Simple Solutions to Complex Problems

venice_historical_shuttle_smDon Novack of Hal’s has an idea on how we can reduce traffic congestion on Abbot Kinney and its surrounding streets. Sitting with Don in The Gallery at Hal’s, he told ImagineVenice about his investigation into getting the Venice Historical Society Shuttle up and running again. He thinks it can happen. Don thought the Abbot Kinney Merchant’s Association might want to support a free shuttle. A free shuttle operating on Abbot Kinney may just be one fun and nifty ticket to solving at least one piece of our parking and congestion problems. We would like to see an Abbot Kinney shuttle operate nights and weekends.

To pull this off, we need a place where diners and shoppers can park and pick up the shuttle. The most obvious satellite lot is the huge parking lot at Westminster School. We need our council office to run interference for us with LAUSD and effect an arrangement attractive to both Westminster School, LAUSD, and the city with some fair split of parking revenue. This won’t be easy but we believe our council office can pull this off.

ImagineVenice asks our council office to open up a line of communication now with LAUSD and make this uncomplicated and cost free solution a reality. It’s not too often that the city is asked to make something important happen which won’t cost the city a dime and this is one of those times!

Sometimes there are simple solutions to complex problems.

1940 or 2014?
Our city planners think it’s 1940

Abbot Kinney is paying a big price for old city decisions that lacked foresight. Decisions made in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s are hammering our community now. None of the original commercial buildings on Abbot Kinney have parking spaces or off-street loading areas. The city is still making the same planning decisions in 2014 as they did in 1940. What are they thinking? Blind to the community’s chaotic, dangerous truck traffic and car congestion, they ignore golden and obvious opportunities to completely eliminate the ‘grandfather’ parking rules. They are not requiring almost totally new projects and major remodels to meet 2014 parking requirements nor do they insist that truck loading be off-street. Thoughtful courageous decisions by city planners now would stop exacerbating our traffic and parking problems. They must apply conditions on permits which reflect community realities now.

Commercial remodel permits and change-of-use applications have been awarded in
stupefying numbers on Abbot Kinney Blvd. this year. None have added parking. Permits to change a property’s use to retail or food service should never be allowed without adding parking. The extreme intensification of use on Abbot Kinney is destroying adjacent neighborhoods wreaking havoc, creating parking chaos and traffic congestion.

It is time to push back on developers. We must insist that all commercial change-of-use remodels and new project permits are issued without parking exemptions.

IT’S URGENT! insist NOW that the city enact a moratorium for all commercial Change-of-Use applications that don’t conform to 2014 parking rules! Read on for a blow-by-blow description of the assault we are under right now.

The former World Gym is undergoing major expansion, renovation and a change-of-use includes a new restaurant/bar. It’s consultants are expecting city approval for a huge number of ‘virtual’ phantom parking spaces. This project has the space to provide and meet 2014 parking requirements. The proposed hotel project covers a near city block of land yet all of their truck deliveries will load and unload on our streets. We are wondering why? Both of these projects will severely impact surrounding residential neighborhoods with increased traffic.

Gjelina expanded seating and never provided required parking. Worse, they opened a ‘take-out’ restaurant and did not provide any parking for it either—THEIR CONSULTANTS KNOW IF THEY JUST DO IT, THEY WILL WIN AND GET TO KEEP OPERATING. WHY?

The ‘Gjelina effect’ on Electric Avenue will repeat itself all around 320 Sunset Avenue. Gjelina’s ‘bakery’ change-of-use application is cruising through the city approval process claiming ‘virtual’ parking credits. They already declared their intent to put a full-service restaurant and bar in this M-1 location. An attempt to get this approved by flying below the local neighborhood approval process failed. Once they get approval for a change-of-use and the baloney 20 ‘virtual’ parking spaces, it won’t be long before you see their ABC license application posted. This operator knows no bounds. They envision this quiet location as the ultimate expansion opportunity as they open up at the front door of the Google operation. More will come as the floodgates open. The residents and the neighborhood be damned! They are going for it! Another stealth Gjelina expansion is sure to come on their Abbot Kinney/Santa Clara property which they just purchased for 4 million dollars! Expanding the yet uncompleted small restaurant and bar by using the adjacent property for a large outside patio is a reasonable scenario as they could get a restaurant expansion by claiming they don’t need to provide parking just for an outside patio. This will be another under parked Gjelina slamming the entire neighborhood again.

