March 30, 2020 #1 Local News, Forum, Information and Event Source for Venice Beach, California.

Venice Homeless Shelter, Median Housing Project Given Legal Green Lights

Judges rulings clear path for MTA shelter, median housing project

By Sam Catanzaro

This month two court rulings have cleared the way for a pair of housing projects in Venice to proceed after local activist groups challenged the legality of a state law exempting environmental review for housing developments.

On December 13, a Venice Stakeholder’s Association (VSA) petition to halt the construction of a 154-bed bridge housing homeless shelter in Venice was denied by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff. VSA argued that AB 1197 – a new Los Angeles-specific state law providing California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) exemptions for emergency shelters and permanent supportive housing – should not apply retroactively on the bridge housing shelter since lawmakers approved the project before AB 1197 went into effect.

“AB 1197 on its face does not apply retroactively and California courts do not apply new laws retroactively absent clear direction from the Legislature to do so,” wrote Jeffrey Lewis, counsel for VSA in a letter to Los Angeles City Council last month. “The City would be better served by conceding this point, following the law and going through the CEQA process to serve the residents surrounding the Project location. The faster that the City initiates the CEQA process, the sooner it can begin serving.”

Judge Beckloff, however, rejected this argument and found that AB 1197 does exempt the shelter, set to open in January or February, from CEQA review. The ruling was met with enthusiasm by local lawmakers including Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feurer, who called the litigation “needless”, and LA City Councilmember Mike Bonin.

Trailers for youth housing at the bridge housing shelter.

“I’m grateful we can move forward in our work to provide an alternative to the current nightmare of sidewalk encampments in our neighborhoods and people literally dying on our streets,” Bonin wrote in a Facebook post. “In a moment that demands urgency, it was incredibly frustrating to watch time and money being wasted on [a] legal battle that roadblocked humane solutions. I look forward to opening bridge housing in Venice as soon as possible.”

Earlier this month, another LA Superior Court Judge, James Chalfant, ruled to dismiss a case brought forth by Fight Back Venice! challenging a 140-bed affordable housing project planned on the median on Venice Boulevard between Pacific Avenue and Dell Avenue. Fight Back Venice! argued that AB 1197 was unconstitutional and should not allow for height and density requirement exemptions. Judge Chalfant, however, on December 5 granted a City motion to dismiss Fight Back Venice!’s claim, finding that AB 1197 was constitutional. Chalfant did give Fight Back Venice! the opportunity to present additional evidence to elaborate on one of their arguments on the legality of AB 1197 ahead of a January hearing to reconsider.

“City officials knew full well that they were going to lose this lawsuit, so they got their friends in Sacramento to rewrite the law after the fact. It doesn’t get much shadier — or much stinkier — than that. In 20 years in law and government service, I have never seen elected officials hijack the judicial process like this. All Californians who value the rule of law should be alarmed by what transpired in connection with this fundamentally meritorious case,” said Fight Back Venice! member Christian Wrede via Facebook post from the group.

Related Posts

Costco Employee Tests Positive for Coronavirus

March 29, 2020

March 29, 2020

Over 1,800 cases of COVID-19 in LA County By Sam Catanzaro An employee for the Costco on Washington Boulevard has...

Venice Beach Closes

March 27, 2020

March 27, 2020

County orders all beaches, trailheads to close By Sam Catanzaro County officials have closed Venice Beach to help slow the...

LA Coronavirus Cases Over 1,000 as County Says Prepare for Possibility Quarantine

March 26, 2020

March 26, 2020 1

“We are asking every single resident in LA County to be prepared to isolate and or to quarantine” By Sam...

Edify TV: Westside Farmers Markets During COVID-19

March 26, 2020

March 26, 2020

Many Westside farmers markets remain open for business during the COVID-19 outbreak. Hear from vendors and patrons in this video...

Venice Beach Pier Closes

March 25, 2020

March 25, 2020

Los Angeles County COVID-19 count over 1,000 By Sam Catanzaro Los Angeles police have closed the Venice Fishing Pier to...

Venice Getting Emergency Homeless Shelter

March 24, 2020

March 24, 2020

Garcetti orders 13 city recreation centers to be used to house the homeless COVID-19 crisis. By Sam Catanzaro An emergency...

Video: Puff Puff, Don’t Pass

March 23, 2020

March 23, 2020

“People are buying [it] like they are buying toilet paper.” While the economy has been hit hard by COVID-19, one...

Los Angeles Beach Parking Lots Close

March 23, 2020

March 23, 2020

Los Angeles County COVID-19 count surpasses 400 By Sam Catanzaro Following a weekend that saw a large number of park...

Community Heroes: Delivery Workers

March 20, 2020

March 20, 2020

“Everyone is working 12 hours shifts to keep up with demand.” Hear from delivery workers, true community heroes during the...

Los Angeles Residents Told to Stay Home

March 19, 2020

March 19, 2020

2nd COVID-19 death confirmed By Sam Catanzaro As public health officials confirmed the second death resulting from COVID-19, Los Angeles...

Lawsuit Contends Lawmakers Failing to Protect Homeless Amid COVID-19

March 19, 2020

March 19, 2020

Garcetti announces plan to provide thousands of beds in City rec. centers By Sam Catanzaro As Los Angeles plans to...

Los Angeles Issuing Microloans to Small Businesses Impacted by COVID-19

March 18, 2020

March 18, 2020

Additional cases confirmed in Venice By Sam Catanzaro As the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to grow, including additional...

Edify TV: Coronavirus Impacting Westside Transit

March 18, 2020

March 18, 2020

How is the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak impacting public transit on the Westside? Learn more in this video made possible...

Pacific Division Police Officer Tests Positive for COVID-19

March 16, 2020

March 16, 2020

First LAPD case of coronavirus By Sam Catanzaro The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) headquarters serving Venice says that one...