Neighbors React to Bonin’s MTA Bus Yard Affordable Housing Proposal

In an Argonaut exclusive last Thursday, Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin announced his vision to develop the former MTA bus yard at Main Street and Sunset Avenue as an affordable housing complex that may also contain open space and public parking.

Metro’s board of directors approved Bonin’s issue later that day, beginning an extended public hearing process that will soon ask Venice residents to weigh in about what they’d like to see built on the roughly three-acre parcel. The land alone has an estimated value of $30 million to $50 million on the open market.

“It’s a huge moral imperative that we have housing in Los Angeles that people can afford,” Bonin said. “It’s very important, I think, for government and neighborhoods to have some skin in the game — to use our assets to help provide affordable housing.”

Argonaut reporter Gary Walker asked several Venice residents who live or work near the bus yard what they think of Bonin’s idea.

“I love the idea of having an affordable housing development there. It’s not serving the neighborhood at all in the state that it’s in now. I would also like to see something along with the housing that all of the community could use— a community room, a bakery or a small market.”

— Laura Alice, a real estate agent who lives blocks south of the bus yard

“It’s a wonderful idea. However, they must stick to all the Venice Specific Plan conditions, especially regarding height, which [the specific plan] states that development should not go over 35 feet.  Anything higher would definitely cause an outcry from the community.”

— Gail Rogers, a member of the Venice Neighborhood Council’s Ocean Front Walk Committee who lives a few blocks west of the yard

“For starters, there is no way to ever make it pencil out. This is one of the largest single sites in West Los Angeles. With real estate values what they are, the idea of a project [this valuable] being used as an affordable housing solution just does not make for good financial leadership.

— Jim Murez, founder of the Venice Farmers Market, who lives a short distance north of the yard

“I think it’s a big step. Some action had to be taken with that site and the city — especially Venice — needs more affordable housing.
The government should be the entity to create it through public-private partnerships.”

— Real estate broker Tami Pardee of Pardee Properties, headquartered nearby on Abbot Kinney Boulevard 

“We’re all for helping people get off the streets. I’d like it to be designed so that people living there could walk to Abbot Kinney, because this would provide them with local shopping places in the neighborhood.”

— Hal’s Bar & Grill and Primitivo Wine Bistro co-owner Don Novack, a member of the Abbot Kinney Merchants Association