THE MONSTER ON THE VENICE CANALS
OVERVIEW

Mike Bonin, the Venice Community Housing Corporation and the Hollywood Community Housing Corporation want to build a 140-unit housing project – that the City’s own architects describes as a “large barge come ashore” – on a 2.65-acre lot a block of the beach on Grand Canal, with no environmental review and no homeless housing at a price of more than $1 million per unit.

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Project Overview

  • 140 units for 420+ residents in two campuses—one on each side of Grand Canal.
  • Twice the size of typical housing projects, but no priority for Venice homeless and no sober living requirement.
  • Two parking towers.
  • Community space and “social enterprise” space for the training and employment of homeless and formerly homeless persons.
  • “Texas-Donut Style” architecture in which all residential units share a wall with a parking tower.
  • Project will require commercial zoning … but will be exempt from provisions in the Venice Specific Plan applicable to commercial and mixed-use developments.

Location

  • Largest remaining parcel of open space in Venice.
  • 65 acres, one block off of Venice Beach on Grand Canal, encompassing Short Line Bridge in the Venice Canals Historic District.
  • FEMA Special Flood Hazard Area, with projected flooding 8 feet above sea level.
  • Tsunami inundation zone.
  • High water table.
  • Developers have hired lawyers to seek an exemption from environmental review

Mass & Scale

  • 70-ft tower with observation deck.
  • 45-foot parking tower.
  • Minimal 5-foot setbacks on ground floor, with no setbacks at all for upper levels.
  • Massive building footprint, which goes to the edge of the lot on all sides, requires:
    • Demolition of four existing units of homeless housing;
    • Destruction of the east apron and west apron of the historic Short Line Bridge;
    • Use of the Linnie Canal Children’s Park of outdoor recreation space; and
    • Waiver of developers’ legal obligation to expand surrounding streets and sidewalks.

Character & Neighborhood Compatibility

  • Bunker-style architecture with popcorn stucco finish.
  • Described in design review by City architects as:
  • “Very aggressive, harsh and bunker-like design for Venice, rejecting surrounding neighborhood”
  • “Project very dormitory-like in expression, or like a large barge come ashore”
  • “A looming mass carved by voids and small windows is the design concept”
  • “Window sizes and shapes seem an afterthought and don’t feel residential”

Parking & Beach Access

  • Plans available to the public show roughly half the parking spaces required under the Venice Specific Plan for a project this size.
  • Secret plans not yet released to the public show the City is planning to use robotic / mechanical lift parking on the roof and against walls shared with residential units.
  • 40% of existing beach parking will be moved east of Grand Canal, 500 feet further from the beach and parking supply in the area will be frozen for at least 50 years.
  • Streets and sidewalks will be frozen at their current substandard sizes, despite City plans to make the area a “Pedestrian Enhanced District” with extra-wide sidewalks and a “Bicycle Enhanced District” with separate bike lanes.

Cost

  • More than $1 million per unit with estimated project cost of at least $177 million including land and replacement of existing beach parking.

VENICE IS ALREADY DOING MORE THAN ITS SHARE

  • At just 3 square miles, Venice currently has a dozen new and pending housing projects …
  • … and 15 times the number of affordable housing units in Pacific Palisades and Brentwood combined.