Posts Tagged ‘Oakwood’

BAN THE VENICE B.I.D

 

BID Patrol

Here we go again! Another giant step in the gentrification of Venice is on it’s way — the proposed formation of a Business Improvement District (BID), initiated by Carl Lambert (currently being sued by the City Attorney for operating illegal hotels in Venice and illegally evicting tenants) and the Venice Chamber of Commerce (VCC) — gaining momentum at City Hall.

There is a City Council public hearing planned for August 23, 2016 downtown, but we can’t wait ’til then to take action. Below is a well-written document that describes why a Venice BID is not what it’s cracked up to be:

“Why We Should Vote NO to the Venice Beach Business Improvement District —

Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) are, by design, controlled by a very small group of commercial property owners, excluding the voice of most paying into the BID and completely excluding residential property owners, tenants, commercial operators who lease their sites, and other stakeholders in Venice.

Venice Beach has long been a center for democracy and diversity in views and a BID reduces democracy and participation in decisions that impact our community.

Go here to sign: https://www.change.org/p/no-b-i-d-for-venice-ca

First and foremost, there are no “voting rights” for those that have to pay for the BID after the BID is created, or other mechanism to directly impact the decisions and actions of the BID. Instead, BIDs are controlled by a non-profit organization, with no clear mechanisms to ensure ongoing accountability to commercial property owners in the BID who are all required to pay assessments, nor to the City, which controls almost 25% of the property assessments in the BID.

The materials received with the BID petitions are misleading, and make promises to commercial property owners that cannot be upheld.

For example:

1. “The Venice Beach BID will provide services the City doesn’t, such as homeless outreach…” In fact, the City and County provide resources for outreach to homeless residents and more outreach will not help move people into housing. The City and County, as well Venice stakeholders, need to fund and advocate for more housing solutions so that people can move off of our streets and sidewalks. Until we increase housing supply, more outreach will just duplicate services, waste resources, and not produce any visible change in homelessness in our community.

2. “The Venice Beach BID will work with the City to make sure limited City services are delivered more consistently.” BIDs do not have any unique mechanism to make this happen and, in fact, watch-dogging the City is one of the key reasons neighborhood councils were formed. This purpose is duplicative and likely will not make any impact.

3. “This stability can protect your investment and attract additional investment to the neighborhood.” Venice has seen some of the greatest increases in property values and commercial investment in the region over the past decade, without a BID.

Commercial property owners in Venice have long supported the culture and character in Venice. And, in fact, have PROFITED from being a part of the largest tourist attraction in the City of Los Angeles for decades!

BIDs have completely changed the character of communities throughout Los Angeles and the state, leading to displacement of small businesses, locally-owned businesses, and residents.

The Venice Beach BID is overly reliant on City land and funds. The City owns substantial land, and is also taking on the cost of assessments for the State-owned land in the area, totaling more than 25% of the annual budget, resulting in more than $450,000 in general fund dollars each year dedicated to this BID. BIDs were intended to be mechanisms for private owners to vote to assess themselves, not to utilize public funds in an unaccountable structure.

A majority of private property owners did not submit petitions to move the BID to this final vote. At the first City hearing, only 53% of assessment values were represented in the petitions and, since the City represents 25% of that vote, only about 30% of the votes in support came from private businesses.

BID activities have led to numerous lawsuits against the BIDs and the City of Los Angeles for improper, illegal and unconstitutional activities, and the legal fees to defend against a lawsuit can add up.

Property owners’ assessments could go to pay legal fees for activities that they may not even support and over which they had little or no say!!!”

PLEASE SIGN OUR PETITION AND SEND A MESSAGE TO CITY HALL THAT WE DON’T WANT A VENICE BID – NOW OR EVER!

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!

***

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!

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

donationsTHANK YOU! Your signatures, phone calls, attendance at meetings, letters and actions have been essential to our success this year in fighting the hyper-gentrification of Venice.

Although we have not yet managed to stem the tide of hyper-development in our precious Venice community, we have collectively made a dent in the armor of the developers and their City Planner cohorts by holding them accountable whenever and wherever possible.

