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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

How is El Pueblo Doing? Seven People Placed; Four Months

El Pueblo the first Bridge Home for Los Angels has found homes for seven people in four months.  El Pueblo, now called El Puente is the poster child for what is proposed for the 15 council districts.  Venice is the only place planned.

This reporter tried to get information from the Mayor’s office , even enlisted the help of Councilman Bonin’s office, regarding the El Pueblo.  Nothing.  It was decided that if I wanted info I would have to go down and try to enlist the CES teams into helping me.  The Mayor at one meeting said El Pueblo was great, that they had placed “x” number of people and then the LA Times said the figure was incorrect.  LA Times has not had an article since regarding the Bridge.

Neighborhoods are reluctant to have a Bridge in their neighborhood.  If it is so great, why hide the fact.  This is the first article written.  Shawn Stern, who lives across the street from the MTA site where a Bridge is proposed found this article.  Hopefully, there will be more.  Hopefully, this reporter will be able to obtain information. Here is the LA’s Downtown News article.

The Venice Stakeholders Association has a law suit pending to request an Environmental Impact Report.

Shawn Stern’s comments about the  Bridge Project at the MTA Site

Here’s an article from L.A. Downtown News about the first “bridge housing” and how it has fared so far. I live directly across the street from the MTA yard. I went to the meeting that Garcetti and Bonin had several months ago at Westminster school. Garcetti gave some details on the thought process for “temporary” part of this plan would work and some of it seemed reasonable. The council member kept trying to repeat specific homeless stories to evoke sympathy that did nothing to explain to residents why they should support plans that he has not discussed with the residents despite his claims to the contrary. I have never been contacted by the city regarding the MTA plan.

What I found interesting is that Garcetti admitted that the city does not have housing for the vast majority of homeless and that it will take years to build it, but went on to describe how the “bridge housing” model was for people to stay between 3-6 months in an effort to get them in to services and then transition to permanent housing. The plan is 150 people at the MTA lot could mean anywhere between 300-600 people a year would “transition” if it works and theoretically that could mean 900-1800 people would be transitioned over the 3 years they propose to use the lot for their plans.  However he ignored his first point about the city not having housing for them to actually transition and without that part of the plan in place how can it work? I realize it’s only been four months that the downtown “bridge housing” has been running, but as the article points out, this is hardly a great start.

Plans are to have people reside in the trailers for three to six months and work with case managers to transition to a more permanent home. Yet four months in, only seven people had been matched with long-term housing. “
 
That’s a “success” rate of less than 17% so far. What was stated at the meeting with the Mayor and Councilman was that there will be no requirement that anyone accepted into such temporary “bridge housing” be from the encampments in the community, despite the argument made by the plans backers that “the homeless should be housed in the neighborhoods where they are living” because the assumption is that they are from these neighborhoods. This is not true for many homeless people in many neighborhoods including Venice, although it’s not information available in the homeless counts because it’s not a question asked by those gathering information. I think everyone can agree that finding a solution to the lack of affordable housing in this city/county is of the utmost importance. And helping those people living in the streets THAT WANT HELP should be a priority. 
 
What I have not heard, in any of the meetings and literature and plans, is the problem the advocates and politicians don’t  seem to want to acknowledge, what is the plan for those living in the streets with chronic mental illness, many of whom who self medicate. According to the LAHSA 2018 counts, at least 1/4 to 1/3 of the “estimated” homeless who self report have serious mental illness. The mentally ill living on the street create the largest danger to themselves and the community and unfortunately advocates continue to ask the public to view ALL homeless people as the same. Unfortunately, they are not and when residents have to worry about confrontation and physical altercations with people living in the street and the advocates and politicians don’t want to address this problem, you will continue to have fights by residents against what they see as vague, simplistic, broad plans that make no logical sense in  both short term and long term solutions to the very specific homeless issues in their neighborhoods. 

John and Ken Talk to Binen About Bridge Housing for MTA Site

Travis Binen who lives across the street from the MTA site where Mayor Eric Garcetti and Councilman Mike Bonin plan to put a 154-bed “bridge home” project talked with John and Ken on KFI about the project.

