Venice Vision

What do you want your community to look like?

Click the Question and the Answer will drop down.

No, unfortunately, you are not hallucinating. While homelessness is down across the country, homelessness increased in the last year in the City and County of Los Angeles, leaving nearly 47,000 people in the streets and shelters despite an intensive federal push that slashed the ranks of homeless Veterans by nearly a third, according to figures from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.

Nearly two-thirds of the homeless people tallied countywide, or 28,000, were in the city of Los Angeles, representing an 11% jump in January from a year earlier, a report from the agency stated. The county's homeless population grew 5.7%.

Interestingly enough, most of the increase was driven by a more accurate tally of homeless people younger than 25 (2,388 to be exact) while the number of homeless family members dropped 19% countywide in the last year.

Absolutely. It is generally conceded that a large proportion of the 1000 or so people considered/counted as homeless are young street transients who view Venice Beach as a pivotal stop on the west coast circuit, which includes: Santa Cruz, Berkeley, Humboldt County, Portland, and Seattle. Locally, it is estimated that 80% of those on the street are either afflicted with mental illness and/or in the throes of chronic drug addiction.

Chronically Homeless - A person who is ‘‘chronically homeless’’ is an unaccompanied homeless individual with a disabling condition -who has either been continuously homeless for a year or more, -OR has had at least four (4) episodes of homelessness in the past three (3) years. ref: Transient- A person who is staying or working in a place for a short time only. ref:

No it does not – and so $$$ being earmarked to build on the Venice Median (and Thatcher Yard) in the next 3-5 years could immediately be put to use by rehabilitating existing structures which cost less than new construction and can be made available more readily. Ref:,_California,_Homelessness_Reduction_and_Prevention_Housing,_and_Facilities_Bond_Issue,_Measure_HHH_(November_2016)

The City projected to build 10,000 units with $1.2 Billion. So lets do some math… If the City wants to build 10,000 units with $1.2 Billion the cost per unit could not exceed $120,000 (structure & land) $1.2 Billion HHH Funding / 10,000 units = $120,000 cost per unit However, the average cost for a CA nonprofit to build PSH units in Los Angeles is approx. $400,000/unit not including the cost of the land which would only yield 3000 units at this cost $1.2 Billion HHH Funding / $400,000 cost per unit = 3000 units Hmmm…. The numbers in these equations DO NOT ADD UP!!!! To add insult to faulty math, Even if the City of LA owns the land the nonprofit will be building the PSH structure on, the land is not free- in Economics, this is called an Opportunity Cost. For example, the Venice Median is valued at approx. $90 Million. If 150 units are built on this piece of land, this is an opportunity cost of $600,000 per unit. Average cost per unit in a structure built on the Venice Median is $400,000 in materials & labor + $600,000 in opportunity cost of land value = $1 Million per unit $1,000,000 per unit in approx. Actual Cost is VERY different from the $120,000 per unit Projected Cost by the City. Ref: Ref: Ref:

The Annual Homeless count is conducted the last week of January. It includes Los Angeles City and County. The Count is s conducted by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), a County organization. Venice is located in the County’s Service Planning Area (SPA) 5. It has three components: a Street Count, separate Demographic Surveys for Adults and Youth (18-24), and a Sheltered Count. The Street and Demographic Counts are for the “unsheltered” as opposed to the “sheltered” in the Sheltered Count. In 2016, the City of Los Angeles “sheltered” population was 11,073 and 30,393 “unsheltered.” The Street Count, a night survey, is taken from vehicles. Volunteers are given one hour of orientation starting at 8:00 p.m. and the count starts at 9:00 p.m. Each vehicle is assigned a “census tract map” geographic area to count. Venice has 11 tracts. They look for signs of “homelessness” by their appearance, behavior, and condition. You see! You record! They write down the number of vehicles/enclosures – car, van camper, tent and makeshift shelter. The two Demographic Surveys are conducted by LAHSA personnel and are separate from the Street Count. The Surveys are interactive, face-to-face, multiple-choice surveys where the surveyor asks the questions and writes down the answers. The Adult Survey is four-pages and thirty-five questions. The Youth Survey is nine-pages and forty-five questions. The Sheltered Count involves LAHSA personnel vising the existing homeless buildings.

