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Vision Has More Hype than Soul

January 25, 1987

The Venice Action Committee, Michael Dideon, Harlan Lee, et al., do have a vision for Venice, but it is not the hype that your reporter promoted in his article (Westside Section, Jan. 11).

Shuttle buses to move visitors around, senior housing, trees and shrubs and bicycle paths are all things that Venice community activists have demanded of the city for years. Nothing new here except the new patrons of the public, who are developers. What they are after is massive redesign of the Community Plan to permit increased heights and densities in Venice.

Once the plan is changed it will provide a sufficient incentive for developers to buy up existing housing, tear it down, and build new spiffy stuff for wealthy people, not for the poor or the seniors as Mr. Dideon states. They want profits first and they see the Venice Community Plan as restricting their ability to profit. So they charge that it has no vision or soul. This is such a simple ploy or hype and I don't see why your reporter decided to buy it.

Actually, the existing plan contains a clear and simple vision. It aims to protect the present socioeconomic integrity of the community by discouraging the kind of speculation that fosters lot consolidations, the destruction of existing housing and the intensification of commercial and residential uses in the community.

Our streets, alleys, walkways were not designed to handle the intensifications of use which the Venice Action Committee is supporting in Venice. Such projects destabilize the community and prepare the way not for its renaissance, as the committee trumpets, but its death. As the newer projects, which are more intense, come on line, the parking and circulation system here will become untenable and then everyone will demand that the walk-streets be opened, the streets widened, and older housing torn down to provide more parking and better access.

Venice is one of the most popular beaches in Los Angeles County and a major tourist attraction. We wanted to keep it that way. We concluded that limiting the scale and intensity of new development in Venice was the best may to ensure public access.

We opposed making Venice more exclusive than it already is. We concluded that this planning concept would help ensure that public access to the beach would remain open, democratic, and non-exclusive. Since the financing of newer residential and commercial development requires upscale patronage and use to succeed, public use tends to evolve toward the exclusive. Speculators and developers don't like this kind of planning perspective for obvious reasons. Neither does our municipal government, for Councilwoman (Pat) Russell thinks it's perfectly OK to encourage and legitimize what is clearly the self-interested land-use agenda of a small group of speculators and developers, masquerading as community visionaries. If the Venice Action Committee, Harlan Lee, and Councilwoman Russell really have the public and community, not profit and power in mind, why don't they stop violating the Venice Community Plan?

ARNOLD SPRINGER

Venice

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