Moe Stavnezer was a tireless fighter for a Venice which is now gone but not yet forgotten.
It was a Venice which was a counter cultural mecca, a community of small individual two story or 24 foot high homes and duplexes, of homeowners with small incomes, working stiffs, professionals and students who voted Democrat or Progressive, or Peace and Freedom , of a community which was tolerant and supportive of dissent and outright opposition to moneymaking, greed, exploitation and racial and gender chauvinism. He wanted to see a Venice embedded in the City of Los Angeles, not an independent municipality of Venice (he had no faith that such a model could long survive in a hostile political environment where property rights trumped what he saw as ‘human rights’), but one with very significant autonomy, particularly in the crucial areas of physical development — de-emphasize new commercial construction, emphasize existing rent control on existing housing,and construction of new affordable housing.
Moe was instrumental, along with Lance Diskan, Jim Bickhart and myself in creating the North Beach Planning Task Force (about 1972), an alliance of small holders and Venice activists who were associated with the Beachhead, the Venice Town Council, and an
amorphous group called ‘Free Venice (Steve Claire, Bob Wells, Rick Davidson, Barbara Avedon, and others) who focused on trying to stop the re-development and gentrification of the North Beach area of Venice by actively working within the public planning process of the City of Los Angeles to set and hold to standards which restricted such redevelopment and also extensively and incessantly used the Coastal Act of 1976 and appeals to the Coastal Commission to stop the juggernaught of over-development. This North Beach Planning Task force was very successful and soon became the chief vehicle which the Venice Town Council (pre-cursor of the Venice Neighborhood Council) used to hold off gentrification and over-development all over Venice.
This Venice political alliance was very successful between 1976 and 1990 in ‘keeping Venice Venice’ and for about 15 years we all worked shoulder to shoulder to make this happen. In the end however this effort proved unable to hold back the tide and energetic vitality of real estate speculation (the lure of ‘filthy lucre’) particularly in the coastal zone of the westside.
Moe of course was also a big time environmentalist and well known among environmental activists in Southern California, and a big time supporter of rent control (I was not one of those people) but I will leave it to others to paint that picture of Moe and flesh it out. Moe is now gone, but he will not be forgotten. When Jim Smith finishes his work on Venice (focused on ‘gentrification’ I hear), Moe will certainly occupy an important place.
Arnold Springer Venice
MOE STAVNEZER, YOUR SPIRIT IS FREE
by Olga Palo
Moe Stavnezer, Venice resident, dedicated community activist and former Beachhead collective member during the 70s-80s died on December 28, 2017.
Moe came to Venice around 1970. As an energetic community activist, he contributed to the local Venice anti-development, affordable housing activism of those decades. In fact, his true dedication was to preserve Venice as a California coastal community that afforded poor and working class people accessibility to coastal living. In support of that vision, he also organized local support for the passage of the California Coastal Act which established the California Coastal Commission. He also worked for rental control in Santa Monica.
He was the pharmacist at Val’s Pharmacy on the Windward Circle for at least a decade.
As an avid writer, his articles appeared regularly on the pages of the Beachhead, informing readers of the activities of the many people who, at that time, tried to stem the impending tidal wave threatening to drown the funky kaleidoscope of humanity which was Venice. Moe’s perspective was always an endorsement of diversity, environmental preservation, affordability.
“Venice, your spirit is free” Moe would recognize that graffiti sentiment from an era of people’s struggle in Venice. Now Moe, your spirit is free.
Moe Stavnezer – 1949-2018
Activist, former Beachhead Collective member, and VCH founder, has passed on.
He was Treasurer of Los Angeles League of Conservation Voters. Below we quote from their website.
“Moe Stavnezer’s activism in California began as a member of the Venice Town Council and with the passage of Proposition 20 (The Coastal Act) in 1972. He appeared before the Coastal Commission numerous times as an advocate for affordable housing, coastal access, community preservation, and the protection of natural resources. For that work, in 1978, Moe was honored with an “Award of Merit” by the State of California. He was also a founder and board member of two statewide coastal organizations, PACE (People, Access, Coastal Environment) and the League for Coastal Protection that advocated for a variety of issues before the Coastal Commission and in the courts, most especially regarding the Ballona Wetlands.
In the 1980’s, Moe was a founder and board member of Heal the Bay, where he served as Vice President, and the Venice Community Housing Corporation, where he served as President. He also served on various boards of the Liberty Hill Foundation, including the Environmental Justice Board and the Board of Directors. Moe was also a founder of the Santa Monica Fair Housing Alliance, and Santa Monicans for Renters Rights which advocated for and won rent control in that city. In 1987, he was a member of the steering committee in the successful campaign to elect Ruth Galanter to the L.A. City Council. Moe has served on the LALCV board for over 20 years, including five years as President and currently as Treasurer.
Moe graduated from the University of Connecticut in 1963 where he earned a Bachelors degree in Pharmacy and still works as a Pharmacist. He earned a Masters degree in Political Science from California State University, Los Angeles in 1972. In 1992, Moe was selected to participate in the UCLA Community Scholars program where he co-authored a paper on manufacturing products from recycled materials.”