‘Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore…’

Notice the real change on Abbot Kinney? No, we don’t mean the newest trendy corporate-sponsored shop. No, we don’t mean how much the stupefying price was on the latest real estate deal. We mean the people! We mean the disengagement of the new ownership from the street. These are not touch-and-feel-owners. The new owners are LLC’s with investors whose focus is one thing — maximizing the cash return to their investors. And who can blame them? They paid big bucks to buy into this street. But at what cost? What is the cost to the actual community — to its residents?

Now that we are super cool and a destination spot in every guide book and investments are straight out of the Wild West old rules of engagement are gone.

The cost of these changes are not merely that things cost more to buy on the street with all our precious new shops paying huge rents. No, it is the cost of the decisions by these LLC’s which do not and never will make decisions which consider the soul of Venice. Why? Because in the world of LLC’s, there is no soul.

So, if you actually live here and are feeling your little fingers hanging precariously on to the mountains made of soul which used to surround our extraordinary community, you are very worried.

You can see the prices going up and the congestion increasing daily. Is anyone out there looking after the community? What ImagineVenice sees are corporate land and restaurant consultants pouring through the city rules to find obscure exceptions and freebies to max out their properties without a whit of concern for likely long-term damage to the community. On the table right now is the old World Gym building proposing to remodel and double its size without providing the additional parking new project rules would require. Why? Because LLC’s don’t live in Venice. They don’t drive the congested truck-packed streets or look for parking spaces. How will the new proposed hotel LLC feel without a dedicated loading dock — how will it feel when trucks back up on to Abbot Kinney making their 24/7 deliveries and their trash truck rolls over some child on his way to school on Broadway, 4th or Electric?

Remember neighbors, it is your neighborhood. Don’t start believing that LLC’s have souls.

It is up to us to look after our community. We are its soul.