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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. 

Behind the Scenes of the MTA Site Selection

By Darryl DuFay

This news is not unexpected.

A little clarification of the LA Times article.   The author might have included some other important aspects of the MTA  project.  But, probably not author’s fault, since a concerted effort has been in effect for months to mask what is actually going on. For weeks the idea of “Bridge Home” was the only thing being sold.  No mention of the MTA lot was allowed.  Then a phony survey was held.

Could it be that they did not want to tell the public that this site was suggested by the MTA Board of Directors itself?  And, surprise, surprise Councilman Mike Bonin and Mayor Eric Garcetti, the “Bridge Home,” author are both members of the MTA Board.

What about the cost?  Based on the downtown first temporary, transitional, shelter, the cost of this project should be about $7.7M not $5M.  Another $1M plus per year for food and services.  And, remember this MTA “temporary” project is supposed to be torn down in three years so that the MTA can build “Affordable Housing” for hundreds of homeless on the site.  The MTA is in the beginning of the third year of at least a “five” year building program.

The 54 youths, 18-24, will be in nine modular trailers, while the 100 adults will be in a giant 10,000 square foot tent. Nice!

LAHSA who runs the project has “Rules and Regulations” for “Bridge Home” projects.  Mike Bonin’s Council office said this project WILL NOT follow what LAHSA said.  They have not provided an alternative.

Food, etc.  There is an outside, unenclosed eating area.  This project is a few hundred feet from the beach.  Gets mighty cold!  There is no food preparation on site. The LAHSA Regulations are very specific for three meals a day.  There are minimal areas at the project to use to deliver and move food around, especially for 463 meals a day.

The parking is also disputed.  The Project information said there will be nine spaces.  The City said there will be 111. The Coastal Commission report said 79. Now someone has settled on 20 spaces.   The posted elevations do not show any of these larger numbers.

The CA Coastal Commission will hear this “Bridge Home” shelter project today. The Executive Director of the Commission waived the requirement for a Coastal Development Permit (CDP) for this project.  Guess that tells you what will probably happen.

See LA Times article.

City Council Approves MTA for Bridge Housing

City Council approved the MTA lot on Sunset in Venice between Pacific and Main for Bridge Housing Tuesday.  They also approved a  homeless shelter in South LA and voted to support shelters in Westlake and Hollywood.  California Coastal Commission will address the MTA lot Wednesday.

See LA Times article.

 

 

 

City Declares “Categorical Exemption” From CEQA; VSA to Challenge

The City is declaring a “Categorical Exemption” from CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) on the proposed MTA Bridge Housing project at Sunset between Main and Pacific.

The project is supposedly a temporary project that is for three years only.  The City emphasizes providing “emergency shelter.”

The “Bridge Home” on the MTA site is scheduled to be heard by the California Coastal Commission, 12 December at the Newport Beach Civic Center Drive, Newport Beach 92660 at 9 am.  This will be Item 18 on the agenda.

http://clkrep.lacity.org/onlinedocs/2018/18-0510_rpt_BOE_11-29-2018.pdf

“One does not create living accommodations for 154 people, offices, food service, storage facilities and security personnel and not have any impact on the environment,” wrote Mark Ryavec, president of the Venice Stakeholders Association (VSA).”   “The VSA has retained legal counsel to challenge the categorical exemption and is also raising funds to litigate the matter.

“Contributions are welcome at venicestakeholdersassociation.org.  Our initial fundraising goal is $20,000.”

 

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.

Your questions about Bridge Housing are here … Looks like all projects have been dumped in Venice; Mayor wants homeless to stay in their communities; Encampments will stay along with “Bridge”

Venetians still have questions regarding the proposed “Bridge Housing” for Venice. The Venice Update has received several questions. They are going to be printed here as they come in so look for this article to grow.  In addition, the Venice Update has listed a few observations for you to consider making comments about, if you can.

All dumped in Venice
But with all the answering, no one has addressed the question of why is everything dumped in Venice.
There are two major affordable/psh housing projects planned for Venice taking some of the prime, prime land, 500 to 1000 feet from the ocean. The sale of these properties would house many, many more homeless inland from here. These are two major projects and now the “Bridge Housing.” Name one other city within CD11 that has half the projected homeless projects … just half.

