July Venice Neighborhood Council recap, part 1
By Angela McGregor
The July, 2020 VNC Board Meeting — held via Zoom — opened with the announcement that Communications Chair Theresa White has stepped down. Stakeholders with an affinity for digital communications and social media are invited to apply for the open seat, and applications will be accepted via the VNC website until the end of August.
The evening was dominated by LUPC motions, most notably a four story, 77-unit apartment building planned for three currently vacant lots at the corner of Glencoe Avenue and Venice Blvd. The site — totalling .40 of an acre — formerly featured four rent stabilized, multi-unit residential buildings that, until a year ago housed 9 families. The project’s developer, Venice Wave, LP, (aka Isaac W. Cohanzad, the founder of Wiseman Residential), has failed to reach out to either the surrounding community or LUPC according to LUPC’s staff report. Their plans would take advantage of Transit Oriented Corridor tier 2 incentives to reduce the sidewalk setback to just 5 feet, allow the project to be 40 feet (rather than the standard 30 feet) high and do away with all but one half of one parking space for each bedroom. No representative from the developer attended the VNC Board meeting. Community member Erica Moore gave a detailed presentation spelling out neighborhood’s objections to the project. These included not only the TOC incentives, but the belief that inclusion of just 9 affordable units to replace the 9 rent stabilized family apartments that had been lost was insufficient. Stakeholders also pointed out that, given the project’s proximity to three local schools, the project should include more units suitable for families. The project has received a letter of determination from City Planning, despite the lack of community input or notification, and is currently being appealed.
In Board commentary, Jim Murez pointed out that, in the context of that appeal, a straightforward refusal of the project by the VNC Board would likely not carry the weight of a statement specifically outlining the community’s concerns. Over the course of the meeting, he and LUPC Chair Alix Glucovsky worked to create such a statement, which was amended to the existing motion along with a request that the Planning Department hold the project open to allow for adequate community input. The motion passed.
Check back for more coverage of the July VNC meeting in the coming weeks