Last night the Land Use and Planning Committee voted against allowing the apartment building at 417 Ocean Front Walk to be used as a hotel. The issue had been continued after no decision could be made at the December 7th LUPC meeting late last year.
With the issue closed for public comment, the LUPC board of directors cast their votes ultimately opposing the hotel conversion. Saying the cumulative impact was an issue, as there was no guarantee other apartment buildings in Venice wouldn’t go down the same path and further remove already scarce long-term housing from the Venice market. Also a matter of concern, the fact that the building is rent stabilized and having it run as a hotel would remove affordable housing from the market. However, already the majority of the units in the building are being rented for short term accommodation.
On December 7 around 100 people had crammed into the Vera Davis Community center on Electric Ave., in Venice, as many against as for the issue. 33 people stood up to speak on the project that, on the LUPC agenda, proposed “converting the 32-unit apartment building into a 32-unit transient residential occupancy structure.”
Venice developer, Carl Lambert had wanted to address safety issues such as bringing the ocean front property up to compliance with fire codes and add 2 units for disabled access. However to do this he had to first deal with the issue of the building’s Certificate of Occupancy. Originally the building had been built as hotel accommodation, however the last known certificate of occupancy, written in 1966, lists it as an H-Occupancy, ‘Thirty Two – Unit Apartment House.’
Keith Glassman the President of Gassman Planning Associates, a company that specializes in expediting permits, had looked at the 1966 Certificate of Occupancy after the December 7 meeting and said said that if the permit says apartments “it’s apartments” not hotel rooms. Adding applying for a change of use would be the only way around the issue.
Glassman had been at the December 7 meeting to win approval to allow Starbucks to apply for a liquor license at their store at 4264 Lincoln Blvd in Marina Del Rey, and had no association with the 417 Ocean Front Walk project.
While last night’s no vote was a win for those against the proliferation of short term accommodation in Venice it does not mean the building at 417 Ocean Front Walk could not be converted to a hotel in the future, and with market rents in Venice at an all time high, how affordable the units on the beach front property would end up being remains to be seen.