758 Sunset Avenue Project: Twice Defeated – But the Fox Still Circles the Hen house

By Krista Schwimmer

The voices of Venice are many and diverse. In the recent years of gentrification, however, they have often been stifled or unheard. There are times, however, when a single voice delivers the sentiment of all those voices not being heard. At the February 5th, Land Use and Planning Committee meeting, Lydia Ponce, longtime activist, did just that.

Pointing to the seven generations of Venetians in the back corner of the room, largely of African-American and Native American descent, Ponce began by saying how the gentrification ruining Venice did not benefit these families. She called for a moratorium on the destruction in Venice. She asked why no one on LUPC was dedicating him or herself to going after more affordable housing. She claimed “it’s like putting the fox in the hen house!”

On the agenda that night was 758 Sunset Avenue, a proposed Small Lot Subdivision with three homes and six car parking. After a presentation from the applicant, and an interactive, public comment period, the chair, Jake Kaufman, made a motion to deny this project based on the following grounds: less than 7% of homes in that area are similar in size; the project would decrease the density of affordable units in the area; the lot coverage was excessive; and, there would have to be guest parking, according to the VSP.

The motion not only passed LUPC that night, but easily passed at the monthly February meeting of the VNC, where the applicant himself, arrived too late to even argue for his development.

At the end of her public comment, Lydia told LUPC that “maybe you’re not individually responsible, but know this: I’m going to be praying tonight that my ancestors meet up with yours and whisper in your ear and clean your conscience and do something for the people who were here originally from six generations back and before that – the Tongva.”

For those two nights, her prayers were answered. Let’s join the ancestors in the next round and help preserve Sunset Avenue. For more information about ongoing developments on this project, and many others, go to Venice Community Unity Coalition at