Saturday, October 7, 2017

VSA Public Nuisance Lawsuit Against City and County for Dangerous Conditions on Boardwalk Goes Forward

The VSA's lawsuit against the City and County of Los Angeles for intolerable conditions along the Venice Boardwalk and beach is finally moving ahead.

After waiting over a year for the trial court to assemble the formal record, our attorney Jonathan Deer, a Venice resident and veteran appellate attorney, has begun work on the VSA's appeal brief.


Jon's analysis is that it was inappropriate for the appellate court to initially reverse the trial court's decision in favor of the VSA and our individual plaintiffs.  Jon maintains that there are issues in the case that must be tried by a jury and thus are not subject to the City's and County's  motions for summary judgment.

Jon has agreed to a fixed fee for all legal work, court appearances, etc., involved in the case.  

If you would like to support the suit, contributions from $50 to $1,000 are welcome.  Donations may be made by PayPal on the VSA's website or by check sent to the VSA, 1615 Andalusia Avenue, Venice, CA  90291.




Saturday, September 16, 2017

Letter from a Concerned Venice Resident about the Fallacy that Pending Housing Projects Will Help Venice



 
As a 22-year resident and property owner in Venice, I feel I have some perspective on the homeless situation and how it’s changed for the worse over the past few years.

I was at the VNC meeting on Monday. It’s focus was to convince everyone that there’s a problem with homelessness, but there were really no answers about how the supportive housing projects would specifically relieve the dire situation we’re facing as a community here in Venice.

I was told by multiple VNC reps that only about 45 units of the Venice median project would be allotted for the chronically homeless – and there is no guarantee that ANY of the homeless now living in Venice would receive that housing. In fact, statistically, none of the people currently living on the streets of our community would get this housing. Even if 45 out of the over 3,000 thousand homeless people living on the streets in West LA alone were to get that housing, how, in any way, would it help our community? These projects would provide services to not only its residents, but to other homeless people as well. They will act as magnets, drawing even more homeless to the streets of Venice, further exacerbating the problem.

I asked multiple representatives supporting the project this question and no one had an answer. I also asked how will these projects positively affect our community. The only answer I got was that “…it will get 45 people off the streets.” When I replied that this a statistically insignificant number and that the 45 folks may not even come from Venice, I was told “…it’s better than nothing.” When I said these projects would attract even more homeless to the area, their reply was that “…they will come any way.”

I asked why there are 3 projects in Venice, but none in the Palisades, Malibu or any of the other beach communities I was told, “…because they (Malibu/Palisades) will fight the projects more than Venice.” I was surprised by his honesty, but is this how major policy decisions should be made?

Another resident of Venice was concerned about his property values. He was told “…statistically, supportive housing projects have no effect on property values.” I cannot imagine this is correct, or the stat was cherry picked – maybe because on skid row the property values are already low, they're not effected by creating supportive housing? Personally, I took a huge financial risk buying property in Venice. Most of my wealth is tied up in that property. Why should the property I’ve worked so hard for become the victim of a dubious social program?

I asked, “If we’re really talking about providing housing for the greatest number of people, doesn’t it make sense to create supportive housing in areas that have lower building costs, because then you’d be able to build many more units, thus getting more people off the streets? I was told that “…if I had time I could tell you how this works, but I’m never going to convince you anyway.” When I expressed my frustration at his answer, he took a morally superior tone, and I was made to feel like I was a bad person who doesn’t care about homeless people. I do care about homeless people, but the project they’re proposing will not address the current problems and will only make them worse.

All this being said, I might support supportive housing in Venice, if there was some guarantee that something would be done about the truly disgusting and dangerous encampments at 3rd and Rose and the Boardwalk and Rose. This is what I observed in just one week of dropping my 8 year old daughter off at surf lessons in the parking lot at Rose Ave. at 8:45 in the morning (no exaggerations):

A man defecating against a building on Speedway, even though there were open public restrooms less than 100 yrds away.

Two men having a fist fight over a skateboard.

A totally naked man showering in plain view of dozens of small children next to the playground.

Open drinking and drug use – again, in plain sight of kids.

I nearly ran over a man rolling around in the middle of Speedway, totally out of his mind on drugs/alcohol.

