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Fire ash can be extremely toxic

Venice Beachead - Sat, 12/09/2017 - 15:27

The first morning after the wildfires started appearing a week ago, I could smell the smoke from my front porch, and there was a reddish ash collecting in the corners of the stairs. This is fire ash and it can be composed of partially combusted every damn thing in a house or other structure.   So walking your dog, playing in the park, and perhaps even breathing becomes risky to your health.  Buzz Kill?

Wired: smoke-from-wildfires-is-a-growing-public-health-crisis-for-cities

State Advice: Safe Cleanup of Fire Ash

https://www.arb.ca.gov/carpa/toolkit/emerg-response/safe-cleanup-fire-ash.pdf

Excerpt:

The recent fires have deposited large amounts of ash on indoor and outdoor surfaces in areas near the
fire. Questions have been raised about possible dangers from contact with the ash and safe disposal
procedures. The ash deposited by forest fires is relatively nontoxic and similar to ash that might be
found in your fireplace. However, any ash will contain small amounts of cancer-causing chemicals.
In addition, fire ash may be irritating to the skin, especially to those with sensitive skin. If the ash is
breathed, it can be irritating to the nose and throat and may cause coughing. Exposure to ash in air
might trigger asthmatic attacks in people who already have asthma. Therefore, in order to avoid
possible health problems the following is recommended.
• Do not allow children to play in the ash.
• Wash ash off children’s toys before children play with them.
• Clean ash off house pets.
• Wear gloves, long sleeved shirts, and long pants and avoid skin contact.
• If you do get ash on your skin, wash it off as soon as possible.
• If you have a vegetable garden or fruit trees, wash the fruit or vegetables thoroughly before
eating them.
• Avoid getting ash into the air as much as possible. Do not use leaf blowers or take other
actions that will put ash into the air.
• Shop vacuums and other common vacuum cleaners do not filter out small particles, but rather
blow such particles out the exhaust into the air where they can be breathed. The use of shop
vacuums and other non-HEPA filter vacuums is not recommended. HEPA filter vacuums
could be used, if available.
• Well fitting dust masks may provide some protection during cleanup. A mask rated N-95 or
P-100 will be more effective than simpler dust or surgical masks in blocking particles from
ash. In general, many ash particles are larger than those found in smoke; thus, wearing a
dust mask can significantly reduce (but not completely eliminate) the amount of particles
inhaled.
• Persons with heart or lung disease should consult their physician before using a mask during
post-fire cleanup.
• Gentle sweeping of indoor and outdoor hard surfaces followed by wet mopping is the best
procedure in most cases. A damp cloth or wet mop may be all that is needed on lightly
dusted areas.
• The Regional Water Control Quality Board has asked the public to avoid washing ash into
storm drains whenever possible.
• If ash is wet down, use as little water as possible.
• Collected ash may be disposed of in the regular trash. Ash may be stored in plastic bags or
other containers that will prevent it from being disturbed.
Ash and debris inside burned structures may contain more toxic substances than forest fire ash
because of the many synthetic and other materials present in buildings. Older buildings in particular
may contain asbestos and lead. A more cautious approach should be taken in the removal of ash and
other debris from inside burned structures. A NIOSH Interim fact sheet addressing burned structure
clean up safety is attached.

 


SPY Holiday Report

Venice Beachead - Sat, 12/09/2017 - 13:24

By Lisa Robins

I spoke with Alison Hurst, the founder of Safe Place for Youth, just before Thanksgiving.

Safe Place for Youth (SPY), is a drop in center in Venice which provides access to critical resources for young people ages 12-25 (transition age youth or TAY) experiencing or at risk of homelessness. Spy’s street outreach, case management, education and employment, and health & wellness services, help their members meet basic needs; improve physical, mental and emotional wellbeing; and develop meaningful relationships with peers, staff, and volunteers. http://www.safeplaceforyouth.org

I’ve always wondered how those down on their luck felt when they were showered with goods and services during the holidays, and then were seemingly forgotten once those with means had their “giving fix”. I asked Alison, “Do you sometimes feel the big holiday meal people give to make themselves feel good backfires?” Alison responded, “Any bit of warmth and compassion to those experiencing homelessness is good…but think- why do you have this urge now?” She tells me that SPY is inundated with offers in November and December, but could use the support now and every other day of the year.

When I asked where the kids SPY serves go for the holidays, Alison replied, “Nowhere. We do our best …holiday parties…faith based communities give meals, but at the end of the day they’re still homeless.”

Alison reminds me that most of the kids SPY serves are “homeless through no fault of their own”. They have been let down by the system at large: be it family; foster care; juvenile detention; etc.…and are finding refuge on the street. Their trauma gives them a different lens on life. There are complex needs, and many misconceptions floating around.
It keeps crossing my mind that “the homeless” are not a homogeneous group. I asked Alison what percentage of the kids are: aged out of foster care; abused; addicted; mentally ill; “bumming around”/drifters/travelers. But as we talked I realized my categories were out of touch with reality.

Each and every homeless person is unique. They may have a dominant need- i.e. mental health, drug rehab, etc.…however, the crossover is vast. One person can enter the system via abandonment by their family through neglect, abuse, or just aging out (large families with little to no resources- who simply cannot afford everyone- oldest kid has to go). Some become an addict on the streets, the stress triggers mental health problems, and on and on. Alison urges me not to categorize, “It’s fluid- the kids move in and out of groups”.
“The Adverse Childhood Experiment (ACE) Study found the higher the ACE Score, the greater the risk of experiencing poor physical and mental health, and negative social consequences later in life.” http://www.acestudy.org/the-ace-score.html

https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/acestudy/index.html

While it’s true that there’s no homogeneous profile of a homeless TAY (transitional age youth), the vast majority present some degree of mental health issues (although Alison notes that it’s tricky to report). The stress of living on the street (including lack of sleep and being preyed on) creates exhaustion, depression and anxiety. Often the process of obtaining help-navigating the system, can seem like an insurmountable mountain. As a person who has tried to get through to a case worker for MediCal, or EDD, I’ve experienced firsthand the debilitating frustration and degradation that comes with waiting endlessly for a person on the phone to help, only to be told by a machine that there are too many people currently being served, or a form that was turned in too late to qualify for that week. It’s depressing enough to fill out these forms, but to attempt to do it without a roof over my head or food in my stomach is unimaginable.

