The Venice meeting concerning the murder of Brendon Glenn

May 1, 2015

By Jim Smith

Los Angeles is a city without a heart. It is a city where a young, Black homeless kid can be gunned down at close range, while the cop who took his life is sent home on paid leave. It is a city where developers run the city, including the police commission, and cover up for cops when they go too far.
Brendon Glenn slept in the streets and drank too much. Only in L.A. are these capital offensives. It is ironic that Developer Steven Soboroff is president of the Los Angeles Police Commission. This is the same man who laid waste to the Ballona Creek wetlands in order to make multi-millions by building Playa Vista. Now he is defending the LAPD in front of hundreds of Venetians, many of who were active in the fight to save those same wetlands.
Soboroff is joined on the podium by our erstwhile Councilmember Mike Bonin, who is greeted by a multitude of boos when he takes the microphone. Always in character, Bonin talks without saying anything of substance. He has built a political career by being all things to all people. He was an aide to progressive councilmember, Ruth Galanter, and then an aide to right-wing trilateralist Representative Jane Harman. He was anointed, more than elected, to replace his boss, Bill Rosendahl, as our guy in the L.A. City Council. Now he’s stepped in deep doo-doo by trying to straddle an impossible position between anti and pro-homeless camps in Venice. The boos are just an easier way to express our displeasure than mounting a recall campaign.
A group of articulate cops are seated in front of us. They turn out to be mostly props in this drama of talking away the fact of the murder. The best they can do is quote police procedure, but they have no answers when asked if those procedures were followed in this case. Of course, we all know they weren’t.
No one in the community wants to rise to defend these creeps. The most rabid anti-homeless locals, including Alex Thompson and Mark Ryavec, sit silently as if contemplating a day when they can again rail against the transients, the homeless, the bums, who are “ruining” Venice. They don’t seem to notice that those who are ruining Venice are sitting right in front of them.
Soboroff has the nerve to call this pacification meeting a dialogue. If it is a dialogue why is no one from Venice sitting at the podium, or chairing the meeting? Even the religious community who often play the role of calling for peace and restraint on the part of the community after some LAPD atrocity sit quietly. When they do rise to do who knows what, they are roundly booed. Organized religion and shilling for the cops don’t have the cachet they once had.
It was a vocal meeting, a rowdy meeting, as it should be. Not everyone was speaking to the point of the murder. Many of the speakers have endured past wounds that won’t heal. Wounds inflicted by this crew who prefer to use the stick, not the carrot. In spite of the directionlessness of the evening, it was impossible for me to feel anything but pride in my fellow Venetians. Our eyes are wide open, we’re not buying the city’s bullshit any longer.
It is entirely possible that this esteemed band of developer/politicians will throw us a sacrificial lamb as long as they can stay in power. That’s the way it works when the people become too aroused. That’s the way it worked in Baltimore where after days of protest, the crowd broke through and scattered the police line. The next day indictments were issued for the rank-and-file cops who were just following informal police procedures in the killing of Freddie Gray.
It is impossible to love the reality of Los Angeles. When people say they love L.A., they’re talking about the media image. After all, this is where dreams are made. L.A. even ships some of the filming of those dreams to Venice, and in doing so creates an imaginary fairyland where even the homeless are lovin’ it. Of course, Venice never sees a penny of the big filming fees L.A. racks in from the studios.
With eyes wide open we see the true L.A., which turns out to be a developer’s dream in which the rest of us play the suckers. They are so smug that they even let the curtain down in books and movies like Chinatown and L.A. Confidential. The true facts, not the make-believe, are that Los Angeles is run – always has been – by developers who buy the politicians they need. They don’t care if someone like Brendon gets hurt or killed in the process as long as the money wagon keeps rolling.
I told the meeting that in my 40 years in Venice, the LAPD has always acted like an army of occupation. Its misdeeds have included rounding up our Black and Latino neighbors for non-violent crimes, or no crime at all, and sending them off to prison. Nothing of the sort has happened to white Venetians. Since that attitude has not changed in so many years, then it must be the way the power elite want it to operate.
Yes, we should make sure the cop who pulled the trigger pays for his crime. The fact that the shooter was a Black cop makes no difference. It seems apparent that LAPD officers of all nationalities are subjected to a racist and us-versus-them atmosphere in the police department, whether they agree with it or not. Does anyone think that they view Venice with our artists, nonconformists and homeless with anything but disdain when they are talking among themselves? Alas, good cops don’t make the rules. The militarism of the LAPD is the creation of those at the top of the pyramid in the police force and the L.A. city government who want our police force to act as a criminal conspiracy.
When will these men in the shadows have to pay for their misdeeds? How many more deaths will it take before we have a million people in these mean streets who will make it impossible for these jokers to continue their misrule. Now that our blinders are off, it may not be that long before they are just a bitter memory.

