There has been much confusion on the various candidate positions re. the projects below, and so I wanted to put forth one last summary for you of exactly where I stand on each of them! My positions have not changed since Day 1 of campaigning and I will stand firm on them as City Councilwoman.
Please feel free to share this position paper with those who may be interested.
And thank you for your encouragement and support in the election. Put your trust in me and I will represent you and work for YOU, the 99%!
ROBIN RUDISILL’S POSITIONS ON HOMELESSNESS PROJECTS—DETAILED ANALYSIS:
1. General thoughts re. Open Space Zoning and the Venice Boulevard median:
The Open Space areas of the City, particularly the areas that are in the Coastal Zones and especially the areas that are also in the Dual Permit Jurisdiction Coastal Zones (further protected for coastal uses under the Coastal Act) are very specifically protected. In fact, our General Plan and Venice Community Plan only address increases to Open Space. Such Open Space areas are necessary for promoting the recreational needs of the community and for advancing the public's health and welfare.
In fact, as population grows, we may very well need more Open Space areas and recreational opportunities, and so the idea of eliminating Open Space for special projects of any kind is a non-starter in my opinion, especially when there ARE other options.
Our General Plan Venice Community Plan requires that there be sufficient Open Space in balance with new development in order to serve the recreational, environmental, and health and safety needs of the Community, and to protect environmental and aesthetic resources. Open Space provides a balance to the urban development of the Community.
The Venice Boulevard median is specifically mentioned in the General Plan Venice Community Plan as land designated as Open Space, which is broadly defined as land which is essentially free of structures and buildings or is natural in character AND which functions in one of 7 categories: rights-of-way for transportation facilities.
Coastal access is sacrosanct in the coastal zone, and if anything should be proposed to be built on the Venice Boulevard median, it should be additional parking for coastal access. However, the Open Space requirements of being free of structures and buildings would necessitate the addition of parking via underground parking facilities. The feasibility of going underground would need to be considered in light of this being the Dual Permit Jurisdiction, which is between the beach and canal areas, and in light of sea level rise. It should also be noted that this is the last piece of significant Open Space near the beach.
I do not believe that Bonin or the City considered any Coastal Act or General Plan Venice Community Plan requirements in choosing this site for a homeless housing project, which is unacceptable and a dereliction of duty.
2. Venice Median Parking lot project:
I am against this project and have been against it since day 1, and as Councilwoman I will withdraw it and find another location in the City that maximizes the amount of homeless housing and the speed at which we can have it. This location is in the Dual Permit Jurisdiction Coastal Zone, designated as Open Space, and it should remain as such and be used to provide coastal access.
First and foremost, this project does not serve to address our Homelessness situation on a crisis basis, which is the reason for using City land. Thus, Bonin is violating that essential requirement by selecting this location. Based on his track record, it seems that selecting this incredibly valuable location is being driven at least partly with developer interests in mind. Even if the powers that be are telling us today that they promise there won’t be any market rate units involved in the eventual project, we have to take that with a grain of salt.
Also, I am very much against the co-mingling of HHH money and City land with developer investment re. market rate units. This is not what we signed up for when we voted for HHH and I believe that most who support it would not want this co-mingling of resources. It would cause no end of problems and it would be very difficult to allocate common costs, decide profit percentages, etc.
The City erred in designating this land as City surplus land available to be used for homeless housing. That is nonsense! It is Open Space in the Coastal Zone, and the City has no authority to make such a decision.
Such a decision would require a local Coastal Development Permit and also, the median parking lot is in the Dual Permit Jurisdiction Coastal Zone, so the Coastal Commission will absolutely have a say as they are required to do a separate Coastal Development Permit for any proposed projects in this area. Our General Plan Venice Community Plan, which includes the Certified Venice Land Use Plan, designates the Venice Median parking lot as Open Space, meant for beach parking. It’s highly doubtful that the Coastal Commission would approve a zoning change if the change is not going to benefit coastal access. That means it’s dubious as to whether they would approve the supportive housing project, but it’s even more dubious that they would approve the sale of the lot for some other use, as that would also require a change of zoning prior to the sale, which I’m against for the same reasons. It should also be noted that if Measure S passes, nothing can be built there for at least two years, as a zone change could not be made, except for more parking.
