WHAT’S UP WITH THE MEDIAN PROJECT-
The project is now called the “Venice Dell Project” (after Sonya Reese insisted the developers remove her legendary grandfather’s name from the project- it is no longer the “Reese Davidson Project”). The project is often referred to as “The Monster” because of its behemoth size and the ill intent and misrepresentation of facts manipulated by a Councilman intent on desecrating our community in order to push through his political agenda.
Important to know, the Coalition for Safe Coastal Development is the only organization supporting the legal effort to stop this ill-conceived monstrosity from ever breaking ground.
We have worked diligently for the last 6 years to fight this (initially with the help of Fight Back Venice, now all legal action is being handled exclusively through the Coalition). It has been a process that has had to play out. When it seems quiet on our front, we’re busy combing through public records and figuring out strategies with our legal team to assure we’re on solid ground, with no stone left unturned.
We are now in position to respond with all the information we’ve gathered meticulously through this process and file coastal appeals on deadline and if necessary additional lawsuits as required to challenge this project.
Here’s where we are:
Council approved the project in late June. Fortunately, being in the Dual Coastal Zone, the project must now get approval from the CA Coastal Commission.
This will be a challenge for Coastal as we’ve called out the many factors that are in direct conflict with everything the Coastal Act was created to protect.
During the last couple of weeks we informed Coastal Staff of the incomplete project file submitted by City Planning. The file lacked a stamped “Exhibit A” for the plans that should have been approved by the City. We also called attention to the erroneous plans for the public beach parking. It is clear the City submitted older plans they have no intention of using, making the submitted project file inaccurate and incomplete. There has been additional scrambling to address the shortcomings we identified, with Coastal only now posting they have enough in the file to proceed with the process.
A few of the highlighted problems Coastal will have to acknowledge:
The Achilles heel of this project has always been the parking. Not only is parking required for all of the additional services in the new development, but Coastal Commission requires replacing the 196 spots that will be demolished, a tricky task with the feasibility of the site. As it is, the main portion of this project is a parking tower, with tiny little units wrapped around it (at a cost of $1.2 million per 460 square foot unit and additional $20 million for the parking structure).
The project is in a FEMA designated flood zone with a high water table and sea level rise, so parking cannot be built underground as it would at other sites. In order to accommodate the required spaces, there’s a need to use a complicated mechanical/lift system with tandem and valet parking, not conducive to beach parking.
Current plans violate the height limit that was approved by the City, and that’s a problem. So is a system that will back up traffic down Venice Blvd and make it impossible to park at the beach.
The project literally physically blocks access to the beach by planting two massive buildings in the City’s most used public beach parking lots and blocking the path to the beach over the Historic Short Line Bridge. Cars, bikes and pedestrians use that bridge to cross over the Grand Canal to access the ocean.
Sidewalks are narrow and have entitlements to keep them that way. There have also been recent observations of an influx of encampments on these sidewalks. If there’s still any illusion that those encampments will disappear once the project is built, we encourage you to visit the Bridge Housing site on Main St. and see if the City kept its promise to keep the sidewalks clear once the shelter was built (spoiler alert- they did not).
Keeping within the Character of the Community-
A 68 ft. Lookout tower on Pacific and Venice Blvd. doesn’t exactly fit in with the character of our community. Neither does 2.65 acres of concrete sticking out, as the City’s own review committee stated, “like a large barge washed ashore”. The “Venice Dell Project” will dwarf the surrounding community – particularly note the little colorful cottages on Dell and picture the contrast of the 35-foot, 40-lot structure on the other side of the street.
New Development should be built with safety guidelines in place-
This project is in a FEMA designated flood zone, tsunami zone and escape route, in a methane zone with liquefaction and sea level rise with groundwater rise, making it a hazardous project to build. The City ignored these issues, but Coastal Commission simply can not. In addition, in the past the Coastal Commission has not allowed increased density (housing units) in hazardous areas.
The Project is being built on the Historic Venice Canals, designated as historic federally, statewide and by the City. The 100-year-old bridge will undergo a change of use to pedestrian only and will be sandwiched between the two massive buildings of the project to become a design feature of the project rather than a historic treasure with access to all.
Through the new state law, AB1197, which allows projects in L.A. with permanent supportive housing to bypass CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act), the City pushed this project through without mitigating known hazards and dangers to this environmentally sensitive area. The Coastal Commission has a responsibility to submit its own analysis regarding the site’s environmental issues.
The Coastal Commission has posted the official file – and we have until August 10th to file an appeal. Any other community groups and individuals are encouraged to appeal as well.
Coastal has 49 working days after the 10th to schedule the appeal hearing. If they find “substantial issue” they will void the City’s Coastal Development Permit (CDP) and start their own evaluation process.
We’re not officially on an agenda yet but are expecting to officially go to Coastal in October.
– Comment at Coastal Hearings –
Hearings are held in different locations along the Coast. There’s an opportunity for 2 minutes of public comment at the outset of each meeting. Since the October meeting will be held in San Diego, a good option for in-person public comment will be at the Calabasas hearing in August. We’ll be organizing a group to attend and comment. Unlike City Council, Coastal Commissioners genuinely seem to pay attention to public comment and concerns. A large group presence from Venice speaking in opposition to the project will be impactful. Please keep the morning of Thursday, August 11th open to join us at 8:30 AM: King Gillette Ranch, 26800 Mulholland Hwy. Calabasas, CA 91302
– Donate, donate, donate, we need legal funds!
The single most important thing we need now is funding for our legal team. Our last ask was $80,000 to carry us through the end of the year. We’re $8,000 closer to that goal but need everyone pitching it to get the needed work done to stop the project.
Donations can be made through the link on the website or by mailing a check to:
Coalition for Safe Coastal Development
Box 1185, Venice CA, 90294
Please reach out to us for questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are always available for information.
We remain on top of this and have an excellent case to stop it with your support!
The Team at Safe Coastal Development