September 23, 2020 #1 Local News, Forum, Information and Event Source for Venice Beach, California.

OPINION: Tests Ahead for New Venice Neighborhood Council

By Mark Ryavec

Over the spring residents and business people formed a coalition to elect a resident-friendly slate of officers to the Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC).  We were more successful than we could have imagined, sweeping 17 of 21 seats.

Residents are now watching to see if the new team will honor their election promises to address the serious public safety and quality-of-life issues which have for so long been a serious burden to residents.  They are also looking for the new council to oppose Councilman Bonin’s unilateral moves to impose new projects on residents all over Venice without consulting with residents or with the Neighborhood Council.

In the next month or two at least three major matters will come before the Council:

  1. Councilman Bonin’s proposal to build homeless housing on the City’s Thatcher maintenance yard versus the desire of Oxford Triangle residents for single family homes if the City chooses to sell the property.
  2. Bonin’s effort, now underway, to convert the large parking lot in the Venice Blvd. median between Pacific to Dell to 90 units of housing for the chronically homeless.
  3. An initiative from residents to break up the encampments in Venice by returning to enforcing the City’s “no sitting, lying or sleeping on sidewalk” ordinance (LAMC 41.18).

Oxford Triangle  Oxford residents Steve Freedman, Judy Wyluda and others have already submitted a Resolution with a couple hundred signatures to the Neighborhood Council that calls upon the City to rezone the yard to R1-1, the City’s lowest density, if the City does not landbank the property for a new maintenance facility.  The residents’ goal is to maintain the low density, low noise and low traffic of the Triangle.  They have history on their side.  The City’s 1988 Oxford Triangle Neighborhood Study concluded:  “The City Maintenance Yard and other City owned lots must be zoned for single-family homes if the City decides to abandon operations at the site.”

In an odd decision, the VNC’s Administrative Committee sent the Thatcher Yard Resolution to its Land Use and Planning Committee (LUPC) though there is no history of that committee ever hearing such neighborhood-wide zoning issues.  LUPC has traditionally offered opinions only on applications for project permits, variances and coastal development permits for individual houses, commercial buildings, etc.  The committee is also over-subscribed with pending applications, so it may be some time before the residents’ Resolution can be heard.  On the other hand, this move may presage a role for the LUPC on other Venice-wide land use questions, such as ways to facilitate the development of more affordable housing – with smaller units, for example – in other areas of Venice that already have a history of four and six unit buildings, such as Oakwood and the Venice Boulevard corridor.  To support the residents write to [email protected]:  I support the resolution to rezone Thatcher Yard to R1 zoning.

Venice Boulevard Median  Residents in the Canals and along the western end of the Venice Boulevard corridor are incensed that Councilman Bonin has ordered the City bureaucracy, without any public hearings, to move ahead with preparation of a Request for Proposals (RFP) to develop 90 units of housing for the chronically homeless on the Venice Blvd. median lot.  This would include scores of those who are still in the grips of mental illness and drug addiction and pose a serious threat to this residential neighborhood.  Residents have also voiced opposition to the use of this gateway site for homeless housing when it could be redeveloped with over a 1,000 subterranean automated parking spaces for residents and visitors alike.  They also point out that sale of the property – even with the City’s retention of the right to build subterranean parking – would generate between $55 and $95 million, which would build three to four times as much homeless housing at an inland location.  If you would like to support their petition calling for the City to abandon the preparation of an RFP and instead hold a hearing to consider all possible uses of the site visit the Canals Association website at http://venicecanalsassociation.org/ and add your name to the resolution.

Return to Enforcement of “No sitting, lying, sleeping” Ordinance  We all know the homeless situation has gotten completely out of control in Venice.  To address it Venice Stakeholders has submitted to the VNC the Resolution shown here urging the City to return to enforcement of the “no sitting, lying or sleeping on sidewalk” ordinance, which is still on the books.  All the City has to do to be able to use it again is to show the court that over the last eight years the City has built, or funded the building of, 1,250 units of permanent supportive housing.  The City’s Housing Department predicted that number would be reached last October.  We are asking the Neighborhood Council to support residents on this issue, adopt the Resolution and send it to Councilman Bonin and Mayor Garcetti.

If you support the Resolution please send an email to [email protected] and tell the VNC that you support the VSA Resolution to reinstate LAMC 41.18.  Please send a copy to the VSA at [email protected].