Jim Smith4

Above: Standing-room only May 7 Town Hall meeting
Jim Smith5

Above: May 7 Town Hall meeting – more cameras than ever before

Jim Smith2Above: May 7 Town Hall meeting – Bonin shuts up while getting booed

All pictures by Jim Smith


That Dark Parade: Protesters Take to Venice Streets Over Gentrification & Brendon Glenn’s Killing

May 1, 2015

By Krista Schwimmer

In a strange, dark twist of fate, a state-wide, two day protest organized by more than a dozen groups representing the voices of First Nations, black, brown, and poor people united with the Venice community’s outrage over the recent LAPD officer killing of an unarmed, houseless young man, Brendon Glenn. Although planned well before Glenn’s tragic death, the protest, centered around housing injustices and police abuse, was already poised to address the issues that contributed to this particular death by cop. The result was a powerful day of community outrage and grief played out before the larger public.
The two day protests were held on May 7th and 8th, in six cities: Oakland, Salinas, Venice, San Francisco, San Jose, and Vallejo. As part of the protest, organizers came up with a list of eighteen demands, centered around curbing hypergentrification statewide. These demands include a state-wide moratorium on Ellis Act/for profit evictions of children, families, elders, and disabled peoples from ANY rental property; implementation of the Homeless Bill of Rights; and the conviction of police officers who murder their citizens. (For the complete list, see http://www.poormagazine.org/node/5295)
At noon on May 7th, the protest set in Venice began in the parking lot of the Brigg. While preparing for the actual march, people took up signs like “California, Not Only for the Rich” and cardboard shaped coffins, colorfully decorated with the names of people who have been killed by police. One woman, Karen Matulis, who was born and raised in Venice, held up the coffin decorated for a man named Dennis Der. She said she came to be a part of the community that day, hoping by doing so, she could make a small difference. Citizens, she said, have to hold the police accountable. “My heart breaks for this boy and the other boys killed.”
At noon, the march began. The first stop along the way was across the street, at Tami Pardee’s real estate business. Organizers placed two large, “Eviction Notices” on the front of her business. One asked Pardee to “Show Us the Prospectus or Quit.” According to Mark Lipman from People Organized for Westside Renewal (POWER), every Pardee development project has a Prospectus to show investors how much profit can be made by evicting existing tenants from their affordable housing units. The second “Notice” called on Pardee to “cease & desist displacement of people and families” and become part of the loving community.
As a variety of speakers testified how Tami Pardee was culpable in their evictions, a drone eerily appeared in the sky and hovered near the crowd, creating a Big Brother atmosphere.
After the stop at Pardee’s, the protest then marched north on Abbot Kinney Boulevard. Throughout the march, protestors shouted chants like: “No Justice! No Peace!”, “Put People First” and “People Over Profits”. Business owners, residents, and other passerbys came out and watched, many videoing what they witnessed.
The protestors turned west on Westminster, then south on Main Street. At Windward, they turned west again, their next destination the location where Brendon Glenn was killed. When they reached that spot, marked by a memorial in front of the Townhouse, the protestors asked everyone to take a moment of silence and lie down in the street. Termed a “die in”, this symbolic act is currently prevalent in the “Black Lives Matter” movement.
At this location, a young man calling himself “CR” spoke to the crowd about the moments before Brendon was shot. As he began speaking about how Brendon was the brother of love, a man wailed out in grief.
CR said that he had heard from a credible source that right before the deadly altercation, Brendon had gone to make a phone call to his mother at the youth center called P.A.D. He got some bad news and was crying. Brendon then returned to his spot near the Townhouse to “get some change for his frigging’ dog.” And the bouncer said he wasn’t allowed to be there. “He’s an ex-marine,” CR continued. “He’s allowed to be wherever the fuck he wants to be.” CR also stated that another source said “that a cop was seen clearing Windward out. Clearing the street! Before the incident. A little fishy.”
CR revealed that, according to his source, Brendon was shot as he was reaching for his I.D. after the police had pressed him for it twice. “It was an execution,” he said. CR concluded with “Release the video!”
After the die-in, protestors marched to their last location – the Police Substation right off Windward and Ocean Front Walk. As they approached the station, protestors raised their arms and chanted: “Hands up! Don’t shoot!”
The remainder of the protest was centered around addressing police brutality specifically. Speakers from groups like the Youth Justice Coalition, and Young Survivors, as well as Skid Row activists such as General Dogon and Adam, educated the crowd on the depth of this problem, as well as offered their advice.
During her speech, Kim McGill from Youth Justice Coalition stated that Brendon was the 621st person killed by law enforcement in Los Angeles County since 2000. She said the reason why most people do not know this large number is because the data is not widely released. McGill also stated that the District Attorney’s office “have a memorandum of understanding with every fifty-seven police departments in LA County that they don’t investigate a single use of force until the police departments have exhausted their investigation.” Unlike the Carolina’s and Baltimore, this process can take anywhere from six months to a year. When the D.A.’s office finally gets the box of information from the police, McGill said they decide, “Oh well, it looks like a justifiable shooting.”
McGill also gave the following statistics concerning the 621 people killed. Although Los Angeles county is only 9% African-American, 28% of those killed by law enforcement are African-American. Similarly, although LA county is only 47% Latino, 53% killed are Latinos. Other victims come from the homeless and the mentally ill. In at least seven cases, where law enforcement was called to the scene by family members concerned about a suicide, law enforcement ended up killing rather than protecting the troubled people they were supposed to protect.
Adam, an activist from Skid Row, had direct advice to give to Venice residents in regards to their own community. Calling the Venice Neighborhood Council “a bunch of gentrifiers,” he told the community they need to take back their Neighborhood Council. “It is time for the people of Venice to stand up – to stand up to the Nimbys, to stand up to the cats who want to take your entire neighborhood and turn it into a damn vacation spot,” Adam said.
The protest ended mid-afternoon. Organizers and participants alike dispersed into the day. Some went on to the Town Hall meeting that night, organized by city officials to address the recent shooting. Others returned to their regular lives.
As day turned to night, a light rain shower dispersed over Venice – unusual in this drought stricken time. Still, such rains are not enough to wet a parched land or to cleanse a community after a wrongful killing. No doubt there are mighty storms coming. It is simply a matter of time.

