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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

Three VNC Committees to Hold Public Meet 8 Jan to Discuss Need for EIR for Venice Median Project; Special VNC Meet Will be Held 15th

Three Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) committees — Neighborhood, Parking and Transportation, Land Use and Planning — will meet publicly 8 January, 6:30 pm, Westminster Elementary School, 1010 Abbot Kinney Blvd to provide reasons for an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the proposed Venice Median project now known as the Reese-Davidson Community. The public is invited to attend.

The VNC will hold a special meeting the 15th to vote on this motion because the normal VNC meet will not be until the 22 which does not comply with the deadline of the 21st for the EIR request. Time and place for the 15th meet has not been established yet.

It is hoped that an impartial City representative will give stakeholders an overview of the process. Here is a EIR FAQ sheet.

This project will occupy the parking lot between North and South Venice Blvd, between Pacific and Dell Ave that is now zoned Open Space. The Venice Median project proposes 140 units half of which will be affordable and the other half permanent supportive housing.

The one item on the agenda states the NHC, LUPC, and PTC propose that the VNC issue a letter to Mayor Eric Garcetti, Councilman Mike Bonin, Vince Berlo, Kevin Keller, Johnny Le and the Los Angeles Planning Commission that urges full and formal attention paid to the following areas in preparation of an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the proposed development on the Venice Median (AKA Reese-Davidson Community) Areas of Concern will be listed.

Jim Murez, chair of the Parking and Transportation committee, touched briefly on traffic mitigation measures that should be included in the project at the December VNC meeting.

VCH to Build Housing on Their Rose Ave Site

Rose

Story and photo reprinted, with permission, from Venice Community Housing Monthly Newsletter

Venice Community Housing (VCH)  is planning to redevelop its current administrative offices into Rose Avenue Apartments!

Located at 718-720 Rose Avenue at the intersection of Lincoln Blvd. and Rose Ave., VCH will provide permanent supportive housing for 34 formerly homeless households- 50% for transitional aged youth, 50% for those who have experienced chronic homelessness and one unit for a resident manager. 

According to the VCH  newsletter, “Rose Apartments will help VCH continue to address the overwhelming need for permanent supportive housing for people who are experiencing homelessness or chronic homelessness, especially for those on the Westside of LA, one of the regions most under-served by permanent supportive housing development. VCH believes that providing housing and supportive services to those who are most vulnerable helps establish and maintain stability and health, reduces costs for ER visits, hospitalizations, and jail stays, and contributes to the overall inclusive and equitable development of the neighborhood.”

The above photo is a rendering of the development by architecture firm Brooks and Scarpa. For more information on the Rose Ave. development and other VCH new developments, visit our webpage HERE.

 

VCH Director and Architect Moss Unveil Plans for Venice Median

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A crowd anxiously awaited the unveiling of the plans for the Venice Median last week at the Pacific Resident Theatre on Venice Blvd and then vented their responses.

Becky Dennison, director of Venice Community Housing, introduced Eric Owen Moss, the architect. Moss wanted to explain the process that took place in determining the structure/s that he was going to introduce to the audience but members in the audience kept heckling him to show the building.

He explained that he had met the setback and height limits of the Venice Specific Plan and in some cases had exceeded these requirements. With the proposed RAS3 zoning, which means Residential Accessory 3 that translates into a combination of commercial and R-3 zoning, he could go a maximum of 45 feet. He did show an example but it got confusing to the audience. One architect said this zoning was the closest to the RFQ/P  requirement of R-3 with commercial added.

His design puts the required 188-parking spaces in the front building (on Pacific) and puts the required parking for all the residential and commercial units in the second building (near Dell). Apartments are planned to wrap around the parking, which is to be in the center, and the commercial will be on the first floor. The final design will incorporate the public boat access and access for the City maintenance contractor and the required parking for both.
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He showed views in mockup form of the surrounding buildings which he said he tried to capture the various roof-line variations into his design. The design consists of two buildings separated by the canal.  This is what will go in structures.

  • Housing = 75,000 sq ft
  • Neighborhood serving retail/Social enterprise/Flexible arts spaces = 10,500 sq ft
  • Parking = 420 spaces (including 188 existing public parking spaces); Footprint of parking = 37,400 sq ft (continuous ramp layout)

This is the largest piece of property to be developed in Venice, probably since Abbot Kinney’s day. The MTA lot on Pacific-Main, yet to be developed, is larger. The Thatcher yard lot is smaller.

