Posts Tagged ‘Gentrification’

BONIN’S B.I.D. BUDDIES — CARL LAMBERT AND MARK SOKOL

 

From MichaelKohlhaas.org:

I reported a couple of weeks ago that as late as two months ago, Mike Bonin aide Debbie Dyner Harris had refused to tell Becky Dennison of Venice Community Housing the names of the three members of the Board of Directors of the Venice Beach Property Owners Association. Dyner Harris even sent an email to shadowy BID consultant Tara Devine asking for permission to share the names, which Devine evidently didn’t give, because Dyner Harris didn’t give up the names. Well, I’ve been asking CD11 for the names as well, and after a long three weeks, for whatever reason, Debbie Dyner Harris emailed me this morning and told me that the Board of Directors presently consists of Steve Heumann, Carl Lambert, and Mark Sokol.

Steve Heumann was not a surprise, as his name appears as agent for service of process on the POA’s registration with the State.1 But the other two are of great interest indeed. I recently wrote about how Carl Lambert’s campaign contributions to Mike Bonin and Eric Garcetti probably violated City campaign finance laws, but that argument wouldn’t fly if he weren’t on the Board. Since he is, I’ll be reporting him to the City Ethics Commission in the next few days.

But Mark Sokol’s case is even more fascinating. Recall that the POA has been meeting with the City about the BID at least since September 2014. Well, take a look at all of Sokol’s contributions since then. They add up to $10,750. The output of the City’s database lists each contribution separately, but here are the totals:

Mark Sokol’s Campaign Contributions Since September 2014
Recipient Total contributions
Paul Krekorian $350
Mike Bonin $700
Felipe Fuentes $700
Marqueece Harris-Dawson $700
Jose Huizar $700
Nury Martinez $700
David E. Ryu $700
Curren Price $1,200
Gilbert Cedillo $1,400
Paul Koretz $1,400
Ron Galperin $2,200

 

It is shocking. I’m not going to reiterate the reasons that this is almost certainly illegal, but they’re worth reading. Later tonight I will publish a letter that I’ll be sending to the nine remaining Councilmembers2 who took Sokol’s money asking them to recuse themselves from the upcoming vote on the Venice Beach BID ordinance version 2.0.3 And all the money to Galperin?  Well, the Controller is meant to audit BIDs, and they have done in the past. They mostly refuse to these days,4 but how’s Sokol supposed to know that? Or maybe it’s something else nefarious.

In any case, I’ve noted before that the City Charter, at Section 470 gives the purpose of Municipal Campaign Finance laws:

The purpose of this section is to encourage a broader participation in the political process and to avoid corruption or the appearance of corruption in city decision making, and protect the integrity of the City’s procurement and contract processes by placing limits on the amount any person may contribute or otherwise cause to be available to candidates for election to the offices of Mayor, City Attorney, Controller and City Council and promote accountability to the public by requiring disclosure of campaign activities and imposing other campaign restrictions.

Carl Lambert’s contributions to Mike Bonin and Eric Garcetti were bad enough with respect to corruption or the appearance of corruption, but Mark Sokol’s more than $10,000 spent just since the BID formation process began is unconscionable. Stay tuned

and this…

2014 VBBID Emails Reveal, Among Other Things, That Bonin Staffer Debbie Dyner Harris Was On Venice Beach BID Steering Committee Since 2014 Despite Consistent Denials of City Involvement In Formation Process

On April 5, 2016 the Venice Coalition to Preserve our Unique Community Character (VC-PUCC) Led a Walking Tour Illustrating Their Lawsuit Against the City of Los Angeles’ Flagrant Disregard for Its Own Planning Policies

SaveVenice

Venice, CA: Tuesday, April 5th, 2016 – Acclaimed land use attorney, Sabrina Venskus, explains in detail the “Save Venice”  lawsuit to community members and media on a walking tour through Venice highlighting, not gardens, but over-sized construction that has relied on Los Angeles Planning Department’s illegal development approval procedures.

SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA, COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES CASE NO.:
BC 611549 – COMPLAINT FOR DECLARATORY AND INJUNCTIVE RELIEF FOR VIOLATIONS
OF PLAINTIFFS’ CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS UNDER THE CALIFORNIA
CONSTITUTION (Cal. Const., art.1, para.7), THE CALIFORNIA COASTAL ACT (Pub. Resources Code, para. 30000 et seq.), THE VENICE LAND USE PLAN (Los Angeles Planning and Zoning Law), and CALIFORNIA CODE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE para. 526a

For years, the City of Los Angeles Planning Department has ignored planning and zoning laws regulating the Venice Coastal Zone. The City has approved huge development projects through the “Venice Sign Off” or VSO procedure, which effectively allows developers to side-step their responsibilities under the California Constitution to construct large developments without first notifying neighbors or holding public hearings regarding potential projects.

The City of Los Angeles Planning Department’s VSO procedure fails to ensure that developments comply with the Venice Land Use Plan requirements that all development respect the mass, scale, character and landscaping of existing neighborhoods. Additionally, the City of Los Angeles Planning Department has illegally issued hundreds of Coastal Exemptions, which has enabled developers to by-pass important protections imposed by the California Coastal Act.

As a result, huge construction projects have spread across Venice, substantially and irrevocably destroying the character, density, and charm of Venice neighborhoods; blocking airflow and sunlight; destroying vegetation; obstructing picturesque views; and eliminating affordable housing units in this fragile and unique coastal zone.

These projects have completely blindsided residents, who often do not realize that construction has been approved on their streets until bulldozers arrive at 7 a.m. and it’s too late to raise their voices. Today, the Venice Coalition to Preserve our Unique Community Character says enough is enough. It’s time for the City to honor Venice
residents’ Constitutional rights, comply with the law, and respect the neighborhoods and communities that make Venice unique.

HELP US SAVE VENICE – DONATE TO THE SAVE VENICE LEGAL DEFENSE FUND –

save-venice

CLICK HERE TO DONATE TO THE SAVE VENICE LEGAL DEFENSE FUND – THANK YOU!

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On April 5, 2016 the Venice Coalition to Preserve our Unique Community Character (VC-PUCC) Led a Walking Tour Illustrating Their Lawsuit Against the City of Los Angeles’ Flagrant Disregard for Its Own Planning Policies

Loss of community diversity, low and moderate-income families, affordable housing, quality of life, and unique Venice character cited as outcome of City’s development approval process.

On Tuesday, April 5th, starting at 635 San Juan, Venice, members of The Venice Coalition to Preserve our Unique Community Character (VC-PUCC) took community members and media on a walking tour through Venice highlighting, not gardens, but over-sized construction that has relied on Los Angeles Planning Department’s illegal development approval procedures.

The use of Venice Sign Off (VSO) and Coastal Exemption (CEX) permits have allowed developers to eliminate affordable housing and unique characteristics of Venice protected by the California Coastal Act and Venice Specific Plan, often without input from community members.

A lawsuit filed by the law firm Venskus and Associates on behalf of VC-PUCC asserts that 230 VSO permits and 265 CEX permits were approved in Venice in the 20 months between February 2014 and October 2015, many of them in violation of existing planning policy. Despite the history of activism in Venice, these new development projects have completely blindsided residents.

“Nobody but poor people wanted to live in Venice,” said plaintiff Laddie (Celia) Williams. “Now our Craftsmen bungalows have been turned into Lego-boxes and there are fewer and fewer low and middle-income people left in our community. But Venice is waking up to what the City has been doing.”

Huge construction projects have spread across Venice, destroying the character, density, and diversity of Venice neighborhoods; eliminating affordable housing units and pushing low and middle-income residents and communities of color out of Venice, blocking airflow and sunlight; destroying vegetation; and obstructing views in this fragile and unique coastal zone.

The tour, led by VC-PUCC members and attorney Venskus, will begin at 635 San Juan Avenue, which had 3 rent-stabilized units on it before the building was destroyed after receiving both VSO and CEX permits – and has been at the center of controversy for over a year. The tour will continue to Santa Clara Avenue, where longtime resident Alma Collins will share the story of her former home, where she was sandwiched between two big box homes – and on to a walk street where a tragic story accompanies the looming transformation of a small bungalow into two 2900 sq foot homes.

“It’s time for the City to honor Venice residents’ Constitutional rights, comply with the law, and respect the neighborhoods and communities that make Venice – and Los Angeles as a whole – unique,” stated Alma Collins.

