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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

VNC to Meet Monday, not Tuesday

The Venice Neighborhood Council, which always meets the third Tuesday of the month, will meet Monday this month because of Yom Kippur. The meet will be held at 7 pm at the Westminster Elementary School, 1010 Abbot Kinney Blvd.

The Board Agenda September 2018 (1) for the evening.

DuFay Says Rose Apartment Project Not Compatible with Community

rose

Top: South side. Far left. The gas station at Lincoln. 720 Rose is in the middle.
Bottom: North side. For comparison, Whole Foods is the wide building

Note: Darryl DuFay was the first chair of the Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) Land Use and Planning Committee (LUPC). This is a letter he wrote to the VNC board regarding 720 Rose Ave Project.

By Darryl DuFay

Venice faces another crisis brought about by a lack of openness and information. That crisis is the proposed project at 720 Rose Ave, which the VNC will consider on Monday, Sept. 17th., Agenda Item 10A.

There is a crisis of civility drowned in chaos. The chaos is so frequent and repetitive that it is disastrous to all business. Meetings that should be a place for asking and answering question did not happen. The community is again being placed in the dark. Documents lacked sensitivity to the effects of the project on the surrounding community. Proposals are made that fracture the Venice Specific Plan (VSP).

As to the project itself. 720 Rose Ave will cost $18,220,401. (Source for Development Costs: “HHH” Citizen’s Oversight Committee Report for February 2018. Table 1: HHH Project List – General Information, p.4, Table 2: HHH Project List – Development Costs, p. 5. Committee Chair: Miguel Santana.) It will have 35 units at $520,583 per unit.

Of special interest is the “Project Description” available from the VNC’s LUPC committee. Other than mentioning that the project is located in the “Venice Coastal Specific Plan” area there is no other reference to the VSP, which is the guide for construction in Venice. The entire section in the VSP on Oakwood where the project is located is missing.

The allowable height in Oakwood for this flat roof structure is twenty-five feet. It is proposed at forty-five feet. If “mechanicals” such as air conditioning on the roof are added it would be fifty-feet high, which would be a 100% increase. The height is not even mentioned in the “Project Description.” What you have instead is a vague, hidden, statement: Height Increase of 20’ 0” in lieu of that otherwise allowed by code.

The VSP clearly states that it is to be used to “regulate all development, including use, height, density, setback, buffer zone and other factors in order that it be compatible in character with the existing community and to provide for the consideration of aesthetics and scenic preservation and enhancement, and to protect environmentally sensitive areas.

If the VSP differs from provisions of the Los Angeles Municipal Code (LAMC) regarding density, lot area, floor area ratio, height of buildings, parking, design standards, and other issues, the VSP shall supersede those other regulations.

720 Rose, as presented, is not compatible in character with the existing community.

Rose Ave Apartments Passes LUPC 7 to 2

LUPC

The controversial Rose Ave project passed the Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) Land Use and Planning Community (LUPC) 7 to 2 Tuesday night. Next step is the Venice Neighborhood Council meet, Monday, 17 September.

The Oakwood Recreation Center was standing room only as an emotionally charged crowd waited for their turn of 45 seconds to speak. Matt Royce, chair of LUPC, made the statement that it was the largest crowd he had ever had.

Becky Dennison, director of Venice Community Housing (VCH), did a presentation with John Lonnel, consultant, assisting with questions.

Height and parking seemed to be the main objections to the project. Height for the project is 43 feet and the Venice Specific Plan calls for 25 to 30, depending on the roof structure. Parking is not in compliance with the Venice Specific Plan either. Parking provides for 15 places on site and seven on whole Foods parking lot based on an agreement with Whole Foods which is located across the street. There will be 2750 square feet of commercial and 35 apartments. Also there was some controversy over having/not having a loading zone. The four story building consists of three stories of residential and a ground floor of commercial.

Most of the comments consisted of “we need housing” and testimonies of how “housing changed my life.”

