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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

City Council Approves VCH/Hollywood Community Housing/Moss to Explore Housing Options for Venice Median

Venice parking lot


Venice Parking

The Venice Median Parking Lot was approved by the City Council last week to “explore options for affordable and permanent supportive housing.”

There are two properties the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) designated as surplus properties in Venice eligible for “affordable housing” development. One is the Venice Median Parking Lot and the other is the Thatcher Yard. Thatcher Yard has yet to go thru the City Council.

The Venice Median property is 122,171 square feet and is zoned Open Space and has been used as a parking lot.  The Request for Qualifications/Proposal stated that it would be rezoned to R-3 and eligible for two 35 percent density bonuses, which means that the property could accommodate 260 units, if rezoned to R-3.  This rezoning will require a change to the General Plan.

Note: The Neighborhood Integrity Initiative, which is on the March ballot, if passed, would stop “spot-rezoning” for two years even if project is for affordable housing.

By Becky Dennison, executive director of Venice Community Housing (VCH)

Note:  In addition to the following announcement, Dennison has announced that she wants to start engaging the community to explore developing the property between North and South Venice Blvd and between Pacific and Dell Ave, known as the Venice Median Parking Lot.  She has sent this information to several groups to schedule meetings for community input.

Venice Community Housing (VCH) is proud and excited to share that we, and our development team partners at Hollywood Community Housing Corporation and Eric Owen Moss Architects, were approved on December 14th by the City Council to explore options for affordable and permanent supportive housing on the city-owned parking lots between North and South Venice Boulevard, bounded by Dell and Pacific Avenues.

City’s program requires that the site be used for housing development with appropriate services onsite and that all current public parking be maintained.  However, any final development proposal can also include uses beyond housing and parking, and VCH and our partners will engage the community broadly to reach our goal of developing a project proposal that addresses our housing crisis, meets multiple needs and contributes positively to surrounding neighborhoods and Venice as a whole.

No specific development plan has been approved at this time. The City Council approval of our development team for this site provides the opportunity for us to complete an initial stage of community engagement and return to the City with a detailed development proposal.  The development proposal will then need to be formalized with the City, and subsequently follow all required public approval processes within the Neighborhood Council, City Council, Coastal Commission, and potentially other public bodies.

VCH and our partners will announce opportunities for community input, engagement, and feedback to inform and create a project proposal by Monday, December 19th.   We plan to announce an initial 90-day community engagement plan online and through our growing email list, but also expect the plan to expand throughout those 90 days as we receive more ideas and feedback. 

Our process will include community meetings, Venice Neighborhood Council meetings, door-knocking and flyering in all immediately surrounding neighborhoods, tours of existing permanent supportive and affordable housing, tours of the architecture work of Eric Owen Moss, a dedicated email address to receive input and share periodic results, presentations/discussions at existing local organizations’ meetings, as well as other activities. 

We are very open to all ideas about how best to ensure broad community input.  Each part of the community engagement process will be publicized in advance and the results will be well documented and shared.   If we are able to enter into a development agreement with the City after the initial process, we are then committed to further community engagement throughout the entire development period, to focus on design elements, traffic, impacts of construction, and other issues of interest or concern.

Until the dedicated email address for the Venice-Dell site is activated, please feel free to reach out with questions or other input to Becky Dennison, VCH’s Executive Director, at: bdennison@vchcorp.org.


Neighborhood Integrity Initiative Town Hall Addresses Some Venice Problems

Marsha Hanscom, environmentalist, speaks to people gathered to hear about the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative at the Town Hall on Stoner. The initiative is on the March ballot. A few spoke of Venice and mentioned “re-gentrification” and the lack of integrity in the planning system. None spoke of the massive changes that will occur in Venice if the proposed Venice Median is rezoned from open space to R-3 and if the Thatcher Yard is rezoned from what it is to R1.5. For information on initiative go to https://veniceupdate.com/2016/11/19/13986/.

Westside Town Hall–Preserve LA, Neighborhood Integrity Initiative, 3 Dec

West Los Angeles Town Hall to explain the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative 11 am to 1 pm, 3 December, Stoner Recreational Center, 1835 Stoner Ave.

Westside Town Hall Flyer V4_000001

Can “Neighborhood Integrity Initiative” Stop Venice Median, Thatcher Yard?

Many Venetians have pointed to the “Neighborhood Integrity Initiative
as a stopper to the homeless projects planned for Venice. The initiative goes on the ballot in March.

