What happened at the Venice Neighborhood Council meeting?

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By Jim Smith

The Venice Neighborhood Council (not to be confused with the Town Council or the Community Council) met on Sept. 16. Here are some of the highlights (and lowlights).

• At the last minute, a motion was pulled that stated the VNC “adamantly rejects any neighborhood council participation, endorsing or use of City Council revised form 52. The form would disclose what property the Board member owns. A similar form is required for all candidates of public office. The value of the form is that it would alert members of the community to possible conflicts-of-interest by the VNC officials. A Board member told the Beachhead that several other members had said they would resign if required to fill out the disclosure.

•Land Use and Planning Committee (LUPC) chair, Challis MacPherson, resigned from the Board (which she is a member of also) and walked out when a vote went against a proposal to expand the LUPC. About an hour later, and after some back room arm twisting, a new vote was taken that pleased MacPherson, and she returned to her seat. The motion was to increase the LUPC committee from 9 to 13 people. A referendum to that effect was voted on by the stakeholders (the community) last month, and it did not pass. Whether the Board can override the wishes of the community remains to be seen.

• The Board wants to “grandfather” already constructed illegal fences and allow new fences that are higher than the current maximum of 42 inches. Discussion, pro and con, was heard, and a vote will be taken at the next meeting.

• A motion was considered to put the VNC on record against the sale of any city-owned “surplus” property in Venice. It was on its way to passing until an aide of Councilmember Bill Rosendahl told the body to exempt a vacant lot at 520 Venice Blvd. which was in the process of being sold. Community activist have long sought, to no avail, to use the triangular-shaped vacant lot at the corner of Venice Way for a community garden. The aide said the proceeds of the sale – which should go to the Venice Surplus Property Fund – would be used to build a parking garage. In other words, Venice would lose the possibility of a conveniently located community garden, and would have to pay out of its local fund to build a parking garage for the convenience of visitors from other parts of Los Angeles. The parking revenue would go to the city of Los Angeles. The Board quickly amended its motion to exempt this piece of property.

• A VNC motion was placed in support of “Annual Growth and Infrastructure Review” which is based on a lawsuit against the city for excessive growth without adequate infrastructure to support it. However, the motion was quickly tabled when it dawned on Board members that it could result in a moratorium on development until adequate infrastructure – sewers, water, transportation, etc. – was created in Venice. 

Venetians will get an opportunity to hear about the lawsuit – and support it – at the Venice Town Council meeting on Oct. 10 at the Methodist Church auditorium. The lawsuit says that the city of L.A. is violating its own provisions for ensuring there is adequate infrastructure before more growth is allowed. Lucille Saunders, who initiated the legal action, will speak.

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