Mayor wants to keep homeless in their communities
Now we have the Mayor stating that he wants to keep the homeless in their communities. Oh, my goodness. He obviously has not visited Venice Beach or 3rd Ave. They are all transients from out of state. Everyone in Venice shouts this to the top of their lungs but politicians are just not listening. Listen to those who help find places for the homeless such as Regina Weller. Listen to the Captain of the LAPD James Roberts, or if he isn’t familiar enough yet, ask former Captain Nicole Alberka. They aren’t from here, Mayor.  They just aren’t.

You say you found 16,000 homeless places, yet homeless figures do not reflect that
You say you found 16,000 places for homeless, why aren’t the yearly figures down significantly.  If you found 16,000 places for homeless last year, why is the homeless figure still in the low 30K range? Homeless for City this year was down 5 percent to 31,516.

Encampments will stay according Mayor
In one article you said you were going to clean up the encampments. It was assumed that the encampments were leaving Venice. Venice has 975 homeless and the Bridge proposes to house 100, leaving 875 on the street. You are quoted in Argonaut as saying “No area will be cleared until there are beds that are available.”  Meaning the encampments will stay along with the Bridge Housing.

Will Bridge Housing eliminate encampments or encourage more?
According to article in LATimes, Garcetti said enforce 41.18 (thus eliminating Jones Settlement). Attorney Carol Sobel said “There is a snowball’s chance in hell that a court will let them enforce that.” “Neighbors worried about the proposed shelters argue the pact makes it impossible to stop people from camping out near the new facilities,” LA Times article says.

CityWatch Asks “A Bridge Home or a Bridge to Nowhere?”
Darryl DuFay just found this article dated 18 June summarizing the planned projects and the encounters they have had plus the way they have been presented to the communities. CityWatch article.

Questions from Venetians

Eileen Pollack Erickson

Dear Councilmember Bonin and Mayor Garcetti

I completely echo the thoughts in the letter from the Venice Stakeholder’s Association and many others at the Community Open House last Wednesday night.  I am willing to support bridge housing and permanent supportive housing when and if such housing (1) truly replaces existing encampments throughout Venice and prevents their reestablishment.  Without this guarantee, a facility such as what is proposed is more likely to attract more homeless to Venice, more encampments.  (2) The laws which protect the residents and environment need to be observed, by going through the Coastal Commission, appropriate agencies for zoning changes, and observing CEQA protocols; and  (3) the rest of CD-11 must accept it’s fair share of this responsibility.  Here is the link to that letter: http://files.constantcontact.com/c052d8bf201/ca53fcd7-762b-47b4-9363-c533e37abe72.pdf

Thank you in advance for your attention.

Chris Cerbo

Headlines for YouTube videos suggest that everyone in Venice has been polled and is supporting this project. “VENICE SAYS YES TO BRIDGE HOUSING.” Was there a vote I missed?

Venice Says Yes to Bridge Housing – Part One

Judy Esposito

In trying to understand everything about this, I have several huge concerns:
I read that this bridge housing will cost 20 Million, I don’t know how many “facilities” city officials may be speaking of, (since nothing is EVER made clear to us) but if they are to last for only 3 years (residents would only be permitted to stay there for 3 months) it seems to me that our tax dollars would be much better spent on more long term solutions, such as re-purposing existing buildings.

The fact that Bonin’s “survey” does not permit one to oppose this idea at all but asks what sort of plantings / art, we might want there….assuming we are all completely in agreement with HIS proposal, I find this very disturbing indeed. Hardly a democratic process ! Where is the option to oppose on his survey ?

The fact that rehab / mental help has not been mentioned as a priority or even as being offered is also very disturbing.

Housing homeless people here, that will be open 24/7 as I thought I understood, seems to me, would be a true magnet for attracting so many more homeless people to our Venice. Many homeless people are not from here at all.

Many have serious mental/addiction problems which need to be addressed first of all.

