Venice Neighborhood Council Candidate: Deborah Lashever

Patch asked the VNC candidates a few questions to help voters decide in the Oct. 28 election.

Editor’s note: This is one of several articles in a series of profiles on Venice candidates.

What would you prioritize if you were voted in? 

My priorities for almost all issues boil down to keeping the Heart and Soul of Venice alive even as we grow and change. I stand for retaining our signature inclusiveness, sense of community, unique aesthetic and edgy artistic soul as we morph into the future, especially with the huge recent monetary influx and notoriety. I want us to take a breath and grow and change in a conscious way that takes the whole community into consideration. We do not have to go the way of everyone else. We are Venice! We are amazing! We don't need to sell ourselves out to the highest bidder!


Who are your primary supporters? 

My primary supporters are Venetians who desire that Venice retain our distinct Beauty on a core level. They are those who don't feature the "slash and burn" development we are being herded into of late or the criminalization of homelessness that is being touted as a solution by some, or other unjust leanings of recent note in our town. My supporters are those who believe that we can find creative ways to enable all Venetians to live together gracefully and retain our Soul even as we blossom. They know that Venice is different than anywhere else and that if anyone can hold strong together as the intense winds of gentrification blow through it is us. Yes. We are just that cool.


What issue do you feel most strongly about and what’s your position?

What I feel most strongly about in Venice right now is Justice. Whether it is the rights of people to protect their property from bottom line developers, the rights of young people to skateboard on our streets without harassment, the rights of our unHoused neighbors to carve out an existence in our community--especially since many are the artists that bring the very tourists who actually support out economy--or any number of other issues. In all these instances, we need to find real, solid solutions that work for our whole community. If it is not a win for everyone, it is not a win.


What's one thing most constituents don't know about you?

What most do not know about me is that I have personally seen this process of devolvement, that masks itself with seeming profit, before. That is why I am so adamant that we keep a watchful eye and absolutely not lower our standards! I was a part of the Renaissance Pleasure Faire for 30 some years and I saw what happened when a corporation took it over and systematically took all the magic away to satisfy their bottom line. The result? The Faire is pretty much just a sad parody of itself. I would hate that happen to our Beloved Venice! We are worth so much more than that! But the signs are everywhere and many Venetians I speak with think it is already too late.I really hope not, but now is the time to act. 

We have an amazing thing going here that has wonderfully, naturally evolved. No corporation could come up with such an enigmatic, organic culture that captures the imagination of so many around the world. No city could afford to pay all the actors it would take to fill up the Boardwalk 24/7 with interesting characters doing interesting things so tourists could experience the wild, weird and wonderfulness that is our world famous Boardwalk anytime. We are currently the most visited place in California for a very specific reason. Before we destroy what "natural resources" we have, we should look at what makes the perfect storm that is Venice and why people flock here before we make the mistake the Renaissance Faire made and kill all charm and vitality and scintillating specialness to create a cultural and literal wasteland.

Instead, let's see what people love and see how we can enhance that. It is the difference of looking at Venice as a real community with individual happiness that is intertwined with community vitality with our collective future at stake, or going the route that most of America is going, that of pure self interest and making a quick buck while sacrificing everything that has any substance, any value, any beauty, any community, or anything that really matters.

We have a choice. The choice is ours. It is a serious one. Let us consider the implications. And let us do it now!


Why did you decide to run?

 I have decided to run for VNC because, as I have mentioned, I see clearly that Venice has come to an absolute crossroads. We can make Her even more splendid or we can wreck Her beyond hope. This goes for our businesses, our neighborhoods  and our humanity. 

As a merchant on Abbot Kinney, believe me, I am watching the current land grab first hand. It is intense! And in the surrounding neighborhoods I see the same thing! Checks and balances absolutely need to be set in place. I saw what happened with Montana Blvd, for example. Sad. Melrose? Pitiful.

In addition, in March, when I saw an email that a local man sent out that showed the lack of anything like humanity, who was colluding with local officials to harass and abuse the unHoused people on 3rd Street with disastrous results, I wrote an open letter in the Beachhead (April 2012) asking our community for help with solutions rather than to work to further criminalize poverty. I was astounded by the backlash of hatred I faced from a small but vocal group in Venice for that one simple deed! Since then I have attended many community meetings and as I move further into local politics I am finding that we need strong leadership that truly represents the Heart and Soul of our community. Already we are fast losing what we love. I know you feel it too. We all do. 

