City of L.A.

Chamber of Commerce Trumps Venice

VNC_JonWolff 001The Pro-Business slate dominated the Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) Elections. They ran a fear and anger based campaign, corellating the homeless and criminals, claiming that the VNC had been hijacked by “radical, anti-business leadership”, and claiming that restaurant and construction permits have been attacked, and public safety has been threatened. At least that was the explicit claims put out by Cheese and Olive’s Robert Singer before he retracted it. It serves to illustrate the war footing, tactics, and strategy of the unbridled businessman of Venice. We’ve been hearing this for decades. This is also the same conflict that takes place in localities worldwide. “Government becomes the shadow that business casts over society. “ – Noam Chomsky
Our pioneers of social justice, who carry the message of peace in their hearts every day, that’s the real Venice, and they manifested at most 700 votes. There needs to be a better get out the vote campaign if they are to continue on this VNC path. The activist goals can manifest in other ways without the VNC. Perhaps just let the COC run their puppet show in the VNC and pursue the issues of preservation and social justice without the antagonism of the business jerks, directly with Bonin’s Office and the Planning Department.

The Business slate got about 1300 votes. These are the Realtors, commercial property owners, and all the homeowners and employees they can scare up. That’s the commercial Venice that ganged up to win the VNC election. It is abundantly clear why the Chamber of Commerce and their running dogs want to cripple efforts of communities to rein in development plans that they don’t like, restrictions burden profitability. It is a big annoyance to the architectural and construction businesses. Restauranteurs need liquor permits in order to pay the exhorbitant rent they pay on Abbot Kinney Boulevard. Even the police say we have too many liquor licenses.
The current asking rent for 1335 AKB $15/ft2 = $28,125 a month for what was a old shoe repair shop in the 70’s. The Midnight Special Bookstore was next door, $125 a month. The building is the same. All that has changed is location location location.
Another theme of their campaign is to “Clean up Venice”. This is the same campaign they have always run, and is recognized code for getting rid of poor people. It is also a useful co-relation that poor and homeless people need to be cleaned up, and made to disappear. This carries some weight with the unsophisticated property owner, since cleaning up is a “no-brainer”.

Here, in a market which has show a 100% increase in property values in the last 5 years, and a 60% increase in rents, the pro-business schemers sent letter to just about every homeowner, telling them that they are under threat of losing 50% of their property value, unless the “radicals” are defeated. This kind of thing has been said about community activists ever since the business community began organizing against them.
Many of the Realtors, and many single family dwelling rental property owners, oppose the Mass Scale and Character Draft Plan developed by a subcommittee of the VNC. This plan would apply only to single family dwellings. It calls for a .45 floor space to lot size ratio for lots less than 7500 square feet. The intent is prevent the 3 story ugly box popular with absentee developers, and to require consideration of the neighborhood style, setbacks, parking. This upholds the quality of a neighborhood for it’s residents. The devil is in the details, the mandated numbers. These rules can make it difficult for rebuilders to expand. I have known a few families who have completely rebuilt to original floor size + one old board and were quite happy in their bungalow with a fruit tree in the back yard, or in their Superior Ave Mansions. They loved their neighborhood.

Home rentals are a commercial enterprise, a very different animal. The owner may want to build and rebuild to the most square feet they can. Tenants are a problem because they might resist 15% annual rent increases, better for the landlord to evict every couple of years or sooner. (Single Family homes have no rent control) Rental prices for newer homes in Venice is now about $5000 for 1000 square feet, up 57% in 4 years. There is a natural resistance however for anyone planning to live here, to spend over a million dollars for possibly old and moldy bungalow, and then facing the fix-up vs rebuild process including community vetting. In steps the developer with the bank, the most vampiric of which seem to regularly manifest non-compliant buildings,  Bad aesthetics, bad architecture.

ruly the Realtors and Commercial Property owners of Venice have done our community a great disservice over the past several years. Many of our favorite businesses have left due to escalating rents. The current monthly rental for a storefront on Abbot Kinney is $28,125 for 1800 square feet.
Tourist Boosterism is responsible for lack of parking frequent summer weekend gridlock, rampant litter, and it also attracts the homeless.
Some Beachfront Commercial Property owners want a Business Improvement District. Property Value is one of the great myths of our age, it serves mostly the central banks who reap interest on the loans. That’s the part of the economy that the banks are desperately trying to keep afloat. So much so that they made a free money supply whenever some part of their economy shows market problems. The council of quantitative easing. This how business trade associations operate.

“People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.” – Adam Smith- The Wealth of Nations, 1776.
Now, as I understand from my friends who can stand to go to their socials, the Chamber of Commerce are a lot of really nice people, and they are not like the usual anti-labor, minimum wage opposing, sick leave and family leave opposing assholes who run the national office.

Yet we stare into the dark heart of the Chamber Of Commerce, we find that they are not at all like the Better Business Bureau. The Chamber is just for the businessman, whereas the BBB includes consumers. The BBB has a code of ethics where the COC has none. Illustrating that perfectly is former Venice Chamber President and former Ocean Front Walk Committee member Carl Lambert who is under threat of indictment by City Attorney Mike Feuer, for illegally converted his rent-controlled properties into hotels. Mr. Lambert had his own advertisements on AIRBNB. We find he has resigned from his leadership in the Venice Chamber of Commerce.
Even the Donald says: “The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is totally controlled by the special interest groups, folks, just so you understand it,” Mr. Trump told a crowd in Bangor, Maine. “They’re a special interest that wants to have the deals that they want to have.” – The Wall Street Journal
But, of course, this is the same as it ever was. The commercial interests ruin the community by driving out the local entrepreneurs and artists, while waving the flag of Art, yes I am talking about the Venice Art Crawl, which, after being abandoned by long time local artists, seems to sail on helping throw the cachet of art over the thievery of the Chamber’s efforts.
– The Beachhead

References. – Marc Ryavec