Thursday, December 14, 2017

Preventing Future Fires in LA's Bluffs and Canyons



This is my reply to Carissa Ashley Tedesco’s post on the Venice Community FB page:
“They just announced that the Skirball fire was caused by an illegal cooking fire at a homeless encampment. Venice would’ve been burned down 1000 times over if we had trees and brush. All those devastated lives. It just enrages me.”

Carissa, thank you for your original post. The City has been aware of the potential for such a fire for years but has not brought the resources to bare to prevent it. A year or two ago we saw a fire in the Palisades Bluffs started from a homeless encampment. Fortunately, there was little wind and the LAFD was on it quickly and kept it from coming up the bluffs and igniting the homes atop the bluff. Since then there has been some attention to keeping people from living in the bluffs and canyons but not at zero tolerance level, which is what is needed. Garcetti was rather glib, saying that the City just could not protect against every eventuality, in effect saying that it was OK with him for residents to live with the risk of the loss of their homes and possibly their lives. This is not to mention the high cost to the City from such a fire as we just saw in Bel Air. We have seen the danger here in Venice, too. Last year a homeless woman lit a fire in a dumpster behind the St. Joseph Center's drop-in center on Lincoln. The fire spread and the smoke engulfed the house next to the alley. The pregnant resident was told by the EMT's that for her health and the health of her unborn child that she must evacuate the house for several days to avoid the smoke. Residents near the center have long requested 24-hour security because the homeless do not leave the area when the center closes for the evening. Of course, St. Joseph's has never responded. The City's acceptance of homeless encampments next to residences is perverse. Rick Swinger's proposal to establish camps of high-quality tents, with adjoining toilets and showers, on public land at some set-back from residences and businesses, with constant social service presence, is long overdue. Along with daily removal of campers from public lands which are at risk for fire. Measure H will produce $335 million a year for services. The County should spend a percentage on rapid housing, including motel vouchers, family reunification and high-quality tents on platforms, like Rick has proposed. Accepting the fire risk, as Garcetti and Bonin do, is grossly irresponsible.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Letter to the Los Angeles Times

From the Letters to the Editor of the Los Angeles Times today:

Singling out Venice Beach

Re: Hep A on the beaches

Los Angeles faces two real crises: the largest homeless population in the nation and a Hepatitis A outbreak. To deal with it, Conor Friedersdorf calls for opening up public restrooms in one community — Venice.

As I would have informed him had he called me instead of citing a two-year-old quote, he is missing the big picture.

Camping is banned in almost all of Los Angeles’ parks, including on beaches. No camping should lead to no campers, thus no need for restrooms late at night.

If the city will not honor the camping ban in all its parks, then it should open all of them to camping and keep the restrooms open all day and night. This would include, for example, camping in the park next to City Hall, with 24-hour access to ground-floor restrooms.

I doubt The Times would welcome the return of an Occupy L.A.-style encampment across the street from its downtown headquarters any more than the residents of Venice want a return to the noxious behaviors that inevitably occur with opening up the restrooms along Venice Beach at night.

Mark Ryavec, Venice

Friday, October 27, 2017

Please Sign the Petition to Oppose the Ordinance that Willl Remove Environmwental Reviews of Public Supportive Housing (PSH) Projects

Please sign the petition at:

www.fightbackvenice.org/be-heard-psh-opposition.

The proposed PSH ordinance will exempt big-density housing projects -- including the proposed 2-acre homeless project in the Oxford Triangle and other projects such as the Venice Median project and the project proposed for the Metro lot on Main Street - from zoning approvals, size and density restrictions, parking requirements, and environmental review, stripping communities of any say in these matters.

This is anti-democratic and reckless - especially in an area as congested and susceptible to environmental risks (liquafaction, tsunami, earthquake faults and rising sea levels) as Venice.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Please Contribute Funds to VSA's Public Nuisance Lawsuit

We are appealing our lawsuit against the City and County for maintaining a dangerous and sordid public nuisance along the Boardwalk and Venice's beachfront.

