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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

DuFay Says Rose Apartment Project Not Compatible with Community

rose

Top: South side. Far left. The gas station at Lincoln. 720 Rose is in the middle.
Bottom: North side. For comparison, Whole Foods is the wide building

Note: Darryl DuFay was the first chair of the Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) Land Use and Planning Committee (LUPC). This is a letter he wrote to the VNC board regarding 720 Rose Ave Project.

By Darryl DuFay

Venice faces another crisis brought about by a lack of openness and information. That crisis is the proposed project at 720 Rose Ave, which the VNC will consider on Monday, Sept. 17th., Agenda Item 10A.

There is a crisis of civility drowned in chaos. The chaos is so frequent and repetitive that it is disastrous to all business. Meetings that should be a place for asking and answering question did not happen. The community is again being placed in the dark. Documents lacked sensitivity to the effects of the project on the surrounding community. Proposals are made that fracture the Venice Specific Plan (VSP).

As to the project itself. 720 Rose Ave will cost $18,220,401. (Source for Development Costs: “HHH” Citizen’s Oversight Committee Report for February 2018. Table 1: HHH Project List – General Information, p.4, Table 2: HHH Project List – Development Costs, p. 5. Committee Chair: Miguel Santana.) It will have 35 units at $520,583 per unit.

Of special interest is the “Project Description” available from the VNC’s LUPC committee. Other than mentioning that the project is located in the “Venice Coastal Specific Plan” area there is no other reference to the VSP, which is the guide for construction in Venice. The entire section in the VSP on Oakwood where the project is located is missing.

The allowable height in Oakwood for this flat roof structure is twenty-five feet. It is proposed at forty-five feet. If “mechanicals” such as air conditioning on the roof are added it would be fifty-feet high, which would be a 100% increase. The height is not even mentioned in the “Project Description.” What you have instead is a vague, hidden, statement: Height Increase of 20’ 0” in lieu of that otherwise allowed by code.

The VSP clearly states that it is to be used to “regulate all development, including use, height, density, setback, buffer zone and other factors in order that it be compatible in character with the existing community and to provide for the consideration of aesthetics and scenic preservation and enhancement, and to protect environmentally sensitive areas.

If the VSP differs from provisions of the Los Angeles Municipal Code (LAMC) regarding density, lot area, floor area ratio, height of buildings, parking, design standards, and other issues, the VSP shall supersede those other regulations.

720 Rose, as presented, is not compatible in character with the existing community.

MTA Site, Online Voting, Cityhood, Upgrade of Venice Specific Plan Were All Discussed at VNC Meet

Attendanc

A large group of people attended to hear the MTA presentation at the VNC meet Tuesday.

By  Angela McGregor

An MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority) spokesperson announced MTA will be starting community outreach in the fall for the structure on their site (not bridge housing), a spokesman for City Planning said they were going to upgrade the Venice Specific plan, it was decided for the VNC election to have both online and in-person voting, and the cityhood motion was tabled.  All of these actions happened  at the July Venice Neighborhood Council meet Tuesday night.

Wells Lawson

Wells Lawson

VNC Meeting featured a presentation by Wells Lawson of MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority) officials regarding the long-term (post Bridge Housing) plans for the MTA lot on Main Street.  He said the environmental cleanup was finished, and demolition would begin shortly.  MTA’s outreach to the community to determine what type of development Venetians will take roughly 6-9 months, beginning in the fall with Town Halls and VNC Board meetings. 

Late next year, the MTA will present their findings to the Metro Board and, once approved, issue a request for proposals to interested developers.  They anticipate construction will begin on the lot no sooner than 2021.  

Jonathan Hershey

Jonathan Hershey

The Los Angeles Department of City Planning, according to Jonathon Hersey, is embarking on a 3-year process to update neighborhood community plans, including Venice’s, which was last updated in 2000 (seen here:  https://planning.lacity.org/complan/pdf/vencptxt.pdf).  On Tuesday, October 2 they will hold a kickoff event at Westminster Elementary to begin to gather community input, to be followed up with surveys, walking tours with stakeholders and questionnaires.  The website, which is still a work in progress, will be found at www.planning.thewestside.org.  

Taylor Bazley, spokesperson for Mike Bonin’s office, stated that electronic scooters are by far the biggest issue currently concerning Venice residents, judging by the amount of emails the Councilman’s office receives.  He announced that legislation to regulate Birds and Lime Bikes is currently in process and on its way to the city’s Public Safety Committee.  It will include a citywide 2500 device cap per company, and forbid riding the bikes on the sidewalk.  This should be finalized within 1-2 months.

The Board engaged in a contentious discussion of implementing online voting in the next VNC election, which will happen in June of 2019.  Former California Secretary of State Deborah Bowen, a longtime Venice resident, spoke against online voting primarily on the basis of difficulties with accessibility, especially among older residents, since Venice is a “documentation” neighborhood council requiring proof of residency in order to vote, which would presumably mean that voters would have to scan such proof and upload it.  Conversely, VNC Parliamentarian Ivan Spiegel pointed out that with such a system there is nothing to prevent homeless residents, who are exempted from the documentation requirement, from voting multiple times.  Nevertheless, the Board voted to go with both online and in-person voting for the 2019 elections, at an additional expense of $5,000.

Finally, the Board considered a motion regarding cityhood for Venice, in which the Board would call upon the City to amend and revise their current regulation governing local government reorganization.  Currently, in order for neighborhoods such as Venice to separate from Los Angeles, the entire City of Los Angeles would vote on the issue.  The requested amendment would rest that decision solely upon Venice Stakeholders.  

Before the Board could vote, Venice Stakeholders Association President Mark Ryavec rose to explain that he had created a revised motion with Los Angeles’s Local Agency Formation Commission (see:  http://www.lalafco.org/) that would be more Venice-specific, since, as written, the measure on the Board’s agenda might open the door to any neighborhood that had previously been a separate city to easily secede (including San Pedro, the City’s major port), and as such would inevitably be a non-starter when sent to the City Council for consideration.  The Board ultimately decided to table the motion until next month, in order to give the Cityhood Committee time to do more research and present a revision. 

Jocelyn Williams

Jocelyn Williams


New board member Jocelyn Williams was sworn in.

The meeting adjourned around 11pm.  The next meeting of the VNC Neighborhood Council will take place Tuesday, August 21st.