Monday, November 12, 2018

Alert - Please Tell the Neighborhood Council to Oppose the 720 Rose Apartment Project


Please send the following message to members of the Venice Neighborhood Council  <Board@VeniceNC.org>  opposing Venice Community Housing Corp's proposal to build the first four-story building in the Oakwood neighborhood.

The VCHC is soliciting non-Venice residents to deluge the Board with emails.  We need to fight back to protect Venice from over-development. 


Dear Members of the Venice Neighborhood Council, 

The VCHC's proposal is too tall, too dense, has too little parking, and is way out of character with Venice.  It is extremely out of step with both the Venice Specific Plan and the desires of residents for Venice to remain a low-rise community.  Approving its 45-foot height and almost no parking will set a dangerous precedent. Send it back to the drawing board!

Friday, November 2, 2018

City of Los Angeles Misinterpreting 9th District Boise Decision to Support Siting Bridge Housing on MTA Lot


City Claim that Bridge Housing Must Be within Walking Distance of Encampments Is a Myth, VSA Attorney Finds....


Councilmember Mike Bonin
Council District 11
200 N. Spring Street #475
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Re:   Use of Ninth Circuit Decision in Martin v. Boise to Justify Venice Homeless Shelter

Dear Councilmember Bonin:

I represent the Venice Stakeholders Association, a non-profit organization committed to civic improvement in the Venice neighborhood of Los Angeles. This is to follow up on our June 11, 2018, letter to you concerning the proposed construction of a temporary homeless shelter facility known as “Bridge Housing” at the 3-acre lot at 100 E. Sunset Ave. between Pacific Avenue and Main Street, which your office favors.  We understand that in recent weeks, City officials, including the Mayor and the Chief of Police, have been citing to Martin v. Boise, a decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, to support their efforts to site this shelter in Venice at this particular site.  This case does not support their position.

As you know, both public safety and quality of life are jeopardized by the presence of approximately 1,000 homeless persons on the streets, sidewalks, alleys and parks of Venice.  Although VSA does not categorically oppose homeless shelters, either “temporary” or permanent, they are also not a fail-safe solution to the homeless crisis.  Indeed, even the Mayor has said that his Bridge Housing program is an experiment.  Accordingly, shelters should be sited with extreme caution, and not near residences and schools.

VSA believes the primary cause of the burden now faced by residents in the many areas where homeless persons congregate is the City’s failure to enforce its own ordinances, and especially Los Angeles Municipal Code section 41.18(d), which prohibits sitting, lying and sleeping in public streets, sidewalks and public ways.  By not enforcing this ordinance 24 hours a  day in and around residential areas, the City has encouraged a significant number of homeless persons and "travelers" to remain on the street despite the fact that numerous alternatives are available to them, including shelter beds, housing vouchers, permanent housing placements in facilities such as those operated by the Self-Help And Recovery Exchange (SHARE), and/or a bus ticket to relatives in their place of origin (so-called "family reunification").  This is especially true in Venice, where many transients are people who are simply camping out while traveling the country, and thus do not want housing.

 VSA favors a regime in which section 41.18(d) is enforced 24 hours a day, provided that before issuing a citation the police officer (or a social worker) makes a credible, documented offer to the violator of housing in some form and transportation to reach the housing.  Such an offer can easily be made by Los Angeles Police Department officers patrolling in Venice, as it was for several years by the Venice LAPD Homeless Task Force headed by Chaplains Steve and Regina Weller.  There are several non-profit homeless service providers operating within the City of Los Angeles which have beds available on a daily basis.  As just one example, SHARE, Inc. operates several facilities which generally have available beds.  The necessary transportation to these shelter beds could be provided either by LAPD, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), or any one of the many non-profit homeless service providers operating in Los Angeles.

Some proponents of the Venice MTA site, including the Mayor and Chief of Police, appear to believe that the offer of housing, and transportation to it, are not sufficient to protect the rights of those who violate section 41.18(d).  They argue instead that in order for the police to cite a violator of section 41.18(d), a shelter with available beds must be located in close proximity to the violator.  The implication of this argument is that homeless shelters must be built close to every concentration of homeless persons in the entire City, which is of course untenable for financial and many other reasons.  In Venice, this siting philosophy has resulted in the misguided proposal to place a 154-bed shelter two blocks from the beach, on the site of a former bus maintenance yard that is surrounded on four sides by residences and is within a block and a half from an elementary school and four pre-schools.

