We need your immediate help to send an email to the Mayor now!
Next to ex-councilman Mike Bonin, Becky Dennison, the Executive Director of Venice Community Housing Corp., has shown herself to be the single most divisive voice in Venice, as evidenced by what she has told the press about those of us who have dared to question VCHC’s Venice Median project: “…don’t call them NIMBYs — it’s too nice… These are segregationists.”
That was 2021. Evil name calling has never been a good way to win support, then or now. That’s what made Sunday’s “hit piece” in the Op-Ed of the LA Times not all together unexpected. What did catch us off guard was the attacks on Mayor Bass and City Attorney Feldstein-Soto for simply respecting the law and doing their jobs.
Here’s the link for an almost humorous, if not so pathetic, one-sided editorial (the LA Times Editorial Board seems to have listened only to Becky Dennison and not bothered to contact the Coalition even though aware of our existence and pending lawsuits).
Becky accuses our newly elected politicians, who have taken a responsible, closer look at the errant project they inherited from former Councilman Mike Bonin, of delaying the project in the works for the last 7 years. A project that was pushed through City Council with a lack of transparency and reckless mistakes causing hearings to be skipped and incorrect information to be put before the Council.
This is a project that is struggling to survive due to a well-executed, thoughtful lawsuit that shares the many flaws of the project ignored during the city hearing process.
And now, Becky has the audacity to challenge those who have the courage to simply do their jobs!
Please, please take a few minutes to send a thank you note to the very people Becky Dennison is criticizing, Mayor Bass and City Attorney Feldstein-Soto, for doing their jobs and not caving to these bully developers, and thank them for taking a better look at this miserable project.
A sample email is below- best to cut and paste to your own email using the following addresses below:
And please copy:
Dear Mayor Bass and City Attorney Feldstein-Soto,
Thank you for holding off judgement on the ill-conceived Venice Dell Project until it is properly evaluated by the California Coastal Commission and the legal issues brought against this project are resolved in a court of law.
I’m strongly against the project and encourage you to continue to stand by the courage of your convictions and to carefully investigate the many existential issues of this project.
Your commitment to your constituents is deeply appreciated.
You can add your own words and take from any of the information below:
There are countless misstatements in this article that can be mentioned. Pick what’s most meaningful to you. This is critically important as we know Becky Dennison and her crew have been lobbying and letter writing.
In Sunday’s Op-Ed, Becky faults Hydee’s office for not responding to a project that’s under litigation.
It’s sad that the only way to be heard on a controversial project is through the legal system. Check out our opening brief in the Document Library on our website (here). Be sure to note page 51, “The December 1, 2021 Land Use Appeal Hearing Was Fatally Unfair” — which speaks of the due process we were denied during the city hearing process.
Key Issues worth mentioning from the LA Times article-
No environmental review (CEQA) in a FEMA designated flood zone with sea level rise and ground water rise. Just last week the Times published an article questioning the building of housing in environmentally challenged neighborhoods (article here).
No site could be more challenged than the site for the Venice Median Project. The Times is speaking out of both sides of its mouth to say sea level rise is an issue and then showing their strong bias for a project that neglects those impacts. Becky’s piece speaks of us complaining about Tsunami Escape Route, also a big issue but certainly not the only one in the Environmentally Sensitive Venice Canals, one block from the beach.
The Project is going to be California’s measure of whether the Coastal Commission is going to do something about the truth of sea level rise or continue to approve multi-million dollar projects in harm’s way.
LA Times: “At the request of neighbors, the developers lowered the building height and included ground-floor commercial space for local businesses.” Not true.
The community always wanted to do its part for affordable housing- at no time did we ask for commercial use and zone changes allowing a 68 ft. lookout tower (for whatever use the developers ultimately determine). The ground floor commercial space for “local businesses” is actually “micro enterprise and art studios”- not necessary for affordable housing. We never requested commercial nor was it ever required. We never had a say in design- thus the architect getting a $3.9 million fee to create his own version of what is “in the character of our beach community.”
LA Times: “Roughly half of the 140 units are for homeless people, and the other half are for low-income individuals, with a quarter of the units set aside for low-income artists at the request of the community.”
We know that out of the 140 units, 4 are for managers and of the remaining 136 units there are only 7 units of extremely low-income housing. The other units are half Permanent Supportive Housing and half for those making up to the average median income of $90,000, with a percentage set aside for “artists.”
LA Times: “The Bureau of Engineering stopped working with the developers on a contract to build replacement parking garages.”
Our documents show it is the Department of Transportation who has been given responsibility to replace the visitor-serving parking mandated by Coastal Commission. This has always been a separate project that now is proposed using impractical mechanical lift parking at the beach. Parking will be at the center of the development creating a barrier for beach access to beach and canal visitors. This is also a $20 million dollar project that is not being included in the overall cost of the project. The developers maintain it is self-funding but we believe the city will have to subsidize it.
LA Times: “Suddenly halted was the application for permission to start relocating and compensating tenants in a four unit building on the project site…”
Let’s just call that “premature”- the Coastal Commission permit has not been issued, let alone the application successfully filed, and there is a lawsuit against the outrageous DDA (Disbursement and Development Agreement giving away the land at a buck a year for 99 years to a third-party investor). Also, blatant violations of the Mello Act are challenged in our lawsuit.
LA Times: “Dennison wrote with frustration in a June 6 email to Asst. Senior City Atty. John Heath. It was one of several she wrote to Heath and shared with the Times. Heath declined to comment, as did a spokesperson for the city attorney’s office, saying they don’t comment on matters in litigation.”
First- if Becky is sharing emails with the LA Times, we have a few hundred we’d like to share as well, all showing how wrong this project is. John Heath of course could not comment on matters in litigation. But you know who can comment? The “Pulitzer prize winning” LA Times – if they take the time to look at the Legal File now on record, they could put themselves in line for another Pulitzer for exposing the corrupt process surrounding this project.
LA Times: “Here’s what we do know: A much-needed housing project that has been approved and re-approved by the City Council, that is six years into development, is being hamstrung by the city attorney, whose job is to facilitate the decisions of city leaders, not interfere with them.”
Why does the LA Times know so little? This project was only approved twice because of the inclusion of inaccurate maps while rushing to get through Council before Mike Bonin left office. Shame on them for blaming a city attorney for not facilitating the inappropriate land giveaway that never should have happened at this site. The City Attorney’s job is also to protect the city!
We will be happy to share our emails and documents from the administrative record with the LA Times, showing how many times we encouraged the developers to self-correct and build the project by the proper legal guidelines.
Now we wait for Coastal Commission, not the City Attorney or the Mayor or our new Councilwoman who herself is an environmentalist and would be hard pressed to be behind the approval of such a project.
Coastal Commission has even issued its own appeal and is now on its third notice of incomplete application that has not been answered by the developers. They would rather point fingers than address the fact that this project was never acceptable at this environmentally unacceptable location.
Stay tuned and let’s write those letters!