20-Story Tall Observation Wheel Proposed

September 1, 2011

By Jim Smith

Don’t tell anyone, but a proposal has been made to erect a 20-story-tall “Observation Wheel” on the beach at the end of Windward Avenue.

Great City Attractions, a company from Britain which specializes in big wheels (they don’t like to call them Ferris Wheels) says it could build the structure in ten days.

The company has several “transportable” wheels which they erect in a city for a period of time. The proposal for the Venice wheel is for two years. Whether the wheel would be new or one that had already been used at other locations was unclear.

A representative of Great City Attractions made an unannounced presentation to the July meeting of the Venice Chamber of Commerce. Reaction at that meeting was mixed, one of the participants told the Beachhead. Another said the company was trying to be “stealthy.”

But, according to Alex Rosales, President of the Venice Chamber, the company is simply considering us as one of several likely locations for a big wheel. He said at the officers meeting held Aug. 30, it appeared there was a consensus in favor of the wheel. Rosales said he believes the wheel would be beneficial to local businesses. He added that he would rather see the wheel further south near or in the Venice Blvd. parking lot on the beach.

Carol Tantau, Treasurer of the Venice Chamber, told the Beachhead that there has been no vote by her organization on the wheel. She said she told Nigel Ward from Great Cities Attractions that they would have to go “by the book” in getting permits from the City and from the Coastal Commission. She said the wheel looks safe and ecological.

Rosales said there was once a Ferris Wheel on the Windward Pier before it was torn down in 1949-50.

The wheel could be here for more or less than two years, according to Rosales. He said that Great Cities Attractions would be willing to add a clause in the contract that if the entire community was against it, they would disassemble it. On the other hand, if the community wanted it to stay after two years, the company would allow it.

According to Great Cities Attractions website, the company now has seven big wheels which range in height from 40 meters (the wheel proposed for Venice would be 60 meters) to 165 meters in Singapore. The latter is currently the largest wheel in the world, towering approximately 54 stories.

Several of their wheels are “transportable” and are moved from city to city. The wheel on the front page is one of these. It stood in York, England, until 2008, and may be the one that winds up in Venice.

How long has Venice been considered for a wheel? One of the documents distributed by Great Cities at the Chamber meeting is dated Jan. 10, 2011. Why have there been no community meetings for residents and others to give their opinions about the wheel?

The Venice Neighborhood Council has not discussed the wheel because no one has asked for it to be on the agenda, says Vice President Carolyn Rios. She said she had not heard of the proposal when contacted by the Beachhead.

Linda Lucks, President of the Council, said she had received an email from an aide to L.A. Councilmember Bill Rosendahl about two months ago saying that his office was sending her some material on a proposed beach attraction. Lucks said the material never arrived and she forgot about it until reminded by a call from the Beachhead.

“Where’s the parking?” Lucks responded when this reporter described the wheel to her. “Where are they going to put the cars of everyone who comes to see the wheel?” she exclaimed. “There’s already a Ferris Wheel on the Santa Monica Pier. Why do we need another one?”

Other community organizations that might have an interest in increased tourism and traffic have not known about the wheel proposal. In this activist-oriented community, the big wheel has truly been a stealth proposal.

Apparently no one has been aware of the proposal for a giant amusement attraction on the beach except for the Venice Chamber of Commerce and Bill Rosendahl.

The Great Cities Attractions handout touts the following advantages of the wheel:

• Boosted tourism numbers to cities and regions

• Increased dwell-time – important for the local retail offering

• Secondary spend to local businesses

• Many new jobs, including construction, operation and management roles

• Regeneration and enhancement of familiar locations.

 

It may come as a surprise to the British entrepreneurs that Venice already has all the tourism it needs. While there is no official count, Venice tourism is either the largest or second largest in Southern California.

Whether tourists spend money with local businesses may depend on how much the tickets cost to ride the wheel. Rosales says he believes the ticket price would be about $12.