When my wife picked up my daughter one afternoon, she found the whole group of kids crying because a homeless man had lit another homeless guy's stuff on fire. The fire was so large a fire truck had to come.

How is this acceptable? Why is this behavior condoned? How are these squalid encampments not a health code violation? Why are the laws not being enforced in Venice? The encampments on the beach in the Palisades was removed. I don’t see any encampments in Malibu, or Manhattan Beach or Hermosa? How about Beverly Hills?

I pay tens of thousands of dollars in property taxes every year, yet I feel like I have no input in major decisions that affect my quality of life—from the supportive housing projects, to the “road diets,” to my home being designated an “historic property” without any public notification or discourse or vote.

As a true stakeholder in my community, I feel it’s unacceptable that these types of projects that directly affect my life keep getting approved and implemented with next to no public input. The only chance we have to make an impact is to attend the public hearings that are coming up:

Monday, Sept. 25, 2017
5pm to 7pm.
Marvin Braude Constituent Service Center
First Floor Public Meeting Room 1A/1B
6262 Van Nuys Blvd.
Van Nuys, CA 91401

Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017
5pm to 7pm
Los Angeles City Hall, Room 1060
200 N. Spring St.,
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Comments can be sent to: cally.hardy@lacity.org


I’m going and I encourage all residents of Venice to attend. If we don’t speak up, it’s a done deal.

Regards,
Brad Morrison

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Support for Return of Venice Taffic Lanes

This letter was sent to the Board of the Mar Vista Community Council:

Dear Neighbors,

I am writing on behalf of Venice Stakeholders Association (VSA) to urge you to vote to restore the two traffic lanes which were lost on Venice Blvd. due to Mike Bonin's misguided and dangerous reconfiguration of that boulevard in central Mar Vista.

The VSA is a non-profit organization dedicated to civic improvement.  The VSA supports slow growth, protection of the limits of the Venice Specific Plan, neighborhood safety, better traffic circulation, increased parking for residents, neighborhood beautification projects, historic preservation, habitat restoration and protection of coastal waters.

The ill-conceived re-configuration of Venice Boulevard and the loss of two traffic lanes has had an immediate and detrimental impact on the life of Venice residents.  As you know, traffic is at a standstill during early morning and early evening drive times.  There has been a corresponding increase in cut-through traffic on other streets such as Palms, which are narrower and thus less capable of absorbing this east/west traffic.

Your residents have counted more accidents with this bizarre street/parking/bike lane layout than before it was installed.

As a long-distance cyclist I can attest to its highly unsafe design.  With the bike lane hidden behind a lane of cars, those on bikes cannot see if drivers are intending to turn right and drivers cannot see whether a bike is approaching as they start a right turn across the bike lane.

I frequently ride south to Redondo Beach and north to Cross Creek.  I know of no areas along those stretches (about 30 miles) which have a hidden bike lane such as one Bonin installed in your community.

And as you know, there was a perfectly acceptable bike lane on the boulevard before this change was made.

As the first-runner up in the recent Council District 11 race, I want you to know that I would not have supported the loss of two traffic lanes at this location.  Our east-west traffic infrastructure simply cannot afford any lane losses, however noble the cause.

If driver speed is an issue, we would suggest that it be addressed in the old fashioned way, with the frequent placement of motorcycle police officers along the boulevard to cite speeders.

Thank you for your consideration of our views.

Sincerely,

Mark Ryavec, President

Monday, September 11, 2017

Please Support Our Neighbors in Mar Vista to Restore All Traffic Lanes on Venice Blvd.


We need YOU to show your support for #restoreVeniceBlvd!

1. Attend the MVCC Board of Directors meeting Tuesday, Sept. 12th, 7 PM at Mar Vista Recreation Center, in the small gymnasium.
2. Can't attend the meeting? Please send an email instead!
3. Continue the discussion on how we can make Venice Blvd. a smarter street at the Great Streets Ad Hoc Committee meeting Wednesday, Sept. 13th.
1 - 2 - 3! That's right, there are 3 motions to restore the lanes on Venice Blvd. on the agenda for the MVCC Board of Directors meeting this coming Tuesday. We need you to be there.