Die-In Next to Brendon's Memorial

 

Above: May 7 community rally die-in

Protesters Marching On Abbot Kinney Boulevard

Above: May 7 community rally

Protesters Prepare  To MarchAbove: Protesters preparing to march, May 7

All photos by Krista Schwimmer


Only Black Cops Go to Jail

May 1, 2015

By Greta Cobar

Once again the LAPD came to Venice to cause problems, this time killing 29 year old Brendon Glenn, who was unarmed. The incident occurred on May 5, around 11:30pm, on Windward, in front of the Townhouse.
The LAPD has not released the video of the incident, and therefore the details of the altercation are sketchy. One witness reported that he got shot as he was trying to reach into his pocket to get his ID, which the cops were asking him for. Another witness said that the first bullet fired ricocheted, hitting the officer’s knee and prompting him to fire again, this time with a fatal shot.
The fact is that Glenn, also known as Dizzle, was shot twice. Apparently Glenn got into an argument with the bouncer at the Townhouse. Somebody called the cops, and officers Clifford Proctor and Jonathan Kawahara arrived and talked to Glenn, after which they let him go and they walked back to their vehicles. According to the cops, Glenn got into a scuffle with somebody else, and they went back to intervene. That intervention led to Glenn ending up dead.
In an unlikely fashion, less than 24 hours after the incident, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck stated that “Any time an unarmed person is shot by a Los Angeles police officer, it takes extraordinary circumstances to justify that, and I have not seen those extraordinary circumstances at this point.”
Beck is referring to the video of the killing, which he had viewed, but has not released to the public. The very next statement that Beck made during that same Wednesday press conference was that the officer who shot Glenn is Black. Beck went on to say that race is irrelevant.
Cops murdering unarmed Black men and getting away with it is, sadly, not news. The chief of police stating that the killing was unwarranted is news. What else is different in this case, compared to all the others? The officer is Black.
The first killing by a Black cop becomes the first reprimand of a cop. Beck is doing nothing but saving his ass and continuing his inconsistent disciplinary actions that play favoritism to his buddies. What Beck is about to do is use the officer who killed Glenn as a scape-goat for his corrupt and unjust police department.
I know, we’ve been eager to see a cop go to jail. But remember that the prison-industrial complex is a horrific money-making scheme that solves nothing. If we are going to use the death of Glenn to make sure that something like it won’t happen again, we need to go way beyond putting another person behind bars.
As the Chief of Venice told me the other day, if we had Venice cityhood, we would have our own police force. And our own Venice police force would not have guns. The only way to stop what has become a routine of unwarranted police murders is to disarm the cops.
Glenn could have easily been Tasered, if he was indeed a threat.
Glenn’s murder brought grief and anger to Venice. The community came together with a memorial in front of the Townhouse, several vigils, a rally and a Town Hall meeting.
The auditorium at Westminster Elementary school has probably never been as packed as it was on May 7, during the Town Hall meeting. The Venice community poured in, alongside the dozens of cops and dozens of mass-media reporters with big, fancy cameras and trucks.
The LAPD tried to appease the public, but made no effort to answer questions or address concerns. Residents waited in a long line to speak on the microphone. As soon as one person was done talking, the next one was prompted to get started, without the cops answering the first person’s questions. When pressed by the public to give a response, we got nothing but usual protocol, such as “the investigation is ongoing.”
Overall the meeting illustrated our residents’ need to be heard. Everyone had something to say, even if it had nothing to do with the killing of Glenn. This is a symptom of Venice residents feeling ignored by the downtown higher-ups.
In true outspoken Venice style, the crowd loudly called the cops murderers and booed when Bonin continued with his BS. There were loud screams asking for the release of the video, which the LAPD is holding on to under the pretense of trying not to interfere with witness statements.
Homelessness was an issue that came up over and over again, as people felt that it was a factor in the killing. Mental health and alcoholism were also mentioned.

