Public debate about affordable housing, hotels and short-term vacation rentals in Venice is about to heat up again.
On Tuesday, Feb. 16, the Venice Neighborhood Council will consider a plan by Venice Suites owner Carl Lambert to officially convert the building at 417 Ocean Front Walk into a hotel. The property is currently marketed as a “live like a local” option for tourists.
Lambert, president of the Venice Chamber of Commerce, also owns Venice Breeze Suites at 2 Breeze Ave. In November the California Coastal Commission granted Lambert a retroactive coastal development permit for converting that 31-unit historic building from apartments to hotel rooms — a process Lambert said began well before he purchased the property.
The Venice Neighborhood Council’s Land Use and Planning Committee voted 6-1 on Jan. 25 to oppose Lambert’s plan for 417 Ocean Front Walk. A committee staff report argued the conversion would violate the Mello Act, a state law that aims to preserve low- and moderate-income housing along the state’s coast.
The hotel plan “deprives the community of needed rent-stabilized housing stock. The cumulative impact of the loss of additional residential housing … places upward pressure on the rental market,” the report states.
Opponents of the conversion turned in a petition with more than 250 signatures prior to the vote.
“We are seeing affordable housing disappear in Venice,” said Judith Goldman, founder of Keep Neighborhoods First, which opposes the proliferation of short-term rentals.
The Venice Neighborhood Council meets at 7 p.m. at Westminster Avenue Elementary School,
1010 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice. A meeting agenda will be posted 72 hours before the meeting at venicenc.org.
— Gary Walker