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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

Wrede Questions WSJ Author Over Venice Article

Venice Median project, proposed by Venice Community Housing, is to have 138 units for homeless, 10,000 sq ft of commercial, plus 188 covenant parking spaces.


This is Chris Wrede’s letter to Laura Kusisto in response to her article in Wall Street Journal entitled Venice Beach Is a Hot Place to Live, So Why Is Its Housing Supply Shrinking?

By Christian Wrede

Dear Ms. Kusisto:

As a Venice resident who is concerned about the future of his community– for himself and his family — I was hoping you could send me additional information regarding the study The Wall Street Journal apparently commissioned by Issi Romem of BuildZoom in connection with your article “Venice Beach Is a Hot Place to Live, So Why Is its Housing Supply Shrinking.”

I will tell you that as a regular reader of the WSJ, I was struck by the lack of transparency as to the data, methodology and reliability of the study, particularly given the inherently challenging nature of the task you purport to have accomplished — a comparative, nationwide survey of how “tough” it is “building housing” in different neighborhoods (whatever that

In any event, your article made no mention of the fact that Venice is characterized in a Los Angeles Times survey of housing density as “about average for the city of Los Angeles but among the highest densities for the county,”  with 12,000 residents per square mile, at last count — 25% to 33% more than its coastal neighbors to the north and south (Santa Monica and Manhattan Beach, respectively) and 6 to 10 times more than uber-affluent Westside communities like Brentwood, the Pacific Palisades and Bel-Air.

Venice is one of the most densely populated communities in Los Angeles County. (The dark colors indicate higher population density.)

Similarly, your article makes no mention of the numerous massive apartment buildings either under construction or in the planning stages directly to the south of Venice in Del Rey and Marina del Rey (communities completely intertwined with and functionally indistinguishable from Venice) or the massive strain that new development is placing on our North-South corridors – all three of which
(Pacific, Ocean and Abbot Kinney) are just one lane in each direction.

You also make no mention of the fact that Venice has among the highest ratios of AirBNB units per capita in the nation or the impact that such a large number of short-term rentals has on demand for housing and housing costs.

Finally, your benign characterization of Venice Community Housing’s
development is naive and off the mark.

Becky Dennison applauds herself for limiting the project to  “140
apartments after encountering opposition from local residents.”

But did she tell you that our councilmember, Mike Bonin, originally said
that there would just be “up to 90 small units” on the site?

That the project will occupy almost 3 acres in a community where the
average lot size is just 3,600 sq. ft.?

That she will build not one, but two 3-story parking structures smack
dab in the middle of residential neighborhood?

That there will be more than ten thousand square feet in “social
enterprise space” for businesses now based on Skid Row?

That, by law, no space can be reserved in the project for either
homeless or low income members of the Venice community, and that we
will, in fact, be housing in equal number people from wealthier cities
— including Beverly Hills, Santa Monica and Malibu — that are not
providing any land or funds for the construction of these facilities?

That there will be at least 500 residents?

Or that her project is just one of three projects — ranging from 2 acres to 3.5 acres in size — that Councilmember Bonin has planned in Venice within a mile of one another?

In closing, let me just say I also take issue with the photo of
“graffiti-covered abandoned beachfront houses in Venice Beach,” as if
that is a result of opposition to development. Those houses are as they
are  because they abut one of the largest homeless encampments — in
length, width and number — in the entire world (which Councilmember
Bonin is seeking to grow by spiking funds for clean up and through the delivery of new services including 24/7 bathroom facilities).  Also those houses will be replaced by  a new restaurant that is in the planning process.

I would be so happy to talk with you anytime about what is really
happening in Venice — it is, indeed, a community on the boiling point
— but it would really help the rank-and-file, work-a-day Venice
resident if you would refrain from writing about us in connection with
such contentious issues until you have all the relevant facts.

106 Units for Yard; 260 for Venice Median Says RFQ/P

Yard 5.02.55 PM
City Maintenance Yard on Thatcher getting new, 8-foot, blue wrought-iron fencing.

Venice Parking
Venice Median between North and South Venice Blvd at Pacific. Present parking to be maintained.

There will be 106 units on the City Maintenance Yard on Thatcher and 260 on the Venice median parking lot between north and south Venice Blvd, according to the Request for Qualifications/Proposal (RFQ/P) sent out by the City Administrative Officer (CAO) to prospective builders.

Prospective builders will be visiting the Venice median and Thatcher Yard Wednesday morning.