What was said at the meeting:

“Do you live in Venice? Where the hell did you come from?”

“Show the video!”

“You are a crook – like the rest of them!”

“We’re not homeless, Venice is our home.”

“It’s not about homelessness, it’s about civil terrorism.”

“We can’t help but influence the world, and we gotta do it the right way.”

“I was two weeks old when the LAPD shot my dad in the back.”

“The video is the witness.”

“You killed the witness!”

“It doesn’t happen to White people, it happens to Black people.”

“There have been 621 police crimes in Los Angeles since 2000. We are the leader in the nation.”

“Re-train yourselves. Whatever you are doing is not right.”

“Don’t throw the hazmat at the homeless.”

“Systematic targeting of Black and Brown people.”

“We are going to see more of this until we stand up and say we don’t accept this kind of murder.”

“Don’t look down on the homeless, you could be one of them.”

“Why are all the officers here carrying guns?”

“Talk first. Taser later. Shoot none.”

“Open the bathrooms!”

“Make the video public.”

“Whom are you protecting and serving?”

“How many police officers were ever prosecuted?”

“Someone has to be killed for you to sit down and talk to us.”

“White people are getting away with probation or nothing at all, while Black and Browns go to jail.”

“Don’t blame just the shooter, blame everyone in this organization – there is a sickness in your organization.”

“Silence is all we get when someone doesn’t get killed.”

“The police is an army of occupation.”

“Those guys will kill you is what I would tell my kids about you.”

“Murderers!”

“You’re stealing all the money!”

“I want justice!”

“What happened May 5?”

“We need to do more to help the homeless.”

“Police officers are terrified by Black Men.”

BrendonGlenn

 Above: LAPD document identifying the two officers who responded to the call – one of them killed Brendon Glenn

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Above and below: scene of the crime78xyFWxxLmIyT3PrJE-hCsFVpVuo7DHdKn8osmKEQ_8

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 Above: LAPD officer who shot and killed Brendon Glenn

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Greta4

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photo by Ray Rae

Police are Cowards

 Above: Venice graffiti walls, April 11 – covered up by city workers within 24 hours


Letters

May 1, 2015

How about SOME short-term rentals? – Suzy Williams
Trees of Venice – Blanca Villabos
Evans Haas – Arlene Matteson
A Matter of Class – Brad Kay
—————————————–
Dear Beachhead:

Re: “Venice Fights Back – NO Short Term Rentals” How about SOME short-term rentals?

I readily agree that management companies like Globe Homes and Condos that buy up buildings only to push existing renters out on their ears, and disappear peoples’ future affordable housing, so they can create illegal hotels, are very bad.
But there is another side to this short-term rental stuff, and it has brightened my life. I am a maid for my friends who often have to leave town on work (or vacation) and they can really use the bucks to help pay for the rising cost of living – and it isn’t getting cheaper here! And my rent (eighteen years in Venice and counting) is getting higher and higher and I need about three hundred more dollars a month to live than I did ten years ago.
So, through Airbnb, online, my friends have the opportunity to get to know the character of prospective short-term tenants. And the renters get to read reviews of the place that’s being offered. My buds pay me well, I love communing with their stuff, and, as the maid who comes around, I’m quite impressed with the humanity I sometimes get to meet through Airbnb. There is a universal giddy gratitude, and almost always, they leave the place pretty damn neat. I met an Aussie family with an autistic sweetheart of a kid; a pair of charming Japanese young lovers; some hippy kids still raving about Burning Man.
There is something so different about staying in a home that reflects the vibes of the community, like my pals’ places do. It’s a whole lot better than staying in a cookie-cutter hotel room.
AND I can afford to still live here in my beautiful Venice!

Love,
Suzy Williams
————————————–
Dear Beachhead,

For more than 30 years now I have walked children to Walgrove Elementary school. I noticed that yet another Venice home is scheduled to be destroyed and another McMansion (block) will be built!!!
What is truly upsetting me is that on this property there are many old, beautiful trees which have been homes to many birds and animals for many years. This is a treasure that should be kept for as long as possible. Many children  who walk to school enjoy looking into this property that they have called “the jungle”. I myself am envious of what the last owner (Whitey) had maintained for so many years.
As we all know Venice is changing very fast and new buildings and homes are being built. But we can’t keep allowing the trees to be cut down. We are in a drought as it is. If we continue having the trees cut we will never have enough rain. We need to remember trees give us life and they are a big quality of what gives Venice its charm.
I feel that as a community we need to fight to keep what was once Venice.