The motions are at the end of the agenda, which means it's going to be a long night. Be sure to get a speaker card from Selena. We simply need you to say, "I support the return of the lanes on Venice Blvd."  If you need to leave, you'll be able to record your opinion on the card that Selena gives you, so it can be counted.

Please join us Tuesday, September 12th, 7 to 10 PM at the MVCC Board of Directors meeting at Mar Vista Recreation Center, 11430 Woodbine St. in the small gymnasium.

SAVE THE DATE: The next meeting is October 10th.
If you are unable to attend the meeting, please send an email instead to the MVCC Board of Directors (board@marvista.org) and Councilmember Mike Bonin (councilmember.bonin@lacity.org). Let them know you continue to support the return of the lanes for vehicles and a reconfiguration of Venice Blvd. that works for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.
Click here to see a sample letter
Wednesday, September 13th, 6:30 to 8 PM - The Mar Vista Community Council Great Streets Ad Hoc Committee meeting at the Mar Vista Branch Library, 12006 Venice Blvd. We'll be continuing the discussion on how we can make Venice Blvd. a smarter street that truly meets the needs of everyone in our community.

SAVE THE DATE: The next meeting is October 11th.

Please share, tweet and forward this email to your neighbors.

Monday, September 4, 2017

New, Larger Restore Venice Blvd. Signs Available

Our Mar Vista neighbors have generously provided Venetians with new, larger signs to protest the gridlock on Venice Blvd. resulting from Bonin's autocratic removal of two traffic lanes.  Contact me at venicestakeholders@ca.rr.com if you'd like one.



Sunday, July 23, 2017

Friday, July 21, 2017

Support Restoration of Third Lanes on Venice Boulevard

If you'd like to support restoration of the third lanes on Venice Boulevard in Mar Vista, click on this link to get a lawn sign and make a donation:

 https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10212943785129902&set=gm.1913929295562552&type=3

No automatic alt text available.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Support Legal Effort to Clean-Up Venice Boardwalk

As many Venice residents know, the VSA sued the City and County of Los Angeles a few years ago for maintaining a dangerous public nuisance along the Venice Boardwalk and beach.

At first we prevailed against the City and County. Then we lost an appeal and have appealed the case ourselves.

The Court has taken almost a year to prepare the legal record of the case and is about to release it to our attorney, Jonathan Deer, a veteran appeals attorney and Venice resident.

However, the Court is holding the record hostage for reimbursement of their costs in staff time and duplicating of documents.

So, we are turning once again to residents to help underwrite the $1,700 cost of the record.

Our legal theory is that the City routinely brings suits against drug dens and other public nuisances to force the owners to abate the crime that emanates from those properties or to compensate residents for the burdens they experience from the noxious affects from the property - think of noise and smells, for example, effects which have won other residents damage awards.

We are not seeking damage awards but rather the end of the crime and noise that ripple out from the publicly-owned Venice Beach Recreation Area.

Please help us by making a contribution of $100 or more to allow us to continue our effort to make Venice safer for residents and visitors alike. Contributions may be made on this page by PayPal or mailed to Venice Stakeholders at 1615 Andalusia Avenue, Venice, CA  90291.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Mark Vargas Is Not a Friend of Venice Residents

Scott Mayer, an institution all by himself among local Democratic Party activists, is holding a fundraiser for Coastal Commissioner Mark Vargas, who is running for an assembly seat in downtown Los Angeles.  So, I'd like to remind residents of Mr. Vargas' history of disrespect for our community.

As many will remember, the Venice Stakeholders Association sued the Coastal Commission when it rejected Venice's right to set up overnight restricted permit parking (OPDs) for residents.  The application for a Coastal Development Permit for OPDs was recommended for approval three times by Commission staff and three times it was disapproved by the Commission itself.  On the third and last occasion it was Mark Vargas who led the Commission in rejecting the compromise reached with Commission staff.

Mr. Vargas complained at the time that it would be a terrible burden for him (a non-Venice resident) to have to move his car at 2 AM after an evening of heavy drinking at Hal's.  He suggested it might be unsafe for him to drive and that he should be allowed to leave his car (occupying sorely needed resident parking) and take a taxi home.  Once Vargas spoke up, the other commissioners took his lead.

It was on these substantive grounds - Mark Vargas's drinking and driving behavior - that Venice OPDs were defeated.

