Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Oppose the City Lease with MTA for the Bridge Housing Project

Tell the MTA Board you oppose the Bridge Housing homeless shelter planned for the Venice MTA lot on Main Street.

The board will vote on a lease agreement with the City of Los Angeles on February 28th.

As you know, the VSA has filed a lawsuit demanding a proper environmental review and Coastal Development permit for the project, and necessary mitigations, so that it does not become a huge burden on nearby residents.

However, we can avoid the uncertainty of a legal fight if the Board votes against the lease.

Please click below to sign your name on an email to the MTA Board: https://actionnetwork.org/letters/say-no-to-bridge-housing-at-the-mta-lot

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

VSA Opposes SB 50, A Developer's Dream Come True


Members, Board of the Venice Neighborhood Council,

I am writing to ask you to adopt the WRAC motion opposing SB 50.

If passed, SB 50 would take power away from local government (and the Venice community) and allow the State Legislature to frame planning and development decisions from Sacramento. 

Under SB 50, towns would be required to allow apartment buildings in any place that is either:
  • within a half-mile of a rail transit station;
  • within a quarter-mile of a high-frequency bus stop; or
  • within a “job-rich” neighborhood.
In the new special zones, regulatory parking minimums would be sharply reduced and zoning codes would have to allow buildings to be either 45 or 55 feet tall depending on local factors. 

The biggest short-term impact of these zoning changes would probably be felt in neighborhoods that are already gentrifying and have a significant amount of housing turnover. Single-family homes that today are sold to flippers or to yuppies looking to undertake a renovation project or new construction would instead tend to get sold to small-scale apartment developers who would refashion them as denser and much higher structures.

The demand for density, however, is highest in rich neighborhoods where the price of land is highest. Units in these neighborhoods turn over more slowly, but the market demand for more housing is essentially infinite so over time it’s easy to imagine whole swathes of single-family dwellings in Silicon Valley, Westside Los Angeles (including Venice), Western San Francisco, etc. being converted to apartments.

With many high frequency bus stops in Venice it is not a stretch to imagine four and five story buildings all along Main Street, for example.

If the Venice community wishes to increase density, for example, along broad corridors such as Venice and Washington Boulevard, then the current Local Coastal Plan and community plan processes are the appropriate means for its expression, not the sledge hammer approach of SB 50. 

As former County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky explained last year in opposing SB 50's look-alike predecessor SB 827, this legislation is neither NIMBY or Yimby; it's WIMBY - Wall Street in My Backyard.  SB 50 simply allows developers to finally be able to over-develop our low rise, livable community without the careful consideration and mitigation that would come within the community plan process.
 
Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Mark Ryavec

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

ALERT - Please Tell the City Planning Commission to Oppose 718-20 Rose Avenue


 


Please send the following message to the Los Angeles Planning Commission opposing Venice Community Housing Corp's proposal to build the first four-story building in the Oakwood neighborhood.  As is readily evident from the previous meeting notice, the project will dwarf everything else in Oakwood and set a dangerous predecent for future development.

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

Dear President Millman and Members of the Los Angeles Planning Commission, 

Please oppose the VCHC's 718-20 Rose Avenue project.  It 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!

Send to: Samantha Millman <cpc@lacity.org>
               Oliver Netburn <Oliver.Netburn@lacity.org>

Please send your message of opposition today; the hearing is this Thursday!

Monday, January 14, 2019

VSA Sues City and Coastal Commission to Require Venice Homeless Shelter to Comply with Environmental Laws and Coastal Act



Today the Venice Stakeholders Association filed a lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles and the California Coastal Commission, challenging their approval of a 154-bed homeless shelter in the Venice neighborhood, in violation of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the California Coastal Act and other laws.

“The City and the Coastal Commission jammed this project through the system and bypassed the environmental laws and the Coastal Act,” said Mark Ryavec, president of the VSA, a non-profit corporation dedicated to protecting Venice residents and their neighborhoods.  “No government or project is immune from these laws.”   

The City’s so-called “Bridge Housing” facility would be located in the middle of a residential neighborhood just one block from Venice Beach.  It includes a large semi-permanent “tent” building containing a 100-bed dormitory, an outdoor dining area, a large outdoor kennel for residents’ pets, and several other buildings.  Despite having 154 beds and dozens of staff, the project would have as little as 20 parking spaces.

According to the lawsuit, the City approved the project “at lightning speed,” in just 11 days, while the Coastal Commission approved it in just nine days.  The Venice Neighborhood Council, which is elected by Venice residents, was not even consulted.  “The neighbors and the public were ambushed,” said Ryavec.

Ryavec acknowledged the need for shelters and other facilities to address Venice’s persistent homeless problem.  However, he added, “a residential neighborhood like this one is not the right place for such a project, especially since much of the facility is essentially outdoors, and just across a narrow street from homes.”   

The VSA lawsuit says that the City refused to do any environmental review for the project under CEQA, and the Coastal Commission granted the City a waiver from the usual requirement of a Coastal Development Permit, thereby avoiding any analysis of the impacts of the project on coastal resources such as parking and water quality.

“Just because the City and the Coastal Commission think this project will benefit the public doesn’t mean they can avoid considering its impacts under the environmental laws and the Coastal Act,” said Ryavec.  He noted that other beneficial projects, such as hospitals and schools, must comply with these same laws.

“If a developer proposed a 154-bed convalescent hospital with dozens of staff people, an outdoor kennel and dining facility, just feet from residents’ living rooms, with only 20 parking spaces, the City would require an environmental impact report and mitigation before approving it,” he said.  “A homeless shelter is no different.” 