Go to:   https://www.spreaker.com/episode/16724204  to hear the show.

 

 

City Council Homeless Committee Approves MTA for Bridge Home; Goes Before City Council 11 Dec; CCC, 12 Dec

 

 

City Council Homeless committee members supported the MTA lot on Sunset between Pacific and Main for Bridge Housing last Wednesday along with places in Wilmington, San Pedro, Watts, and South Los Angeles. A full vote of the City Council members will be Tuesday, 11 December.

Homeless Committee member Councilman Mike Bonin agreed to exempt the MTA lot from a full California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). If approved by the City Council for a shelter, 11 December, the proposal will go before the California Coastal Commission (CCC), 12 December in Newport Beach, 100 Civic Center, Newport Beach, 92660

Executive Director John Ainsworth of CCC has provided exemption of the MTA lot for CEQA necessity because it is temporary. Four votes of the commissions will nullify the CEQA waiver.

Mark Ryavec, president of the Venice Stakeholders, does not agree that CEQA should be waived for the project based on noise and parking. The VSA plan is to present their case for a full CEQA report before the CCC and sue, if necessary, to obtain a CEQA report.

The following are comments Mark Ryavec has made regarding the decision not to have a CEQA.

Comments: I am writing to ask for an ex parte meeting to personally discuss the burden that the Bridge Housing project in Venice will pose for coastal resources, visitors and residents living nearby and request a full environmental review under a Coastal Development Permit application.

This project, the equivalent of a hotel for 154 people with dozens of support staff, including social workers, housing locators, teachers, security personnel, and kitchen and custodial staff, has only nine (9) parking spaces. Already there is no place for residents and visitors to park in this neighborhood, and this project will add an incredible parking demand. The city cannot exclude any applicants because they own a vehicle, so the project will inevitably bring even more vehicles (including campers and RVs) to an area that historically has little parking.

This project will also generate unacceptable noise for residents living as little at 50 feet away, at all hours of the day and night, with no mitigation, from outdoor dining areas, an outdoor kennel (with barking dogs) and the exterior HVAC equipment to heat and cool a huge 30 foot tall building that will house 100 people, along with HVAC equipment for other manufactured housing that will house another 54 people, not mention heating and cooling of many offices. The project also raises serious concerns about coastal pollution.

Encampments in Venice already leach human waste to the storm drain outfall at Rose Avenue, which has been documented by independent test results to contain high levels of e. coli bacteria. Each time new services have been added for the homeless in Venice, the population has grown, as has the resulting coastal pollution, from 400 people four years ago to approximately 1,000 today.

Instead of reducing the population it is likely that the Bridge Housing project will attract even more homeless to Venice. When they cannot be accommodated at the new facility they will camp out nearby, as they do now, for example, at the St. Joseph service center on Lincoln Boulevard. The city of Los Angeles has made no plans to mitigate parking demand, noise or the likely increase in coastal pollution.

Mark Ryavec, president, Venice Stakeholders Association, Founding Director, Board Secretary (1989 to 1999) and State Legislative Director (1999) at American Oceans Campaign, and Member, Board of Governors, Oceana (2005 to 2015)

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Garcetti Promotes his “Bridge Home” Homeless Initiative

By Darryl DuFay

In this Op Ed piece,  LA Mayor Eric Garcetti comments on his first “Bridge Home” temporary transitional homeless project located in downtown LA near Olvera St.

First referred to as “El Pueblo” now called “El Puente” or “The Bridge.”  Other articles have not been so enthusiastic about this and other proposed “Bridge Home” projects. The project for Venice at the Metro lot comes to mind.   LA Times article.

Construction costs are a major concern.  The Mayor’s original proposal was for 1,500 beds divide among the 15 Council Districts or 100 beds per District at a cost of $13,000 per bed.  El Puente cost $2.4M or $53,000 per bed for 45 homeless.  The “underfunded” original money of $20M was supplemented by another $10M from the City Council. Forty five million dollars more have been requested from the State.  This still will not be enough.

