One of Venice Chamber of Commerce president Andy Layman’s goals is to increase membership.
“The more members, the stronger the unifying voice,” he says. “With our membership dues already the lowest on the Westside, we must still have value to the membership. This is why I created events just for our members.
“In the upcoming months we are planning several guest speaker events and other special activities that will help identify the Venice business community as a strong economic part of the Westside.”
The first took place on December 4th at Danny’s Venice, with Councilmember Bill Rosendahl as guest speaker .
Although the topic of his presentation was “Venice: Past, Present and Future,” Rosendahl didn’t want to dwell on his past accomplishments, except to explain how things get done in a bureaucracy and the importance of dogged determination of both constituents and his office staff to see issues through.
The luncheon was one of nine stops on Rosendahl’s calendar that day. Prior to the luncheon there was a ribbon-cutting of the Universal Access Playground at Stoner Park.
“What that basically means,” he says, “is that a young kid with special needs or a disability can use every bit of the equipment.”
Later on, scheduled appointments included an interview regarding his leadership role in saving public beach access.
“It’s a dead duck right now, thanks to the new state law and we have to find a way to keep it going,” he says.
The day before, Rosendahl attended the third meeting about Billy the elephant. As an animal lover, he admitted that he had some energy for Billy, but feels that a lot more energy needs to be spent on social issues that impact human beings.
Residents in the 11th District were upset after word got out that the Pacific and West Los Angeles police divisions would lose officers to other areas. Rosendahl set up a community meeting with Chief William Bratton to discuss how he makes decisions on the deployment of troops and for resident feedback.
Currently there are three skateboard parks in Rosendahl’s area under construction. The one in Venice will be done in a year.
“We’ll have one of the most magnificent skate board parks in America,” he says. “It will be a signature of Venice and the kids will go nuts.”
Now a seasoned politician and in reelection mode, Rosendahl is looking forward to finishing projects during a second term. As a neophyte three years ago, he had a lot to learn and get used to. Dealing with bureaucracy is never easy and he quickly realized that it can be problematic.
“It took me a couple of years to figure out how to get things done and who’s who and who I can trust,” he says. “It also required me to build a staff — a staff that understands this and knows how to work with it.”
When Mark Grant was first put in charge of the Venice area of the council district, Rosendahl likened him to a mini-mayor because he was treated like a punching bag. A politician can’t please all of the people all of the time and Mark was on the receiving end of people’s dissatisfaction and bore the brunt of their verbal attacks.
At the same time, Rosendahl recognized a special ability in Mark to work with government officials, the people who actually make things happen.
It’s important to remember that a seed (the intent) is first planted, then tilled and cultivated before the harvest (benefit) is reaped. It is the middle part where there is little control over the city agencies and departments and where Mark was able to build relationships in order to get things accomplished on Rosendahl’s behalf.
Since Mark was doing such a good job for Venice, he was promoted to special assistant so he could work his magic for the entire district.
Succeeding Mark as Venice deputy was Arturo Pi“a, who Rosendahl acknowledges has two major strengths. The first is his background with the Human Relations Commission, whose job is to find a way for people to work together. In Venice, that’s no small feat and it does require a talent. The second is his experience in creating the Neighborhood Councils.
While with the Human Relations Commission, he assisted with the development of what became known as “the plan.”
Once the Neighborhood Councils were certified, he would also assist with various challenges that the Neighborhood Councils would be confronted with, including but not limited to, differing opinions and addressing controversial issues.
Venice is Arturo’s primary staff role and he is director of the councilman’s southern district which includes Westchester, Playa del Rey, Del Rey and Playa Vista in addition to Venice.
“Community things, that’s what I’m all about,” says Rosendahl. Whether it is increasing recycling in Brentwood Village or expediting the reburial of the remains of Gabrieleno/Tongva Indians in Playa Vista to ending airport expansion at LAX and promoting regional aviation, he is out and about making a difference in the community.
Sometimes there are two sides to every story and roadblocks are set up by residents and business that can deter his agenda of action.
A longtime advocate of helping the homeless, Rosendahl calls the non-availability of bathrooms on Ocean Front Walk an intractable issue.
“I’m not going to go through a whole second term and not open these bathrooms,” Rosendahl says. “I’m tired of the Nimbyism [not in my backyard-ism] that doesn’t allow people to go to the bathroom but yet they scream at me when the homeless defecate in their backyard.”
The councilman feels the same about more benches and places for checkers and chess games.
“Good ideas get killed by negative Nimbyism,” he says. “This attitude has to be broken.”
Residents can be notified of events and issues by signing up for informative e-mails from Rosendahl’s communications director, Nate Kaplan at www.lacity .org/cd11/. This information includes meetings for community input so your voice can be heard.
Information on becoming a member of the Venice Chamber of Commerce, www.venicecham ber.net/.