One thing one can count on about Venetians is that the number of people in the group is equal to the number of opinions.

In general people were concerned that the design was not charming, when Moss explained that charming meant a combination of old and new. It looked to them like a large building even though it displayed a lot of architectural relief. Not enough play area for children. The roof will be grassy area; the beach is a block away. Why commercial, “if we are housing the homeless.” At previous workshops, people wanted commercial space.  One person said he would like to move in.

Below is the timeline for the project from final design to funding and pictures of various sides of the buildings.

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Image shown is between the buildings where the canal is.

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Side view.

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Front view of commercial.

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Looking at east end of building facing Dell Ave.

Dennison Gives Update on Venice Median Project and Answers Questions

Becky Dennison, director of Venice Community Housing, gives weekly progress reports on the Venice Median Project and answers questions.

Upcoming Community Engagement

Presentation and Discussion
Friday, June 23rd
1 to  2:30 pm
Israel Levin Center
201 Ocean Front Walk

Community Meeting to review Preliminary Project Design(s)
Tuesday, June 27th
7 to 8:30 pm
Pacific Resident Theatre
703 Venice Blvd.

“In addition to larger community events, we give tours of our properties upon request and we continue to attend community meetings as invited; please feel free to invite us to come to any formal or informal group of neighbors or stakeholders,” wrote Dennison.  Email venicedellpacific@vchcorp.org to extend an invitation and/or give any other suggestions on expanding community engagement.

Questions and Answers

1) By saying the “city has approved…”  what does that mean exactly?
The Los Angeles City Council?  The Los Angeles City Planning Department? In December 2016, the City Council authorized City staff to enter into a two-year Exclusive Negotiating Agreement (ENA) with Venice Community Housing and Hollywood Community Housing Corporation, allowing our team to develop a proposal and pursue all public approvals needed to develop affordable and permanent supportive housing at the Venice-Dell-Pacific site.  The ENA was executed in January.  All other public approvals needed to formalize and finalize our proposal, including the Planning Commission and the City Council, have not yet occurred.  They are expected to happen over the next year or so.

2) What is the status of this project with the California Coastal Commission? 
Where does it fit within the Venice Plan? The proposed project has not yet been submitted to or approved by the Coastal Commission.  That process is expected to take place sometime in the next year or so.  The site is within the Venice Specific Plan area.

Becky Dennison Lists Events and Answers Questions Regarding Venice Median Project

Becky Dennison, director of Venice Community Housing (VCH), lists the upcoming events and answers questions regarding the project.

Upcoming Events

General Outreach: Flyering and Door-Knocking
Thursday, May 25th
4 ro 6 pm
Residences near the parking lots

Community Meeting to review Preliminary Project Design(s)
TBD, estimated in mid-June
(we will confirm soon)

Presentation and Discussion
Friday, June 23rd
1 to 2:30 pm
Israel Levin Center
201 Ocean Front Walk

“We have temporarily scaled back community engagement in order to work on design(s) for the site,” wrote Dennison.   “However, we can give tours of our properties upon request and we are continuing to attend community meetings as invited – please feel free to invite us to come to any formal or informal group of neighbors or stakeholders.  Email venicedellpacific@vchcorp.org to extend an invitation and/or give any other suggestions on expanding community engagement. ”

Questions and Answers

1)    What are the boundaries for SPA 5? (the County’s Service Planning Area served by the Coordinated Entry System)?

Service Planning Area 5, or SPA 5, serves the communities of Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Culver City, Malibu, Pacific Palisades, Playa del Rey, Santa Monica, and Venice.  The website is here: http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/CHS/SPA5/index.htm.  In a previous Q&A, we described the Coordinated Entry System, or CES:

How Does the County’s Coordinated Entry System (CES) Work?

The CES system created centralized wait lists for permanent supportive housing throughout LA County.  Although the CES system is Countywide, the wait lists are regional.  This site is in Service Planning Area 5 (SPA 5), and therefore would receive referrals for permanent supportive housing tenants from the SPA 5 wait list, which includes people who are currently without housing and living in Westside communities.   CES is not one Countywide wait/referral list.

2)    What percentage or number of units could be set-aside for a master lease with Venice-specific outreach teams, as a method to target Venice street dwellers for this housing?

We don’t have a percentage or number for the master lease idea yet, as we are researching that piece of the project and that decision would be made much later in the development process.  We are committed to pursuing this option.

