Thursday, September 17, 2020

Bonin Proposes Conditions on Venice Place Hotel Project on Abbot Kinney

 

Despite various comments on social media that Councilmember Bonin has killed the Venice Place Project, the project is alive but now freighted down with a slew of new conditions, which may or may not make the ultimate project more compatible with the surrounding neighborhood and elementary school.

Below is a link to the conditions that Councilmember Bonin has proposed to impose on the hotel/restaurants/market.  

Proposed Venice Place Conditions

Probably the most notable is that the applicant must contribute $750,000 to the city's Housing Trust Fund for affordable housing.

The list of conditions also includes a mandatory plan approval process in two to three years of the hotel becoming operational to:

review the effectiveness of, and compliance with the express terms of all conditions, including but not limited to, Conditions 15 (Parking), 16 (Valet Parking), 17 (Loading), 18 (Trash Pick-up), 22 (Alcoholic Beverage Conditions), 25 (Complaint Log), 27 (employee and patron monitoring), 28 (loitering), 32 (electronic age verification), 36 (noise levels), 39 (private events), 42-47 (entertainment/music conditions) of the permit for the project.

Unfortunately, as Venice residents have witnessed for many years with similar conditions imposed on St. Joseph's, the city rarely implements plan approval compliance or enforces conditions.

The owner will also be required to create a local hire program, for both construction and ongoing jobs, targeting the Venice Community with an emphasis on hiring from disadvantaged communities.

Following the City Attorney's advice, the project has been returned to the West Los Angeles Area Planning Commission for consideration of Bonin's proposed
conditions.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

VSA Opposes SB 1120, Bill That Would Allow Four Units by Right on Single Family Parcels Throughout State

From KPPC's Airtalk:

A bill moving through the California legislature would require local governments to allow for duplexes in what’s currently single family home zoning as a way to address the state’s housing crisis. 

Under SB 1120, property owners could turn their houses into duplexes, or could divide up their lots and put two duplexes on the property, creating four homes where there was once one. 

The legislation is opposed by a number of local neighborhood groups who are concerned that new housing will affect the character of their neighborhoods, decrease available parking and not provide housing that is low rent enough to address the housing shortage.

We dive into the pros and cons of the legislation. 

Guests:

David Garcia, policy director at the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley; he tweets @DavidGarcia209     

Mark Ryavec, president of the Venice Stakeholders Association and member of the Venice Neighborhood Council

Click here to hear interview:

VSA Opposes SB 1120

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Ask Bonin and Moore to Enforce Ban on Tents and Camping at Venice Beach

In another misguided action, Councilman Bonin has directed the LAPD to stand down on enforcement of LAMC 63.44, which bars tents and camping in all city parks, including the Venice Beach Recreation Area and along the Boardwalk.

LAPD Chief Michel Moore elaborated last night:

In discussion with CM Bonin the Department has agreed to exercise its discretion and NOT enforce 63.44 on the PARK portion of Venice Beach boardwalk.  I have asked for a map of the Venice area color-coded with the enforcement criteria given the confusion stemming from various enforcement in consultation with the Councilmember.  The discretion is in direct response to the CDC guidance regarding COVID-19 and houseless individuals.

I’ve cc’d Captain Embrich who can provide further details and a copy of the map.

Mike(published here with the permission of Chief Moore)
As one senior LAPD official noted to me in a call last night, this new policy is actually in direct contradiction to CDC guidance, which states:
 Considerations for encampments
  • If individual housing options are not available, allow people who are living unsheltered or in encampments to remain where they are.  Clearing encampments can cause people to disperse throughout the community and break connections with service providers. This increases the potential for infectious disease spread. 

As is visible below, these campers have very recently traveled from other locations, doing exactly what the CDC advises against - dispersing through the community and breaking connections with service providers.  By stopping enforcement of the ban on camping and tents at Venice Beach, Mr. Bonin is inviting violation of CDC guidelines by encouraging campers to travel from 

 Photo: The Venice Current
wherever they are today to set up new camps on the beach, interacting with an unknown number of residents, Venice Beach visitors and other homeless people on their journey to our sandy shores - and also disconnecting with service providers. 
CDC GUIDANCE SAYS: STAY WHERE YOU ARE!
NOT: MOVE TO THE BEACH. 
This is yet one more example of Mr. Bonin's tendency to create more problems, supposedly in an effort to solve them.
Please send the following message today to Mr. Bonin and Chief Moore:
Follow CDC guidance, stop the spread of Covid 19 and new homeless encampments at Venice Beach, and return our beach to its intended purpose - recreation and enjoyment by all residents and visitors.  Enforce LAMC 63.44 against tents and camping.
Send to:
Mike Bonin - mike.bonin@lacity.org>
Michel Moore - <23506@lapd.online>

 

 

 
 

