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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

LADOT to Present “Great Streets” Data 22 July

Nat Gale, principal project coordinator for Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT), will present LADOT data for first month of Venice Blvd “diet,” as some call it. The meet will be held at Saturday, 22 July from 1-3 pm at Windward School, 11350 Palms Blvd.

82 Percent of Mar Vista “Great Street” Business Owners Oppose Lane Reduction

Members of the “Restore Venice Coalition,” headed by Kenneth Marek, did their own survey of the “Great Street” businesses in Mar Vista.   

Their survey of 55 businesses showed that 82 percent were opposed to the lane reduction while 9 percent were in favor and 9 percent did not care.

Note that one of the purposes of the “Great Streets” program is to increase business income because the program slows down traffic and produces a “small town effect in a big town.”  If the businesses are not happy and go out of business or leave because of lack of business, there is no longer a “Great Street.” 

Kenneth Marek, on behalf of the Restore Venice Coalition,  presented  the motion last night at the Mar Vista Neighborhood Council to restore Venice Blvd to three lanes each way.  The council had only three members who voted for the motion. This meant  that the configuration would remain the same to complete a one- or two-year trial.

By Kenneth Marek

Here is his letter to the MVCC Board members,

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Venice Blvd “Great Streets” Has Neighborhoods in Uproar; Playa del Rey Goes One Lane

… and it’s called “Safe Streets.”  With only one lane, how does one do an emergency vehicle.

This lane shrinking is all for the bikers who ride on the sidewalks the wrong way and go  block-to-block as  wheeled pedestrians, transcending the laws like there were none.  Whoever thought that slowing traffic down would be a good idea?

Mayor Eric Garcetti initiated the “Great Streets” program and Councilman Mike Bonin has followed suit with Venice Blvd.  Now it is Playa del Rey “Safe Streets,” and in Playa del Rey, they want to reduce the lanes from two to one.  Change.org has petitions against both Venice Blvd and the Playa Vista street reduction.

Reminder:  There is an 18-mile beach bike path that goes from Santa Monica to Redondo Beach. There is a bike path that parallels Ballona Creek to the beach and where it picks up in Los Angeles is unknown.

There is a movement to try to stop the lane shrinking.  Westchester/Playa Neighborhood Council voted last night to do a motion to stop the Playa and encouraged the Mar Vista Neighborhood Council at their 13 June meeting at the Mar Vista Recreation Center to make a similar motion for Venice Blvd as the one Westchester/Playa made for Playa del Rey,

“Great Streets” Venice Blvd. Motion to:

1) Request the implementation of mitigation measures designed to lessen the impact of the lane reductions on Venice Blvd. and,
2) Request that the Los Angeles Department of Transportation and/or the CD11 Council Office immediately provide a copy of any and all traffic studies done in advance of the commencement of the lane closures included in the Great Streets Venice Blvd. project and,

a) Provide any available data regarding traffic on the community streets impacted by the Great Streets Venice Blvd. project for the area bounded by Sepulveda Blvd. to the East, Lincoln Blvd. to the West, Culver to the South and National Blvd. to the North; and,
b) Provide a detailed plan for traffic enforcement for the next 90 days; and,
c) Provide written explanation of the feasibility of reducing Venice Blvd. to two lanes each way between Inglewood Blvd and Beethoven St.; and,
d) Respond in writing to all community suggestions and questions given at this meeting;
e) Direct the MVCC Great Streets Ad Hoc Committee to develop alternative and immediate mitigation measures for the Great Streets Venice Blvd. Initiative; and
f) set metrics for the success of the Great Streets Venice Blvd. project.

We have visited the LAGreatService.org/venice and LAGreatStreets.org/benchmarking web pages and the traffic studies, feasibility analysis and metrics for success are not there.

Councilman Bonin Updates VNC and Homeless Committee on His Progress for “Ending Homelessness in Venice”

Councilman Mike Bonin has written a letter to the Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) and to the VNC Homeless Committee updating his plan for “Ending Homelessness in Venice” and has included other projects and programs relating to homelessness.  Councilman Bonin presented his program in April 2016 as a Town Hall at Westminster Elementary School.

This is Councilman Mike Bonin’s introduction to his “Ending Homelessness in Venice” Town Hall given last year in April outlining what he planned to do.

This is the letter.

Last year, I hosted a community meeting at Westminster Elementary School to offer updates on plans and proposals to address the homelessness crisis in Los Angeles, and especially in Venice. I am writing to provide the Venice Neighborhood Council with another update on the elements I unveiled a year ago, as well as other homeless projects and programs.

