June 24, 2024 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Judge Rejects Attempt to Block 140-Unit Affordable Housing Development, Related Hearing Set for June

The Coalition Plans to Appeal the Recent Ruling

By Zach Armstrong

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge rejected a coalition’s multi-year effort to halt the Venice Dell Community project; a 140-unit affordable housing development set for construction on what is now a city-owned parking lot. 

The Coalition for Safe Coastal Development, a 501(c)(4) which describes the conceived complex as something “recklessly rushed through the City approval process by a Councilman subsequently pushed out of office”, brought the case against the City of Los Angeles and developers. The nonprofit argued the project didn’t meet requirements for exemption from environmental review, disregarded concerns of Native American’s tribal cultural resources, violated the Subdivision Map Act, and would unlawfully demolish an existing structure for nonresidential uses, among other claims.

The ruling, issued on Tuesday, May 21 by Judge Richard Fruin, rejected those arguments. With a Disposition and Development Agreement signed with the City and entitlements upheld in Court, the project’s developers say only a few steps remain to pave the way for completion. 

“With this victory, we are excited and hopeful that Mayor Bass will direct her teams to take the actions needed to get these desperately needed affordable homes across the finish line,” Becky Dennison, Executive Director of Venice Community Housing, said in a statement.

Set for development on a 2.7-acre site at 200 N. Venice Blvd., one block inland from Venice beach and a short walk from the canals, Venice Dell Community was approved by City Council in 2021. Of the 140 units included in the current concept, 34 apartments are designated for low-income artists, 34 for low-income households, 4 for on-site personnel, with the remaining units being permanent supportive housing. Small-scale retail, green/open space and public parking are also set to be included. 

After a 2016 bid process for affordable housing proposals on City-owned properties, the City approved a recommendation to select Venice Community Housing and Hollywood Community Housing as co-developers for the site. 

The coalition plans to appeal the recent ruling. Additionally, an upcoming trial for a related lawsuit, also brought by the coalition, is set for June 4. That hearing, which will be heard by Judge Chalfant of the L.A. Superior Court, will address the legality of the lease which, according to the coalition, was given to Venice Community Housing and Hollywood Community Housing Corp. for $1 a year for the next 99 years.

“There’s no question we need to appeal this ruling. The judge’s decision repeatedly admitted the project did not meet some of the criteria for CEQA exemption (California Environmental Quality Act) when approved in December of 2021, but then declared the developer could fix these problems later. This is not our understanding of how the state’s laws work,” said a spokesperson with the coalition. “We agree that affordable housing is needed but the government still needs to act lawfully in addressing that need. Housing at this extraordinary taxpayer cost that disregards environment protection in a FEMA-designated flood zone is irresponsible. We remain puzzled as to why the city would invest this insane amount of money at this location.”

in Hard, News
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