Additionally, the homeless youth’s brain is still developing. The emotional part of their brain, the amygdala, still rules. Their pre-frontal cortex, the rational part-which produces good judgement and an understanding of long-term consequences, isn’t generally fully developed until age 25 or so. If there’s any predisposition for schizophrenia the psychic break generally occurs during college age years from stress and/or 1st use of drugs. A bulletin from the National Institute of Mental Health states “The initial prodrome (from the Greek word prodromos meaning the forerunner of an event) in psychosis is potentially important for early intervention, identification of biological markers, and understanding the process of becoming psychotic.” http://mentalhealth.com. While this early diagnosis can’t always save one from the ravages of schizophrenia, at least the young person might have a chance with early treatment. The Disabled World Website states, “The effects of homelessness on teens can be devastating and lead to violence, prostitution, drug abuse, severe depression and juvenile detention. Because many teens who live on the street do not receive adequate medical care in a prompt manner, many health problems go undiagnosed or untreated, causing pain and sometimes a crippling illness which often times leaves them incapacitated or even dead. Often homeless youth join gangs as they offer kinship and a close-knit community and protection. Dealing with the stress of being on the street in addition to the ordinary issues teens face every day, can lead to violent outbursts and suicide.” https://www.disabled-world.com/disability/blogs/homeless-youth. Complicating the matter are “bad eggs” (of any age), who seem to feel that being down on their luck entitles them to steal or take advantage of those better off. This behavior can greatly sour the compassion and understanding of many in our community, despite the hardships that no doubt led to the behavior.

I asked if Alison believes the kids need to be sober to deserve services. “Years of research show housing first; services first: then sobriety.” Housing first is the new standard for providing services to all age groups

Are the city services adequate? I asked, already suspecting the answer.

In a word, no. Alison says that “recent data has been released which is shocking: 58,000 unhoused, 6,000 homeless youth…the perception of who our unhoused folks are and what they want from life is myth busting”.

The Voices of Youth Count national survey, from the University of Chicago, sought to identify how common, or prevalent, youth homelessness is in America. “At least one in 30 adolescent minors ages 13 to 17, endures some form of homelessness. The prevalence climbs even higher when looking at homelessness among young adults (ages 18-25). 5.2% for explicit homelessness, 4.5% for couch surfing only, and 9.7% overall. The estimated count reveals more than 3.5 million, or 1 in 10, young adults experienced homelessness in a year… particular subpopulations are at higher risk for homelessness, including black and Hispanic youth; lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth (LGBT); youth who do not complete high school; and youth who are parents.” http://voicesofyouthcount.org

But “Kids are resilient. Housing, employment, caring adults can help,” the eternally optimistic leader of SPY counters. Optimistic because, “I see every day the miracle that a caring connection can do for a young person”. Government agencies, businesses, faith based organizations and the community in our area are stepping up.

November was “National Youth homeless awareness month”, highlighted in SPY’s and other organization’s social media.

The immediate goal is health/food/shelter. Measure H, which provides funding for services, will make a huge impact, but not enough, there are not enough resources.

Alison and I discussed long and short term solutions for homeless people of all ages, especially youth.

Affordable housing- There’s a severe lack of affordable housing, even for those working multiple jobs. One might think, “Why shouldn’t they live elsewhere where the rent is cheaper?” Alison says, “That breeds a segregated society where the workers – in restaurants, supermarkets, etc.…all live elsewhere.” Affordable housing proposals currently span across LA City and County. Alison is 100% in favor of the Venice-Dell-Pacific proposal. It’s “preserving diversity of the community…beautiful building, wonderful architect, Venice Community Housing knows what they’re doing. The alternative is everything gets gentrified and we all get pushed out.”

Host Homes- take young people into homes to help them stabilize.

Dorm/youth hostel type accommodations: private sleeping nooks with shared kitchen, bathrooms and indoor and outdoor living areas.

Communal living style is appropriate for TAY, confirms Alison.
Tiny Homes
Shelters –emergency housing
Bridge housing- temporary housing
Vouchers for rapid rehousing -However, many are languishing on the street even if they’re eligible for vouchers due to a lack of affordable housing and landlords willing to accept Section 8 vouchers.)

Other potential short term solutions could include campsites with facilities, motels converted into lodging for homeless, empty hospitals opened for homeless youth, and easing restrictions on car and motor home sleeping. Some of these solutions may feel like an infringement on the rights of the housed, and great effort must be taken to respect all parties.
Reunification -Spy has “reunified tons of youth very successfully”

SPY works together with many other organizations to achieve their mutual goals.

The Westside Coalition’s website defines itself as “An alliance of 46 organizations, public agencies and faith communities committed to working collaboratively on issues of housing, hunger and health through service coordination, public education and advocacy…. Although individual agencies have the ability to provide separate services for people in need, the efforts of the Westside Coalition help coordinate all services on the Westside in order to provide a true continuum of service care for the community.” http://www.westsideshelter.org. They host monthly meetings working together for broader, deeper, more coordinated services.

SPY refers to Harvest Home, whose mission is to “transform the lives of homeless pregnant women and their children by providing housing, support, and programs that equip women to become great mothers.” http://www.theharvesthome.net

SPY works with The Venice Neighborhood Council Homeless Committee’s year old Reunification Program, which has housed 20 people so far this year,
What we as a community can do for the homeless kids of Venice? It’s impossible for anyone- government, neighborhood or kids, to solve everything. Alison reminds me, “It’s going to take everyone in the community to come together to be part of the solution to make a difference.”

