PLAN BETTER to BUILD BETTER! Support changes for 1600 Venice Blvd!

PLAN BETTER to BUILD BETTER! Support changes for 1600 Venice Blvd!

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We, the Community, implore the Los Angeles Planning Commission to DENY the apartment project proposed for 1600 Venice Blvd.  (DIR:2019-4920-TOC) as currently designed. We request Councilmember Mike Bonin to intervene and insist that Environmental Impacts are evaluated before any project of this magnitude is approved. Our Councilmember must then then follow through to make sure safety measures are implemented with accountability during construction.
 
New city rules allow extra-large “Transit Oriented” (TOC) projects to be built without even notifying next-door neighbors.  A project under construction one block away at 1503 Venice Blvd. shows us what happens when there is no accountability to the community.
 
Serious complaints from the community that demolition and deep excavation at 1503 Venice have persistently violated procedures for dealing with hazardous materials have been ignored. Reports of resulting health problems and other dangers that have driven families out of neighboring buildings have also been ignored.  The community is still waiting for the various authorities and the Council Office to address these issues.
 
We need to make sure safety measures are strictly followed for all future developments, starting with 1600 Venice! There must be a comprehensive analysis to ensure Community safety, before allowing a project of this size to move forward at this location.
 
The City needs to address our aging sewer and water infrastructure before allowing large projects that add further demand. We are currently experiencing major work on the sewer system under Walgrove Avenue near Venice Blvd., 150 feet from the proposed project!
 
We want a successful project!
 
Our Community is growing, and we need more AFFORDABLE housing. That’s a fact! The community will support a project that benefits both existing and future residents and improves the quality of the neighborhood as a whole!
 
Our concerns are:
 
1.     The developer bypasses community engagement, declining multiple offers from the Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) to present the proposed project to the community. Only after LA City Planning approved the project did they present to the VNC Land Use and Planning Committee.  

2.     The City is not protecting the neighboring residents from unscrupulous demolition and construction practices, it is also not upgrading the over-taxed and deteriorating infrastructure to handle new demand.
 
3.     The City’s reason for giving incentives (setbacks, height, parking, etc.) is to provide affordable housing near transit. This project provides zero new affordable housing. The demolished buildings had 9 rent-stabilized (RSO) units; the approved building has 7 Affordable + 2 RSO.
 
4.     The building is 90 % market-rate, replacing three buildings that were 100% rent stabilized, at a time when half of LA renters are rent-burdened and about a third are severely rent- burdened. We’re building our way into a deeper problem, not out of it.
 
5.     Families are underserved- only 8 units out of 77 are 2-bedroom. The rest are 1-bedroom or studios. 
 
6.     The developer is not transparent. The number of bedrooms in RSO and affordable units is not disclosed. The original buildings had 12 bedrooms. There should be no loss of bedrooms for low income tenants. Who is holding the developer accountable?
 
7.     The project pits neighbor against neighbor for street parking. Only 43 parking stalls for 77 units. The spill-over onto street parking will be substantial!
 
8.     Exceeds the zoning height by 11 feet.
 
9.     This project conflicts with City plans to improve the quality and livability of our neighborhood. LA City Planning decision to allow the developer to shrink the front yard from 15-feet to just 5-feet wide, results in the loss of approximately 1,200 square feet of front yard area. This decision directly undermines: 
•         Mayor Garcetti’s Green Streets Initiative to “activate public spaces” and
“enhance Neighborhood Character”
•         Mike Bonin’s Westside Mobility Plan - Livable Boulevards Streetscape Plan identifies Venice Blvd. as one of the four Westside corridors slated for beautification and improvement. It promises to help “fund efforts to green, beautify, and make major corridors safer and more inviting for pedestrians.”(emphasis added)
 
10. All the other residences, except one, along Venice Blvd. between Lincoln and Walgrove have at least a 15-foot wide front yard. The proposed, 41-foot tall building is the only one that crowds the sidewalk.
 
11. The design of the building exterior on Venice and Glencoe is carelessly thought out: 
•         The combination of the proposed 42-inch tall planters at ground level and the protruding second floor balconies, create the visual equivalent of a 13-foot tall wall along the sidewalk.
•         This 121-foot long building up against the sidewalk creates an oppressing experience for pedestrians, the opposite of “inviting”. This is not in alignment with Mike Bonin’s Westside Mobility Plan.
•         For security reasons, ground floor tenants will likely erect barriers in front of their patios, further reducing the distance between sidewalk and private space to 2.5 feet.
 
We appreciate that Los Angeles needs further densification to house the growing number of city dwellers. But to ensure the success of these efforts, densification needs to:
•         Be safe,
•         Maintain and improve the quality of life in our neighborhoods,
•         Not add a burden to the fragile sewer system and congested,             small streets that currently exist.
 
Let’s create projects that serve the needs of our existing community and new-to-come residents citywide!