– Blanca Villabos
—————————————–
Dear Beachhead,

You truly are the greatest!
I heard today that an article on Evans Haas was in April’s issue. While I have not seen a hard copy of it, I reviewed it online, and my heart smiled.
On behalf of Evans’ friends, family and The Venice Square, I want thank you for writing and including the wonderful article on Evans, it means a lot to us.
Venice is so small yet so large, with Venice Square a tiny warm and tight knit section of its own.
We appreciate and love THE VENICE BEACHHEAD.
Also, thank you and the VENICE BEACHHEAD staff for highlighting the real issues of Venice, especially real estate purchases, mass overkill construction by individuals and corporations, that are not from here and have the finances to take over and change Venice (don’t get me started!)

Sincerely,
Arlene D.Matteson
——————————————-
A Matter of Class
By Brad Kay

I want to thank Teresa Carney White for her well-composed letter in the last edition. It has given me the courage to do another column for the Beachhead. Never have I been called a “sexist” or anything remotely as juicy in print before, and it gave me great pride to be considered worthy of such an epithet. But much as I would like to accept the honor, I can’t really claim it. I could never live with the contradiction. My feminist street creed is too good. I honestly think that a woman has the inalienable right to smoke, cuss, vote, choose, get equal pay, be taken seriously and be called an asshole same as a man. Heartfelt though Ms. White’s letter is, its ire is misdirected.
To recap, I wrote in Beachhead No. 401, of the people attending the TEDx Conference held here in February, that “The men dressed in T-shirts, jeans, cutoffs, sandals; the women all were in baggy clothes, again, jeans; not a dress or decent pair of gams to be seen; no makeup.” Ms. White objected, writing, “The women at TED events, like the men, are there to learn and inspire and build community. Surely he knows they can accomplish that with or without makeup on?” And: “Gams? Sexist and gross! And: “Please inform Mr. Kay that if he would like to see a decent pair of gams and some makeup at a TED event … he can wear a dress and put on some makeup himself!”
Ms. White, though eloquent and even funny, has missed my point. I merely was emphasizing what to me looked like a severe shortage of CLASS demonstrated by the TEDx patrons (in colorful language to be sure. I thought the quaint phrase “decent pair of gams” evoked Raymond Chandler).
By “class,” I mean in this case the quality hovering about a person who naturally dresses up for an event which is costly, anticipated, exclusive, rarified and high-minded. Ms. White said learning and inspiring need no special dress code. That depends: Casual is okay if one is in a lecture or a class at school. But it is not okay (or so I thought) for an elevated event like TED.
One would never dream of attending the Oscars, or the Nobel Prizes, or the Opera or an audience with Queen Elizabeth – ALL of which this TED event was likened to by people I encountered beforehand – without minding to every detail of one’s appearance. I might even, actually, have gone in jeans and a T-shirt, if it wasn’t for absolutely everyone I met, in hushed or excited tones, emphasizing what a BIG DEAL this TED thing was. Hence my astonishment when the big day came, and I looked around, and discovered I was the only person in a suit and tie.
Now, Suzy Williams, who also was there, and is my devil’s advocate in everything from personal hygiene to religion, said that in all fairness, the TEDx patrons weren’t ALL that slovenly. Yes, some were dressed in T-shirts and jeans, but others had on expensive long-sleeved shirts, and designer jeans. A few of the women actually did show some style. “It’s the dress code of this generation,” summed up Suzy. “Well, it’s a LOUSY dress code,” I grumbled. We have gone back and forth over this, and I now concede that MAYBE I was a trifle harsh on those poor TEDx-ers.
So, okay, it’s a generational thing. I am showing my age. After all, I was born in 1869, and we did things differently way back in the Olden Days. But still! I would ask, then, of this current generation: When IS it appropriate to dress up? Not necessarily formally, but expressing yourself, with care, with artistic flair, originality, humor, character? Is no event worthy of your sartorial attention? Does nothing qualify?
I was at the grand re-opening of the Orpheum Theater downtown about seven years ago. It had been meticulously and lovingly restored and refurbished (a job that took years), down to the last cuspidor and strip of wainscoting. The theatre was gorgeous, and they showed “Gone With the Wind.” But with a few honorable exceptions, most everyone hewed to the generational “dress code”: T-shirts or short sleeves, jeans, sneakers. I was taken aback even then. “These scruffy ruffians don’t DESERVE such a palace,” said I to myself.
My point is: have we gone too far down the “casual” road? Are our standards so completely lax? Do we even HAVE standards? Have we forgotten what “class” is? Are people dogmatically, determinedly, dressing down even when the occasion indicates otherwise? As James Thurber asked, “Why do you have to be a non-conformist, like everybody else?”
N. B. In writing this, I have stumbled onto a rule of thumb as to whether or not an event is worth dressing up for: If you are “going to” the event, go casual. If you are “in attendance,” do your worst.
Getting back to Ms. White’s letter. Honestly, Teresa, I WOULD dress in drag and show my “gams,” if it made for a good example. But I fear it would only drive the ladies in the opposite direction.
For a good look at examples of classy dress (or undress!), all over the world, in every situation, for the past hundred years, get a load of: http://bit.ly/1F1oka8.