Our lobbyist told me that Vargas took his marching orders from Mike Bonin despite Bill Rosendahl still being the councilperson and a supporter of Venice OPDs.  Apparently Mr. Vargas works (or worked) with Mr. Bonin's husband.

As Venice residents still struggle with people living in vehicles on their front curbs, they can thank Mr. Vargas.
 

Monday, June 12, 2017

Fill-Out the Official City Survey on Venice Boulevard Changes

Here is a direct link to a survey where you can VOICE YOUR OPPOSITION to the loss of a lane in each direction on Venice Boulevard. Bonin has buried it in a corner of his website in an attempt to avoid community comments. 

If you are against this change PLEASE fill this out:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQ...

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Please Sign the Petition to Return Venice Blvd. to Three Lanes Each Way in Mar Vista

The recent reconfiguration of Venice Blvd., which removed one lane in each direction in Mar Vista, is a well intentioned project poorly implemented. By utilizing a modest potion of curb and parkway the Dept. of Transportation could have maintained three lanes and accomplished their goal of moving the bike lane between the parked cars and sidewalk to make bike riding safer. It should be reconfigured as soon as possible to remove this choke-point on Venice Blvd.

https://www.change.org/p/mike-bonin-stop-the-unsafe-streets-project-on-venice-blvd

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Venice Activist Assaulted by Homeless Camper, Arm Broken

Rick Swinger
Venice activist Rick Swinger was assaulted by a homeless camper on Rose Avenue the morning of Thursday, May 18th, which resulted in Rick being knocked to the ground and his arm broken.  This is yet another in a long series of attacks on Venice residents by transients living on Venice's streets, sidewalks and parks.

Rick cautions Venice residents that the man who assaulted him is very combative and has been seen twice since the attack around the Full Circle Church property next to Rick's apartment at the corner of Rose and Hampton.

"My wife and I are afraid for our lives at this point," Rick said in the aftermath of the attack.

The attacker is white, about 200 pounds, around 50 with dark brown hair and beard.  Rick first noticed him in late April when he took to sitting on the picnic table on the front patio of the church next door and using a metal electric panel enclosure as storage for his possessions.  Rick said, "He even has his own lock for the panel door."

The attacker has frequently awakened Rick and his wife during the night.  Rick had previously attempted to engage the fellow in friendly conversation, but the camper became quickly agitated and threatening.

On the morning of the assault Rick and his wife were awakened at 4:30 AM by the man yelling while sitting at the picnic table on the church patio.  Rick went over to the church property to ask him quiet down.  To protect himself, Rick carried a can of pepper spray held behind his back.   As soon as Rick explained to the man that people were trying to sleep next door the fellow lunged at Rick, so he sprayed him with the pepper spray and started to walk back to his apartment.  The homeless camper was barely affected by the spray and pursued Rick.  Rick, now on the sidewalk, turned and sprayed the attacker in the face, but this did not stop the attacker from knocking Rick to ground.  In the fall, Rick's arm was broken.  

Rick's broken and battered arm.

He called out to his wife who ran over and helped Rick to his feet and back into the apartment.  His attacker was also down on the sidewalk, finally slowed down by the pepper spray.  After calling 911 they got in their car and started to head off to Brotman Hospital where Rick's wife is a nurse.  As they were leaving an LAPD patrol car arrived and the officers agreed to follow Rick and his wife to the hospital to fill out a police report on the incident.  (The attacker had left the site by then.)

Rick reports that he saw his attacker come back to get stuff out of the electric panel enclosure later that day and has seen him in the area on two more occasions.  Each time he called the LAPD but they did not arrive in time to catch the guy.

Rick had earlier taken a photo of the fellow because he found him erratic, loud and menacing.  After he gave the photo to the LAPD, one of the Beach Patrol officers told Rick that he knew of him.  As of this posting, the attacker has not been arrested.  Rick's request to church staff for them to put their own lock on the electric panel box to stop its use as storage space and to remove the picnic table, which is a homeless magnet, have gone without response.

 

Rick has been leading the effort to force the City and Public Storage to stop all the dumping of toxic materials around Third and Rose, which drain directly to a pool on the beach where the storm drain empties.  The City is remiss in not posting signs to warn children not to play in the polluted water.