Transformation or Gentrification?

We just moved into a home in Venice that we have been working on for a long time. We have learned more than necessary about how to build in LA. Every city, every state has a different set of bars to get a permit or a C of O and from a business perspective, it is just fascinating how LA gets anything done.

On one hand, I so appreciate the desire to keep history. As you walk through Venice the historical buildings create a vibe and feel of this city from the canals to the lanes to the boardwalk. Over the years there has been massive construction. Their limitations are relegated to the size of your lot. Getting a permit where you want to build from the ground up, essentially knocking down the house that is there, has parameters, as it should.

The offices who give permits really do not talk to each other. Also, the people issuing the permits do not necessarily care about the parameters. You can get around them by only taking down 50% of your house instead of starting from scratch. There is also the community desire to keep historical homes but they have zero power but they do love noise.

In the end, through such red tape and nonsense, we rebuilt the house that was here but brought into this century. The house will be here for decades to come and is carbon efficient with the right materials vs shoring up something that could collapse with a big gust of wind. The agencies that overseeing building talks out of two sides of its mouth. It would cost money to set up a division to actually drill down on what should be landmarked and what is irrelevant. Just like it would cost a tremendous amount to figure out the desperately needed social systems for the overwhelming homeless problem in CA. That is a completely different issue that is depressing, frustrating and quite frankly maddening that the state has appeared to do nothing. There should be Federal funding for this as it is not only CA that has a burgeoning homeless problem.

Yet what do you save? Look at this building as we walked around this past weekend. How do you save this? It is important to keep the architectural nods to the past but it is also important to create the right thing for the new. Not sure how to elect visual committee but somehow after going through this insane process, I have yet to be able to see through the weeds to figure how the hell this is ever fixed.

Comments (Archived):

  1. awaldstein

    Thanks for this.I have a love for that area and honestly with the exception of the last photo know where each one is.Congrats and enjoy the fruit of your labor and dedication!

      1. awaldstein

        No interest in revealing where things are as that is not mine to say.

  2. Susan Rubinsky

    I love this post. I would like to hear more about this process. Also, want to hear about what kinds of tech you put into your new home.Totally agree about the insanity of historical landmarks and lack of vision or guidelines — it happens everywhere. When I lived in New Haven a bunch of people got together to get the Perelli building listed as a landmark in the guise of trying to stop Ikea from building there. Ikea had already bought the property and, originally, were going to tear down the Perelli building on it. This fiasco wasted several years of Ikea’s time and also taxpayer time and money. Finally, Ikea said, “OK. We’ll keep the Perelli building. We’ll just build next to it.” Then they used the Perelli building to hang gigantic banners promoting Ikea which you could see from the highway. The banners were gigantic — four or five times the size of traditional billboards. It was pure genius on Ikea’s part — a big “take your landmark and shove it” move. To this day, I freaking love Ikea for how they handled it.

    1. LE

      My guess is what they (Ikea) also did was buy up all the good attorneys. Otherwise impossible to think some kind of sign ordinance couldn’t have been passed in order to prevent those large banners. (Yes I know banners are considered temporary but still…) I mean where I am (and most places) signage is restricted in some way. And if it’s not not a big deal to create some ordinance to prevent that from happening.Other side of this is in Philly the city gives money if you preserve the facade of the building. We got that for a building in old city. They have an easement which preserves what is there forever. https://uploads.disquscdn.c…How is the economy in New Haven? All I know is that the nudniks where I am have prevented development in any way they can. As a result I pay no doubt the highest taxes of any place in NJ which is already the highest taxes of almost all states. Meanwhile you go to, say, Sunny Isles Beach Florida (North of Miami beach) and they are stuffing building everywhere and anywhere. And it honestly looks bad and is super congested. But go knows the taxes are low and the economic activity is high.

  3. jason wright

    “C of O”? The Mayor of Paris has her new ‘fifteen minute’ plan for the city. Community is in. The car is out.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Certificate of Occupancy

      1. jason wright“. We advise, guide, and assist so you can Build Safe, Well, and Fast”.

  4. kenberger

    Speaking of gentrification (fears of it): Berlin just passed and is now implementing its controversial rent freeze. Interesting NYT read:…Motivation is to keep artists and creatives in, not let rich rule (they fear becoming London or SF). But the actual effect so far is some landlords are simply dumping their owned places, or otherwise stop renting.I know because we rent a furnished flat there, but instead of celebrating a rent decrease, we’re now being told this will be the case, even if we forfeit the right. The rule is right now causing sheer chaos.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Dumping as in selling?

      1. LE

        He probably means ‘selling’ but you know the other thing that happens is ‘dumping’ in the sense that if you can’t get more rent you let the place become ‘a dump’.

      2. kenberger

        Fair point. “Dumping” is probably more for speculators. Is that why you asked? While there is a little bit of that too in Berlin, I did mean “selling”.For example, all 3 landlords for the (higher-end, furnished) sublets we’ve had in Berlin have been individual Italians, holding a property and renting it out. There is MUCH more of that type of owner in Berlin vs Manhattan– the latter being much more attractive to foreign investment (although here is a good recent read about current backtrends there).This new law is freaking them out, and Berlin apartment prices (for buyers/owners, not renters) are suddenly falling, at least the current news coverage is saying, because of this sort of sudden unpredictability.

    2. jason wright

      Is that the bursting of the bubble moment for Berlin’s real estate frenzy?

  5. Pointsandfigures

    Uhg. I feel your pain. Read the Kelo case on eminent domain:… I am a huge fan of property rights. I think we have gone too far in many US cities that give the “community” precedence over the homeowner’s private property rights. Our environmental laws and our social impact laws are way too byzantine and cost too much to adhere to. Appratchik’s in the old Communist countries behind the Iron Curtain would be proud of them.