The elements of the implementation plan fall into several categories:

  1. Preserving Affordable Housing
  2. Providing More Affordable Housing
  3. Providing Homeless Housing
  4. Coordinated Entry System
  5. Enhanced Outreach and Expanded Services
  6. Street Strategy

1. PRESERVING AFFORDABLE HOUSING

While it is essential for Los Angeles to build more affordable and homeless housing, those efforts will be futile if the City does not preserve existing affordable housing stock.

Mello Act Reform — The Mello Act is an important tool in preserving, replacing, and creating affordable housing in the Coastal Zone. The City is currently operating under Interim Administrative Procedures, which implement the provisions of the Mello Act but leave room for stronger protections. At my urging, the City is drafting a permanent ordinance to implement the full protections of the Mello Act within the City’s Coastal Zone areas.

Next steps: A draft should be available for public review by this summer, and I hope for it to be adopted this fall.

Short-Term Rental Regulations —Unregulated short term rentals have an adverse effect on the housing supply and reduce affordable housing stock in our neighborhoods. Working with Council President Herb Wesson, I proposed that the City adopt new regulations for short-term rentals that would protect affordable housing and that would be easily enforceable once enacted. The City’s proposed Home-Sharing Ordinance was approved by the City Council’s Housing Committee last December with some amendments, and is awaiting a public hearing before the City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee.

Next steps: I anticipate the planning committee will hear the matter in June, with consideration by the full City Council shortly after that.

2. PROVIDING MORE AFFORDABLE HOUSING

Utilizing Public Land for Affordable Housing: Metro Bus Yard — After the Metro bus yard shut down in 2015, I introduced legislation to the Metro Board, calling on the agency to enter into a joint-development agreement to build affordable housing at the site of the former bus yard. Metro’s policy requires that at least 35% of housing units in its development projects are affordable. While 35% is a good floor, I would like to see a larger number of affordable units in this project.

The process for this property is lengthy and complex — and any proposed project will be heavily shaped by extensive community input. Currently, Metro is working with the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board to determine the scope and extent of the required environmental remediation of the property. Depending on the environmental findings, remediation could take as little as a year or as much as several years. The remediation will include removing most of the buildings and concrete on the property.

In the meantime, Metro’s will lead community workshops to make sure any proposed project for the site reflects neighbor’s input on density, height, design, parking, and any potential other uses (such as open space or neighborhood-serving retail). Metro will heavily advertise each meeting and step in this process to make sure neighbors have ample opportunities to participate and offer their suggestions. Metro will procure a design consultant and I anticipate the community outreach process on these guidelines will begin in late summer. I will ask ask Metro to begin that process with a briefing for the Venice Neighborhood Council.

Once the community has weighed-in on what they want to see at the site, Metro will issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) to seek a qualified developer to design a project. Once Metro chooses a developer, that developer will craft a formal proposal, and begin the extensive public process that includes a hearing at the VNC’s Land Use & Planning committee, the VNC Board, the Zoning Administrator, the Area Planning Commission, the CIty Council, and very likely the Coastal Commission. Each body affords an opportunity for public input.

Accessory Dwelling Unit Legislation —  For generations, affordable housing advocates have been pushing for legalization of “granny flats,” or “accessory dwelling units,” also known as ADUs, as a quick and easy way to provide low-cost housing. ADUs are small apartment-style living units typically above a garage or in a guest house. For years, the construction of these units has been prevented by onerous development standards, but thanks to changes in state and city law, that is changing.

On January 1 of this year, two state laws (AB 2299 and SB 1069) took effect, mandating that cities allow ADUs without requiring a cumbersome and expensive process. The City is crafting its “enabling ordinance,” outlining how that will work in Los Angeles. The City Planning Commission approved a proposal in December 2016, and the Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) Committee held a public hearing on the proposed ordinance in March. The PLUM Committee recommended some changes to the draft ordinance that would further enable the development of ADUs, for example, by increasing the maximum allowable size for detached ADUs from 640 sf to 1,200 sf and by allowing moveable “tiny homes” to qualify as ADUs. The PLUM Committee also directed the City Attorney to prepare a final version of the ordinance, which will be considered at an upcoming Planning Committee meeting and then by the full City Council.

Next steps: The ordinance was recently approved by the Council’s Planning Committee and should be voted on by the City Council in the next few months.

