February 2008 – Los Angeles Practices LCP Interruptus

By John Davis
The City of Los Angeles is flouting the law, to the detriment of all of us coastal dwellers. 
Chapter 1, Section 30006, of the California Coastal Act reads as follows: “The Legislature further finds and declares that the public has a right to fully participate in decisions affecting coastal planning, conservation and development; that the achievement of sound coastal conservation and development is dependent upon public understanding and support; and that the continuing planning and implementation of programs for coastal conservation and development should include the widest opportunity for public participation.”
Los Angeles is doing something different. The Coastal Act requires local governments to create Local Coastal Programs (LCPs) to ensure maximum public participation in the planning process. The LCP must also be designed to reflect and implement the stringent environmental and access protections of the Act.

The City has completed only half of the Venice LCP, but is allowing development at such a rapid rate that it will prejudice the Coastal Commissions ability to certify a LCP consistent with the Coastal Act. 

The City plan is a rush to change the face of our fair community forever without letting the public participate. Huge luxury apartment complexes and angular buildings called “artists lofts” are going up all over Venice and the City is allowing other buildings to exceed the legal heights required by the certified Land Use Plan.

Development sprung up before a Land Use Plan for Venice was ever certified.

Until a Land Use Plan is certified by the Coastal Commission, all permits for coastal development must be approved by the Coastal Commission.

The two condo towers, euphemistically known as the Regatta and Water Terrace, stand as a developer’s view of what Venice should be. They were approved by the City years before the certification of the Venice Land Use Plan. The Coastal Commission turned a blind eye to this huge problem and let the City get away with it. It appears that the original project should not have been permitted until the Venice Land Use Plan was certified. Perhaps new hearings are in order.

And now as a further insult to the good citizens of Venice, the City is again cutting the public out of the process. According to Theresa Henry of the Coastal Commission, Los Angeles has not submitted the final part of the LCP to the State. 

In fact the City has not even submitted a draft of the required Implementation Plan to complete the Venice LCP in over two years. And it is no wonder, the City has not held one required workshop or public hearing. 

Recently the local Sierra Club Regional Group filed and won a lawsuit against the City to stop it from illegally destroying one of the only original wetlands in Venice. The City had planned to use heavy equipment to dam and dig up the wetlands, letting the sea life die slowly in the sun. We won and still have our wetland.

But the fight is not over, the City is still appeasing the interests of large scale developers and hanging the community out to dry. 

We are all watching a movie about Venice. Special effects are being used to transform small homes and businesses into a huge gated luxury community of bizarre trophy homes overnight. And we the people are just watching.

It is not too late to preserve our unique coastal heritage. People of all walks of life have a right to live in Venice. We are a Renaissance culture of free thinkers perfectly capable of protecting our own interests.

So it is time to demand that the City begin holding public workshops and hearings on the final component of the LCP, the Implementation Plan. Those of us who call Venice home will settle for nothing less.