Original year to year costs per Council District were “estimated” at $1.3M. There are also concerns about providing meals and services.  It has been reported that the immediate ”El Puente” surrounding encampments that were to be removed have just moved themselves north.

VNC Board Approves 720 Rose and Bridge Housing Feasibility Study

By Angela McGregor

Tuesday night’s Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) meeting was packed with dozens of supporters of the Venice Community Housing  (VCH) permanent supportive housing project at 720 Rose Avenue. Most were wearing identical black t-shirts declaring their support for Bridge, Affordable and PSH and many were holding a long-stemmed red rose. Over 70 of them offered public commentary, loudly applauding one another as they did so.

The project as proposed is considerably larger in mass and scale than the Venice Specific plan allows. It is 45 feet tall and includes only 17 onsite and seven offsite parking spaces for 35 residents (including one on-site manager) plus 1850 square feet of commercial for seven VCH staff members. In their presentation (seen here: http://www.vchcorp.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Rose-Ave-Powerpoint-8-30-18Part1.pdf), the applicants stated that it’s their belief that state law, in the form of Assembly Bill 744, supersedes the Venice Coastal Specific Plan, although it’s not a “fate accompli” and the project will require many more approvals (including Coastal Commission) going forward.

The four story complex, which features a center courtyard in lieu of air conditioning, is 45 feet tall, or roughly 20 feet taller than would otherwise be allowed by the Venice Specific Plan. The developer said they have provided step-back on the roof to bring the front of the building in compliance with the VSP limit. Of the 34 residents, 50 percent would be for chronically homeless and 50 percent for homeless transition-aged youth. All units would be earmarked for supportive housing and two full time social services staff members would have offices onsite. The project is designed by Santa Monica architects, Brooks + Scarpa.

Proponents of the project, many of whom were from Safe Place for Youth, cited the crushing need for youth housing in the area and stated that some of their clients were working in Venice businesses while still sleeping on the streets.

Others pointed out that there has been no new, affordable housing development in Venice in over 20 years despite widespread gentrification. (Del Rey on Beach is one new one that VCH claims for Venice. It was stated that VCH manages 16 buildings, 226 units.) Still others offered a more political view which devalued density and parking concerns in light of what they termed a “humanitarian crisis”.

Those directly involved with the project insisted that the state has ruled that local zoning restrictions on parking are unnecessary for PSH developments, since the residents simply do not own cars.

The Venice residents who spoke against the project were no less impassioned (although greatly outnumbered). They pointed out that VCH has yet to meet with neighbors and present a proposal that would meet VSP requirements and allay their concerns about insufficient parking, and that a project this out of scale with the surrounding neighborhood would set a precedent for future, oversized development.

Board comment on the project focused on the need for such dense, affordable housing in Venice in order to preserve the community’s diversity, as well as to address the obvious, growing homelessness crisis. Board members also voiced concerns about the scale of the project, in light of how strictly they have enforced the VSP for other types of development. In the end, the motion to approve the project passed, 9-4-1.

In the other LUPC item of the night, the Board voted to approve Jim Murez’s suggested feasibility study for Bridge Housing at other other potential sites in CD11 as the City  analyses  the MTA Lot for such a project.

Murez’s PowerPoint presentation (seen here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/11i5x7RCh6124DsJdeObZwbCPeeMARxiz) pointed out a number of LUPC concerns with the MTA Lot project as described on the city’s website (seen here: https://11thdistrict.com/a-bridge-home/venice-faq/), including the lack of kitchen space in the plans and implying the delivery of over 400 meals a day with parking for just seven vehicles), the lack of laundry space for residents, and the lack of office space for onsite staff.

The alternative sites presented — the West LA Municipal Center, the Westchester Municipal Center, Daniel Freeman Hospital and the LAPD  Training Center and Operations Center — all include such facilities and could be permanent

Another VNC Board member — Steve Livigni — has resigned from the Board, leaving two vacancies to be filled at the December meeting. Application forms can be found on the VNC’s website. The entire Board will be replaced in an election in June, and anyone interested in running for the Board can file an application to do so this February.

