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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

Rose Ave Apartments Passes LUPC 7 to 2


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.

What are Venice Coastal Subareas?

Marie Hammond answered the question regarding the subareas. Many people are new to Venice and have heard the term subareas of Venice but do not know what that means. Subareas are important in Venice. The Venice Coastal Zone Specific Plan, ordinance 175,963, establishes the building requirements for each subarea in Venice.


Murez Responds to Bonin’s Parking Motion

This week Councilman Mike Bonin made a motion at the City Council to look at the in-lieu and grandfathered parking situation that Venice has. Jim Murez was asked to comment on the motion for the Update. Murez is a long-time Venice resident, former member of Land Use and Planning Committee and provider of input to the original Venice Specific Plan. Venice Update has used Murez many times to explain or interpret certain meanings involving Venice’s governing documents. See “Bonin Acts to Protect Parking in Venice.”

By Jim Murez
I do not know a lot about it? The $18k fee was established in 1988 and has never been adjusted. It does not reflect the real cost to create such a space and ignores the simple fact without creating the space in the proximity of the development or offer a solution to how a space that is created across town is going to service the property that is requesting it, the entire community loses.

The wording in the Specific Plan does not match the wording in the Land Use Plan which causes conflict for people seeking permits and poses the City agents the State in the permit process.

What is the benefit of the In-Lieu fee in the first place? LAMC allows a project to park up to 750 feet away from their project. This code exists without the Specific Plan. So what does the In-Lieu option get us here in Venice that the rest of the City does not already have… The right to place a dollar value on the space and leaves the issue of proximity open for other definitions in the Specific Pan to address – namely a shuttle service and the idea of creating public parking lots with these funds.

If you do not take the Land Use Plan as a whole (it is more descriptive than the Specific Plan) you end up with a broken solution. This is what we have seen the City implement for years, they take the In-Lieu fees and don’t create the parking or the shuttle services. This causes an out of balance solution. One can’t work without the other for very long!

I noticed Mike is considering removing the Grandfather Parking Credits. I think this would be a mistake on the surface. It will create an unfair burden on property owners that have older (historic) properties. For the most part, it will push them into purchasing In-Lieu spaces or demolishing their buildings. And so many properties have already received these credits that it would be very unfair to now only apply such a reform to the new comers.

Grandfather rights are a much deeper issue in my opinion, for example what about a building that is higher than current code would allow… we have plenty of them in Venice. If you take away the grandfather rights for parking an apartment building that is taller than code allows would you be forced to remove your top stories or leave them empty because you don’t have parking for them? What about the single family house that wants to remodel but does not have three parking spaces, are they going to be forced to demo and build new because they can only provide two on site spaces. It is not just a commercial property issue and opens many doors that have to be considered. Just because the code is revised to new standards are we now going to force all the old permits into the new code or allow them to continue with their grandfathered rights (and parking is only one of many rights that are grandfathered).

With respect to his asking City Council to pass a motion to amend the Specific Plan, we have been told for years it can’t be done without opening the entire document up for public input. I wonder how that story has now changed?

Bonin Acts to Protect Venice Parking

Los Angeles — Neighbors, shoppers and tourists frustrated with the lack of parking near Venice Beach are one step closer to seeing tangible solutions that will provide additional parking spaces, thanks to a motion authored by City Councilmember Mike Bonin.

See also story by Jim Murez regarding the motion. Murez asks why in-lieu parking anyway, and cautions all regarding the grandfathering. Murez is long-time member of Venice and former member of the Land Use and Planning Committee. He also provided input for the Venice Specific Plan. One can see from these statements what a dilemna parking is for Venice.

For the past 15 years, developers in Venice have had the option to pay “in-lieu fees” instead of meeting parking requirements for their projects. While in-lieu fees can be used to fund the construction of public parking lots or other solutions that increase parking capacity, the fees set by the Venice Coastal Zone Specific Plan are outdated and woefully inadequate. Because in-lieu fees in Venice have not been increased since originally approved in 1999, the fees no longer reflect today’s costs or provide the City a real opportunity to build new parking capacity. A motion recently submitted by Bonin will solve this problem by increasing the in-lieu fee to today’s dollars and by ensuring that it continues to remain consistent with inflation.

“We need to get real about providing meaningful parking solutions in Venice so residents, customers, and tourists are able to park near their homes, businesses, and the boardwalk,” said Bonin. “Updating the in-lieu parking fee in Venice will help us put neighborhoods first by allowing the City to finance the construction of parking spaces and increase parking capacity for the neighborhood.”

In addition to asking for in-lieu fees to be updated, Bonin’s motion directs the Planning Department to examine the merits of eliminating, restructuring, or replacing the in-lieu fees, and to examine the benefits and impacts of eliminating “grandfathered” parking rights as part of the upcoming Local Coastal Plan for Venice.

Bonin’s motion is one of a series of actions the Councilmember is taking to improve parking availability in Venice. Beyond updating in-lieu fees, Bonin is exploring angled parking, public-private partnerships to build new lots, and a comprehensive review of alternatives to in-lieu fees (such as a parking credit system used in cities like Santa Monica).

The fee motion was seconded by Councilmember Jose Huizar and will next be considered by the Planning and Land Use Management Committee.