May 30, 2024 #1 Local News, Forum, Information and Event Source for Venice Beach, California.

Venice Shorts: One-on-One With VNC Presidential Candidate Brian Averill

Avid surfer, author and photographer makes second try for the VNC’s top spot after falling short in 2021

By Nick Antonicello 

VENICE – It was “close but no cigar” for Brian Averill two years ago when he lost a tight race to current VNC incumbent James Murez, the veteran Venice Farmer’s Market Manager and longtime fixture here in the community. 

In that four-way contest, Averill finished a close second and Murez received just a shade under 50% of the vote in a turnout of nearly 2,000 stakeholders. 

This time it will be a two-person affair between Averill and current Vice-President Daffodil Tyminski, who ran as Murez’s running-mate in 2021. 

Murez is not seeking reelection, but rather opted to run for community officer instead and has thrown his support for president behind Averill. 

Brian is running with the popular Jim Robb as his vice-president, who has never lost a VNC contest while Tyminski is running with current Communications Officer Vicki Halliday, who works for the website known as the Westside Current, formerly doing business as the Venice Current

Averill sees this year’s election as a “fresh start” for Venice as we will have in-person VNC meetings once again beginning April 18th as COVID restrictions come to a close. For Averill, “unity and moving forward” are important themes to his candidacy as he shies away from politics, special-interests and the divisive actions of the past that have hampered and plagued this particular neighborhood council for too long.

Despite being unsuccessful in his prior presidential bid, Averill has remained committed and engaged locally with his service on the Oceanfront Walk and Outreach Committees of the VNC while working as a founding member of the Venice Surfing Association and the Venice Boardwalk Action Committee where the VBAC helped implement the proposal used by LA city officials to house those encamped at the boardwalk. Brian served as a member of Councilwoman Traci Park’s policy team during her campaign and believes as president that creating an atmosphere of civility and straight-forward processes is the best way to provide the kind of community leadership all Venetians demand and expect. 

I spoke with Brian about his candidacy and his goals and objectives should he be successful in this race to lead Venice on the Neighborhood Council: 

You worked hard on the homeless situation here in Venice. What did you do to assist in this complicated and complex crisis?

Throughout 2020, the conditions at the beach and boardwalk had declined rapidly on multiple levels. Looking around, we saw understandably angry residents yelling at our city officials and our city officials not really doing much of anything. But nobody on either side seemed to be proposing any sort of strategy or solution, so in 2021, while still on the VNC, I formed the Venice Boardwalk Action Committee with 5 incredible neighbors. We decided to focus our efforts on Oceanfront Walk and we got to work. We learned about the different jurisdictions on OFW and the beach, we did tent counts, we had dozens of zooms with city and county officials, LAPD, and service providers. We then drafted a concise step-by-step proposal to prioritize the encampments on OFW for any available supportive housing in LA. We sent it to city and county officials & the media. The LA Times responded first, and city officials followed soon thereafter. After a few rounds of finger-pointing, we finally brought the city and county teams to the table together and met with every department and the service providers every Thursday for months until OFW was finally cleared. The course of this saga was well-documented by multiple press outlets, including the LA Times,The Wall Street Journal, and Bloomberg if anyone wanted to learn more about the entire effort (links can be found at www.1venice.com). 

You were an early supporter of Councilwoman Traci Park. How will you strengthen the VNC’s relationship with CD11? 

My relationship with Councilmember Park is excellent. I was a member of her policy team during the campaign and we touch base on a fairly regular basis. She’s also been an outstanding supporter of our Venice Surfing Association from the beginning. I’ve had discussions with her about how the VNC and CD11 would function together if I’m elected. I’m genuinely excited for what I feel will be a very healthy, positive, productive partnership.

Strategically speaking, this time it’s a two-person campaign between you and your opponent. Is that to your advantage?

I guess we’ll find out on Election Day, but I’d imagine it makes the decision much easier, especially given the very obvious differences between us.

Compare and contrast your candidacy with that of your opponent.

I genuinely love this neighborhood and its culture, I make a real effort to hear as many points of view as possible, and I believe in public service. Everything I do on a community level comes from a desire to help this neighborhood come together and be the best version of itself. I think finding our collective common ground is tremendously important and it ultimately makes us stronger as a community. Respectfully, I just don’t see any of this from my opponent. I also think the tone of the current neighborhood council is remarkably uncivil and grossly inefficient. We need to do much better on both fronts.