3. PROVIDING HOMELESS HOUSING

Utilizing Public Land for Affordable Housing: Venice Dell/Pacific Parking Lot – Last year, Mayor Garcetti, the City Administrative Officer and I announced that the city would allow nonprofit housing developers to work with communities to prepare proposals for dozens of new housing projects throughout the city at surplus, underused or vacant property owned by the city. One of the potential housing sites identified is the parking lot in the median of Venice Boulevard, between Dell and Pacific Avenues. The City granted Venice Community Housing and Hollywood Community Housing the opportunity to craft a proposal for housing at the site.

VCHC began conducting public outreach, hosting more than 30 meetings and listening sessions over a period of 40 days. VCHC then incorporated feedback from those listening sessions into a conceptual proposal for the site, which they presented to the community on March 9. The concept presented on March 9 does not yet include design or architectural specifics, but rather identifies some of the features the eventual proposal is likely to include, such as: improving the canal banks, and adding neighborhood-serving retail and artistic workspaces along both North and South Venice Boulevard.  Additionally, I have insisted that the amount of parking available to the public be maintained in addition to the parking that is required for the tenants.

VCHC is now hosting listening sessions and living room conversations in the area to get feedback on the ideas they included in the conceptual proposal. VCHC will then incorporate feedback the community input into a design for the site, and then formally submit a proposal, and start the development process with the City. That process includes a hearing at the VNC’s Land Use & Planning committee, the VNC Board, the Zoning Administrator, the Area Planning Commission, the PLUM committee of the City Council, CIty Council, and very likely the Coastal Commission, and each step will afford opportunities for public input.

Next steps: VCHC will continue community engagement before unveiling a formal proposal for the site.

Utilizing Public Land for Affordable Housing: Thatcher Yard – In addition to the Dell/Pacific site, the former Thatcher Maintenance Yard was also included in the initial list of underused and surplus city-owned properties available for consideration for homeless housing. The City granted Tom Safran & Associates (TS&A) the opportunity to work with the community and submit a formal proposal for consideration and approval.

Just as VCHC has done for the Dell/Pacific site, Safran and Associates will conduct significant community outreach before designing and proposing a project, which will then go through the city’s normal development process (including hearings at VNC’s Land Use & Planning committee, the VNC Board, the Zoning Administrator, the Area Planning Commission, the PLUM committee of the City Council, CIty Council, and very likely the Coastal Commission, with opportunities for public input at each hearing throughout the process). In total, the process will likely take 2-3 years.

Next steps: TSA will begin and conduct extensive community engagement before crafting and unveiling a formal proposal for the site.

Expanding the Rapid Rehousing Program – One of my priorities has been to find quick and nimble ways to get people off the streets and into housing. While permanent supportive housing is a solution, it is not the only solution, and it is often not a fast solution. Rapid Rehousing is another solution.

Rapid Rehousing programs essentially provide short-term rental subsidies to people who are newly or episodically homeless, perhaps providing a minimal amount of services, allowing people will low barriers to re-entering the housing market to get off the streets quickly.
I have made expanding Rapid Rehousing a priority. In last year’s budget, I successfully advocated for such funding, increasing City funding for RRH from $0 to $6 million. In Venice, RRH was managed by St. Joseph Center, which is the lead agency for homelessness on the Westside of Los Angeles County, and the program has already placed 41 people in housing since the current contract period began last August.

In next year’s budget, the mayor is proposing that Rapid Rehousing be paid for through the new county-approved revenue source, Proposition H.

Next steps: Continue to fight for Rapid Rehousing funds and see that a proportionate amount is spent to alleviate homelessness in Venice.

Using Shared Housing – Another quick and nimble solution is the use of shared housing. It has proven effective here in Venice. Most federally funded housing vouchers require a tenant to lease their own unit. But with as little as a monthly disability check, many people living on the street can be rehoused with roommates.

I am pushing hard for both the county and city to use shared housing more extensively. Last month, the City Council approved my proposal to help the Westside-based Self-Help and Recovery Exchange (SHARE), launch a pilot project in Council District 11. My action provides funding to SHARE to hire more personnel to locate available shared housing.

Next steps: Launch the pilot program with SHARE; elevate shared housing as a strategy citywide and countywide.

Supporting Reunification Efforts – The VNC recently passed a resolution, advancing the Reduce Return Rehouse (RRR) principles put forward by the VNC’s Homelessness Committee. One of the key elements of this strategy is to facilitate family reunification when possible and appropriate.

I applaud the Homelessness Committee for its hard work, and I have pledged a $3,000 grant to get this program off to a healthy start.