Knowing that the Homeless Count is accurate and verifiable is vital to a successful program to assist the homeless. The last count occurred on Wednesday, January 25, 2017. During the Street Count, a night survey taken from vehicles, the count is totally “observational,” meaning there is no interaction with the homeless person(s). Volunteers are given one hour of orientation starting at 8:00 p.m. and the count starts at 9:00 p.m. They look for signs of “homelessness” by their appearance, behavior, and condition. You see! You record! The caution! “Don’t disturb anyone.” "Don't speak to anyone." They write down the number of vehicles/enclosures – car, van camper, tent and makeshift shelter. A flashlight is used to illuminate their clipboard but never pointed in the direction of any person. The two Demographic Surveys are conducted by LAHSA personnel and involve only a 20% sample of the “homeless.” The validity of the Homeless Count is difficult to substantiate because of the lack of verifiable information, which the count currently refuses to require or assess. A recurring question, especially for Venice, is how many transient/vacationing and/or service resistant homeless are there. These groups are not part of the required reported sub-populations categories. Besides the Street Count, the Adult and Youth (18-24) Demographic Surveys are suspect. It is left to the reader of the “Survey Report” prepared for LAHSA by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hills’ Survey Research Lab to guess how you identify and validate information, let alone follow-up with any homeless population. Yet these reports are the basis for billions of dollars collected by charities and/or individual taxes and given out for homelessness.

This, in our opinion, just might be the biggest misrepresentation of how Councilman Bonin presented the issue to the voting public during the debate to pass Proposition HHH. The decision as to who is an eligible candidate to move into public housing is determined by an application process based on the individual’s answer to the 30 page application, and selected by the Great Los Angeles Coordinated Entry System (CES). Given the transient nature of our street population, it is doubtful that many of the homeless in Venice will meet the criteria and be eligible for housing reserved for families, veterans, senior citizens, disabilities, and others with special circumstances. ref:

Probably not bc the Transients are generally not Chronically Homeless. These Youth are traveling throughout the country using the system, hiding behind laws that protect and assist the Chronically Homeless so that they do not have to answer to Authority. Maybe if Bonin would allow the Pacific Division Police Officers to assert their Authority against illegal behaviors, the Transients would be forced to answer to an Authority figure.

Better Ask Mike??? There are 929 beds throughout Los Angeles County dedicated for Homeless Youth. These beds are available in varied forms & lengths of stay. However, most beds remain vacant the majority of the nights of the year because, 1. The Youth are not ready for a structured lifestyle, but would like shelter when absolutely necessary or when they feel like it. 2. The beds available are not located in the areas where the youth prefer to live. 3. The current laws against Drug Use & Drug Sale are not enforced. Transitional Housing is a form of housing that promotes and builds an individual up to a self-sustaining lifestyle. However, the funding for Transitional Housing is being discontinued so the City & County of LA are advising more Permanent Supportive Housing & Emergency Shelters to be built to subsidize the difference of Transitional Housing that will not longer be funded. WHY??? This a very strange concept considering Transitional Housing helps integrate individuals back into Society. Whereas, Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) is a permanent form of housing, completed subsidized by the Gov’t (otherwise known as Taxpayers) for a young adult gaining his/her first years of independence but are now encouraged to be dependent on the Gov’t welfare system. Whereas, Emergency Shelters are extremely temporary, do not provide services onsite and do not encourage self-sustainability and are generally dangerous.

We don’t know what Venice Community Housing (VCH) (and its partner Hollywood Community Housing) proposed to win the contract from the City to develop the median strip because Becky Denison, Executive Director of VCH nor the City of Los Angeles, won’t release the documentation even though all documents pertaining to the development of public lands SHOULD BE MADE AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC.