The next meeting of the VNC Board will be Tuesday, December 18th.

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

LUPC Wants City to Evaluate Other “Bridge Housing” Sites Before Selecting MTA Lot

The Land Use and Planning Committee (LUPC) will be making a motion to be presented to the Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) this month that the City provide a feasibility study of certain other sites as well as consider the other sites mentioned for smaller enclaves, rather than one large site for the proposed “Bridge Housing.”

Jim Murez presented a power point Thursday night to an audience of about 15 people and the LUPC committee of several other sites for the “Bridge Home” as alternatives to the MTA site which was selected by the City without any discourse.

Some of the evaluation criteria used for selection was proximity to schools, proximity of entry level jobs, closeness to shopping etc.

First Murez evaluated the MTA site. “The site has a dining area that is totally open which would make people cold or hot depending on the day,” Murez said. No place for meal preparation and no loading area for trucks if food were to be delivered. Lack of parking, animal facilities, utilities. The site is close to a school and surrounded by residential.

One person brought up the fact that the area was close to the beach and that those who were addicted would be close to that environment. One person said “You don’t try to help someone stop drinking and put them next to a liquor store.”

The other places mentioned were the 5601 Manchester, which the LAPD uses infrequently; the City complex on Corinth, which is adjacent to a school; the City complex on Manchester; and someone mentioned the Daniel Freeman Hospital, which is vacant.

To most, the City complex at the corner of Lincoln and Manchester seemed to be the place that made the most sense based on the criteria.

Daffodil Tyminski made the point that why not have a site on all of these places, but just make them smaller, and “it would be nice to have one for just women,” she said.

Joe Clark asked how many in the room liked the MTA site. No one raised his hand. Joe felt the MTA site was the most suitable because of its proximity to the beach. He felt that people came to the beach to be at the beach and to not have the site locally was defeating the purpose.

The vote was 5 to 1 to have a different site other than the MTA lot. The motion will be presented 20 November to the Venice Neighborhood Committee.

Bridge Home Site Alternatives? LUPC Has Some Suggestions

Land Use and Planning Committee (LUPC)will discuss other sites for the Bridge Housing planned for Venice at their meeting Thursday 6:30 to 9 pm at the Oakwood Recreational Center, 767 California Ave.

Mayor Eric Garcetti had a Town Hall in Venice 17 October to discuss his planned Bridge Housing for the MTA site at Sunset between Main and Pacific Ave.

LUPC has several possible alternatives to the MTA site that they plan to discuss.

Town Hall was Very Interesting

By Darryl DuFay

Very interesting Town Hall meeting on the MTA “Bridge Home” proposed project.

You arrived at the Westminster School to see dozens of LAPD all over. Of course they didn’t tell you that the parking entrance was going to be on Main St. Something that hadn’t been done before. Off the parking lot they were not prepared to open at 5:00 for a 6:00 start. No surprise there. They had over 1,000 RSVPs. Seating for 400 inside and 200 outside, with sound only. Slowly but steadily filled up. News cameras all around but mostly on the east wall.

It was raucous but in a “measure” way. From the front row where I sat the back and forth waves of noise for and especially against were refreshing from previous meetings where they were only for. First the “FOR” and then a ROARING “NO” that shook the room.

Alexandra “Alex” Cohen was the “moderator.” Her involvement consisted mostly of lining up people to talk. Councilman Mike Bonin, Mayor Eric Garcetti, and LA Chief of Police Michael Moore were present. I don’t believe Moore was scheduled to be part of the extended discussion. He was not named in the official announcement. It was set up for two and Moore grabbed a chair and moved it over to make a trio. Moore’s presence was a welcomed reminder of the overwhelming response this project has aroused. He significantly advanced the Town Hall. Many Fight Back, Venice t-shirts and white shirts

The Chief of Police was impressive. Below is yesterday’s LA Times article on him.