To support their argument for the Venice site, proponents of the Bridge Housing program have cited to the so-called “Jones Settlement,” which the City voluntarily entered into in 2007.  In Jones v. City of Los Angeles, 444 F.3d 1118 (9th Cir. 2006), homeless persons sued the City in federal court for issuing citations under section 41.18(d).  The City secured a voluntary dismissal of the litigation by entering into a settlement, in which it agreed not to enforce section 41.18(d) between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m., except within 10 feet of entrances, driveways and loading docks, “until an additional 1250 units of permanent supportive housing are constructed within the City of Los Angeles, at least 50 per cent of which are located in Skid Row and/or greater downtown Los Angeles.”  

The Jones Settlement did not require that shelter beds be available within a particular distance from the violator, in order to justify enforcement of section 41.18(d), or that transportation be provided to such shelters.  The settlement also did not require that shelter beds be constructed throughout the City in order to enforce section 41.18(d); it merely required the construction of 1250 units of housing in the entire City of Los Angeles, which consists of 512 square miles, with half (or 625 units) within “greater downtown Los Angeles” and the rest anywhere else in the City.

Whatever it may provide, the Jones Settlement no longer binds the City, as Mayor Garcetti acknowledged earlier this year, because the City has long since constructed 1,250 units of permanent supportive housing, with at least 50 percent of the units in downtown Los Angeles.   Nonetheless, the City continues to behave as though the Jones Settlement were in effect.  Attorneys for the Jones plaintiffs have threatened to resume litigation against the City if section 41.18(d) is enforced at night, on the ground that the homeless problem has worsened substantially since 2007, and many more units of housing are necessary to satisfy the demand.  The City has given in to these threats, and continues to refrain from enforcing section 41.18(d) at night across the City.

There is just one small ray of hope for a few residents of the City:  Chief Moore has recently indicated that the city will return to selective enforcement of section 41.18(d) 24 hours a day near new Bridge Housing facilities, on the ground that the existence of Bridge Housing would be legally sufficient to justify enforcement in the immediate vicinity.  

In their argument for enforcement only near Bridge Housing facilities, Chief Moore, Mayor Garcetti and other Bridge Housing proponents have cited to a recent decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Martin v. Boise (Case No. No. 15-35845).  However, that case holds, at most, that shelter beds must be available somewhere in the City before an ordinance like section 41.18(d) can be enforced.

In Martin, the City of Boise had a program in which the three homeless shelters in the city each self-reported to the city whether they were full each day.  If they weren’t, the police were free to issue citations to people sleeping on public property.  A group of homeless persons sued the city, contending that even though one of the shelters had routinely reported that it had free beds, in fact these beds were not available to some offenders, either because of restrictions on length of stay, limited check-in times, or a requirement to participate in religious programs. Under these circumstances, the court noted that there was evidence that despite the self-reporting of the shelters, shelter beds were not actually available to violators.  On that basis the court denied the city’s request to dismiss the case and allowed it to proceed.

The City of Boise is approximately 9 miles by 9 miles in size, making up over 82 square miles.  The average low temperature in December and January is 23 degrees.  Yet the Martin court said nothing about the distance between the homeless persons to be cited and the available shelter beds; much less did it set any minimum requirement for that distance.  Nor did the court even imply that the city was obligated to offer an actual shelter bed to a violator, or to transport the violator to a shelter, as a precondition of issuing a citation.  Instead, the court merely found that in order to cite an offender, a shelter bed must be available somewhere in the city.  

In sum, the City of Los Angeles is basing its Bridge Housing siting practices upon a myth – namely, that the Jones Settlement, and/or the Martin decision, requires that shelter beds must be in close proximity to the violator in order to allow enforcement of section 41.18(d). 

In fact, there is nothing in the Jones Settlement or the Martin decision that precludes the City from pursuing the model favored by VSA, in which police officers themselves (or social workers working in tandem with them)  make credible, documented offers of housing and transportation, and then, when such offers are rejected, proceed to enforce section 41.18(d).  