HELP US SAVE VENICE – DONATE TO THE SAVE VENICE LEGAL DEFENSE FUND –

save-venice

CLICK HERE TO DONATE TO THE SAVE VENICE LEGAL DEFENSE FUND – THANK YOU!

Laddie Williams, President of VC-PUCC: ”It was invitation only meeting held at Westminster Elementary School, to have a focus group about the Venice Local Coastal Plan (LCP). The plan is to rewrite the Local Coastal Plan and to have it ratified to be used by the city of Los Angeles.

It was a list that had developers, architects, lawyers and a few community members. Of course, none of the VC-PUCC Members were on this said list. Many of us crashed this meeting at Westminster Elementary school to let Los Angeles City Planning know that this meeting is a complete disrespect to the entire city of Venice west of Lincoln. This focus group should have been open to the entire community because we have a right to be a part of the process.

LCP
Needless to say the meeting was cancelled. Apologies were given to the community and the people who were there to voice their concerns about not being invited officially to the presentation of the rewriting of the Venice Local Coastal Plan?

We received a promise that Los Angeles City Planning would do a better job of inviting community not architects, developers and real estate people. It was infuriating to see this room of ‘special interests’ who were there for the focus group.

Venice showed up to show out for our beloved community…the meeting stopped and didn’t happen, with a promise to reschedule and include everyone. “

Stay tuned…

021p

CityWatchL.A.: VOICES OF THE PEOPLE–The big-bucks three-story duplex looks like a boxy alien spacecraft that strayed off course and crash-landed among the row of bewildered 1940’s bungalows in Venice. Standing across the street from this monstrosity, long-time Venice resident John Galbraith tells a visitor: “This kind of construction is happening all over Venice. This isn’t even the worst of it.”

Still, this duplex in the 600 block of Broadway Street has gained a certain notoriety. (Photo above.)

A recent lawsuit cited the structure as a prime example of a dysfunctional system at City Hall. The lawsuit, filed by a Venice advocacy group, alleges Los Angeles city officials have illegally permitted hundreds of properties to be built or significantly remodeled in Venice.

“The laws are on the books to deal with projects like this but no one’s enforcing them,” Venice yoga instructor and former land-use attorney Max Sloves said as he stopped riding his bike to talk to a visitor. “Venice is so far away from City Hall. We feel disconnected. These buildings go up so fast that before anyone knows it they’re built.”

More

save-veniceDONATE TO THE SAVE VENICE LEGAL DEFENSE FUND

645 E Santa Clara Ave Venice CA 90291-VSO and CEX

From Laddie Williams:

Driving down Santa Clara Ave. I noticed this building that is being demolished and wondered if this came before LUPC?

I know this property was owned by the Brown Family for well over forty years, it should be protected by the Mello Act and why is it that these properties are being approved?  This property was sold in the Summer of 2015, and had an occupant who lived in the back of the property and it is a Coastal Exemption (CEX) and a Venice Sign Off (VSO). I know that he accepted money but he had resided there well over twenty years.

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The only permit on the gate was Los Angeles Building and Safety (see pictures above).  With this property being in the coastal zone I thought it needed Coastal permission before work could occur.  It appears a second story will be added to a single family unit in the coastal area?  This needs to be reported to the Coastal Commission and the Director of Planning, it violates the Coastal Act and the Venice Specific Plan and the Venice Land Use Plan.

This is one example of properties that are being demolished in Venice but there are many more.

HELP US SAVE VENICE – DONATE TO THE SAVE VENICE LEGAL DEFENSE FUND –

save-venice

CLICK TO MAKE DONATION

Venice Town Hall meeting sponsored by V2K H.E.L.P.E.R. Foundation and the Urban Peace Institute to discuss the Venice Gang Injunction in use by LAPD in the “Oakwood” area of Venice, CA.  Go here to sign our petition to Stop Racial Profiling in Our Venice Oakwood Community: https://www.change.org/p/stop-lapd-racial-profiling-in-our-venice-oakwood-c

March 20, 2015

GLOBAL INVESTORS:  FUTURE OF REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT IN SOCAL COASTAL REGIONS IS IN HIGHER-END RESIDENTIAL PROPERTIES [in case you didn’t already know]

These investors are aiming to turn Venice into an enclave for the rich, gentrifying our community with their billions, with no thought for the community and how their ‘investments’ are creating misery and despair for low to middle income residents overwhelmed by mansionization, small lot subdivisions, and new trendy restaurants serving late-night liquor, creating an over-concentration of alcohol and traffic hazards in our neighborhoods. 