What we do know- According to the proposal information (RFP/Q) provided to all developers seeking to make a bid on The Venice Median is that the location would allow for 366,000 square feet, which could accommodate 260 units. As of now, we have no information as to how many of these units would be “affordable” housing, “permanent supportive” and/or “market rate” housing. The change in zoning will be changed from “Open Space to either R-3 which will allow for high density Residential or C-3 which will allow for other services and Commercial Use on the property. At this early stage it is doubtful VCH will have much onsite housing for its support staff, so one wonders will residents have any supervision(see Question #7,) any commitment to sobriety?(see Question #6)

Better ask Mike??? The Proposals submitted by each of the Organizations responding to the RFPQ have yet to be disclosed to the Community by the City or VCH, even though these should be public documents since the site being bid on is City (Taxpayer) owned land. What we do know… VCH has never and does not currently operate or own any Affordable Housing Buildings larger than 21 Units. HCHC has never developed or owned any Affordable Housing Buildings larger than 56 Units. Eric Owen Moss Architects have designed Affordable Housing previously, however their Affordable Housing designs have never been built. Again, we ASK MIKE- WHY is this the Dream Team of choice to not only create the largest development in Venice history since Abbot Kinney and Why have they been awarded one the largest pieces of City owned property and Why one of the most prominent locations in Venice on one of the most Valuable pieces of property? WHY is EXPERIENCE NOT a PRE REQUISITE??????? Ref: Ref:

No. VCH will receive Federal funding via City distribution. Sobriety cannot be a requirement if a project receives federal dollars from the Department of Housing. Requiring sobriety would be discrimination against alcoholics and/or drug addicts.

Once again, we don’t know what Venice Community Housing (VCH) (and its partner Hollywood Community Housing) proposed to win the contract from the City to develop the median strip because Becky Denison, Executive Director of VCH nor the City of Los Angeles, won’t release the documentation even though all documents pertaining to the development of public lands SHOULD BE MADE AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC.

What we do know- VCH is required by law to have ONLY 1 onsite Property Manager (not Security or a Case Worker or Health Service Contractor) if the building consists of 16 to 99 units. Above 99 units, they are required to provide a 2nd onsite Property Manager.

If there are 99 units, there could be a maximum of 700 people (not likely but possible) being overseen by 1 Property Manager. There is no requirement by law to provide additional Property Managers or Security based upon the quantity of occupants, only the quantity of units.

Government use lots of different terms to describe housing or housing programs. Sometimes they even use more than one term to describe the same housing program. It can get very confusing! Here are some definitions and ways to think about housing and housing programs.

Types of Housing - by Length of Stay

Permanent Housing- This just means that there is no time limit on how long you can reside in the housing or receive the housing assistance. It is meant to be long-term. “Permanent supportive housing” (or PSH) is just permanent housing that makes support services available to help you maintain your housing and access community resources.

Transitional Housing- This means that there is a time limit on how long you can stay in the housing or receive the housing assistance. HUD defines transitional housing as stays of up to 24 months (but stays can be shorter).

Short-Term or Temporary Housing- This means that the housing situation is intended to be very short-term or temporary (30, 60, or 90 days or less).

Emergency Shelter- Provides a place to stay or bed to sleep in overnight if you become homeless or otherwise experience a housing crisis and have no place to go.

Types of Housing - by Type of Assistance

Market Rate Housing- Refers to properties that are rented or owned by people who pay market rent to lease the property or paid market value when they bought the property. There is no subsidy for the housing.

Affordable Housing- Refers to properties that were originally built using a tax subsidy and are now required to provide below-market rents for low-income people, persons with disabilities, and/or seniors. Examples include: Low-Income Housing, Disabled Housing, and Senior Housing.

