Reese-Davidson Community project slated to go before LUPC Tuesday. Here’s what that means

VENICE-The City Planning Commission is holding a Zoom hearing—with public comment—regarding the Reese Davidson Project this Thursday, May 27 at 8:30 am.

The Reese-Davidson project is a proposed project slated to be built on a 2.8-acre parcel in a residential area straddling the Grand Canal at the Venice Boulevard entrance to Venice Beach, a block from the southern edge of the Venice Boardwalk. 

The building site is the largest remaining tract of open space in Venice and overlaps the Venice Canals Historic District.

Project proposal

The project comprises two three-story complexes – the West Complex and the East Complex . Both complexes total 104,140 square feet of developed space, including 64,280 square feet of residential space, 2,255 square feet of retail space and 5,365 square feet of common area. It also includes a 3,155-square-foot art studio and an 810-square-foot restaurant

According to Venice Vision, the Planning Commission will address two issues on Thursday:

An appeal of the Planning Department’s January recommendation to

  • exempt the project from environmental review;
  • approve consolidation of 40 open space lots into two commercial building sites; and
  • waive the developers’ obligation to expand surrounding streets and sidewalks to legal minimum widths.

And, whether to recommend the Project as a whole (including design, zone changes, height increases and such) to the City Council for approval.

In May The Venice Neighborhood Council and the Land Use Planning Commission (LUPC) voted against the project. 

During the LUPC meeting, VCH's Executive Director, Becky Dennison, stated that, in accordance with State Assembly Bill 1197, the project doesn't require a full CEQA review, despite LUPC's previous decision to require one and the fact that the project is located within a site on the National Register of Historic Places, in a Tsunami/Flood Zone and in the dual Coastal Zone. 

They are also requesting numerous waivers, including plans to use Linnie Canal Park for the residents of the space, in lieu of including adequate recreational space into the project and a change in zoning from Open Space to Commercial Space.  VCHC is also requesting that the city create a new sub-area of Venice for the site that would require its use for affordable housing.  Dennison described the project as desperately needed in Venice in order to achieve "economic and racial equity" because most affordable housing in Los Angeles is built "in the inner city".

Former VNC Board Member Christian Wrede delivered a rebuttal to the project proposal. Werde spoke about the site's high water table, tsunami and sea level rise risks.  Wrede also quoted from a study of the project by a group of volunteer architects calling it "aggressive, bunker-like,  and rejecting the surrounding community...like a large barge come ashore". 

This hearing is the second of four steps in the City approval process for the Project. After Thursday's hearing, the Project still has to go before the City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee (PLUM) and then the full City Council later this year.

The agenda for the hearing is available here.