May 29, 2024 #1 Local News, Forum, Information and Event Source for Venice Beach, California.

Venice Shorts: 2023 Venice Neighborhood Council Members Sworn In

Brian Averill Sets the Tone as New Vnc President With Action First and Bickering Last

By Nick Antonicello

The Venice Neighborhood Council (www.venicenc.org) had become the best reality television these past two years as virtual meetings would turn into food fights with little accomplished, while being held hostage in ZOOM proceedings.

That was not the case tonight.

Now back in-person before a crowd of about 50 residents, the governance of the VNC was live at the Westminster elementary school on Abbot Kinney.

For tonight was different as new President Brian Averill set the tone for civility as this board of nineteen elected members took their oath of office and now have become an extension of municipal government here in Los Angeles.

These frontline volunteers seemed up to the task as a healthy mix of incumbents and newcomers were sworn to office by respected Venice activist Naomi Nightingale who offered sage words of advice and encouragement to these new officers. Dr. Nightingale received her PHD from Antioch and MPA from CSU-Long Beach. A former officer of the VNC from 1999-2003, she was formerly employed with the LAUSD and served as district office director for former California State Senator Diane Watson (D).

The board announced two vacancies as one member Sima Kostovetsky, while easily reelected last March decided not accept her new term of office. She had served two terms as the board’s Outreach Officer. The second was Chie Lunn, another incumbent and strong supporter of Councilwoman Traci Park (CD-11) has relocated to London, England.

The board also announced that applications were being accepted to serve on the all-important Land Use & Planning Committee, more commonly referred to as LUPC and chaired by local attorney Michael Jensen, whose wife Melissa Diner just completed six years as VNC secretary.

Brief government presentations were made by representatives of Congressman Ted Lieu (D) and LA Councilwoman Traci Park (CD-11). It was announced that over 500 units of housing have been constructed at the old VA facility and that the LA City Council was on a summer hiatus.

Under public comment several residents of Flower were in attendance to inform the board that the encampments that were recently cleared and swept have returned, and they were seeking immediate support from the new body thanks to the persistent efforts of retired attorney Clark Brown who was reelected to a second term and has made the cleaning and clearing of Venice encampments priority #1 while seeking support from Park to relocate the unhoused on unused government parcels at LAX which would be away from local residential properties.

To date, Park has resisted those efforts while flip-flopping on moving bridge housing on Main Street.

The Treasurer’s report was made by Helen Fallon, who was easily elected to her post announced some $3400 in surplus funds being rolled over and that the board had some old bills to pay from the previous VNC.

President Brian Averill made a series of appointments as members Deborah Keaton and Nico Ruderman will co-chair the Oceanfront Walk Committee and new member Amanda Hordt will chair the Arts Committee. Rules & Selections will be co-chaired by veteran VNC member CJ Cole and local homeless activist Lisa Redmond, who surprised many by her strong campaign in a second attempt to serve on the VNC.

The board also approved the purchase of a Walking Tour App as well as invoices for GOOGLE and Constant Contact.

In addition, the VNC will investigate the cost of private security in lieu of the staffing changes of the LAPD where previously two officers were always in attendance.

The board also approved the replacement of publicly-owned trees at Lincoln and Venice Boulevard that were removed by the construction of House of Pies despite the fact these trees were on public property and planted with tax dollars spearheaded years ago by immediate past President Jim Murez who manages the Venice Farmer’s Market.

The most controversial of issues on the agenda was the designation of the Venice Lifeguard Station as a historical cultural monument that was lobbied successfully by Venice Canals resident and artist Robin Murez.

After a lengthy debate, the resolution was approved.

President Averill then appointed LUPC Chair Michael Jensen to represent the board on WRAC, Selena Inouye on WRAC’s Mobility & Transportation Committee and Venice activist Yolanda Gonzalez to represent the VNC at the DWP.

The tone of the meeting was generally positive and supportive of the new members at least this evening, responsible public policy trumped petty politics.

Averill’s leadership and overall approach had a calming effect on the board the entire evening.

Here are the VNC members for 2023-25:

  • Brian Averill, President
  • Jim Robb, Vice-President
  • Tima Bell, Secretary
  • Helen Fallon, Treasurer
  • Michael Jensen, LUPC Chair
  • Nico Ruderman, Communications Officer
  • Bruno Hernandez, Community Interest Officer
  • Alley Bean, Community Officer
  • Lisa Redmond, Community Officer
  • Robert Thibodeau, Community Officer
  • Erica Moore, Community Officer
  • Steve Bradbury, Community Officer
  • Yolanda Gonzalez, Community Officer
  • Deborah Keaton, Community Officer
  • Eric Donaldson, Community Officer
  • Amara Hordt, Community Officer
  • CJ Cole, Community Officer
  • Soledad Ursua, Community Officer
  • Clark Brown, Community Officer

Nick Antonicello is a thirty-year resident of Venice who covers all things governmentally regarding the neighborhood council. Have a tip or a take on all things Venice? Contact Antonicello via email at nantoni@mindspring.com

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