My fellow Venetians, we stand at a precipice. it is obvious to all of us. And we are the ones that hold the future of Venice in our hands. We can easily lose all our charm to the current slash and burn development or we can grow and change with some semblance of class, style and method. The influx of money and prestige is wonderful, yet not so much so if it crushes the very life out of us; if we do not use it to our advantage.

As someone who has been enamored with and totally succumb to the luscious culture of Venice for over forty years, I believe I have a sense of who we are. Let us take a breath, center ourselves, and remember who we are as we grow and change, just as you might advise a young adult to do in their life. On a whim or fad, if you see them risking their health or future to bow to some whim, or selling themselves out simply to make a quick buck, wouldn't you step in to do what you could to be a voice of reason? That is what I see my role to be on the VNC. A clear voice of reason. Not that I am anyone so special, but just that I happen to see this clearly and it happens to matter to me on a very deep level. Many, many, many  people feel the same way I do, I know. So I ask you, if you are one of those people, to let me stand for your way of looking at things at the VNC. I have the passion and heart to be a part of the process.

A vote for me will be a vote to keep the Heart and Soul in Venice even as we grow. I will always stand for that. You have my word on it.

Deborah LaShever is running for one of 13 open positions as a Community Officer on the Venice Neighborhood Council. To read more candidate profiles, click here.

