Court ruling- no surprise, moving forward…

May 30, 2024

Given the Coalition was well aware Judge Fruin was determined to green light “affordable” housing, whether or not abiding by the law, his ruling against our lawsuit last week was no surprise. Fruin repeatedly admitted the project did not meet some of the criteria to be exempt from environmental review when approved in December of 2021, yet declared the developers could “fix” the problems later. This is not our lawyer’s understanding of how the state’s laws work.

With the community’s support we will appeal the decision, as we continue to believe that building housing at this extraordinary taxpayer cost, and that disregards environmental protection (in a FEMA designated flood hazard zone) is irresponsible and negligent.

Meanwhile, next Tuesday, June 4th, is the big day for our DDA lawsuit (disposition and development agreement) regarding the legality of the City’s lease of our taxpayer land to the Developers for 1-dollar a year for the next 99 years. This lawsuit is critically important to assure the project goes back to City Council where our Councilwoman can finally have the opportunity to represent her concerned constituents (unlike her predecessor, Mike Bonin).

In addition to the laughable $3.4 million fraudulent-looking appraisal for the 40 lots, compared to the original 2016 appraisal for the same land at $34 million (a decrease in value of almost 100%), this lawsuit highlights the required reuse analysis needed to justify giving this land to the developers at a below market value- an analysis that was prepared but never shared with the public or City Council.

Here’s an example of what we learned about security for the project in correspondence we found related to the analysis. The lack of security for the project was never shared.

The consultants hired to analyze the deal asked the developers:

“Why aren’t security expenses included in the operating budget?”

Becky Dennison, Executive Director of Venice Community Housing Corp. answered:

“We are not proposing security staffing during operations. The project will be sufficiently staffed with well trained personnel, including 4 onsite property management professionals to ensure close to 24-7 staffing, and 3.4 to 5 case managers/service coordinators providing additional staffing coverage, including de-escalation and other safety-related services and interventions.

De-escalation and other safety-related services and interventions? How has that been working out at Bridge Housing on Sunset which is now slated to become a mixed use affordable housing complex (less than a mile away). Even worse, consider how effective those “Metro Ambassadors” have been controlling violence on City Transit!

It would be delusional to anticipate adding a potential 420 new residents (the developers’ count for occupancy) plus visitors to the premises without budgeting for security to keep everyone safe, particularly in an area that has just experienced horrific violent crime.

And yet, here we are…

This lawsuit couldn’t be more important to expose this absurd project, pushed recklessly through the City approval process by a Councilman hell bent on creating blight in Venice and investment opportunities for developers and big banks using our tax dollars, rather than offering a true and rational solution for those in need of housing,

We must say no to this madness!

Please, help us pay our lawyers as we continue to push forward on these essential lawsuits!

With appreciation,
The Team at Safe Coastal Development