The initiative is intended to stop “spot rezoning” for large projects that disrupt the “integrity” of the community, and in many cases, re-identify a community. The initiative calls for a two-year moratorium first.

Affordable Housing is Exception but not General Plan Change
One of the exceptions to the initiative is “affordable housing.” But the initiative also states that the project must be consistent with the General Plan.

Rezoning that is planned for the two Venice projects is not consistent with the General Plan, so a Plan change would be necessary. Of particular interest is Section 4.B which deals with General Plan changes and Section 4.E which deals with the affordable housing exemption.

The Venice Median is zoned “open space” and the plan is to rezone it R-3, which is a zone for apartments. The Thatcher Yard has been used as a “public utility,” since becoming part of Los Angeles. This might fit under industrial use as stated. But the intensity of going from flat land to apartment-type use is definitely addressed under 4.B.1,2,3.

Section 4 Temporary Moratorium Stops Council Approvals of Projects that Seek Spot Zoning and General Plan Amendments to Intensify Land Use

B. Notwithstanding any section of the Los Angeles Municipal Code and during the effective period of the moratorium imposed by the Act no project that seeks a General Plan amendment, a zone or height district change shall be approved by the City Council if such approval would result in:

1. changes of existing zoning to permit more intense land use (as defned by a zone change from a more restrictive to less restrictive zone according to the Los Angeles Municipal Code section 12.04A, or to a height district permitting the construction of a higher structure); or

2. an increase in floor area ratio, density or height; or

 3. a net loss of land zoned open space, agricultural or industrial.

E. Exceptions. The moratorium prohibitions specified in this Section 4 of the Act shall not apply:

1.  to any project in which 100% of the units are deed restricted Affordable Housing Units, that seeks a zone change or height district change only, but not a General Plan amendment.

An Affordable Housing Unit is defined as a unit that is affordable to households with a gross household income at or below Low Income levels (including Extremely Low Income and Very Low Income) as determined by the California Department of Housing and Community Development (or successor agency) for Los Angeles County on an annual basis, and that is rented or sold for no more than the percentage of gross household income required by Health and Safety Code section 50052.5.

March Ballot Initiative Might Curtail Homeless Plans for Venice Median, Thatcher Yard

Venice Parking
Venice Median located between north and south Venice Blvd at Pacific would go from parking lot to units.

Yard 5.02.55 PM
Thatcher Maintenance Yard is located at the south end of the Triangle with access only from Washington.

The Neighborhood Integrity Initiative on the ballot in March is billed as a way of cracking down on large, out-of-place developments but it could also derail the City of Los Angeles’ plan to help house the homeless.

The LA Times claims that Mayor Eric Garcetti and the City Council have spent months developing plans for converting as many as 12-city owned sites. Opponents of the initiative claim that 11 of those 12 would be halted for two years if the measure passes.

Opponents say that exemptions do not include changes to the General Plan. Both identified Venice projects—Venice Median, Thatcher Yard—scheduled for the homeless would require changes to the General Plan. See LA Times article.

The Venice Median lot is proposed to be rezoned from Open Space to R-3. The Venice Median has provided for much needed parking and particularly during the beach days. Parking is such a premium in Venice. If Venice had adequate parking, the coastal commission would allow residents to have preferential parking, such as other sister beach cities have. Yet, this project would remove present parking and increase parking problems at the beach. Conceivably, with two 35 percent bonuses, the area could have 260 units. Venetians are aware of what Venice beach area is like during the summer and warm days.

Councilman Mike Bonin has said he would not build that many units and has said he would keep the present parking. Just how many units the plan has, is unknown. But going from Open Space to R-3, from parking to units at the beach should require a General Plan change.

Thatcher Yard is nestled in the R-1, single-family home area of about 350 homes and is called the Oxford Triangle. It is governed by the Oxford Triangle Specific Plan as well as the Venice Specific Plan.

The area in question would allow for less than 20 single-family homes according to LA Planning standards, but if rezoned to R1.5, would allow for 62, and with two 35 percent bonuses, would bring the total to 106. A thirty percent increase in street traffic in one small area would certainly qualify for General Plan change. This project would also ingress/egress solely via Washington Blvd, near Lincoln, another reason for a general plan check.

Councilman Bonin has also stated that he would not put the maximum number of units on the Thatcher Yard either but has not stated what he would put.

The numbers given for the Thatcher Yard and the Venice Median are those that fit the parameters of LA Chief Administrative Officer Miguel Santana’s RFQ/P.