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.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Last Call to Stop Bridge Housing in Residential Neighborhood of Venice

We have now raised $100,000 toward our legal effort to stop the 154-bed homeless shelter on the former MTA lot on Main Street.

Our goal is to raise $130,000.  

I am writing to ask for one more donation. 

My sincere thanks to those who have been so generous - some gave $100, some $500, some $1,000 and several gave $5,000.  

All the residents - some who  look out at the bus lot from their homes - are concerned about noise from the outdoor kennel and outdoor dining area, some are concerned that there is no street parking around the site now and the city is not providing enough on-site parking, some are concerned about new encampments springing up around the site, and some are concerned about the real potential for crime and assaults, which have accompanied the St. Joseph facilities on Lincoln and Hampton and the large encampments on Third Street and Park Avenue on OFW and elsewhere in Venice.

All are concerned that this project will be yet another magnet for even more homeless to come from around the nation to "try" to secure free housing.  That word - try - is the danger.  The site will only hold 154 people, while the city acknowledges that there are about 1,000 people living on the streets of Venice.  Where will the hundreds more that come to sign up for a bed go after all the beds are full?  Onto the sidewalk, into the alleys, on the Boardwalk, on private property.

None of our supporters oppose Bridge Housing or other efforts to house the homeless.

They object to this project being rammed down their throats and to it being located in residential neighborhood, to the lack of any protections for residents - for example, no 24-hour security outside the facility and no sound wall to dampen the noise from a kennel and exterior HVAC equipment - and the complete failure of the city to conduct an environmental impact report for the project.   

So, please, if you have not already contributed, please contribute $500 today.  If you gave in 2018 please contribute again in 2019.

If you want to see our legal "causes of action" just send us an email at venicestakeholders@ca.rr.com and we will send you our attorney's brief, which the city ignored.

Our deadline is January 14th, ten days from tomorrow.

All donations are tax deductible.