May 2008 – $1.7 Million Withdrawal From Venice Surplus Property Funds

By Jim Smith

The Los Angeles City Council voted on April 8 to take $1.7 million from a Venice trust fund to pay for four projects in the community.

$800,000 in Venice funds, in effect, has been transferred to the city of Los Angeles’ General Fund. It was done in a round-about way by using the money to install parking meters on lots between Abbot Kinney Blvd. and Electric Avenue. All money collected from parking meters and parking tickets for expired meters will go to L.A., not Venice. 

The $1.7 million is coming from the Venice Surplus Property Fund which is funded by the proceeds from the sale of city-owned lots in Venice. Until Councilmember Cindy Miscikowski came along, the funds could only be spent on capital improvements in Venice. She diluted the terms of withdrawal of funds to include any projects in Venice. 

The April 8 motion, initiated by Miscikowski’s successor, Bill Rosendahl, passed the city council, which is hungry for money to cover its budget deficit, by 15-0. It stated that the $800,000 was “to cover design and construction of urgently needed metered parking in Venice’s central business district.” 

The other parts covered in the motion were:

• $600,000 for constructing a new bike path on the beach;
• $250,000 for a new skate park on the Damson Oil site on the beach;
• $75,000 for a vague and controversial purpose: “to prepare and process coastal development permit applications to the California Coastal Commission for overnight parking districts in the coastal zone sections of Venice.”

Rosendahl went ahead with the parking meter expenditure despite an email campaign against it by several Venice community leaders. Requests for a financial accounting of the Surplus Property Fund have also been ignored.

Appeals can, and probably will, be made to the California Coastal Commission.