The controversial six-story complex slated for Venice Boulevard may go back to the drawing board if Bonin gets his way

By Gary Walker

It isn’t often that elected city leaders overturn a decision by one of their own appointed commissions, but Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin is asking his colleagues to do just that in order to halt the progress of a controversial six-story development planned for Mar Vista.

On May 12, Bonin filed a motion to set aside the city Planning Commission’s unanimous April 20 approval of a six-story residential and retail complex that would replace a two-story strip mall at the southeast corner of Venice Boulevard and Wasatch Avenue.

Bonin’s request is expected to get a vote before the council this week and needs 10 of 15 votes to pass. If successful, the council would then refer the project to its own five-member Planning and Land Use Management Committee for further review and discussion.

The 62,000-square-foot design proposed by Mar Vista-based developer Crimson Holdings would stand about 83 feet tall, dwarfing neighboring buildings and making it the tallest building on the stretch of Venice Boulevard that runs through the heart of Mar Vista.

The new structure at 12444 Venice Blvd. would contain 77 units of housing — seven of them set aside as affordable housing — as well as 2,100 square feet of ground-floor retail, with both ground-floor and subterranean parking.

Crimson Holdings managing partner Pamela Day has won over some residents who support the creation of more housing, but she’s clashed with others who, like Bonin, say the project is out of scale with the neighborhood.

Bonin has also objected that ground-level parking would run contrary to the city’s plans for pedestrian-friendly improvements to Venice Boulevard under the Great Streets program, which also includes upgrades to landscaping, crosswalks, bicycle lanes and bus stops.

“I will work with neighbors and do everything in my power to ensure that City Council has the opportunity to shrink the height of this project and move the parking underground so that the building better integrates with Venice Boulevard, which we are transforming into a pedestrian-friendly Great Street,” Bonin said last month.

Day could not be reached before press time.

Bonin said he’d stick with his earlier statement, except to add: “The parking has to go underground. I have made that clear to the developer, and she’s well aware of my concerns.”