April 2008 – Venice LCP Redeux: The Missing Coastal Plan For Venice

By John Davis

What the hell is an LCP, is it like a BLT? And what is the Coastal Zone, a place where those near the coast get zoned? In 1972 when many other environmental laws were being passed like the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act, another very important piece of legislation appeared to protect valuable coastal resources and strike a balance with proposed development but focusing more on protection of the environment.

The U.S. Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 called on States to voluntarily participate in the enforcement of the federal act by producing their own state acts to implement the national law. In exchange participating states are entitled to obtain grants from NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Coastal Zone 

Resource Management. The agreement between the state and federal government is called the Coastal Zone Management Plan for California and the state law that implements it is the California Coastal Act passed in 1978. A Local Coastal Program (LCP) is a plan allowing the City of Los Angeles to issue Coastal Development Permits without appeal to the State Coastal Commission which has that jurisdiction today. 

A grant was awarded to the state to complete the Venice LCP in the late 90s. Two components are necessary to complete an LCP, a Land Use Plan and an Implementation Plan. Until it is approved by the state the Implementation Plan is called a Specific Plan. After extensive local public meetings the city documents were submitted to the State Commission. The Land Use Plan (LUP) was approved in the late ‘90s, but the Implementation Plan (Specific Plan) was not. The Coastal Commission rejected the city submission outright for being incomplete and inconsistent with the already approved LUP.

Now here is the scam. The prior city councilperson allowed the Specific Plan to go unfinished. The City Planner at that time Con Howe failed to respond to the Coastal Commissions’ letter stating the requirements to complete the Specific Plan. What this absence of planning has led to is the ruin of Venice. The same density calculations used by the City and Coastal Commission to justify the Land Use Plan in the late ‘90s are no longer valid because of development that has occurred since that time and that adversely affected the public infrastructures such as Lincoln Blvd. and neighborhood streets. 

Pretending that past figures can be valid years later contributes to practices such as the demolition of single family homes and placement of four condos on the same site effectively quadrupling density piece meal. Development of the regional area also must be considered regarding its direct impact on Venice infrastructure, such as parking.

If this negligence were not insult enough to Venetians, the city engineer continues to issue coastal development permits without empowerment of state law, the Brown Act and the City Zoning Administrator follow suit in a false process. What that means is due process is removed from the picture and substitute practices similar to the legal ones are illegally employed. 

The bad news is the public has been frozen out of its right to upcoming process in regard to due coastal planning in Venice. The good news is the process seems ready to be started again. 

The current Councilmember, Bill Rosendahl, has sent a letter to the City Director of Planning expressing his wish to complete the Venice LCP within his term. This would place the public in the important role of helping plan their communities. Venice is a very special place and deserves a good LCP. Perhaps we could reclaim some of our beach area for habitat and exercise the cities jurisdiction over its beaches and the entrance to Marina del Rey as it rightfully should. Councilman Rosendahl in my opinion should be commended for understanding that planning is a long term process with lasting consequences.

Leave a Reply