Mike Bonin, “Technically” Doing His Job

May 1, 2015

By Krista Schwimmer
As protestors take to the Venice street to battle the illegal short-term rentals here in Venice, and individual citizens sue developers over destructive projects, the Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) continues to make motions both sober and absurd in their own version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. This was the case, at least, at their most recent Board meeting in April.
The two motions made that night that dramatically reflected the Board’s split personality were: the sober motion, item 11A, a Venice Coastal Zone Rental Housing Affordability & Availability Ordinance, presented by Robin Rudisill, Chair of the Land Use and Planning Committee (LUPC); and the absurd motion, item 12D, Topless Sunbathing on Sand, Venice Beach, presented by Melissa Diner, Chair of the Ocean Front Walk Committee (OFW).
Rudisill presented a two page motion to the Board, as well as to the community attending. The first part of the motion gives a five point background to the loss of affordable housing through short-term rentals (STRs) and defacto hotels. The background materially and effectively reminded the City of Los Angeles that there are ordinances and laws already in place that are supposed to protect affordable housing here in Venice. These include the Citywide Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO), the Mello Act, and the Venice Coastal Zone.
The motion then “requests the Councilmember Bonin call for City to act immediately to curtail the loss of affordable housing,” through a seven action plan. The first of these actions is to “fully enforce existing laws prohibiting short-term rentals in residential zones and in commercial zones if the Certificate of Occupancy is for Apartment use.”
Other actions include following the Interim Administrative Procedure for complying with the Mello Act, and preparation and dissemination of a “Tenant’s Bill of Rights.”
The majority of public comments around this motion were vehemently in favor of this motion. Testimony came from renters and landlords alike. One community member, Nick, stated that “What’s important is the character of Venice is at stake. It’s becoming faceless, anonymous, and transient.” Two other community members, John Adams and Judy Goldman, also in favor of the motion, thought that due to the urgency of the matter, existing laws should be enforced. “There are laws on the books, ” Judy said, “Every single day we’re losing housing in Venice. It’s dramatic, it’s rapid, and it’s really scary.”
A few people thought the motion was too long winded; only one, Lauren, a manager of short-term rentals nearby for individuals and homeowners in Venice, thought that STR could help pay for the money for affordable housing using the estimated $40 million (according to Lauren) in TOT taxes that would by generated by all of them in Los Angeles County.
Several Board members, like Tommy Walker and Jed Pauker, also spoke to the urgency of this issue. Linda Lucks, VNC President Emeritus, called what’s happening in Venice a cancer. In the ’70s, she continued, people knew their neighbors, something she felt kept the neighborhood safe. Directing her comments to the back of the room to Cecilia Castillo, Bonin’s field representative, she then stated that “all short term rentals except in commercial zones and very specific zones are illegal. It’s on the books.” Lucks then said that Councilmember Mike Bonin had stated that they were technically illegal. “There’s no such thing as technically illegal,” she ended.
Before the vote, in response to the lengthiness of the motion, Rudisill said it was written in the style of other city motions so that it would be ready to go. The motion passed easily 12-0-3.
The second, more absurd motion on the agenda that night, topless sunbathing in Venice, sadly brought out even the local news stations. In a nutshell, the motion is to allow women to sunbathe topless on Venice Beach. The reasons? Because Venice Beach “was founded and designed around the European culture of Venice, Italy,” and “Venice Beach has been a safe haven for liberal views and free expression.”
As several community members pointed out, in the 1970s, Venice Beach had a nude beach. Many people enjoyed it, largely due to the fact that no one made a big fuss about it. In her public comments, Carolyn Rios said that there were smaller crowds then, “homegrown” homeless people, and no social media. According to her, and others, once photographs got out, the gawkers came, and then the police.
At that time, there was no city ordinance against topless or nude sunbathing. Due to the commotion that ensued, the city created one for all beaches.
At first glance, this motion may appear supportive of the old, Venice vibe. It is important, however, to remember what committee proposed it: OFW. This same committee tried twice to push through a family friendly ice skating rink during the current, terrible drought, as well as promote the remaking of the Pagodas without thought of their historical significance. What next? Titties on ice?
Melissa Diner, in her explanation of the context behind the motion said, “I want to start a conversation about an issue which I think is a serious equality issue. And I think this motion has the ability to do that . . . We have the ability to re-imagine Venice Beach and start a conversation not just here, but in the City, and probably on a national level.”
On an international level, however, the conversation around topless sunbathing reveals that Diner is behind the times. In her July 28, 2014 column in the Guardian, Deborah Orr, one of Britain’s leading social and political commentators, stated that “French women, who popularized topless sunbathing in the 1960s, have apparently retreated en mass into bikinis and swimsuits.” The reasons she sites are because of social media and health concerns. Orr also notes that even then, women removed their tops not for female liberation overall, but for female sexual liberation in particular.
Diner’s committee has also apparently forgotten about the illegal beach curfew. One community member, David Ewing, however, had not, saying, “I’d like to see clothing optional or top optional sunbathing from midnight to 5 am.”
Nevertheless, the motion passed easily, 15-0-1, with only Robin Rudisill voting no because she wanted either “all or nothing,” not the in-between of toplessness.
In a letter from Bonin distributed at the Board meeting, Bonin states he is “gravely concerned about the impact that short-term rentals are having on our rental housing stock in Los Angeles, and by extension, on our supply of affordable rental housing.” Like Mayor Garcetti, however, Bonin is seeking more to reform than to remove them. After all, according to the recently released budget by Garcetti, TOT is projected to raise $191 million in 2015. No small change, indeed. Yet, the Mayor is only budgeting a modest $10 million to rebuild the Affordable Housing Trust Fund.
On top of that, Bonin recently issued a motion called “Coordinated Entry System” that smells as noxious as a bare breasted man’s sweaty armpits. In this motion, Bonin “asks officials to determine if the City can require or incentivize that affordable housing units being built as a result of state “density bonuses” can be used for the placement of homeless people via the Coordinated Entry System.” Sounds a lot like similar loopholes that developers in the past have tried to use to push through their monstrosities.
So, fellow Venetians, before you rush to the beach to bare your beautiful breasts of all colors, shapes, and sizes to the inevitable gawkers waiting to instagram and hashtag your exhibitionism, remember to bare your naked thoughts to Bonin. Let him know that he is “technically” doing his job – and that is just simply not enough.Marty Liboff Cartoon


We Must Stop the TPP/Fast Track and Patriotic Act Renewal

May 1, 2015

By Anthony Castillo

In the next few weeks the US Congress could hold votes on two issues that would, if passed, continue the undemocratic and unconstitutional course our country has been on since the 80s. One would further increase wealth inequality, the other continue the erosion of our civil liberties.
The first is the potential to Fast Track a vote on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). What is the TPP and why Fast Track a vote on it? The TPP is a massive “free trade” agreement being pushed by big corporations, which for the last six years has been negotiated in complete secrecy in closed-door meetings by US officials along with representatives from eleven other countries (Australia, Singapore, Peru, Japan, Chile, Vietnam, Malaysia, Mexico, Brunei, New Zealand, Canada). The TPP would expand the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and has been described as NAFTA on steroids by some of its critics. Radio and TV commentator Thom Hartman calls the TPP, SHAFTA, due to the negative consequences it would have on everyday working folks. Some of these are: an increase in the US trade deficit; acceleration of American jobs being sent off shore; further increasing income inequality; increased cost of pharmaceuticals; exposure of the US market to unsafe food and other products; it could ban “buy American” policies to create green jobs; demand a roll back to even the weakest attempts to reform Wall Street; place restrictions on a free and open internet; empower corporations to attack local or federal environmental or health safeguards; drive down wages.
And it gets worse. The TPP would increase the use of a process called Investor State Dispute Settlements (ISDS). Through these the TPP would elevate individual foreign companies to equal status with sovereign nations. ISDS allows foreign companies to bypass the legal system of a sovereign government and instead go to an international trade tribunal made up of as few as fifteen corporate lawyers to settle disputes between company and country.
Under the TPP a foreign company could sue a signatory country for “expected future profits” if they feel that the public interest policies of a country frustrate their profit expectations. In other words, we the taxpayers could end up paying our taxes directly to foreign corporations on nothing more than a company’s speculation on what it thinks its projected profit margin may be. Sound crazy? Well it is.
Why has the TPP been such a secret for almost six years of intense negotiations? The terrible track record of NAFTA, the unpopularity of the policies that the TPP would put into place, the negative impact it would have on wages, worker, food and product safety, the potential environmental devastation might be some of the reasons. In fact the only reason the public has been made aware of the TPP at all has been through anonymous leaked partial drafts as it is being hammered out in secret. Wikileaks has posted most of the TTP leaked documents on its web site. The bottom line is this: if the TPP had been talked about and made public from day one, the agreement would not stand a chance of passage, so secrecy is a must to even getting an agreement to bring before Congress.
President Obama and his administration are asking Congress for Fast Track authority to pass this dirty trade deal. By granting a Fast Tract vote on the TPP Congress would delegate away Congress’ constitutional trade authority. A Fast Track vote would all but eliminate any debate on the TPP. In addition, neither the House nor the Senate could amend the TPP in any way, shape or form.
And worst of all, Congress is being asked to do so without a single member of Congress being allowed to read the entire text of the TPP. Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, said “Rather than putting Congress in the driver’s seat on trade, this bill is just the same old Fast Track that puts Congress in the trunk in handcuffs. I expect that Congress will say no to it.” Let’s hope she’s correct. NAFTA was rammed through Congress by President Bill Clinton and passed by just one vote. While Congress may not know what’s in the TPP, 500 official corporate “trade advisers” have special access to view TPP updates at will.
On the TPP President Obama finds himself at odds with his own party and in bed with corporate Republicans. Newly announced Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown, Alan Grayson and other Democrats are leading the fight to defeat Fast Track and the TPP, or at the very least demanding to see the full text of the TPP before they are asked to vote on it. In fact while more Republicans support the President on this issue, at last count they can’t muster the votes to pass Fast Track. One reason for that may be a 2015 bipartisan NBC, Wall Street Journal poll showing that 75% of Americans think the TPP should be defeated or at the very least delayed.
Educate yourselves, spread the word and get involved to stop a Fast Track vote on the TPP, because if we do that we will be defeating the TPP itself. For more info go to Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch at http://www.citizen.org, check out a great video on the TPP at Congressman Alan Grayson’s http://www.tradetreachery.com, and there is also a funny and informative TPP video at http://www.represent.us. As Congressperson Grayson says, “Free trade is fake trade.”
While I will spend less time in this article on the USA Patriot Act, it is no less important that provisions of it be allowed to “sunset” on June 1, 2015. Passed in the wake of the attacks of September 11, 2001, the USA Patriot Act has been the law used to justify every roll back of our civil liberties under the guise of the so-called “war on terror.” Though the Patriot Act is fundamentally unconstitutional and ignores the Bill of Rights, it has been renewed again when it could have been allowed to “sunset” or expire and therefor cease to be law. All Congress would have to do to have Americans regain some of the rights we’ve allowed to be taken from us is to do nothing. That’s right, do nothing. On June 1st 2015 not the entire Patriot Act, but two of its most onerous provisions are set to expire, Section 215 and Section 206. Section 215 violates the 4th Amendment by doing away with the need for authorities to show “probable cause” to obtain records from an individual or entity. This is the part of the Patriot Act used to justify the National
Security Agency’s (NSA) mass surveillance and collection of the metadata from every US citizen. And until the revelations from former NSA contractor turned whistle blower, Edward Snowden, these spy programs were kept secret from the public. Section 206 allows for John Dow roving wire taps which do not require authorities to identify a specific target. This type of wire tap scoops up everyone, no matter how innocent, if they are somehow in the sphere of communications being tracked.
Even while one of the USA Patriot Act’s main authors, Republican Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, has become a vocal critic of how the legislation has been used, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants to not only renew these Patriot Act provisions, he also wants them to not sunset for seven years. Two years longer than before. The entire US Patriot Act should be done away with by allowing it to sunset or by abolishing it out right.
There is no justification for Americans to give up their fundamental Constitutionally guaranteed rights to fight a phony war on terror, when in reality, the war is being waged on “we the people” of the US. For there is zero evidence to show that the bulk collection of American’s telephone call records or e-mail has ever stopped a terrorist attack. Join with the ACLU, Center for Constitutional Rights, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Bill of Rights Defense Committee, National Coalition to Repeal the Patriot Act to name but a few, and work to regain our stolen civil liberties. The best thing we can all do to beat both the TPP and the renewal of parts of the Patriot Act is to call Congress both the House and Senate and tell them what we want. No Fast Track authority and no TPP. No renewal of any part of the Patriot Act. Call not only our California representatives, but call those in other states as well. The US Capital switchboard number is (202) 224-3121.
USA PATRIOT ACT TURNING

