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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

Safran Presents Another Architectural Style to OTA, Answers Memo Regarding Thatcher Yard Project

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Entrance off Princeton (east). Frederick Fisher’s more contemporary approach.

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Steven Giannetti’s more residential approach.

By Casey Truit and Angela McGregor

The Thomas Safran Associates (TSA) group met Monday (19 March) with members of the Oxford Triangle Association (OTA) to show members a new, more “residential” design for the Thatcher Yard project and to answer questions regarding the OTA memo sent to TSA in response to their initial proposal.

The OTA memo, dated 7 January, was sent in response to the December presentation by TSA showing 98 units. The memo asked for 62 units which would be normal for a 93,000 sq ft lot zoned R1.5. The 98 units would be in line with two additional 35 percent bonuses, which are allowed for affordable housing.

The memo also asked for increased parking, two performance bonds that would insure ingress/egress rights of way thru Jefferson-Marina Drive via Princeton (east) and complete vacation and fencing of Thatcher Ave at Princeton (west) after planning approval and prior to any testing, construction, building.

The fire department has been known to approve a project during the planning process only to say “No” after planning approval and during the construction approval process which is past the time for citizen intervention. The bonds would prevent TSA from building without these approvals.

Parking was increased from 64 to 86 which is better than required for affordable housing.  The memo asked for many other concessions as shown REL.

Most people preferred the second design, done by Steven Giannetti.

In response to the community’s wish that the development retain more of a single-family look, both renderings restricted the height of buildings fronting Princeton & Oxford to 25 feet (no more than the maximum height of the single-family homes facing the Yard on those streets). They also increased setbacks to mirror those of nearby homes. The project is 3.5 stories in one place.

Also discussed were TSA’s standards for determining who can occupy their developments (they currently manage close to 60 properties), security concerns (the facility will have a full-time, on-site manager), energy and water usage efficiency standards in the finished development, regulations and expectations for resident retention, and community concerns and requirements for the construction process.

Elena Theisner, of Safran management staff, explained the process for tenant selection for the TSA properties. Prospective tenants for both affordable and permanent supportive type housing have both a credit and a criminal check. If drug use or alcoholic use is indicated on the criminal check that goes back seven years, the tenant is disqualified.

TSA estimates that, once community approval on a proposal is reached, the permitting process would take at least one year, followed by two years of construction.

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Frederick Fisher’s design showing project at Thatcher.

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Steven Giannetti’s design showing project at Thatcher.

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Animal Shelter Gets 73 Low Income Units

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West Los Angeles Animal Shelter at 11950 Missouri Ave in West Los Angeles has been approved by the West LA Neighborhood Council for 73 low-income units and one manager unit. Thomas Safran Associated had proposed 81 units.

Thatcher Yard — Residents Want to Know What is Happening

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(Photo courtesy of Linda Vaughan.) Thatcher Maintenance Yard. Soil tests for an Environmental Impact Report?

Neighbors really want to know what is going on with the Thatcher Maintenance Yard.

The Yard, 93,000 sq feet, was designated as one of the first City salvage projects. It was to be rezoned to RD1.5 and designated for affordable housing. City Administrator put out RFQ/P to developers. Thomas Safran Associates were selected for the Yard with their dual proposal of 86 to 152 units with a mix of 60 percent market rate, 30 percent affordable, and 10 percent permanent supportive housing.

That was November. Plans are supposedly to be presented to City in March. It is March. No one has approached the Oxford Triangle members regarding this project. Blake Coddington of Safran group was supposedly talking with individual residents regarding the project at one of the Venice public meetings.

Meanwhile, proposition HHH was passed which would provide funds for building 100 percent affordable projects on the Yard — no market rate. A neighborhood request by a small group of residents went thru the LUPC and the VNC requesting that the Yard stay City maintenance or be rezoned R-1. VNC almost unanimously voted that down and asked for “multi-housing” use.

March 7 is an election for City council seat and a Measure S. Measure S would stop spot rezoning projects… except for affordable housing projects unless project requires general plan changes. Both these projects require both spot rezoning and general plan changes. So a “YES” for Measure S supposedly would stop both projects for at least two years. A vote “No” would mean business as usual, spot rezoning and changing the plans.

Incumbent Mike Bonin is for developmening the two lots. He wants Measure S to be defeated so he can build affordable housing on both. Mark Ryavec is not for developing either property for homeless. He is for Measure S. In the case of the Yard, he wants property zoned R-1 and sold to a developer. Robin Rudisill supports Measure S. She says keeping the Yard for maintenance should be reconsidered; otherwise, the community has spoken for R-1. The Venice Median she says she would honor the Land Use Plan certified by the California Coastal Zone, which means it would not be developed. So incumbent is only candidate for developing both lots and Measure S.

To add confusion to the pot, Councilman Mike Bonin, who is for developing the properties, answered a Venice Update question regarding the sale of the properties and using the monies for homeless in other areas as follows:

It is also important to note – despite repeated assertions to the contrary – that the City has not decided what or even whether to build on these properties. The City has only allowed affordable housing developers the opportunity to propose at these sites. At this point, there are no actual proposals. The housing developers who were assigned to each of the Venice sites are conducting community and neighborhood outreach before they propose something. Then, those proposals must be reviewed by the Land Use and Planning Committee of the Venice Neighborhood Council, the full Venice Neighborhood Council, and then the City planning approval process and likely the California Coastal Commission.

Meanwhile, a local resident and architect, wrote to Councilman Mike Bonin and all the council members:

You have bypassed not only the VNC and their LUPC, but also your constituents. None of the documents regarding site selection, contractor selection or RFQ submissions have been made available to the public. The development is being fast-tracked with virtually no public review, and without open and transparent procedures that the City would demand of any developer.

Tent with occupant in front of  Yard.

Tent with occupant in front of Yard.

Meanwhile, a tenter was happy living in front of the Yard for about a week until the rig disturbed his solitude or someone moved him on. Residents asked if the tenter was first in line for a place.

Residents really want to know what is happening? Residents know the rules, yet things are happening without their knowledge, input, or due process.

Safran Group Responds to Questions Regarding Thatcher Yard

Thatcher Yard

Thatcher Yard

Tyler Monroe, member of the Thomas Safran development team for the Thatcher Yard, answered Venice Update questions, such as what is the process, where are you with the process, and what was proposed for the site.

We do not yet have official written approval of our selection. The City staff recommended us to Council; two council committees already voted to approve. The City staff expects full City Council approval by mid-December. The staff report to Council recommends TSA “in writing” for the site.

Our Proposal. The goal of our proposal was to demonstrate flexibility and willingness to consider all options to make the best project for the site, the community and the City. Therefore, we proposed multiple “mixed income” options for this site. The options vary in density (from 84 to 152 units) and the mix of populations served (market rate, independent affordable and permanent supportive). We don’t yet know what the City staff prefers. We specifically state in our proposal that once selected, we will “work with the City and the local stakeholders to find the right tenant population.”

As a starting point, we proposed 60% market rate, 30% independent affordable and only up to 10% permanent supportive housing. I think that this may be quite different from what many people expect. We also expressed willingness to increase affordability if it was acceptable and City funds were provided (Proposition HHH or other) to make it work. The final project size and housing types will be determined by the community engagement process.

Next Steps. Once approved, we will do very thorough community outreach (including public meetings with ample opportunity for input) to determine the best solution on this site for all stakeholders and then; go through the city planning process for land use approvals plus, the Coastal Commission for a Coastal Development Permit. We are absolutely at the earliest stage. The final project program will be born out of a robust community input process.

We look forward to discussing further how we make this a wonderful project for all!