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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

VNC to Hold Special Meet Tuesday to Hear EIR for Venice Median Project

Venice Neighborhood Council (VNV) will hold a special meeting tomorrow night  (15 January), 7 pm,  to discuss the motion dealing with the EIR for the Venice Median Project, which consists of the 140 units to be built between North and South Venice Blvd and between Pacific and Dell.

Three VNC Committees Meet to Broaden Scope of Venice Median Project EIR

By Angela McGregor

Last month, Venice Community Housing and Hollywood Community Housing requested an Environmental Impact Report on their proposed Reese-Davidson Community Center for the Venice Median Lot (the initial proposal found here: https://planning.lacity.org/eir/nops/ReeseDavidson/InitialStudy.pdf).

With public commentary due by January 21st on the scope of the report, three VNC committees — LUPC, Neighborhood and Parking & Transportation — met to gather input on the scope of the EIR.

The meeting was chaired by Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) Vice Chair George Francisco and VNC Budget advocate Jay Handel opened the meeting with an explanation of the EIR process. Public speakers were encouraged merely to request that the City examine potential issues specific to the proposed development, and not opine on the project’s suitability or economic cost. Melissa Diner, VNC Secretary, typed up the commentary as it was offered. Major concerns included:

1) Lost open space (over 30 mature trees will be cut down, and only 13% of the project is open).

2) Overwhelming mass and scale, with an over-concentration of low-income residents in one densely populated facility, too similar to failed housing projects like Cabrini Green, in Chicago. In the opinions of many residents, the building is simply “overwhelming” with far too many (140) units.

3) The traffic impacts on an area already prone to absolute gridlock in the summer months will be catastrophic. Any traffic studies should include trip counts for residents, visitors and employees. Furthermore, the damp, coastal atmosphere coupled with so much additional traffic makes air quality a major concern as well.

4) The developers have stated the project will take up to four years to build. Three major concerns stemmed from this: 1) Noise levels for adjacent residents during construction 2) The impact of de-watering the site (placing the foundation into the water table) on the adjacent canals and 3) the loss of the existing 188 parking spaces on the site for the duration of construction.

5) The project is in a flood zone, and recent flooding from the canals into Windward Circle imply that the loss of open space with this project might have impacts on flood relief and drainage. It is also in a tsunami zone, and might impair evacuation. Finally, recent projections of sea level rise due to climate change would indicate that the site may well be underwater within a few decades.

6) The surrounding infrastructure is already under stress and could prove inadequate to service a project of this size. There have been recent sewer leaks, for example.

7) Negative impacts on tourism were brought up, as the mass, scale and architecture of this project are contrary to the character of the surrounding neighborhood. The project’s impact on the historical significance and overall character of the nearby canals should be addressed.

At the end of the meeting, after Board comment had ended, these concerns and others were compiled into a motion which will be voted on at a special VNC Board meeting on January 15th.

In addition, a representative of VCH announced that another EIR scoping meeting will be held Monday, 14 January  at 5 pm at the Oakwood Community Center.

No Reconsideration of 720 Rose, New Board members Elected at December VNC Meet

New VNC board members– Michael Greco and Jamie Paige

By Angela McGregor

A larger than usual crowd was present at the Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) board’s last meeting of 2018, mainly to express their opinion of the motion to reconsider the Board’s decision last month to approve Venice Community Housing’s proposed project at the site of their current offices on Rose Avenue.

The motion to reconsider was put forth by Ilana Marosi, who stated in her comments on the motion that the discussion of the project last month felt more like a “referendum on affordable housing” and less like a discussion of the project’s neighborhood compatibility and land use issues, which, given that it was on the LUPC calendar, felt inappropriate and inadequate. She said she had also become aware, since the vote, of a number of adjacent neighbors who had not had the opportunity to engage the developers with their concerns. Despite her vote to support the project, she was left feeling “torn.” For parliamentary reasons, no public comment was allowed. Board comments focused on the issue of whether or not the project’s compliance with the Venice Specific Plan was adequately discussed at last month’s meeting. The motion, which required two thirds of votes in favor to pass, failed — 11-7 in favor.