We request that you ask the City Attorney, the Mayor, the Chief of Police, and your fellow City Council members to carefully re-examine the Martin decision, and then seriously consider VSA’s proposal to recommence enforcement of LAMC section 41.18(d) in and around residential areas of the city at night.  

Thank you for considering my client’s views on this important subject.  

Very truly yours,

John A. Henning, Jr.

cc: Mayor Eric Garcetti 
      Michael Moore, Chief of Police
      Michael Feuer, City Attorney 
      Herb Wesson, City Council President


Friday, October 12, 2018

LET VENICE SPEAK!

SPECIAL ALERT

BONIN & GARCETTI CLOSE REGISTRATION TO OCTOBER 17 EVENT


They Plan to Confine Venice Residents to Overflow Space While Admitting Activists from Other Areas

We have just learned that – true to form – Garcetti and Bonin have “closed” registration for the October 17 “Town Hall” regarding the massive homeless shelter on the MTA Lot, meaning that many Venice residents will be confined to an outdoor overflow space even as activists from other areas are admitted.
Fight Back, Venice has prepared an easy way to protest these dirty tricks.  Click on this link and send an email telling Mayor Garcetti and Councilman Bonin to let Venice speak!
And show up early, best by 5:00 p.m., to get a seat.


Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Community Alert - Please Attend Town Hall to Oppose Bridge Housing on MTA Site

Please attend the Town Hall sponsored by the Mayor and Councilman Bonin on October 17th, 6-8PM, at Westminster Elementary School to oppose the proposal to put a shelter for 100 transients at this location in the midst of a residential neighbor, near three preschools and the elementary school.  Venice already carries way more than its fair share compared to every other community in the 11th Council District.

RSVP to:  http://bit.ly.BridgeHomeVeniceTownHall

Here's a super video about the proposal and how it compares to other sites under consideration for Bridge Housing, which are all removed from residential areas.  My congratulations to Paul Abascal, the producer, on such a professional production.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sew0HTbq2QQ&feature=youtu.be

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Please Circulate Resolution to Stop Camping on Venice Beach

Friends, we need 100 original signatures to force the VNC to put on their agenda a resolution calling on the city to enforce the law and stop camping on Venice Beach.

The Resolution is below.  Print it out and get as many signatures as you can and then drop it off to 1615 Andalusia Avenue.  We have until this Friday to submit the signatures to the Administrative Committee to get this on the VNC agenda in October.  Otherwise, we will slide until November.


Resolution Calling for the City of Los Angeles to Clear Venice Beach of All Tents and Personal Possessions Every Night

Whereas, the City of Los Angeles’s Municipal Code section 63.44 prohibits any person from engaging in camping on any beach in the City of Los Angeles, except those few designated for such purposes; and

Whereas, section 63.44 prohibits any person from erecting a tent, or using or occupying any tent on any beach in the city; and

Whereas, section 63.44 prohibits a person from entering, remaining, staying or loitering in any park which consists of an ocean area, beach, or pier between the hours of 12:00 midnight and 5:00 o’clock a.m. of the following day; and

Whereas, section 63.44 states no person shall bring into any beach park any bulky item without a permit therefor; and 63.44 defines "Bulky Item" as any item that is too large to fit in one of the City's 60 gallon trash containers with the lid closed, including, but not limited to, a mattress, couch, chair or other furniture or appliance; and

Whereas, section 63.44 states that no person shall store personal property in any Beach Park and further states:

  • All Stored Personal Property remaining in any Beach Park after closing may be removed by the City.

  • Personal Property placed in a Beach Park shall be deemed to be Stored Personal Property if it has not been removed from the Beach Park prior to the daily closure of the Beach Park.  Moving Personal Property to another location in the same Beach Park or another Beach Park or any other Public Area as defined in Los Angeles Municipal Code Section 56.11, shall not be considered removing the Personal Property from the Beach Park. 

  • The City may remove and discard any non-permitted Bulky Item from a Beach Park without prior notice.

  • In the event Personal Property placed in a Beach Park poses an immediate threat to the health or safety of the public, the City may remove and discard it without prior notice.