The wheel in Manchester, England, also owned by Great Cities Attractions, charges £7.50, which converts to $12.41. A child’s ticket is $8.27. It is also possible to rent an entire VIP capsule (seats 4) and a half bottle of champagne for the equivalent of $124. Prices may vary in Venice.

Great Cities says about 40 jobs would be created locally and many of these would be filled locally.

The 200 foot (60 meters) tall wheel would not require a foundation and could easily be set up and dismantled. It would include 21 fully-enclosed, climate-controlled capsules for up to eight people.

None of the literature discusses how sturdy the wheel is when confronted with natural forces such as earthquakes or even gale-force winds that sometimes accompany winter storms out of the Pacific.

Power for the wheel could come from electric mains from DWP or with its own diesel generators on-site.

The proposal also claims quiet operation, with noise levels of 60 decibels at 10 meters.

The technology has come a long ways since George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr. constructed the first modern wheel for the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893.

Ferris’ wheel was actually larger than the one proposed for Venice. His wheel was 240 feet tall compared with 200 for the Venice wheel. In addition, it could carry many more people, although perhaps not in the quiet comfort afforded today.

Today’s wheels are actually Ferris Wheels, although promoters don’t like to call them that. The best known of the recent giant Ferris Wheels is the London Eye, or Millennium Wheel, erected in 1999. It has become the most popular tourist attraction in the United Kingdom and is visited by 3.5 million people annually.

It is much larger than the Venice wheel which likely would not attract so many people. But increased tourism and congestion, including parking, are going to weigh heavily on Venetians in deciding if they want this wheel.

What would Abbot Kinney say? He would probably be in favor of the wheel, if he got his cut of the profits. Kinney wanted a wide-open town with few restrictions on businesses. But his views may be as outdated as is the term, “Ferris wheel.”

Probably most of us would like to ride up 20 stories for the view. But how much neighborhood peace will we have to sacrifice if it brings hoards of new tourists?

In the final analysis, it may come down to “what’s in it for Venice.” Will all the revenue go downtown, or will some of it stay here in the community to deal with more auto and pedestrian congestion and trash? Or will it be up to the Chamber and Bill Rosendahl, leaving the rest of us out of the decision-making process?

 

 


Letters

September 1, 2011
  • Imperial Wars – Bill Mitchell
  • On the Boardwalk – Juditte Erki

—————————-

Imperial Wars

Dear Beachhead,

There are imperial wars of aggression and their fraudulent pretext and false flag psyops; but  in the case of Libya, there was not even a pretext, just the decision to attack, and that is good enough for mercenaries and the constantly compliant anyhow.

Motives exist in the form of oil and gold in Libya. It is the richest country in resources and is highly developed; therefore, the destruction and depleted uranium use for genocidal depopulation is “by the book.” It’s the book that Brzezinski read Obama in the closet or stream room back at Columbia when he was his professor teaching a course on disarmament of the Soviet Union.  That was the ultimate issue and goal for both of them.  All these smaller invasions are diversions.

We are conditioned to accept more use of military force here and there and anywhere for any or no reason necessary. It is just policy, and top secret, so end of discussion!  For discussion of motives would lead to those most benefiting and their track records, which would mean it is all lies, it is all about armed robbery and mass murder by any other name, would not justify nor disguise the truth, so we have to tell it at all times on all aspects of The War on Terror, which means 9/11 raw and unrestrained as best we can analyze it.

Bill Mitchell

————-

On the Boardwalk

Dear Beachhead,

The rain has started.  Big pregnant drops are falling to the pavement.  The dark threatening clouds, earlier set above the Pacific, had moved to shore proclaiming the end of summer.  On the Santa Monica pier, the carousel with its thousands of brilliant lights flashing with a multitude of colors attracted its last customer.  The few remaining tourists are rushing toward their hotels.  Designer bags sit on the women’s shoulders; princess cut diamonds sparkle on their ring fingers.  Canon cameras rest against the men’s well-fed stomachs; and with iPhones in hand; their eyes anxiously glance at the latest figures on the stock market.