We have also managed to “crack the code” to some degree and discover what the problems are and how to fix them, which is not going to be easy. Basically, there are too many loopholes in the planning process that allow developers to circumvent the law and bypass public scrutiny of their projects, until it’s too late.

The fight will continue in the coming year as activists gear up for more confrontations with developers and L.A. City Planning – armed with experience and knowledge gained over the past year. There’s a strong likelihood of legal action(s) being taken in 2015 that will challenge the systemic corruption inherent in the planning process that is affecting communities across the entire City of Los Angeles.

This is not the time to sit on our hands and bemoan our fate – we must continue to stand up, stand strong and give voice to our dissatisfaction with the assault on our community.

The Spirit Of Venice (SOV) has been on the front lines of this issue and, with your help, will continue to provide you with information, alerts and actions that can help to make a difference.

In the past, we have never asked for anything in return for our hard work but, as the year 2014 comes to a close we are asking you for your help – by making an end-of-year tax-deductible donation to the Spirit Of Venice –

If you appreciate what we are doing and want us to continue this battle for our community – please consider making a donation today to help us go forward in 2015 – click here to give:-  https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=6845EC6QYYV28

Thank you for caring and sharing! Blessings, SOV

8/19/14 – Venice Neighborhood Council voted to deny the Coastal Development (CDP) application by Gjelina owner, Fran Camaj, for a full-line alcohol restaurant w/takeout beer & wines sales at 320 Sunset Avenue, close to Google in Venice.

The application will now go back to Maya Zaitzevsky, Zoning Admin. at City Planning, for a final determination. Ms Zaitzevsky was waiting for the VNC vote before making her decision. The VNC letter confirming the vote is pending and should arrive early next week (8/25/14) — and we shall see if Ms Zaitzevsky honors the wishes of the Venice community by denying the project.

Here are some facts related to 320 Sunset that show how the applicant tricked the community into believing that he was building a “bakery” at this location. In reality, he performed a “bait & switch” taking advantage of loopholes in the city planning process, in order to start building renovations on the property without having to go through a lengthy process involving public scrutiny.

Very creative video to be presented at the CA Coastal Commission TODAY – Friday June 13 – thank you to the Venice Coalition to Preserve Community Character (VCPUCC) and film maker Xaime Casillas for speaking out about Hyper-Gentrification in Venice Beach (stay tuned) –

save-venice-again
Please Attend Coastal Commission Meeting Jun 13th, 2014

Venice Needs You!

Please attend the monthly Coastal Commission Meeting at Huntington Beach City Hall on Friday June 13 at 9am to OPPOSE EIGHT DEMOLITIONS and one restaurant project.

The current Coastal Commission meeting agenda is online http://www.coastal.ca.gov/mtgcurr.html.

Go to the link , scroll down to Friday. It’s a three day agenda: Wednesday – Friday. Venice is on Friday at 9am, which is the last day of the meeting and at the bottom of the agenda.

Each Venice item has a link to the Coastal Commission staff report and each one has the Coastal Permit application number.

ALSO, please WRITE AN OPPOSITION EMAIL RIGHT NOW (sample letter below) and send it to Charles Posner at chuck.posner@coastal.ca.gov

Points to bring and make the Coastal Commission aware of:

CEQA, the California Environmental Quality Act, defines cumulative impacts as “two or more individual effects which, when considered together, are considerable.” (State CEQA Guidelines Section 15355)

Venice is approximately 1 % of the Los Angeles population, yet has 19% of the developments.

These demolitions are cumulatively destroying the existing Venice community and the rebuilding is out of mass, out of scale, out of character, and obviously only for the wealthy to buy or live in.

It is a violation of CEQA to approve one more demolition in Venice without demanding a study consisting of: Parking, Traffic, Historic Preservation, Community Character, and the Mello Act replacement of affordable housing.

Coastal Act Sec 30624.7 The new developments have adverse effect both individually and cumulatively, because they are not consistent with the existing community character.

Coastal Act Sec 30116 (E) & (F) Venice Coastal Zone community is a sensitive coastal resource area with special communities and neighborhoods which are significant as a visitor destination and also provide existing coastal housing and recreational opportunities for low and moderate income persons.

