Corbin Smith: “Hotel Opponents Distort and Misrepresent the Facts”

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(Disclosure: Dan Abrams, the developer of the Abbot Kinney Hotel, made me aware of this letter at the Mayor’s “Share Your Ideas” website.)

Hotel on Abbot Kinney: Abbot Kinney Front View 1Rendering: proposed Hotel as seen from Abbot Kinney

Abbot Kinney Hotel Opponents Distort and Misrepresent the Facts

I am a 15 year resident of Venice Beach and happy to be a part of this vital and resilient community. But last week I found a flyer on my doorknob full of misleading, inaccurate and inflammatory information regarding the proposed hotel at 1033 S. Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice. That information is very similar to the January 1 and 2, 2014 posts on this website in “Share Your Ideas for LA” which at least had the decency to identify the writers. On the flyer other than the address “[email protected]”, there is zero indication of who is responsible for producing and distributing it, so there’s little recourse to them to object to their lies.

Initially, I opposed the proposed hotel because I had only seen the information distributed by the opponents to the hotel. Once I read the public documentation and learned more specifically what the proposal contains, I have become a strong supporter. The block on Abbot Kinney where the hotel would be located is specifically designated for such use in all documents and plans whether from the Coastal Commission or the city itself. The developers and architect for the proposed hotel are long-term residents and business owners in Venice, and are very clear that they treasure the character and nature of the community and of Abbot Kinney.

I am pleased that the Land Use and Planning Committee of the Venice Neighborhood Council has voted to recommend that the hotel be approved with certain conditions. The VNC will consider that recommendation at its February 18, 2014 meeting. In their motion to approve, the LUPC noted that the proposal has been under consideration since August 2012 and has had ample community input, some of it resulting in significant changes to the original plans. The conditions the LUPC included with its approval specifically address the opponents’ concerns about parking and deliveries and noise and about impacts on students at the neighboring Westminster School.

Opponents claim “complex legal maneuvering” in the planning for the hotel. As far as I have been able to learn from a careful reading of the public documentation to date, there has been no such maneuvering.

Opponents claim that the hotel will generate “24-hour-a-day traffic” (whatever that means) and create gridlock. If they had looked at the LA Department of Transportation report, as amended in December, they’d find that 6 intersections were studied, including Pacific and Rose, Main and Rose, Pacific and Brooks, Main and Brooks, Westminster and Abbot Kinney, California and Abbot Kinney, Venice and Abbot Kinney,and Pacific and Westminster, and determined that there would be NO significant impact from the almost 700 trips a day that the proposed hotel is projected to generate. That finding was not challenged by anyone. In addition, conditions requiring dedications on Westminster, Broadway, and Electric were stipulated before the project could begin.

Opponents claim that the hotel doesn’t comply with the Venice Specific Plan and is too tall and out of scale as compared with anything else on Abbot Kinney. On the contrary (and I quote from the city report), “The adopted Venice Specific Plan expressly permits the height of buildings to be 35 feet, provided they are 30 feet in height at the front yard and stepped back at least one foot for every foot in height above 30 feet (Sec.8-G,3,a). The project complies with these requirements.” Its scale and size do not exceed current zoning laws. Opponents are relying on a misuse of building elevations to make their point. The elevations, used eventually to instruct construction, show the building from a viewpoint that one will never have from the street. That’s what elevations are for, but not for showing how a building will actually be seen. And predicting that allowing this hotel to go forward would trigger “neighborhood-busting development all over Venice” is sheer fantasy.

Disagreeing about facts is one thing. Not having the facts right in the first place is dishonest, and distorting the facts to suit a particular position is really unfortunate.

Corbin Smith

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