Next steps: Continue to support the VNC’s Reduce Return Rehouse (RRR) initiative.

4. COORDINATED ENTRY SYSTEM (CES)

Venice Forward – One of the key strategies to better address homelessness countywide has been the use of a “coordinated entry system,” a merger of the efforts and the data of all service agencies and government entities to better prioritize and allocate services. While there is an increasingly robust CES countywide, I identified a need for a Venice-centric CES, and formed Venice Forward in 2014.

Venice Forward is a multi-agency collaborative to end homelessness in Venice. Every month, residents, business owners, nonprofits, and government employees meet to discuss increased coordination of homeless services in Venice, and to strategically implement elements of the comprehensive homelessness strategy.

Venice Forward has been successful in some aspects and fallen short in others. Venice Forward has succeeded at improving coordination among service providers, and in identifying new policies that will help get people living on the street the help they need — such as cutting a frustrating amount of red tape that prevented mental agencies and the fire department from sharing information about people in frequent need of services from both agencies.

But Venice Forward has fallen short in its goal of bringing together residents, business people, and members of the faith community to be part of the collaborative. Venice Forward will be recruiting more participating from those communities.

Next steps: Increase participation in Venice Forward.

5. ENHANCED OUTREACH AND SERVICES

Venice City, County, Community, Outreach Team (Venice C3) – Last year, I partnered with Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, the St. Joseph Center, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), the Department of Mental Health, Department of Health Services, Behavioral Health Services, Venice Family Clinic, and LAMP Community to launch a County-City-Community partnership (known as a “C3”) to bring services directly to people living on the streets of Venice. This program replaces VCHIP, a program which focused on only the most high-need individuals, with a program that can help anyone with its multi-disciplinary team.

The C3 model was selected for this work because it has been incredibly successful in other areas where it has been used, and five months into the Venice C3’s work, the outreach is yielding results. To date, C3 outreach workers have engaged nearly 200 people, and have helped or provided services to 85 people. C3 has moved more than forty people off the streets and into interim housing, and found permanent housing for 11 people. This program is focused on the 3rd and Rose area.

The program model is most successful when all three Cs’ are participating. To that end, I encouraged the Venice Forward C3 Community Subcommittee to start meeting. This group is the community advisory committee available for those neighbors who want to support the mission of C3 and get people off the streets of Venice. The community engagement component of this C3 has not been as strong as it could be. I encourage anyone with an interest to email Taylor Bazley on my staff (taylor.bazley@lacity.org) to be updated on pending meetings.

Next steps: Continue C3 program at the 3rd and Rose area.

LAPD HOPE Team – The City dedicated a unit of 10 officers and a sergeant to specialize in homeless outreach within LAPD’s West Bureau. Based out of nearby Pacific Division, the unit works in collaboration with the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) and the Bureau of Sanitation to conduct homeless outreach, and improve the Police Department’s response to homelessness.

With this dedicated focus on improved police response, the HOPE team has helped transport 46 people to shelter, and has helped nine people either find permanent housing or be reunified with their families since August of last year.

Venice Homeless Taskforce – LAPD Chaplains Regina and Steve Weller have impressed residents of Venice with their ability to build a trusting rapport with almost anyone on the street, and with the their ability to convince people who seem resist to leaving an encampment to accept housing. Earlier this year, I awarded the Wellers a $62,000 grant to help fund their work in Venice. With the first $32,000 of this grant, the Wellers have connected 38 people with housing.

Next steps: Once the Wellers exhaust the remaining $30,000, I will be awarding them an additional $50,000 to continue their work in Venice.

Treating Mental Illness: Exodus – The County Department of Mental Health has reopened Exodus Recovery Treatment facility, and now offers Urgent Care beds for those in a mental health crisis, Services include: psychiatric crisis center open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days per year; mental health assessment; medication evaluation and management; therapeutic interventions; social services and referrals including a variety of discharge plans that range from home to hospital; services provided by an interdisciplinary team doctors, nurses and therapists. The newly operational facility is a critical link in our region’s response to the epidemic of mental illness.

Next steps: Support the continued operation of Exodus.

Education & Youth Employment – I helped secure a new site for Safe Place for Youth (SPY) which now runs, among other programs, an in-house education and employment specialist. This specialist manages a three step program to assist young people in creating and implementing a plan, as well as matching them with employment opportunities.

This program is critical to supporting youth towards housing and towards self sufficiency. In the last year SPY has helped 227 youth and have secured employment for 33.