You are not running a slate of candidates. Why have you chosen a more independent route to the presidency?

It’s become pretty obvious that running slates will never get us the best of Venice, and that’s really what we want, isn’t it? Slates mostly benefit the executive candidates at the expense of the officers. Newer candidates are excited when they’re asked to join a slate, but might not totally understand who really benefits from it. I feel it’s often disingenuous.

Will there be a debate or some kind of discussion forum between the presidential candidates? 

The VNC has candidate forums on the 22nd and 23rd. Aside from that, I’d be more than happy to debate anytime/anywhere, schedules permitting.

Venice is a diverse community. How will your leadership provide the unity that seems lacking to date? 

I have very solid relationships with neighborhood leaders all across Venice and I think a huge part of this job is really just about being a good listener and translating their concerns into realistic, actionable motions we can pass on to city departments. When people genuinely feel heard, it’s far more conducive to building consensus and neighborhood unity.

Two-thirds of the Venice community are tenants. What is your position on rent stabilization?

I’m a supporter of rent stabilization. It allows people to budget for their future, set down community roots, and become a productive part of the neighborhood fabric without having sudden astronomic rent increases that force them to move. I think we need to prioritize the protection and creation of workforce housing in general. When most people who work in a neighborhood can’t afford to live there, the community is out of balance.

Are there any candidates for specific offices you are endorsing and why? 

My friend Jim Robb is running for Vice President. He’s chaired the OFW committee for the last 4 years and he’s an honest, genuinely kind person who’s done a ton of great work in this neighborhood. I’d also like to mention Helen Fallon, who’s running for treasurer. She attends more meetings and does more work than most actual board members. She understands the council by-laws better than anyone I know and she holds people accountable. As far as community officers, I ran with Alley Bean, Erica Moore and Jason Sugars during the last election and I know they’re all honest, intelligent, very hard-working people who really love this neighborhood and are running for the right reasons. Overall, I’d recommend choosing candidates who are already doing great work in the neighborhood (like new candidate Dillon Chapman’s VBFC for example) because in my experience, they tend to become the most productive, committed, cooperative board members.

I strongly encourage everyone to do their candidate research. Remember, we all want Venice cleaner and safer. That’s a given. But people run for many different reasons, and not all of them are community-first. Do your homework.

Public safety is always a concern. How will you build a relationship with our public safety partners at LAPD? 

I already know quite a few of our LAPD Pacific Division leaders. When we spearheaded the Boardwalk Encampment project, we worked very closely with both Captain Embrich and Senior Lead Officer Contreras, with weekly meetings throughout the entire spring and summer of 2021. It was an eye-opener and a great education as to how the different city departments function together and it gave us a great deal of insight as to how we could best support our LAPD partners.

Are you involved in any other community work? 

As I mentioned above, I’m a founding board member of the Venice Surfing Association. We organize contests, beach cleanups, and events, all centered around coastal protection. We’re coming up on our one-year anniversary and we currently have about 450 members. We’ve already partnered with dozens of great local Venice businesses, including Arbor, the Waterfront, and the Hotel Erwin. We’re blown away by all the community support so far and super excited for the coming year.

What makes you the better choice for Venice?

Hopefully all of the above. We’ve undeniably had a very tough few years here in this community. But we’re coming out of the pandemic, local businesses are starting to bustle again, crime rates are dipping, and we’ve got a new Councilmember. This is the dawn of a new era here in Venice. We’re also about to elect a new VNC, so let’s leave the negativity and inefficiency behind and make it as positive, productive, and cooperative as possible. We can do this. I strongly encourage everyone in this neighborhood to come out and vote on Sunday March 26th at the Oakwood Recreation Center between 10AM-6PM. For more information on the election, e-mail: Elections@VeniceNC.org

For more information about Brian Averill, visit www.1venice.com

Nick Antonicello is covering the VNC elections scheduled for March 26th at the Oakwood Recreation Center located in the heart of Venice at 767 California Avenue. Have a take or a tip on all things Venice? Contact him via e-mail at nantoni@mindspring.com. Be sure to bring a photo ID to the voting location.

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