Friday, May 10, 2019

Monday, May 6, 2019

Tell State Senator Ben Allen to Vote No on SB 50

Please call Senator Ben Allen to register your objection to SB 50, which proposes to change zoning to allow for taller buildings and denser building anywhere there is rail line or a bus line operating every 15 minutes or less (think Venice!).  Under some analyses SB 50 will allow five (5) story buildings next to historic one-story craftsman homes within a quarter mile of bus lines in Venice. It's a mad idea and will make our lives even more difficult. (More details below in interview with former councilman and supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky.)

BEN ALLEN  # 310  318 6994  

Just give your name and say that planning should be controlled at the local level, not statewide. 

Please send to others that are like-minded about protecting Venice's low-rise, residential street scape.   Thank you !!
Zev Yaroslavsky: Why SB 50 is Not Right for LA
In an interview with NBC4’s Conan Nolan, former LA County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky spoke about the status of SB 50’s impact on Los Angeles. SB 50, proposed by Senator Scott Wiener, has passed out of the Senate Housing and Governance and Finance Committees thus far. SB 50 will allow increased development densities and loosen zoning restrictions not just near transit stops, but extends to basically every significant bus line in the LA basin. Yaroslavsky, now the Director of the Los Angeles Initiative at the Luskin School of Public Affairs at UCLA, talks about the bill’s problematic “one-size-fits-all” structure and its potential to cause irreparable harm to Los Angeles’s landscape, all while not addressing the lack of affordable housing. TPR presents the following transcript of their conversation, edited for clarity and syntax.