At a recent Venice Neighborhood Council Homeless Committee meeting addressing Councilmember Bonin’s plan for portable facilities, my perception was that the committee was trying to walk the fine line between caring for our homeless brothers and sisters, and the needs of our housed residents. There was talk of better communication to direct those in need with appropriate services. I look forward to following up with more details from the VNC Homeless committee regarding their thoughts on the homeless youth of Venice.

Judging from some of the neighborhood chatter on at the VNC meeting or websites such as Nextdoor, a portion of our community would just like the problem to disappear along with the homeless people. Don’t let them charge their phones, go to the bathroom at night, just disappear. Others express dismay in a system which seems to shuffle people from one institution to another: enriching those employed by the system, but not really making a dent in the problem. And then there are residents who have great empathy and ideas…
Alison urges a “Buy in from whole community- this is our responsibility”.

This holiday season I invite every Beachhead reader to search our souls how we, as members of the Venice community, can make a difference in the lives of these kids currently living on the street. And make a commitment to follow through throughout the year.

Some ways to contribute include:
1) Volunteer –not just during the holidays, but all year long. Sponsor neighborhood or community lunches. Find a way to share your expertise.
2) Donate goods- clothes, sleeping bags, toiletries are all greatly appreciated.
3) Donate money- For those with lots of money and no time, a financial contribution helps enormously.
3) Affordable housing- Attend meetings-Understand the approval process and help correct misconceptions.
4) Advocate for those who can’t.
5) Educate yourself and then educate others about the root causes of homelessness.
Some of the ways I’m currently looking to help are by educating myself about homeless issues in LA and writing these articles to spread the word. I’m volunteering with our congregation’s social action committee. Hopefully we’ll join the Westside coalition to work together with other like-minded organizations. I’ll attend VNC meetings when I can. I’ll host SPY community lunches and look forward to sharing my talents via play-making and improv with its members. Most importantly, I look our homeless youth straight in the eye, and whenever I can encourage them to partake in the services SPY offers


Ocean Front Walk Artists Speak Out Against Snapchat

Venice Beachead - Sat, 12/09/2017 - 12:48

Earlier this year on Nextdoor.com, someone created a subject for discussion about Venice and the artists that set up every day on Ocean Front Walk. It was titled “New Rules for Venice” and asked, “If you could change anything about Venice what would it be?” The author then answered her own question stating, “I’ll start: Vending on the boardwalk may be a draw for tourists, however, vending seven days a week diminishes the quality of life for local residents. Allowing vending seven days a week encourages homeless individuals to congregate daily along the boardwalk including setting up defacto camping spots. If vending were not permitted on a daily basis, these individuals would have to find an alternate place to hang out.”

There is obviously a lot wrong with that theory and that line of thinking – too much to even write out in this article. And it’s no surprise that the author of that has only been a resident for 5 years. She was then rebutted multiple times by a resident of 31 years who basically told her how wrong she was for many reasons – biggest reason being that the vendors shouldn’t be crucified because of her dislike for the homeless. Given the timing of Snapchat’s arrival in Venice and the current hatred the community has towards them, a valid thought is whether or not this resident of 5 years is a Snapchat employee. Although the answer to that question is not known, this is the mindset that many newcomers of the community have, and an undeniable culprit in that type of thinking is the presence of Snapchat and the Snap-Effect they have created since they began turning our community into their self-called “Corporate Campus”.

I’m sure most would agree that the artists, vendors and street performers along Ocean Front Walk are a big part of what makes Venice different than most beaches. In addition to retaining the artistic history of the area for multiple decades, they are the heart and soul of what Venice is today. Removing or limiting their presence would make Venice one step closer to being like every other beach in the world, one step closer to Ocean Front Walk being a home for a Disney Store or a Starbucks, and one step closer to ruining the vibe and attraction that Venice has been so well-known for.

Since the protests against Snapchat earlier this year, many artists along Ocean Front Walk have joined the rally against Snap Inc. and have used their art as a way to express how most of the community feels – with paintings, poetry, signs and banners. The artists and vendors on Ocean Front Walk see what’s going on with Snapchat every day. They see it all, they hear it all, and many have more intel on Snapchat’s everyday business than most Snapchat employees themselves. In addition, one advantage they have, as opposed to the storefronts on the westside of the walkway, is they have nothing to lose – Snapchat can’t do anything to them. They can’t buy their land, can’t buy their building, and can’t push them out. Multiple store owners this year have been hesitant to speak out against Snapchat in fear that they will be pushed out much like many other businesses have – the stores at The Freak Show building and Gingerbread Court in particular. Don Salmon used to have his Rastawear store at Gingerbread Court, but continuously said that Snapchat made his life a living hell after he spoke out against them in an article in LA Times. He had enough of it and eventually moved downtown. The artists and vendors that setup every day along the beach however…Snapchat can’t do anything to them, and they show their hatred for this company through their artwork. They, more than anyone, represent what Venice stands for.

Longtime artist Ra said Snapchat employees “never even stop” and revealed one story where a badged employee looked through his paintings, told him he’d be back the next day, and when he came back the next day and looked through his paintings again he rushed through them really fast while muttering “I’m not supposed to be here right now” and ultimately didn’t buy anything at all even after Ra allowed him to take photos. “It was like someone told him not to associate with us”, said Ra. Todd Ray, owner of the recently departed Freak Show, said that Snap employees wouldn’t even look at him when he tried to coerce them into conversation and invite them to see his collection of oddities. Local eateries still complain that Snap employees barely go to their spots because they can get free food from their private commissaries. It’s a chain reaction that ultimately kills the neighborhood.

Daniel, another vendor on OFW, also mentioned they don’t buy anything. “They’re into tech, not what I have to sell. I know them to be nice people overall,

bu

 

t they’re caught in a crossfire. It’s not their fault; it’s their CEO’s fault. I’m sure they want to be loved and not go to work every day and be unhappy, but if you take over a community the way they are, people won’t take that lightly”.
The parking lot Daniel works in is at 601 Ocean Front Walk – this lot was also rumored to be the potential headquarters of Snap Inc. and was in litigation for years until this past September when the developers finally dropped their lawsuit against the city to reverse the West LA Planning Commission’s denial of the project. This parking lot is next to the Blue House at 523 OFW, Snapchat’s first office in Venice. Snap, Inc. still uses the Blue House for random meetings and events, and all the nearby artists and vendors hear and see everything that Snapchat employees do there and outside all of their properties. They see Snapchat employees go out to the beach for brief meetings or go out to the walkway to make personal calls given the lack of privacy in their own offices. They knew about the Spectacles Store opening back in March before most people, and constantly hear news about their drones, cameras, and television shows.

