The 4th Floor Process:
In the early stages, in response to community concerns, we dramatically cut back the 4th floor from 36 to 12 rooms and stepped it back off the edges towards the interior of the property. As a result, the excess height had minimal additional impact over what is allowable under the Venice Specific Plan (i.e. no additional shading and minimal sightline impact.)
Then, over the last 4 LUPC meetings we presented what we felt were significant enforceable community benefits that we could offer in exchange for the height exception required to build this partial 4th story. We proposed a number of quantifiable benefits that could be utilized by a large segment of the surrounding community that equaled a similar financial impact as would be prescribed by California State Law SB 1818 to obtain extra height over the existing zoning. Based on feedback from LUPC members and the community, they felt the enforceability was going to be difficult.
We listened and made changes to offer something that is more enforceable and follows SB 1818 more by the letter of the law. As such we proposed to build 4 on-site very low-income affordable apartments units in exchange for being granted a height exception. SB 1818 would grant us this height exception by right if we were building condos or apartments, however we only used it as a guideline to frame the benefits and still hear from the community on whether or not the affordable housing for the height exception is an equitable exchange.
Bringing affordable housing to Venice is a big concern considering how expensive it is to live here. It helps promote and maintain socio-economic diversity. But it only makes sense to build it if there are incentives for the project. This is where we left off with LUPC. Many people felt that it was an equitable exchange including many LUPC members, others didn’t.
Again, after a lot of listening and consideration, we’ve decided not to pursue the 4th floor, and will make the project work beautifully without it.