The Future of the Thatcher Yard

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Neighbors worry that if passed, the ordinance will impact future development at Thatcher Yard. Photo by Melanie Camp.

by Melanie Camp

A new ordinance that plans to cut through the red-tape that impairs the construction of new supportive housing has neighbors near Thatcher Avenue in Venice worried about the ramification for their quiet community.

With Los Angeles facing a homeless crisis and the building of units proving a slow process, the Department of City Planning has drafted a Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) ordinance “to advance service-enriched housing for persons experiencing homelessness.”

Last year, Los Angeles voters said “yes” to Measure HHH which now means the money, $1.2 billion, is there for building much-needed housing. However, pushing a development across the line has, so far, been the most prominent hurdle. According to Curbed Los Angeles, only about 300 units of supportive housing are constructed annually in the city.

Towards the Marina end of the street, Thatcher Avenue forms a border between a quiet community of single-family homes and towering apartment complexes and condominiums. Walking through the neighborhood it is clear, Thatcher Lot is smack bang in the middle of the single-family homes.

Thatcher Yard, once used for city maintenance operations, for now, sits empty and in a state of limbo. Thomas Safran & Associates will develop the property, and so far no plans are with the city.

While the ordinance is not specific to Thatcher Yard, neighbors worry that if passed, it will impact any future development.

However, David Graham-Caso, Deputy Chief of Staff for Councilmember Mike Bonin said neighbors shouldn’t fret.

“The developer that was given the right to work with neighbors to develop affordable and supportive housing at Thatcher Yard has committed to using the existing development process, so even if it is approved, the Permanent Supportive Housing ordinance will not have any bearing on this project at all,” he said.

Amongst other things, the ordinance proposes to eliminate zoning requirements related to the minimum average square footage per unit and parking for any units restricted to the formerly homeless will not count toward the minimum requirements.

Bernadette Lee is a real estate professional and has lived in the Oxford Triangle for many years. “The neighbors understand that we have a large issue with homelessness in the general city and Venice area. However, we would like to be involved in providing feedback to address density, parking issues, traffic impact, ingress and egress concerns, to name a few.”

A quiet community of single-family homes and towering apartment complexes and condominiums. Photo by Melanie Camp.

Lee told Yo! Venice limited street parking is already an issue in the neighborhood. “The response we received from developers of high-density housing is that the homeless have no cars and have no need for cars and therefore, the normal parking requirements would not apply. This makes the assumption that all homeless constituents can or will take public transportation to their jobs or that some people can’t or choose not to work.  This is L.A. and having taken the MTA to my first job before I purchased a used car, I can tell you that our public transportation is challenged due to how spread out the cities are.”

The window for neighbors to have their say and provide feedback on the city-wide Permanent Supportive Housing Ordinance closed October 30.

The open comment period ends October 30, 2017. Cally Hardy is receiving comments and answering questions at cally.hardy@lacity.org or 213.978.1643. Find out more at planning.lacity.org.

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