The most visible of the anti-Snapchat artwork along the walkway is across from the parking lot. An anonymous source brought a big long yellow banner with a white ghost on it to a group of artists who then painted it in a way that’s hard to miss – it says, “Fuck Snapchat, Unfuck Venice”. The artists said they haven’t received one negative comment about it and the reaction towards it has been only positive, with many people asking what it is and why they are against Snapchat.

Brad Eckhart, a henna artist near Rose, sets up an easel every day displaying the map of Snapchat properties in Venice along with a sign that reads, “Our neighborhood is not a tech park!! #GETOUT”. He says “Many people think it’s about gentrification in general and that’s not what it’s about. Or they wonder why we’re against the app itself with no idea what this one company is doing to our community, so if they take the time to stop I will educate them. If they do just walk by, it’s fine because then they see more of it elsewhere and really start to ask questions and wonder what’s going on. No one even knows they’re here, except for us because we hate them, and I have to educate them. Snapchat thinks they’re cool because they’re here, but they’re NOT cool because no one even knows they’re here. People that use Snapchat don’t know they’re here. There are no signs on any of their buildings. They’re leasing most of their offices, so they’re just pissing away money just to say they’re here and it doesn’t matter to anyone except the community that hates them”. Another local then added, “They can’t be selling enough Spectacles to warrant having that space. It’s almost like they’re losing money on purpose and not caring at all about killing the community or the vibe of Venice.”

Another local stated, “It’s great that the artists are speaking out. It’s gets people asking questions and talking about it. And then they see that hideous Spectacles Store and realize the artists are probably right! Every artist along the walkway should have something that’s anti-Snapchat. It’s too big of an issue in this community not to, and once people learn about what’s going on they sympathize and talk to their friends about it.” Local activist group, The Venice Dogz, has been rumored to be putting together a contest for all the artists and vendors on Ocean Front Walk for the Best Anti-Snapchat Artwork to be had sometime next year in 2018. It will be quite a scene if that happens.


THE FIGHT FOR THE OAKWOOD CHURCH

Venice Beachead - Sat, 12/09/2017 - 12:36

Every Sunday afternoon at 1:00 PM, you can see a crowd of Venice People gathering in front of the First Baptist Church on the northwest corner of 7th Avenue and Westminster Avenue in Oakwood in the heart of Venice. They gather there to protest the shameful and illegal sale of this historic church building. There are banners, signs, and photos of the History of the church and the Community of Oakwood. There are neighbors, young and old. There are speeches and prayers and colorful chalk designs on the sidewalk. Each Sunday, the crowd grows and the word spreads. And the Venice People mean to fight for and win back this church.

The fight isn’t just for the church building. There’s more to it than that. This church has stood for over a century in Oakwood as a spiritual and cultural cornerstone of the Community. Built by the families of the People of Oakwood, it represents more than just a physical structure. It’s a symbol of the struggles and perseverance of the original Venice Community. Perhaps that’s the reason why the current members of the Venice Neighborhood Council would be so eager to let it go.

At the October meeting of the VNC, there was smiling and congratulating and backslapping by the VNC members a

 

nd the buyers and their brokers and lawyers. The buyers said nothing about the History of the church. They did say that they would keep a couple of the stained-glass windows in place. And they mentioned, in passing, that the church had some “sentimental value” to some people.

Sentimental value? Does the History of Oakwood and Venice mean anything to these buyers or to the architects and businessmen on the Venice Neighborhood Council? You bet it does. It means the Continuity, Vitality, and Victory of the original Venice Community. It’s just these elements that make the First Baptist Church on 7th and Westminster such a prize for them. The building itself is the physical manifestation, but it’s the History of Venice that they must erase in order to drive out the last Venetians. It’s this History that they omit from the books so that they can rewrite it to justify their illegal occupation.

Over the next few months, you will see stories about the fight for this church in the local realtor-sponsored press. You will find the usual vocabulary of defeatism, with words like “Gentrification” and “Progress”. But don’t be easily clouded by the propaganda. Read the lawsuit. Yes, there’s a lawsuit. Read it at http://savevenice.me/campaigns/save-historical-black-church-venice-ca/ .
The lawsuit was brought by the Trustees of the church. It reveals how the sale was made without the proper authority as prescribed by the church’s bylaws. It tells how the sale was made behind closed doors. It shows how the money was dealt and who dealt it.

And the lawsuit was filed two years ago. So why did the VNC and the VNC’s Land Use and Planning Committee approve the sale? Because they expect you to not care. They expect you to not do anything. They’re hoping to wait this out until the People forget and go away. But clearly, the People of Oakwood in Venice aren’t going away.
The gatherings on Sunday are gaining momentum. More and more neighbors are coming and talking. The History of the church is appearing in print and online. Even the L.A. City politicians are on notice.

At a recent demonstration on Windward Avenue, L.A City Councilman Mike Bonin was confronted and informed by Venice activists about the fight for the church. He claimed ignorance of the scandal; but now he knows. Certainly, at this time, he would like more support from voters in his district. What better way for him to get the residents of Venice on his side than to take a stand on the matter of the illegal sale of the historic church on 7th and Westminster. He would love to hear from you. He can be reached at (213) 473-7011 or councilmember.bonin@lacity.org . Or you can try Juliet Oh of City Planning at juliet.oh@lacity.org .

And meanwhile, the gatherings in front of the First Baptist Church will continue. You are welcome to come on Sundays and participate. You can find out more about the fight and learn more about the History of Oakwood and Venice. Hear the History as told by the elder Venetians to the Venetian children whose ancestors dug the canals and built the buildings of Venice. Hear the History and join the fight. Or be forgotten.