Moore was getting a real education from the audience about what is going on in Venice especially along the beach and Ocean Front Walk. He was as he should be protective of his officers but as the audience continuing to call out their experiences he took increasing interest and concern. Even to acknowledging that he is very serious about closing the beaches from midnight to 6:00 a.m.

I also sensed about 7:45 that Bonin was seeing himself as become more superfluous to the discussion. He chimed in I believe about the use of SHARE as a viable methods of quickly housing the homeless. Garcetti has raised this method for more quickly addressing the homeless problem. It ended after 9:00.

There are enough unanswered questions about the MTA proposal to drill down and get some answers. Chief Moore can be a great asset in demanding information and holding the MTA et al and Bonin’s and Garcetti’s offices to provide our Venice community with more vital and informative discussions than we have had so far.

Bonin and Garcetti are convinced or have convinced themselves that Venice’s homeless are locals. That thought allows them to make comments that the MTA “Bridge Home” will be able to recycle enough people through so Venice’s homeless problem disappears. When, it fact we will see a rise in transient homeless arriving at the “promised land” — VENICE.

http://enewspaper.latimes.com/infinity/article_share.aspx?guid=58aab6a5-d0a3-4552-bb07-0b1cd276a3eb

Venetians Vent at Bridge Housing Town Hall

bonin
Alex Cohen, moderator, Chief of Police Michel Moore, Mayor Eric Garcetti, and Councilman Mike Bonin

By Angela McGregor

The announcement and requests for RSVPs for the 17 October, 6pm community meeting with Mayor Garcetti and Councilman Mike Bonin to answer questions about the proposed Bridge Housing Facility at the vacant MTA lot on Main & Sunset was blasted out via email and social media several weeks ago.

Within days anyone attempting to sign up to attend received a notice that the event at Westminster Elementary was full. On Nextdoor and Facebook, members of local groups which oppose the project speculated that, since the notice was sent to everyone in CD11 and not just Venice, priority had been given to the project’s supporters. After all, back in June, at the so-called “Bridge Housing Town Hall”, dozens of Bonin/Bridge Housing supporters had arrived early from all over the city, via a chartered bus, carrying professionally pre-printed signs declaring “Venice Says Yes”.

At a press event at the proposed site on October 15th entitled “Let Venice Speak”, Venice Stakeholders Association President Mark Ryavec declared, “Even though there is not enough room for Venice residents at the Westchester Elementary School auditorium, the invitation for the event was sent to all of Council District 11, from Pacific Palisades to Westchester. We also have been informed that Councilman Bonin has recruited homeless advocates and social service employees from throughout the city to attend and urged them to sign-up early, displacing Venice residents.”

Shortly thereafter, the RSVP site was re-opened, and arrangements were made for overflow seating at the event.

Nevertheless, those opposed to the project arrived early to ensure that their presence was felt inside the venue. By 4 pm — with an hour to go before the doors would open — members of Save Venice Beach and Fight Back, Venice had already set up tables and were handing out printed t-shirts (“Recall Bonin”, “Venice Says No”, “I Walked Here, I Wasn’t Bussed”) and small signs (“Stop Dumping on Venice!”) along with bottles of water.

Standing under the hot sun, they traded personal stories of transient-related crimes that had grown more menacing and more frequent as the numbers of encampments had increased — package and bicycle thefts, break-ins, needles and feces strewn over their sidewalks, alleys and all over the beach. One resident showed a video his wife had made of a homeless man skateboarding up to her, yelling threats and obscenities. Some had lived in Venice for decades, and had seen not only an escalation of crime but increasing unwillingness by the police to even confront the criminals. Their opposition to the Bridge Housing facility at the MTA yard stemmed from a belief that the project would attract yet more transients — and more crime — to their neighborhood.

Meanwhile, at Councilman Bonin’s booth, staffers handed out “Venice Says Yes!” flyers along with information packets touting the project.

The auditorium filled quickly once doors opened, and the crowd was loud and boisterous well before the event began, about half and hour late, chanting “Venice Says No!” and “Recall Bonin” and unfurling large banners (“Venice: Where Needles and Feces are Part of the Fun!”) along the walls. Forms for submitting questions were provided, and passed to the front of the room by the handful.