3)    The model/template for large scale buildings with concentrated populations is questionable to ineffective, such as Cabrini Green in Chicago being torn down and replaced with small building density.

Cabrini Green had 3,600 units and was home to 15,000 people.  We are proposing 140 units, or 4% of the size of Cabrini Green.  Our proposal is well within Housing Authorities’ new outlook on appropriately sized communities, in fact it’s much smaller.

4)    Is this the most efficient use of funds?  Are there better alternatives?  

Based on substantive research over the past decade, development of permanent supportive housing is a cost effective intervention that saves local governments money and successfully ends homelessness for most.  There are also other cost-effective programs and interventions, but permanent supportive housing development is greatly needed to supplement other programs in Los Angeles in order to end homelessness.

5)    What is the update on the design process?  Will you stop your design process until there is more opportunity for input?  

Our team, particularly the architects, are in the process of creating and refining possible design concepts for the site.  We estimate that we will have something to present at a community meeting by mid-June.  We will continue to accept and incorporate input throughout the design process, but we aren’t going to stop our process as we’ve heard overwhelmingly that people would like to have something more concrete to see, evaluate and respond to.

Dennison Lists Upcoming Events and Questions Asked Regarding Venice Median

By Becky Dennison, Director of Venice Community Housing

Saturday, March 4th
10 am – 12 pm
Tour of existing Venice Community Housing properties
Meeting place: 720 Rose Avenue, Venice
Please rsvp to Iisha Jones at ijones@vchcorp.org if you plan to attend.

Thursday, March 9th
7:00 pm
Beyond Baroque, 681 Venice Blvd.
Community meeting to present the preliminary proposal(s) for the Venice-Dell-Pacific site!

We are also continuing to attend community meetings as invited – please feel free to invite us to come to any formal or informal group of neighbors or stakeholders.  Email venicedellpacific@vchcorp.org to extend an invitation and/or give any other suggestions on expanding community engagement or about the project/site overall.

This Week’s Frequently Asked Questions

How Does the County’s Coordinated Entry System (CES) Work?
The CES system created centralized wait lists for permanent supportive housing throughout LA County. Although the CES system is Countywide, the wait lists are regional. This site is in Service Planning Area 5 (SPA 5), and therefore would receive referrals for permanent supportive housing tenants from the SPA 5 wait list, which includes people who are currently without housing and living in Westside communities. CES is not one Countywide wait/referral list.

Is it true that the Venice-Dell-Pacific development won’t provide housing and services for people currently living on the streets in Venice?
No, that is not true. It also is not true that people who are homeless in Venice would not likely qualify for the wait list through the Coordinated Entry System (CES). There are over 500 individuals within SPA 5 CES waiting for a housing referral who are homeless in Venice, and many more are in the family CES system. VCH regularly receives and accepts CES referrals to house individuals and families currently homeless in Venice for our existing housing in Venice and Del Rey, and we plan to utilize the same process for Venice-Dell-Pacific. Additionally, in response to substantial community input regarding the desire to house people already living in Venice, the development team is exploring additional methods we may be able to use in this development to ensure we adequately serve Venice while also meeting fair housing requirements.

Was the development team of Venice Community Housing, Hollywood Community Housing Corp, and Eric Owen Moss Architects selected or approved “behind closed doors”?
No. The City Administrative Officer led the public, competitive process for selecting development teams to explore possible development on City-owned sites. A Request for Qualifications/Proposals (RFQ/P) was released and posted publicly on the City’s website on July 25, 2016. A public pre-submission conference was held on August 9, 2016 and was attended by approximately 100 people. Questions were allowed to be submitted and all Q&A was published online. Proposals were due on September 15, 2016. From the CAO’s public report announcing the results of the RFQ/P, the proposals were reviewed by a Selection Panel: “The five-member Selection Panel for the RFQ/P consisted of four City staff and one non-City staff engaged in housing work. City staff consisted of representatives from the CAO, CLA, HCID, and the Department of City Planning (DCP). The non-City panelist was from the County of Los Angeles Chief Executive Office (County CEO) Homeless Initiative.” The report, with the recommended development teams and the action to enter into Exclusive Negotiating Agreements between the City and the development teams, was considered in four public meetings, all of which had public comment: Joint Municipal Facilities and Homeless Strategy Committees (11/17/16), City Council Homelessness and Poverty Committee (12/7/16), City Council Entertainment and Facilities Committee (12/13/16), and City Council (12/14/16). The testimony at three of four of these public hearings was unanimously in support of the City’s program and the development teams selected; testimony in support and opposition was heard at the Homelessness and Poverty Committees. All public documents and meetings related to the RFQ/P are available here: https://cityclerk.lacity.org/lacityclerkconnect/index.cfm?fa=ccfi.viewrecord&cfnumber=16-0600-S145

