What is Venice?
We’re pretty old. Yes, we are old, unique, bohemian, creative and one-of-a-kind. Small cadres of residents have found themselves “manning the barricades.” They are, in their small way, holding back the barbarians at the gate. The new barbarians are a small group of architects and their consultants determined to change this place into their vision and that vision is focused on $$$. They burrow through the Code looking for that weak link to bust this or that rule or precedent and ingratiate themselves with our local Planners and DOT decision-makers while they work hard to do the same with our council office.
Our new barbarians are here mining our riches because they wanted our vibe but what they are doing now is sucking the blood right out of this small town. They don’t care what impact the project they are pushing has on the town’s residents, even their own neighbors, its congested streets and its very, very limited infrastructure. They are going for it. One guy is even attempting to change zoning laws which now restrict how close restaurants and bars can be to residential properties. He says times have changed. Reaping their big commissions, getting a piece of the action is the game of the day. And they are playing for keeps.
There have been glimmers of understanding coming from Bonin’s office. His team seems to have a sense that they really have a jewel here in Venice and they have stuck their necks out a bit to try and protect it from the avaricious. This is not an easy task with every developer pounding on the door of their office to lobby, lobby, lobby. Residents nag the team on a daily basis. Residents know that their little voices must become big noise to have any chance of reining in the developers and their lackeys who say they love Venice. The growing big noise is consulting with lawyers, reading the code and growing in increasing numbers. They are sick and tired of decisions coming out of Planning and the DOT which have absolutely no foundation in reality or the slightest understanding of our real world. They gather “reports” and make their decisions and push those papers off their desk. We’re not even sure they know where Venice is!
The bottom line is that Venice is small. Small is why it is such an extraordinary community of one helluva mixed-up population. It’s that kind of community which glows in its smallness, its oddness, it downright eccentric ways. That’s why we never became a Brentwood or Santa Monica despite all the money that has poured into this place these last 10 years. Venice always welcomed all comers and relished its smallness. It believed those built-in limiting factors would protect them naturally from the big at any cost people who are now ripping it apart.
Residents of Venice making all the noise at the moment, are alone in the battle to preserve the essence of Venice: intimate and small.