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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

VNC Takes on BID, Proposition HHH, and Mass, Scale and Character at Tuesday Meet

By Angela McGregor

The latest Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) board meeting featured two information-only presentations on two matters facing Venice residents: Proposition HHH on the November Ballot (Homelessness Reduction and Prevention, Housing and Facilities Bond), and the creation of a Business Improvement District (BID) for Venice’s Boardwalk neighborhood. Mass, Scale and Development document was up for discussion and a vote.

BID Discussion
Speaking in favor of the BID was local businessperson and longtime resident Brad Neal. Neal stated that the BID is an opportunity to “fill in the gaps” in the city’s services, not a “security force to push the homeless around” as some have characterized it. He maintained that the ultimate role of the BID is still being developed, and said that his vision for it might feature BID “ambassadors” in Hawaiian shirts handing out brochures and directions to tourists, carrying paint to cover graffiti and radios to call in crime. If it passes, he said the entire community must come together to define what their BID will be and do.

Longtime resident Sylvia Aroth spoke against the BID. She said it is a thinly-veiled attempt to gentrify the Boardwalk by harassing the homeless population on behalf of business interests. She pointed out that 70% of the BID’s budget is earmarked for security and asked, rhetorically, “how do you think that money will be spent? How will that impact the un-housed?” There is, she pointed out, no documentation as of yet to specify what role the BID will play. The city owns 25% of the properties covered by this BID, and will vote their shares in favor, and will fund this BID to the tune of $450,000 — money which Aroth feels should go to services, not private security.

Venetians who wish to get involved in the BID discussion can attend a Public Hearing on the matter at 10 am on Tuesday, November 8th at City Hall.

Proposition HHH
The argument in favor of Proposition HHH was made by Becky Dennison of Venice Community Housing Corporation, who was called in to do so at the last minute after Councilman Bonin (originally scheduled to speak) cancelled his appearance due to scheduling conflicts. Dennison pointed out that this Bond issue would raise $1.2 billion over 10 years to build up to 10,000 units of mostly permanent, supportive housing in Los Angeles. She pointed out that the city has been building such housing up to now (2000 units citywide), but very slowly and that there are only 42 such units in Venice at the present time. This new housing can be built citywide, and the specifics of where the money will be spent can be decided later, after the bond is approved.

Speaking against the measure was Jay Handel, Chair of the Neighborhood Council Budget Advocates. Handel first pointed out that he and other HHH opponents are not “against the homeless”. In fact, he has 28 years of experience working to house this population, in particular homeless vets. His primary objection to this measure is that there is “no plan”. The bond money cannot — by law — pay for supportive services, only housing, and another, perhaps equally expensive, countywide measure will be coming in March to pay for that. The measure, he stated, features no oversight and no new buildings for three years, a delay he stated was “inhumane”. Alternative plans which the city has rejected in favor of the bond measure would get people off the street much more quickly, and the city has the money (an additional $1 billion in this year’s tax revenues) to fund such solutions — in fact the city spent just $18 million last year on homeless services, less than it did to shelter animals.

In rebuttal, Dennison pointed out that for every dollar the city spends, they will leverage 3 dollars in Federal and State funds for services, and that there are units currently under consideration in the pipeline which could be built in less than 3 years.

Mass,Scale and Character
Sue Kaplan, of the VNC’s ad hoc Mass, Scale and Character committee presented their revised report on recommendations for restrictions on size and style for new, single-family developments in Venice. The report was quite detailed and featured an innovative approach to floor area ratio restrictions — starting from the city’s 0.45 standard and adding, on a sliding scale based upon various incentives, allowances in FAR which go beyond that number. For considerations of character, the report breaks down the architectural styles block by block (called “Blockscapes”). The presentation in its entirety can be seen here: http://www.venicenc.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/msc-draft-report_final_Pt-1_rev.pdf. Had this report passed, the recommendations would have had to be taken into consideration by LUPC on all new single-family builds.

Kaplan pointed out that the report has been four years in the making, and is a “living document” still open to discussion and revision. 15 members of the public spoke in favor of approving the report, with three members speaking against it (two recommended that it be forwarded to LUPC for further review, and one speaker pointed out that, since the report is dated 10/13, there had not been enough time for full public review of such an important document).

Board discussion on the matter was somewhat contentious, and focused on the need for such a document and the time and effort put into creating the report. In the end, the motion to pass the report was defeated 4-10 with 3 abstentions. A second motion, to send the document to LUPC for further review, revision, and resubmission to the VNC Board, also failed.

In additional matters, the Board recommended that Will Hawkins, Chair of the VNC’s Ad Hoc Homeless committee, act as the VNC’s homeless liaison to the Mayor’s Office and CD-8 at their bi-monthly Homelessness Advocate meetings and make regular reports back to the Board.

Mike’s Plan for “Ending Homelessness in Venice” on Prop HHH Brochure

Mikeplan
Councilman Mike Bonin presented his plan to End Homelessness in Venice, 29 March of this year. It has since been dubbed “Mike’s Plan” and the Councilman now refers to it as Mike’s Plan.

 

Councilman Mike Bonin has a mailer coming out in support of Proposition HHH, which would according to the brochure, “authorize $1.2 billion in bonds to build permanent supportive housing and affordable housing for people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.” This money would be used to pay for the projects proposed in Venice.