Coastal Act Sec 30253 (E) This type of over development maximizes adverse impacts, instead of minimizing them and the city planning is doing nothing to protect the unique characteristics of the Venice Coastal Zone.

Coastal Act Sec 30212 (2) & (3) New developments are exceeding floor area, height and bulk of the former structures by more than 10% along with changing the intensity by more than 10%.

Coastal Act Section 30320: Developers are not properly posting or notifying the public or abutting neighbors of demolitions, which is a violation of due process.

Coastal Act Section 30604 (f) because there is no local coastal program the commission is mandated (shall) to encourage housing opportunities for persons of low and moderate income. Currently developers are evicting low income tenants, holding the property vacant to avoid MELLO Act

Requirements and all of the developments are for wealthy people.

There are no reports on Mello Act replacement for any of the affordable housing that has been lost or removed from Venice.

——————————–

SAMPLE LETTER:  COPY & PASTE INTO EMAIL AND SEND TO:  CHARLES POSNER – cposner@coastal.ca.gov

Dear Mr. Posner,

I oppose the five (5) demolitions proposed in the Oakwood section of Venice, to be heard at the June 13, 2014 Coastal Commission Meeting, for the reasons stated below:

Please ensure that each of the commissioners receives a copy of this letter for each of the five (5) projects, and that the letters be made a part of the permanent file for each of the five (5) cases, agenda items 10 F-J.
Thank you.

Regarding June 13, 2014 California Coastal Commission Meeting –
Agenda items 10 f through j, application numbers:

5-14-124 521 Vernon Ave Venice, CA 90291
5-14-0212 720 Indiana Ave Venice, CA 90291
5-14-0237 520 Broadway Ave Venice, CA 90291
5-14-0239 663 E. Brooks Ave Venice, CA 90291
5-14-0240 659 Broadway Street Venice, CA 90291

Dear Coastal Commissioners,

I request that the Coastal Commission deny the above five (5) application requests for a Coastal Development Permit based on the recurring pattern in each of the five (5) cases, all of which are in the Oakwood Area of Venice based on the following:

(a) none of the cases for demolition have been heard at the local level by the Venice Neighborhood Council, the public has not enjoyed the right to fully participate as required by Section 30005.5 of The California Coastal Act.

(b) provisions have not been made to replace the loss of affordable housing per Mello Act requirements on any of these demolitions. Reports or records are not available to the public on Mello Act replacements units on any of the affordable housing that has been lost and removed from the affordable housing inventory. A request has been made to Council District 11 with no response to date. The Venice Community has lost more affordable housing without replacement in the last six years than any other time in its history. I beseech your support as Coastal Commissioners to reverse this trend and bring relief to our community.

(c) each of these cases is a Venice Sign Off and does not reflect the intention of the Venice Specific Plan, the planned developments are not compatible in mass or scale to the existing community and therefore inconsistent with Coastal Act Sec 30624.7.

(d) It is a violation of CEQA to approve one more demolition in Venice without demanding a study consisting of:

Parking, Traffic, Historic Preservation, Community Character, and the Mello Act replacement of affordable housing. The barrage of development is having a negative cumulative effect per CEQA, the California Environmental Quality Act, defines cumulative impacts as “two or more individual effects which, when considered together, are considerable.”  (State CEQA Guidelines Section 15355).

Venice is approximately 1 % of the Los Angeles population, yet has 19% of the developments and the environmental impact on the ecological balance due to this onslaught of development with lack of green space and removal of trees threatens to irrevocably change this beach community of quaint cottages into a concrete jungle that will no longer be walkable and welcoming. Per section 30001 of the California Coastal Act, I urge you to prevent the destruction of the ecological balance of this world renowned treasure we call home and to retain its resource value that is being destroyed.

Coastal Act Sec 30116 (E) & (F) Venice Coastal Zone community is a sensitive coastal resource area with special communities and neighborhoods which are significant as a visitor destination and also provide existing coastal housing and recreational opportunities for low and moderate income persons.

These demolitions are purely for financial gain those developing have no interest in the long term cumulative effect that it is having on the community and its residents of today and those of tomorrow. It is our responsibility and duty to protect the beautiful California Coast and the unique communities we call home for ourselves and future generations.