I don’t move.  No hotel room is waiting for me, not even a modest small apartment.  The homeless has no place to go.  We are objects, sitting on separate beach benches, like a twenty-first century art piece.  Next to me is my pushcart filled with my possessions.  Dozens of plastic bags full of useless stuff. There is a big plastic trash bag somewhere in there that could protect me from the rain, but I am too tired to look for it.  I have not eaten a real meal for days.  Stomach is empty, yet not hungry.  Soul is torn away from body.  Hope is left behind an empty cage.  My life is not mine.  Looking back into the past, I see a life that is familiar:  husband whispering sweet promises into my ear, dark haired children sitting on the couch watching TV waiting for their supper, the aroma of the pot-roast from the hot oven filling up the house, my supervisor announcing the closing of the store where I received the best employee of the year placard year after year, and the eviction notice on the front door of my house.  One thing I know for sure– the explosive device that blew up my life was made in the USA.  The blast blinded me.  When I look into the future, I see nothing.

What do these rushing tourists see and think?  They are passing so close to me, yet they don’t see me.  Selective vision allows them to enjoy their lifestyle without guilt.  The checks they write to the homeless shelter at Christmastime buy their tickets to heaven.  Maybe they’re deciding what to order for their dinner– steak or lobster?  For an instant the sweet buttery taste of the lobster fills my mouth.  The meat on my tongue firm yet easily melting. The memory weakens me.  It allows me to consider calling out to the tourists.  To beg them to buy me a sandwich.  To hold up a cup so they could put a few coins in it.  Giving me a single dollar could ease their conscience, but what would it do to me?  Begging for a piece of bread from the people who took it away from me would cost me dearly.  I hold on to the last shred of my dignity.  I don’t ask for nothing.  I’d rather starve.  I am a no good defiant homeless.  They call me a bum.  But I know the truth.  I take out the bottle of Southern Comfort from my handbag, take a drink and I start to feel like I am a woman, the same as the one who is rushing by me, holding the  rhinestone studded leash of her designer pooch.

Juditte Erki


Big Blue Bus Shrinks in Venice

September 1, 2011

As of August 28, the #2 Big Blue Bus no longer runs through Venice, but will end its run at Main and Hill Sts. in Santa Monica.

The #1 Bus’s route has been extended to cover the part of the #2 route from the Circle to Venice HIgh School with the following changes.

The most noticeable change comes on the northbound (Venice to UCLA) run, which will begin at Main at Market Sts., the first intersection north of the circle. It will NOT leave from from beside the post office. Those busses that follow the old #2 route starting at Venice High will approach the circle on Windward and turn directly north onto Main. Only the southbound (UCLA to Venice) now stops next to the post office.

The southbound (UCLA to Venice) #1 only continues on to Venice High on weekdays, and the earliest run will leave its usual pick-up spot next to the post office at 6:44 am, and will run approximately every twenty minutes until 8:30 am and then every half hour after that. On the weekends the bus ends it run at Lincoln and California. It loops around behind the Ralph’s market complex and goes back up California.

The new schedule is available on the busses, at the Big Blue Bus Store on Broadway near the Promenade and at the Venice – Abbot Kinney Library. It is also posted at stops along the route and at bigbluebus.com.

–Roger Linnett

 


Charter Schools Fight It Out Over Walgrove Campus

September 1, 2011

By Greta Cobar

The neighborhood around Walgrove Elementary school is furious about Green Dot’s intent to build a school for 500 middle-school students on the Walgrove Elementary School campus. The main concerns involve increased traffic, less parking, loitering and vandalism in the residential area.

For the last six years 200 Ocean Charter School students in fourth through eighth grades have been collocating with the students of Walgrove Elementary in temporary classrooms that have to be removed, by state law, at the end of the 2011-2012 school year.