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burned@thestake October 15, 2012 at 07:55 AM
Sean - I don't see how the single occupant bathrooms at Venice Beach could become ANY of the things you're talking about. If they did - the city, and the cops - have keys, and could make arrests of people abusing the amenities. Scott, sounds like individual acts requiring 'individual' - not COLLECTIVE punishment. I see Housed members of the community pissing in the Rose ave. lot ALL the time - are you willing to accept collective punishment for THEIR actions?
burned@thestake October 15, 2012 at 08:04 AM
Susan - you seem to have a very low opinion, of a very broad/heterogenous group of people - which includes women, children, and disabled/veterans. "Homeless" is as much a "code word" as "Unhoused". But these people are no LESS than YOU, because of their housing status. One word blames THEM for their condition, the other puts the blame where it belongs - upon a society that not only fails to properly care for these folks, but also prioritzes their incarceration/criminalization, instead of addressing their issues humanely. "I think a nice County Fair in one of the desert communities would better serve your talents." Well go ahead and vote for the Mark Ryavec, and his unpopular stealth cadre of Venice Stockholders and HATERS then. But I've actually seen Deb out in the community, putting in the hours, on this subject and others of importance to the entire community of Venice. So given the choice, I'd take Deb over you Ms. Stone.
burned@thestake October 15, 2012 at 08:07 AM
The plans include a check-in center - of the sort which has been highly successful in Costa Mesa. But it looks like the VNC will have ot take this up, with a progressive and energetic new majority.
Maybe I Will October 15, 2012 at 05:52 PM
As a home owner and 12 resident of beautiful Venice it is easy to see the conflict between property values and individual rights. Anyone who views one as more important than the other is short-sighted and out of touch. We don't need more regulations. We need to enforce the ones in place and/or amend them to be more timely in their intent and application. The name calling, cynicism and bitter tone of some of these posts leads me to believe that the Venetian spirit of cooperation, tolerance and fostering of the most beautiful part of humanity - the arts - has already been lost to some of you. The bohemian lifestyle is why I moved to Venice and ANYTHING that threatens that is NOT good for property values, family values or safe, harmonious living. There are plenty of beach communities that have already abandoned these tenets. Venice is Venice. For those that wish it to be different, exercise your personal freedom and pick a new home. You'll be happier there. I promise.
Deborah Lashever October 15, 2012 at 07:58 PM
Vortex, Yes, Stake is correct. It is a program that will take the needs of the community at large and the needs of the unHoused and solve many of those at once with a simple, low cost solution that is working extremely well in other beach cities. Again, this will benefit EVERYONE in Venice. It will include a sanitation program as well as a check in center for personal items so that people do not have to store them on the sidewalks. I am hesitant to give more details here....but you will hear about it very soon. Thanks for your vote of confidence! Cheers!
Deborah Lashever October 15, 2012 at 08:06 PM
Sean, Actually, I have done quite a bit of research. There are solutions...if you are willing to look for them. For example, there are public toliets that self clean every 15 minutes or so. The walls push together too so a person cannot stay in them. I'm not saying that is the perfect solution but it is one that is working downtown and other places and addresses the problems you mention. And I'm probably working with those non profits already but if you'd like to recommend them to me I'm sure they would like to help me with this great project. Thank you!
Deborah Lashever October 15, 2012 at 08:34 PM
Scott, Actually, I can understand how disgusting that is to deal with. I have had problems too once in awhile at my shop after First Fridays (drunks, not homeless though). I would hate to deal with that too. So let's have more bathrooms open 24 hours in Venice! When people are used to using them they will use them. If people are used to having to go outside then it probably doesn't seem like such a big deal to do that. Humans are very adaptable creatures... Look, guys, I'm certainly not saying that every unHoused person is a wonderful person, just like it is in the housed population--or any population! But many are really cool, creative, individuals and instead of always focusing on the few bad eggs why don't we see how many of these people we can help live like humans while they are on the streets. It helps everyone. Like I said, other beach communities in So. Cal. have found these programs VERY successful and inexpensive too. At least we can try them and see! Naysaying isn't accomplishing anything. Let's not just stand there...let's do something!!
Venice Vortex October 15, 2012 at 08:48 PM
Debra I applaud your compassionate efforts to reach out to those poor people that need our help. However, there is a criminal element that we should not enable and encourage to stay in our community by providing more social services. As you already know, I live on the boardwalk and see the same group of intoxicated, belligerent, aggressive, unhoused neighbors (Daphney, Peabody, Bruce, Kevin and Rico) out there. They aggressively harass everyone that walks by the bench that they sit on all day and night and urinate behind. How does your solution address this group and protect the quality of life for the local residents and tourists?
Deborah Lashever October 16, 2012 at 07:02 AM
burned@thestake October 16, 2012 at 09:47 PM
AS a big member of the SNITCH-posse as you've shown yourself to be, Mr. Hole-not-from-Venice, how come the police haven't intervened already, to address this alleged threat to 'public safety'? Why have these people never said a word to me? Is it because you're exaggerating again, in support of your campaign of unlawful abuse of the UnHoused? And how does this aim to affect 'Tommy' down by the Pier? He doesn't do any of those things - and is a better neighbor, and Venetian than you are, from what I've seen. I'm local and I don't need any help from the 'Venice Stockholders' to maintain or improve my 'quality of life', thank you very much. And how's your audit on the VSA coming by the way? Do you have an itemized list of income and expenditures, yet?