The “Yard” will be rezoned from public facility to RD1.5, and with 93,347 square feet and two 35-percent density bonuses, will have 106 units. The “Venice Median” will be rezoned from Open Space to R-3, and with 122,171 square feet and two 35-percent density bonuses, will get 260 units.

Bonin May Sell the Two Projects

Councilman Mike Bonin said he would check the figures for both projects as to whether one or both would be more feasible for selling, taking the money, and building elsewhere.

One would only think this would be the case since both are less than a 1000 feet from the ocean. How could one justify putting the homeless there,  when the taxpayer paying for this,  could not afford living there.

Both Projects Would Require Changes to General Plan

Both would require changes to the general plan. The general plan takes into consideration infrastructure to support such a change (sewers, roads to accommodate, traffic to bare the brunt, effects on neighborhoods as well as the total scene, and whether the other zoning was more important for the City, etc.

In the case of the Thatcher Yard, an extra hundred units increases the present neighborhood 30 percent from 350 to 450. And with only ingress/egress access via Washington for 450 dwellings plus being next to Lincoln, is a receipe for disaster. Balanced with those infrastructure problems and the fact that a facility might be more feasible for the location, may deter any rezoning.

An additional 260 units at Venice Blvd would probably deter people from coming to the beach at all. There is the Expo line in Santa Monica which makes Santa Monica more accessible. Venice can be reached by bus and by car. Access to the Venice Beach parking lot is critical for Venice Beach. Venetians all know what the beach is like in the summer. Rebuilding of the lot would contain the present number of parking spaces. But with all the activity of 260 more units would people have access to the Venice parking lot?

RFQ/P Defines Affordable Types

Bonin did say that the Venice Median would be for homeless and the Yard for affordable housing. The RFQ/P defines the housing to be built and refers to them all as affordable.

The following housing types have been identified for the Affordable Housing Opportunity Sites:

Permanent Supportive Housing

This is a type of Affordable Multifamily Housing that is directly targeted to formerly homeless individuals or others who need intensive services. Permanent Supportive Housing is targeted to people who are homeless or chronically homeless. A homeless person is typically living on the streets, in a car, or in a shelter. A chronically homeless person has been homeless for a year or more or has had at least four episodes of homelessness in the past three years and has a disabling condition. These disabling conditions include physical health conditions, mental health issues, and substance addiction. Permanent Supportive Housing is characterized by significant operating subsidies that allow residents to pay no more than 30% of their income in rent, even if their income is low or nonexistent.

Another characteristic of Permanent Supportive Housing is that each resident has a case manager who connects the resident with existing programs in the community. A third characteristic is that some services are delivered on site. On site services may include life skills training, job training, and mental health counseling. Usually Permanent Supportive Housing does not require sobriety, participation in counseling is usually voluntary, and the housing is usually intended to be permanent, not time-limited or transitional. Permanent Supportive Housing has been shown to successfully stabilize residents, and it reduces the need for high-cost crisis care.

Typical financing sources for Permanent Supportive Housing include 9% Low Income Housing Tax Credit, County NOFA funds, the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, HUD or County operating subsidy, and grant-funded services.

Affordable Multifamily Housing

For this type, Developers should propose housing that is affordable to households with a range of income levels. For housing that is targeted to families, at least 25% of the units should have 3 or more bedrooms. Unit sizes must be as follows:
Unit Type Minimum Size Minimum Number of Bathrooms
One Bedroom 500 s.f. One-bath minimum
Two Bedroom 750 s.f. One-bath minimum
Three Bedroom 1,000 s.f. One-bath minimum
Four Bedroom 1,200 s.f. Two-bath minimum

This housing type may also include housing for seniors, people with disabilities and/or people with special needs. Amenities must include outdoor play / recreational facilities, appropriately sized common areas and laundry facilities. See the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee’s 2016 9% Competitive Tax Credit Application for reference.

Mixed-Income Housing

Mixed-income housing developments include both market rate and subsidized affordable units. Unit sizes for the affordable units must follow the minimum size guidelines for Affordable Multifamily Housing. There is no minimum unit size for the market rate units. Amenities must include appropriately sized common areas and laundry facilities.

Affordable Homeownership

Developers should assume all subsidized units have covenants or other mechanisms to ensure that the subsidy remains with the project. There are no minimum size requirements or amenities for this building type.

Innovative Methods of Housing

Micro Housing, Stacked Modular Housing and Manufactured Housing are examples of types of innovative methods that would be considered under this RFQ/P. All innovative methods must meet City zoning code and building standards, as well as State codes where applicable.