While their results are impressive they could use help for even greater success. SPY youth often just need the opportunity for an interview to prove their qualifications. By contacting SPY they will identify a youth that might be a good fit and you can interview that candidate as you would any other candidate. Their youth just need a chance to compete and your business could gain a valuable employee which doing some real social good.

6. STREET STRATEGY

Storage – The most controversial element of my homelessness strategy has been my proposed to use the former Westminster Senior Center as the site for voluntary storage so that people living on the streets have an alternative to leaving their belongings in the sidewalk encampments that have proliferated in the community.  (See separate story regarding storage.)

In response to my proposal, the Venice Neighborhood Council and its Homelessness Committee asked the City to consider a “mobile storage” option. I asked the City Administrative Officer (CAO), Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, and Chrysalis (the service provider for voluntary storage in downtown Los Angeles) to evaluate the mobile storage proposal, as well as other suggestions made to VNC and to my office.

I look forward to your feedback on the CAO memo and I am eager to move quickly to implement voluntary storage. At my urging, the City Budget for Fiscal Year 2017-18 contains funding for voluntary storage as we cannot continue to wait while people are forced to keep their belongings on streets and sidewalks, and by offering storage options, we can keep our neighborhood cleaner and safer.

Lava Mae Showers – A key part of the street strategy has been to provide access to basic hygiene services. I recruited the San Francisco-based non-profit Lava Mae to expand to the Los Angeles area earlier this year. Lava Mae offers homeless clients on Rose Avenue showers and other hygiene services out of a converted bus once a week. Lava Mae has been working with Venice C3 to encourage their clients to get connected with housing opportunities. The organization, which currently splits its time between Venice and in Downtown LA, is hoping to soon expand and provide two separate trailers — one for exclusive use on the Westside and another for exclusive use downtown.

Next steps: Support Lava Mae in its continued operation in Venice.

Restrooms – I successfully secured funding to allow the Department of Recreation & Parks to keep one of the beach restrooms open for 24 hours. Tourists and people without homes, lacking another option, often urinate and sometimes defecate in public, or even on private property. The bathroom has been slow to open as the City Attorney’s office irons out legal issues, and legislation enabling the restrooms at the beach to remain open will be heard by the City Council in the coming weeks.

Next steps: City Attorney to release draft ordinance allowing the Recreation & Parks Commission to operate selected bathrooms at Ocean Front Walk 24 hours per day.

Safe Parking – People clinging to the bottom rung of the economic ladder and living out of their cars need a safe place to park while the housing they need to get off the street is built.

I have been urging the City Council for years to adopt a Safe Parking program. It is my hope that Los Angeles might establish a program similar to the model used in Santa Barbara where  churches, nonprofits, and others have offered parking spots for people who are registered to park in the evening hours. In order to register for the safe parking spot, people must first enroll in available services and sign up for housing vouchers. Once we implement such a plan, this process will reduce our vehicular dwelling homeless population.

For the second year in a row, I secured funding in the City Budget for this program, and LAHSA is seeking a nonprofit to operate the program. LAHSA issued an RFP to identify a nonprofit to  manage the program, but did not get any responses. At my direction, LAHSA is rewriting and reissuing the RFP.

Next steps: LAHSA selects an agency to operate the Safe Parking program. —

Thank you for your time and the opportunity to update you on the work I am doing to combat homelessness in Venice. I am enormously grateful for your partnership, as well as the work of terrific local nonprofits such as SHARE!, St. Joseph Center, Harvest Home, Safe Place for Youth, the Homeless Task Force, VCHC, New Directions, Venice Family Clinic, New Directions for Veterans, 1736 Family Crisis Center, Chrysalis, Exodus, First to Serve, and the United Way. The work ahead will be difficult, but I am encouraged by our shared progress and I am excited about the future of Venice.

Councilman Mike Bonin

Councilman Bonin Dedicates POW/MIA Memorial Wall in Venice

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Councilman Mike Bonin dedicated the POW/MIA Memorial Wall in Venice this Memorial Day morning.   Pacific Ave was closed from Brooks to Sunset as onlookers admired the wall and listened to the dedication words of Councilman Mike Bonin.

The wall was vandalized last year just before Memorial Day.  Financial donations spearheaded by the Venice Chamber of Commerce and the effort of many local artisans directed by Judy Baca of SPARC made restoration of the wall possible.

There are two you tube videos.  Councilman Bonin’s speech was less than three minutes but one must listen to both videos.

 

 

stewart

Stewart Oscars and his wife.  Stewart is the one who discovered the graffiti and alerted  the council office and the media.