The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) issued a notice of intent to lease two acres of land on the Walgrove campus, opening the door to all charter schools to submit their proposals to build the new building, which could be financed with Measure K, R and Y bond funds if the charter is eligible. These funds were originally meant to be spent on repair and modernization of existing schools, such as a new cafeteria or gym for Walgrove students. If the charter is not eligible for the bond funds, it will be responsible for the costs of construction.

Green Dot is continuing its efforts of locating its Animo Westside Middle School in Venice, after its undertaking to co-locate at Westminster Elementary failed earlier this year because of strong community opposition (see People Win: Westminster Gets to Keep Its Classrooms, April Beachhead.) It had to instead accept the space it was allocated at Cowan Elementary in Playa Vista. They also have a high school, Animo Venice, located at Broadway Elementary School in Venice, in a new building that they constructed to seemingly look like a box of steel.

Both Ocean Charter and Green Dot will apply to lease the land and build on the Walgrove campus, and LAUSD will pick the winner. Walgrove neighbors and parents spoke against charter school presence in general, but Green Dot in particular, as it would add an additional 300 middle school students to the campus.  It is unclear whether Ocean Charter will have any advantage for having been there first.

According to Kristy Mack-Fett, director of the Ocean Charter school on the Walgrove campus, Green Dot is a charter management organization with tens of schools, while Ocean Charter is more like a mom and pop business without any other  branches. She stated that her school offers alternatives to families that are not well-suited by LAUSD.

The new building is expected to be ready for occupancy in about three and a half years. Ocean Charter students will continue their attendance during construction in the existing bungalows or in new, temporary bungalows, depending on LAUSD’s decision.

A motion was approved at the August 16 Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) meeting that recommends that “LAUSD focus on charter applicants’ capacity and ability to address middle school needs – without excluding elementary or high schools – in its upcoming Request for Proposal (RFP) for the Walgrove Campus.”

A second motion, seeking the VNC’s support of the continuation of Ocean Charter School’s co-location at the Walgrove campus, did not receive a second and died. The issue will likely be considered again once the RFP is published.

Although our tax dollars should support public education exclusively, charter schools were allowed to move onto traditional school campuses where classrooms are underutilized or vacant by Proposition 39, which passed in 2000. It is not probable that Walgrove will be able to take back the space already allocated to a charter school. However, it does seem in the best interests of the students for Ocean Charter to continue operating at its current location as opposed to being forcefully moved to another neighborhood. Although the neighbors would be happiest accommodating Walgrove Elementary students only, their traffic and congestion woes will worsen if Green Dot is allowed to replace Ocean Charter and bring in an additional 300 students.

 


Sewing Club! In Venice!

September 1, 2011

By Roger Linnett

Five members of the Venice Boys & Girls Club’s Sewing Club were invited to exhibit their creations for the 700 plus attendees of the annual conference of the American Sewing Guild on Friday, August 19 at the Bonaventure Hotel in downtown L.A.

They were there as special guests of the ASG as a demonstration of the wonderful results of mentoring young students in the sewing arts, and to encourage the members of the audience to go back and start sewing programs in their own communities. The five created outfits in line with the ASG’s theme of “Hollywood’s Golden Age of Glitz and Glamour.”  For most it was the first major sewing project they had ever undertaken, having first crafted purses, messenger bags and the like.

 

Esteyn Diaz, 17, the group’s only male, who has been awarded a scholarship to the prestigious Fashion Institute for Design and Merchandising, designed and made a dark-blue, long-sleeve linen shirt. “It’s a perfect summer beach look.”

Ivette Flores, 16, who will also be attending FIDM next year, chose a short, summer dress in black with tiny red roses and red buttons down the side. “I chose the pattern from McCall’s, and the fabric because floral prints are trendy.”

Christina Garcia, 18, showed off her chic, black taffeta gown. “I imagined it would be something Grace Kelly would wear.”

Junuen Garcia, 16, matched a short black dress with a leopard-print top. “I wanted something I could wear for more than one occasion.”

