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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

Challis Macpherson Given Certificate of Appreciation

challis

Challis Macpherson was presented a certificate of appreciation from the State of California and signed by Councilman Mike Bonin. It was presented by members of the Venice Neighborhood Council 21 July via Skype to Macpherson who was at home.

Macpherson made a difference in the community. Just her PVJOBS program found 3000 at-risk youth employment and a chance. Her certificate read:

    On behalf of the City of Los Angeles, I am pleased to extend my appreciation to Challis Macpherson for her tireless efforts and dedication as an active advocate of the Venice community. Her involvement in the formation of the original Venice Town Council as well as the Venice Neighborhood Council have been a true pillar to Venice. While serving on the Neighborhood Council, she chaired the Land Use and Planning Committee and worked to develop Plan Check.

    In addition, she is a founder of PVJOBS which helps place at-risk youth and adults in career-track employment. Thank you for your devotion and helping make Venice a better place to work, live and play.

VNC 9th Annual BBQ, 8 August

The Venice Neighborhood Council’s 9th annual Community BBQ & Potluck Picnic will be held on Saturday, August 8th, from Noon – 4 pm at Oakwood Park, 767 California Ave. in Venice.

Chicken, hot dogs, burgers and pulled pork will be grilled and served up by Venice’s LAFD Station #63, led by Chief Jeremiah Johnson (retired) and master grillers Todd von Hoffmann and Michael Watkins.

City, state and federal elected officials will be on hand throughout the day while you’ll be entertained by an array of musical talent including The Potential Suitors and Ocean Front Walk!

Last, but definitely not least will be the headliner, The Gumbo Brothers.

The styling of DJ Lobo Man will also be itching and scratching the day away!

Group Gets Recreation and Parks Approval for Centennial Park Redo

The Centennial Park Landscape Rejuvenation Mavens, headed by Robin Murez, got approval from the Department of Recreation and Parks Real Estate Division Monday to replenish plants in the Centennial Park. Centinnel Park is that area in the median of Venice Blvd from Abbot Kinney to Venice Library.

Mavens are Alley Bean, Diana Pollard, Hayley Collins Feldman, and Reta Moser, headed by Robin Murez.

It is planned that the Mavens, via the VNC funding, will provide the plants and the Recreation and Parks employees will do the planting.

Later on, and not part of this funding, Murez plans to donate sculptural seating, an in-ground labyrinth, and other artwork to bring the park to life. “It was designed to be a ‘sculpture park,’ but neither sculptures nor seating were ever installed… and plants have been left to die,” she said.

The Centennial Park Landscape Rejuvenation Mavens submitted the project to the Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) and it was the top pick. It received over 175 signatures of support on an online petition. Originally, it was proposed for $5000 but later cut to $3700. One hundred percent of the funds will be used to purchase the plants. All other work and art work will be donated. The VNC will vote to allocate funds at their next meeting which will be 21 July.

The Mavens ask Venetians to submit emails to Board@VeniceNC.org asking board to restore the fund allocation to $5000.

Message from VNC President

Mike Newhouse

With the 4th of July approaching, I got to thinking about what makes America, and Venice, great and how we can make our community and Country even better. Most of us have heard of “One-Percent for the Planet” and similar pledges. In a nutshell, businesses, or individuals, pledge to donate 1% of their profits or income to organizations that work to protect and preserve our environment. A worthy pledge, no doubt, but I’d like to suggest a twist; “One-Percent for Venice”.

However, I’m not talking about donating 1% of profits or income to Venice based causes. While doing so, if possible, is certainly worthwhile and important, I am suggesting that all Venetians pledge to donate at least 1% of our time to Venice. Broken out, on average, that’s volunteering approximately 24 minutes a day, 2.8 hours a week, or 11-12 hours a month in our community. We can all do that.

In a time where budgets are not addressing community’s needs, and maybe never will, such a community wide pledge is our best bet for finding the people power we need to tackle some important issues in Venice. For example, Venice has some pressing infrastructure issues that need addressing, now. Our sidewalks are in disrepair, tree trimming is badly neglected, our alleys are almost un-driveable, there is too much trash on the streets, animal and human waste are not regularly cleaned, and graffiti is not removed in a timely basis.

