Thursday, April 19, 2018

VEXIT Town Hall Tonight

VEXIT Town Hall Discussion

Does detachment from Los Angeles make sense for Venetians?

The Outreach Committee of the Venice Neighborhood Council would like to invite you to engage and listen to a panel discussion on the future of Venice on April 19th, from 7p - 9p at Ánimo High School in Venice (820 Broadway Street, Venice, 90291).

The goal of the evening is to hear from a series of experts from the media, government, academia and special interest organizations that have followed the growth and change of this urban beach enclave.

Note: this event is completely non-partisan in nature and is not supporting or rejecting the notion of cityhood, but providing Venetians this topic as an alternative to the status quo.

This event is about serious public policy options, not politics or partisanship.

Panel Discussion:

- Paul Novak, Executive Officer of the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) will present facts on cityhood formation.

- Mayor Fred Gaines of Calabasas, the last community to successfully "detach" from the County of Los Angeles

- Marcus Ruiz Evans, President of Yes California and CALEXIT

- Isaac Simpson, journalist and content creator who first bought the Vexit talk into the mainstream

- Joe Piasecki, Managing Editor of the Argonaut

- James Murez, a longtime Venice resident and VNC member and an expert on the history of Venice.

Moderated By:

- Hollie Stenson, a member of the Venice Neighborhood Council, actress and activist. Who excited to be the moderator for what will be an interesting discussion for the community.

More info:
Venice was once a city from 1905 to 1926 and in many ways continues to have a parochial and home-rule aspect to its residents, culture and vibe.

We invite you to to a panel discussion on the future of Venice on April 19th, from 7p - 9p at Ánimo High School in Venice (820 Broadway Street, Venice, 90291) 

Thursday, April 5, 2018

The Path to Vexit is Through LA City Hall (So Don't Get Your Hopes Up)

With the Venice Neighborhood Council having a hearing on Venice cityhood on April 19th I am re-posting below the guide I published on the subject in 2016....

R E V E N I C E ?

By Mark Ryavec

Many years ago I joined with other residents to research the prospects for Venice to detach from Los Angeles and form an independent city.  At that time frustration with scores of gang-related shootings in Oakwood and under-policing along the Boardwalk, lack of resident parking and the on-going loss of Venice’s Craftsman architecture led many Venetians to think that we could manage our town better than the bureaucrats downtown. T-shirts were printed to publicize our cause; they showed an iconic Venice pillar capped by our unique capital on one side and the call to action – REVENICE – on the reverse.

We got an incorporation guide from the Los Angeles County Local Area Formation Commission (LAFCO) that laid out the steps.  We then obtained the relevant tax revenue data for Venice, entered it into the formula provided in the guide and determined that Venice would have enough revenue, from property, sales, and hotel occupancy tax and other fees, to easily support a municipal government with all the usual services.  Instead of setting up its own police department, the City of Venice would have had to contract with the County for the services of the Sheriff’s Department, but many smaller cities have done this for years, including Malibu and West Hollywood.  With the tremendous increase in property tax assessments over the last 25 years, triggered by Proposition 13 as sales occur, I doubt there is any question that the City of Venice could support itself today.

The stumbling block at that time was the State law governing detachment of an area from an existing city.  The law gave the voters of the host city the right by a majority vote to reject the detachment proposal of the smaller area, as we saw in the failure of the San Fernando Valley to win independence in 2002.  Valleyites voted by a bare 50.7 majority to secede while the rest of Los Angeles rejected the proposal by a 2 to 1 margin.  Case closed for the Valley.

With new calls for cityhood for Venice, I revisited the steps necessary to secede and found that since 2002 the State has made it even more difficult.  While Government Code Section 56751 provides a process for detachment, it also gives the host city the right to kill the proposal by a simple declaration asking that the secession bid be terminated.  Even if the City Council does not kill it early in the process, under the State law voters citywide would still have to approve Venice secession.  This is not likely, due to the historic opposition of city labor unions to the prospect of losing union jobs or the generous salaries, benefits and pensions they now enjoy (smaller cities rarely pay as well as Los Angeles).

However, Venice is a special case.  While other areas of Los Angeles were simply unincorporated territory when they were annexed by Los Angeles, we were an independent city when we voted to annex ourselves to the City in 1926.  That history of independence should give us standing to ask for an easier path back to cityhood.

So, for those who wish to pursue cityhood I offer the following Motion for consideration by the Venice Neighborhood Council:

Whereas, Venice was an independent city when residents voted in 1926 to annex itself to the City of Los Angeles; and

Whereas, Venice residents deserve the right to consider reversing that decision free from the burden of it being rejected by other residents living in the rest of Los Angeles; and

Whereas, Venice residents desire the increased responsiveness of municipal government seen in smaller units of local government, such as our neighbors Santa Monica, Culver City, Malibu and West Hollywood; and

Whereas, Venice is not well served by a city government with only 15 council people for a population of almost four million residents;

Now, therefore be it resolved that the Venice Neighborhood Council formally requests  the City of Los Angeles to sponsor and support State legislation to amend the Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg Local Government Reorganization Act of 2000 to void the City’s right to cause the termination of a detachment request pending before a local area formation commission submitted by a former city which earlier voted to join the City of Los Angeles; and further, to amend that Act to remove the City of Los Angeles’ right to subject detachment of a former city now located within its borders to a vote of all voters in the jurisdiction of the City of Los Angeles.