Somone Glenn,17, crafted a beautiful, black silk, sequined blouse. “This look Rocks! especially with vintage accessories.”

In 2007 the VB&GC received a donation of two sewing machines and three boxes of fabric. But it wasn’t until a new volunteer, who goes by “Rose,” but could be a mistaken for Laura Dern, said “Yes, I can can sew,” in answer to Art Director Lalo Marquez’s question. “Great,” he said, “you’re the new sewing teacher.” A small office was converted to accommodate sewing machines and work tables. When the adjoining art room is in use the noise makes it hard to talk without closing the door, which makes the little room hot and stuffy. The club is hoping top move to a larger space soon.

The club really took off when the Singer Company donated a couple more machines, and VNC council member Challis McPherson, herself a member of the South Bay chapter of ASG, was able to get the VNC to grant funds to open accounts for material and notions at Fabric Planet, Lincoln Fabrics and JoAnn’s. She also put out the word with the ASG for more volunteers to help mentor the eager students.

The very popular club, dubbed “The Sew What? Club” has far fewer mentors than the many aspiring fashionistas clamoring to join. There are currently a half-dozen women, not all ASG members, who for the most part work one-on-one to teach the teenagers all aspects of sewing. While most are individual projects ranging from purses and messenger bags to pillows and pajamas, a group led by Barbara McDowell is learning to make quilts as a collective endeavor.The Sew What? Club meets Tuesday afternoons from Noon ‘til 6 pm on the second floor of the Venice Boys & Girls Club.


Roadmap to Housing turns into a Lonesome Highway

September 1, 2011

By Greta Cobar

In what could be a viewed as a publicity stunt at best or another slap in the face, councilperson Bill Rosendahl made headlines this week as he ceremoniously handed Alfred Adkins the keys to an apartment in Venice. This is the so-called success story of People Assisting the Homeless (PATH), an organization that Rosendahl gave $650,000 of Venice funds, that were to be used only in Venice, but are now spread out in the entire eleventh council district. No wonder the first Venice person to receive housing, in Koreatown, did not make the headlines.

The Venice Vehicle Census, conducted by St. Joseph’s and the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, counted 254 “vehicles used as dwelling spaces in Venice” on the morning of July 13, 2010. Then Rosendahl called the September 23, 2010 Town Hall Meeting, where he stood in front of hundreds of Venetians and said loud and clear: “jails exist for those of you who choose not to be part of my program.” Concurrently a police task force was created, and “the mission of the task force is to effect arrests of individuals who are violating local and state codes.” Most specifically, 85.02, which makes it a crime to sleep in a vehicle.

To make a long story short, during the fall and winter months of 2010 the police chased out of Venice as many people living in vehicles as they possibly could in a military, Nazi-reminiscent fashion. The terror, the fear, the arrests, the tows, the tears, the nightmares and then the cold nights on the cement once the vehicles were gone. The people are still here.

Rosendahl surely did deliver on his pledge to put people in jail. He did not deliver on coming up with his program though. Here we are, a year later, and two people have been put into housing. After dozens were arrested, thousands of dollars were spent on towing costs, and years were shaved off people’s existence by the stress of having their shelter either in peril or gone. The initial plan of providing parking lots for those living in vehicles is now out the door.

What happened was Rosendahl used his political power and elbowed his way into the Housing Authority and the Veterans Administration to snatch housing vouchers. He did not create the housing that he is providing, just took it from someone else and is planning on giving it to the 115 people on his “list.” Jeremy Sidell, spokesperson for PATH, could not estimate how many of those 115 people are actually from Venice.

Notice that while 245 people were counted as living in vehicles in Venice alone, only 115 people are on the “list,” which now covers the entire eleventh district. And after bragging about personally giving Atkins the keys to the apartment and half a dozen fresh eggs Rosendahl went on to say: “the others: we have a law that gives us the ability to deal with them if they choose to illegally live in a vehicle.” I guess the other half dozen eggs will be thrown at the rest of us.

