Power To Speak: Venice Should Secede from Los Angeles

Posted October 28, 2015 by The Argonaut in Columns

Only the kind of local control that comes with cityhood can tackle homelessness, gentrification and crime

By Nick Antonicello


Given the spike in crime despite soaring home values, extreme gentrification thanks to the proliferation of short-term rentals and an overall sense that Venice is ignored and forgotten downtown, the argument in favor of cityhood needs to become a serious public policy discussion.

I recently submitted to the Venice Neighborhood Council a resolution seeking that a standing committee be appointed to study the benefits of this urban beach enclave becoming a standalone municipality of Los Angeles County.

Unlike the failed secession effort launched years ago in the San Fernando Valley, a movement for secession by some 38,000 Venetians would represent only about 1% of the entire population of the city of Los Angeles.

By any rational standard, smaller communities are more governmentally effective, accountable and responsive to the needs of residents and citizens alike.

Communities such as Santa Monica to the north, Culver City to the east and Manhattan Beach to the south all offer their residents local government that is accessible, accountable, productive and far cheaper to manage on a day-to-day basis.

As a community of some three square miles, organic new revenues in the form of a Visitor’s Retail Tax and local control of a Transit Occupancy Tax would provide an economic windfall to Venice’s financial coffers based on the 16 million tourists that come to this international destination every single year.

The economic impact would be in the billions when you consider that Santa Monica has less than half that number of visitors (7.3 million) and a population 59% larger (92,000).

With home values surging, Venice can take advantage of shared services when it comes to police, fire and public schools. Venice can collaborate with Los Angeles County for police and fire services while either merging with the Santa Monica – Malibu Unified School District or seeking any other educational partner than the woefully bureaucratic LAUSD. In the end, a brand new school district could be developed and tailored to the needs of a school population far smaller and much more educationally manageable. Administrative costs would decline and per pupil costs would tumble, meaning more dollars for classroom excellence and instruction.

A directly-elected Venice mayor and City Council would expand upon and improve the current neighborhood council system we have today. Venice would, for the first time since 1926, have a government elected by and for Venetians. Venice
would be the emphasis each and every day, not the political afterthought we are now.

And because Venice is unique in so many ways, renters would find themselves with newfound political clout, as 68.8% of all Venetians are tenants. The issues of homelessness, gentrification, spiraling crime and short-term rentals could finally be properly analyzed to provide solutions necessary to unify this fractured community.

No matter where one lies on the issues that face Venice, almost all of us should agree that greater local control would strengthen our community and offer far greater accountability and productivity as it applies to essential services and the human considerations that are required to address the issues of homelessness, gentrification and high crime.

Managing the challenges of a community of 38,000 is far less complex than running a city of more than three million. Likewise, directly electing a local governing body is far more productive and accountable than getting to elect a single council member in a sprawling district that represents hundreds of thousands of residents.

Getting to invest 100% of our financial resources back into our community rather than having them spread throughout this dysfunctional and fundamentally flawed city called Los Angeles is smarter, better and the right thing to do for this incredibly unique, passionate and diverse citizenry.

I urge residents of Venice to weigh in on the serious topic of cityhood and potential secession from Los Angeles by sharing your comments with the Venice Neighborhood Council at Secretary@VeniceNC.org.

Nick Antonicello is a gadfly, government watchdog and member of the Venice Neighborhood Council’s Outreach Committee. He’s lived in Venice for 22 years.


    Gabriel Martinez

    These gentrifiers know nothing about community. All the affluent gentrifiers care about is money, and how many windows there big box houses have. On top of that, since the gentrifiers have been moving in, I see nothing but this stuck up attitude of entitlement coming from them. You can’t buy respect or love in this community. Venice is about real community. Everything is connected, and has value. Not monetary value. Have you ever been to Manhattan Beach lately? Not exactly a role model for what Venice should become. I think what you are really trying to do is create your own little gestapo like paradise by the sea. Just another way to settle the score with the homeless and the not so bearded and rich folks who think their “hip”. If you get your wish and incorporate Venice I promise you that you’ll get a taste of why they call Oakwood Ghost Town. In other words, when gentrification is complete, you and your Incorporated friends are going to live it up in Venice alone. Nobody wants to be with a bunch of stuck up self centered bearded gentrifiers who think they are so very “hip”.

    Warren Bowman

    Nick’s a great guy, but secession is never going to happen. The L.A. city charter makes it almost impossible for any part of the city to secede.


      I appreciate the feedback Warren. Good, not great! It’s really a question of support. If over time an overwhelming number of Venetians want to secede, why would they try to hold 1% of the LA population hostage? If processed and presented properly, this can happen because it will unify Venetians in a way we have not seen.

      Glen Irani

      If nothing else this would be a good public relations move but I don’t think you could ever get an agreement from LA city Council to secede. It wouldn’t even let San Fernando Valley get away with it. The tourism dollars alone in Venice make it impossible for Los Angeles to give it up . Regardless, a good concerted effort by the entire community to pull this off will certainly bring Los Angeles to the negotiating table in terms of spending more money in Venice. Clearly we are not getting our fair share of the revenues particularly in light of the revenue that we pay being disproportionate to most communities in Los Angeles city

    Gabriel Martinez

    Correction: Just another way to settle the score with the homeless, and folks who aren’t very bearded and hairy stinking rich like the stuck up gentrifiers.

    Gabriel Martinez

    I’ve lived in Venice for 37 years. I eat gadflies for breakfast.

    aldo comus

    this is a great idea. venice pours a ton of $$ into LA and gets very little in return. our various issues (homelessness, crime, airbnb, etc) will never be solved by bonin or garcetti. garcetti won’t even come here!
    viva independence for venice!

    Joe Nuttman

    How would something like this gain enough approval to be doable? What percentage of Venice is actually made up of local Venetians? It seems like this ship may have sailed, as most locals can no longer even afford to live here. I grew up in the south bay, and developers have already set their sights on the Harbor Area, with city council supporting any ordinance to encourage gentrification. It’s painful to watch, but most people seem fueled by the promise of rising property values, and don’t care about how it will ruin the community. I’m not trying to shoot down the idea, I guess the biggest question is how to gain support.


    I am all for it. 5 years ago i brought this idea to YoVenice and people told me it is impossible, but could never answer my question, why?. Santa Monica can, Culver City can, Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, Inglewood etc etc why not Venice? so much money Venice generate daily for LA but LA spend almost nothing to keep us safe, clean and as a pleasant city to live in. Mr. Antonicello, you got all of my support, my family and neighbors support, go for it!

    nancy lamb

    I can’t think of anyone who would be against such a plan.
    LA Gets much more of the income than Venice generates than Venice does.

    nancy lamb

    I’ve lived here for 37 years.
    for the first several years, our walk streets were cleaned and swept every two weeks.
    Yes, we had gang problems.
    But we also had a sense of community that is slowly fading away.
    I think it’s a great idea for Venice to separate from Los Angeles.

    R Murad

    While I love the idea, the reality is this. Venice has only 8% of its area zoned commercial and hence the tax revenues are much lower compared to Santa Monica. Also, its is one of only beaches that give the City of Los Angeles access to the water and beachfront. The city will never let that go away from them. However, I am always interested in possibly seeing this as an option and willing to brainstorm options which could make it a bigger possibility. You should discuss this with Mike Newhouse or Carl Lambert as well.

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