Subsidized Housing (Tenant-Based)- Provides a voucher to you to choose where you want to live in the community and lease from a private landlord that will accept the voucher. The program then pays an ongoing monthly subsidy to help you with your rent and utilities. You are usually required to pay at least 30% of your income toward your rent and utilities, and usually your subsidy is limited by fair market rent (FMRs). Since it is tenant-based, the assistance is tied to your voucher. So, if you move, the voucher typically moves with you to another property. Examples include these subsidy programs: Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher ESG Rapid Re-Housing HOPWA Tenant Based Rental Asst Shelter Plus Care TBRA SHP TBRA HOME TBRA

Subsidized Housing (Project-Based)- Project-based housing assistance requires you to live in a housing unit at the property that is being subsidized. You are usually required to pay at least 30% of your income toward your rent/utilities. Since it is project-based, the assistance is tied to the property. So, if you move, you lose your housing assistance. Examples include: Section 8 Public Housing Homeless Project-Based Units HOPWA Facility-Based Housing

Housing Placement- Provides help for you to get into new housing (when you move-in). This can include things like rental application fees, security deposits, first and last month’s rent, utility connection fees, and utility deposits. Depending on the program, it may or may not include moving costs (like moving company, truck rental, storage costs, etc.)

The median strip is the gateway to Venice Beach which happens to be one of the world’s best known beach towns; one of California’s finest surfable beach breaks, one of Los Angeles’s most visited tourist attractions. The only reason this is happening to Venice Beach is because the city council are absentee landlords – and Mr. Bonin seems to have convinced them that he had a mandate to make the end of our median strip a housing project. He doesn’t – which might be why he hasn’t published the results of his homeless survey he used to justify DEVELOPING THE Venice Median in the first place.

Since the Venice Median is within the jurisdiction of The California Coastal Commission, there will be a public hearing as to the efficacy of developing this open space property. This is a drawn out process... So much for the urgency of getting our homeless off the streets of Venice.

The St. Joseph Center, a non-profit founded in 1976, receives approximately $12 million from the City of Los Angeles to provide services for the homeless in Venice such as food banks and vocational training. Here is a breakdown of expenditures. According to our calculations 11 of the 12 million dollars is spent on staff salaries and other projects not directed to ending homelessness by placing those wanting off the streets in permanent supportive housing. According to Los Angeles HSA, it costs $60K+ to maintain a life on the streets of LA and only $7500 to house that same person.

Regina and Steve Weller are chaplains at the Foursquare Church and work with the LAPD. They are committed to reducing the size of our homeless population in Venice through street interventions and immediate placements. After years of working in Venice, in 2014 they began deploying bi-weekly in collaboration with LAPD Beach Detail officers to provide benevolent outreach to the Venice community. The results are documented by way of monthly deployment reports. In 2015, the Homeless Task Force placed 201 individuals into safe haven, and finalized its placements for 2016 at 118.

Unlike St. Joseph’s which provides publically funded services that keeps Venice’s homeless population dependent on its largesse, the Wellers think the first step in returning to a “normal” civilian life is based on the concept of a commitment to getting a person away from what is clearly a toxic environment and placing them in the right rehabilitative situation, or available housing as soon as possible. In addition, the Wellers/Homeless Task Force has been realizing success by buying trailers and renting lots for the homeless. They project that at least 300 of the 1000 transients camping out on our streets can immediately benefit from their resettlement program. Recently, they purchased a trailer for $3500, secured a rental lot in a trailer park, and pre-paid the rent for a few months for a couple who had been living on the streets of Venice for years. They are now living in a community with a roof over their heads and a pool in the recreation center. The man is now working and the woman is getting her health situation squared away. All in all, it took two weeks, about $5000 and a willingness to seek creative solutions. Compare that to the $500K+ per unit construction costs planned for the City's fancy developments that may or may not be ready for occupancy in 5+ years.

In many ways, collaborative housing is the antithesis of what is being proposed for the Venice Median. A model collaborative sober living house consists of 3-4 bedrooms, two residents to a room, with three public rooms so that much of the life in the house is conducted out in the open. Sober living houses are often an average ranch or Mediterranean style home located in the middle of a residential community so that the residents are not isolated from mainstream society and are encouraged to go out and seek employment.

Better ask Mike because it makes no sense to us? A cynic might say it is because there’s more money to be made and more tax breaks to be taken constructing permanent supportive housing than the kind of Collaborative Housing model being offered by SHARE!, a Culver City based non-profit, which specializes in these kind of placements.