#EVICTSNAPCHAT

Venice Beachead - Mon, 11/06/2017 - 15:15

On Friday October 6th, The Venice Dogz once again held a protest against Snapchat’s

by Jon Wolff

parent company Snap Inc. to raise awareness on their expansion in Venice. Snapchat has been telling the media and the community that they’re leaving when their actions clearly say the opposite. The protest was held on Abbot Kinney Boulevard just south of Brooks Avenue across the street from Westminster Elementary School, which is adjacent to two buildings where Snapchat has expanded their presence.

920 S Abbot Kinney Boulevard: They’ve taken over this entire Victorian building. It’s next to their other huge office at the corner of Abbot Kinney and Main. This building has applied for a change of use from the Coastal Commission to change it from Residential to Commercial. This means they’re already in there illegally now and it also asks the question, “Why would they care to change the zoning of the building if they plan on leaving?”

901 Abbot Kinney Boulevard: Snap only had one office in this complex and now they’ve expanded in this building by way of taking over the Microsoft Lounge. The Microsoft Lounge was used by the Venice Community because The Sundance Institute was housed within it. Movie screenings and panel discussions were held there – not any more. Snap Inc. continues to displace more people and businesses and take away local establishments. Again, if they’re moving to Santa Monica, why kick out yet another Venice business?

Big companies don’t do this by accident. Snap Inc. uses the same old excuse about growing too quickly to justify their expansion in Venice while at the same time they keep claiming that they’re going to leave next year leaving behind just a few small offices. They continue to lie to the community and the press and it seems like they lie to their own employees too!

During the protest, a senior executive from Snapchat told the Venice Dogz they plan on moving everyone to Santa Monica by the end of 2018 and even went as far to say that 500-700 employees have already moved there. Which is amazing, however that would mean many of these buildings would now be empty and they’re obviously not. Seems like they may have had so many employees crammed into offices that it’s not possible to feel any difference in scale from their reported shifting of employees from Venice to Santa Monica.

This was the same senior executive that told the Venice Dogz that the hideous Spectacles Store at Thornton Lofts on Ocean Front Walk was only a pop-up store and would only last “a few days” and it’s currently been over 7 months. That very same building is packed with so many employees that we are told there’s not enough bathrooms for everyone to use in a timely manner. Not to mention, Snap currently resides illegally there at Thornton Lofts because this space is zoned Live/Work and there’s no residential living going on there at all. It’s packed with employees as evidence in their very own employee Jobs video found on their very own website. The number of employees at Thornton Lofts also has also created trash problems where long-time neighbors of those buildings claim their trash bins are always overfilled with corporate waste because of the countless Snapchat employees that are housed in buildings that are only intended to be used for a small number of people. These same residents used to be able to park overnight there also, but now the parking lots there are only used by Snapchat employees during the day and are almost completely vacant overnight.

Their expansion in Venice and claims of departure bring up other questions too:

1) They knew way in advance that they were going public and more employees would be needed – so why wouldn’t they have a concrete plan in advance to get out of Venice to handle the employee growth? Most probably answer: Because they never planned to leave.

2) Also, six weeks ago Snap Inc. was doing construction on the former restaurant called Tlapazola Grill, that is now part of their office enclave at 606-654 Venice Blvd which is a mini-compound of Snap offices. Why would Snap Inc. be taking over a restaurant and reconstructing it into an office when they plan to leave only a few small offices left behind in Venice next year?

It simply doesn’t add up. On March 15, 2017, senior leaders of Snap Inc. told the Venice Dogz they were not taking over any more buildings in Venice, yet businesses are still being kicked out all over town and EVERY business in Venice is fearful that they will be next – retail store or otherwise. And they’re not just replacing other businesses and corporations that could be anywhere in a dog-eat-dog world – they’re displacing businesses and corporations that are local staples that were used by Venetians every day. The Teen Project on Market Street wasn’t just another non-profit company – it was a program that was needed for troubled teens right here in Venice. The Sundance Institute at the Microsoft Lounge wasn’t just another business – the locals attended movie screenings and events there all the time.

Nikki’s, Sean’s Café and Tlapazola Grill weren’t just any other restaurants – they were adored by locals and always frequented by Venetians, not to mention the many other victims like the Freak Show and the ripple effect Snapchat’s mere presence has caused. These victims and the many others were all viable and productive businesses that were in Venice for a reason, as opposed to a company like Snapchat that only needs desks and computers for their employees and could easily do business anywhere!! Even local restaurants complain that Snapchat employees use their own private commissaries more than the local eateries.

So when does it end? When do land owners, property owners, lease holders, City of LA, California Coastal Commission and our own Venice Neighborhood Council stand up to this company and say enough is enough – this is Venice and NOT Snapville? When does Snap Inc. themselves look at what they’ve done to this historic community and realize they’ve done more damage than good and STOP displacing more people and businesses, not to mention taking away beach access, resident parking and the many other problems they create? Hopefully it’s not already too late – we’ll all be waiting and watching.
To see the full story of how Snap is ruining Venice check out AllianceForVenice.org/snapchat

To join the fight against Snap go to AllianceForVenice.org


Venice-Dell-Pacific Housing Project Proposed implementation of HHH in our neighborhood

Venice Beachead - Mon, 11/06/2017 - 14:51

By Lisa Robins

The mysterious Venice-Dell-Pacific (VDP) is a controversial project which would create 136 units of affordable and permanent supportive housing on city owned land in the median currently being used as a parking lot, bordering North and South Venice Boulevards, Dell, and Pacific Avenues.

There’s been a maelstrom of competing claims by various groups around Venice, and I’m going to attempt to simplify the issues and give the basics. Over the next couple of issues, the Beachhead will dive deeper into competing concerns about the potential development.

The Process

On November 8th, 2016, Proposition HHH received 77% voter approval. HHH allows the City of LA up to 1.2 billion to finance Affordable and Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH), and facilities for the homeless such as service centers, clinics, storage facilities, showers, etc. It’s not available to fund services or operations.