With our wealth of experience in Venice, it is easy to envision some folks volunteering their time to raise money for these projects, others coordinating and administering the projects, and yet others providing the labor for the projects. In fact, many organizations, including the Venice Neighborhood Council and Venice Chamber of Commerce are already set up to help facilitate, and partially fund, such community improvement projects. Likewise, the LAPD and Councilman Bonin’s office would no doubt be more than happy to put us to work.

Of course, in addition to infrastructure, children need mentoring. Building on existing programs to mentor our youth in music, arts, sports, languages, and other important subjects would also be a fantastic use of volunteer efforts. And, having our children grow up being mentored by their own neighbors would instill an appreciation of volunteerism in them that would hopefully stay with them for life.

One-Percent for Venice could also be an excellent opportunity to assist organizations working with our homeless community. Not only could this be a great way to help those in need, but it could also be a great way to create volunteer opportunities for the homeless to help themselves, their friends, and their community. Working with organizations that provide such assistance, while building self-worth, would go a long ways towards helping to alleviate issues related to homelessness in Venice.

No doubt, many of us are already giving this much of our time and a lot more. But, imagine what we could do as a community if we all took this pledge. The possibilities
are limitless.

VNC Meet Happenings–16 June 2015

Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) Press Release–The Venice Neighborhood Council (www.VeniceNC.org) called for the release of the video regarding the death of Brendon Glenn, a member of the homeless community that lived at Venice Beach.

By a vote of 13-0-1, the VNC approved the resolution sponsored by member Mike Bravo (mike.bravo@venicenc.org) which called for the release of the video recording.

The board also entertained discussion of the proposed Venice Coastal Zone Interim Control & Interim Control Internal Control Ordinance (http://www.venicenc.org/venice-coastal-zone-interim-control-ordinance/). The proposal was rejected by a 9-4-1 vote of the VNC.

In other board business, presentations were made by Venice Bike Share (Jessie.holzer@lacity.org), Los Angeles Library Services (arodrig@lapl.org) and Spotball (spotballusa@gmail.com).

A resolution was also considered urging the Los Angeles City Council to endorse SB 277, which would remove the ability of parents to file a “personal belief exemptions” to receive vaccines for specific communicable diseases prior to admission to any private or public school, child care center, day nursery, nursery school, family day care home, or development center. After considerable public comment, the motion was defeated by a vote of 6-5-3.

An application for a change of use (3018-3025 Washington Blvd.) of an existing 762 square foot retail space with 4 existing parking spaces into a 1,454 square foot restaurant with a beer & wine conditional use (CUB) was also entertained by the board. The application was rejected by LUPC and the VNC voted 6-4-2 to deny the project as well.

In other legislative and community presentations, President Mike Newhouse introduced Jesus “Chuy” Orozco (jesus.d.orozco@lacity.org) as the new field director for the 11th Council District Office who will represent Venice. Mr. Orozco replaces Cecilia Castillo who served previously as the council office representative.

Senior Lead Officer Kristan Delatori of the Los Angeles Police Department (32914@lapd.lacity.org) also urged those in attendance to lock their homes and vehicles while reminding Venetians not to leave valuables such as phones, tablets, wallets and other items in vehicles.

SB1818–Does It or Doesn’t It Work?–87 Percent Increase in Units

The numbers are out regarding SB1818– Does it or doesn’t it work? Numbers show an 87 percent increase in number of units from 2008 to 2013.

SB1818 provides a density bonus up to 35 percent for builders depending on the number of low and very low income units built and designated at such.

Many have questioned the workability of SB1818. According to table below, SB1818 is clearly working.

SB1818data_000001

The audit is the result of the Venice Neighborhood Council and the Westside Regional Alliance of Councils asking for this audit and report. Councilman Mike Bonin reciprocated by making a motion requesting Housing Community Investment Department, Los Angeles (HCIDLA) report statistics relevant to request.