TPP earth

USA Patiot Act Obama


758 Sunset Ave. PLUM hearing

May 1, 2015

By Ivonne Guzman

On April 14, 758 Sunset Ave., a Small Lot Subdivision that was DENIED by the West Los Angeles Area Planning Commission (WLAAPC) was heard by Los Angeles, PLUM (Planning Land Use and Management) Committee. Councilperson Mike Bonin took jurisdiction over the project at the request of the applicant and Planning Department. The room was packed with standing room only, with many left outside the hearing doors. When the appellant representative arrived she was rushed to the podium, as the item had been moved up on the agenda. The appellant himself had a heart attack just one hour prior to the hearing due to the emotional distress caused by the case, and was rushed by ambulance to Santa Monica Hospital.
Testimony was heard by some of the public for and against the project. Halfway through the hearing quorum was lost, according to Chair Councilperson Jose Huizar. Councilpersons Mitchell Englander and Gilbert Cedillo would be attending the State of the City Address by Mayor Eric Garcetti, and therefore quorum was lost. It was announced by the Chair Jose Huizar that he would be making a recommendation to the full council and those who were not able to speak could attend the full City Council meeting the following day. Many in the audience had taken the day off on that day, and were not able to attend the following day.
There was NO due process for 758 Sunset once it got to the PLUM Committee. The full merits of the project that took 4.5 hours in WLAAPC were not discussed at ALL! Once Councilperson Mike Bonin took jurisdiction via the 245 Rule, the entirety of the WLAAPC decision was null and void and was to be heard in its entirety by PLUM. This in fact did not happen either in the PLUM Committee or the full City Council. The item passed unanimously at Council Chambers on April 15. The project can be further appealed to the City, CEQA and The California Coastal Commission.


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