The bold Gjelina encroachment into the Sunset area M-1 neighborhood filled with workshops, artists and small homes must be stopped. This quiet neighborhood does not have a single restaurant, bar or retail shop. If Gjelina gets a permit to be the first retail shop/restaurant/bar another unique neighborhood will be gone forever. Is Gjelina laying the ground work for Hampton to become the next Abbot Kinney?

More parking exceptions are already in the application pipeline. Right now Pork Belly sandwich ‘take-out’ has applied for an outside patio claiming no neighborhood impact.
1136 Abbot Kinney has an application submitted for change-of-use and a big expansion. Will it have the required parking?

Councilman Bonin’s office needs to to get involved and influence City Planning to apply the rules of 2014 for all commercial projects. Allow no exceptions. Ask him to drive an action with the city for a moratorium on all change-of-use commercial permits which will not have 2014 parking. The Coastal Commission sounded the alarm last month. It reversed course and decided not to allow any more de minimis waivers for Venice building permits. They reflected on how they did not do enough over the years to protect Mendocino’s unique culture. They recognize Venice has lots to protect and their de minimis waiver restriction was a very good and strong first step to begin to do that. Our unique culture and our one-of-a-kind community is facing irrevocable losses if wild west development is allowed to continue.

We need a city moratorium now. It needs to be the next bold action to protect our community. Write our councilman and ask for his support and focus to get that done before it is too late.

Write to Mike Bonin

Another Scheme To Overbuild And Under Park

Someone tapped Arnold Schwarzenegger on the shoulder and reminded him that
he owns 812 Main Street, the gateway to Abbot Kinney Boulevard. Schwarzenegger and his powerful team of expediters and facilitators have begun their push to obtain
exemptions and exceptions to build an almost 18,000 square foot office building and a 2100 square foot restaurant.

Phantom Parking

They intend to get approval from the city by using one of those amazing calculations where plain air is turned into ‘credits’ for non-existent parking spaces. They are going for almost 40 phantom parking spaces! Nikola Hlady of the Elizabeth Peterson Group, the project representative, said that of the nearly 40 spaces which will not be provided, only 9 require city approval. That approval will be based upon receiving a credit for a “shared parking model” which is a calculation amongst the different use needs of the property determined by a parking consultant group.

Under the current building codes 18 additional spaces would now be required for the gym. According to Hlady, these spaces will be an automatic credit against the parking required for this new project. Additionally, the ‘bicycle ordinance’ will also credit the project with 9 parking spaces. The bottom line is that if this office building and restaurant were to be built new today, the parking requirement is 92 spaces.

ImagineVenice Suggests

The solution to the parking deficit is for the owner to build less office space and provide the parking the community needs and the city requires. The owner is not dealing with a hardship situation.

We agree that anything Schwarzenegger does to the building whether it’s maintenance or a rehab will improve the neighborhood aesthetics. The question that has to be asked is what will be the collateral damage with this scheme to add huge footage to an existing structure without providing the needed parking spaces.

Will the city approve a project of this size with only 56 parking spaces? Or will the city, knowing this neighborhood’s parking and congestion problems insist this huge building project provide the required and urgently needed 92 spaces?

Imagine Venice, Edition 8812 Main Street

Venice Parking Update

ImagineVenice continues to emphasize the need to make some sense out of Venice’s parking chaos. Our proposals are simple, inexpensive and not political dynamite — and are likely to bring real relief from the immense parking pressures affecting our community.