burned@thestake October 16, 2012 at 09:48 PM
I like this guy. Welcome to the neighborhood! I can't wait to meet you.
Richard B October 17, 2012 at 11:17 PM
Deborah. What are your views on the toxic and polluting Santa Monica Airport that is a health and safety risk for all of us living under the flight path? This is a huge issue for many. Please look into this important issue.
Deborah Lashever October 18, 2012 at 03:46 AM
Vortex, I really am hearing you and understand that you have been really, really upset by what is going on around your property. I get it totally. No one wants to deal with crime where they live and have property for rent! Listen, I totally believe that real criminal activity should be handled by police. We are in no disagreement there at all. Then it is just a matter of the way the laws are enforced. We'll soon be in dialouge more fully with the LAPD about the best ways to handle these problems specifically in Venice. I am very active on another community task force that is dealing with issues like this. The difference to make clear here is that between real criminal activity and "quality of life crime" (basically that some wealthier person is pissed off at dealing with someone who is more monetarily challenged) which is no real crime at all but merely a situational issue. (Which could be easily solved by programs like the ones I am advocating for, btw!) I believe you were at the meeting where the police, in no uncertain terms, said that homelessness was not a crime. They said it straight out. That is something very important to consider here. (see next post)
Deborah Lashever October 18, 2012 at 03:49 AM
The actual crimes that are committed by unHoused--as well as Housed--individuals should absolutely be handled as such by the proper authorities. Everyone agrees on this, it is a non issue. I don't understand why you and yours don't savvy that people like me are not at all wanting complete chaos and the take over of Venice by crazed unHoused hoards, but merely humane and equitable treatment for everyone. That means property owners as well as unHoused people and everyone else in between. Geez, we are on the same side here! I think in our community, many of us--except the greedy developers--have much more in common than we do that separates us. I wish that we would look at those things rather than using all our energy in-fighting with our own neighbors about very solvable problems. Cheers, Vortex, you are more and more talking like a humane and intelligent person. I have hope for you, Bro!
Deborah Lashever October 18, 2012 at 03:59 AM
Richard, As someone who has lived for awhile under the flight pattern of the Santa Monica Airport, I personaly can't abide all the noise and air pollution! I do understand that it is a great convenience for some but I do think that the problems far outweigh the conveniences so I am for using that land for other, more environmentally friendly, more community oriented projects. I appreciate your attention to this important matter! The more people speak out on issues like this the better response we will get from the authorities. Thanks for asking!
Venice Vortex October 18, 2012 at 04:26 AM
Burned@thestake (BS) why are you so angry at me? Why do you attack me with negative adjectives like snitch and Mr. Hole-not-from-Venice???? BS do you live on the boardwalk and see first-hand the aggressive behavior of the Peabody gang???? Please contact LAPD mounted Officer S. Brown badge # 24452 @ 213.485.5909 to confirm that several neighbors, not just me, filed complaints against Peabody and his criminal group of intoxicated, belligerent, aggressive, unhoused companions. It is not a crime to be poor and unhoused. However it is a crime to disrupt a community’s quality of life. The crime is public nuisance. BS FYI I have lived in Venice for more than 20 years, I am not sure what your qualifications are for being a Venice resident, but legally this is my place of residence.
Linda Lucks October 18, 2012 at 04:45 AM
The Venice Neighborhood Council S.M. Airport Committee meets regularly to address the noise and pollution issues caused by the S.M. Airport, one of the worst problems we have in Venice. I urge anyone who wants to change things to attend a meeting. Unfortunately, they met last night, but a joint meeting with the Mar Vista Community Council is in the works for January. For more information contact Laura Silagi, Lsilagi@gmail.com
Venice Vortex October 18, 2012 at 04:46 AM
Debra first and foremost, I do not have any units open for rent. My monthly rental units have been 100% occupied with the same tenants for years. So please do not slant this discussion about a rich landlord that can’t rent his units because of the unhoused that camp near his building. I am not the rich guy pissed off at the poor. My neighbors and I are pissed off at our intoxicated, belligerent, aggressive, unhoused neighbors. These guys harass everyone that walks by them on the boardwalk. I know that you are a homeless advocate, and I respect that. But you have to admit that there is a large group on the boardwalk that you cannot help with blankets and more social services. As a candidate to be a VNC voting member, what do you think we should do with this element? Debra please answer this question. I think that we should document the criminal activities of these bad actors and file restraining orders against them to forbid them from returning to the boardwalk, It is not a crime to be a poor addict that is unhoused. However, the entire community suffers as the proportion of this group grows.
Venice Vortex October 18, 2012 at 04:55 AM
Linda and Deborah I agree with you guys. Venice was thrown under the bus with regards to the flight path of the SM airport. It just shows how little political influence the Venice residents have. Something is very wrong here. Can you imagine any other city saying “yeah put your city airport runway at the edge of my city so that my residents can capture 100% of the jet engine take off noise pollution from your city airport”?