 

Gay Pride Month Kickoff Ceremony Will Dedicate Park Ave to Breeze Ave Beach as Bill Rosendahl Memorial Beach, 1 June

gay.

Kickoff ceremony for the City of Los Angeles to launch the start of the National LGBT Pride Month will be at Breeze Ave and Ocean Front Walk at 10 am Thursday, 1 June. The ceremony will feature the dedication of Venice Beach from Park Ave to Breeze Ave as the Bill Rosendahl Memorial Beach in honor of the first openly gay person elected to the Los Angeles City Council.

Dedication will be announced by LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, the first openly gay person elected to the California Legislature. Other  speakers will be Councilman Mike Bonin and Venice Pride Board President Grant Turck.

After the dedication, the Venice Lifeguard Tower at Brooks will be unveiled.

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Pride2

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It was noted on the circular that this goat attended the first time ever Venice Annual LGBT Pride Ceremony.

Councilman Bonin Answers Venice Blvd Nay Sayers

Councilman Mike Bonin was asked to make a statement regarding all the people in Venice who are upset with the new configuration of Venice Blvd.  He feels it is the construction and their crews that are causing the problem and construction will be over by end of the month.

It appears that a lot of the traffic congestion and we are seeing now is coming from the construction, rather than the new lane configuration. The work is expected to be completed by the end of the month. During the next two weeks of construction, while some parts of the road are painted and some are not, and while new signage is installed, there is likely to be some confusion and frustration. Once the work is completed and motorists adjust to the new configuration, we will be able to evaluate impacts and make changes.

Bonin Writes to Mar Vista Neighbors

Mike
Dear Friends —

Are you wondering what the heck is happening with all the city crews recently on Venice Boulevard in Mar Vista? Our Great Street project is moving forward and finally delivering the “small town downtown” that neighbors have been clamoring for.

We just finished installing the four new signalized pedestrian crosswalks, and as you have likely noticed over the past few days, crews are now restriping the street, creating protected bike lanes and narrowing the roadway to calm speeds through the neighborhood. The goal is a safer street for people using all modes of travel: pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists.

Change is always difficult, and the impacts of work crews on our streets can be disruptive, so it’s no surprise that some people are concerned or alarmed about what is happening. It is important to note that the new lane configuration is a pilot program, using low-cost and temporary materials. We are going to gather data and public input, analyze whether impacts are positive or not, and adjust accordingly. We can keep what we love, improve what we can, and remove what we dislike.

The work is expected to be completed by the end of the month. During the next two weeks of construction, while some parts of the road are painted and some are not, and while new signage is installed, there is likely to be some confusion and frustration. Once the work is completed and motorists adjust to the new configuration, we will be able to evaluate impacts and make changes.

The Great Streets project has been in the works for three years. Since Mayor Garcetti and I launched the initiative in 2014, we have listened to people in Mar Vista about how they want to use and enjoy Venice Boulevard. We spent a year conducting remarkably extensive outreach, surveying neighbors online, at the Farmers Market, at local shops, churches, schools, and even at their front doors. The feedback was extensive and the message is clear: Mar Vistans want Venice Boulevard to be safer, calmer, and a central gathering spot for the neighborhood.

We listened, and we put our team to work to design a Venice Boulevard that can be the heart of the neighborhood, instead of a high-speed roadway that divides it. By enormous margins, neighbors said they wanted:

  • More mid-block pedestrian crossings, so it is easier to walk from one side of the street to the other;
  • Shorter, safer pedestrian crossings;
  • Opportunities for public gathering spaces such as parklets, sidewalk seating, and plazas;
  • Safer bikeways;
  • Improved amenities, like street furniture and trash bins;
  • Drought tolerant landscaping; and
  • Murals and community art.

Many of these improvements have already been installed and more are on the way.

This has been a community-driven process from the beginning and as we enter the next phase of the project, your continued engagement is crucial. Please contact my Mobility Deputy Jessie Holzer at jessie.holzer@lacity.org or 310-575-8461 if you have questions, input, or if we can be of any assistance.

Thank you for your partnership in the Mar Vista Great Streets Initiative. I am very excited to see Venice Boulevard become the vibrant neighborhood center that it has the potential to be for our community.

Regards,

“Great Streets” Turns into “Great Escape” with Horns Blasting

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Traffic at Centinela was backed up to Wade.

Implementation this week of the Venice Boulevard “Great Streets” program in Mar Vista from Inglewood to Beethoven turned into the “Great Escape.”   Traffic backed up and cars were peeling off as fast as they could from the Venice boulevard seeking an alternative. Horns were on fire and it wasn’t applause.

