“I believe the chances of success are extremely good,” says Venice Stakeholders Association President Mark Ryavec
By Nick Antonicello
The Venice Stakeholders Association on February 7, 2023 filed a petition for a writ of mandate with the Los Angeles Superior Court to invalidate the extension of the lease for the City of Los Angeles’ Bridge Housing facility currently located at 200 Sunset Avenue in Venice.
Despite being warned in writing by the VSA last summer that the city would need to apply for and receive a Coastal Development Permit (CDP) from the California Coastal Commission to comply with the California Coastal Act, the city, under former Councilmember Mike Bonin, approved the lease extension November 9, 2022 without such authorization.
“Historically, the Coastal Commission has jealously guarded its authority to require a CDP for any and all development in the coastal zone, and specifically required in 2020 that the City file for a new CDP if the city sought to extend the lease for the facility from Metro beyond the initial ‘temporary’ three-year term,” said Mark Ryavec, President of the VSA.HTML block for after sixth paragraph:
“The city knew of this requirement from the Commission’s earlier action and Mr. Bonin blatantly ignored it. The Venice Bridge Housing facility remains the only one in the city that is surrounded on all sides by residences, and it remains a severe burden on its neighbors,” noted the Venice community advocate.
In an interview with Ryavec, the VSA was optimistic about the organization’s new legal initiative with city officials.
“I believe the chances of success are extremely good. The Coastal Commission in their 2020 decision stated that any extension beyond the three-year temporary lease would require new application for an actual Coastal Development Permit, not a waiver,” offered Ryavec and accused former LA City Councilmember Mike Bonin of disregarding the Commission’s requirement before leaving office. Bonin decided not to seek a third and final term when a second recall attempt came within 95% of the required number of signatures to force a facedown with voters. He promptly left the race and retired from the city council.
Ryavec has informed newly installed Councilwoman Traci Park (CD-11) of the VSA filing. Park assumed office in mid-December and has to date removed some 150 individuals from street encampments here in Venice as several high density encampments have been cleared at Flower, Hampton and Third in cooperation with LA Mayor Karen Bass and her new homeless initiative under this new city state of emergency she imposed upon assuming office regarding the homeless epidemic.
Ryavec believes this litigation and prior lawsuits by the VSA have helped spur public action as it pertains to the homeless challenge here in Venice and the rest of Los Angeles.
Prior action saw the removal of over 250 RV’s and campers from Venice, freeing up over 600 residential parking spaces, but that action was under the late Bill Rosendahl, who was succeeded by his then chief of staff Mike Bonin who came to office in 2013, serving for the last decade with a rocky and deteriorating relationship with many Venetians and community groups like the VSA during his ten-year tenure of office.
The VSA threatened suit when Bonin moved to use beach parking lots at Will Rogers Beach for homeless housing, noting it would decrease public parking as well as general access to the beach and ocean. Bonin’s folly proved to be extremely unpopular and city officials deemed the proposal not feasible. Community officials from Pacific Palisades supported the VSA’s intervention and credited the organization’s activism in assisting in killing the proposal.
Ryavec noted that the VSA’s legal counsel advised that the latest filing was necessary so that they did not lose their right “to challenge it all” under the Coastal Act.
10,000 units were proposed for construction under the mammoth, $1.9 billion dollar HHH Proposition, approved by voters but units have been slow to completion and behind schedule.
“The promise by Bonin and Garcetti, and later Ms. Park, was that Venice Bridge Housing would close after three years of operation. That is this month,” observed Ryavec.
Nick Antonicello is a longtime Venetian who covers local public policy and politics as it pertains to Venice. A member of the Outreach & Oceanfront Committees of the Venice Neighborhood Council, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org