Thursday, October 27, 2016

VSA Endorses Neighborhood Integrity Initiative

The Venice Stakeholders Association today endorsed the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative.

The initiative, sponsored by the Coalition to Preserve LA and slated for the March 7, 2017 ballot, will place a two-year moratorium on “spot” zoning, the controversial practice of up-zoning land to allow mega developments that are frequently out of proportion and character to the surrounding area.

The initiative would also require the City to up-date its General Plan and all 35 Community Plans in consultation with residents.  These plans provide the framework for development in all Los Angeles communities.  Many of these plans have not been up-dated in many years to reflect changes in traffic, utility availability, population, environmental considerations, resident sentiment, etc.

In a further leveling of the planning process, the initiative would take preparation of Environmental Impact Reports (EIRs) out of the hands of developers and give this task to the city, increasing impartiality and transparency.

“The initiative also draws attention to another dubious city practice, the amendment of the city’s General Plan for individual parcels of land,” Ryavec noted.  Under the City Charter, General Plan amendments can only be made to "significant" areas though this rule has been ignored by city officials in the past.  The initiative defines "significant" as communities or neighborhoods of at least 15 acres in size.  

“Under this definition none of the homeless housing projects Councilman Bonin is forcing on Venice residents without their consent could legally obtain the necessary General Plan amendment from their current ‘public facilities’ designation because none exceed 15 acres,” Ryavec said. (The need for a General Plan amendment for these sites was suggested by City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana in an article in the Los Angeles Times on October 10th.)

Bonin’s three homeless projects proposed for Venice are slated for:

1. An unused city yard in the Oxford Triangle neighborhood. 
  1. A city parking lot one block from the beach and next to the Venice Canals.
  2. The decommissioned Metro bus yard between Main Street and Pacific Avenue.
“The initiative would reaffirm the prohibition on amendments for individual parcels and would stop the councilman’s rush to develop these sites, allowing time for the community to be involved during the General Plan updating process,” Ryavec said.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Venice Community Housing Chief Admits City has Satisfied the Jones Settlement

At a public hearing Tuesday, October 18th, on Proposition HHH, the City's new homeless housing property tax, Becky Dennison, the executive director of the Venice Community Housing Corporation, admitted that the City of Los Angeles has satisfied the conditions of the Jones Settlement.

Referring to the permanent, supportive housing that would be funded under HHH, Dennison told the Venice Neighborhood Council that "...the city has been building such housing up to now (2000 units citywide)...*

Since the City was only required to build 1,250 units of  permanent, supportive housing to meet the terms of the Settlement, Dennison's comments legitimize calls for return to 24 hour enforcement of LAMC 41.18, the City's "no sleeping on a sidewalk" ordinance.

Proponents of return to enforcement of 41.18, including the VSA, have also called for the LAPD, working with social service agencies, to make a firm offer of a shelter bed or shared housing to each transient who is subject to citation under 41.18.  This would both allow those who want to get off the street to do so and would insulate the City from a new lawsuit. (Local service providers in Venice have indicated they can always find a shelter bed, shared housing, or offer a bus fare to a safe, welcoming family member.)

*From Venice Update:

The argument in favor of Proposition HHH was made by Becky Dennison of Venice Community Housing Corporation, who was called in to do so at the last minute after Councilman Bonin (originally scheduled to speak) cancelled his appearance due to scheduling conflicts. Dennison pointed out that this Bond issue would raise $1.2 billion over 10 years to build up to 10,000 units of mostly permanent, supportive housing in Los Angeles. She pointed out that the city has been building such housing up to now (2000 units citywide), but very slowly and that there are only 42 such units in Venice at the present time. This new housing can be built citywide, and the specifics of where the money will be spent can be decided later, after the bond is approved.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Reason Bonin Doesn’t Listen to His Constituents Revealed

An analysis of contributions to Councilman Mike Bonin reveals that two-thirds of the donations to his campaign fund since November 2012, when he first announced for office, have come from those with addresses outside of Council District 11, in many instances far away from Los Angeles.

Residents of Council District 11 have long found Bonin unresponsive to their concerns.  The analysis, which was conducted by CPA Tom Carter, Venice residents Angela McGregor and Lisa Lubchansky, and Mar Vista resident Jackie Hung, shows that he is giving his time and attention to those who live outside CD 11 and even outside of Los Angeles.

“The time and energy involved in such far-flung fundraising and the required travel subtracts mightily from the time and focus he should be devoting to his constituents,” said Mark Ryavec, the president of Venice Stakeholders Association. 

“Apparently Mike listens to those who pay for access,” said Ryavec.  “We certainly have had no success getting his attention to the horrendous problems we face with homeless encampments in Venice so maybe we are not paying enough.”