Therefore be it resolved, the Venice Neighborhood Council calls upon the City of Los Angeles to immediately and continually stop all camping in the Venice Beach Recreation Area (VBRA) pursuant to LAMC 63.44, to remove all tents throughout the day and night, prohibit all items that exceed the size limits of LAMC 63.44 from entering the VBRA at any time, and to remove all personal possessions upon park closure every night.

Submitted to the Venice Neighborhood Council by:

                        Name                          Signature                   Address                                 Telephone #

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Monday, September 24, 2018

Oppose New Four Story Building in Oakwood; It's a Dangerous Precedent

Please send the following message to city planner Oliver Netburn (oliver.netburn@lacity.org) opposing Venice Community Housing Corporation's proposal to build the first four story building in the Oakwood neighborhood.

Dear Mr. Netburn, the VCHC's proposal is too tall, too dense, has too little parking, and is way out of character with Venice.  It is extremely out of step with both the Venice Specific (land-use) Plan and the desires of residents for Venice to remain a low-rise community.  Approving its 45-foot height and almost no parking will set a dangerous precedent. Send it back to the drawing board!

The hearing is Wednesday at 9:30 AM, so please email your message by the end of business Tuesday.


More details are provided below.

Thanks for helping stop this classic example of over-development.




Dear Mr. Netburn,

I am writing on behalf of the Venice Stakeholders Association to oppose the Rose Apartments project proposed for the former site of the offices of Venice Community Housing Corporation (VCHC) unless the project’s height, setbacks, fa├žade, landscaping and parking are modified.

As is readily evident from elevations of the project presented on VCHC’s website, the project will tower over all nearby structures.  Further, the massing, height and lack of required parking stand in extreme violation of the Venice Local Coastal Specific Plan.

To start with, the project description, as declared on the CPC’s hearing notice and elsewhere, is incorrect:

Demolition of commercial office uses and the construction, use maintenance of a four-story, 35 unit permanent supportive housing complex with ancillary administrative office.  

This is a mixed-use project with ground floor commercial offices to be occupied by Venice Community Housing Corp., a private corporation, with a 35% plus 20% density bonus project totaling 35 residential units.  The commercial component is not ancillary to the residential housing because VCH intends on conducting their own separate corporate business - which is now conducted in a structure on the same site – within the new structure - unrelated to the housing component. Outlined below are several facts which call for the modification of the project to conform with the VLCSP, city ordinances, Coastal Commission precedents, environmental best practices, and a variety of community concerns.

1.   Number of stories and height of the building: The applicant has not designed the project within the California state standard density bonus guidelines but has requested “off menu incentives.” Off menu incentives are requests that exceed the “by right” incentives permitted under the density bonus laws.  As an example, the SB 1818 state density law permits an applicant to exceed the height limit by one story and not more than 11 feet. This applicant is requesting two additional stories and 20 additional feet of height.  As proposed this building would be the only four-story building in the entire Oakwood subarea of the Venice Land Use Plan. The permitted height in the coastal zone for this project is 25-feet for a flat roof and the proposed project is 45 feet high. Thus, this project represents a dangerous precedent both for future developments under the existing Specific Plan and for the message its approval would send to city planners now engaged in drafting the Venice Local Coastal Plan and revising the Specific Plan.  Venetians support the low-rise nature of our community and want it maintained.

2.   Parking The required parking for this project under the VLCSP is 89 spaces. In the past the Coastal Commission has determined that state density bonus laws DO NOT override the California Coastal Act.  Numerous affordable housing projects within the Coastal Zone have been required to provide one parking space per unit. The proposed project as designed and presented to the Venice Neighborhood Council provides only 12 parking spaces for the 35 residential units of which seven parking spaces are proposed off-site. Based on the Los Angeles Municipal Code section 12.26E5 and documentation from the property owner who owns the offsite parking lot located at 225 Lincoln Boulevard, these seven off-site parking spaces will not be available for the new project, as explained below.

3.   Off-Site Parking Affidavit Parking affidavit 4123, which was recorded on October 11, 1973, was an agreement signed between a building tenant, Safeway No. 45, located at 225 Lincoln Boulevard, and The Children’s Center for Educational Therapy, located at 718-720-722 Rose Avenue. Parking affidavits are required to be signed by the legal owners of the real property of both properties and not tenants. Safeway No. 45 was not the legal property owner and had neither the authority, permission nor right to sign said agreement. Parking affidavit 4123 should be deemed null and void. Furthermore, per city policy, parking affidavit 4123 will no longer continue in effect once the existing structures on 718-720-722 Rose are demolished.  The seven offsite parking spaces which VCHC has publicly claimed will be satisfied by the affidavit are non-existent.