Permanent Supportive Housing combines permanent, affordable housing for the homeless with support services “designed to build independent living and tenancy skills, assistance with integrating into the community, and connections to community-based health care, treatment, and employment services.”

As part of a program designed to implement HHH, approximately 40 City owned parcels throughout LA have been identified as “opportunity sites”, properties which are underused or vacant. 30 of these 40 have been designated for development to provide affordable housing thus far. Council District 11 currently has 3 of these 40 city owned properties.

Mike Bonin is our current City Council Representative. District 11 covers all or a portion of the following: Brentwood, Del Rey, Mar Vista, Marina del Rey, Pacific Palisades, Palms, Playa del Rey, Playa Vista, Venice, West Los Angeles, Westchester and LAX.

Last December, the City of LA, as part of this citywide program in every council district, chose Venice Community Housing (VCH), in partnership with Hollywood Community Housing (HCH), to enter a two year, exclusive negotiating relationship to develop one of the three properties; Venice-Dell-Pacific Permanent Supportive Housing community.
Venice Community Housing (VCH) and HCH are non-profit developers who create neighborhood based housing through public/private partnerships.

The mission of VCH is “to reduce homelessness, maximize affordable housing, empower residents, provide social services, and advocate for public policy that protects and strengthens the economic, racial and cultural diversity of Venice and other neighborhoods on the Westside of Los Angeles.”

There have been several public community feedback meetings since January 2017, the last one in July, to determine elements the community is interested in including in the proposed development. Becky Dennison, Executive Director of VCH since February 2016, has been appearing regularly within the Venice community to ask for feedback and answer questions.

After plans are submitted to the City in December, about 18 months of public hearings are required before the project could receive approval.
V

CH is in the process of gathering support for the project through various methods including: small informational meetings in homes and organizations by invitation, and students knocking on doors and passing out flyers. If all goes well, the project will be approximately two years to groundbreaking.

The building itself

Venice-Dell-Pacific would consist of 140 units: housing studios and one or two bedroom apartments. The architect is Culver City based Eric Owen Moss. A shared Community Arts Space, with a flexible design for multiple use, would host events, “healthy clubs”, and community meetings. There are plans for arts focus groups to help fully employ the Arts Space.

Social enterprise small scale retail shops, arts, and housing would share the street level on the west side of Grand Canal (which intersects the property), and Pacific.
Two new parking structures would be centered in the core of each property. The east side parking structure would continue to be for public use, while the west side structure would add additional parking for VDP tenants and visitors, as required by code.
VCH will do a traffic study and an Environmental Impact Review. Venice-Dell-Pacific hopes to improve traffic by employing “smart parking technology”, instead of the current practice of “1 in and 1 out”. Venice-Dell Pacific is staying within the limits of Venice Coastal Zone Specific Plan.

It would be 3 or 2 levels, with varied roofs and decks. Total height of the building is 25-35 ft. VCH won’t be asking for height variances (exceptions to current height restrictions). The setback (space between the sidewalk and building) would be 5-30 ft.

Although there have been visuals shared at community meetings, these were “massings” designed to give a general idea of the shape and size of the project. There is currently no final design. The square footage of each unit is currently being worked out. Ms. Dennison told me that studios will range between 275-400 square feet.

There would be open space for tenants, and green and open space for all. The Venice library and space for the Friday Farmers Market would remain. PSH buildings are required to remain affordable for at least 55 years.

Who would get to live at Venice-Dell-Pacific? Venice-Dell-Pacific would consist of; ½ (68 units) Permanent Supportive Housing for formerly homeless individuals and families, ¼ (34 units) Low Income artist -containing a mix of studios and apartments (not yet finalized), ¼ (34 units) Low Income families (studios and apts.) Plus 4 units (apartments) for on-site resident managers. The two buildings would insure 24/7 staffing to provide onsite support and maintenance services. 4 additional full time case workers would support residents but reside elsewhere. They would meet regularly in on site offices and community spaces within the property coordinating access to services.

Additionally, partnerships will be developed with existing service providers, food pantries, and other community based organizations to support residents.
Tenants are chosen through the Co-ordinated Entry System (CES)

A street outreach team will proactively market to homeless people to be put on a centralized list. The CES employs a detailed assessment of each homeless person to attempt to utilize a “matching process” for apartments and potential residents. People with the most need move to the top. One criteria for “a good fit” is if housing is close to where one has been receiving services. Chronic conditions, and the length of time of homelessness, are other factors taken into consideration. The wait list will be regional within Westside communities, and the street outreach team will prioritize Venice homeless people within legal limits.

There are currently more than 10,000 on the wait list.County-wide measurements of income Affordable housing (cheaper housing) = 60% of area median. Individual-about $37,000, Family of 4- $50,000- $55K (currently $54K)

Source: http://www.treasurer.ca.gov/ctcac/rentincome/17/income/10-income-limits-post041417.pdf

Low-income artists= must show a panel their art, and qualify financially.
Permanent Supportive Housing =for the chronically homeless. Permanent Supportive Housing provides housing for life (as opposed to Transitional Housing which has time limits) If a PSH tenant’s income becomes higher than the limit, transition out of the unit is encouraged. Where they would go in LA’s housing market is beyond me.

Why Venice?

Becky Dennison of VCH states, “Every community benefits from affordable housing and diversity, particularly Venice, which was created from artists and bohemians… its goal is to democratize the neighborhood.”

Additionally, Fair Housing Laws demand a reduction of geographical segregation of affordable housing. In other words, by law you can’t just sell prime real estate in order to fund low income housing in existing low income neighborhoods.

VCH is committed to protect affordable housing in Venice, taking the solution to where the problem is.

Of Council District 11’s 4 properties, 3 have been awarded for development. I’ve just learned that the Firehouse in Westchester will not be developed into PSH as previously stated.