ImagineVenice Proposes:

Parking for workers on Abbot Kinney is a desperate need. There are more than 100 workers who need parking between Hal’s, Casa Linda, Abbots Pizza, Abbots Habit and Gjelina alone. They now take up most the dedicated parking lot spaces behind Abbot Kinney  and squeeze into the adjacent residential neighborhoods.

1. We propose re-grading the ‘Centennial Park’ area on the median strip at Abbot Kinney and create a dedicated permit parking lot for workers at a reasonable monthly cost.

2. We urge completion of all of the parking lots already dedicated and funded behind Abbot Kinney and install 4 hour meters on all of them.  This is a simple low-cost solution  and will immediately provide the shops and restaurants with continuous rapid turnover of parking spaces.

3. We urge the installation of 2 hour meters on Abbot Kinney increasing diner and shopper parking availability. Meters should also reduce the hit and miss parking enforcement aggravation.

4. We support Preferential Parking and Restricted Overnight Parking district choices because such districts are a block by block neighborhood choice determined by a 2/3rd vote of the residents.

5. And lastly, we urge the city to consider building a parking structure on the median strip east of the Venice Library. A structure would expand the parking lot already there and absorb many of the beach goers whose cars fill our residential streets. Besides  greatly reducing the summer parking impact on our residential streets it would provide good overflow parking for Abbot Kinney.


Venice Parking Update

Congratulations to Mark Ryavec and his Venice Stakeholders Association, which has worked tirelessly for years to make some order out of the parking chaos in Venice.

Amazingly, his group has reached a tentative settlement with the Coastal Commission to allow residents to install restricted overnight parking on their blocks, if two thirds of the residents are in agreement. Also, this settlement effectively stops the proposed scheme for installing diagonal parking spaces on five streets in the Windward Circle area.

Preferential parking for residents on commercial streets and the immediately adjacent streets is also on the horizon, while providing restricted parking for diners and shoppers.

Read about the entire settlement at

We welcome your comments and hope you will share ImagineVenice with others. Thanks for reading this 3rd Edition.


Venice Parking

Our parking problems in Venice do not go away. For those who live in Venice, it is a constant source of aggravation and annoyance. For the visitors shopping and dining here, it is a source of confusion and anxiety. ImagineVenice advocates a multi-pronged approach to this problem with holistic solutions towards eliminating or mitigating our community problems. We want to address the following parking issues that are currently b  eing reviewed by various City agencies listed below. Proposed block long Automated Private Parking Structure on Electric between Santa Clara and California Avenues.

Proposed conversion of Grand Boulevard, Rialto Avenue, Windward Avenue, Market Street and San Juan from parallel parking to diagonal parking.

Planning stage for a proposal to install a tree-lined meridian on Grand Boulevard as an alternative to diagonal parking.

We will review and discuss item #1, the proposed Parking Structure behind Abbot Kinney facing Electric. In future editions of we will examine items #2 and #3 which are currently being addressed by the Venice Stakeholders Association.

ImagineVenice Parking Structure Proposal

Everyone is very aware of a great need for more and better parking for businesses and all visitors. This includes an urgent need for short-term parking adjacent to Abbot Kinney. We also know that beach goers, day workers and other longer term visitors need to be directed away from parking on our residential streets. However in considering a parking structure, the location, visual impact and size of footprint should be carefully analyzed. The following plan will create multiple zones of purpose-based parking. This includes a well located and scaled parking structure, while maximizing the utilization of existing parking assets.



*A well-scaled parking structure on Venice near Abbot Kinney is the perfect location for accessibility by shoppers and diners on Abbot Kinney with optional evening valet service.

