Despite complaints from a group of homeowners that their streets, roads and residential curbs have been neglected by Los Angeles officials, Mar Vista has seen a large number of infrastructure repair projects over the last several years.
Members of the South Mar Vista Neighborhood Association in recent weeks have begun to quietly air their grievances with the city regarding infrastructure needs, and some have openly suggested that becoming annexed into their eastern neighbor, Culver City, could be more beneficial than remaining in Mar Vista.
The Argonaut detailed the concerns of a group of homeowners in the association in the Aug. 16 issue, with some reportedly seriously considering secession from Los Angeles due to what they claim is a dearth of attention to their infrastructure needs, including street repair.
While some of the avenues and boulevards in the neighborhood south of Venice Boulevard are in need of repair, the community’s streets have not gone entirely ignored.
According to city documents since 2007, two years after City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who represents Mar Vista, took office, there have been 343 street repair operations in Mar Vista, including 89 resurfacing operations, totaling approximately 18 miles in distance.
In addition, the Department of Street Services has engaged in 254 slurry, or street sealing projects, equaling 21.44 miles, according to Street Services.
“One of Councilman Rosendahl’s first acts after he was elected to the council (in 2005) was to allocate $100,000 for the beautification of Venice Boulevard,” added Mike Bonin, Rosendahl’s chief of staff.
Other Westside communities are suffering from similar reported infrastructure problems as well, but they are using vastly different methods to seek solutions to them.
Sidewalks along Sepulveda Boulevard in Westchester are buckling in some places, which many find to be a safety hazard. Using $2 million that a developer at the Howard Hughes Center is providing, city officials are planning beautification work along the thoroughfare as well as fixing a large portion of the sidewalks between Sepulveda and 80th Street.
In Venice, some residents are asking the company that has a contract for providing advertisements inside bus kiosks to pay for curbs along Pacific Avenue that have been damaged by tree roots, which is included in the company’s contract.
Members of the Westchester Business Improvement District like John Ruhlen feel that ficus trees on Sepulveda’s sidewalks have caused the concrete to buckle because of their deep roots. These trees will be replaced with city-approved trees.
“Ficus trees and sidewalks are not compatible,” Ruhlen, the business district’s secretary, quipped.
Those advocating for breaking away from Mar Vista have largely sought to remain in the shadows. Sharon Commins, chair of the Mar Vista Community Council, invited some of them to address the community board but they declined.
A man who said he lives on East Boulevard voiced his support in an online comment for moving to Culver City after the Aug. 16 article.
“The way things are going in this part of Mar Vista makes me feel that services would only be better if we were part of Culver City. The bottom line is we get next to nothing from L.A.,” he wrote.
Sherri Akers, a south Mar Vista homeowner who lives on Coolidge Avenue, is opposed to the idea of losing a part of her community.
“I love Mar Vista,” said Akers, a co-chair of the community council’s Green Committee. “I don’t love only one area of the community, I love the total of Mar Vista.
“I would not support a proposal for annexation,” she continued. “Mar Vista means too much to me to do something self-serving and harmful to the rest of the people that love it.”
One south Mar Vista homeowner said that he has not made up his mind about annexation or secession but indicated that it might not be a bad idea to be part of Culver City, given his claims about a lack of attention to his neighborhood’s streets and curbs.
Christopher McKinnon has given Rosendahl’s office 20 items that he feels are of great importance and is dismayed that few have been acted upon, with the exception of the Venice Boulevard beautification.
He acknowledged that other communities also have infrastructure problems, but feels that his neighborhood’s proximity to Culver City could make a difference if they were annexed.
“In a solution based mindset, we’re uniquely adjacent to Culver City,” he said.
The community council’s Zone Five director, Maritza Przekop, said she contacted the Culver City city manager’s office to inquire about any formal request for annexation. Zone 5 includes south Mar Vista.
The Argonaut contacted Culver City City Manager John Nachbar regarding any official correspondence regarding annexation for the Aug. 16 story. Nachbar said he was unaware of any official contact on Mar Vista’s seeking to become part of Culver City.
Przekop said she spoke with Nachbar’s assistant city manager, Martin Cole. “He said that from his own knowledge, he had not heard any request prior to my call, that this was the first time he had heard about this. It was very flattering to the city of Culver City but it is highly unlikely that the city of Culver City would entertain such an annexation request at this point,” Przekop wrote in her director’s report to Commins.
The zone director said she received an email earlier this month from South Mar Vista Neighborhood Association President Steve Wallace regarding possible annexation and she was surprised that she had not been made privy of any prior discussion pertaining to secession or annexation.
“I called Steve expressing my concerns and asked about the secrecy of this notice and why, being the community council representative for the area, I was not included in the presentation and follow-up discussions,” she wrote in her director’s report. “Steve told me that the group had expressed the desire to keep it confidential, that the results from the survey were positive towards annexation, but he could not disclose the results.”
Akers understands that residents south of Venice Boulevard want to see their streets and curbs repaired, but said the approach that some have taken is not the way that Mar Vista has used for other important topics.
“If there is an issue with infrastructure, maybe we need to use the same initiative that we used to get other things,” she said, citing the community’s efforts to push for a citywide ban on the sale of single-use plastic bags, the creation of the farmers market and a wide array of citywide environmental initiatives.
She also took umbrage at how some south Mar Vista residents have characterized Rosendahl as being insensitive to their concerns.
“I have found the councilman’s office incredibly responsive and collaborative when I have contacted them,” Akers asserted.
Przekop said she recently surveyed 20 streets within the boundaries of Zone 5, which include Centinela, McLaughlin, Coolidge and Marcasel avenues and Venice, Grand View boulevards as well as the six main alleys that traverse the area.
She said she had petitioned the city government for street resurfacing in south Mar Vista.
“Since 2010, I have from time to time requested resurfacing of portions of some streets and those have been completed such as Mitchell (Avenue), Grand View, Herbert (Street) and Pacific,” Przekop wrote.
The topic of secession was discussed at the Mar Vista Community Council’s Aug. 21 Land Use and Planning Committee meeting. Since it was not an agenda item, no official action was taken on it. ¤