A group of local residents is calling on all Venetians to head out to tonight’s meeting of the Planning and Land Use Commission and make their voices heard in an effort to halt the proposed real estate development at 1414 Main St.
The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the Oakwood Rec. Center, 767 California Ave, Venice, 90291.
To date, 750 residents have signed a petition calling on CD11 Councilman Mike Bonin, The California Coastal Commission and the Venice Neighborhood Council to reject the proposed development. The petition can be signed here.
The petition reads as follows:
It has recently come to light that a partnership of real estate developers has quietly purchased several adjacent properties on Main Street stretching between Market Street and Horizon Avenue in Venice, with plans to build a 4-story, high-density, 26-unit condominium complex, including two restaurants and retail space, that exceeds the historic area’s 35’ height restrictions by an entire 11' story.
The design does not include a Main Street entrance to its 242-space, 3-story subterranean parking structure, proposing to use Market Street, Horizon Avenue, Riviera Avenue, and the two narrow residential alleys that run between them as the development’s driveways.
The resulting complex would not only affect the quality of life of its surrounding residents because their views and ocean breeze would now be blocked by a nearly 50’ wall, effectively, it would greatly increase the amount of traffic in the surrounding residential neighborhood and severely impact parking availability on all nearby streets.
Safety concerns are especially worrisome about heavy traffic on narrow streets and alleys that cannot accommodate two-way traffic and are literally the lifelines of the neighborhood. Factoring in the steady stream of garbage and delivery trucks, and the waiting line to get into the paid parking garage, the resulting bottleneck could potentially be the difference between life and death.
On Toledo Court, alone, the developers are proposing that a full 40% of the property’s daily traffic of nearly 400 cars and trucks enter and exit through a narrow, block-long, residential alley that is only 15’ wide. Two mid-size cars sandwiched side-by-side measure almost 14’ from side-view mirror to side-view mirror. What happens when a full-size car and an SUV are trying to pass in the alley? Or a garbage truck and a cargo van? What happens when there are 15-20 cars filled with beachgoers in the residential alley all at once on a hot summer day looking for parking?
What happens in the case of a fire or emergency?
In proposing a paid parking plan that effectively commercializes the main arteries of a residential neighborhood so they can maximize the profits of front-of-property retail stores, the developers not only devalue the quality of life of all its surrounding residents, they risk their very lives.
With the host of difficulties the developers face doing deep excavation 40’ below sea level on beach lagoon property, of equal import are risk assessment studies on the seismic and structural impact of the project’s pile-driving and dewatering processes on nearby homes and structures, many of them built in the early 1900’s at the historic dawn of Abbot Kinney’s Venice. Likening the effect to a sustained series of violent earthquake tremors, reports from residents living adjacent to similar deep excavation projects include cracks in ceilings and walls, and catastrophic damage to building foundations.
With construction optimistically expected to go on every day for over 18 months (which in all likelihood means 2-3 years), local residents must have every assurance that the sustained insult to the integrity of their homes and nearby historical Venice properties does not result in irreversible damage that forever changes the face of the community, not to mention the health and well-being of the buildings’ occupants should any of those buildings collapse.
Exploiting California State Law 1818 (i.e., the Affordable Housing Law), which was enacted to protect the less fortunate among us, the developers are seeking exemptions to nearly sacred local height and setback restrictions to build a fourth story. While we each live in Venice for our own particular reasons, it’s safe to say the basic elements we are afforded here – sunlight and an ocean breeze – are among the most treasured. They are so ingrained in the Venice lifestyle, in fact, that we often take them for granted….until they’re gone.
Putting aside the joke that the ‘affordable’ housing units could cost upwards of $800k or more, the height variance for multi-million dollar condos will have a dramatic impact on neighbors in every direction, and sets a dangerous precedent for the historic community’s future. The 35’ height limit was set in place by the City Council and the Costal Commission to protect both the heritage of Venice and the quality of life for all its residents, not just those who can afford multi-million dollar condos. A development of this scale, bulk and density is more appropriate to downtown Santa Monica, Marina del Rey, or next to the Grove in midtown than it is here, and there is no compelling reason why the developers should be exempted from the Venice Coastal Zone height and setback restrictions.
These same developers at a recent meeting with local residents challenged the idea that Venice possessed a particular identity, insisting that it lacked character and needed “to evolve.” One developer in the group who admitted he did not live here told a longtime, local resident that if he didn’t like the development, he “should just move.” So much for “doing what is in the best interests of the community,” which the chief architect claims as his motivation to ‘connect’ Main Street to Abbot Kinney and the rest of Venice.
If any of the legendary character of Venice (arguably a national treasure and a certifiable international tourist attraction) has gone missing of late, it is precisely because short-sighted and purely profit-driven developers such as these, without any respect for Venice’s unique character, have been busy erecting character-free, hi-density buildings that disregard the nearby communities and serve to obliterate the history and identity of Venice, while lining their pockets with profits.
SAVE OUR HISTORIC NEIGHBORHOOD!!!
Local Venice residents are petitioning the California Coastal Commission, City Councilman Mike Bonin and the Venice Neighborhood Council:
- Reject any and all requests by all parties developing 1414 Main Street for exemptions to height and setback restrictions put in place by the California Coastal Commission and City Council to protect both the heritage of Venice and the quality of life for all its residents.
- Maximum height of 35’ including proposed rooftop deck area.
- Single entrance to complex/parking garage on Main Street.
- Reduction in the overall number of units.
- Reduction in size of the underground parking garage to one level.
- Credible traffic impact studies.
- Credible environmental impact studies.
- Credible seismic and structural impact studies of deep excavation (dewatering and pile-driving) on nearby historic homes and buildings.
What do you think of the proposed development? Are you for or against it? Tell us in the comments.