Friday, July 17, 2020

A NEW INSPECTOR GENERAL TO CURB CITY HALL CORRUPTION DOESN’T GO FAR ENOUGH

By Mark Ryavec
The unfolding prosecution of councilman Jose Huizar for felony corruption is just the tip of the iceberg of scandalous behavior that is rampant in Los Angeles city hall.  
And the recent call by former city councilman Mike Woo for an independent inspector general does not come close to addressing the systemic corruption.
Start with the fact that the adoption of Woo’s ethics reforms 30 years ago gave us the ineffective regime of public financing, disclosure, and campaign spending limits that has failed us so spectacularly in the cases of Huizar, and last year, former councilman Mitchel Englander.  It was magical thinking then for Woo and others to argue that simply setting spending limits, providing some public funding, and requiring that all donations are made public would stop or hinder corruption.  
One only needs to look at an earlier development scandal to see the ineffectiveness of those rules.  Starting in 2009, developer Samuel Leung and Leung’s secretary Sofia David illegally gave tens of thousands of dollars to eight Los Angeles-area politicians who could approve the 352-unit Sea Breeze apartment project in south Los Angeles via donors who were all connected in some way to Leung.  The project was ultimately approved in 2015.
In 2016, the Los Angeles Times reported that then-city councilmembers Janice Hahn and Mitchell Englander, and current city councilmembers Jose Huizar, Joe Buscaino, and Nury Martinez received more than $600,000 in donations over a seven-year period. An independent campaign committee that supported Mayor Eric Garcetti, but supposedly was not controlled by him, also received contributions.  But there was no audio or written evidence that those donations were traded for votes, so no charges were brought against those politicians. 
But the corruption is broader and more insidious than the mere trade of city approvals for campaign cash. Those with financial interests in city hall decisions also donate to private charities either controlled by, or favored by, elected officials and little of that cash is tracked.  Only donations over $5,000 must be revealed.  
Special interests, with multi-million projects pending in city hall, also can and do funnel unlimited amounts of cash to other campaign committees not subject to the limits of the Woo reforms.  These committees are set up by councilmembers to advance their personal political causes, but also can boost the councilmember’s reputation and name recognition.  The unspoken agreement is: Special Interest A will give tens of thousands of dollars to the councilmember’s cause over here and later the councilmember will support the planning variances or “spot” zoning Special Interest A needs to increase the allowable height or density he wants for his project over there.  
In late 2016, Mayor Eric Garcetti and Councilman Mike Bonin were hell-bent on passing Proposition HHH to build 10,000 apartments for the homeless.  Atlas Capital Group was one of many developers that responded to Bonin’s request with a $25,000 donation to Bonin’s campaign committee to support HHH. 
Why would Atlas make such a generous donation?  Because they have a huge investment in pending real estate projects that will need approvals from the Planning Department, Planning Commission, City Council, and the Mayor.
For example, in 2017, Atlas purchased the old Los Angeles Times’ printing plant in Downtown for $240 million.  The property includes about 660,000 square feet of manufacturing and distribution space, along with about 15 acres of developable open space.  Atlas and its partners are also developing the Row DTLA project adjacent to LA’s Art District, turning 2 million square feet of warehouse space into a complex of stores, restaurants and offices, and parking.  In 2017 and 2018, Atlas was also seeking city council approval of a 725-unit development in Chinatown, which was granted in late 2018.  
When approached for donations by councilmembers – or their fundraisers – developers like Atlas frequently feel that that they don’t have a choice.  Contributions are simply a cost of doing business.
In the late 80s I represented Browning-Ferris Industries (BFI) in opposing Councilman Hal Bernson’s efforts to prematurely close Sunshine Canyon Landfill in Granada Hills.  At the same time, I was the lobbyist for No Oil, Inc. working to stop Occidental Petroleum from installing 100 oil wells along Pacific Coast Highway across from Will Rogers Beach.  I asked BFI to give $5,000 to the campaign to pass No Oil’s Proposition O to ban drilling along Los Angeles’ coast, which would kill the Oxy project.  They declined, so I gave the phone number of BFI’s vice president to Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky, one of the sponsors of Prop. O, and suggested he call.  The vice president knew that some months later Yaroslavsky would be voting on whether to keep Sunshine Canyon open.  BFI made the donation.  Did Yaroslavsky vow to vote to keep Sunshine Canyon open?  I doubt it even came up.  These transactions go on all the time.
The city must curtail the ability of special interests – especially property developers – to give massive amounts of money to any committee controlled by a city elected official or even to respond to requests from politicians for donations to charitable organizations.
The existing rules for city elected officials campaign committees also must be tightened. When I ran for city council in the city’s 11th district in 2017, I limited donations to $250 (not the $700 allowed at the time), and accepted no donations from anyone living outside the 11th district or from anyone who had, or expected to have, a project or contract before the city council during my tenure in office.  
While these standards severely limited the population from which I could raise funds, and the amount per person, they also significantly reduced the potential for anyone to have actual or apparent influence with me, if elected.  The city should adopt these rules for campaign donations to cut-off the huge influence of special interest cash in our local elections. 