We’ll keep you posted on where the new council stands on these issues.

Resolution Calling for the City of Los Angeles to Conclude the Jones Settlement and Return to Enforcement of the “No sitting, lying or sleeping on a sidewalk” Ordinance (LAMC 41.18 (d)) within 300 Feet of a Residentially Zoned Property

Whereas, the current City practice of allowing encampments of transients to exist right next to residences is intolerable and uncivilized, depriving residents of sleep, free use of sidewalks and a zone of safety and quiet next to their homes, and

Whereas, individuals in these encampments frequently trespass on the property of nearby residents, to defecate and urinate, to engage in theft and vandalism and burglary, or to store their possessions; and 

Whereas, tents allowed in such encampments routinely entirely block sidewalks and violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and force both the able and disabled into the street to pass; and 

Whereas, the City fails to enforce the requirement that no tent be erected before 9 PM and all tents be dissembled by 6 AM; and

Whereas, the City fails to enforce the existing bar on sitting, lying or sleeping between 6 AM and 9 PM; and

Whereas, the City fails to enforce LAMC 56.11 banning bulky items, attachments to fences and walls, and limiting possessions stored on sidewalks to that which can be contained in a 60 gallon City trash receptacle; and 

Whereas, encampments are breeding grounds for disease, rats and insects and produce tons of trash which in Venice is driven in the rainy season directly to storm drains and then into Santa Monica Bay; and

Whereas, LAMC 41.18 is still in effect and the only impediment to its enforcement is the 2007 Jones Settlement, in which the City agreed in  a civil lawsuit to refrain from enforcing 41.18 until it had built or caused to be built 1,250 units of permanent, supportive housing; and 

Whereas, the Los Angeles Housing & Community Investment Department produced a report in early 2015 that anticipated that the City would meet the requirements of the Jones Settlement by October of 2015; and

Whereas, eight months have elapsed since October of 2015 and it can be reasonably assumed that the City has now more than met the target of 1,250 units of permanent, supportive housing; and 

Whereas, Captain Nicole Alberca, Commander of the LAPD Pacific Division, has recently stated that officers who are making daily contacts with campers in Venice report an increase in out of state youth 18-26 years of age, both males and females, who refer to themselves as “drifters” or “travelers” and do not see themselves as homeless and as such, they have not accepted outreach for housing placement; and  

Whereas, Tim Pardue, the former director of the Teen Project P.A.D. on Market Street, has reported that approximately 70 percent of their 16-24 year old clients are from out-of- state; now

Therefore, be it resolved that the Venice Neighborhood Council calls upon Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer and the Housing & Community Investment Department to immediately present to the United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, a list of the permanent, supportive units built over the last nine years in satisfaction of the settlement and that the City Attorney petition for the settlement to be declared satisfied and null and void; and 

Be it further resolved that the Venice Neighborhood Council calls upon the Councilman Mike Bonin, the Los Angeles City Council and Mayor Eric Garcetti to immediately amend LAMC 56.11 (the ordinance limiting storage on sidewalks) to bar any storage of personal possessions (other than a bicycle for 24 hours or less) on a sidewalk, parkway, alley or street within 300 feet of any residentially zoned property for more than one hour; and 

Be it further resolved that upon the vacation of the Jones Settlement the Venice Neighborhood Council calls upon the Los Angeles Police Department to begin warning anyone sitting, lying or sleeping within 300 feet of a residentially zoned property that they are in violation of LAMC 41.18; and

Be it further resolved that the Venice Neighborhood Council calls upon Councilman Mike Bonin and Mayor Eric Garcetti and the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (or social agencies acting on their behalf) to offer shelter beds, shared housing, Section 8 housing, transitional housing or transportation to safe family members at the same time and in conjunction with the LAMC 41.18 warnings by the LAPD; and 

Be it further resolved that in instances when an individual acting in violation of LAMC 41.18 refuses to either leave the area within 300 feet of residences, or to accept housing or transportation to a safe family member, the Venice Neighborhood Council calls upon Los Angeles Police Department to cite the individual for violating LAMC 41.18 and if future violations occur, to secure a stay-away order to prevent that individual from returning to camp out in Venice.

Columnist Mark Ryavec.
Columnist Mark Ryavec.

 

Mark Ryavec is the president of Venice Stakeholders Association

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