedellpacific@vchcorp.org.

Venice Median Project Design Workshop, 15 April

Becky Dennison, director of Venice Community Housing, gives the latest upcoming event dates and answers questions regarding the Venice Median project.

Community Design Workshop
Saturday, April 15th
10 am – 12 pm
Venice-Dell-Pacific parking lots

Flyering and Door-Knocking
Friday, April
9 am – 11 am
Farmer’s Market/residences near parking lots

Community engagement dates will be updated on an ongoing basis and VCH continues to attend community meetings as invited. Invite them to come to any formal or informal group of neighbors or stakeholders. They are presenting to New Bethel Baptist Church and the Venice Chamber of Commerce next week. Email venicedellpacific@vchcorp.org to extend an invitation and/or give any other suggestions on expanding community engagement.

Questions and Answers

What are the sizes of the units? (The units are too big, and should be smaller)
The Tax Credit Allocation Committee (TCAC), the primary source of funding for affordable housing, sets minimum standards for the size of units, and we plan to create units at or near those minimums at Venice-Dell-Pacific. In the 2017 program regulations, the minimum unit sizes are:
Studios (including private bath and kitchen): 200 square feet; 1-bedroom: 450 square feet; and 2-bedroom: 700 square feet.

Is food/nutrition included in social services for permanent supportive housing or other tenants?
Yes, food and nutrition resources can be and often are included in a social services collaborative. Examples are food pantries, community gardens and kitchens, nutrition workshops, weekly transportation to grocery stores, and others. Those will all be considered for Venice-Dell-Pacific, and we are also looking into how the social enterprise/retail on site could meet food and nutrition needs at all income levels.

All Q&A to data are available.
Please email venicedellpacific@vchcorp.org to submit any new questions, as well as other feedback.

Answers Were Given at last VCH “Community Input” Meet

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Venice Community Housing (VCH) had another meeting of the community for “community input” for the Venice Median project. Next meet will be held 15 April on the site. The meet was held at the VCH office on Rose Tuesday evening and about 15 attended.

Questions Asked
People mentioned that the project, which consists of two buildings in the North and South Venice Blvd median, should be scaled down both in height and density, that the percentage of PSH (permanent supportive housing) units to affordable should be minimalized, that the Venice Canals maintenance area next to Grand Canal, was not shown, and that the final design should be more friendly, more reflective of the surrounding neighborhood. The question was asked if this project would follow and be committed to the Venice Specific Plan and Becky Dennison, director for VCH, said it would.

Dennison answered the oft asked question regarding selling the property and building somewhere else to provide more housing for those in need. She said that the VCH had a two-year commitment to come up with a plan. After that, she said it could be sold but that, she said, is up to the City.

Parking for Affordable and PSH Different
The question was asked regarding parking. Dennison said parking requirements for affordable and PSH units were less than the normal parking requirements of the Venice Specific Plan. She said that PSH units would be 1/2 parking space per unit and affordable, would be one. Based on this criteria, 68 PSH units and 68 low-income affordable-type units would require 102 parking spaces. The project is required to replace the 188 existing beach parking spaces. This totals 290. This figure does not include parking for any commercial spaces that might be added to the project. The figure of 450 had been stated before so the 290 figure gets closer to what can work.

Dennison made the statement that provisions would be made for the houses on the North Venice Blvd to enter Dell and South Venice Blvd.

Tenent Selection for 136 units Differs
Of the 136 homeless units, 68 will be permanent supportive housing (PSH); 34 will be Affordable units for low-income artists; and 34 will be for affordable low-income wage households. People wanted to know about the selection process.

The Coordinated Entry System (CES) will be used for the selection of tenants for the 68 PSH units. The CES is a question and answer summary of the person’s history and needs. Those most needy, based on CES, will be selected first. CES prospects are selected from County’s Service Planning area 5 or SPA5, which services the cities of Beverly Hills, Culver City, Malibu, Santa Monica, and the communities in Los Angeles Council District 11 of Brentwood, Pacific Palisades, Playa del Rey, Mar Vista, West LA, Venice, etc. The Affordable unit selection will be by advertising for the available units.

Will this remove former Venice residents from street; Will this eliminate homeless from Venice streets
Residents have made it clear that they want these projects to be offered to Venetians who are homeless. This is very contentious subject with residents of Venice. There are Venetians who may be homeless somewhere. The people on the streets in Venice are not from Venice; they are transients from all over the United States. Others assume these costly projects will end homelessness in Venice as Councilman Mike Bonin stated. The CES application taken in Venice will show they are from Venice even though they may have lived in North Dakota the day before. So whether they are transients on the streets of Venice or former Venice residents, selection will still be based on CES need.