Bonin received $591,620 (64.4%) from 1218 donors (60%) outside CD 11, with multiple donations from donors with addresses in Pasadena (26), Long Beach (26), San Pedro (25), Beverly Hills (76), Santa Monica (124), Sacramento (11), Simi Valley (6), Newport Beach (8), Irvine (17), San Diego (7), Studio City (11), Encino (17), Burbank (9), Sherman Oaks (19), Woodland Hills (6), Tarzana (5), Valencia (6), Calabasas (7), Glendale (7), Redondo Beach (8), Manhattan Beach (15), Malibu (9), Gardena (7), Houston and Dallas, TX (14), Chicago, IL (9), Arlington, VA (3), Washington, DC (14), New York City (9), and 16 cities in Massachusetts (26).  

By comparison, Bonin received $326,846 (35.6%) from 800 donors (40%) who listed an address in the Council District 11 communities of Pacific Palisades, Brentwood, West Los Angeles, Mar Vista, Venice, Del Rey, Playa Vista, Playa del Rey and Westminster.  The analysis leads to the question: “Who does Mike Bonin represent when he received more contributions from Santa Monica - 124 - than from 90291 - Venice’s main zip code – at 116.”


Friday, October 14, 2016

The City of Los Angeles Can Stop the Encampments Near Residences, It Just Chooses Not To

I was recently asked the following:

I don’t understand why other cities seem to be able to create legal ways of 

protecting homeowners and LA cannot.   It seems unjust to come home from 

work to someone sleeping, camping or storing their belongings on our doorstep.

Even worse are proposals that would have Venice take on a disproportional

role & resources in addressing the problem than other neighborhoods…for example, why not have a camping/parking facility at the post office or library in Mar Vista? 
Why does it have to ALL be located in Venice?
The answer is that this is all the doing of Mike Bonin, with an assist from City Attorney Mike Feuer.
I've attached below some of the sections from the legal brief prepared by our attorney John Henning establishing that the City Attorney - maybe with some nudging from Mike Bonin - could simply declare the Jones Settlement satisfied and direct the LAPD to go back to 24-hour enforcement of the City's "no sleeping on a sidewalk" ordinance (LAMC 41.18) tomorrow. 
Of course, to avoid a new lawsuit the LAPD would have to offer shelter beds or shared housing in every instance, but Rev. Weller of the LAPD Homeless Task Force told me recently that he always has beds available somewhere in the county.  And we know that most of those living on our sidewalks won't accept housing anyway, they are either service resistant or describe themselves as "travelers."  So, just a documented offer of shelter will allow the LAPD to get these campers off your sidewalk or parkway.

So, what to do?  
Call Mike Bonin's office every day and tell his staff to end the Jones Settlement now and go back to enforcing 41.18.
The number is 213-473-7011.
As to why Bonin is forcing residents to accept three new housing projects for the homeless, including those who are mentally ill and drug addicted, I believe it reflects an all out war to turn the clock back to a time when Venice was a diverse, low income haven amidst all the wealth of the other beach cities on Santa Monica Bay.  The multiple vectors of rampant and increasing homeless encampments, the plan to place dangerous homeless in unsecured facilities next to homes, to change the character of Oxford Triangle with a dense, low income project, and the downzoning of residences across Venice through designation of historic districts and historic structures which allows little to no additions or alternate uses is already sending some residents fleeing and dramatically lowering some property values, in some instances by as much as $500,000 or more.

From Henning's letter:
 First, the primary provision of the Jones Settlement restricting the City from enforcing section 41.18(d) between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. has apparently been discharged and released due to the construction of 1,250 permanent supportive housing units.  Thus, the City is now free to recommence enforcement of section 41.18(d) without further court proceedings.

 Second, the federal appellate court ruling in the Jones case held only that enforcement of section 41.18(d) would be constitutionally prohibited when the person is sleeping on the street or sidewalk “involuntarily,” i.e., when no shelter bed is available.  

 Third, as long as persons violating section 41.18(d) are offered a shelter bed or other housing, enforcement of the ordinance is unlikely to trigger a successful lawsuit against the City.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Venice Homeowners Alliance Invites Residents to Attend Meeting with Head of City Office of Historic Resources

While one of the missions of the VSA is historic preservation of Venice's Craftsman legacy, we have been alarmed at the lack of public participation and due process in the designation of over 1,600 houses as historic and the limitations which have attached to each property due to this designation.  No hearings were held, no ordinance was passed, the bureaucracy just ordained it - apparently at the direction and with the approval of Councilman Bonin.

A new group has formed - the Venice Homeowners Alliance - to demand a repeal of the new requirements and limits on this class of property.  

Here is their recent letter inviting those with a designated property to attend an upcoming meeting on the subject.