Last month HCIDLA issued the report.

Ryavec Asks Mayor Garcetti “What is Cost to House Venice Transients”

By Mark Ryavec
President of Venice Stakeholders Association and Venice Neighborhood Council’s Ad Hoc Committee on Homelessness

I was recently asked by a New York Times reporter what I would ask Mayor Garcetti to do to address Venice’s persistent problems with encampments of homeless people, which place a terrific burden on the quality of life of residents and business owners alike.

Since the Mayor has already raised enough money to ward off a serious challenger in his re-election race and we don’t want his dialing-for-dollars skills to get rusty, I told the reporter I would ask the Mayor to apply his considerable fund-raising talents to properly fund the several struggling social service agencies in Venice that have a proven record of placing people living on our streets in housing or transporting them to safe homes in their hometowns.

We even have an estimate of the costs to guide His Honor. In the course of brief settlement negotiations with the City and County regarding our public nuisance lawsuit, we consulted with several agencies about what they estimated would be needed to counsel, transport and/or house the roughly 741 individuals living on Venice’s sidewalks, alleys and parks. This is what we learned.

The County has for several years funded St. Joseph Center about $350,000 per year to counsel and house the 40 most vulnerable homeless in Venice and it appears this funding will continue. As one of 40 are placed in housing or leave the area (or die on the street), St. Joseph counselors move to the next person on the list.

Since 2009 St. Joseph has housed approximately 120 individuals through this effort and they report 95% have remained in housing. They also housed an additional 50 chronically homeless, severely mentally ill individuals from the streets of Venice since 2012 through their mobile health team in partnership with Venice Family Clinic, funded by the County Department of Mental Health.

One would think the numbers would start going down, but there’s been a year-to-year increase in our homeless count. That’s due to the failure of the City to enforce rules against camping along Venice Beach and the ill-conceived Jones settlement, so while St. Joseph and other agencies move people off the Boardwalk and our parks, the City’s welcome mat invites more here.

Asked the cost of moving, for example, another100 campers off Venice Beach into housing, Paul Rubenstein of St. Joseph quoted an annual budget of $556,000, or $5,560 per person.

People Helping the Homeless (PATH), headquartered in Hollywood, has been fielding a two person team to reach out to Venice’s campers since October but reports only placing 16 clients into transitional housing and permanently housing just five. They say they focus their efforts on transient “hotspots” identified by Councilman Bonin. PATH’s executive director Joel Roberts says it would cost $12,000 to $15,000 per person depending on each client’s mental health, level of drug addiction, years on the street, etc. Multiplied by 740, that’s a huge number, almost $10 million. It would fund staff counselors, transport, housing and other services.

Other agencies in Venice suggest that more can be accomplished at less cost. Since March of 2012 The Teen Project, which is located at homeless ground zero on Windward Avenue, has placed 28 young people in housing and has transported 109 to safe homes in their hometowns, a total of 137 kids off the street in three years. This has been accomplished on a shoestring of donations from the public. The agency says it needs about $225,000 annually to expand its efforts to place in housing or transport back home the 100 to 150 young adults (16 to 24 years of age) remaining in Venice (and those that keep coming to campout on the beach due to lax enforcement). This would fund more counselors, transportation, rehab, food and most importantly, temporary housing while their clients get counseling leading to jobs and/or return to school.

The Project’s costs per person are much lower since these young people are generally in much better health, do not have a long history of drug or alcohol dependence or mental illness, and are just generally more resilient. They also are more likely to want to return to their hometowns and families, so no or little housing is required in those instances.

Another low cost, effective service is the LAPD Homeless Task Force (HTF), comprised of police officers and two chaplains from the Venice Foursquare Church. Since just the first of this year, HTF have placed 72 people into safe harbor. Venice Stakeholders Association provided almost $5,000 for bus fares and meal vouchers for 19 who returned home to families of origin and for the first month housing costs for nine people and for one who entered rehab. The Venice Foursquare chaplains volunteer their time but there is a need for additional “boots on the ground.” Approximately $144,000 per year in funding would allow the HTF to add five counselors and cover housing, transportation, meal vouchers, hygiene kits and return home fares.

