VENICE - A five-year veteran of the Venice Land Use & Planning Committee (LUPC) is running for the Committee’s chairmanship.
Michael Jensen, an 11-year Venice resident and 37-year old legal counsel for a cannabis company is a transplanted Pennsylvanian who graduated from Drew University and the Southwestern School of Law believes his leadership will bring “formality and a more serious discussion” of the issues facing this busy committee of the VNC.
Calling 2020-21 thus far “an odd time,” Mr. Jensen would like to get back to revisiting the Venice Specific Plan, the foundation of land use doctrine here in Dog Town.
Jensen believes LUPC needs “new ideas” regarding up zoning, increasing height restrictions and park-lets moving forward.
Jensen believes more ideas need to be discussed in LUPC deliberations.
“I thought we would have talked about temporary street closures in lieu of COVID-19. There should be no class divide when it comes to transportation,” offered Jensen, who lived the better part of two years without a car. Born in Denmark, Jensen believes in mass transit and sees more affordable housing “going vertical” as the best long term solution.
Jensen, who once lived on Rose Avenue, is concerned about the “socio-economic diversity” that defines Venice and would like to see city fees reduced so that the construction of affordable properties will allow locals to work and reside here.
When our conversation turned to the boardwalk, Jensen was concerned about the future of Oceanfront Walk.
“Elements of blame are plenty to go around; and the current conditions at the boardwalk have spiraled out of control.”
But Jensen is optimistic about Venice moving forward.
“The city council needs to run a better government. Los Angeles is too big to concentrate on the boardwalk and we need radical changes in process with the Olympics coming to LA. I would like a closer connection with the community as we determine how to move forward.”
Jensen believes structure is important in managing the LUPC agenda.
“Does the application fit our parameters? While most applications are by-right, is our process thoughtful and defensible? It is important we meet these parameters.”
If successful, candidate Jensen wants to delegate and assign responsibility to fellow LUPC members.
“This is a technocratic process. Parking, setbacks is what we deal with.”
Jensen said he would consider the creation of the position of vice-chair to assist him as well as a committee secretary for accuracy purposes that would take away the “dysfunction” of the current LUPC committee.
When the conversation turned to the race for president, Jensen is supporting longtime Venetian James Murez.
“No one would question Jim’s commitment to Venice. He has an institutional knowledge which is without peer.”
Summarizing his priorities, Jensen stated he wants a “formalized process, improved staff reporting that results in practical information for the public.”
Jensen said he would consider more emphasis on “mass, scale and character” and considering a “design element” process that allocates more committee input and participation.
Jensen stressed the need for informative staff reports on every application and he will not allow any project to be sent to the VNC without a comprehensive staff report.
“We must restore the decorum and professionalism to public meetings that have been lacking in recent years. Land use issues are very important to the Venice community, and they are becoming increasingly complex as Venice evolves.”
Jensen believes LUPC in the end needs to “analyze projects from an objective standpoint and build consensus in its advisory role.”
For more information on how to vote, email elections@VeniceNC.org.