It is part of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s “Great Streets” Initiative that has been implemented in other neighborhoods.

This “Great Streets” in Mar Vista was a dream of Councilman Mike Bonin and his constituents. It is Bonin’s hometown. It is billed as making changes that would be safer for people and supporting local businesses. It consists of four new pedestrian crossings, protected bike lanes, and improvements at existing signalized intersections. The desired outcome was/is to give Venice Boulevard from Inglewood to Beethoven “the small town downtown” effect.

Note:  Darryl DuFay’s notes on mobiity plan and info about SR187 helped with the story.

Venice is Major Thoroughfare
Venice is a major thoroughfare from downtown Los Angeles to the Venice Beach. It is the commuters boulevard of choice. It is classified in the City of LA Mobility plan 2035 as a Boulevard II. Boulevard II means the roadway width has to be 80 feet and consists of 4 to 6 lanes with a targeted operating speed of 35 miles per hour.

It is also State Route 187, which runs 5.4 miles from Lincoln to Cadillac Ave at the ramp to westbound I-10. The state agreed to relinquish control and management of the Great Streets portion of Venice Boulevard to the City of Los Angeles last year, according to David Graham-Caso, communications director for Councilman Mike Bonin.

Two Types of Protected Bike Lanes
Mar Vista has produced two types of protected bike lanes which are better illustrated with a photo than words but … One is with the cars parked in the vacated lane and bikes riding between parked cars and the curb, The other is bikes ride between cars parked at the curb and large white lines indicating a barrier. There are a lot of bollards involved also.

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Bikers ride next to curb protected by parked cars in vacated lane.
bike2
Bikers ride between white painted barrier and cars parked at curb.

This writer’s email caught fire with the Venice Boulevard happenings. It was checked out at 4 pm on Venice Boulevard, westbound. Traffic was backed up from Centinela to Wade. Saw one skateboarder.  People were trying to find alternatives because they found that horns were not moving traffic forward.

traffic2
Some used the bike lane.

Tuesday morning at 7:30 traffic was moving but not fast. While standing in a bike lane to take a photo, one biker passed and yelled “Isn’t it awesome” and then later “stay out of the lane you’ll get hit.” My camera followed him down the road to where he entered the sidewalk. He was entering a store.   Another bike passed.

Drivers Will Figure it Out
But drivers will soon figure it all out and make the necessary adjustments as they always do. Other areas may suffer dramatically.  One person on Nextdoor mentioned that the side streets should have been designated for bikes and that would have solved all the problems. But how about the commercial establishments and shopping? Sue Beckman checked with the fire department and they said they had to use Washington. They said no one had checked with them. One reader suggested a letter campaign and boycott of Mar Vista stores. All of these comments are listed anonymously because they have not been approved for publication or they do not want their names published. Darryl DuFay mentioned that parallel parking on a two-lane, major thorough fare will, not only be nerve racking for parker, but reduce the lanes temporarily to one.

Fire Department Reroutes
The statement that Sue Beckman got from the firemen at the Mar Vista fire department is alarming. Mar Vista fire department is east of the Great Streets. Am sure “Great Streets” was approved by the Fire Department personnel downtown but the admission by the men who do the job, stating that they are rerouting to Palms and Washington even if it is not as direct a route, is telling.  They stated to Sue that they were never consulted.  We have few fires but we do need paramedics.  If you have ever waited for a paramedic for a loved one, each minute is a lifetime.

People are Chatting About This Change
One wrote on Nextdoor “I know some posts have been started about the stupid idea put into place by our crooked elected officials. Let’s start fighting this. Let’s share alternate routes to take through residential neighborhoods in mar vista. Let’s boycott the businesses there. Perhaps that will get the city listening. And write letters and phone the various offices. Hope that some other members will write and post. Let’s start the pressure. Oh and worth noting the city will invest 27.2 million this year as opposed to the 3 million it spent last year.”

One answered and said “Great idea! Make some residential streets “bike only” instead. That would be a win for bikers and Waze protection for residents!” Great idea for neighborhoods too.

One emailed several insights and then decided one should list Bonin’s street as a cut through.

“Chairman of City Council’s Transportation committee (Mike Bonin) effects planned gridlock on Venice Blvd. between the 405 and Venice Beach by removing a traffic lane in Mar Vista.

“Hope no one needs an emergency vehicle this summer. Certainly Mar Vista could have been beautified without removing a traffic lane.