We know the City and County are capable of keeping the Venice Beach Recreation Area clean of debris and personal possessions; just look at the pristine park next to LA's City Hall or the parks in Marina del Rey, which are controlled by the County of Los Angeles.

We are a few thousand dollars short of meeting the full retainer of our attorney, Venice resident and veteran appeals counsel Jonathan Deer.  Jon is handling our appeal for a modest, fixed price because he lives here and is committed to helping us clean up the beach. 

Please contribute $50 to $500 to the VSA, earmarked for Public Nuisance Lawsuit.  Donations may be made on this page by credit card, or by check to 1615 Andalusia Avenue, Venice, CA  90291.

Many thanks for helping make Venice a safer place, for residents and visitors alike.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

VSA Public Nuisance Lawsuit Against City and County for Dangerous Conditions on Boardwalk Goes Forward

The VSA's lawsuit against the City and County of Los Angeles for intolerable conditions along the Venice Boardwalk and beach is finally moving ahead.

After waiting over a year for the trial court to assemble the formal record, our attorney Jonathan Deer, a Venice resident and veteran appellate attorney, has begun work on the VSA's appeal brief.


Jon's analysis is that it was inappropriate for the appellate court to initially reverse the trial court's decision in favor of the VSA and our individual plaintiffs.  Jon maintains that there are issues in the case that must be tried by a jury and thus are not subject to the City's and County's  motions for summary judgment.

Jon has agreed to a fixed fee for all legal work, court appearances, etc., involved in the case.  

If you would like to support the suit, contributions from $50 to $1,000 are welcome.  Donations may be made by PayPal on the VSA's website or by check sent to the VSA, 1615 Andalusia Avenue, Venice, CA  90291.




Saturday, September 16, 2017

Letter from a Concerned Venice Resident about the Fallacy that Pending Housing Projects Will Help Venice



 
As a 22-year resident and property owner in Venice, I feel I have some perspective on the homeless situation and how it’s changed for the worse over the past few years.

I was at the VNC meeting on Monday. It’s focus was to convince everyone that there’s a problem with homelessness, but there were really no answers about how the supportive housing projects would specifically relieve the dire situation we’re facing as a community here in Venice.

I was told by multiple VNC reps that only about 45 units of the Venice median project would be allotted for the chronically homeless – and there is no guarantee that ANY of the homeless now living in Venice would receive that housing. In fact, statistically, none of the people currently living on the streets of our community would get this housing. Even if 45 out of the over 3,000 thousand homeless people living on the streets in West LA alone were to get that housing, how, in any way, would it help our community? These projects would provide services to not only its residents, but to other homeless people as well. They will act as magnets, drawing even more homeless to the streets of Venice, further exacerbating the problem.

I asked multiple representatives supporting the project this question and no one had an answer. I also asked how will these projects positively affect our community. The only answer I got was that “…it will get 45 people off the streets.” When I replied that this a statistically insignificant number and that the 45 folks may not even come from Venice, I was told “…it’s better than nothing.” When I said these projects would attract even more homeless to the area, their reply was that “…they will come any way.”

I asked why there are 3 projects in Venice, but none in the Palisades, Malibu or any of the other beach communities I was told, “…because they (Malibu/Palisades) will fight the projects more than Venice.” I was surprised by his honesty, but is this how major policy decisions should be made?

Another resident of Venice was concerned about his property values. He was told “…statistically, supportive housing projects have no effect on property values.” I cannot imagine this is correct, or the stat was cherry picked – maybe because on skid row the property values are already low, they're not effected by creating supportive housing? Personally, I took a huge financial risk buying property in Venice. Most of my wealth is tied up in that property. Why should the property I’ve worked so hard for become the victim of a dubious social program?

I asked, “If we’re really talking about providing housing for the greatest number of people, doesn’t it make sense to create supportive housing in areas that have lower building costs, because then you’d be able to build many more units, thus getting more people off the streets? I was told that “…if I had time I could tell you how this works, but I’m never going to convince you anyway.” When I expressed my frustration at his answer, he took a morally superior tone, and I was made to feel like I was a bad person who doesn’t care about homeless people. I do care about homeless people, but the project they’re proposing will not address the current problems and will only make them worse.

