Compiled by Gary Walker and Joe Piasecki

Centinela Avenue Wins Great Streets Grant

Community leaders in Del Rey hope to beautify and energize the neighborhood’s commercial core with a $15,000 city grant through the Great Streets initiative spearheaded by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Del Rey was among 10 Great Streets Challenge grant winners announced last Friday, which also puts it in the running for one of four $500,000 grants.

The initial funding includes assistance from urban designer and transportation consultant Nelson Nyaard in drawing up plans for Del Rey’s Great Streets corridor — Centinela Avenue between Short Avenue and Braddock Drive.

Ron Kato, a member of Del Rey’s Great Streetscape Committee, said the committee has already done some preliminary outreach to businesses along Centinela and to community leaders about what they envision for a Del Rey Great Streets.

“We’ll probably call a town hall soon to get even more community input. Some of the things that we have heard is possibly having a pedestrian crosswalk at Centinela and Greene Street so people can safely cross from one side of the street to the other, and creating some light post banners announcing this area as  Del Rey’s downtown,” said Kato, executive director of the MOA Wellness Center on Centinela. “This is a great opportunity to rebrand the corridor, because a lot of people think it’s Culver City or Marina del Rey.”

Centinela is full of vital local businesses, said Del Rey Neighborhood Council President Matt Wersinger, but “is currently in need of beautification and safety improvements.”

Great Streets modifications along Venice Boulevard in Mar Vista have engendered lasting opposition among a large constituency of locals, with complaints centered around the reduction of traffic lanes to make room for protected bike lanes between parked cars and the sidewalk.

Kato said it was premature to talk about road diets or bike lanes in Del Rey.

“Centinela isn’t as wide as Venice, so we don’t know if a bike lane will work,” he said.


Tunneling Commences Under Marina’s Main Channel

An inside look at the underwater drill that will tunnel beneath Marina del Rey

Construction of the Venice Dual Force Main Sewer Project shifts to Marina del Rey this week, where tunneling work underneath Marina del Rey Harbor’s Main Channel is set to begin off Via Marina.

“The mining work will take place under the channel. The actual tunneling will not be seen, and the equipment that is necessary to operate it will be above ground but in an enclosed area,” said L.A. Public Works engineer Gevork Mkrtchyan, the project’s construction manager.

“We will do everything possible to mitigate any ambient sound from the project,” added Public Works spokeswoman Tonya Durrell.

Tunneling across the channel to Pacific Avenue and 62nd Street in Playa del Rey is expected to take two to three weeks, and then work to install the new sewer main will happen around the clock for an unspecified period of time.

Public Works expects to begin tunneling at Waterview Drive in Playa del Rey in mid-July. One lane of northbound Vista Del Mar will be temporarily closed in that area during construction.

Replacement of aging sewer pipes began in April 2017 on Hurricane Street in Venice and is expected to wrap up near the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant in the fall of 2020, Durrell said.


Bridge Housing Construction Begins July 1

A city rendering depicts bridge housing, as seen from Sunset and Pacific avenues

On Monday city workers will begin construction of the long-discussed temporary homeless housing facility on the former Metro bus yard in Venice, according to Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin’s office.

One of several “bridge” housing sites planned throughout the city, the Venice facility is designed to house 100 homeless adults and 54 homeless youth at any given time in order to bring them out of tents and encampments as they await more permanent housing. Prefabricated buildings and modular trailers will provide beds, bathrooms, showers, food, storage space and 24-hour security. Bonin has promised the facility will operate for a maximum of three years; so far, the start date remains unclear.

It’s been slightly more than a year since Bonin and L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti announced plans for bridge housing in Venice, and in that time a number of Venice locals have organized themselves in opposition to the plan. Critics of the facility believe it
will attract more homeless people from neighborhoods without bridge housing to a disproportionally impacted area of Venice — and with it additional public safety and public health concerns.

The Venice Stakeholders Association, which has previously fought for increased enforcement of laws that prohibit nighttime encampments on the Venice Boardwalk, is suing to prevent the bridge housing facility from opening, arguing the project violates “the integrity of CEQA and the California Coastal Act.” That lawsuit is still active, but a judge refused to grant an injunction that would have prevented the start of construction.

The city is contracting with social services and housing placement nonprofit People Assisting the Homeless (PATH) to operate the bridge housing facility on Main, and Venice-based nonprofit Safe Place for Youth will assist.


Drowning Ruled as Cause of Mysterious Death

The woman whose body was found along Marina del Rey’s south jetty in February died from accidental drowning, the Los Angeles County Coroner’s office determined this week. How she got there and why she was wearing a hospital bracelet remain unclear.

Marina del Rey Harbor Patrol deputies found 50-year-old Los Angeles resident Sarah Marquez dead on the jetty at around 3 p.m. on Feb. 3. The coroner’s report was delayed for months pending medical tests and notification of Marquez’s next of kin.

“This case required more analysis. The medical examiner requested additional testing, and the results took some time,” said coroner’s office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani.

Officials have declined to name the hospital listed on Marquez’s bracelet.


Westchester Moms to Protest Child Detentions

Some of the same Westchester moms who organized the inaugural Westchester / LAX Coastal Kids’ March for Equality on Martin Luther King Jr. Day will return to Sepulveda Boulevard this Sunday (June 30) to protest the federal government’s ongoing separation of immigrant families and continuing detention of immigrant children in jail-like conditions.

The “No More Kids in Cages” demonstration is planned for 12:30 to 2 p.m. on the northwest corner of Sepulveda and La Tijera boulevards, near Kohl’s. Organizers Haan-Fawn Chau and Ahm A. Rama encourage kids and families to participate.

Find updates on the Facebook event page for “No More Kids in Cages! Westchester-LAX Demonstration.”

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