UPDATE: Los Angeles City Clerk Holly Walcott is asking the L.A. City Attorney’s Office to repeal the ordinance that created the Venice Business Improvement District due to the legal complaint that the city council closed a pre-vote public hearing before allowing opponents to speak.
“We’re asking for a new ordinance of intent because our basic concern was not everyone was able to have their voice heard at the public hearing,” Wolcott said. “We want everyone to be able to address the city council, as is required by state law.”
If the ordinance approving the BID is repealed, a new BID proposal would be drafted and new ballots must be mailed out to commercial property owners. Walcott anticipates a new vote would happen sometime in November.
By Gary Walker
Venice commercial property owners have voted to establish a Business Improvement District — a mechanism for funding neighborhood cleaning, maintenance, landscaping, infrastructure and public safety programs beyond what the city already provides.
The BID launches Jan. 1 and includes non-residential properties on the boardwalk, Windward Circle and Main Street as well as Venice Boulevard from the beach to Abbot Kinney Boulevard.
The vote tally came in as 85 in favor to 79 against (roughly 52% support). Those votes were weighted, however, according to total property area — owners of larger commercial parcels will pay more into the BID — producing a more decisive 77.2% in favor to 22.8% against. The numbers suggest greater support for the BID among owners of large parcels and less among those with smaller pieces of land.
BID opponents, some of them concerned about a possible private security presence on the boardwalk, quickly filed a complaint with the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office that accuses city officials of violating due process. The complaint states that L.A. City Council members closed a pre-vote public hearing on Aug. 23 before at least 18 people who planned to speak against the BID could voice their concerns.
Only property owners in the BID area could vote, but anyone could speak during the hearing.
“Stakeholders who otherwise have no voice in the creation of the BID and the regulation of public space were present for hours, waiting to be heard,” wrote Shayla Myers, an attorney with the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles. “The council’s failure to allow them the opportunity to exercise this right renders the balloting process invalid.”
The next step for BID organizers is to select a board of directors.
The Venice Chamber of Commerce supports its members in the BID zone and trusts the new board will be proactive to “address any misconceptions or protests as the situation progresses,” chamber President George Francisco said.
“We believe [the BID] will be a positive endeavor to provide services that are very much needed locally and involve some of the unique and special aspects of Venice and the boardwalk,” he said.