“Tunnel Vision. Someone on Next Door suggested boycotting Mar Vista merchants. I think the traffic situation there is going to produce the same effect.

“By the way, stopped by the Mar Vista fire station today. The firemen said they were not consulted about the plan at all.

“They added they could not get through on Venice Blvd yesterday when they had a call. They will have to use Palms and Washington in the future even if it is a less direct route.

“But it is mind boggling that Bonin and Garcetti chose this location for Great Streets. Could not be more inappropriate because it is a major east-west surface traffic artery. That they think that purposely slowing down traffic to make a cozy pedestrian friendly shopping area in this location could possibly serve the greater good is beyond belief and sadly proves why Trumpettes don’t trust government.

“Additionally, though not specifically in the coastal zone, it impedes coastal access to the rest of the City of L.A.

“Would love if someone with wider than Venice, media connections would do an expose of Gridlock Bonin and Go Along Garcetti. Luckily we have Venice Update, but would be shocked if we ever saw anything critical in the L.A. Times.”

Another summarized some of the comments “We are in a period of stupidity. Have you seen what they have done to Venice Blvd. Reduced lanes, reduced traffic flow, and confusing street markings. A safety problem waiting to explode. All to give cyclists a place to ride and text.”

3rd Ave — To Clean or Not to Clean; And Rose?

Note:   This in  from Councilman Mike Bonin’s Communications Director David Graham-Caso …

Thanks for the opportunity to clear up the confusion here. Sanitation is not out of money, and the street cleanings in Venice will continue. The Sanitation crews have had to limit the amount of overtime they use during cleanups, so the hours when they work have changed, but the regular cleanups are not stopping. I also understand that the crew did not make it out to Venice this week on their regular day, but that they were there yesterday to clean the street.

Third Avenue between Sunset and Rose is back in the news. The homeless sleeping on the sidewalks and those residents surrounding the area are complaining that the area has not been cleaned. In addition the homeless on south side of Rose between 3rd and 4th moved their belongings across the street to the north side Friday to accommodate a cleaning that never happened.

Third Avenue, located in a manufacturing area between Sunset and Rose, has been unofficially designated as a place for homeless to stay on the sidewalks. It is cleaned and sanitized once a week. Lava Mae comes once a week to provide showers for those who want them. St. Joseph’s outreach team is supposedly there daily to get people to apply for housing via the Consolidated Entry System (CES) and make sure the homeless are all right.

But Bureau of Sanitation has not been seen for the Friday cleanup for the last four weeks according to homeless residents and a couple of weeks according to surrounding residents. Update has pictures taken 7 April and Sanitation was there that day.

Councilman Mike Bonin’s office has been queried as to the status and a statement should be forthcoming. One wonders if this is a fiscal budget situation. The cleanup continues on Ocean Front Walk. Next fiscal year starts 1 July.

To complicate matters more for the nearby residents on north side of Rose, the homeless were told to move their belongings to the north side of Rose Friday so that the south side of Rose could be cleaned. Who told them is not known and it was not posted. In addition, there was no cleaning on 3rd.

The homeless have migrated around 3rd Avenue to sleep on south side of Rose. So it too needs cleaning and sanitizing but Update has never seen nor heard of it being cleaned.  It was reported by one homeless man that the south side of Rose had been cleaned once before. Update has never seen it cleaned nor signs posted for a cleaning.

The residents absolutely do not want the “homeless mess” in front of their homes for health reasons. Residents feel the homeless create and live in an unsanitary environment and they do not want the unsanitary condition at their doorsteps. Across the street is not to their liking either but bringing them in front of their properties is crossing the border of tolerance.

Rose1
(Photo courtesy of Rick Swinger.) Homeless  moved Friday morning to north side of Rose between 3rd and 4th so that the south side of Rose could be cleaned during cleanup of 3rd Avenue.

Rose2
(Photo courtesy of Rick Swinger.) This is stuff that is normally on Rose between 3rd and 4th during the day. Sometimes homeless  haul it to Rose temporarily during 3rd cleaning to be hauled back to 3rd  after 3rd  is cleaned but sometimes they don’t haul it back.

Rose3
(Photo courtesy of Rick Swinger.) This an example of how trashy an area can get during the week. This is across the street on Rose from residents.

rose6.
(Photo courtesy of Rick Swinger.) Clean up day on 3rd and man is sorting stuff from pile to put on tarp to move so area can be cleaned during normal Friday cleaning.

Rose5
(Photo by Rick Swinger.) This is one of the diseases residents do not want to be exposed to.