In October 2013, Global RE Investment Firm Colony Capital (with investors in China, England, France, Italy, Lebanon, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, & U.S.) invested $50 million in American Coastal Properties (with Pritzker/Vlock Family):

ColonyCapital

In March 2014, American Coastal Properties purchased 714 Hampton Ave for $1.2 million. They believe that the FUTURE OF REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT in the Southern California Coastal regions over the next few years is in repositioning higher-end residential properties, as opposed to buy-to-rent flips, for which profit margins have been compressed. Finding “up-and-coming” neighborhoods with dated housing stock that can be transformed into architectural design homes or town homes (small lot subdivisions) is their basic strategy, which represents true in-fill development.

AmCoastalProps

AlcoholBan

The next biggest secret is out – Venice Beach CA has 108 alcohol licenses in a 3 square mile area.  This means we have 34 per square mile, whereas in Los Angeles the average is 4 per square mile!  This is outrageous, and an abuse of our neighborhood. Still they just keep coming…!

Many of you already know about the 320 Sunset project which is applying for a full-line on-site alcohol and off-site beer and wine license, right next to a residential area with families and children. The same is also happening at 259 Hampton Drive, 15 feet from residents. Another at 600 Mildred Ave (ex Kim’s Market) is trying to force a sit down restaurant with alcohol, a mere 3 FEET from a family home, and in a very dense residential area. There are further examples of this up and down Rose Ave, Washington Boulevard and soon, if things keep escalating as they have, we will see a bar on every corner.

Is this the kind of Venice we want to live in? Where peace and quiet enjoyment in our homes is sacrificed, and our neighbors are not neighborly but noisy, inebriated, party-goers until 1 or 2 AM? Not to mention the problems which present along with these licenses. No parking (or very little) is being provided by the operators, forcing their patrons to crawl our residential streets in search of parking, then noisily return to their cars and drive through our family neighborhoods inebriated. Venice may be considered a tourist destination by the City of LA, but it is also our home, and needs to be protected as such!

Where will it end?

In tract #2733, where the ABC license application is in process for 320 Sunset Ave, there are 3,695 residents and 16 alcohol licenses, maybe more.

That means 1 license per 230 people. The ABC regulation is one per either 2000 or 2500, depending if it’s an on/off sale license.

BUT there are way too many ABC licenses already here!

                  Please help us bring a MORATORIUM on alcohol licenses in Venice to safeguard the future of our community, our families and our children!

SIGN OUR PETITION TO SEND EMAILS TO DECISION MAKERS. THANKS!

https://www.change.org/p/ca-state-attorney-a-moratorium-on-alcohol-licenses-in-venice-ca

OH NO!  VENICE NEIGHBORHOOD COUNCIL ENDORSES CAR LIFTS
AS ADDITIONAL BEACH PARKING AT VENICE BEACH!

Sign the petition & send a message to Councilman Mike Bonin “NO CAR LIFTS IN VENICE!”

Triple-high-parking-lift-1

FEB 17, 2015 Venice – In a series of resolutions and endorsements, the Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) approved the addition of thirty (30) automated car lifts at the Windward Circle, Venice Beach.

At the surface parking lot located at 29-47 Windward Ave., the VNC approved the addition of 30 automated/hydraulic car lifts which will ONLY increase parking capacity from 38 to a MEASLY 68 spaces!

“The most important issue facing Venice is parking and, tonight, we helped alleviate the lack of parking right at the Windward Circle,” offered President Mike Newhouse. “This kind of NUTS (and bolts) problem-solving is at the heart of why we have grass roots representation here in Los Angeles with neighborhood councils.” (Thnx, Mike, we think it’s NUTS, too!)

THIS VOTE WILL SET A PRECEDENT FOR CAR LIFTS IN VENICE – PERIOD – IS THIS WHAT WE WANT?

30 CAR LIFTS WILL ONLY MAKE 30 EXTRA PARKING SPOTS — PLEASE SIGN OUR PETITION TO MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD.  LET’S STOP THIS NOW BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!

https://www.change.org/p/mike-bonin-no-car-lifts-in-venice