The Venice Neighborhood Council on Tuesday voted to oppose a proposed housing development at 522 S. Venice Blvd.
The developer’s plan to build 12 two-story single-family townhomes on three lots has been met with resistance since it was introduced to the community in June 2011. VNC board members and the Venice Land Use and Planning Committee do not support the project because they want the developer to build affordable housing units on-site, maintain the adjacent lot as public property and they find the building design incompatible with the neighborhood.
On the other hand, the property owner, Len Judaken, wants to acquire the adjacent lot at the corner of South Venice Boulevard and Ocean and Mildred avenues that is currently owned by the City of Los Angeles and build affordable units off-site.
For years, local resident Robin Murez has been advocating for the city keep the corner lot in public hands and develop a community park, rather than sell to the developer. In 2009, she applied for and received a $10,000 city beautification grant to landscape the proposed park on the empty lot.
“Just as we were about to get started, they told me our grant had been put on hold because the property owner had filed to acquire the parcel,” Murez said.
Murez said she and other residents were concerned over the mass and scale of the project and that it would adversely impact visibility and traffic congestion. She said a couple of her neighbors were hit by cars, and in addition to safety concerns, she thought that it was important for the community to have more green space.
“We bring you a good project,” said Allan Abshez, the developer’s attorney. “And [the Land Use and Planning Committee] errs in saying that the project is more dense than adjacent properties.”
Abshez listed several two-story apartment complexes nearby.
At an October Venice Neighborhood Council LUPC meeting, Judaken offered to match the city’s grant up to $50,000 for a sculpture garden at Centennial Park, located just east of the library. Judaken said if the city sells him the adjacent lot he would build two affordable housing units at another site in addition to the sculpture garden.
“What he presented was his offer to buy me off,” Murez said.
However, Jeff Norman, founder of the Veterans Project, which helps veteran adjust to civilian life, favors the project.
“I understand that you want public space, but how is that more important than space for veterans,” he said.
The project also requires that the L.A. City Planning Department allow variances from the Venice Specific Plan, which sets guidelines and restrictions for developers in Venice. The VNC appealed this exception, but the city denied their request. The Planning Department will review the developer's plan again sometime early next year.