Note: The Councilman asked if Update would post his brochure. Update posts flyers but this brochure-flyer could not be duplicated. Also Update does not normally print Proposition information but since this pertains to Venice and the homeless, the facts and figures have been reproduced here but not the photos.

Data from 2016 LAHSA Homeless Count

In Los Angeles there are 28,464 homeless individuals, of which 21,338 are not sheltered. Females make up 33 percent, males 67 percent

In Venice there are 758 homeless individuals, 72 family members. Females make up 19 percent, males 81 percent.

homeless1
This is a breakdown of the ages.

homeless2
This is a breakdown of the circumstances.

 

Mike’s Plan

BUILD AFFORDABLE HOUSING

MTA BUS YARD

Mike and Supervisor Sheila Kuehl have proposed that the former bus yard located at 100 Sunset Avenue in Venice be turned into housing, with a significant portion dedicated to affordable housing for people making at most 60% of the area median income (about $33,000 a year).

CITY PROPERTIES

The City is asking affordable housing developers to evaluate every city-owned property that is surplus, vacant or under-used and consider proposing housing there (alternatively, the city may sell the properties and use the funds to build housing elsewhere). The first round of properties under consideration are: a former Fire Station in Westchester, a former Animal Shelter in West LA, the former Street Services Yard in the Oxford Triangle, and the parking lot on the Venice Boulevard median.

 

PROVIDE HOMELESS HOUSING

WESTSIDE HOUSING

The neighboring community of Del Rey has recently welcomed a series of housing projects for the home- less, including: PATH Villas (23 units), Gateway Apartments (21 units) and Del Rey Square (12 units).

DELL/PACIFIC LOT

Mike is proposing building housing for the homeless at the surface parking lot located between North and South Venice Boulevard and Pacific and Dell avenues.

VENICE FORWARD

Venice Forward is a new collaborative created to more rapidly move people into housing. The cooperative venture between government, social service agencies, businesses, and residents embraces the “Housing First” philosophy, which rapidly moves people into housing and supportive services.

EXPANDING RAPID REHOUSING

The City is expanding its funding for Rapid Rehousing – rental subsidies and services. RRH is the most effective and efficient intervention for more than 50 percent of homeless individuals and families. RRH is also more cost effective than other options.

 

EXPANDED SERVICES AND OUTREACH

TREATING MENTAL ILLNESS

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. Additionally, the County funds and St. Joseph Center operates the Venice Chronic Homeless Assertive Case Management Team — an intensive Mental Health unit that focuses on treating the most vulnerable individuals on the street.

HEALTHCARE

Integrated mobile health teams now provide street-based health and mental health treatment to chronically homeless and severely mentally ill individuals in Venice. Integrated teams (supported by the County, City, and local nonprofits) reduce the number of costly emergency room visits by people living on the street.

TRAINING FIRST RESPONDERS

LAPD Officers are now being trained on how to best respond when interacting with people who might have a mental illness. Special teams include officers and mental health professionals who help assess people with mental illness in the field. LAPD and Bureau of Sanitation officials are now also working with homeless outreach specialists to provide shelter and housing to people living on the streets.

211 AND VENICE FORWARD

People concerned about homeless neighbors or people in crisis living on the streets can log on to www. VeniceForward.org to ask a service provider to respond. Residents may also call the County’s 211 line, and after selecting their language, dial 7 to be connected to a community resource adviser.

OUTREACH TEAMS

The City recently added additional Homeless Emergency Response Teams to offer services to people who are homeless or at risk of experiencing homelessness, including direct emergency services and transportation, shelter, and outreach services to homeless encampment dwellers. Mike is supporting the work of LAPD Chaplains Regina and Steve Weller with a $62,000 grant. The Wellers have placed hundreds of homeless people in housing, focusing on family reunification and shared housing placements.

 

STREET STRATEGY

STORAGE

In order to keep our streets and sidewalks clean, the courts have made it clear that the City needs to offer people who are homeless alternatives to leaving their belongings on sidewalks. The City is asking Chrysalis to operate a voluntary storage program at the former Westminster Senior Center on Pacific Avenue.

SHOWERS

Lava Mae, a San Francisco-based non-profit that provides mobile showers for people who are homeless, is planning to launch a pilot program in Venice this fall.

BATHROOMS

The Department of Recreation & Parks will be opening some of the beach restrooms 24 hours per day to allow tourists and people who are homeless an alternative to defecating on public and private property.

SAFE PARKING

The City Council is considering legislation to create a program similar to one operated in Santa Barbara, allowing small numbers of people who live in their cars or RVs to park safely in non-profit, church or city parking lots overnight, where they have access to restrooms and can be connected with service providers.

 

PRESERVE AFFORDABLE HOUSING

 

MELLO ACT REFORM

Mike has proposed legislation to reform and strengthen the Mello Act, the law that protects affordable housing in the coastal zone, making it harder for developers to reduce or eliminate affordable housing in Venice.

SHORT-TERM RENTAL REGULATIONS

Mike has proposed legislation governing short-term rentals, preventing rogue operators from buying entire buildings, removing rental and affordable units from the market and converting apartments into permanent short-term rentals.