Dear property owner,

Your property is among the 1,600+ properties in Venice that has either been (1) designated historic, (2) is located in a newly-identified historic district, or (3) both of the above.

Our organization, The Venice Homeowners Alliance, is a group of concerned homeowners who, like yourself, were never notified of this change by the City of Los Angeles. Our mission is to inform you of what the City failed to; namely, that the Office of Historic Resources (OHR) has taken steps without your knowledge to severely limit what you can do with your home.

What sorts of limitations have been placed on your home?

 You may not pull a building permit to remodel your house without prior review and approval from the Office of Historic Resources. 

 If you would like to make significant changes to your home, such as a large addition or reconstruction, then you may have to do an Environmental Impact Report, which can take 1+ years to complete and cost $50k+. 

 You may not sell your house without disclosing to potential buyers that your property is designated historic.

The Venice Homeowners Alliance supports historical protections for truly historical homes. We intend to ask the City to redo their historical survey with input from Venice homeowners and stakeholders.

What can you do about it?

EXPRESS YOUR VIEWS!  Attend the Oct 13th public meeting: 6:30pm at the Westminster Elementary School gym, where the head of the Office of Historic Resources, Ken Bernstein, will be hosting a Q&A 

 Join our email list by sending an email to with the subject: Venice Against Survey LA 

 View our public facebook page where we will be sharing more information: 

 Sign our petition linked to the facebook page 


Friday, October 7, 2016

Bonin Earlier Emphasized His Opposition to Homeless Storage at the Westminster Center

Message from Councilman Bonin Earlier Opposing Converting the Westminster Center to a Homeless Storage Facility - 

Jan 22, 2014 — Thank you for your email!

The good news is that most of the stuff you were urging me oppose is not and never was under consideration. Please let me correct the false rumors:

I am not considering ANY plans to turn the Westminster Senior Center into a homeless shelter. (In fact, there is no such proposal.) There is no proposal to locate the shelter pick up and drop off site there, nor is there a proposal to turn the lot into a homeless service center.

However, some have suggested I relocate a storage facility for the homeless, currently at Venice Beach, to Westminster. As I told folks at tonight’s neighborhood council, I am saying NO to that proposal.
Homelessness, public safety, and quality of life are important neighborhood issues that need to be addressed in a thoughtful and comprehensive way. My staff and I are actively engaged on them, and we welcome your thoughts and participation. Feel free to email me directly at

Mike Bonin, Councilmember

Thanks to Sue Choi for bringing this to our attention.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Parent/Resident Coalition Files Lawsuit to Enforce Deed Restriction Barring Storage Use of Westminster Center

"Venice Kids Count," a broad coalition of neighbors, parents, and residents in Venice, filed suit against the City of Los Angeles today to stop the city from illegally converting the Westminster Senior Center into a storage and services hub for the homeless.

The suit follows many months of resident, parent and VSA protests that a deed restriction on the property bars the storage use and that the City had failed to obtain a Coastal Development Permit for the obvious change of use.

The center is in a public park that is bordered by Westminster Elementary School, where more than 400 children attend school, and is just one block from a pre-school. It is also home to the Westminster Dog Park, which has been a popular gathering place for local families for decades. The city is planning to open the storage facility in the senior center on November 1.


A Court Order, issued in 1950 by the Superior Court of California, expressly prohibits this kind of conversion from a public park to a storage and services hub for the homeless. The Court Order states that the park should be used for "public playground and recreation purposes" only.

The conversion is part of a broader plan proposed by Councilperson Mike Bonin (CD-11) to install an extensive network of resources for the homeless in Venice over the next several months, including new housing projects on Venice Boulevard and Thatcher Avenue, 24-hour restroom and shower facilities on the Venice Boardwalk, designated overnight parking with restroom access, and mobile shower facilities.

The Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) voted against repurposing the senior center and proposed a mobile storage and outreach solution modeled on successful programs in other cities to address the needs of the homeless and community concerns regarding school safety and the preservation of recreational resources.

"We created and vetted an innovative mobile storage program that brings the storage solution - complete with street outreach teams - directly to the homeless, when and where they need it," said Heidi Roberts who serves on the VNC's Homeless Committee. "It's a great program that can be scaled to address the needs of the city's homeless and expanded beyond Venice in a cost-effective and efficient way. It's a win-win."

However, Bonin declined to delay conversion of the senior center to consider the VNC's proposal.

"While we understand the City of Los Angeles needs to do something to help the homeless, importing hundreds of homeless to this community, right next to a school where hundreds of children spend every day is a careless choice," said Katrina Glusac, a parent of a Westminster Elementary student and member of 'Venice Kids Count'. "Especially since there are options that would provide the services without sacrificing the safety of our kids."

Go to for facts, contact information, background,  opportunity to donate.