Tuesday, February 20, 2018

VSA Opposes "Miami-ization" of Venice Beach (VNC Agenda 11C), Loss of Traffic Lanes/Overnight Parking on Pacific Avenue (Agenda Item13B)

Dear VNC Board Members,

I am writing to indicate our organization's opposition to motions on SB 827 and changing parking rules for Pacific Avenue.

The Venice Stakeholders Association is a non-profit organization committed to quality-of-life improvements, public safety, and traffic and parking enhancements.

At the very least SB 827 would allow, by right, eight story buildings in all directions one-quarter of a mile from the Windward Traffic Circle and four story buildings one-half mile from the circle.  It also would waive existing parking requirements at a time that parking is scarcer than ever in Venice.

Venice residents have consistently fought to keep Venice's shoreline from being "Miami-ized."  Residents have similarly opposed abandoning the three-story height restrictions of the Venice Local Coastal Specific Plan.

When I ran for City Council last year I consistently heard from residents that they were opposed to the "maxing out" of just the existing three-story building envelope. Almost to a person, there was no support for allowing four story buildings, much less eight stories.  No one favored reducing parking requirements.

Senator Weiner should impose his misguided proposals on his Bay Area district and refrain from attempting to legislate land-use rules for communities he knows next to nothing about.

Within the small number of Venice residents who support SB 827 are likely to be those property owners who would profit by a doubling of their buildable envelope - from three stories to eight stories; I believe that at least one VNC Board member should recuse themselves from voting on this measure as they own property in close proximity to the Windward Traffic Circle.

I also urge your Board to reject changes to parking rules along Pacific Avenue.  Residents and visitors alike sorely need the four lane north-south traffic capacity provided during the day along Pacific, especially on weekends.  And residents sorely need the parking provided over night on weekends and throughout the week. Increased traffic enforcement, added traffic lights and crosswalks, and lower speed limits are all better solutions.

These proposals are ill-advised and your Board would be out-of-step with Venice residents were you to approve either of these motions.

Thank you for consideration of our views on these matters.

Sincerely,

Mark Ryavec

President

Monday, February 12, 2018

VSA Opposes City Council Proposal to Remove Environmental and Parking Requirements of Homeless Housing

Today I spoke on KPCC's popular AirTalk program with anchor Larry Mantle and opposed the City Council's proposal to waive environmental, height and parking requirements for homeless projects such as those proposed for the Venice Boulevard Median and Thatcher Yard in the Oxford Triangle.

You can listen to it at: www.scpr.org/programs/airtalk/2018/02/12/61688/la-is-considering-fast-tracking-some-homeless-hous

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

New Homeless Shared Housing Coming On-Line, Please Donate Furnishings

Our Venice friends Heidi Roberts and John Betz are opening a newly constructed four-unit building in South LA that they will be operating as collaborative housing for the homeless.  It will house 26 people in a shared living situation, college dorm style, built on relatively inexpensive land.   This is the type of project to which the City must shift its resources - instead of 640 square foot units that house just one person in tony Westside neighborhoods - or it will never catch up with the sheer number of homeless on our streets (and unfortunately in our neighborhoods).   Right now they need donations of furnishings.
 
Here's their story on the subject and the current project in their own words:
 
Throughout the past decade, we’ve tried to create change in a variety of ways: working within the bureaucratic homeless industry, fighting against it, learning about best practices in other regions, kvetching about hypocrisy and waste, collaborating with politicians to align on clear goals, writing on social media ad nausea and even suing the CIty over lame decisions they’ve made. Finally, we decided to stop bitching and moaning and redirect our energy to address homelessness ourselves. 
 
Here in our new project they’ll have a home and the stability needed to re-group, recover and restart to ultimately lead productive, successful lives. The non-profit homeless service SHARE! will be supporting their efforts from a social-emotional perspective and we’ll be providing a fully furnished and equipped home for them.

We’ve named this project "Weller House," in honor of the awesome Chaplain Steve Weller and his equally amazing wife and Co-Chaplain Regina Weller of the Homeless Task Force in Venice. Steve and Regina have literally housed hundreds - maybe even thousands - over the years and we wanted to honor their contributions to our community. Sadly, Steve passed away last year but Regina has been at our side throughout this process to help plan, design and build this fantastic collaborative community. 

Weller House is almost ready to open - we’re thinking the first people will be moving in around March 1st. In the meantime, we’re busy finalizing all the details, turning the power on, cable installed, insurance set, etc. We’re also furnishing Weller House - for 26 people!  We’ve got beds and linens all set and some furnishings, but can use some additional help.  IKEA has been our second home and we’ve been scouring thrift stores and craigslist for furnishings, but we still need more. We’re hopeful that you may have some household things you’re looking to lose!  John and I will be renting a U-Haul next week and we’re happy to swing by and fetch any items you might be willing to part with. 

Specifically, we need:
  • Washers/Dryers
  • Fridges
  • Stoves
  • Outdoor Furniture (tables and chairs)
  • Art
  • Shelves-bookcases
  • Dining tables/chairs
  • Kitchen stuff/small appliances
  • Bath towels (in good condition)
  • Coffee tables
  • End tables
  • Desks/desk chairs
  • Desktop computers
We’re good on couches for now and we have specific beds/bedding being delivered in the coming weeks. 

We’re very hopeful that Weller House is the first of many collaborative houses. Our plan is to systematize and perfect this approach so other private investors can replicate Weller House and together we can actually get people off the streets and into proper homes!  We’re feeling so positive about this plan that we’re purchasing a second building that will be completed in a few months. So if you don’t have anything to donate to Weller House next week, save it for the next project: Chez Dre!

Thank you in advance for anything you can throw our way and we’ll keep you posted on our progress. In the meantime, you can learn more about the Wellers here:  https://www.homelesstaskforce.solutions

And learn about collaborative housing and SHARE! here:  http://shareselfhelp.org/programs/share-collaborative-housing/

XO Heidi, John and Andreas, too     
 
Contact Heidi at:  <heidiroberts@mac.com>