|The 4 next-largest developments on Abbot Kinney could fit inside the hotel with 5,500 sq ft to spare|
"The days of being able to park in front of your home are over," said VNC Board member Thomas Elliot as he cast the first of nine votes in favor of Dan Abrams block-long hotel complex. "The days of being able to just drive down Abbot Kinney and Main Street are over."
Board member Marisa Solomon used her favorable vote for the hotel to take a swipe at Oakwood and other community members who voiced concerns they only recently learned of thehotel development, "People aren't informed when they don't want to be informed."
And so it went. Despite hundreds of community emails running 10-1 against the hotel (VNC's figure, not mine), a deeply divided board voted 9-7 in favor of approving Dan Abram's hotel.
The frustrating thing? Two board members who would have voted against the hotel had to recuse themselves because Dan Abrams donated money to a non-profit they were associated with.
And make no mistake, this is all about money. Records show the self-described "entrepreneur" spent upwards of $17 million for 8 lots of prime Abbot Kinney real estate. A few thousand more for wining and dining supporters before the meeting, distributing glossy full-color portfolios to all the board members at the meeting, and lobbying them for weeks beforehand was a drop in the bucket by comparison.
This vote sets a frightening precedent for Venice. If Abrams' hotel makes it all the way through the LA City planning process as is, all bets are off. Developers will be able to buy up and consolidate an unlimited number of lots in both commercial and residential areas of Venice. Mass and scale will no longer be a consideration. The only limitations will be the the depth of developer's pockets.
So now what?
The VNC vote, for all it's drama, is advisory. It holds no legal weight, although we should expect Abrams and his team to flog the results to the city at every opportunity.
But this project must still go through the REAL City planning process - that means hearings in front of the Zoning Administrator, the Planning Commission and, ultimately, the Coastal Commission. And of course, Mike Bonin, our City Councilman, will have to weigh in as well.
We don't have dates yet for ANY of those hearings, but as soon as we do, we'll let you know when they are happening and what we need you to do.
This link will take you to the presentation I gave the board last night. It describes in great detail why Abrams' hotel as proposed is bad for Abbot Kinney and bad for Venice. It's wonky, but it puts truth to the lies Abrams' development team have been spreading for months.
But before you read that, I'm going to ask you to do one more thing. Write to these folks and let them know what you think of their vote.
And then vote them out of office May 18th.