July 21, 2024 #1 Local News, Forum, Information and Event Source for Venice Beach, California.

Q + A on Building Possibilities for CD-11’s Bridge Housing Parcel

We Asked Mark Ryavec to Weigh-in on His Initial Assessment and Reaction to What Is Being Proposed

By Nick Antonicello

The future of the controversial parcel of property that currently hosts the Bridge Housing for CD-11 here in Venice and located on Main Street has begun outreach in the community as to what will be permanently proposed.

In a recent meeting, two proposals were revealed for the historic three-acre property. The first, “Sunset + Main” by Camden Securities Company, would construct mixed-use buildings with 17,000 sq. ft. of commercial space along with 310 residential units; 75 of which would be deemed “very low-income” to “low-income.” The second, “Metro on Main” by the Python Group, would feature 30,000 sq ft commercial space along with 314 residential units, including 86 affordable homes.

Many Venetians are suspect as to any long term and permanent proposal since METRO moved forward with Bridge Housing despite overwhelming public opposition that many believe ended the political career of former councilman Mike Bonin. While his successor, Councilwoman Traci Park (CD-11) opposed bridge housing when seeking office, she quickly back-tracked, flip-flopped and wound up supporting the controversial temporary housing initiative that has had little public support and even less in actual results.

The one consistent voice in opposition to the current usage is Mark Ryavec, founder and President of the Venice Stakeholders Association, a former legislative analyst for the City of Los Angeles, and lead staffer to former LA Mayor Tom Bradley’s Citizens Commission on the Redevelopment of the Central Business District. Ryavec earned a BA in Psychology from UCLA and an MA in Urban Affairs from the Joint Program of Occidental College and CORO Foundation Fellows Program.

A former member of the Venice Neighborhood Council (www.venicenc.org),  Ryavec is a 35-year resident and homeowner here in Venice.  

We asked Mark to weigh-in on his initial assessment and reaction to what is being proposed. Below is our brief question and answer:

  • What is your initial reaction to the proposal for the LA METRO lot now currently the home for Bridge Housing here in Venice and CD-11?

Metro is coming to the community belatedly, after many decisions have already been made about the project that will be built on this site.   The two proposals that were presented to the community recently are twice as large and dense as any of the surrounding land uses, and entirely inappropriate by mass, character and scale.

  • In terms of curb appeal, and mass, scale and character, does it conform to the neighborhood?

The two proposals presented would be far more appropriate in downtown Santa Monica than in low-rise, seaside Venice, with it quaint Craftsman bungalows.

  • Did METRO do their due diligence regarding this plan or is this just a rerun of what occurred with bridge housing several years ago?

METRO should have engaged the community before they put out the request for proposals.

  • What do you like and what do you believe needs to be changed and revised?  

I like that there is some open space, that there will be some retail in the project and a roof top restaurant, that the POW/MIA mural will be maintained, that at least one walk street will be continued from Pacific through to Main, and that there is a mix of market rate and affordable housing. Personally, I find the architectural style drab; I would prefer Craftsman to match the dominant style used in the surrounding neighborhood. The height and number of units should be cut in half. There should be dedicated visitor parking for beach-goers, which should allow overnight restricted parking in the same number on nearby streets for residents

  • What steps can CD-11 take to ensure the community is heard?

It is imperative that CD 11 allow an in-person community meeting with each developer before a finalist is chosen.

  • What specific recommendations would you make and why?

Each developer should present their proposals separately to the VNC Arbor Committee to get recommendations for incorporating more trees. It appears to me that there should be a recessed bus lane on the west side of Main for at least the length of three buses, and that street parking for residents and visitors should be restored along the street, so the buses would pull entirely off the street when stopping to take on passengers.
To paraphrase King Charles: what is proposed is like a monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much-loved and elegant friend; i.e., Venice.

Nick Antonicello is thirty-one year resident of Venice and covers the issue of land use, homelessness and affordable housing here in the neighborhood. Have a take or a tip all things Venice? Contact him via e-mail at nantoni@mindspring.com

in Hard, News
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