By Eric Ahlberg
Well we are into another round of “The Death Of Venice”. This toxic paradigm is renewed every time a craftsman bungalow is torn down and replaced with an ugly box, every time an artist is evicted and then faces a market rent of $3900.00 for a 2bdr in Lincoln Place, and every time the VNC falls for a developer’s carefully crafted response to a community’s concerns about negative impacts. Sweet talking entrepreneurs blowing mitigations in your ear, selling you doom like the Wolves of Wall Street.
Sweet puppies these VNC volunteers, willing to sacrifice the density, traffic congestion, construction noise, excavation trucking, parking. Excavations are always good for the neighborhood, exporting the funky to dumps so that shiny new things can take their place, and removing earth to make space for cars to park. Ever hear of Love Canal, I don’t mean that porn producer on Linnie, I mean that dioxin wasteland created by the Gas Plant very similar to the one that was on the site of the Chiat-Day Building, now the Google offices. The excavation of the Chiat-Day site in Venice required trucking the dioxin laden soil out and required the site to be covered with tarps and watered down constantly to prevent the pollutant laden soil from blowing into the neighborhood. We hope the hotel developers have drilled core samples because they are only a few blocks from the Chiat-Day site. Venice was a toxic wasteland after the oil industry was done with it. Much of this hides underground, demons unleashed with each excavation.
Now you can bet some checks were written after the Hotel passed the VNC. Community approval processes are an extreme pain for developers, so they get professional help, lobbyists, behind the scenes they meet and plan out their strategy. From a Zillow perspective every lot has a $ number and a zoning and a community to overcome. They must overcome basic logic. More people = more traffic + less parking. Hand waving is required. Property is property but construction finance profit is proportional to square footage, and occupancy. Real estate development is the lifeblood of international finance, where speculative projects can change hands several times by the time anybody moves in, and the aftermath is buried in a fund. It brings more money and people into the community, but, is that what we want? Finance and Paychecks vs Provincialism. If you want your community greener, and with less traffic, prevent these projects.
By Eric Ahlberg