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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

Conservative Ring Writes about the Demise of Venice Beach Because of Progressive Movement

Conservative Ed Ring writes another article about the progressive movement and the demise of Venice Beach. Read article.

He mentions the 40-unit on Lincoln Blvd, the 154-bed housing at Sunset, and the 140-unit Venice Median project.

Small Lot Subdivision, Wabi Sabi, Venice Median Rezoning Were on Agenda for last VNC Meet of 2019

By Angela McGregor

Despite the presence of two contentious motions brought forward by stakeholder petitions (and drawing a large crowd of would-be commenters), the Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) chose to front-load their December 2019 meeting with a long list of Land Use and Planning Committee (LUPC) items requiring length presentations and discussions.

701 Vernon Ave
One of these — the project at what is currently 701 Vernon Avenue — would have converted a single, 6300 square foot lot into two parcels, each featuring a large, single-family home. While LUPC recommended the project as presented, discussion on the Board focused on the misuse of the small lot subdivision ordinance, which was initially implemented in order to increase density (and therefore affordability) in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods like Venice, but instead has been used by developers to increase the amount of money per square foot they can glean from local real estate.

This, along with the project’s implementation of a roof-deck in order to bypass the Venice Specific plan’s height restrictions, resulted not only in the motion to approve the project failing, but a subsequent motion to deny the project passing (in both cases with votes of 10-8-2). A denial by the VNC of a particular project still allows the applicant to re-submit their project to LUPC at a later date once it has been substantially changed.

Rebuild of Wabi Sabi
The re-building of the former Wabi Sabi location was also on the evening’s agenda. The sushi restaurant at 1635 Abbot Kinney was devastated by a fire about a year ago and subsequently ordered to rebuild, even though the neighborhood favorite has since moved to another location. The owners wish to start construction on a new restaurant space in April (a new tenant — as yet undisclosed — has been found), which would be open until 1 am and serve breakfast and brunch on the weekends. The proposal easily passed the Board — 18-0-2.

Zone Change for Venice Median was Voted Down
It was well past 9:30 pm when the Board finally heard the motion the majority of the crowd had come for — the denial of a zone change from open space to commercial for the Venice Median (the proposed site of a low income housing/retail project), primarily due the imminent impacts of climate change and a rise in sea level.

Eva Greene (175 stakeholders signed the petition which placed the motion on the agenda) delivered a detailed, 10-minute power point presentation which gave the history of flooding woes in Venice (in particular the El Nino of 1982-83 which resulted in severe flooding of Venice Boulevard) and its vulnerability to the increasing impacts of climate change. Complicating matters is the fact that, with the shift in funding of the project from Prop HHH funds, which are now entirely earmarked to Prop 2 funds, the project must now be used to house the severely mentally ill, a replacement parking lot, and various retail establishments.

All but two of the intrepid public speakers who had stayed for the motion were in favor of it. Several pointed out that alternative solutions, which would house more homeless at a more cost-effective, less climate-vulnerable location, have been proposed, such as shared housing solutions currently being implemented by Venetians Heidi Roberts and John Betz, or the proposal for a project near LAX by VNC Board member Jim Murez. Others pointed out that the current estimate of $90 million to complete the project was simply an egregious waste of tax payer dollars for a facility that might be underwater or sold to a private developer after a mere 30 years.

Board comment focused on the zoning issue rather than the particulars of the proposed project. Board President Ira Koslow pointed out that the VNC has already voted on the issue of this project three times.   In response to this, Mark Ryavec pointed out that, according to the City Charter, any change in zoning is required to first be brought before the Neighborhood Council prior to any specific plans for a given site being made, and in this case, the city had failed to do that.

Therefore, a vote specifically addressing the change in zoning was both essential and important. LUPC Chair Alix Glucovsky pointed out that “conversations about the impact of sea level rise” are going on all over the country in flood prone areas, from Florida to Texas, and that several of these communities had banned dense residential development in flood zones for this reason.

In opposition, Board member Matt Fisher stated that the project was already a “done deal” and he would “see you at the ribbon cutting.” Homeless Committee Chair Charles Rials stated that “if you’re going to come with a motion that blocks housing in Venice, then you need to come with a solution” and called the motion “redundant.” The motion passed, 13-6-1. A subsequent motion, to file the item as a Community Impact Statement, was tabled until the next meeting.

No Confidence Motion for Councilman was Delayed to February Meet
The final item on the evening’s agenda was a motion to issue a vote of “no confidence” in CD11 Councilmember Mike Bonin. A motion to delay a vote on this item was immediately entered, and the majority of board members in favor of a delay noted that the motion (put forward by Venice Stakeholder Nick Antonicello) is vague, overly general, does not cite the recent Venice Stakeholders Survey (which indicated broad-based dissatisfaction with Bonin) or recommend specific ways in which the Councilman could address their dissatisfaction. The motion to delay the motion passed, 11-7-1, and it will be taken up at the next VNC Board meeting, which will be held 18 February 2020 at 7 pm.