Garcetti’s bribing us with more clean up truly stinks. Garcetti should be making sure all neighborhoods are kept clean …. period.

I have found Bonin’s refusal to hear his constituents or to respect his constituents, completely irresponsible and dictatorial. His pretend meetings, where people are supposedly heard, are a complete joke, made to placate and de-energize us in our opposition. Bonin then proceeds to ignore any input at all, and carry on with his own MISSION not ours.

Asking for architects input, artists input, landscapers input on such a temporary project is a ridiculous waste of our money.

Practical and long term solutions in locations not near homes would be just common sense. Also, how long will it take to build this temporary fix?  and to then just be torn down?   These people need help right away and in my humble opinion, this is not a sensible solution.

Questions Remain after MTA Bus Yard Community Open House

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(Photo courtesy of Daryl Barnett)

(Photo courtesy of Daryl Barnett)

meet1

By Angela McGregor

14 June 2018. Councilman Mike Bonin held a “Community Open House” at Westminster School Wednesday night regarding the proposed bridge housing for the former MTA Lot which, according to an emailed invitation “will provide opportunities for you to offer your feedback and input.”

But for the dozens of Venetians who attended with questions and concerns about issues as diverse and essential as public safety, CEQA and Coastal Development Approval, and the efficacy of providing emergency services and shelter for just 100 of the over 900 homeless on the streets of Venice, answers were unavailable.

Outside the event, homeless activist David Busch held a small media event wherein he stated his opposition to Bridge Housing due to the fact that these facilities will help a small portion of the over 20,000 homeless living on the streets and promise increased sanitation to clean up encampments (which he termed “inhumane”). He called for toilets, storage and other options to help this population to live “more safely” in their encampments as they wait for permanent, city-provided housing and services.

Meanwhile, attendees of the Open House entered the venue that, in lieu of seating, was lined with tables staffed by members of various homeless services organizations, including SPY, SHARE, LAHSA and the St. Joseph’s Center. These staffers were handing out information about their various organizations rather than anything specific to the MTA Lot Proposal.

A number of posters featured statistics about homelessness in Los Angeles. One of the few Bridge Housing-specific displays offered a variety of design options for the facility, and attendees were asked to indicate their preference for such items as “community garden”, “gathering place” and “space for pets” by placing a dot beside their choice on an easel board.

The final table asked for “questions and input” and offered attendees sheets of “Bridge Home” branded paper on which they could write questions. It was unclear how or when these would be responded to. A four-page flyer was offered which answered “Frequently Asked Questions”, but there was nothing on it that was not already to be found on the project’s website (www.BridgeHomeVenice.com). There is yet no design for the project, nor has a service provider been selected.

Councilman Bonin stood in the middle of the room, surrounded by supporters holding up pre-printed, “Everyone In” United Way placards while members of the media recorded his glowing assessment of the project and its community support. At one point, opponents of the project arrived holding up a yellow banner proclaiming “No Bridge Housing! Venice Says No!” and a couple of local residents were able to voice their concerns and objections to the project to Bonin directly before supporters once again closed ranks around him, raising their signs higher and making it impossible for anyone else besides the media to approach him.

The room was hot, stuffy and packed with stakeholders. Tempers flared. Several LAPD members were also present, and at least two attendees had to be escorted out after a scuffle.

It is unclear when or how Venetians will be able to have their say as to whether or not they feel this project should be built, or offer suggestions that would make it more acceptable to local homeowners and businesses. Because no motion regarding Venice Bridge Housing was passed at the most recent VNC Homeless Committee Meeting, the MTA Bus Yard Proposal will not be on the agenda of the upcoming VNC Board Meeting, which will be held this Tuesday, June 19th at 7 pm.

Despite the chaos and dissension, at 8 am on the morning after the Open House, Councilman Bonin Tweeted: “Great feedback, ideas and suggestions on how to make temporary homeless housing work at the former metro bus yard in Venice. Last night’s open house was a great success. #shedoes #VeniceSaysYes” and featured photos of his supporters holding up their signs, as well as photos of the aforementioned easel boards, covered with multi-colored dots.

Fox News referred to the Town Hall meet as “chaos.”