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.