Mayor Bass has no more excuses for delaying Venice Dell homeless housing


Now that some of the most vocal opponents to the much-needed Venice Dell homeless and low-income housing development in Venice have lost their lawsuit to block the project, will this be the last hurdle it has to face in a long and unnecessary obstacle course set by Los Angeles city officials?

It should be.

For more than a year, the project was slowed down because city agencies stopped working with the developers, Venice Community Housing and Hollywood Community Housing Corp., as they tried to finish contracts and parking garage designs, obtain permission to start relocating and compensating tenants in a four-unit building on the project site, and to get the necessary development approvals from the California Coastal Commission.

The 140-unit building, with four units for staff and the other 136 divided evenly between apartments for homeless people and apartments for lower-income individuals, will sit on a city-owned parking lot near the coast. This is one of those rare open swaths of land that city officials dream of using for homeless and affordable housing. The project was approved twice by the City Council, first in 2021 then in 2022, and the two nonprofits have an official development agreement.

But last year, Becky Dennison, the executive director of Venice Community Housing, said that city officials in the Bureau of Engineering and the Department of Transportation told her the city attorney’s office had instructed them to stop working with her. And they did, delaying critical work needed to move the project forward.

The office of City Atty. Hydee Feldstein Soto, who was on record opposing this project before she was elected and took office in late 2022, began looking for excuses to derail it — all of which have been rebutted by the developers’ attorneys.

Now that the lawsuit against the city and developers has been rejected, it’s time for the city to stop stalling. Superior Court Judge Richard L. Fruin, Jr. ruled against the claims brought by the Coalition for Safe Coastal Development, the most substantial one being that the development shouldn’t have been granted an exemption from the California Environmental Quality Act’s reporting requirements. The judge found the project properly used a state law that allows exemptions for supportive housing projects in the city of Los Angeles that get certain state or local funds.

Another lawsuit that claims the city improperly transferred the land is expected to go to court soon. But it seems unlikely to go far since the land has not technically been transferred to the developers yet and that process won’t start until some time closer to construction.

City officials have finally run out of excuses to stop working with the developers on moving the project along.

This project has already spent years in development. It’s frustrating enough that building affordable housing often requires years of cobbling together financing and approvals. It’s infuriating that any official in the city of Los Angeles would add to that timeline by putting off the work they need to do so it can get built.

Mayor Karen Bass has said she is determined to get homeless people inside and supports the development of more affordable housing. Yet she has waffled on her commitment to this project, saying last fall that she was in favor of some kind of affordable housing there but deferred to Traci Park, the council member whose district includes Venice and has long been opposed to the current project.

She must do better than that. There is very little affordable housing in Venice, and this project is desperately needed. If Bass truly wants affordable and homeless housing built in the city — and she has made every indication that this is her goal — she will have to push back against community groups and some City Council members who simply don’t want it in certain places and will roll out endless excuses.

It’s time for Bass and other city officials to not just stop slow-walking this project. They should put it on the fast track.



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