As many of you might recall, the “let’s get rid of RVs” hysteria was started on August 17, 2010 by an allegation of an RV dumping sewage made by members of the local Neighborhood Watch. The validity of those allegations has been questioned in the past, and the felonious background of the person making the allegations was exposed by the Beachhead in June (Who’s Watching the Neighborhood Watch) and was validated three months later by an August 25 article in the LA Weekly (Clamor Over Venice311).

The authority cannot make it illegal for people to exist and the affluent cannot eliminate the “undesirables.” But today, when everyone is out looking for a dollar, it seems unusually cruel to target those with the least. I suppose the authority expects us to be grateful that the law still allows sleeping on the sidewalk.

 

 

 

 


Save The Post Office

September 1, 2011

By Greta Cobar

The Post Office headquarters in Washington DC is currently considering the appeals they received to stop the sale of the historic Venice post office. Linda Lucks, President of the Venice Neighborhood Council, Janice Hahn, our newly elected congressperson, the Venice Town Council and other concerned Venetians sent in appeals asking that postal services remain in the post office as opposed to moving them to what is now the post office annex.

According to Richard Maher, spokesperson for the postal service, there is no date set for reaching a decision and he would not comment on the criteria used to reach that decision.

The majority of the community is vehemently against the sale of the historic building, the only New Deal-era Works Projects Administration structure surviving in Venice. It also houses the “Story of Venice,” a mural created by well-known California Modernist artist Edward Biberman.

The building is now for sale for 5 million under the excuse of loss of revenue from postal services. The postal service says the buyer would have to sign covenants protecting the property as a historical building, but those covenants have easily been broken in the past, as was the case with the historical hotels downtown.

Two Biberman murals were removed from the downtown post office and court house in the past. In the mid 80s, when Biberman himself wanted to see the removed murals, they were nowhere to be found. Most likely they were destroyed. According to Suzanne Zada, Art Executor of the Biberman Estate, removing and moving a mural will inevitably cause significant damage to the art piece and possible loss.

Created in 1941, the mural in our post office depicts the view from that location at that point. Abbot Kinney is pictured between his idyllic Venice architecture and the oil wells that existed in the Peninsula. Murals originated during a time when illiteracy was prevalent, and they served the function of educating the population. It was therefore imperative that they be in plain sight of the citizens, such as in a post office. Changing the building into something other than a public building would impede the public’s access to the mural.

Venetians are against moving the postal services to the annex, as that would increase the traffic, decrease the number of parking spots, and have a negative environmental impact on the area surrounding the annex, all of which is residential.

Furthermore, according to a postal worker who chose to remain anonymous, currently there is no vacant space available in the annex. Moving the operations and remodeling the annex would carry an expense probably close to the price set on the post office building itself. According to Ruth Goldway, Chairperson of the Postal Regulatory Commission and a Venice resident, if such a move were to take place, the service, appearance and parking provided at the annex would have to measure up to the standards of the community.

It wasn’t too long ago that the annex itself was for sale, first for 20 millions and then for 16. Although offers were made, the building was ultimately not sold because another building was not found to accommodate the sorting that now takes place in the annex. As Jim Smith pointed out at one of the Neighborhood Council meetings that took place concerning the fate of our beloved post office, it would make more sense to move the sorting operations for Venice to the current post office building, send all other sorting operations to their own neighborhoods, and sell the annex. It would generate a lot more money, it wouldn’t carry the strong opposition of the community, and it would be an easier sale because the annex does not have historical status, which might deter buyers, especially with the strong demands that the community has for the preservation of the mural.

As opposed to some other issues such as RVs or homelessness, this issue has really united our community, as we all want to save our post office, which, as Don Geagan said, “is more than just a post office. It is the heart of our community.” Indeed, all roads in Venice do lead to the post office. Hopefully it will stay that way.

 

 


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