Both Jim Murez and John Reed members of the VNC board and former members of LUPC talked about the parking and height of the building as precedent setting features. John Reed, an architect, said that first of all the parking covenant states that it has to be signed by the owner of the property and Whole Foods is not the owner, nor was Safeway the owner. That would leave 15 spaces for 2750 square feet of commercial and 35 residential units. The video talks of side yard and front setbacks, no windows in front and more as well as the height and lack of parking.

Bridge Housing Measure Tabled at August VNC Meet

meet

By Angela McGregor

Tuesday night’s meeting of the Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) Board drew a large and vocal crowd, most of whom were there to debate the merits of a Bridge Housing development in Venice.

The motion on the agenda, titled “VNC Support for Concept of Bridge Housing in Venice with a Community Benefits Agreement”, contained a “President’s Note” that the motion was “not about the MTA Bus Yard”, despite recent mailers and phone calls from Councilman Bonin’s office specifically referring to the use of the Bus Yard for Bridge Housing.

The meeting opened with the usual motion to approve the meeting’s agenda, at which point Board member John Reed immediately proposed to amend the agenda to table the Bridge Housing Item to a future meeting. He explained that this was motivated by an email from Councilman Mike Bonin’s office that the Board had just received announcing that the Mayor’s office was initiating a feasibility study to determine whether or not the MTA Bus Yard was suitable for such a project.

In light of the promise of forthcoming clarification of some of the most contentious issues with the project, including whether or not the bus yard is environmentally suited for it — Reed contended that a vote on Bridge Housing would be premature.

VNC Homeless Committee Members Hollie Stenson and Sunny Bak — who both voted in favor of the motion at the July VNC Homeless Committee meeting — each stated that they felt more vetting of the project was necessary prior to a vote in order to gain the public’s trust. VNC Homeless Committee Chairman Will Hawkins argued vigorously in favor of leaving the item on the agenda, since it was merely a referendum on whether or not the concept of Bridge Housing would be appropriate for Venice and would ultimately result in the reduction of homeless encampments.

Any future discussion of the merits of a specific site for the project would be taken up by the Land Use & Planning Committee (LUPC), at which point the results of the City’s feasibility study could be taken into account. The motion to table the Bridge Housing motion to a future meeting of the VNC Board narrowly passed, 8-7, with Board President Ira Koslow abstaining.

Koslow encouraged the many Venetians who’d shown up to make their opinions known on the now-tabled motion to stay and state their opinions in general comments. Many did, and comments were relatively equally divided between those in favor and those opposed.

Many in favor indicated that “something has to be done” to address the crisis, while many of those opposed expressed concerns that the project would be located too close to residences.

Tanaz Golshan, a representative from Mayor Garcetti’s office, spoke for several minutes regarding Bridge Housing, describing it as “not the typical shelter” and “a whole new concept” — “interim” housing rather than shelter beds, with residents — all of whom would be from local encampments — required to accept services in order to stay. The facility would also feature 24/7 security and result in increased clean up and enforcement of laws in Venice’s homeless encampments.

The other contentious item on the Board’s agenda — the construction of a 77 unit, mixed use building at 2454 Lincoln Blvd. (the current site of the Lincoln Millennium Car Wash) — was also shelved. The motion on the agenda recommended denial of the project due to, among other things, a flawed traffic study, disregard for community concerns regarding traffic and alley access, and the lack of a shade study. According to LUPC Chair Matt Royce, the applicant had decided not to attend the Board meeting.

In other VNC Board-related news, Matt Shaw has been removed from the Board due to too many absences, and so his Community Officer seat is now vacant and Venice Stakeholders are encouraged to apply.

VNC to Meet Tuesday

Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) will meet Tuesday (21 August), 7 pm at the Westminster Elementary School, 1010 Abbot Kinney Blvd.

Meeting’s Augsut 2018 Board Agenda.

MTA Site, Online Voting, Cityhood, Upgrade of Venice Specific Plan Were All Discussed at VNC Meet

Attendanc

A large group of people attended to hear the MTA presentation at the VNC meet Tuesday.