1 in WLA –The animal shelter on Pico

2 in Venice- Thatcher Yard (Maintenance yard in the Oxford triangle), and Venice-Dell Pacific

The third potential development in Venice, the Metro bus depot, is separate from the City land program, and is in the community engagement process. It would be mixed income, mixed use, with 30% affordable housing.

Current PSH units

I tried to find a current list of PSH units in LA but found it difficult. Becky tells me the United Way is working on amassing the statistics. There are currently 6,000 people in supplemental housing citywide. The entire Westside hosts only 5% of LA’s Permanent Supportive Housing. Venice contains 41 existing PSH units, and less than 1,000 affordable housing units. Santa Monica has around 350 PSH units, and 3000 affordable housing units.Del Rey has 60 existing PSH units Brentwood’s VA site will contain 1800 units of PSH currently in development, however this stems from a Federal program specifically for veterans. Pacific Palisades and Malibu host zero PSH units as far as Becky knows. However there are many homeless residents camping in the hills and on the streets.
VCH currently has 216 units of affordable housing in Venice, Mar Vista and Del Rey.
(http://www.vchcorp.org/housing/our-properties)

At our community meeting Linda Lucks, Community Outreach for VCH asked, “Do you know where the VCH’s 14 existing apartment buildings are located? Perhaps if you don’t know, it’s because they’re well-managed and fit into the fabric of their neighborhoods in Venice, Del Rey and Mar Vista.”
.

VCH has not built new affordable or PSH units in Venice for 20 years, though they have preserved and utilized existing units during that time. ½ of 1% of housing in Venice is permanent supportive housing. There’s been no new 100% affordable development in Venice since 1995, except senior housing project on Ocean Front Walk. Additionally, we’ve lost affordable housing from Airbnb.

Funding

The public/private partnerships would be funded through HHH, foundations, tax credits and private support. Like charitable donations, funders get tax write offs.General Obligation Bonds (GO Bonds) will be funded by a property tax levy based on its assessed value. Construction cost per unit is approximately 350,000. Ultimately, Ms. Dennison points out, “It’s more expensive to leave people living on the streets”.

Affordable housing stabilizes and increases property values in lower-income communities, but the fear is that is decreases values in high income communities like Venice. Though within Venice, property values are still extremely high for those living near existing affordable and permanent supportive housing.

Permanent supportive housing tenants receive rent subsidies through HUD (Housing Urban Development), which issues Section 8 vouchers. The County Health Department also subsidies PSH.

Neighborhood concerns and Organizations against the Venice-Dell-Pacific project.
During a meeting on my block Becky Dennison shared, “VCH asked, “How do you bring harmony to this community?” She noted that small community meetings show 90% support for the project. New Bethel Baptist Church, and Israel Levin Center have hosted meetings and are very supportive.

The 2 main organizations in opposition to the proposed development appear to be “Fight Back Venice” and “Venice Vision”. They are well organized and funded, and share anger at Councilmember Bonin, for his tactics to serve the homeless, sponsoring a “recall Bonin” campaign.

Labeling Venice-Dell-Pacific the “Monster in the Median” by both groups, their main concerns seem to be; Unfair distribution of new PSH units in Venice- They claim Venice is set to host more homeless per square mile, and Bonin is selling property in his other districts to fund building in Venice. Lack of sobriety threshold (no requirements to be clean and sober). Lack of services for potential residents. They’re concerned about the effect Venice-Dell-Pacific would have on neighboring children. They’re claiming VCH is aiming to skirt zoning laws. Currently, there is an ordinance moving through the LA City Council to streamline the approval process for PSH. This would not apply to Venice-Dell-Pacific because the ordinance does not include public property zoned as open space, and VDP is on such property. The biggest obvious question is why not sell one or both of the Venice properties to subsidize more units in a less expensive area? And they ask, why build new developments instead of refurbishing existing buildings? (In other neighborhoods) These concerns will be explored in our next Beachhead issue.

Seems to me that the nightmarish worst case scenario is that Venice-Dell-Pacific will be a huge, Soviet style block of a building a block from the beach. It will be filled to the brim with crazy, criminal, drug addicted thieves ready to rape and pillage the neighborhood. No one is watching or caring as they gleefully enjoy their free ride while the developers profit. A blight and embarrassment to us all.

The utopian best case scenario is that Venice-Dell-Pacific will be a model community of formerly homeless and low income families and artists sharing a brand new state of the art building, healing and thriving through new found security. Supported by professional case workers with services tailored to each resident to help them become contributing members of the Venice community at large. A shining example adding diversity, heart and soul to us all.

My guess is the truth lies somewhere in between. “Will this development change things?” Becky was asked. Her response? “One won’t, but four will”.

It’s a dense learning curve to understand homelessness, and understand what our City is attempting to do about it. I’ve done my best to understand and present the facts, and will continue to report as I learn. Please notify the Beachhead if I’ve misstated a fact, and we’ll continue the conversation in our next issue.

Click to view slideshow.

WHAT IS THIS BONIN RECALL ABOUT? LIES… LIES AND MORE LIES.

Venice Beachead - Mon, 11/06/2017 - 14:39

By Suzanne Thompson

At the end of a meeting I recently attended, there was a lively discussion about the proposed recall campaign against Los Angeles CD 11, City Councilman Mike Bonin. One person shared her frustration with traffic. Another passionately conveyed her support for more pedestrian and bike friendly roads and her disdain for people or campaigns that spread lies and misinformation.

A few days later, a Facebook Live press conference caught my attention. A small group gathered on the narrow sidewalk at Pacific and Paloma Court. In the video you can see a couple people standing in the street on Pacific as several cars were speeding by. I thought this was an unsafe location for people to gather near the crosswalk where Damon Eric Shear was killed by a car on October 25th.

Then I saw the Recall Bonin signs. I thought, how insensitive and disrespectful those opportunists are using the death of a pedestrian in Venice to exploit their lies about Councilman Bonin. That really did it for me. And who do I see? The same old face. Mark Ryavec. The diehard comeback loser. Big shock for some to see turncoat Robin Rudisill with this group.