All this being said, I might support supportive housing in Venice, if there was some guarantee that something would be done about the truly disgusting and dangerous encampments at 3rd and Rose and the Boardwalk and Rose. This is what I observed in just one week of dropping my 8 year old daughter off at surf lessons in the parking lot at Rose Ave. at 8:45 in the morning (no exaggerations):

A man defecating against a building on Speedway, even though there were open public restrooms less than 100 yrds away.

Two men having a fist fight over a skateboard.

A totally naked man showering in plain view of dozens of small children next to the playground.

Open drinking and drug use – again, in plain sight of kids.

I nearly ran over a man rolling around in the middle of Speedway, totally out of his mind on drugs/alcohol.

When my wife picked up my daughter one afternoon, she found the whole group of kids crying because a homeless man had lit another homeless guy's stuff on fire. The fire was so large a fire truck had to come.

How is this acceptable? Why is this behavior condoned? How are these squalid encampments not a health code violation? Why are the laws not being enforced in Venice? The encampments on the beach in the Palisades was removed. I don’t see any encampments in Malibu, or Manhattan Beach or Hermosa? How about Beverly Hills?

I pay tens of thousands of dollars in property taxes every year, yet I feel like I have no input in major decisions that affect my quality of life—from the supportive housing projects, to the “road diets,” to my home being designated an “historic property” without any public notification or discourse or vote.

As a true stakeholder in my community, I feel it’s unacceptable that these types of projects that directly affect my life keep getting approved and implemented with next to no public input. The only chance we have to make an impact is to attend the public hearings that are coming up:

Monday, Sept. 25, 2017
5pm to 7pm.
Marvin Braude Constituent Service Center
First Floor Public Meeting Room 1A/1B
6262 Van Nuys Blvd.
Van Nuys, CA 91401

Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017
5pm to 7pm
Los Angeles City Hall, Room 1060
200 N. Spring St.,
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Comments can be sent to: cally.hardy@lacity.org


I’m going and I encourage all residents of Venice to attend. If we don’t speak up, it’s a done deal.

Regards,
Brad Morrison

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Support for Return of Venice Taffic Lanes

This letter was sent to the Board of the Mar Vista Community Council:

Dear Neighbors,

I am writing on behalf of Venice Stakeholders Association (VSA) to urge you to vote to restore the two traffic lanes which were lost on Venice Blvd. due to Mike Bonin's misguided and dangerous reconfiguration of that boulevard in central Mar Vista.

The VSA is a non-profit organization dedicated to civic improvement.  The VSA supports slow growth, protection of the limits of the Venice Specific Plan, neighborhood safety, better traffic circulation, increased parking for residents, neighborhood beautification projects, historic preservation, habitat restoration and protection of coastal waters.

The ill-conceived re-configuration of Venice Boulevard and the loss of two traffic lanes has had an immediate and detrimental impact on the life of Venice residents.  As you know, traffic is at a standstill during early morning and early evening drive times.  There has been a corresponding increase in cut-through traffic on other streets such as Palms, which are narrower and thus less capable of absorbing this east/west traffic.

Your residents have counted more accidents with this bizarre street/parking/bike lane layout than before it was installed.

As a long-distance cyclist I can attest to its highly unsafe design.  With the bike lane hidden behind a lane of cars, those on bikes cannot see if drivers are intending to turn right and drivers cannot see whether a bike is approaching as they start a right turn across the bike lane.

I frequently ride south to Redondo Beach and north to Cross Creek.  I know of no areas along those stretches (about 30 miles) which have a hidden bike lane such as one Bonin installed in your community.

And as you know, there was a perfectly acceptable bike lane on the boulevard before this change was made.

As the first-runner up in the recent Council District 11 race, I want you to know that I would not have supported the loss of two traffic lanes at this location.  Our east-west traffic infrastructure simply cannot afford any lane losses, however noble the cause.

If driver speed is an issue, we would suggest that it be addressed in the old fashioned way, with the frequent placement of motorcycle police officers along the boulevard to cite speeders.

Thank you for your consideration of our views.

Sincerely,

Mark Ryavec, President