These amendments would leave the decision to secede with the registered votes of Venice – as it should be.  We have been married for a while, it hasn’t worked out all that well, and now we’d like to go our separate way.

The other option that I see is for Venice and other like-minded districts to pursue amendments to the City Charter to create a means to matriculate from the neighborhood council model to a new, yet to be defined borough government model.  Under a borough system, control of many city services and decision-making powers would devolve to local residents. 

Here are some examples for consideration:

A new seven member borough council – elected by district to ensure representation of all parts of Venice - would be able to choose a local police commander from three candidates submitted for consideration by the Los Angeles Chief of Police.  The commander would be physically officed in Venice and would control officers assigned to Venice.

Under a similar system, there would be Venice administrators for most city departments chosen from qualified candidates submitted by the heads of certain city departments.  So, there would be borough-appointed heads of parks, street services, sanitation, urban forestry, planning, parking enforcement, etc., in Venice  (We probably would not need a local director for DWP service, and certainly not for the Harbor Department or LAX.)

Planning decisions would be made by a zoning administrator assigned and officed in Venice and initial appeals would go to a Venice Planning Commission appointed by the borough council.  The Venice commission would replace the West Los Angeles Area Planning Commission, with appeals going to the borough council not the City Council, as is the current practice.

Planning laws – such as revisions to the Venice Local Coastal Specific Plan - would be drafted by the Planning Department’s Venice representative in consultation with the Venice Planning Commission, though would require final approval of the Los Angeles City Council.

Eventually a percentage of all revenue generated in Venice would remain in a separate Venice account of the City’s Finance Department and it would be used for discretionary projects selected by the borough council.

Under a borough model, the voices of Venice residents would move from being advisory to a degree of local control.

The process to move towards borough councils with devolved city powers would be initiated by a charter reform commission - appointed by the City Council - charged with developing the specific language to submit to city voters.  In my model, moving from a neighborhood council to the borough model would require a vote of each district’s residents.  The City might also set some minimum period for operation of a district’s neighborhood council before it could propose to graduate to the borough system.   

For many years residents of Venice have felt neglected by the City of Los Angeles.  This disillusionment stretches all the way back to the 1926 annexation vote and the subsequent filling in of the original canals by the engineers of the City of Los Angeles and the failure over many decades of the City to honor its annexation promise to build a sewage treatment plant to keep sewage from Ballona Creek from washing up on Venice beaches.  This frustration has certainly continued over the 28 years I have resided in Venice; sometimes I think it is only our incredible weather, sun and sea air that keeps us from outright revolt at the conditions foisted upon us by an uncaring and incompetent city government.

Unfortunately, little will change until Venice re-establishes cityhood or wins back a modicum of control of city services and decisions under a borough government.

Monday, April 2, 2018

VSA Opposes Overnight Opening of Horizon Avenue Restrooms

 April 2, 2018

Sylvia Patsaouras, President
Board of Recreation and Parks Commissioners
221 N. Figueroa Street, Suite 350
Los Angeles, CA  90012

Re:  Agenda #18-045/Opposition to Night Opening of Restrooms at Venice Beach

Dear Commissioner Patsaouras:

I am writing to express our opposition to the exemption of the Horizon RAP restrooms from the Venice Beach 12-5 AM beach curfew.

As you know, the Venice Beach Recreation Area (VBRA) is already a dangerous and tawdry venue, unlike its coastal neighbors to the north and south.

The failure of your department to keep the area clean and safe has resulted in the growth of the transient population on and near the VBRA from 400 four years ago to roughly 1,200 today.

The exemption of the Horizon restroom will take our community in the wrong direction, offering yet another magnet for transients – those truly homeless and young travelers who declare that they are homeless by choice.

I ask you to oppose this action for three reasons:

  1. It is discriminatory.  This would be the only RAP restroom facility in the entire city that is open from 12-5 AM.  No one neighborhood should carry this burden unless all neighborhoods absorb the same risk.
  2. It is counter-productive.  None of our neighbors – Santa Monica, Malibu, Pacific Palisades, Playa del Rey or Marina del Rey – offer restrooms to the public overnight.  Thus opening them at night on Venice Beach will draw yet more transients and troublemakers to Venice.
  3. This sets an unwelcome precedent for erosion of the 12-5 AM beach curfew.  The LAPD has historically stated that it cannot police the beach and Boardwalk at those hours due to lack of officers.  It is foolhardy to open up a facility which has been closed since 1989 due to its previous use for drug sales, prostitution and lodging.

Please do not take an action in Venice that you would not be prepared to take at the parks nearest to your own home.

Thank you for your consideration of our views.

Mark Ryavec
Mark Ryavec, President

The Venice Stakeholders Association is 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.