Both Ryavec and Rudisill ran against Bonin in the last election held on March 7th. Real facts! Election results: Mike Bonin with 71.00% = 31,865 votes, Mark Ryavec with 15.70% = 7,047 votes and Robin Rudisill with 13.30% = 5,967 votes. Total votes cast 44,879. More people voted in Council District 11 than in any other district in the City of LA. Now, just eight months after the election, Ryavec (a paid lobbyist who represented Donald Trump in his fight to build a 125-story skyscraper on Wilshire Boulevard) and Rudisill (former Chair of Land Use and Planning Committee of the Venice Neighborhood Council), have joined efforts with Alexis Edelstein, (California Democratic Party Assembly District 62 delegate, founded Berniecrats of California, is supported by the racist alt-right KFI AM radio hosts Jon and Ken and alleged to have registered to run for CD-33 against Ted Lieu), Demetrios Mavromichalis (owner of the Venice Grind coffee shop) and Alix Gucovsky to spearhead efforts to recall Bonin.

The Recall campaign’s website states that its initial reason for the recall was after Bonin’s implementation of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Great Streets Initiative which removed one lane of traffic on Venice Boulevard between Beethoven Street and Inglewood Boulevard in favor of bike lanes and parking. Other streets affected by “road diets” were Vista del Mar, Culver Blvd., Jefferson Blvd. and Pershing Blvd.

The Recall group planned to file a Notice of Intent to recall with the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission to start collecting signatures for a recall petition. They must gather about 27,000 signatures from voters in Bonin’s West L.A. council district (10% of total voter registration) over a period of 120 days to trigger a recall. Their website says they’ve already raised $72,000 (Edelstein says $100,000) of the $200,000 goal and have opened a political action committee to raise more. It is estimated that a recall election would cost taxpayers at least $500,000. (www.recallbonin.com/).

I hate seeing people in my community of over 30 years, turn into little “Trumpettes” spreading fake information, telling lies and bullying people. Fake news, folks!
“As with most Big Lies it both resembles the truth enough that it might confuse people and is crazy enough that people would believe it because “hey, who would lie about something that audacious?”

Get the facts! See the rest of Damien Newton’s and Joe Linton’s article “The Big Lie: No, Bonin Did Not Steal Measure M Money for Vision Zero” in STREETSBLOGLA at:
https://la.streetsblog.org/2017/11/02/the-big-lie-no-bonin-did-not-steal-measure-m-money-for-vision-zero/

Mike Bonin, one of the most progressive members of the Los Angeles City Council has represented District 11 for the past four years. He served as Chief of Staff under the late City Councilman Bill Rosendahl. He has shown courage, intelligence and compassion and is a champion for public art.

One of Bonin’s biggest political challenges is to house homeless people here in Venice. Bonin said, “What best serves everyone is getting homeless people permanently off the streets by finding them permanent housing.”

The Venice Community Housing Venice-Dell-Pacific housing project does that here in Venice. This is an amazing opportunity to provide permanent supportive housing at the parking lot on Venice and Pacific that also preserves the existing parking and ensures a community process so that the project serves multiple community needs. Get the facts! Affordable and permanent supportive housing (PHS) are primarily being built in other communities. There are more than 8,000 PSH operating Countywide, and only 42 of them are in Venice. In other Westside communities, Santa Monica has more than 350 PSH units and Del Rey has at least 85 PSH units. The large majority of PSH units have been produced in communities in Downtown Los Angeles, South Los Angeles, and the Valley. There hasn’t been significant affordable housing production in Venice since the 1990s. See http://www.vchcorp.org/venice-dell-pacific-faqs/.

Mike Bonin is a leader and has a good track record on the issues that matter to most of you progressives reading this article. Bonin is the author of the $15 minimum wage, author of the most comprehensive clean money campaign-finance reform in the recent history of Los Angeles, author of the fracking moratorium and the effort to reach 100% clean energy. He is gay, a Courage Campaign leader, a LGBT activist and voted for Bernie Sanders.

Robin Rudisill, states on the Recall website that “…. It appears he doesn’t want to really know how we feel.”

So, what is this Recall all about? Shameful self-promotion, especially from this well-known cyber bully. Arturo Flores concludes, “Alexis is behaving like a scheming opportunist who is blatantly rallying against Bonin because he thinks it will get him some press and boost his fledgling political career.”

Arturo Flores, a Bernie Sanders supporter wrote in Medium.com, “I do not appreciate my movement being hijacked by someone who is so angry about an effort to save people from speeding cars in his neighborhood that he would call for a recall of a progressive Councilmember. Alexis’ actions distract elected officials and community activist from important matters that need to be addressed within the district. Alexis’ underhanded and misleading tactics need to be called out.”

I’m with Mr. Flores and ask you, and the true Berniecrats to join us in denouncing the recall and Alexis’ actions, (as well as the other Recall committee members), and to preserve the integrity of the progressive identity in Venice, the Westside and throughout California. We should be building coalitions to address the issues that impact CD11 residents, such as the loss of affordable housing, homelessness, traffic, the environment, and not embarking on self-adulation campaigns. It’s never been easy in Venice. Let’s get to work!


Where’s the Beachhead?

Venice Beachead - Fri, 11/03/2017 - 14:47

You may have noticed that the November Beachhead is nowhere to be found.  That’s not completely true because I am sure the DHS has found it on my computer.  The strait up deal is that we need more money, to keep giving you what we got.  We have the alternative left view about what is going on in our little burg by the sea, within the bigger picture of our community in the world, and within the heads of it’s progressive writers and their neighbors.  We are here to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.  We are advocacy journalism.  This Paper Is A Poem.

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While we have a good set of regular writer-contributors, and while we have a solid core of sustainers, it is not quite enough to meet our monthly expenses, which are primarily for printing and postage. We need someone to do the fundraising, subscription and sustainer fulfillment, and advertising outreach.  You can make a commission from selling ads.

For me, I used to be shy towards journalism because it wasn’t poetry. And then I realized that the events that I covered in essays that became journalism were actually great because they inspired me, and they became my muse.  – Alice Walker


2017 Venice Dogoween

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