May 26, 2024 #1 Local News, Forum, Information and Event Source for Venice Beach, California.

(Opinion) Venice Shorts: VSA Seeks Bridge Housing Waiver Termination, says LA out of Compliance!

The Venice Stakeholders Association is Urging Action By a State Agency Regarding The Venice Bridge Housing Facility’s Future on Main And Sunset.

By Nick Antonicello

VENICE – In a three-page letter to Andrew Willis, an Enforcement Manager with the South Coast District of the California Coastal Commission, the Venice Stakeholders Association represented by attorney John Henning is urging enforcement action by the state agency regarding the future of the Venice Bridge Housing facility located at Main and Sunset.

The letter, dated May 9 points out that the current lease agreement has now expired, and the VSA now views the City of Los Angeles as “out of compliance.”

The ongoing battle by the VSA to terminate any further extensions of the facility flies in the face of city officials and specifically Councilwoman Traci Park’s newfound support to keep the facility open.

The VSA believes the waiver has expired and Los Angeles should have obtained a Coastal Development Permit or CDP to continue to operate at that location within the coastal permit zone.

The facility has now been open and occupied for three years and an additional six months, which has the VSA seeking that LA comply with the original specifications which call for a CDP.

Many neighborhood residents are disappointed in the fact the bridge facility remains open and compounding concern is the fate of the Venice Median proposal, also before the CCC. In effect, two of the largest homeless and affordable housing sites in all of CD-11 will be sited in Venice,  just steps from the beach and about half-mile from each location.

The VSA is of the opinion that the opening of the facility in February of 2020 marks the time to commence the three-year temporary usage and that a formal application for a coastal development permit is now required to remain open.

The facility has been a bone of contention and push back of Venice locals who came out in record numbers to oppose the site over three years ago when originally proposed by former LA Mayor Eric Garcetti and former Councilmember Mike Bonin who addressed a hostile crowd at the Westminster elementary school about the project.

Despite the overwhelming opposition by residents at the time, city officials pushed through with the facility and its location in Venice.

A bridge facility exists in all fifteen council districts, but not squarely in the middle of a residential neighborhood just steps from Oceanfront Walk where tourism has been hampered by encampments and high crime. Many believe the facility is a magnet for additional homeless and that the immediate area bordering bridge housing is crime-ridden and unsafe.

Many believe the end of Mike Bonin’s political career and eventual withdrawal from the race for a third and final council term in 2022 was his insistence on citing bridge housing on arguably one of the most lucrative locations in all of Venice. It was this decision to move forward that led to a second recall attempt engineered by mostly Venice residents, including VNC Community Officer, homeowner, husband and parent, Nico Ruderman.

VSA President Mark Ryavec has been especially critical of current Councilwoman Traci Park, who like so many Venetians opposed this location in Venice at that time.

Since assuming office, Park has worked in concert with new LA Mayor Karen Bass in cleaning up several encampments at Flower, Hampton and Third, but also hosted two ZOOM meetings on the Venice Bridge Housing question only to determine that the facility should continue to remain open despite neighborhood discontent and disappointment.

Nick Antonicello is a longtime Venetian and member of the Oceanfront Committee of the Venice Neighborhood Council (www.venicenc.org) and covers the issue of homelessness here in the neighborhood. Have a take or tip on all things Venice? Contact him via e-mail at nantoni@mindspring.com

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