Zev Yaroslavsky
"There has to be a more intelligent way to do this. Not with a meat axe, but with a scalpel. I’m hopeful that the Legislature will come to its senses. If not, on their watch, they can say they’ve destroyed cities and communities up and down the state of California."- Zev Yaroslavsky
Conan Nolan: The UCLA Quality of Life Index, released this past week, indicates that over half of LA County residents have considered—or know someone within their family—leaving the state of California as a result of the cost of living. Zev Yaroslavsky, the cost of living and rent is a big problem. Has it gotten worse? 
Zev Yaroslavsky: It has gotten worse every year. The cost of living is the category that people are least satisfied with in Los Angeles County. The single biggest factor in the cost of living is the cost of housing. The cost of housing is a far greater concern than taxes or gasoline prices.
The costs of housing look like they are plateauing a bit. The rate of decline has slowed, so I hope it declines. There is a lot of construction of housing going on in this city. Most of the construction is market-rate, so it is not going to address the affordability crisis directly.
There has been a lot of state and local legislation to encourage more residential development. These bills are beginning to have an impact. 
Conan Nolan: Senate Bill 50 is a bill that would allow for significantly increased developments, such as Culver City’s Ivy Station, to be built near transit stations. This would allow four, five, six story apartment buildings. The argument of the State Senator behind this bill, Scott Wiener, is that California need something drastic because we need 3 million units and we want them near transit.
Zev Yaroslavsky: First of all, the city of Los Angeles—where I governed for 40 years and where I come from—has transit-oriented development proposals and mechanisms that they are implementing as we speak. The Exposition Light Rail has a Specific Plan that encourages more development near stations.
The problem is when we talk about transit-oriented development is that when people think of mass transit, they think of the subway and light rail lines. This bill extends to basically every bus line in the LA basin. So it is not just the Red Line station at Universal City, it is the bus stop at Melrose Ave and Gardner St. That intersection is a very middle-class area with no big job magnet around it. Any single-family home within a quarter-mile of a bus stop would be rezoned for multifamily. SB 50, Senator Wiener’s bill, is an overreach. I think most people understand that.
Los Angeles has exceeded its state imposed housing goals for the past several years. Just last year, the city of Los Angeles approved 27,000 new apartment units. That is the single biggest number of approved units since 1981. So the current bills are working.
Conan Nolan: Now, what about the cities that have not fulfilled their housing construction goals? For example, you’ve got the state suing Huntington Beach currently.
Zev Yaroslavsky: I am not here to discuss Huntington Beach. I am from Los Angeles, and the problem with the Wiener bill is that it treats every city the same. 
If you want to create affordable housing, don’t exempt the affluent cities. He has made value judgments and political judgments.
There has to be a more intelligent way to do this. Not with a meat axe, but with a scalpel. I’m hopeful that the Legislature will come to its senses. If not, on their watch, they can say they’ve destroyed cities and communities up and down the state of California.
We don’t need to do that. It’s an overreach. There’s a middle ground that he is not interested in exploring, because he is carrying the water for an industry that serves to benefit.ment
Conan Nolan: Can we at least agree that the housing crisis needs to be addressed? There is a generational issue where young people cannot afford property here.
ev Yaroslavsky: Absolutely. Young people, people of middle and low incomes, and renters. Those are who we call in our recent study, “the struggling group.” This is the 35% of Angelenos who are struggling economically. Those are the people who are on the bubble, and those are the people we ought to be focused on.
We don’t need to be focused on the folks coming into the state to take high-paying tech jobs paying them $150,000 or $200,000 per year. They can pay for the market rate housing. It is the people who are leaving town that need our focus.
In Los Angeles, we have a centers concept. Over the past 50 years, our city has developed around these centers of life and jobs: Centruy City, Westwood, Downtown, Hollywood, Universal City, and there are others. 
We also need to have non-centers, and balance between high-density, medium-density, and single-family home density neighborhoods. You don’t, with one broad brush, destroy all of that. It’s suicide from a land use point of view.
One example: Angeleno Heights, the first historic preservation zone in Los Angeles with the highest concentration of 19th century Victorian homes. No one in their right mind would want to raze that. It is less than a quarter-mile from Sunset Blvd. Sunset, according to state law, is a high-frequency bus corridor and under SB 50, that whole neighborhood would likely face destruction to make room for expensive, market-rate apartment buildings. There are plenty of other HPOZs that would be similarly affected.
It’s just wrong. The committee that approved SB 50 did so last week without even having the text of the bill in front of them. Not one member, aside from Scott Wiener, really knew what was in the bill. There is a lot wrong with the process and the substance of SB 50. 
Editor's note: After NBC4's interview aired, TPR posed the following question:
TPR: Zev, what would you propose to address the affordability crisis?
Zev Yaroslavsky: I can only speak for our region. More than half a century ago, Los Angeles articulated a long-term land use objective called the “centers concept.” The idea was to develop centers with high density commercial and residential construction, as well as medium and lower density areas. If you have centers you need to have non-centers. Not every neighborhood in the city should be a center. As UCLA Urban Planning Professor Michael Storper has said, we should develop in density clusters, not density corridors. We need zoning and planning; one without the other will create irreversible adverse consequences. 
In that context, when we increase zoning to allow for high density residential development in our city, we ought to do it around those centers, around areas planned for medium density, and around fixed rail stations. But here’s the rub: when we upzone a property we are increasing its value with a stroke of the pen. The landowner hasn’t earned that increased value; he or she happens to have been at the right place at the right time. My single family home will increase in value under SB 50. If I choose to develop it as a 7 story apartment building, the city has a right to demand that I set aside a meaningful percentage---say 50%---of the new units for low and moderate income tenants. The allowable density will rise exponentially, so in exchange it is not unreasonable to require that society get something in return for this newly created wealth. Developers will make money, low and middle income persons will get housing, and neighborhoods will truly become more diversified. Setting aside 10 or 15 percent is an insult; worse yet, being able to buy one’s way out of this responsibility by paying an in-lieu fee, is doubly insulting.
If we want to use zoning to generate more affordable housing, this concept of inclusionary zoning and value capture is the way to do it. If we fall short of the mark, this whole concept is a sham and a gift to landowners throughout urban California. We have unutilized zoning capacity in Los Angeles—hundreds of thousands of units' worth—and there are rational ways to increase residential zoning without taking a sledgehammer to almost every neighborhood in the basin. That’s why I am more than skeptical of SB 50’s intentions and ultimate effect. It functions more as a real estate give away, not as a solution to the state’s affordable housing crisis.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Venice Photographer Leases Out Two Campers Parked on Venice Streets as Airbnb Units

Residents in the eastern walk streets of Venice have just this weekend uncovered two campers that are stationed on their residential streets and rented out as Airbnb accommodations.

