It takes tenacity to build condos, restaurants or offices in Venice — and not just because congestion-weary residents in the beachside community tend to chime in with objections to projects large and small.
The real challenge is that developers, and often even residents wanting to add on to single-family homes, must answer to two masters. The city of Los Angeles and the California Coastal Commission both have jurisdiction over development, including parking, in the coastal zone.
“You’re subject to scrutiny twice,” said Frank Murphy, who has developed dozens of condos and apartments in Venice since 1979. “You have to prepare for two sets of hearings and have your staff present the material twice. It increases the cost, the timeline and the uncertainty.”
Seeking to streamline the permitting process and to give residents and local officials more control, Venice is taking its first steps toward developing a local coastal “program” or plan. Once such a plan is completed and certified by the Coastal Commission, developers would apply only to the city for permits. But opponents could still appeal projects to the Coastal Commission.
The effort is in its infancy and funding has not yet been fully identified, but recently elected Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin, who represents Venice, said he was making it a priority. His aim, he said, is to get “Venice out from under the thumb of the Coastal Commission.”
Coastal panel officials say the action is overdue.
“It’s a long time coming,” said Jack Ainsworth, Coastal Commission senior deputy director. “The city should take that responsibility on. The commission should not be in the permitting business.”
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