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

Monday, May 18, 2020

Letter to the VNC Board re: Some History of Transitional Homeless Housing in Venice

Dear Members of the Board of the Venice Neighborhood Council:
 
I would like to share some history about the area along Lincoln that will be the focus of one of our agenda items on Thursday evening. 

I am not making a comment about that item or how I will vote on it; I am simply relating some history that may be of value in your decision making on Thursday. 

Eight or nine years ago Councilman Rosendahl approached me and asked what I thought about placing a large transitional housing facility in the building that is now occupied by Chalk Preschool at 2201 Lincoln Boulevard. 

The Councilman was being pressured by County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and his deputy Flora Gil Krisiloff to permit a transitional housing facility in Venice to address our already troublesome homeless population.

At time the building was empty and available for lease. I drove the area and noticed the several churches, schools and preschools that were in close proximity to that building. 

I told a councilman that if he proposed a homeless shelter at that location that it was likely the parents of the children who were enrolled in those schools would come after him with pitchforks. 

I advised him to look in the then largely commercial, office, and even light manufacturing area just south of Cosco and just east of Lincoln, along Del Rey Avenue. 

In turn, Rosendahl asked Venice real estate broker Brad Neil to see if he could find an appropriate building for use for the  homeless shelter in the area. Brad found and negotiated the purchase of a two story office building on Beach Avenue, near Del Rey Avenue. 

The intent was to create a 40 bed transitional housing facility - a mini bridge housing facility - in that existing structure.  It could have housed 40 people in cubicles, with 20 women upstairs and 20 men downstairs. It would have been modeled on OPCC's transitional housing facility in Santa Monica at 16th and Broadway. 

Neither Rosendahl nor his chief of staff Mr. Bonin worked very hard at finding the funding to purchase it for use as transitional housing, i.e., for 90 to 120 day stays. Instead (and I was in the meeting), Mr. Bonin presented the deal that Brad had negotiated to Steve Claire, executive director of the Venice Community Housing Corporation, not for transitional housing, but for permanent supportive housing, with only 20 beds.  The existing building was bulldozed and VCHC built Gateway Apartments on the site, at an ultimate cost of $500,000 per unit.

It was a colossal missed opportunity to: 

1. Build transitional housing adjacent to Venice, and 

2. Place it at some remove from schools and residents.


Monday, May 4, 2020

Please Support Our Penmar Neighbors

As many of you have seen, in the last six months the jogging path on Rose Avenue along the Penmar Golf Course has gone from zero campers to over 65 campers and tons of tents, furniture, barbecues, and debris.  With them has come harassment, vandalism, car thefts and break-ins, burglaries, assaults, defecation and urination on public and private property, open drug sales and use, constant noise, and the usual burdens associated with this population.

The residents there have been lobbying for months to have the unimproved dirt path deeded to the Recreation and Parks Department so that the park rangers can enforce the removal of private possessions and bar camping.  They are now sponsoring the change.org petition below, with a goal of 5,000 signatures. 

Please help them.

https://www.change.org/p/los-angeles-city-council-rose-avenue-beautification-along-penmar-golf-course

Sunday, April 26, 2020

VSA Files Brown Act Complaint against Councilman Bonin regarding Illegal Collusion with Colleagues and Bias

VSA attorney Jeff Lewis has filed a complaint under the Brown Act, California's public meeting law, and common law, charging Councilman Mike Bonin with violations of both laws.  

"In comments proposing use of federal stimulus funds to purchase distressed properties to convert them to homeless housing, Bonin revealed both bias and that he has already rounded up support of the city council to support this plan prior to public participation, a clear Brown Act violation," said Mark Ryavec, president of the VSA.

Mr. Lewis' letter is below.



Steve Houchin, Deputy City Attorney

Office of the Los Angeles City Attorney

200 N. Main St., Floor 7

Los Angeles, CA 90012



RE: Brown Act Violation



Dear Mr. Houchin, 


I am litigation and land use counsel for Venice Stakeholders Association (“VSA.”) As you may be aware, VSA, founded in 2009, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to civic improvement. The VSA supports slow growth, the limits of the Venice Local Coastal Specific Plan, neighborhood safety, better traffic circulation, increased parking for residents, neighborhood beautification projects, historic preservation, habitat restoration and protection of coastal waters. 


VSA has been monitoring press reports about Councilman Mike Bonin’s plan to use federal stimulus funds to buy distressed properties for homeless housing. VSA is very concerned with the City’s role in placing real properties in a distressed condition and then capitalizing on that circumstance. However, putting that policy decision aside for a moment, VSA raises two time-sensitive and important procedural issues to your attention. 


First and foremost, in one recent report*, Bonin told news reporter, Bill Melugin, that “the city council supports the proposal and is looking to fast track it….” This statement suggests that Bonin has been communicating, directly or indirectly, with other council members to build support for this policy decision without complying with the Brown Act. In the event of litigation to enforce the Brown Act, a deposition of Bill Melugin would confirm that conversation took place. VSA requests that your office investigate Bonin’s conduct and to remind him that the City remains subject to the Brown Act even during a pandemic. 


Second, Bonin’s statements to the press suggest that he has already determined how he would vote on the issue of using federal funds to purchase distressed properties. To the extent that Bonin is ever asked to vote on whether to acquire distressed properties, he has demonstrated sufficient bias as to require his recusal.**


VSA notes that when the City was proposing to amend Municipal Code section 85.02, Bonin was required to recuse himself due to his prior, vocal stance on the issue. VSA requests that the City Attorney’s office similarly advise Bonin of his obligation to recuse himself on this issue. 


VSA appreciates your attention to this important issue and we look forward to your prompt and written response.


Very truly yours, 


Jeffrey Lewis



*See 216 Sutter Bay Associates v. County of Sutter (1997) 58 Cal.App.4th 860, 877 [holding that Brown Act prohibits serial meetings by majority of legislative body to engage in collective deliberation on public business]. 

**See “LA City councilman proposes using federal stimulus funds to buy distressed properties for homeless housing,” published April 23, 2020 and available at: https://www.fox5ny.com/news/lacity-councilman-proposes-using-federal-stimulus-funds-to-buy-distressed-properties-for-homelesshousing April 24, and see, e.g., Woody’s Group, Inc. v. City of Newport Beach (2015) 233 Cal.App.4th 1012, 1021–1022 [holding that council member whose conduct creates probability of actual bias must recuse from land use decision].