Open letter from Venice Resident: Save Venice Beach

Dear Members of the Venice Land Use & Planning Committee and the Venice Neighborhood Council,

A friend has told me that you are considering an application for a “change of use” for the apartment building at 417 Ocean Front Walk. 32 more rent stabilized apartments off the market permanently, and 32 more “hotel rooms.” Why would LUPC and the VNC “approve” someone for doing something that was illegal? That would really be too sad.

I have lived in my apartment on Navy St since February 1990. I saw neighbors pack their belongings into their cars in the parking lot of another Venice Boardwalk building years ago. They didn’t look happy, they looked panicked. It was a Saturday night, and I was walking on the boardwalk with a friend. Then someone bought his building at 5 Rose, and he was pressured to take an apartment on the side of the building and give up his ocean view. He was elderly and disabled, and he just didn’t have the fight in him. Then 15 Rose.

Oh, and of course, the Admiral building at 29 Navy St., which had long term tenants when I first moved onto the street, but then turned into an illegal- hotel. The noise, the illegal parking—someone always parks in front of the fire hydrant across the street, and it always turns out to be a short-term tenant. That building is empty again, but oh boy, lots of sprucing up going on—is this one going to be retro-approved as well?

Now it’s happening in my own building. After the owner purchased the building he bullied a young tenant out; he caught her renting her place out on Airbnb while she went on a week of vacation, then paid her a measly $5000. to leave. I wish she’d told me exactly what was happening. She only told me that he made her cry. Pretty ironic that he is now renting her place out on Airbnb himself; Of course! He’s making more than twice what she was paying in rent.

Another tenant was also renting on Airbnb, and he had eviction papers taped to his door. But he held out for either a court date, or a better offer. His place is being prepped for short term renters; the huge TV mounted on the wall, extra beds with bedding moved in, etc., etc.
All the while I am being subtly, and not so subtly harassed, by shoddy repairs, or waiting, waiting, waiting for ANY repair. 

When my heat went out in December (it was quite cold if you recall—in the 40s at night), I had to have a city inspector come out to even get the landlord to fix the heat, even with a 2 day urgent repair order, it was out for 13 days.

When workers finally showed up, guess what they felt they had to fix first? The Airbnb apartment in the back—what a shocker . . . . Then it was my electricity, oh, and the 7 months that it took him to fix my kitchen sink. Well, I don’t know what I expected from someone who shook my hand the first time I met him and said, smiling; “What would it take for you to leave?” He is also paying a neighbor of mine to let people in, the feeling I have of being betrayed by this woman is difficult, to say the least. We are no longer friends. Thanks for tearing my neighborhood apart, buddy.

I know that this is also happening on Ozone, walking down Navy Court one day I saw old furniture, and, more tellingly, 4 boxes of large screen TVs put out with the trash.

I don’t know why Los Angeles is dragging its feet on this issue; Santa Monica has said “NO!” Barcelona, Paris, and West Hollywood have said “NO!”

I have nothing against tourists, there have always been tourists in Venice. But we need to decide what we want in our neighborhood. Do we want neighbors? Or do we want 10 city blocks in every direction of 3 night renters. How invested are they in the neighborhood? In the community? I was putting out the trash last night, well, someone has to do it, and it isn’t like my landlord or his short-term renters are going to, and I found cigarette butts all over the ground by the door of the Airbnb apartment. Sigh, yeah, those are my newest neighbors.

Short term rentals are like a tsunami engulfing my neighborhood. Please help us here in Venice, we’re drowning!

I urge you to deny the Change of Use application for 417 Ocean Front Walk. This building should be returned to it’s rightful use as a rent-stabilized apartment building for long-term tenants.

Name withheld
p.s. the “character” that Venice is so famous for is not embodied in the visitors, it’s coming from US, the residents!

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