Sat, Apr

Bulldog Realty Goes For It … and Abbot Kinney Sinks Further into Parking Quicksand


VENICE VOICE--In front of one of the original Craftsman homes on Abbot Kinney is Bulldog Realty’s Notice of Intent to obtain a Coastal Development Permit. The permit is to demolish and build new. This property represents one of the finer original Craftsman houses on Abbot Kinney built long ago when it was predominantly a residential street. Since it is not an historically designated property, it is likely that the city will permit its demolition. 

The ‘Intent’ notices a new 3800 sq. foot office/retail/live/work building with only two parking spaces. All of the other required parking spaces are proposed to be supplied ‘virtually’ using ‘In-Lieu’ fees. What the City knows, as does the applicant, is that the California Coastal Commission will not approve “in lieu” parking as a parking solution in Venice. Period. 

Why do applicants go for a CDP when they know it is unlikely to be awarded? And why does the city take the applicant’s fees and push it on through the system when they know the CCC will deny the project? Like practically all applicants attempting to avoid the rules and build to the max, they figure if they fight, they just might get at least some of what they want. Bulldog is no exception. And the City? We figure it must be the fees paid and the work these projects create for the planners and the Department of Building and Safety that drives them to process this application for permit. 

The real question here is why Bulldog Realty, a long-term upstanding business on the street, is going for a project completely under-parked when it could construct a project that includes all the required parking? There is no other answer to this question than the simple fact that there is no money in parking. All the value is in habitable spaces and money is what development is about in Venice. 

While Bulldog is an Abbot Kinney business living daily with the street’s parking mess, we guess it is nothing personal – it’s simply another development that has no regard for our critical need for parking and no feeling of obligation to try and mitigate it. They just want what they want. The neighborhood and the on-going parking chaos is of little or no concern. 

So here we go again, another battle on the horizon. Again, residents will find themselves pushing another rock up the hill to stop the City from approving another project which does not comply with the parking requirements — including the rules at the CCC. Residents are forced to “man the barricades” there as well to make sure projects don’t slip through the system. The CCC is the last chance residents get to stop City-approved projects which hurt neighborhoods by circumventing rules. The city knows the rules and they know the Coastal Commission will not agree with its “virtual” in lieu parking “solution.” Nevertheless, they approve in lieu parking anyway. Why? 

The city uses its “discretion” to approve all kinds of things not really allowed. Why don’t they use that discretionary power to stop bad projects when they know they are bad for a community? City Planning knows how bad the parking situation is in Venice. They know how insufficient the town’s infrastructure is for 21st century demands. 

How can we expect any applicant to apply for a permit that is fully compliant with the rules when there are no consistent and true “rules of the road” for everyone? This conflict is the root cause of the endless battles fought against so many projects which caring residents are forced to oppose. 

It does not have to be this way.


(Marian Crostic and Elaine Spierer are co-founders of Imagine Venice  … where this commentary was first posted.) Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.


Tags: Marian Crostic, Elaine Spierer, Imagine Venice, Bulldog Realty, Abbot Kinney, Venice parking crisis, LA City Department of Planning, California Coastal Commission