Will rehabilitation projects of existing buildings funded by Proposition HHH move faster or cost less than new construction?
Rehabilitation projects funded by Proposition HHH must be substantive, and generally require the same combination of public funds as new construction projects, including tax credits and rental subsidies. Therefore, the development timeline for new construction and rehabilitation projects is generally not substantially different. As answered previously, sometimes rehabilitation projects cost less than new construction and sometimes they do not. Both types of developments are much needed and will be pursued by developers using Proposition HHH funds. However, the City is in a dire shortage of housing units at all low and moderate income levels, so new construction is encouraged and necessary to end homelessness.

All Q&A to date is available here: http://www.vchcorp.org/venice-dell-pacific-faqs/
Email venicedellpacific@vchcorp.org to submit any new questions.

Venice Vision Does YouTube to Explain Venice Median, Development

Venice Vision is a group of Venetians concerned about the development of the Venice Median Parking Lot — that large piece of land from Pacific to Dell between North and South Venice Blvd. This parcel of land has been considered City surplus  and has been designated for homeless housing.

Venice Vision has devoted a lot of time to bring you a website loaded with facts and articles pertinent to development of  the Venice Median at venicevision.org

The YouTube videos above take one thru this development process and explain what is planned or isn’t planned.   A major concern of the group is the refusal of the Venice Community Housing Corporation to make public their original application to build the housing.  The group claims that never in the history of Venice has there been a project developed this way.

There is a Petition regarding Venice Vision concerns on the website Home page under  “Take Action.”

Dennison Lists Community Events for Next Week Concerning Venice Median

Saturday, February 11th
12 pm – 3 pm
Barbeque/open house and tour of VCH properties – come and meet current VCH tenants and neighbors
650 Westminster Avenue

Sunday, February 19th
12 pm – 3 pm
Flyering, tabling, and Q&A near the Venice-Dell-Pacific lots and surrounding residences
Corner of N. Venice and Pacific, and surrounding streets

Wednesday, February 22nd
1 pm – 2 pm
Tour of mixed use properties, affordable housing and commercial, with Santa Monica Community Corporation
Meeting place: 2209 Main Street, Santa Monica

Thursday, March 9th
7:00 pm
Place TBD
Community meeting to present the preliminary proposal(s) for the Venice-Dell-Pacific site!

“Please feel free to invite us to come to any formal or informal group of neighbors or stakeholders,” wrote Becky Dennison, director of Venice Community Housing. We also will schedule more tours of VCH properties upon request. Email venicedellpacific@vchcorp.org to extend a request, an invitation and/or give any other suggestions on expanding community engagement or about the project/site overall.

“There were no new questions received this week, but past Q&A is available here:
http://www.vchcorp.org/venice-dell-pacific-faqs/ ”

Email venicedellpacific@vchcorp.org to submit any new questions.

Dennison Answers More Community Questions Regarding Venice Median

Is there a possibility that there won’t be services provided at this site because Proposition HHH can only fund construction of units, not social services?
No. Proposition HHH creates a dedicated, local source of funds for the capital costs of constructing permanent supportive housing (PSH). PSH is funded by multiple sources, and are blended together to ensure funding for both construction and ongoing staffing needs and services for tenants in the building. Current sources of funding for services in PSH include Los Angeles County, the Home for Good funders collaborative which is led by the United Way, and other public and private sources. Measure H, on LA County’s ballot on March 7th, would increase the resources that LA County has to fund services for homeless and formerly homeless residents.

Why should we spend so much money on constructing new permanent supportive housing?
Multiple studies have shown that the funds spent to create and operate new permanent supportive housing actually save governments money, as it costs more in emergency health care, arrests or jail stays, emergency shelters and other public costs of people remaining homeless. Additionally, there is a severe housing shortage at most all income levels in the City of Los Angeles, especially at the lowest income levels. We can and do provide public funds and social service support for homeless people to move into existing housing, but the housing stock is too limited to be able to house everyone by this method. Even people with Section 8 vouchers have a hard time finding available housing, often facing the expiration of their voucher and remaining homeless. We need to build more homes and use the existing housing stock to address homelessness, and this approach saves Los Angeles money in the long run.

