More money, more power, more friends, more food, more time, more space, more fun, more love, more guns…the list goes on; and, of course, MORE BUILDING PERMITS FOR VENICE!

Prime examples of this bloated appetite are evident across the globe…and right here, in our own backyard. More – isn’t that what we all want?

Does anyone remember the ’76 presidential campaign when Gov. Jerry Brown ran with slogans like “Small is Beautiful”, along with solar energy and “our space-ship Earth”? Which, he got from Buckminster Fuller, the father of the geodesic dome and other contemporary trend-setting ecological concepts that have since been buried under a mountain of MORE.

Take the subject of “more building permits in Venice” which equates with: more restaurant/bars, more upscale boutiques, more big-box houses, more cars, resulting in more money – for some – and plenty more stress for the local residential community, the infrastructure, and (last but not least) the environment. Where will it end?

Let’s take a couple of examples. For instance, 320 Sunset Avenue. A highly contentious development at the moment, currently stalled, but soon to be reviewed by the new Land Use & Planning Committee. Here we have a restauranteur, famously of Gjelina on Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, a trendy hotspot – a “destination” – who has inflicted himself on the adjacent neighborhood, causing untold grief to those who have been subjected to the constant onslaught of Gjelina customers (and now GTA, next door – a fast food takeaway) for the past seven years.

So what’s wrong with this, you say. He’s on a roll – the guy’s a success. Nothing wrong with success – so long as you don’t step on too many toes on the way up, right? What’s an American Dream for one man, has become a Venice Nightmare for a whole neighborhood, living adjacent the restaurant, who just want to have what most of us want – more peace.

Now that same restauranteur is planning to open another eatery at 320 Sunset Avenue. With a full-line alcohol bar plus takeout beer and wine sales, and an outdoor dining patio. Opposite Gold’s Gym and just up the road from Google.

Some may think that sounds like a great idea – but not in this location, which is within a stone’s throw of a large residential area, in back, and has very inadequate parking, on a narrow street at a busy intersection that is a designated coastal access route to the beach.

Sign the Petition to Oppose 320 Sunset

From a neighborhood resident:

“The applicant, who also owns Gjelina’s on Abbot Kinney and next door, GTA, has caused serious problems to the surrounding neighborhood for the past 7 years!

He exploits the neighborhood for his own financial gain, and has no regard or concern for how to be a good neighbor…and it looks like he’s planning on doing the same and possibly MUCH more in this quiet corner of Venice, one of the last original Venice artist communities.

He has misled the neighborhood from the start, leading them to believe he was opening a local “bakery”, while ALL ALONG he was planning a fully licensed restaurant seating 90 people, with outdoor patio dining, and a staff of 30 employees per shift.

He plans to open 19 hours per day, from 6AM to 1AM, with full bar AND OFF-SITE (takeout) beer & wine sales. A fact that was NEVER divulged to the community by him or VNC/LUPC, which will drastically change our neighborhood FOR THE WORSE.

His restaurant will have an open air patio at the rear of the building, on the 12 ft alley which backs immediately onto apartment buildings abutting the alley on residential Vernon Avenue. This out of character development will ruin residents daily lives due to noise pollution from patrons, equipment and traffic.

Not to mention the acute lack of parking which all the neighbors experience…and he has no intention nor obligation to provide any!” Go here for more and to sign the petition:

But some people want MORE because they CAN, and will take more, no matter the cost!

And then of course, we have the “big-box” houses that are mushrooming everywhere – changing, forever, the landscape of Venice; dwarfing their neighbors, totally out of sync with the community character.

Worse yet, developers are subdividing single lots into three; planning tall, tiny houses that block the sun (just like big-box ones do), and the fresh sea breeze that keeps us cool in the summer, all the while tearing out trees and vegetation. A concrete jungle.

These tall, tiny houses are an eyesore. The architects try to hide their ugliness, and the fact that they are squeezed in tight together, like sardines in a can, with barely any space between them. Some think that this is a way to make housing more “affordable” – but what a joke that is.

Maybe if you built three cabins on a single lot and charged an “affordable” rent, maybe that concept could work. But in this case, for example, as proposed for 664 and 758 Sunset Avenue, Venice – the goal is obvious:  to capitalize on the “trendiness” of Venice (aka “Silicon Beach” – could that be interpreted as “Plastic Beach?”) and sell these little monsters at top market value (which is increasing – in Venice – exponentially).

But there is a way to have more say in the “more” fest of Venice.

More people speaking up and demanding to be heard, more people attending VNC/LUPC meetings (and, sorry, yes, more work), demanding more transparency from VNC/LUPC and City Planning; and last but not least, more adherence to the law. Meaning, there are laws in place like: the Venice Coastal Zone Specific Plan (often known as the VSP), the 1976 Coastal Act, the Mello Act and the Coastal Land Use Plan (LUP).

The one most significant to Venice is, of course, the VSP. Crafted by past Venetians to protect the community from excessive development – which is exactly what we have going on now. The VSP is supposed to be the Holy Grail for Venice planners and developers, including City Planners. Over the years, City Planning has consistently pushed the envelope allowing more “variances” and more “privileges” to developers, choosing to interpret the VSP broadly, to accommodate the developer, not the community.

In many cases, where the proposed development was deemed to be within the VSP, and/or other laws, a single individual at City Planning eg. Greg Shoop (recently relocated from his hot seat to a more cool location), is “signing off” on these projects, fast-tracking them to avoid the more transparent Planning review, and public input, normally required.

According to a local attorney:

There are 3 consistent and repeated ways that the City is ignoring and violating the Venice Specific Plan (VSP):

1. City Planning is interpreting the Small Lot Subdivision Ordinance (SLSO) to trump the Specific Plan, although the law says that specific plans always trump ordinances. The City is interpreting the Small Lot Subdivision Ordinance to allow more units on lots than the Specific Plan allows, and is not requiring any guest parking at all, and is allowing tandem parking that people often don’t use, rather than side-by-side parking.

2. Allowing buildings to be constructed to the maximum possible size even when the proposed building is totally out of scale with the neighborhood i.e. three story buildings that block all of the neighbors’ sunlight in a one-story or two-story neighborhood. The Specific Plan requires an evaluation of the compatibility of the mass and scale of the proposed building with the other buildings in the neighborhood. The Planning Department does not do this, and they have set up a process where there is no appeal.

If the Planning Department continues to get away with this, soon Venice will be all 3-story compounds with very little sun or air between the buildings.

3. The Planning Department is issuing illegal DIRs that blatantly violate the Specific Plan. Then the City says that there’s no appeal because the 14-day deadline has passed. The community has no real notice and no opportunity to respond. The City refuses to send out a .pdf of the DIRs as they are issued, only a mailed copy which arrives too late.

That said, what about this slogan for Venice?
“Less is More”

Spirit Of Venice

Gjelina 2


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