By  Angela McGregor

An MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority) spokesperson announced MTA will be starting community outreach in the fall for the structure on their site (not bridge housing), a spokesman for City Planning said they were going to upgrade the Venice Specific plan, it was decided for the VNC election to have both online and in-person voting, and the cityhood motion was tabled.  All of these actions happened  at the July Venice Neighborhood Council meet Tuesday night.

Wells Lawson

Wells Lawson

VNC Meeting featured a presentation by Wells Lawson of MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority) officials regarding the long-term (post Bridge Housing) plans for the MTA lot on Main Street.  He said the environmental cleanup was finished, and demolition would begin shortly.  MTA’s outreach to the community to determine what type of development Venetians will take roughly 6-9 months, beginning in the fall with Town Halls and VNC Board meetings. 

Late next year, the MTA will present their findings to the Metro Board and, once approved, issue a request for proposals to interested developers.  They anticipate construction will begin on the lot no sooner than 2021.  

Jonathan Hershey

Jonathan Hershey

The Los Angeles Department of City Planning, according to Jonathon Hersey, is embarking on a 3-year process to update neighborhood community plans, including Venice’s, which was last updated in 2000 (seen here:  https://planning.lacity.org/complan/pdf/vencptxt.pdf).  On Tuesday, October 2 they will hold a kickoff event at Westminster Elementary to begin to gather community input, to be followed up with surveys, walking tours with stakeholders and questionnaires.  The website, which is still a work in progress, will be found at www.planning.thewestside.org.  

Taylor Bazley, spokesperson for Mike Bonin’s office, stated that electronic scooters are by far the biggest issue currently concerning Venice residents, judging by the amount of emails the Councilman’s office receives.  He announced that legislation to regulate Birds and Lime Bikes is currently in process and on its way to the city’s Public Safety Committee.  It will include a citywide 2500 device cap per company, and forbid riding the bikes on the sidewalk.  This should be finalized within 1-2 months.

The Board engaged in a contentious discussion of implementing online voting in the next VNC election, which will happen in June of 2019.  Former California Secretary of State Deborah Bowen, a longtime Venice resident, spoke against online voting primarily on the basis of difficulties with accessibility, especially among older residents, since Venice is a “documentation” neighborhood council requiring proof of residency in order to vote, which would presumably mean that voters would have to scan such proof and upload it.  Conversely, VNC Parliamentarian Ivan Spiegel pointed out that with such a system there is nothing to prevent homeless residents, who are exempted from the documentation requirement, from voting multiple times.  Nevertheless, the Board voted to go with both online and in-person voting for the 2019 elections, at an additional expense of $5,000.

Finally, the Board considered a motion regarding cityhood for Venice, in which the Board would call upon the City to amend and revise their current regulation governing local government reorganization.  Currently, in order for neighborhoods such as Venice to separate from Los Angeles, the entire City of Los Angeles would vote on the issue.  The requested amendment would rest that decision solely upon Venice Stakeholders.  

Before the Board could vote, Venice Stakeholders Association President Mark Ryavec rose to explain that he had created a revised motion with Los Angeles’s Local Agency Formation Commission (see:  http://www.lalafco.org/) that would be more Venice-specific, since, as written, the measure on the Board’s agenda might open the door to any neighborhood that had previously been a separate city to easily secede (including San Pedro, the City’s major port), and as such would inevitably be a non-starter when sent to the City Council for consideration.  The Board ultimately decided to table the motion until next month, in order to give the Cityhood Committee time to do more research and present a revision. 

Jocelyn Williams

Jocelyn Williams


New board member Jocelyn Williams was sworn in.

The meeting adjourned around 11pm.  The next meeting of the VNC Neighborhood Council will take place Tuesday, August 21st.

Eric Geier of MTA to Speak at VNC Meet Tuesday, 7 pm; VNC to Discuss Cityhood, 2019 Elections

The Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) will meet Tuesday, 7pm at Westminster School, 1010 Abbot Kinney Blvd and will have Eric Geier, Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) Community Relations Director, to speak about the MTA site.  The VNC will also  discuss Cityhood for Venice and the 2019 elections for the VNC.