Why not just buy existing run-down apartments or motels and house homeless people there?
Both VCH and HCHC, as well as many other non-profit organizations, can and do renovate apartments and motels to create PSH when the circumstances warrant such an approach, however, there are some practical obstacles to consider. For example, we cannot pay more than fair market value for a property and many owners of multifamily properties and motels are not interested in selling because they either want above market prices today or they want to sell in the future when property values have reached new heights. Secondly, vacancy rates are very low in multifamily properties and it is problematic to displace existing households so that their unit can be renovated and re-rented to a formerly homeless household. Existing buildings will continue to be purchased and renovated by affordable housing developers, but, as stated above, this must happen in conjunction with the development of brand new units in order to address LA’s severe housing shortage.

Can we expect a “Safe Parking” program at the site?
No. Neither HCHC nor VCH offers services to homeless residents at our permanent supportive housing sites – our services onsite are for formerly homeless tenants and other low-income tenants that live in the property. Additionally, the new safe parking program is targeting parking lots that are not in use overnight. This will not be the case at the Venice-Dell-Pacific site if a residential development is achieved.

What was the process for selecting VCH and HCHC to develop this property?
The City Administrative Officer (CAO) released a Request for Qualifications/Proposals (RFP/Q) and VCH and HCHC responded with proposals. From the CAO’s public report, “The five-member Selection Panel for the RFQ/P consisted of four City staff and one non-City staff engaged in housing work. City staff consisted of representatives from the CAO, CLA, HCID, and the Department of City Planning (DCP). The non-City panelist was from the County of Los Angeles Chief Executive Office (County CEO) Homeless Initiative.” The public documents and meetings related to the RFP/Q are available here: https://cityclerk.lacity.org/lacityclerkconnect/index.cfm?fa=ccfi.viewrecord&cfnumber=16-0600-S145

To see past Q&A about Venice-Dell-Pacific, click here: http://www.vchcorp.org/venice-dell-pacific-faqs/

VNC Homeless Committee Passes Three Motions; Dennison Discusses Venice Median

By Angela Mcgregor

Homeless Committee of Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) passed three motions at their Monday meeting held at the Venice Community Housing office (VCH) on Rose. Becky Dennison, VCH director, gave a talk regarding the Venice Median project.

The 3 motions, all passed unanimously, were:

1. Reduce, Return, Re-house (proposed by Matt Shaw)

Recommendation that the VNC adopt the following principles and aims to support programs that

– REDUCE the number of new homeless people coming here or becoming homeless in Venice
– RETURN those willing and able to go home
– RE-HOUSE with priority (elderly, families, single mothers, veterans, teens, mentally ill)

The idea behind this resolution was to place the Council’s priorities behind programs and organizations that reduce the overall homeless population in Venice. These include the enforcement of laws, the reunification of homeless with family members (where appropriate), discouraging street donations and supporting service donations and supporting local service organizations which enable the un-housed to get off the streets.

2. Motion to allow Section 8 vouchers for rooms in private homes

The Committee recommended to the VNC that it recommend that the city of Los Angeles agree to allow Section 8 vouchers to be used to pay for single rooms in private residences to pre-approved homes to individuals registered in the Coordinated Entry System.

3. Reimbursement to families housing homeless family members.

The Committee recommended that the VNC recommend that the city of Los Angeles agree to create a program and put aside funds pay a set amount of funds to families housing homeless individuals who have been properly registered through the Coordinated Entry System. This was passed as a pilot program specifically focused on homeless in Venice with family members throughout greater Los Angeles.

All three motions were, according to Committee Chair Will Hawkins, aimed at housing currently un-housed members of the Venice community as soon as possible, by focusing on currently available resources. The motions will, he hopes, “start a conversation” at the City Attorney’s office, as did the Committee’s Mobile Storage Proposal. The motions will now be added to the agenda for the VNC’s February meeting.

Following the regular meeting, VCH Becky Dennison and Linda Lucks led a discussion with the committee regarding development of the Venice & Dell lot. Dennison stated that the VCH was open to any and all suggestions for its use, including mixed-use and the inclusion of a community center. Despite prior statements by the Chief Administrative Office that the lot would be zoned R-3 (exclusively high-density residential), she maintained that the zoning for the development is still open for discussion.