There will be no VNC Board meeting in January in order that the Board may instead attend a Board Retreat.

Ring Questions Homeless Building Projects in Venice; A Video Telling Story of Why This Housing Costs So Much

Edward Ring’s story of the homeless housing proposed for Venice so echoes the thoughts and feelings of Venice residents. His story got national recognition 10 October when it was discussed by Tucker Carlson on Fox News. Ring writes for the California Policy Center.

There are 40K residents and 1K homeless in Venice and Venice gets torn apart using prime pieces of property to house those homeless Venetians know as 90 percent transient and 75 percent addicted. Ring touched on the fact that if the politicians really cared about the homeless they would sell the lands and provide for so many more homeless in other areas. Now the plan to is build better homeless housing than the surrounding residents have who live in area.

One of the things Ring did not touch on was how much of the CD11 homeless housing was being dumped in Venice, not to mention how much already exists in Venice. A per square mile figure would be great. Brentwood and Pacific Palisades have none. Another thing he did not mention was the Thatcher Yard 98-unit project, the 32-units on Rose for PSH, and the proposed 40 units on Lincoln for youth. He only mentioned the Venice Median and the Bridge Housing.

Ring’s article.

Following is a video showing why the housing costs so much. Start at 33 min. Even LA City Controller Ron Galperin questions the costs of the units.

Poverty, Politics and Profit

LUPC Tables Rezoning for Venice Median and Operational Criteria for Bridge Housing

Land Use and Planning Committee (LUPC) tabled two motions Thursday night to a packed room at the Oakwood Recreation Center. The one motion, regarding the rezoning of the venice Median from open space to neighborhood commercial, was tabled until 31 January 2020 at which time the project would be available to come before the neighborhood council to discuss both the project and the rezoning. The other motion regarding what neighbors have asked regarding operation criteria for the Bridge Housing project was tabled until a later date.

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.

VCH to Hold Venice Median Design Workshop, 11 July

(28 July 2019) Venice Community Housing with hold a design workshop for the Venice Median project 11 July, 5:30 to 7:30 pm at the Venice Community Housing, 718 Rose Ave.

The Venice Median is the 140 unit affordable/psh project scheduled for the parking lot between North and South Venice Blvd, east of Pacific.

“The format and content of this design workshop will be exactly the same as the one held 18 June, so while anyone is welcome, there is no need to attend again,” read the announcement. Following the workshops, design elements will begin to be finalized, and updated images will be available.

Three VNC Committees to Hold Public Meet 8 Jan to Discuss Need for EIR for Venice Median Project; Special VNC Meet Will be Held 15th

Three Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) committees — Neighborhood, Parking and Transportation, Land Use and Planning — will meet publicly 8 January, 6:30 pm, Westminster Elementary School, 1010 Abbot Kinney Blvd to provide reasons for an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the proposed Venice Median project now known as the Reese-Davidson Community. The public is invited to attend.

The VNC will hold a special meeting the 15th to vote on this motion because the normal VNC meet will not be until the 22 which does not comply with the deadline of the 21st for the EIR request. Time and place for the 15th meet has not been established yet.

It is hoped that an impartial City representative will give stakeholders an overview of the process. Here is a EIR FAQ sheet.

This project will occupy the parking lot between North and South Venice Blvd, between Pacific and Dell Ave that is now zoned Open Space. The Venice Median project proposes 140 units half of which will be affordable and the other half permanent supportive housing.

The one item on the agenda states the NHC, LUPC, and PTC propose that the VNC issue a letter to Mayor Eric Garcetti, Councilman Mike Bonin, Vince Berlo, Kevin Keller, Johnny Le and the Los Angeles Planning Commission that urges full and formal attention paid to the following areas in preparation of an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the proposed development on the Venice Median (AKA Reese-Davidson Community) Areas of Concern will be listed.

Jim Murez, chair of the Parking and Transportation committee, touched briefly on traffic mitigation measures that should be included in the project at the December VNC meeting.

VCH Says Environment Assessment Submitted for RDC

Venice Community Housing and Hollywood Community Housing filed the Environment Assessment Form for the Reese Davidson Community (RDC) project this week.  This is the first step in the Environmental Impact Report process.   

The project has been renamed the Reese Davidson Community.  VCH called it the Venice-Del project.  The Venice Update called it the Venice Median project.

VCH says the Environmental Assessment should take approximately 16-months and the following are two events that are forthcoming

  1. The full application for City approvals is expected to be submitted within the next two to three weeks.   It will be shared on this email list and on the website.
  2. The first public hearing will be the Scoping Meeting for the Environmental Impact Report.  This is expected in December or January.   It will be announced on this email list, through a 500-foot radius mailing, and other outreach.   

Go to  reesedavidson@vchcorp.org  for the latest info.

VCH Names Venice Median Project Reese-Davidson Community

Screen Shot 2018-03-22 at 9.05.05 AM
Rendering of proposed Venice Median project to be built between North and South Venice Blvd and east of Pacific.

