City of L.A.

Local Coastal Plan to Become Law of Land for Venice

By Greta Cobar

The Venice coastal zone is about to lose the direct oversight of the California Coastal Commission, and be placed under the jurisdiction of the city of Los Angeles under a proposed Local Coastal Plan. It was one of Mike Bonin’s campaign promises when he ran for City Council, and is now one of the main goals of his office.

Our last encounter with the California Coastal Commission, on June 13 2013, involved our community’s united fight against the city of Los Angeles’s proposed Overnight Parking Districts, now famously known as OPDs. At the end of that hearing the Coastal Commissioners unanimously voted against the city’s proposed parking restrictions in Venice and publicly stated that Venice is being “short-handed by the city of L.A.”.

The city of L.A.’s lawsuit against the Coastal Commission concerning OPDs in Venice was dropped January 13. On that day Councilperson Bonin released an open letter to the community stating: “A far more pressing, far more comprehensive, and far more real parking issue for our neighborhood is the need for daytime preferential parking districts.”

“The certification of a Local Coastal Plan, which would allow our city to create parking and transportation solutions that meet Venice’s needs” is how Bonin is planning on establishing daylight preferential parking districts in Venice after the Coastal Commission denied the city’s similar requests on three previous occasions.

Subsequently, a January 19 Los Angeles Times article by Martha Grove quoted Bonin as saying that by pushing for a Local Coastal Plan for Venice he is aiming to get “Venice out from under the thumb of the Coastal Commission.”

“I don’t believe he said that. I don’t think it’s true,” Chuck Posner, Coastal Program Analyst with the California Coastal Commission, told the Beachhead regarding Bonin’s statements.

A Local Coastal Plan for Venice “would have the same policies as the California Coastal Act, without any recognizable differences,” Posner stated in a phone conversation with the Beachhead.

In order to establish permit parking in the coastal zone, the number of spaces allotted to permits needs to be replaced by new parking spaces on a scale of one-to-one. This measure is part of the California Coastal Act and it would have to be part of any Local Coastal Plan as well. We all know that there is no space for additional parking spots in Venice, and how Bonin is planning on going around that constrict is very unclear. Improved public transportation always sounds good, but Los Angeles has historically been lethargic in making that a reality.

“City law does not currently align with state law and does not reflect the Coastal Act. It makes no sense to have that type of conflict, as it creates a tremendous amount of aggravation. A Local Coastal Plan would make city law comply with the Coastal Act and with state law,” David Ewing told the Beachhead.

“Los Angeles is doing what they should have been doing,” Posner told the Beachhead. “The goal of the California Coastal Act is for every coastal zone to have its own Local Coastal Plan,” Posner continued.

The good news is that any decisions made by a Local Coastal Plan can be appealed with the Coastal Commission. However, the purpose of creating such a plan would be to reduce the work overload placed on the Coastal Commission, which already has a tough time living up to its mission.

In order for a Venice Local Coastal Plan to be established, the city of L.A. and the Coastal Commission would have to complete the two-step process of Developing and Implementing a Land Use Plan. A previous attempt was made in the late 90s and early 2000s to create a Local Coastal Plan for Venice.

At that time the Coastal Commission rejected the Land Implementation Plan submitted by the city of L.A., follwing which the city abandoned its quest for a Local Coast Plan.  The city and the Coastal Commission, however, agreed on the first part of the process and developed a  certified Local Coastal Program Land Use Plan in 2001. As a matter of fact, that plan is what the Coastal Commission based its denial of OPDs on.

Governor Jerry Brown’s latest budget allocated a million dollars in grants to support the establishment of Local Coastal Plans in all coastal zones. The city of L.A. was awarded $100,000 of that.

Although the consensus seems to be that a Local Coastal Plan is needed for the coastal zone of Venice, which extends West of Lincoln, Venice has been cheated, sold-out and ripped off by the city of L.A. since its annexation in 1926. Based on precedent, L.A. should not be trusted with its own coastal zone, especially in light of Bonin’s misguided and misinformed statements regarding parking restrictions in Venice.

It is interesting to note at this time Bonin’s message during his speech at the January 21 Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) meeting. He defended the storage container provided for the house-less as a legal necessity to be able to remove “accumulated material belongings.”

According to Bonin, he allowed the container to be placed at the paddle courts “because of a court case, The Lavan Case. There is an attorney who often works for the ACLU…who has a very successful track record suing the city of Los Angeles…she usually kicks the city’s ass, to be honest….” His implication was that without the legal necessity to provide storage before clean-up, there would be no storage provided. Two such clean-ups took place on Ocean Front Walk in the month of January alone, conducted by city workers in hazmat outfits escorted by police cars. They removed and hauled to Downtown things like locked bikes, blankets and backpacks.

It is imperative that we do not allow Bonin and the city of L.A. to manipulate the Local Coastal Plan that is in the works for Venice, and work vigilantly to ensure that it confirm with the Coastal Act of 1976 and with the stated missions of the Coastal Commission.

Bonin also stated at the January 21 VNC meeting that he answers all email messages he receives. So go ahead and ask him what he’s up to and let him know what you think: