742-748 Brooks: Illegal + Unethical Development
On the morning of August 2, 2016 residents of Brooks Avenue woke up to a hostile take-over of their block by Lighthouse Brooks LLC as they started construction of 742-748 Brooks WITHOUT A COASTAL DEVELOPMENT PERMIT. The excessive scale of this project and complete mismanagement crescendoed throughout the day resulting in a very angry community and the terribly sad murder of one of LightHouse Brooks contractors, Marvin Ponce.
The build up of the takeover started with us waking up to no running water because a 60 foot crane broke through the asphalt and broke our main water line sending a river of water down the street causing damage to some property. That was just the beginning.
About ten double-wide semi trucks loaded with 20 pre-fab modules lined our streets. Some residents were told that they couldn’t leave their driveways – they were stuck at home – blocked in by the semi trucks.
Tensions continued to rise when we saw the huge crane lift each of the 20 pre- fab units, one by one, in the middle of our block. It was a very dangerous job. Neighbors also saw them doing construction on a prefab modules right in the middle of the street.
Tensions continued to build when throughout the day people were told that they couldn’t drive to their homes. They had to re-route. This was especially angering because there was no warning of this project.
Around 4PM, Marvin Ponce, a contractor who was told to direct the traffic on this construction project was shot dead. He was just doing what LightHouse Brooks told him to do.
LightHouse Brooks LLC project cannot set the precedent on how construction gets done on Brooks or in Venice. Below summarizes the next steps the Venice community has taken subsequent to this day and why we need your help.
Mass, Scale, Character doesn't fit the neighborhood - a violation of the Coastal Act
Step 1: Venice Residents Appeal the Project With Coastal Commission
There are two parts of the Coastal Commission: The first part is called the Coastal Staff, also known as Staff. They handle the day to day and conduct in-depth analysis on projects. They present their analysis / findings to the Coastal Commissioners. In the Coastal Commission hearing the Commissioners then rule on the project.
The Coastal Staff created an in-depth analysis and provided only evidence of the project's failure. Staff agreed with the residents of Venice that this project should be denied. Staff recommended to the Coastal Commissioners that they deny this project. The Coastal Commissioners went against Coastal Staff and Venetians and approved the project.
Step 2: Venice residents have first Iteration of lawsuit against the Coastal Commission
In approving the Project, the Coastal Commissioners failed to make the requisite findings that the project conforms to Chapter 3 of the Coastal Act, as required by law. Indeed, because Coastal Commission staff recommended, twice, that the Commissioners deny the Project, all of the legally required findings made by staff in their reports and recommended for adoption by the Commissioners evidence only the Project's failure to comply with Chapter 3 of the Coastal Act.
In approving the project, the Commissioners failed to make any findings to the contrary of staff, instead relying on expressions of sympathy towards Lighthouse Brooks for what they deemed to be nothing more than procedural mistakes made by the City of Los Angeles.
What's more, the Commissioners engaged in ex parte communications with Lighthouse Brooks LLC Project proponents, while at the same time advising residents of Venice that any such ex parte communications were prohibited. Essentially the developer was allowed to have private meetings with the Coastal Commissioners to make their case while the residents of Venice could not.
Step 3: In a completely unethical move, Coastal Commission has their Staff change their findings to avoid the lawsuit
In a truly astonishing move, the Coastal Commission instructed the Coastal Staff to change their findings to match that of the Commissioners so they could avoid the lawsuit. The Coastal Staff made minor word tweaks and language tweaks to their documents to try to align with the Commissioners ruling.
Step 4: Venice residents amend their lawsuit
Because of Step 3, Venetians had to amend their lawsuit. For the reasons below, summarized for quicker reading, the Coastal Commission's actions constitute an abuse of discretion and must be set aside:
A) In approving the Project on Dec. 8, 2016 the Coastal Commission failed to make the requisite findings that the Project conforms to Chapter 3 of the Coastal Act, as required by law.
B) The Commissioners failed to make any findings contrary to that of Staff, which again, strongly documented the Project's failure to comply with Chapter 3 of the Coastal Act. Instead, the Commissioners relied on expressions of sympathy towards Lighthouse Brooks for what they deemed to be nothing more than procedural mistakes made by the City of Los Angeles.
C) Petitioners (Venice residents) are informed, believe and base allege that on May 12, 2017, subsequent to the filing of the original lawsuit, the Coastal Commission recognized that they had indeed failed to make the requisite findings that the Project conforms to Chapter 3 of the Coastal Act, as alleged by Petitioners.
D) On May 12, 2017, the Commissioners adopted "revised" findings. Such findings, prepared by the same Coastal staff that found this very same Project failed to comply with Chapter 3 of the Coastal Act in December, 2016, all of a sudden found that it complied with Chapter 3 of the Coastal Act.
E) Petitioners (Venice residents) are informed, believe and based allege that the Coastal Commission's May 12, 2017 action continues to not be supported by the findings, which are inherently inconsistent, and that its post-hoc revised findings are not supported by the evidence.
F) Petitioners (Venice residents) are informed, believe and base allege that the Commissioners engaged in ex-parte communications with the Project's proponents, while at the same time advising Petitioners that any such ex part communications were prohibited. Such actions by the Coastal Commission constitute a violation of Petitioners' due process rights.
Step 5: Donate to the lawsuit
The trial is scheduled for Oct 2nd 2018. Support our Venice by donating whatever you can afford: https://www.gofundme.com/HelpOurVenice