The Board also voted to elect two new board members from a slate of 8 candidates. New board member Michael Greco is president and COO of the Venice Restaurant Group, the owners of the Venice and Santa Monica Whalers, Slice of Venice, and Venice Terrace. His fellow new board member, Jamie Paige, is a founding member of the nascent Rose Avenue Merchants Association with prior government experience in her home state of Wisconsin.

The Parking and Transportation Committee put forth several motions, including two which, if implemented, would have implications for the City’s plans to build affordable housing on both the Venice Median and the MTA Bus Yard. According to committee chair Jim Murez, some 30 years ago the Coastal Commission approved a land use plan for Venice which allowed for parking structures on those locations which, if constructed, would allow the Coastal Commission to implement permit parking in Venice (as they have done in Santa Monica). One motion proposed a 600-car structure on the median, along with an adjacent park, while the other proposed sufficient parking on the MTA lot to offset parking in North Venice.

Opposition from both the Board and public focused on the motion’s incompatibility with the City’s plan to build PSH and affordable housing on the median while merely preserving the existing 188 parking spaces, and a motion was proposed to table the motion until LUPC’s consideration of VCH’s Reese-Davidson project. That measure failed, and both motions ultimately passed.

The next meeting of the VNC Board was rescheduled to the fourth Tuesday, 22 January at 7pm.

VNC to Meet Tuesday, Elect Two Members, Discuss 720 Rose

Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) will meet Tuesday, 7 pm, at Westminster Elementary School, 1010 Abbot Kinney Blvd, to select two new board members and to discuss approval of 720 Rose Ave apartments again as well as other issues.

_December 2018 Board Agenda

VNC Cannabis Town Hall Answers Questions for Community

Members of the Panel for the VNC Cannabis Town Hall are, left to right:  Michael Jensen, panel facilitator; Sherri Franklin, co-founder of Think and Grow Lab; Alexander Freedman, Deputy City Attorney on Cannabis Law; Cat Packer, executive director and general manager of the Department of Cannabis Regulation; Bruce Margolin, director of La Normal and criminal defense attorney fr 52 years;  Ann Lawrence, owner of Rose Collective; and Aaron Riley, president CannaSafe.

Cannabis is the most regulated product in Los Angeles City according to the people on the panel at the Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) Town Hall Tuesday night.

“If they are not open 9 am to 6 pm, they are illegal,” one licensed dealer said. It was stated at the meeting that there were 169 express authorities that a licensee  is involved with and ten agencies monitoring.

The neighborhood councils will become one of the steps taken for licensing of a cannabis business but the VNC decision will not affect the outcome for license approval.

For all cannabis rules and regulations go to cannabis@lacity.org.

The following were frequently asked questions by the neighborhood council members.

VNC to Hear 720 Rose and Proposed Sites for Bridge Housing

Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) will hear 720 Rose and the proposed new sites for the Bridge Housing  at their next meeting 20 November, 7 pm, Westminster Elementary School, 1010 Abbot Kinney Blvd.

Board Agenda November 2018

VNC to Hear Rose Avenue Apartments, 20 November


Rose Ave apartments will be heard by the Venice Neighborhood Council 20 November and is scheduled for City Planning, 13 December.

They were approved by the VNC Land Use and Planning Committee (LUPC) earlier and the City Planning approved their Tract Map.

Tesuque Market/Restaurant Plan Dominates VNC Meet


By Angela McGregor

At roughly 8:30pm, the time at which, according to the Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) agenda, the matter of 600 Mildred Street’s application for change of use from a retail market to a retail market and restaurant was scheduled to be heard, the auditorium at Westminster Elementary was suddenly flooded with dozens of supporters of the project. They joined the equally large number of Silver Triangle residents who had come to voice their dissent.

