Development would be the tallest on Venice Boulevard from downtown to the beach

By Gary Walker

Rendering for the planned structure at 12444 Venice Blvd.

As community opposition to a controversial six-story development planned for Venice Boulevard intensifies, Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin appears primed to take a resolute stand against the project when it faces an appeal before the Department of City Planning next Thursday.

Mar Vista-based developer Crimson Holdings seeks to build an 83-foot high multi-use structure with an additional mezzanine on the southeast corner of Venice Boulevard at Wasatch Avenue, two blocks west of Centinela Avenue.

The project is slated to include 77 rental housing units, 2,100 square feet of ground floor retail, and both ground-level and subterranean parking, according to planning documents.

Crimson Holdings owner Pamela Day has consistently argued, however, that the building would be five stories with a podium. Under state law, the project has received a density bonus because Day plans to include seven affordable housing units. The parcel’s zoning does not limit building height.

In a Dec. 24 communiqué to his Mar Vista constituents, Bonin condemned the project’s height as out of scale with its surroundings.

“This proposal is so controversial and misguided because it seeks to build the tallest building on Venice Boulevard between downtown and the ocean. This isn’t the right project for Mar Vista, and I intend to continue to vehemently oppose it as proposed,” Bonin wrote. “To be clear, I support building more affordable housing — especially along transit corridors where we need it the most — but this proposal is too tall and out of character with the neighborhood.”

City Planning officials had approved those plans for 12444 Venice Blvd. just two days earlier, prompting two Mar Vista neighborhood organizations to appeal that decision. That appeal will be heard after 9 a.m. on April 20 in Room 532 at Los Angeles City Hall, 200 N. Spring St.

“I am extremely disappointed and puzzled that the Planning Department would allow this inappropriate project to move forward as is, and I will do everything under my authority as a councilmember to stop it unless the developer is willing to be more responsive to the very legitimate objections raised by many Mar Vistans, myself included,” Bonin wrote.

Day noted that Measure S — a recent city ballot initiative that sought to severely limit new development — lost in a landslide in March, and she believes that indicates voters have an appetite for the affordable and middle-income housing units the project intends to create.

“I’m sure that based upon this overwhelming evidence — voter demand and new laws highly encouraging higher density transit-oriented developments such as this one — that Mr. Bonin has come to embrace the needs of renters and therefore, grown to appreciate the project,” Day said.

Bonin said earlier this year that Measure S, which he opposed, would not have applied to Day’s project because she is not seeking a city general plan or local zoning waiver.

But the project does have one local constituency on her side — local artists. Day has pledged to set aside the project’s seven affordable units specifically for artists, and in conjunction with Mar Vista ArtWalk Director Lenore French she announced on April 7 that the L.A. Housing and Community Investment Department has agreed to let her conduct specific outreach to the arts community.

“I think we are the first in the city to do so,” Day said.