One of the fallacies that some homeless advocates perpetuate is that there are no shelter beds or affordable housing available for transients living in Venice. Their frequent refrain is “You can’t kick them off the Boardwalk or Third Street because there is nowhere for them to go.” This is not supported by the evidence. St. Joseph’s Rubenstein notes that about a quarter of those living along the beach and on Third Street would be eligible for housing vouchers from the City Housing Authority due to their health vulnerability. This would allow them to afford market rate rents, though probably not in Venice. He says that funding for master leasing of apartments and shared housing inland would allow his agency (and others) to move the rest – those not eligible for vouchers – off the street and into housing. So the problem is not a lack of housing, it is a lack of funding.

The Teen Project, like the Ocean Park Community Center in Santa Monica, also rents apartments (or whole apartment buildings; i.e., master leasing) inland in less expensive areas and offers them to their clients, which makes it possible to get them off the street immediately if they are willing. The only hurdles are lack of funds and the resistance of some young travelers to give up their druggy lifestyle on the Boardwalk.

So, that leads to our standing request to the Mayor that he direct the Department of Recreation and Parks and the LAPD to fully enforce the Beach Curfew, the laws against camping, camping equipment and encampments in the Venice Beach Recreation Area at any hour and the law that everything that’s brought into the park during the day be removed at dusk. The City must also return to enforcing the ban on lying, sitting or sleeping on public sidewalks, at least within 500 feet of residences. It is only when adequate services and housing for the homeless come together with stronger enforcement of existing laws will we be able retire “Skid Row West” as the moniker for Venice Beach and lower the current risk of harm to vacationers, residents and the homeless alike.

So, Mr. Garcetti, please start dialing.

VNC Supports Whaler

Whaler, Rudy Alegre
Venice Neighborhood Council supports Whaler restaurant, on Washington at Ocean Front Walk, for serving alcohol in the downstairs patio with a sound-absorbing awning. Maximum patronage will remain at 214. There were 10,000 signatures in favor of the project. It is unknown at this time when project will go to planning.

VNC Supports 811-815 Ocean Front Walk; Goes to Planning 11 June

811-815OFW_edited-2
This will be replaced by a 100-seat restaurant with two residential units above at 811-815 Ocean Front Walk.

SuttersDr. and Mrs. Sutter, owners of project and long-time residents of Venice, speak on behalf of the project.

“This will be the first new restaurant on Ocean Front Walk in 50 years,” said Architect John Reed.

After much heated discussion, the 811-815 mixed-use project was supported by the Venice Neighborhood Council at its Tuesday meet. It will be heard by Planning 11 June at 10:30 am, West LA Municipal Building, 1645 Corinth Ave., Los Angeles 90025.

For particulars see the story “Planning …”

2815 OFW Turned Down by VNC

Venice Neighborhood Council denied approval for 2815 Ocean Front Walk. Land Use and Planning had approved it. Zoning Administrator will hear case 10 am Wednesday (27) May at West LA Municipal Building, 1645 Corinth Ave., 90025.

Owner wants to conversion a storage room into a third dwelling unit (DU), within an existing duplex, on a lot that is approximately 2,520 square feet (2,856 square feet including one- half the alley); the resulting density would be approximately one DU for each 952 square feet of lot area.

Venice Specific Plan Exemptions would be:

    From Section 10.F to allow three (3) dwelling units in lieu of the maximum two (2) dwelling units on RD1.5-zoned lots.

    From Section 13.D. and E. to allow a total of six (6) parking spaces: two (2) for each dwelling unit, in lieu of providing a total of seven (7) required parking spaces: two for each dwelling unit and one (1) Beach Impact Zone (BIZ) space.

Comments or questions can be addressed to Kevin Jones at 213-978-1361 email: Kevin.Jones@lacity.org. Reference case Number APCW2014-3157-SPE-SPP-CDP-MEL and ENV2014-3158-MND.