4.   Building Setback Requirements from Rose Avenue The Specific Plan, in the Oakwood subarea, requires “any portion of the roof that exceeds 25 feet be set back from the required front yard at least one foot in depth for every foot in height above 25 feet.” The proposed project does not comply with this step back requirement and proposes a 45-foot high wall with no windows facing Rose Ave at the 2nd, 3rd and 4th floors. The proposed design does not provide a varied and articulated facade with visual interest to pedestrians. The primary ground floor entrance to the residential entrance does not face the street and is accessed from a narrow side yard and a 14-foot passageway and is located more than 75 feet from the sidewalk.

All of these design elements violate the Specific Plan, thus precluding the CPC’s granting of a Project Permit under the plan.  Further, the ground floor office space, which is not a visitor serving use, is set two feet below the grade of the sidewalk, which is inconsistent with the Los Angeles Citywide Design Guidelines.

5.   Environmental Categorical Exemption The applicant is unacceptably proposing no environmental review for the proposed project despite requesting a project with density almost double that permitted in the zone, the tallest building in Oakwood by an entire floor, inadequate parking, no loading zone, blank walls facing Rose Avenue, no required step backs from the street, all of the mass of the building facing the adjacent neighbors’ properties, and has not provided a detailed explanation of what services will be provided on-site to residents and in the ground-floor corporate office for nonresidents, which may generate vehicular traffic. Your department should call for a full environmental review.

6.   The City of Los Angeles and California Coastal Commission have already set a precedent for mixed-use projects with a residential density bonus on Rose Avenue and this project is inconsistent with that precedent.

On August 9, 2005 The California Coastal Commission approved a precedent-setting mixed-use project which included a density bonus project with 70 residential units located at 512 Rose Avenue after an appeal was filed and a substantial issue was found. The De Novo Permit Special Conditions relating to the project set various building design conditions; these same conditions should apply to the 720 Rose Project and the design should be modified as follows: 

Building Design: The 720 Rose project should be designed with a varied and articulated facade that provides visual interest to pedestrians. Frequent windows and the primary ground floor entrances for the residential units shall face the streets. Porches, bays and balconies are encouraged, consistent with the City's setback requirements

    • Building HeightThe 720 Rose project should be limited to three stories with a 33-foot high flat roof.  Placing the residential portion of the project on top of the commercial portion does not give the applicant a right under the density bonus to a 40 foot height, just a 30 foot height.  The applicant should be told to remove the corporate office space or remove one floor of residences.

    • Landscaping: The 720 Rose project should be designed with landscaping in order to enhance visual quality.  To preserve water, the side of the project facing the public street, Rose Avenue, should be landscaped with large canopy street trees and low water use plants, consistent with City requirements. 

    • Parking: With a reduction to 33 feet in height as recommended above, the number of units would be reduced to 22, so project parking requirement should be:

a.    VCHC corporate ground floor offices - 10 spaces
b.    one space for each resulting affordable unit or 22 spaces
c.    two (2) spaces for the manager’s unit, and
d.    ¼ guest parking space per unit - equaling 6 parking spaces - for a total of 40 spaces. 

The additional required parking should be provided below grade.

Having managed 160 units of affordable housing in the San Fernando Valley for five years I know from experience that while homeless individuals usually move in without a vehicle, this does not remain the case in many instances.  As they stabilize their situation, receive benefits and job training, and eventually obtain employment, one of their first purchases is a vehicle.  There also is the likelihood that some of the eventual residents of the Rose Apartments will be former “car campers;” by definition they will arrive with a vehicle.  We have seen this here in Venice before.  During Councilman Bill Rosendahl’s tenure, one of the first vehicle dwellers that PATH moved into an apartment in a Breezes del Mar building on California Avenue at Electric Avenue parked his empty camper across the street from the building for months, taking two parking spaces away from residents. 

Thank you for your consideration of our views on this project.

Sincerely,

Mark Ryavec

Mark Ryavec, President