Short-term rentals hurt neighborhoods
Re: “Vacation Rentals a hot potato,” news, Dec. 5
Your front-page story regarding short-term rentals failed to hone in on the actual issue. Short term rentals (less than 30 days) violate zoning code. It is unfair, if not irresponsible, to permit owners to furnish their rentals for an illegal use.
Peers, a trade organization for vacation rental websites, bused people to the meeting to lobby for legalization. While the Venice Neighborhood Council declined to recommend that it be legalized, they did not send a message to our City Council to enforce the law. Our council office states that it has been monitoring the situation for some time and suggests the city may be missing out on a taxing opportunity. City zoning enforcement has been completely absent.
The suggestion that having short-term rentals is part of the history of Venice is simply untrue. I have lived in the area for 30 years, and until lately there were no short-term rentals on my block or anywhere else in this city. Short-term rentals are the illegitimate spawn of Internet companies and the greed of owners, renters and merchants who interfere with our tranquility on the dubious notion that we must share what we have with them. Visitors can return home to their tranquil environments. Those living next door to an Internet hotel cannot.
There are now thousands of short-term rentals in the area, and they have the tacit support of local visitor-serving businesses, chambers of commerce and possibly even neighborhood councils. Why? Because they want tourist dollars.
But at what price? You may have noticed, as I have, a growing presence of strangers in your neighborhood. When neighbors change daily, one must be constantly on guard, not knowing who will be coming that night. Do families with children want to live next to a place where people drift in and out? The salient question is whether we are willing to sacrifice our voice in community matters for those who stand to profit by a lack of enforcement of zoning laws. We are facing potential loss of sense of community and control of our neighborhood destiny for the sake of business interests and out-of-state visitors.
The demand for short-term rentals is so great that permanent residents are in eminent danger of losing a large portion of rental opportunities presently available to them, which can only operate to force rents upward. Should our government officials shrug off this threat as merely deserving of taxation? Even if some voluntarily paid the hotel bed tax, the money collected would not put a brake on escalating rents or alleviate the pressure to increase density of neighborhoods. Los Angeles should simply enforce the law on the books.
William V. Ballough
Playa del Rey

Oxford project needs a second look
Re: “County plans big makeover for Oxford Basin, news, Nov. 27, and subsequent letters
It saddens me to be falsely accused and attacked by Dr. David W. Kay, president of Friends of Ballona Wetlands — which is a questionable title for the group.
My assertion that introducing pollutants by removing the Ballona flood control levees will be detrimental to wildlife is not baseless. It comes from four generations of environmental activism locally and globally. My grandfather, Rimmon Loraine Fay, was a member of the pioneering Santa Monica Bay Ocean Fish Protective Association in the 1950s. My father, the legendary Dr. Rimmon C. Fay, president of Pacific Bio Marine Laboratory, had doctorates in chemistry and oceanography, was known as the “Father of the Santa Monica Bay” and conversed with leading educators and researchers worldwide. He was loved by the general public, environmentalists and scientists who understood our role as stewards of the Earth. He was loathed by heavy handed government officials and folks like Dr. Kay, who is way off the mark.
“Avoid using the polluted Ballona Creek as a source of water” comes out of the 1995 Draft Ballona Wetlands Restoration Plan prepared by the Ballona Wetlands Trust, Save Ballona Wetlands and Rimmon C. Fay. I agree, and tried to propose at a Santa Monica Bay Watershed Council meeting that test tide pools of varying depths and sizes should constructed within Ballona Creek and studied prior to investing millions of taxpayer dollars in levee removal. Over the past three years I have submitted several documents with alternatives but have never been allowed to discuss concerns in a public forum. Often Kay’s allies would reduce my public comment time from three to one minute with interruptions, rendering my efforts futile.
An Environmental Impact Report is needed because that is the only way alternatives to the recently approved Oxford Basin project can be evaluated and considered. An EIR is not a waste of time and money. It is an investment in our children’s future. In the meantime, restoring a source of fresh water for terrestrial and avian species is the least the county can do.
Pork barrel spending of taxpayer dollars on projects that do more harm than good is unacceptable.
Douglas Fay
Santa Monica

FROM THE WEB

Re: “County plans big makeover for Oxford Basin, news, Nov. 27
As a long time local resident, I agree with Dr Kay. The area needs to be managed so it can flourish and provide the proper nesting ground to support local fauna. I believe that the goal to provide an integrated habitat where supervision is provided, and create a local observation area to further the cause on the importance of protecting nature is commendable. Not doing anything as Fay suggests, is actually contributing to a false sense of positive impact on nature. We have already encroached on the local wildlife, so let’s take responsibility to properly manage this area and truly protect it by investing time and money to improve the habitat. This is first and foremost a restoration project, but with a sound plan to integrate it into the existing infrastructure.
Serafino Sini

Re: “No room for Outlaws in Playa del Rey: Restaurant’s closure points up changes coming to the neighborhood,” news, Nov. 21
And the Tower 42 restaurant lasted how long? Hardly a year. Downtown Playa needs to replace its aging/dated architecture. It’s currently a non-destination for locals and tourists.
David S
I’ve enjoyed three terrific meals there. Like it lots. Worth it for sure.
Friendly and caring service takes it to the top of the list for those places to know.
– hot tip; the small mini market in the corner of the strip mall has a few good wines too.
Keith

Re: “Waking up a sleepy neighborhood,” review of Del Rey Kitchen, Nov. 27
I’ve visited twice. Both times delicious. Food excellent. Atmosphere, very nice. The staff is warm and attentive. And this isn’t one of those unbearably loud places where you can’t have a decent conversation. Everything about Del Rey Kitchen makes it a really nice place to have a meal.
Carolyn Honda

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