Provide Input, Not a Speech
At these meetings everyone is afforded the opportunity to be heard. It is a basic misconception by some at these meetings that those who live near, or even not near, the project and make comments are against helping the homeless.

“To ask questions, make suggestions, and ask for clarifications strengthens the project,” said Darryl DuFay.

“There is an erroneous judgment call that prevails during these discussions and this should be stopped or filtered,” said Reta Moser. “Those making long statements why they like the project or give “How I helped the homeless” testimonies, not only take time from those who sincerely want to provide input or ask questions, but they try to lay a guilt trip on those asking questions. The program says “provide input.”

Dennison Lists Coming Events and Answers More Questions

By Becky Dennison, Director of Venice Community Housing

Tour of VCH properties
Thursday, March 23rd
1 pm to 3 pm
Meet at 720 Rose Avenue, Venice
PLEASE RSVP to Iisha at ijones@vchcorp.org

Community Input and Q&A Session on Preliminary Program (available at www.vchcorp.org)
Tuesday, March 28th
7 pm – 8:30 pm
720 Rose Avenue, Venice

Community Design Workshop
Saturday, April 15th
10 am – 12 pm
Venice-Dell-Pacific parking lots

Community engagement dates will be updated on an ongoing basis and we are also continuing 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 timeline of the next steps for developing this site?
Please reference the final pages of the powerpoint to review unanswered questions and next steps, available at http://www.vchcorp.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Venice-Dell-Pacific-Presentation-3-9-17.pdf. We will continue to gather feedback on the preliminary program through early April, and determine a final set of elements that we’d like to include. Design will start in April, and will include feedback from the interactive, on-site design workshop on April 15th. It is our goal to present an overview of our proposal, including design and financing strategies, to the community in June. We will then begin the formal approval process, including a development agreement with the City, seeking entitlements, and public hearings and approvals. We don’t yet have an estimated timeline for the public approval process.

I recently read an article that had diagrams and a great deal of info, but they did not mention the number of stories these structures would be. Can you please provide me this information?
We are starting the design process in April, and should have preliminary information in May about height, size and other design elements. Design workshop(s) and other design-related community engagement opportunities will be announced in the weekly emails.

What has changed from your original concept submitted to the City?
To date, several changes or additions have been made, including: a slight reduction in the total number of units; permanent supportive housing serving families in addition to individuals; a change in unit mix from all 1 bedrooms to a mix of studios and 1 and 2 bedroom units; the inclusion of low-income artist housing and community arts space; ground floor usage east of the canal to incorporate live-work space for artists and contribute to the emerging Venice Arts District; the inclusion of social enterprise/job training as a part of the community-serving retail; isolating public parking primarily on the west side of the canal instead of mixing parking uses on both sides; site layout and design elements that respond to heavy traffic (more detail to be developed); a focus on innovative tools to prioritize people currently homeless in Venice while adhering to fair housing regulation; and incorporating and prioritizing shared space and shared uses between tenants and the larger community(ies).

All Q&A to date are available here: http://www.vchcorp.org/venice-dell-pacific-faqs/. Email venicedellpacific@vchcorp.org to submit any new questions.

Preliminary Design for Venice Median Revealed

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Becky Dennison, director of Venice Community Housing (VCH), presented a “preliminary vision for the Venice Median Parking lot—that area between North and South Venice Blvd and between Pacific and Dell—Thursday at Beyond Baroque.

Dennison gave the presentation to a standing-room-only audience (approximately 100) at the small theater. The slide presentation, which is duplicated here, was designed to show the audience what has happened so far, the design that architect Eric Owen Moss Architects has proposed, and what is forthcoming with the project.

The design is a conceptual view of what VCH proposes based on what the community wants, as well as to provide affordable housing, and as well as the requirement to incorporate the existing 188 parking spaces on the property. The existing, required parking space numbers have changed from 177 to 188.

Moss has split the property into two sections– buildings and spaces– and refers to them as east and west of the canals. The ground floors for both east and west buildings will consist of parking. In addition the ground floor for the west will have commercial space and the east will have arts. The canal areas on one or both sides will have community art, as well as provide for public open space. After that the core of both buildings will be parking and the exterior will be affordable/psh housing, followed by a rooftop green space.

Dennison said she would announce next week the upcoming community engagement opportunities, send answers to new questions received, and include an estimated timeline for finalizing the proposal and design for the site.

Dennison asks that any comments or questions be sent to venicedellpacific@vchcorp.org and she says “please feel free to invite us to existing community meetings to make the presentation in person and/or gather comments and feedback.”

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