Bonin is incorrect when he accuses those against this project of being NIMBY’s and when he accuses those against the project of saying that our homeless housing should only go in the areas where property is the cheapest, primarily in low-income communities. The fact is that this property is protected Open Space in the Dual Permit Jurisdiction of the California Coastal Zone and the requirements of the Coastal Act supersede the use of this land for such a project.
But the most important consideration for this project is that surrounding property owners and other residents have a constitutional right to have a say in land use decisions that will impact them, and thus Bonin is wrong to say that he has properly followed due process. He did not include the surrounding residents in the decision to choose that location for the City’s homeless housing project and that aspect of the project does not appear to be up for discussion. Given that the surrounding residents are generally very much against the project, if the City doesn’t back off of the idea we will waste significant taxpayer dollars in fighting in court with those same taxpayers. That is a serious waste of public funds and should mandate a rethinking of the project location in and of itself.
All future decisions with respect to choice of city land and homeless housing projects must be vetted together with the community impacted.
I will honor the provisions of our Land Use Plan, which was certified by the Coastal Commission to serve the mandate of the California Coastal Act. If we start bending the rules governing the Venice Boulevard median Open Space, we chip away at the protections that currently benefit all residents of the Coastal Zone, the rules for public beach access to which we all have a right and from which all Californians benefit. As I’ve been saying, I will look for other options that don’t abuse and undermine our planning laws, don’t violate our coastal laws, and don’t cause severe strife in our neighborhoods. I will look for existing buildings that can be repurposed for supportive housing and for ways to quickly build small housing units using new models that are far less expensive than the $500,000 plus cost of units that has been mentioned, and I will focus on using city land that won’t be subject to a Measure S moratorium.
The homelessness crisis is too urgent to allow for projects with major built-in delays in providing the related housing.
It’s clear that Bonin’s intent to build expensive, permanent housing on this particular city-owned property has little to do with ending homelessness or providing the necessary services. In fact, we haven’t yet seen ANY true crisis-based proposals that address the homelessness issue.
Lastly, my comments on Bonin’s recent statements in the March 5, 2017 Daily Breeze article:
1. “Some draw a false and cynical choice between helping the homeless and quality of life in our neighborhoods,” Bonin said.
That is simply not true and is insulting to our intelligence. We know very well that both can be achieved when making smart decisions on the resources used.
2. Due to legal mandates the city of Los Angeles is under, he said, providing housing and services to get people off the streets is mandatory.
Yes, and it’s been mandatory for years and you did nothing about it, resulting in a huge increase in the homelessness problem. What took you so long to figure this out and get started!?
3. “The opposition likes to say ‘We don’t object to housing, we just object to it here,’ ” Bonin said. “Some say it shouldn’t be that close to the beach. But the fact is, there is not a parcel that’s been identified anywhere (for homeless use) that hasn’t faced an objection.
He needs to learn to distinguish between an objection based on the law or important land use issues and other types of objections.
4. “I don’t accept the premise that affordable housing should only be in low-income parts of the city. It should be everywhere; every neighborhood has a responsibility to be part of a solution to a problem that impacts every neighborhood.”
Nobody said it needed to be "only in low-income parts of the city," but in any case he needs to get over it because it’s critical that the city use the HHH resources to maximize the amount of housing we can provide in order to get people off of the streets as fast as possible. This is a crisis and not a planning exercise with the goal of placing equal amounts of homeless housing in every single neighborhood! We ALREADY are part of the solution and the taxes we pay go towards this effort, and so the optimal locations are the ones that result from the smartest decisions in terms of maximizing the amount of homeless housing and the speed at which we can have it. To think that the Public would want the City to use these public resources using any other criteria is misguided.