* It would offer beach goers good parking and thereby direct them away from our residential neighborhoods

* It could have dedicated 12-hour reduced rate parking for workers on Abbot Kinney thereby directing them away from parking on our residential streets. Locating a large parking structure on Venice, instead of Electric between California and Santa Clara, would eliminate the likelihood that our one-of-a-kind Abbot Kinney District would end up with the ambiance of a shopping mall.


4. PUSH FORWARD ON APPROVAL FOR OVERNIGHT PARKING DISTRICTS. Request a parking audit by the Coastal Commission of existing and potential parking spaces available for beach goers. An audit will uncover whether or not this is a real issue, especially if there is new parking made available in the proposed Venice parking structure.

Open Letter to Councilman Bill Rosendahl

On December 18, 2012, a letter was sent to our Councilman Bill Rosendahl alerting him to community concerns about the currently being considered proposal for a major parking structure behind Abbot Kinney. In the letter, alternative solutions for our parking dilemma were presented. You will find that letter here in the ImagineVenice Correspondence page. Parking in Venice needs urgent attention. Please express your feelings about this important issue by emailing your ideas and opinions to the following people. Many of you know these people personally, so a note from you on this issue will be well received. But, even if you do not know them, expressions of interest and concern from residents, business owners, property owners and frequent customers of Venice will show the importance of keeping the wishes of the community in mind.

In closing, we especially ask that readers request our own City chartered Venice Neighborhood Council to place Venice’ parking problems on their agenda. Urge a multi-focus plan to leverage existing and new parking to enable acceptable solutions at the earliest moment. Please contact the council at

Venice’s parking problems are real. They need immediate attention with active community input for an aesthetic and cohesive solution. Thanks for being part of the solution.



An Open Letter to Councilmember Rosendahl

Dear Councilman Rosendahl:

The community knows that you care about the chronic parking issue in Venice, and knows that you are personally supporting construction of the investor-owned private parking structure behind Abbot Kinney. This parking structure is proposed to cover the entire City block between California and Santa Clara Avenues.

Many in the Venice community are anxious and determined to maintain Venice’ very unique ambiance and insist that new development be sensitive to our distinctive culture and fit in to our to community which is now like no other in Los Angeles.

The recently organized community movement, ImagineVenice, was created because we don’t want what we treasure to drift away.  Our mission is to support development—as long as it focuses on development that is determined to maintain its character and ambiance.

Abbot Kinney at this very moment is at serious risk of becoming another Grove or Santa Monica mall. We are now a unique low-rise wide-open shopping and dining district. This style and ambiance is what draws many to shop and dine here.

Our community needs parking.  In particular, Abbot Kinney needs what it is was promised–that all of the lots backing Abbot Kinney be finished and 2 hour parking meters installed.  Now, the existing spaces are mostly filled with long-term parkers and the availability of spaces is seriously reduced because of this.  Installation of two-hour meters would immediately  reduce and possibly eliminate the lack of parking for shoppers and diners. There would be an amazing availability of parking if the spaces we have now are all metered.  The Street does not need long-term parking.

ImagineVenice was created with the mission to find solutions which support development. But, only changes and development which protect our community’s culture and ambiance. It insists that all development first and foremost focus on that goal.

ImagineVenice recognizes the serious need for short-term Abbot Kinney adjacent parking and the need to direct beach goers and tourists away from parking on our residential streets by providing parking for that transient population. ImagineVenice proposes the following solution to our parking problems for your review and consideration:





The members of ImagineVenice insist that your office and the Department of Transportation immediately perform a  complete review of our proposal. We believe this comprehensive proposal will eliminate all of the area’s parking problems.  It will provide constant parking for shoppers and diners and give our local streets back to its residents.

ImagineVenice proposes a direct and easy-to-accomplish solution to our parking problems. Most importantly, our solution will not forever destroy our culture and distinct one-of-a-kind ambiance.

Please fight with us, for us.


Jaime de la Vega, General Manager LADOT
Detrich B. Allen, Executive Officer, LADOT
Cecilia Castillo, Field Deputy 11th District