In conclusion, I ask you to deny any more demolitions without a proper study of how this is affecting our community.

Respectfully,

(Name)

Sign the petition

We the undersigned call for the following:

– an immediate moratorium on Small Lot Subdivisions (SLS) in VENICE, CA

– a denial of all Small Lot Subdivisions currently pending for VENICE, CA

– an immediate moratorium on the “Big Box” mansionization of VENICE, CA

– a certified Local Coastal Plan (LCP) for VENICE, CA

– no building permits to be issued for Small Lot Subdivisions prior to recordation of final map In VENICE, CA

– FULL public notification and participation, as set forth by Federal, State, and Local Law, in any and all proposed developments in VENICE, CA.

Additionally, we the undersigned call for full enforcement of  the California Coastal Act,  the Mello Act, and the Venice Specific Plan, because the cumulative effect of recent development in VENICE, CA is diminishing the quality of life for it’s residents, and negating the purpose of said protections put in place to preserve the Coastal Zone.

The below examples are pending approval by the L.A. City Planning Department:

1)  Proposed 3-lot Small Lot Subdivision in violation of Venice Specific Plan.
Owned by 664 Sunset Avenue LLC 
664 Sunset Avenue Venice CA  90291
Jose.romero-navarro@lacity.org /Joey.romero@lacity.org
AA-2013-767-PMLA-SL ZA-2013-768-CDP-MEL**ENV-2013-769-MND

2)  Proposed 3-lot Small Lot Subdivision in violation of Venice Specific Plan.
Claims to be owner/occupy – owned by 664 Sunset Avenue LLC
758 Sunset Avenue Venice CA  90291
Joey.vasquez@lacity.org
AA-2013-1086-PMLA-SL**ENV-2013-1084-MND-REC1 ZA 2013-1085(CDP)(MEL)(ZAA)

Community members are alarmed their phone calls and emails expressing concern and asking questions to City Planning are not being returned.

Here are 3 consistent and repeated ways that the City is ignoring and violating Venice Specific Plan (VSP):

1. City Planning is interpreting the Small Lot Subdivision Ordinance (SLSO) to trump the Specific Plan, although the law says that specific plans always trump ordinances. The City is interpreting the Small Lot Subdivision Ordinance to allow more units on lots than the Specific Plan allows, and is not requiring any guest parking at all, and is allowing tandem parking that people often don’t use, rather than side-by-side parking.

2. Allowing buildings to be constructed to the maximum possible size even when the proposed building is totally out of scale with the neighborhood i.e. three story buildings that block all of the neighbors’ sunlight in a one-story or two-story neighborhood. The Specific Plan requires an evaluation of the compatibility of the mass and scale of the proposed building with the other buildings in the neighborhood. The Planning Department does not do this, and they have set up a process where there is no appeal.

If the Planning Department continues to get away with this, soon Venice will be all 3-story compounds with very little sun or air between the buildings.

3. The Planning Department is issuing illegal DIRs that blatantly violate the Specific Plan. Then the City says that there’s no appeal because the 14-day deadline has passed. The community has no real notice and no opportunity to respond. The City refuses to send us a .pdf of the DIRs as they are issued, only a mailed copy.

Whereas per The CA Coastal Act.
Section 30116 Sensitive Coastal Resource Areas – Venice has the following characteristics:
b.  areas possessing significant recreational value.
c. Special communities or neighborhoods which are significant visitor designation areas.
Areas that provide existing coastal housing or recreational opportunities for low- and moderate income-persons.
The public has a right to fully participate in decisions affecting coastal planning, conservation and development.

From Section 30250 Location; existing developed area:
“In addition, land divisions, other than leases for agricultural uses, outside existing developed areas shall be permitted only where 50 percent of the usable parcels in the area have been developed and the created parcels would be no smaller than the average size of surrounding parcels.”

Section 30251 Scenic and visual qualities:
“Permitted development shall be sited and designed to protect views to and along the ocean and scenic coastal areas.

Section 30252 (e) and enhancement of public access:
Where appropriate, protect special communities and neighborhoods that, because of their unique characteristics, are popular visitor destination points for recreational uses.”

Sign the petition