The event was moderated by Alex Cohen, the former host of NPR’s Morning Edition on KPCC. She began by imploring everyone to be civil in order to allow all of the questions to be answered, before introducing Mayor Garcetti and Councilman Bonin to a chorus of boos, and the LAPD Chief of Police, Michel Moore, to applause.

Mayor Garcetti began the meeting with a Powerpoint presentation, struggling to be heard over the crowd. According to his statistics, between 2010-2018 Los Angeles has housed roughly 32,000 homeless individuals, with the number of homeless (according to LAHSA’s count) rising during that period from 38,717 to 52,765. Garcetti framed the Bridge Housing development in stark, simple terms — either build it or “maintain the status quo”. Both Garcetti and Chief Moore explained that, because of legal challenges, the City cannot clean up encampments without first offering the occupants some type of shelter.

With Proposition H funds, the City has hired 1,000 outreach workers who are now in training, some of whom would be dispatched to Venice to persuade occupants of neighborhood encampments to take advantage of the facility. Bridge Housing will be staffed by all variety of social service workers, including mental health professionals, to determine the best way to move occupants off of the streets. Garcetti pointed out that the first Bridge Home Facility — El Pueblo, which opened a couple of months ago, near Olvera Street — has already transitioned 11 people, including one individual who only stayed for a couple of days. The proposed facility in Venice — 154 units on 3.1 acres — would be roughly three times as large. With an average stay of four months or so, within 3 years perhaps as many as 900 individuals could be moved off the streets.

Bonin then spoke, greeted by more boos and catcalls and constantly interrupted by the crowd, especially when he insisted that the homeless are no more inclined to commit crimes than anyone else. He showed a graphic of several homeless individuals and began to tell their tragic tales as if to imply that the crowd’s opposition to the project was simply due to a lack of sympathy and understanding — a tactic which resulted in loud cries for his recall. He defended the proposed location by pointing out that, of the 2000 homeless in all of CD11, about half are in Venice. Venice’s homeless population is also younger, whiter and more likely to be a victim of domestic violence. Both he and Mayor Garcetti insisted that Bridge Housing is “essential” to ultimately “solving” homelessness in Los Angeles. Finally, the MTA lot is “guaranteed” to be temporary, since the MTA is already in the planning stages to develop the property.

Chief Moore spoke last, and began to deliver a rambling speech about the LAPD frequently being called upon to “solve every problem in history” including “turning Okies away at the border”. Citing the city’s resilience after the Northridge Earthquake and 1992 Riots, he stated that we need to have confidence in our elected officials. Much to the chagrin of the crowd, he also stated that Venice receives less police attention because violent crime rates here are much lower than in other areas of the city.

Questions then commenced. To the question of requiring sobriety within the facility, Bonin stated that “housing first” without a sobriety requirement had been proven most effective, but also said that, if the community insisted, such a requirement could be instated. As to the question of what to do with service-resistant transients who already refuse temporary shelter beds, both he and the mayor explained that these facilities — which are pet-friendly, contain ample storage for belongings and allow couples and families to stay together — are a much more attractive option that existing emergency shelters. In addition, Chief Moore said that he could not arrest or otherwise move along street campers without first determining their unwillingness to take advantage of an existing option like Bridge Housing.

One questioner pointed out that both Carol Sobel and the Legal Aid Foundation have threatened lawsuits should the city proceed with its plan for increased clean ups in conjunction with Bridge Housing. Mayor Garcetti stated that prior lawsuits only occurred because the city “didn’t listen” and said that he would meet with these groups to determine how best to work with them.

Questioning continued until well after the announced 8pm end time for the event. Toward the end, someone asked if the project was a “done deal”, to which Bonin stated that it was not, because it still requires an EIR, permits and City approval. Outside of the exit door, homeless advocates organized by United Way lined up facing the departing crowd, silently holding up signs in support of the project along with lit candles.