Board President Ira Koslow noted that this is the third time 600 Mildred (the former site of Kim’s Market) had come before the Board, and in each of the previous times their request for LUPC/VNC approval was denied.

In this case, the owners, Tezuke LLC, desire to convert their existing 904 square food market in the midst of a residential neighborhood to a “casual cafe” featuring 26 indoor and 18 outdoor (for a total of 44) seats serving food and alcoholic beverages from 7am to 10:30pm, with two auto parking spaces (they requested that LUPC’s provision that they provide valet parking in the evening be voided) and 8 spaces for bike parking.

Opponents of the project, most of whom live nearby, cited concerns about noise, trash and traffic from patrons, delivery services and suppliers. Proponents insisted that the location is and will continue to be a gathering place for locals who mainly arrive there by foot, bike, scooter or ride
share, and that it has proven to be a true neighborhood gem with an “old school” Venice vibe, much like the sorely missed Abbot’s Habit.

Transportation Committee Chair Jim Murez voted against the project, stating that he would first like to see a traffic study and effort to mitigate the already apparent safety issues at the corner of Mildred & Ocean before giving his approval. The final vote was close — 9-8-0 to approve.

In other VNC Board news, VNC Homeless Committee Chair Will Hawkins has resigned from the Board, leaving a vacant seat. In light of the recent elections to fill other, recently vacated seats, the application for this position is available on the VNC’s website now, but will not be voted on until the December meeting.
Speaking of VNC elections, the next one to replace the entire Board will be held on Sunday, June 2nd. Applications for that election will be accepted between February 17 – March 19th, 2019.

The next meeting of the VNC Board will be held on Tuesday, 20 November.

Will Hawkins Resigns from VNC, Homeless Committee

William Hawkins has resigned from the Venice Neighborhood Council Board. It will be announced at the 16 October meeting. Will was chair of the Homeless Committee.

VNC adds new member, withdraws many motions

By Angela McGregor

Monday night’s VNC meeting — rescheduled from Tuesday due to the Jewish Holiday — featured the election of a new Community Interest Board member. Alex Neiman, a 28 year old design and media professional who grew up and lives in Venice, was elected to replace Matt Shaw, who stepped down from the board in August. According to his application, Mr. Neiman’s vision for Venice is “an inclusive community that practices measured and deliberate growth. I want us to grow in a way that is acknowledges our past, is respectful to our current residents and business owners, and sets us apart from our neighbors in the future. I believe there is a world where a community’s economy “booms” without sacrificing the fabric of what made it great to begin with.”

According to the representative from County Supervisor Keuhl’s office, the bike path, which is currently closed for re-striping and concrete repair, will likely re-open by October 20. The County is also currently exploring the addition of a sand wall, which would require a grant to cover its considerable cost. In addition, the County is allocating $2.5 million toward Bridge Housing at the Brentwood VA, which would service up to 100 vets at a time.

A motion to support Scooter Enforcement and Guidelines pertaining to the OFW and Bike Path was pulled due to the fact that the City has recently passed just such guidelines. Electric scooter apps now include “geo-fencing”, which designates the north end of the Braude Bike path as off-limits.

A number of other motions and items were also pulled, including a number of LUPC items (the CUP for alcohol service at 1205 Abbot Kinney, the demolition of 2308 Pisani Place and the new 2 unit subdivision at 1011 5th Avenue) which were all postponed to next month.

The final motion of the evening was a request to the City Council to designate Venice a “Disproportionately Impacted Area” in the Cannabis Social Equity program, whose goal is ” to give a boost to past victims of cannabis criminalization by offering assistance and benefits to any communities that were unfairly punished by the drug war” according to their site: https://www.californiacannabiscpa.com/blog/everything-you-need-to-know-about-los-angeles-cannabis-social-equity-program .This measure passed, 11-0, with 3 abstaining.

The 2019 VNC Board elections will likely be held the first week of June, and all stakeholders are encouraged to consider running.

The next VNC Board meeting will be Tuesday, October 16th.