Joseph Levy, a walk street resident, initially found that a camper squatting on Linden just south of Superba was leaking sewage into the gutter and taking up two parking spaces where there is not enough parking for residents.  Linden is also sub-standard in width so the width of the camper made it very awkward for cars to pass each other on the street.

As a residential area, this location is off-limits to vehicle dwelling under city law, but the Airbnb guests initially refused orders from the LAPD to leave the area - probably because it was not their vehicle.

Below is the Airbnb advertisement for the camper.  It was being rented out for $54 a night.  I have underlined the warning about maxing out the sewage holding tank.  This suggests that at over 75% capacity the tank leaks sewage into the street, which is what Mr. Levy witnessed.

Eventually the camper was removed from Linden, but watch for it to show up elsewhere in Venice, since its owner lives here.  (We know his name and profession from the Airbnb ads, which have been given to the LAPD.)


The 70's interior is an open and bright layout that sleeps 4 Full size bed over the cab and there are two more twin beds (32"x79") in the rear that can fold into a luxurious king size bed (72"x79") with large wraparound windows. Kitchen-Bathroom-Shower-Furnace-Dining Area
The space

Cheap, bright, and airy 70's Style Space:

Venice Beach is an amazing location and This Solar RV is Super Cool if you like vintage style. He comes loaded with Jackery 240 Lithium Power Station with 110V Outlet and (2) 2.4A USB Outlets for Charging your devices, 24" Smart TV With Roku (Netflix, HBO, Hulu, Amazon Prime Movies Available), Kitchen Utensils, Cookware, Board Games, Bedding with Pillows and Sherpa Throws, 200W Solar System, Pelican 30qt Extreme Cooler, Bluetooth Speaker, French Press, Fresh Coffee, Tea and More! He is currently parked about a mile from the sand, near Lincoln Blvd and Venice Blvd but I can deliver to Parking Lot at Venice Beach for $25 Daily (No Overnight Parking at Beach).  The 70’s style interior is in good shape but is not perfect and has a few tears in the sofa. The RV is loaded with Solar, Kitchen, Furnace, Shower, Toilet and More! The outside is not perfect but is presentable...

Guests must not allow holding tanks to get over 75% capacity under any circumstances. The water tank is 25 gallons so you will need to try to conserve water whenever possible. The hot water heater is 6 gallons so you have to be very efficient when showering, etc. if you run out of water during your stay I need to dump the first water tanks and fill them with fresh water. Dumping can only be done at certain times and requires briefly moving the rv to the dump station. Power is provided by solar so you also have to watch your energy consumption, as well. There is a Bluetooth app and meter to watch the battery level but I might need to start the rv and charge the batteries during your stay, as well. It is a little tricky if you have never stayed in an rv before but it is easy once you figure it out. I am happy to help with whatever you need during your stay.

The same photographer also rents out this camper van on Venice streets:

Full size bed with folding memory foam mattress on top and the Sofa folds into another full-size bed Solar Nespresso Machine, 24” Smart TV with Roku, Solar Fan, Bluetooth Speaker, Lithium Power Pack with 4-USB and 2-110v Plugs, Sink, 2-Burner Stove and more!
The space

Venice Beach is an amazing location and This Solar RV is Super Cool if you like vintage style that is non-luxury. He comes loaded with Jackery 240 Lithium Power Station with 110V Outlet and (2) 2.4A USB Outlets for Charging your devices, 24" Smart TV With Roku (Netflix, HBO, Hulu, Amazon Prime Movies Available), Kitchen Utensils, Cookware, Board Games, Bedding with Pillows and Sherpa Throws, 200W Solar System, Ice Cooler, Bluetooth Speaker, French Press, Fresh Coffee, Tea and More! It is currently parked about a mile from the sand, near Lincoln Blvd and Venice Blvd but I can deliver to Parking Lot at Venice Beach for $25 a night (emphasis added).

