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This project will dwarf even Bridge Housing at the MTA Lot and the notorious St. Joseph’s Center.

Image - Venice Median Filed Plan Mockup

An epic battle for the future of Venice has begun.


The Hollywood Community Housing Corporation (“HCHC”), the Venice Community Housing Corporation (“VCHC”) and architects Eric Owen Moss and Eric McNevin last month filed an application with the Los Angeles Department of City Planning for the so-called “Reese Davidson Community” (a.k.a. the “Monster on the Median”). Not a mere housing project – an entire “community.”

The application was filed over the holidays to avoid attention and does not include any signatures of support from surrounding neighbors or any review by the Venice Neighborhood Council, even though the application calls for both.

True to form, VCHC has only posted a handful of documents on its website, but we collected the plans and the application in their entirety, and the proposed project is even more gruesome (and more profoundly disrespectful to our community) than we feared.
Image - Proposed Venice Median Complex Location
The Reese Davidson Community is 5 times larger than the typical supportive housing development and will consume approximately 40 lots on nearly 3 acres (commonly referred to as the “Venice Median”) on one of the most heavily trafficked corridors in Venice, immediately adjacent to the historic Venice Canals and just a block off the sand at the very gateway to Venice Beach and the Venice Boardwalk.
As described in the application, the Community will straddle the Grand Canal, range from 3-5 stories with setbacks of 5 feet (or less), and include:
  • 140 residential units (68 permanent supportive housing (“PSH”) units / 34 general affordable housing units / 34 affordable “live/work lofts” for artists / 4 manager units)
  • a 4-story parking structure on the lot to the west of the Grand Canal and a 5-story parking structure on the lot to the east of Grand canal (395 – 436 spaces total), with roof top parking that will extend the effective height of the parking structures to 42’
  • a 67-foot “cantilevered architectural campanile” at the northwest corner of the property (facing the iconic mural of Abbot Kinney)
  • 685 sq. ft. of social services office space
  • 8,220 sq. ft. of retail/restaurant/art studio/community space
Image - Mockup Proposed Venice Median Complex
According to the application, the total number of occupants and the extent to which “special events” will be hosted on site are “TBD.” There are no clean living, job counseling requirements and, as a matter of law, units cannot be reserved for residents of Venice encampments.

Financial details have not yet been disclosed, but VCHC’s less complex project on Rose Avenue is projected to cost $430,000 per unit not including land, and the Venice Median is conservatively valued at $90 million so the per unit price tag – including land and construction costs – could well be $1 million or more per unit!
Image - Proposed Venice Median Complex
In keeping with Eric Owen Moss’s style, the buildings are essentially oversized concrete boxes, and the developers are seeking numerous concessions, including:
  • exemption from all requirements under the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) as to “aesthetic character, shade and shadow, light and glare, and scenic vistas or any other aesthetic impact”
  • amendments to the Venice Community Plan and the Venice Coastal Zone Specific Plan converting the Venice Median from “open space” to “commercial” and stripping all references to “open space” on the Venice Median from the Venice Community Plan
  • an increase of applicable height limits from 22’ to 35’ on the south side of the Project facing the Venice Canals
  • an increase of applicable height limits to 67’ – and complete elimination of any setback – for the “cantilevered architectural campanile” and corresponding roof access
  • elimination of the varied roofline requirement
  • elimination of incremental setback requirements for roofs in excess of 30’
  • further reduction of substandard sidewalks and roadways on Dell Avenue, Pacific Avenue and Venice Boulevard
Image - Mocked Up View of Proposed Venice Median Complex
It appears HCHC and VCHC are working hand-in-glove with the City to move the project forward as quickly – and surreptitiously – as possible.

If we don’t stop it, construction will begin
in 2020 - that is next year! -
with a target completion date of 2023.

The Reese Davidson Community is one of six major homeless projects currently in the pipeline for Venice, and the fourth housing project for which plans were released in 2018. The three other housing projects for which plans were released in 2018 are:

Bridge Housing at the MTA Lot on Main Street (3.15-acre campus including a dog park, arts center, bicycle pavilion, meal service and 154 shelter beds)

The Rose Avenue Apartments (a four-story VCHC project spanning two lots and climbing 50’ on the Rose Avenue Corridor)

The Thatcher Yard Project (98 units in on 2 acres in the strictly residential Oxford Triangle, a block off the Marina Green)

In addition, we will expect to see plans soon for the Westminster Navigation Center – providing showers, lockers and counseling services across the street from Westminster Elementary School – and for 102 Navy Street, a project on the Rose Avenue where VCHC is using $500,000 from the City of Santa Monica to provide housing for Santa Monica homeless.
In short, everything we feared when we founded Fight Back, Venice! two years ago is coming to pass. In fact, Venice is being devoured even more quickly – and ferociously – than we anticipated.

If we don’t stand up for ourselves and our families, there will be no going back.

We can still save o
ur community, but we have to man the barricades now.
There is a joint meeting of VNC Neighborhood, Land Use and Planning and Transportation Committees tonight – Tuesday, January 8, 2018 – at 6:30 pm at Westminster Elementary School to discuss the proper scope of the Environmental Impact Report for the Community, if you are interested in that issue.

We will, of course, keep you apprised of other relevant events and action items… but here are 4 ways you can join the fight immediately without leaving your home:
And if you are interested in getting involved, but doubts or questions, contact us at  

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