The Initiative Is Strongly Supported by Venice Housing Corporation and Received Previous City Council Support
By Nick Antonicello
The September 19th monthly meeting was highlighted by the rejection of the woefully unpopular Venice median housing proposal, the 141-unit initiative that is strongly supported by the Venice Housing Corporation that received previous city council support not once, but twice with the backing of former councilman Mike Bonin.
But all housing initiatives like politics are local, and the locals in Venice came out on the record to ensure another solid rejection of the project by this newly seated board.
Multiple speakers opposing the project described it as “ugly and expensive,” noting the proposal’s location is all wrong for Venice in what most opponents believe is just an inappropriate location that close to the beach in a community that relies on tourism for revenue, jobs and a strong local economy.
Conspicuous by their absence was anyone from the VHC, who has had a cold and icy relationship with past boards and seems that will continue at least for now.
Even one homeless advocate deemed the location as inappropriate and that the site will lack specific services for those with drug and alcohol issues.
Brian Ulf, a former member of the VNC’s Homelessness Committee and the President of SHARE (Self Help And Recovery Exchange), a service provider for substance abusers pointed out that Venice has long been accepting and welcoming of numerous venues for the homeless, but described the project as the “wrong place” to construct it.
Under board comment, Steve Bradbury said the proposal is not affordable housing, and that the site needed to be developed responsibly.
Secretary Tima Bell, an architect said while he supports affordable housing, he didn’t like the project and was concerned about the tone and tenor of the discussion.
Deborah Keaton, another new board member described the project as “looking like a prison,” with the lack of windows while Outreach Chair Erica Moore noted “far less support,” from those she has interacted regarding the controversial issue with so many residents.
Soledad Ursua, described the site as “not the right location,” and questioned why the project was exempt from the fact it sits in a flood zone.
Board member and homeless advocate Lisa Redmond who supports the project called the motion to reject “wrong, redundant and pandering.”
Redmond took exception to the presence of LA City Councilwoman Traci Park (CD-11) who sat next to her communications staffer Jamie Paige, the former publisher of the Venice Current, now known as the Westside Current, who was one of Park’s strongest and most vocal supporters in last year’s council campaign that saw her squeeze past fellow Venetian Erin Darling by a slim, 52-48% margin.
Paige previously served as a member of the VNC.
Redmond mused why Park was even present, and noted that the LA City Council had voted twice previously to support the housing initiative just steps from the beach.
President Brian Averill wrapped up board comment describing the proposal as making “little sense,” and that dollars could be spent more efficiently.
The vote was overwhelmingly against the project with 11 members against and just 2 in the affirmative, while 3 were recused, 2 not eligible and 2 absent.
For more information about the Venice Neighborhood Council, visit them online at www.venicenc.org
Nick Antonicello is a thirty-year resident of Venice who covers the local Neighborhood Council. A member of the Outreach & Oceanfront Walk Committees, he can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org