SEE YOU IN COURT-Venice Coalition to Preserve Unique Character (VC-PUCC) filed a lawsuit last week against the City of Los Angeles, which the coalition website charges is complicit in development that is “destroying Venice’s quaint, historic neighborhoods and affordable housing at an alarming rate.” The coalition charges that the city’s actions violate the California Constitution, Coastal Act, as well as local land use protections.
Residents and activists have mobilized to fight for neighborhood preservation in the coastal community, citing that over the past two years, the Los Angeles City Planning Commission has approved hundreds of mega-developments in the Venice Coastal Zone, ignoring planning and zoning laws.
According to the suit, the City has been greenlighting massive projects through the “Venice Sign Off” (VSO) procedure, which allows developers to fast track construction without neighborhood notification or public hearings about potential projects.
Developments approved through the VSO process do not need to comply with the Venice Land Use Plan requirements respecting mass, scale, character, and landscaping of existing neighborhoods.
The suit also charges that the planning department has issued hundreds of illegal Coastal Exemptions that have enabled developers to bypass protections imposed by the California Coastal Commission Act.
Mega-developments pose a wide range of problems for Venice residents, from obstructed view sheds, destroyed vegetation, and displacement of low income residents due to the destruction of rent-stabilized housing to diminished green space, encroachment on animal habitats, and demolition of historic properties.
As Venice and neighborhoods throughout Los Angeles County struggle with overzealous development eased by lax planning policies, the answer lies in community-based activism practiced by coalitions like the VC-PUCC.
Holding agencies and departments accountable is essential to preserve the character and integrity of all of our neighborhoods. We must ensure that new development is appropriately-scaled, community-conscious, and environmentally-sensitive so that Venice remains the unique place people have come to know and love the world over.
(Beth Cone Kramer is a Los Angeles-based writer and writes for CityWatch.) Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.