3. Homelessness Crisis:
It’s very difficult to talk about facilities without knowing the programs that will be available, both currently and additionally under Measure H. We must utilize programs and services that address major issues such as drug abuse, mental health issues. We must crack down on drug activity on our Boardwalk so that it doesn’t attract those who come to the area because of the easy access to drugs. Counselors need to be especially trained to determine whether some homeless citizens are actually those pursuing a gypsy or vagabond life with very little responsibility, so that we can deal with them separately from those who are in need of our special services and programs to help them.
This is not JUST a homelessness issue! It is also a drug issue, a mental health issue, and a vagrancy issue. It is also a jurisdictional issue, between Los Angeles and neighboring cities such as Santa Monica and Culver City, which tend to send their homeless into our City for services.
How we manage and coordinate the Public funding from HHH and H and the City land is critical. We have a fiduciary duty to our citizens to assure that we utilize these resources in a way that gives us the most bang for the buck. This is a CRISIS. We have people sleeping on the streets and subject to disease and crime. We must get homeless housing built as soon as we possibly can.
At the same time, we MUST start treating our homeless citizens with true compassion in our actions (not just words).
4. Thatcher yard project, Oxford Triangle:
With regard to Thatcher Yard, I would first meet with the City officials responsible for the maintenance yard, in order to better understand why they believe it is no longer needed. It seems to me that this area of the Westside needs such a yard and I cannot think of any reason why the Westside’s requirements for such a yard have reduced so dramatically as to not need the entire Thatcher Yard any more. If anything, it seems like the needs would have grown. There is the beach, the jetty, the canals, the flood gates, the wetlands, the marina areas, the flooding, sea level rise coming, etc. If this proposed change is being done for the wrong reasons and there really is a need for a maintenance yard, it would be a costly mistake to convert this parcel from Public Facility and then soon find out that a maintenance yard is needed after all and have to acquire additional City property for it on the Westside, at a higher cost. I’m concerned that this change might be something that is being done to provide developers with new opportunities and not necessarily because there is no longer a need for a maintenance yard.
The question of the use of this land was vetted by the Community several years ago, resulting in the recommendations of the 1988 Oxford Triangle Neighborhood Study, which are to either rebuild maintenance facilities on the property or to rezone the property to R-1-1 status, in order to complement and protect the scale and character of the adjoining single-family residential neighborhood. Then the property would be sold, for development in a manner consistent with existing Oxford Triangle single-family neighborhood zoning. My understanding is that this also reflects the current wishes of the residents.
Also, I heard that the VNC Board has recently made a recommendation that this area be zoned for multi-family housing and not single-family housing as recommended by the community, due to concerns over "dwindling housing supply, increasing demand and the resulting affordability crisis." However, as far as I’m concerned that recommendation is invalid as it was approved by Board members with conflicts of interest due to the fact that they would potentially stand to gain more business from such a decision. In fact, it is the residents of the community who have the right to decide how their community will be planned, and the Oxford Triangle community members have confirmed that they still agree with the original neighborhood study recommendation.
This property is right in the middle of one of only a couple of R-1, single-family neighborhoods in the Venice Coastal Zone. As the Certified Venice Land Use Plan (both part of the City’s General Plan and guidance for Coastal Act conformance) states, the character, scale and stability of our single-family residential neighborhoods must be protected. Having multi-family housing at the furthest point from the entrance of the single-family neighborhood, with the increased traffic flowing all of the way through the entire neighborhood from front to back to front, on a daily basis, would be in violation of the Certified Venice Land Use Plan requirements to protect the character, scale and stability of the original single-family neighborhood.
As General Plan and Community Plan updates are done, the community can again confirm or decide what they want in their community. The way that planning for a city works is that residents elect their representatives and then they work together to prepare land use plans that reflect what they want in their community, subject to state laws re. having proper infrastructure, balance, etc. That is urban planning 101.