_July 2018 Board Agenda (1)  

 

Jocelyn Williams Elected Community Officer; Westminster “People Plaza” Approved

By Angela McGregor

Jocelyn Williams, a 4th generation Venetian and 33-year resident, was elected by the Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) Board to serve as a Community Officer Tuesday night.

In her application, Ms. Williams stated that she feels the three most pressing issues facing Venice are “over development, inflating rent prices which limit legacy residents’ ability to remain in Venice, and homelessness.” Ms. Williams holds a Bachelor’s degree from Loyola Marymount in Communications Studies and a Master’s in Educational Studies and Leadership.

In his opening remarks, Board President Ira Koslow stated that the VNC’s next elections are now tentatively scheduled for early June, 2019. Board Secretary Melissa Diner made a plea for volunteers to serve on the Election Committee, which will be forming in the next month.

Melissa Diner also presented the final presentation of an inter-agency line drawing of Westminster Plaza, which would allow restaurants on Westminster between Speedway and Ocean Front Walk to feature outdoor seating across the sidewalk from commercial buildings by closing off a portion of Westminster to all but emergency vehicles and foot traffic (a concept known as a “People’s Plaza”). The proposal was approved unanimously by the Board.

The meeting adjourned around 9 pm. The next meeting of the VNC Board will be held Tuesday, July 17th.

VNC to Meet Tuesday Discuss People Street and Elect New Member

Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) will meet Tuesday, 7 pm, Westminster Elementary School, 1010 Abbot Kinney Blvd to discuss changing part of Westminster Ave into a “People Street” and elect a new neighborhood council representative.

June 2018 Agenda

VNC Selects New Logo

vnc

By Angela McGregor

Over 20 local artists submitted their designs for the Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) new logo, and after the public was given a chance to weigh in, VNC Outreach Chair Hollie Stenson announced the three finalists: Melissa Chin, Michael Theodoran and Dave Williams. At the end of the evening’s meeting, the Board voted, and — with nine votes — the winner was the orange and white, sunset-motif design of Dave Williams.

Three motions by the VNC’s Homeless Committee were on the General Consent Calendar, and were passed by acclimation with no objections. They were 1) A call to the City for a Jones Settlement report, requesting updated numbers on meeting the housing threshold required by the now 13 year-old Jones Settlement; 2) Support for the City motion to Create a Fulltime Office of Reunification (based upon the Homeless Committee’s own reunification program and 3) A letter of support for the West LA Veteran Affairs Master Plan to provide housing on their Brentwood campus for thousands of unhoused vets. Also passed on the General Consent Calendar was a motion from the Neighborhood Committee for the City to ban the use of Polystyrene #6 (a known carcinogen).

The meeting also featured an appearance by Daniel Tam, a representative from the office of Mayor Garcetti. He stated that Los Angeles is undergoing “the greatest humanitarian crisis in its history”, and has therefore “streamlined the building process so that permanent supportive housing projects that would normally take up to five years to build will now be built much more quickly”. Meanwhile, however, “thousands of persons are forced to live on the streets” and so the Mayor has proposed his “A Bridge Home” program, which would allow for bridge housing near existing encampments, where services will be offered. This new Bridge program would now allow emergency housing to be built on City land, even where no housing currently exists.

The final item on the meeting’s agenda was a motion in opposition to renewal of the City’s bus shelter contract with Decaux, which originated at the Westside Regional Alliance of Councils. The City’s now 20- year=old contract with Decaux, which never received a Coastal Development Permit, has resulted in inappropriate advertising on bus shelters and damaged sidewalks. Rather than automatically renewing the contract, WRAC and the VNC are calling for the City to allow a “process of community input” ultimately resulting in an open request for proposal (RFP). This measure passed unanimously.

The next meeting of the VNC Board will be held on Tuesday, June 19th.

runnerups (Courtesy of Yolanda Gonzalez.)
Some of the logo runners up are shown above.