The VSA is still collecting funds to support this lawsuit.  Donations may be made on this site to the right by credit card.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Last Call to Stop Bridge Housing in Residential Neighborhood of Venice

We have now raised $100,000 toward our legal effort to stop the 154-bed homeless shelter on the former MTA lot on Main Street.

Our goal is to raise $130,000.  

I am writing to ask for one more donation. 

My sincere thanks to those who have been so generous - some gave $100, some $500, some $1,000 and several gave $5,000.  

All the residents - some who  look out at the bus lot from their homes - are concerned about noise from the outdoor kennel and outdoor dining area, some are concerned that there is no street parking around the site now and the city is not providing enough on-site parking, some are concerned about new encampments springing up around the site, and some are concerned about the real potential for crime and assaults, which have accompanied the St. Joseph facilities on Lincoln and Hampton and the large encampments on Third Street and Park Avenue on OFW and elsewhere in Venice.

All are concerned that this project will be yet another magnet for even more homeless to come from around the nation to "try" to secure free housing.  That word - try - is the danger.  The site will only hold 154 people, while the city acknowledges that there are about 1,000 people living on the streets of Venice.  Where will the hundreds more that come to sign up for a bed go after all the beds are full?  Onto the sidewalk, into the alleys, on the Boardwalk, on private property.

None of our supporters oppose Bridge Housing or other efforts to house the homeless.

They object to this project being rammed down their throats and to it being located in residential neighborhood, to the lack of any protections for residents - for example, no 24-hour security outside the facility and no sound wall to dampen the noise from a kennel and exterior HVAC equipment - and the complete failure of the city to conduct an environmental impact report for the project.   

So, please, if you have not already contributed, please contribute $500 today.  If you gave in 2018 please contribute again in 2019.

If you want to see our legal "causes of action" just send us an email at venicestakeholders@ca.rr.com and we will send you our attorney's brief, which the city ignored.

Our deadline is January 14th, ten days from tomorrow.

All donations are tax deductible.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Please Donate to the Legal Effort to Stop the Homeless "Magnet" on the MTA Lot

Funds are urgently needed to support our attorney's effort to stop the city's plans for a huge homeless shelter on the MTA Lot that will be just another magnet for homeless to come to Venice from all around the nation, yet will not solve the problem.
Think of the St. Joseph walk-in center on Lincoln at Sunset, which is a plague to nearby residents - last year a homeless woman camping there started a fire in a dumpster behind St. Joseph and it jumped to the house next door and forced a family out of their home for weeks.  That is what the city is putting in our residential neighborhood - on steroids - while the Neighborhood Council has identified better, existing facilities elsewhere that are not a threat to families.

Working with residents living around the MTA lot, the VSA has already filed two legal briefs challenging the illegal environmental exemptions the City and Coastal Commission granted to the "Bridge Housing" project.

With 154 homeless campers taking beds in temporary structures and at least 50 counseling staff, security and food service staff and custodial workers, the facility will have only 20 parking spaces.  Despite an outdoor kennel for residents' dogs and an open-air dining area, all within 50 feet of residents' homes, there are no measures to control noise.  And with the LAPD constantly short of officers, there will be no added security of any kind for the neighborhood and the beach walk streets.

Since the city and Commission ignored our demands that the project receive a full environmental impact report addressing noise, parking, traffic, water quality (human waste from yet more encampments), and public safety, we are now raising funds to file lawsuits against the city and Commission and a writ for a preliminary injunction to stop the project from being installed until we have our day in court.

Litigation is expensive. Fortunately many residents have already been very generous. We have now raised over half the funds needed to cover the lawsuit.

If the shelter goes ahead, it could easily lower property values by hundreds of thousands of dollars, as new encampments mushroom on Main, Hampton, Pacific, Sunset, Paloma, Thornton and other nearby streets.  It also will add a tremendous amount of noise and parking demand and traffic and bring even more drug addicted, mentally ill and criminal transients to the neighborhood.

Please contribute $500 or more today. Tax deductible contributions may be made at Venicestakeholdersassociation.org.

We face a deadline to file the suit, so your contribution is needed by January 1st.  Please email Travis Binen at <travis.binen@delphix.com> for more information or venicestakeholders@ca.rr.com.

Friday, December 14, 2018

VSA Joins with Venice Historical Society to Return Gondola to Windward Circle

After a long absence, the Venice Gondola is now back in Venice.

Some time ago the Venice Historical Society had to pull the gondola off the Windward Circle due to the extensive damage it was suffering from vandalism.

It had been sitting in storage near LAX until the beautification of the Venice Post Office environment by the VSA and Neighbors of Grand suggested a new home for the gondola.

As part of beautification project, the VSA raised the funds to remove the over-grown foliage from the small garden at the west end of the Post Office parking lot and then welded steel plates atop the old I-beams that once held up a huge Safeway sign at that location.  The steel plates provide a secure pedestal for the gondola.

Then the VSA and Historical Society retained a fencing firm to install a wider gate from the parking lot to the garden to accommodate the gondola (seen below on the right).

Stewart Oscars, who is restoring the gondola, Historical Society president Jill Prestup and VSA president Mark Ryavec. 

Critical to the project was the support of Post Mistress Brittani Cephas and the financial assistance of Hama Sushi owner Esther Chiang and resident Grant van Every.

Today carpenter (and former VNC Board Member) Stewart Oscars finished the repairs and painting of the bottom and it was moved into an upright position.  Next, Oscars will replicate and install several deck fixtures that were lost over the years and re-paint the remainder of the hull.  Current plans are to re-paint the gondola in traditional black with gold trim.  Other plans include landscaping and possibly Italianate fencing.

Many thanks to all those who have supported this project.