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Venice Cityhood: VNC Already Passed a Motion to Facilitate Cityhood Vote

Recently, there have been questions asked on social media about whether anyone is working to rally Venetians to secede from Los Angeles.  And this past Sunday the Los Angeles Times ran an opinion article by Jon Wiener noting an earlier de-annexation campaign in 1969.  Another "Re-Venice" effort took place in the early 90s.

In 2018, a series of cityhood townhalls were held under the able leadership of Nick Antonicello.  These eventually led last fall to the passage of the Motion below by the Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) seeking to create a level playing field for a Venice cityhood vote.

It calls upon the City of Los Angeles to initiate an effort to amend State law to remove both the city council's veto of a Venice cityhood initiative and the requirement that all of the voters of Los Angeles must approve Venice de-annexation.  The thesis is that, unlike many other districts in Los Angeles, Venice was an independent city from 1905 to 1926, and voted to join Los Angeles, and Los Angeles has a moral duty to allow it - on its own vote - to reverse that decision.

The Motion passed the VNC, though the council's president, Ira Koslow, has failed to send it to the members of the city council's Intergovernmental Affairs Committee, which would be the committee to consider introducing the requested legislation.


MOTION

Whereas, Venice was an independent city when residents voted in 1926 to annex itself to the City of Los Angeles; and
Whereas, Venice residents deserve the right to consider reversing that decision free from the burden of it being rejected by other residents living in the rest of Los Angeles who have no stake in the welfare of Venice or its residents; and 
Whereas, Venice residents desire the increased responsiveness of municipal government seen in smaller units of local government, such as our neighbors Santa Monica, Culver City, Malibu and West Hollywood; and
Whereas, Venice is not well served by a city government with only 15 council members for a population of almost four million residents;
Now, therefore be it resolved that the Venice Neighborhood Council formally requests the City of Los Angeles to sponsor and support State legislation to amend the Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg Local Government Reorganization Act of 2000 to:
1.       Remove the City of Los Angeles’ right to cause the termination of a detachment request pending before a local area formation commission submitted by a former city* which earlier voted to join the City of Los Angeles, which now borders both another city and the Pacific Ocean, and does not contain within its borders a port; and further, to
2.      Amend that Act to remove the City of Los Angeles’ right to subject to a vote of all voters in the jurisdiction of the City of Los Angeles the detachment of a former city* now located within its borders which borders both another city and the Pacific Ocean, and does not contain within its borders a port.

Submitted by:  Mark Ryavec, Community Officer
                        Nick Antonicello, Chair, Venice Cityhood Ad Hoc Committee
C.J. Cole, Community Officer and Member, Venice Cityhood Ad Hoc Committee
                        Yolanda Gonzalez, Member, Venice Cityhood Ad Hoc Committee

*This is the legal definition of Venice for the purposes of legislation to differentiate it from other former cities, which are now incorporated in the City of Los Angeles.


The following list of viable, nearby cities, with populations comparable to or less than Venice, was provided to the VNC to address the concern that Venice would not be able to support itself financially.



Cities in Los Angeles County with Populations
Comparable to or Less than Venice, CA

Venice                   40,885 (City of Los Angeles 2008 estimate)

Agoura Hills           20,330
Artesia                  16,522
Avalon                   3,728
Bell                       35,477
Beverly Hills           34,109
Calabasas              23,058
Claremont             34,926
City of Commerce  12,823
Cudahy                 23,805
Culver City            38,883
Duarte                  21,321
El Segundo            16,654
Hawaiian Gardens  14,254
Hermosa Beach     19,506
Hidden Hills           1,856
Industry                219
Irwindale               1,422
La Canada Flintridge  20,246
La Habra Heights   5,325
La Puente              39,816
La Verne                31,063
Lawndale               32,769
Lomita                   20,256
Malibu                   12,645
Manhattan Beach   35,135
Maywood               27,395
Monrovia               36,590
Palos Verdes Estates  13,438
Rolling Hills            1,860
Rolling Hills Estates   8,067
San Dimas             33,371
San Fernando        23,645
San Gabriel            39,718
San Marino            13,147
Santa Fe Springs   16,223
Sierra Madre          10,917
Signal Hill              11,016
South El Monte      20,116
South Pasadena     25,619
Temple City           35,558
Walnut                  29,172
West Hollywood     34,399
Westlake Village    8,270

(All figures 2010 U.S. Census except Venice)

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Support LAPD Chief Michel Moore

In these troubling times, residents appreciate the leadership of Police Chief Michel Moore.  

Chief Michel Moore in the field speaking to a protester.
Chief Moore has championed the legitimate expression of public outrage at the murder of George Floyd and other instances of police brutality, while also attempting to stop looting, destruction of small businesses, and torching of our communities.  

We urge Mayor Garcetti to support the chief in these times.

Sign petition at:  https://www.change.org/p/mayor-garcetti-lacity-org-support-lapd-chief-michel-moore