These clearly illegal appropriation of public parking for personal profit raises the question if there are other vehicles used as dwelling units in parking-short Venice for personal gain.  There have been reports for years of several mobile Airbnbs around the Venice Post Office.  

Friday, March 29, 2019

Please Donate to Lawsuit to Stop Bridge Housing on the MTA Lot

Earlier this month our attorney filed a third lawsuit, this one against the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, for its failure, just like the City and Coastal Commission, to consider any of the expected environmental impacts on residents, school children and the surrounding neighborhood.  

Or to offer mitigations, like a much smaller project, more parking, a sound wall, installation of planter boxes on the sidewalks around the facility, measures to prevent polluted run-off to the beach, and private 24-hour security.

This week we filed a motion for a preliminary injunction - a request to the judge for him to bar any construction on the MTA lot until the cases have been heard and a decision has been rendered - which is unlikely until much later this year or next.

The City will reply to our brief next week and then we will reply to their brief.  We could be before the judge on the injunction motion by April 15th.

This is all to say that the suit is moving very quickly and that it is eating up our retainer very quickly, too.

So, please, if you have already contributed, please "double-up" and contribute the same again.  If you have not contributed, please donate $1,000 to $2,500 now.  

See the button on the right to donate by credit card. Checks may be sent to VSA, 1615 Andalusia Avenue, Venice, CA 90291

These lawsuits are the only barrier standing in the way of the City putting up a huge 154-bed shelter in our residential neighborhood and attracting hundreds more homeless to Venice.  Once the Bridge Housing is full, the new arrivals will be camping out all around the site - just as they do now around St. Joseph Center.  This is not the place for this shelter and the only way we can stop it is to support this lawsuit.

Thanks for your help.  Mark Ryavec

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Oppose the City Lease with MTA for the Bridge Housing Project

Tell the MTA Board you oppose the Bridge Housing homeless shelter planned for the Venice MTA lot on Main Street.

The board will vote on a lease agreement with the City of Los Angeles on February 28th.

As you know, the VSA has filed a lawsuit demanding a proper environmental review and Coastal Development permit for the project, and necessary mitigations, so that it does not become a huge burden on nearby residents.

However, we can avoid the uncertainty of a legal fight if the Board votes against the lease.

Please click below to sign your name on an email to the MTA Board:

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

VSA Opposes SB 50, A Developer's Dream Come True

Members, Board of the Venice Neighborhood Council,

I am writing to ask you to adopt the WRAC motion opposing SB 50.

If passed, SB 50 would take power away from local government (and the Venice community) and allow the State Legislature to frame planning and development decisions from Sacramento. 

Under SB 50, towns would be required to allow apartment buildings in any place that is either:
  • within a half-mile of a rail transit station;
  • within a quarter-mile of a high-frequency bus stop; or
  • within a “job-rich” neighborhood.
In the new special zones, regulatory parking minimums would be sharply reduced and zoning codes would have to allow buildings to be either 45 or 55 feet tall depending on local factors. 

The biggest short-term impact of these zoning changes would probably be felt in neighborhoods that are already gentrifying and have a significant amount of housing turnover. Single-family homes that today are sold to flippers or to yuppies looking to undertake a renovation project or new construction would instead tend to get sold to small-scale apartment developers who would refashion them as denser and much higher structures.

The demand for density, however, is highest in rich neighborhoods where the price of land is highest. Units in these neighborhoods turn over more slowly, but the market demand for more housing is essentially infinite so over time it’s easy to imagine whole swathes of single-family dwellings in Silicon Valley, Westside Los Angeles (including Venice), Western San Francisco, etc. being converted to apartments.

With many high frequency bus stops in Venice it is not a stretch to imagine four and five story buildings all along Main Street, for example.