Deborah Lashever October 18, 2012 at 05:52 AM
Vortex, You, Linda and I agree, Baby! Ain't it sweet? This is an amazing moment! Say a prayer! Raise a glass! Howl at the moon! THIS is Venice! Cheers!
Deborah Lashever October 18, 2012 at 06:15 AM
Hey Vortex, The real criminal elements are not good for anyone! I completely co-miserate with your unwillingness to have real and actual crime in your area. Do you think the peaceable unHoused Venice artists and other folk who are just trying to get by living without the convenience of housing like crime? They are effected most of all! Do you think people like me who are trying to provide a modicum of humanity to unHoused people like this negative element? NO! The real criminals hurt everyone. No one wants them around! We are on the same side, Bro. Really. Let's make it safe and cool for everyone--just like Venice is supposed to be! Hmmm....Vortex, you are not sounding so much like a Hater lately....you are sounding like a real, thinking Resident! Kudos and I applaud you for being a thinking, feeling human and keeping an open mind and not merely towing the "Stakehaters' party line for profit. There is hope for you, my friend.
burned@thestake October 18, 2012 at 12:20 PM
First of GH - I've seen you in action - so I use the term Snitch advisedly. Snitches aren't just found on the yards of prisons - they are often POLICE AGENTS, positioned and operating in the community - to pre-determined ends. And I've seen you working, dude. 20 years - congratulations - sounds like you've been here about as long as the LAPD's "zero-tolerance crackdown" on Venice. I've been here my whole life, and you don't see me fronting as "B@TS Venice". And unless you're 20 years old - that means that you're from someplace else. If you HATE Venice so much - go back there. If you like it here - give it a rest, already. "Quality of life" is a slippery slope - and I don't see how it is consistent with the Common Law - nor where the statute you're referring to is to be found. So NO, not really a crime, after-all, then. And it is entirely in the eye of the beholder. I find carpet-baggers like yourself to be detrimental to MY "quality of life", when I'm being ticketed for checking the surf after midnight. If these complaints of yours had any validity - then these folks would already be in jail. But being poor w/in your eyesight isn't a crime. And since the policies which you've been militating for, affect not just the "Peabody gang", but all of the UnHoused - and even members of the Housed community (like myself), who appreciate utilizing our rights to 24/7 Coastal Access - you've already got plenty to answer for. But, nice job, trying to appear sane 4 once.
burned@thestake October 18, 2012 at 12:32 PM
Deb - I'm not sure trying to reason with this guy is useful. He represents a minority faction of HATERs here in Venice - like "Obama2016" as you'll see below. They are never going to vote for you. They're just engaging in an low-intensity-conflict "information war" - also known as "PR" - or as Edward Bernays called it - propaganda. http://www.historyisaweapon.com/defcon1/bernprop.html Gary may not have any vacancies - but he's doing this as part of a campaign - and someone's getting paycheck, as part of that campaign, somewhere - you can bet on it. Otherwise why would he be spending all of his free-time, on it? OCD? Verbal Diahrrea? What could explain it?
burned@thestake October 18, 2012 at 12:35 PM
Yet another thing that you don't understand about Venice. Apparently, history didn't start in 1992. The SMO is on land partially leased from the city of LA. ANd let's remember that the airport has been there much longer than most of the homes in that flight path. So yet again, Gary advocates for a NIMBY position - to the detriment of all else.
burned@thestake October 18, 2012 at 12:45 PM
Wow, I don't know if THIS post qualifies as "rascism" (as opposed to your a-historical rant at http://venice.patch.com//articles/poll-who-won-the-second-presidential-debate-b1e02c4f#comment_5107137 ) but it sure sounds bigoted and mean-spirited. Someone needs to rid Venice of it's HOUSED criminal element... and depending on how you've, "...successfully driven these a-holes out of the ally around [your] property...", that might mean you. "18 U.S.C. § 241 : US Code - Section 241: Conspiracy against rights" "If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same....They shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both;"
Deborah Lashever October 18, 2012 at 05:07 PM
I will pray for the opening of your heart. You sound so miserable and so angry. I feel sad for you. I bet you would feel a lot better about yourself and the world if you did something to help others. Worth a try!
Venice Vortex October 18, 2012 at 09:31 PM
Come on guys really???? Everyone (except BS and Debra) knows that Obama 2016 is a ruse and is not a real building owner. The brilliant scheme of the ruse is to show how heartless building owners are. Glad that you guys did not fall for it.
burned@thestake October 19, 2012 at 08:59 AM
If you know who that is, I'm interested to know. If it's a hoax - is he also trying to undermine Mitt Romney, with some sort of reverse psychology ruse , as well? http://venice.patch.com/articles/poll-who-won-the-second-presidential-debate-b1e02c4f I can't tell the voice-apart, from many of the other StockHolder, Venice HATERs. It sounds an awful lot like several of the other anonymous posters to the "Linda Lucks Calls for Civility" and other articles/threads on the UnHoused issue. And here, like there it shows up with little history of posting - talking mad smack - and then bugging-out for some new ID.
Betty October 19, 2012 at 11:03 AM
I think we know who is behind the ruse, Give these people a bone and they gnaw on it for hours and go after the residents of venice.
Deborah Lashever October 26, 2012 at 11:57 PM
If it is not a win for everyone in Venice, it is not a win. There are ways to deal with issues arising from people in our community currently living without housing that will work. But there must be the will to do so. Therein lies the rub. These are people we are talking about here! many that are very talented. There are many, many famous and wealthy people that have been without housing at some point in their lives.


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