SHARE houses enable a landlord to rent the rooms in their house directly to the resident whose rent is paid through SSI or GR or similar with no additional gov't subsidy. It costs about $600 per person per month for a shared room in a single family house (inclusive of utilities) integrated into the community as opposed to a massive structure/facility where homeless people are effectively isolated from the rest of the society. The cost also includes a whole bevy of peer-led required supportive services to help people get the right treatment and, equally important in terms of self-esteem, a JOB. Please consider this: If you ran a thriving municipality like Los Angeles, wouldn’t you rather pay the $7200 a year to house people tonight rather than the $60K+ to maintain them on the streets? With SHARE, it can be done, if the City wanted to.

We don’t really know. Maybe Mr. Bonin has something against the property owners in an around the canals who have paid a premium price to buy homes and other rental properties in the area? Better ask Mike.

Better ask Mike???
The City of Los Angeles owns Thousands of parcels across the City, some with Structures that are currently being used, some with Vacant Structures and some Vacant Lots.
Of the 46 City properties that have been assessed for Affordable Housing on the7 are being sold to nonprofit housing organizations that are currently operating them - 3 Vacant Buildings are being sold at Fair Market Value - 5 Vacant Buildings are Slated for Rehab - Recap, out of hundreds of City owned properties, 46 have been assessed and ONLY 5 are Vacant Buildings to be Rehabed for Affordable Housing. ref: Ref: Ref:

Better ask Mike.

The sale of the Venice Median for private development is estimated to be at a minimum close to $90 million. We are not advocating for commercial development per se, although any development on the property by any developer would have to include a significant number of units for affordable housing. Some would like a development to have a lot of community features. Some would like low income apartments made available for artists and longtime residents being forced out of the area by raising rents (as well as other factors). Others want any developer to be held to the restrictions of residential neighborhoods and demand that no variances be allowed. And still others believe that this whole process has been tainted and its best to either start over again, or have it remain open space.

Yes, in the sense that business owners and property owners near Ocean Front Walk to Main Street voted to tax themselves (with the strong support of Mr. Bonin) to help clean up the area so it can, theoretically, create an environment more conducive to night life which could have the effect of reducing its homeless population. Conversely, a mile down the road, Bonin is leading the charge through his surrogates at VCH to build a facility on the Venice Median that will most likely shift where those on the street congregate. We’re not saying it will become like 3rd and Rose, but can’t you envision a scenario where the homeless party moves in and around a large facility for the homeless.

Measure S is a ballot proposal to be voted on March 7th called The Neighborhood Integrity Initiative. The initiative puts a moratorium on large commercial construction projects in what is called Spot Development that exceed a certain limit and/or require a substantial variance, general plan admendment or zone change.

There is a strong possibility that if Measure S passes, the Venice median development will halt for 2 years, as the project will require a zone change.

Exactly. If it’s going to take a minimum of three years to even start developing the Median Strip due to the California Coastal Commission and other procedures, why does the community only get 90 Days to consider the ramifications of using public land one block from the beach for public housing?

Mr. Bonin is taking no chances in case voters approve Measure S, so he needs the City Council to go along with him to vote to approve a zoning change before the measure is voted on March 7th. Bad optics if he tried to change the zoning after the March 7th vote but before the measure is implemented, right?

California represents 12 percent of the nation’s population, it has 22 percent of the nation’s homeless, most of which is concentrated in Los Angeles and the SF Bay area. In response, the governor’s office is pursuing court certification of the “No Place Like Home” program, which will use $2 billion in bond money to create affordable-housing programs for mentally ill homeless people. However, the governor’s budget plan eliminates $400 million for constructing affordable housing due, in part, to high building costs and fees imposed by local governments. In effect, what Governor Brown is saying by not declaring a state of emergency is that Los Angeles can’t spend their way out of homelessness - they need to change behavior and use their funding more responsibily to solve it.

We’ll let you answer that one.