If the Venice community wishes to increase density, for example, along broad corridors such as Venice and Washington Boulevard, then the current Local Coastal Plan and community plan processes are the appropriate means for its expression, not the sledge hammer approach of SB 50. 

As former County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky explained last year in opposing SB 50's look-alike predecessor SB 827, this legislation is neither NIMBY or Yimby; it's WIMBY - Wall Street in My Backyard.  SB 50 simply allows developers to finally be able to over-develop our low rise, livable community without the careful consideration and mitigation that would come within the community plan process.
Thank you for your consideration.


Mark Ryavec

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

ALERT - Please Tell the City Planning Commission to Oppose 718-20 Rose Avenue


Please send the following message to the Los Angeles Planning Commission opposing Venice Community Housing Corp's proposal to build the first four-story building in the Oakwood neighborhood.  As is readily evident from the previous meeting notice, the project will dwarf everything else in Oakwood and set a dangerous predecent for future development.

The VCHC is soliciting non-Venice residents to deluge the Commission with emails.  We need to fight back to protect Venice from over-development. 

Dear President Millman and Members of the Los Angeles Planning Commission, 

Please oppose the VCHC's 718-20 Rose Avenue project.  It is too tall, too dense, has too little parking, and is way out of character with Venice.  It is extremely out of step with both the Venice Specific Plan and the desires of residents for Venice to remain a low-rise community.  Approving its 45-foot height and almost no parking will set a dangerous precedent. Send it back to the drawing board!

Send to: Samantha Millman <>
               Oliver Netburn <>

Please send your message of opposition today; the hearing is this Thursday!

Monday, January 14, 2019

VSA Sues City and Coastal Commission to Require Venice Homeless Shelter to Comply with Environmental Laws and Coastal Act

Today the Venice Stakeholders Association filed a lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles and the California Coastal Commission, challenging their approval of a 154-bed homeless shelter in the Venice neighborhood, in violation of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the California Coastal Act and other laws.

“The City and the Coastal Commission jammed this project through the system and bypassed the environmental laws and the Coastal Act,” said Mark Ryavec, president of the VSA, a non-profit corporation dedicated to protecting Venice residents and their neighborhoods.  “No government or project is immune from these laws.”   

The City’s so-called “Bridge Housing” facility would be located in the middle of a residential neighborhood just one block from Venice Beach.  It includes a large semi-permanent “tent” building containing a 100-bed dormitory, an outdoor dining area, a large outdoor kennel for residents’ pets, and several other buildings.  Despite having 154 beds and dozens of staff, the project would have as little as 20 parking spaces.

According to the lawsuit, the City approved the project “at lightning speed,” in just 11 days, while the Coastal Commission approved it in just nine days.  The Venice Neighborhood Council, which is elected by Venice residents, was not even consulted.  “The neighbors and the public were ambushed,” said Ryavec.

Ryavec acknowledged the need for shelters and other facilities to address Venice’s persistent homeless problem.  However, he added, “a residential neighborhood like this one is not the right place for such a project, especially since much of the facility is essentially outdoors, and just across a narrow street from homes.”   

The VSA lawsuit says that the City refused to do any environmental review for the project under CEQA, and the Coastal Commission granted the City a waiver from the usual requirement of a Coastal Development Permit, thereby avoiding any analysis of the impacts of the project on coastal resources such as parking and water quality.

“Just because the City and the Coastal Commission think this project will benefit the public doesn’t mean they can avoid considering its impacts under the environmental laws and the Coastal Act,” said Ryavec.  He noted that other beneficial projects, such as hospitals and schools, must comply with these same laws.

“If a developer proposed a 154-bed convalescent hospital with dozens of staff people, an outdoor kennel and dining facility, just feet from residents’ living rooms, with only 20 parking spaces, the City would require an environmental impact report and mitigation before approving it,” he said.  “A homeless shelter is no different.” 

The VSA is still collecting funds to support this lawsuit.  Donations may be made on this site to the right by credit card.