Rules & Selections Committee recommendations would diminish the role of the directly-elected Land Use Chair!
By Nick Antonicello
In what was, generally speaking, an uneventful monthly meeting of the Venice Neighborhood Council (1/16), several recommendations offered by the Rules & Selections Committee regarding the power and authority of the directly-elected Land Use & Planning Committee (LUPC) Chair were tabled at the recommendation of city officials.
Gibson Nyambura, the Director of Innovation for Neighborhood Councils and EMPOWER LA addressed the board in noting that in a later email “the Board member who communicated with the board on the item agenda was Michael Jensen, this created the concern of the potential for a serial communication.”
Michael Jensen, who serves as the directly-elected Land Use & Planning Committee Chair or more commonly referred to as LUPC, was elected in March of 2023 after serving nearly two years as the interim chair appointed by the VNC at the time due to the resignation of the former committee head.
Jensen, an attorney by profession, is the longest serving member of this nine-member standing committee that has been under fire since reorganizing last summer.
The committee was asked to suspend operations by EMPOWER LA due to accusations of conflicts of interest which apparently have been resolved, but the details remain a mystery to the public.
LUPC as well as the new Ad Hoc Committee known as the CP/LCP were instructed not to meet until that suspension was lifted and the CP/LCP met for the first time on January 10th.
According to the comments made by Nyambura to the full board, apparently there were potential Brown Act violations that needed to be considered had the motions and recommendations remained on the VNC agenda.
According to the proposed recommendations, the ability of the chair to prepare the committee’s agenda could be moved to an appointed LUPC member as assigned by a committee vote.
No chair of any VNC Standing or Ad Hoc committee shares this responsibility, and historically has been deemed the singular authority of any chair, according to Robert’s Rules of Order, as well as this board’s BY-LAWS and Standing Rules.
In addition, the review of projects before LUPC would be also changed by the proposed language.
It seems these major revisions to LUPC’s basic administration and operation will be taken up at the February general meeting of the Venice Neighborhood Council.
In an interview with LUPC Chair Michael Jensen, he indicated that his comments regarding the proposed changes were his own as a stakeholder, as these comments were communicated in his personal e-mail, and not his board communication address. He asked that these comments be part of the overall record before the full board.
In the e-mail dated January 16th from Jensen, he indicated the following:
From: Michael Jensen, Esq. < >
To: Venice Neighborhood Council < >
Cc: Alvarado, Vanessa < >, Elise Ruden < >, Octaviano Rios < >, Gibson Nyambura < >
Subject: Opposition to Item 14 on VNC Board Agenda
Dear Board Members:
I hope everyone had a great holiday and New Year! I am sending this written comment to the Board because I cannot attend tomorrow’s meeting.
My partner and I have a new baby girl who is just a few weeks old and doctors recommend staying away from large groups during peak flu season.
This is my personal public comment. Please post with the supporting documents.
Item 14 is an attempt to create Standing Rules that violate the Bylaws and longtime norms observed by the VNC.
- Article VII, Section 3.C. states: “The VNC Committee Chairs are responsible for creating and posting agendas and minutes for their committee meetings in accordance with the Brown Act and the Plan for Neighborhood Councils.”
- Article VIII, Section 1.A. states: “Committee agendas shall be created by the Committee Chair.”
I am copying the VNC’s DONE and NCAD representatives, because my belief is that the motion asks the VNC do violate its own governing Bylaws.
It will be interesting to see just what is the future of LUPC moving forward and if this new Ad Hoc Committee will work in cooperation, or in competitive conflict with a Standing Committee long known as the final authority on land use issues and applications before the Venice Neighborhood Council.
In other board business the Rules & Selections Committee also made available some initial survey results they are currently conducting.
Most survey takers rarely offer partial or limited results since the collection of data is ongoing, but according to the numbers released (81 as of 1/13), 50% of those completing the survey believed the current make-up of the board was just right. Regarding the election of at-large Community Officers which currently is limited to just one selection per stakeholder, only 27.8% supported the current selection process while 40.5% supported expanding the selection process from two to as many as thirteen while 30.4% supported selecting all thirteen.
All in all, 71% of respondents endorsed an expansion of the voting franchise.
The same initial results also indicated support (80.2%) for representation by districts or dedicated areas of stakeholders.
The real question that needs to be answered now is just how many board seats could become by-district versus at-large and who will determine these new election boundaries?
Reports were also offered by representatives of US Congressman Ted Lieu (D-36), LA County Supervisor Lindsey Horvath (D-3) and LA Councilwoman Traci Park (CD-11).
Nick Antonicello is a thirty-one year resident of Venice and covers the deliberations and actions of the Venice Neighborhood Council. For more information on the VNC, visit online at www.venicenc.org Have a take or a tip on all things Venice? Contact Antonicello at firstname.lastname@example.org