Venice Community Housing and Hollywood Community Housing have named the proposed Venice Median Project the Reese-Davidson Community.  They have named the Community Arts Center after artist Gregory Hines.

These are words and facts from the Venice Community Housing Monthly Newsletter.
Arthur Reese worked in multiple ways to found and build Venice in the early 1900.  He was considered the lead decorator of buildings and attractions, helping to establish Venice’s unique style. He was also the first African American homeowner in the neighborhood.

Rick Davidson was among the founders of Venice Community Housing, and was a tireless advocate, architect and artist working toward an equitable Venice, region, and world.

Venice Community Housing will honor longtime Venice resident and artist Gregory Hines by establishing the Gregory Hines Community Arts Center.

“We are thrilled to be honoring the amazing and varied contributions of these three community leaders,” read the newsletter.

Confessions of a Venice NIMBY

By Christopher Wrede

Note the author is a founding member of Venice Vision (fightbackvenice.org)

Venice Vision argues that oversized housing projects and an over concentration of services will exacerbate the impacts of homelessness.

There has been a lot of talk in the press and among politicians lately about how “NIMBYs” must not be permitted to interfere with the city’s mission to build housing for the homeless. Theft and murder are still frowned upon, but these days it seems like there is no greater crime in Los Angeles than NIMBYism.

Well, I confess. I am what proponents of pedal-to-the-metal development of homeless housing would call a NIMBY. As a 15-year Venice resident, I have studied Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin’s so-called “Plan to End Homelessness in Venice,” and I am against it for several reasons.

First, while I welcome housing for the homeless in my community, Bonin’s plan puts too many large projects here. The average size of affordable housing developments ranges from 35 to 60 units throughout Los Angeles, but Bonin’s plan calls for three separate projects in Venice that are many times that size. These include 98 units of Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) — a subset of affordable housing designed specifically for chronically homeless persons — on the two-acre Thatcher Yard, almost abutting Marina del Rey; 136 units of PSH and standard affordable housing on a 2.8-acre lot a block off the sand on Venice Boulevard; and an undetermined (but presumably comparable) number of PSH and affordable housing units on the 3.5-acre Metro lot along Main Street between Gold’s Gym and the beach.

Bonin has also started converting the former senior center at Westminster Park into a storage facility for the homeless and secured approval to keep existing restrooms on the Venice Boardwalk open 24/7 for the encampments there, while working to install what he refers to as a “system of portable public restrooms” on public rights of way in other parts of Venice.

Claims that measures such as these will end homelessness in Venice are not true. As a matter of federal law, none of the units being built in Venice can be reserved strictly for Venice’s homeless, and the continued expansion of services will make Venice even more of a magnet. According to the Los Angeles County Homeless Services Authority’s annual homeless counts, the homeless population in Venice spiked 34% between 2016 (the year Bonin began rolling out his plan) and 2017, while dropping in the rest of Bonin’s district (including a decline of about 50% in Pacific Palisades) during the same period.

Which brings me to the second reason I oppose Bonin’s plan: While asking far too much of Venice, it does not ask nearly enough of other communities in Bonin’s district. The City Council long ago reversed the “policy of containment” that gave rise to Skid Row on the grounds that it is not good for communities or the homeless, and Bonin himself recently threw his support behind a new resolution calling on all 15 council members to approve 222 units of PSH in their respective districts by 2020 in order to ensure “geographic equity” in the distribution of Prop. HHH projects.

As an established homeless hub, those same principles — reversing “containment” and ensuring “geographic equity” — should apply to us. Yet more than 80% of the land Bonin has selected for Prop. HHH development is in Venice. And all told, Venice (which accounts for just 5% of the land in Bonin’s district) currently has nearly 200 PSH units in the pipeline, which is close to the goal of 222 PSH units that the council’s “geographic equity” resolution sets for entire council districts. Meanwhile, Bonin does not have any PSH planned for Pacific Palisades or Brentwood, even though they are each more than five times larger than Venice.

Finally, I am concerned about what will happen to Venice, as ground zero for Prop. HHH development on the Westside, if the city’s experiment in large-scale homeless housing fails. To date, the city has committed roughly $230 million of its $1.2-billion Prop. HHH budget for about 1,200 PSH units (PSH units cost about $450,000 each, but funding is also provided from other sources), so it appears the city is on track to deliver just 6,000 — or 60% — of the 10,000 PSH units it originally promised voters. The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, similarly, has acknowledged that it is facing shortfalls in excess of $150 million per year despite the hundreds of millions of dollars it gets each year from last year’s Measure H sales tax increase.

Venice is world-famous for its big heart and open mind, and we want to continue doing our part to help address homelessness with both services and housing. But Bonin’s plan is not fair. Piling on small communities without electoral clout is easy, but the risks and burdens of dealing with a crisis of this magnitude must be distributed evenly across all communities — including wealthy, well-connected communities that have historically been insulated from such pressures. That is what leadership on this issue looks like, and so far Bonin is not providing it.