Victory today for the gay rights movement after the Supreme Court ruled same-sex marriage legal across the United States.
There are 14 states in the US that currently ban same-sex marriage. Today’s ruling means these bans will no longer be enforceable.
Councilmember Mike Bonin said, “Today is a historic day – a truly great day for our country and I share in the happiness and love that now reaches every part of America.”
“Love wins.” said Bonin
Writing the majority opinion in the 5-4 decision Justice Anthony M Kennedy said the plaintiffs asked “for equal dignity in the eyes of the law.” Kennedy said “The Constitution grants them that right.”
Celebration erupted outside the court in Washington DC. The decision ending more than 10 years of bitter legal battles.
“Just over a decade ago, marriage equality was legal nowhere in the United States. Today, my husband Sean and I celebrate a breathtaking decision that affirms the right to marry nationwide.”
President Barack Obama said the ruling was a “victory for America”.
“Thank you to those who fought the struggles that blazed this path — those who fought against racial discrimination, for immigrant rights, and for equality for women. And thank you to those who continue the struggle — against bullying and hate crimes; for employment nondiscrimination; for transgender equality; for the civil rights and for the very lives of our sisters and brothers facing brutality, torture, and death in other nations. And thank you to those who join the struggle for equality and social justice for everyone.” said Bonin
Venetian Mark Shapiro wants to help others be the best and most authentic people they can through his podcast “The One and Only” that features him interviewing successful and “real” people.
The goal of the show is to inspire people to make life changes towards personal happiness similar to those Shapiro made for himself.
“A few years ago I was facing some adversity at the end of a relationship,” Shapiro said. “I started doing transformative work and came to fully realize how much I would pretend to be a certain way around or for people. I also didn’t realize how much people could tell I was not being authentic.”
This realization as well as some encouragement from Lewis Howes, a close friend and host of the “School of Greatness” podcast, Shapiro organized a series of workshops designed to help others identify whatever was holding them back, and to move past it.
“I would ask people questions about what they wanted to do the most if they could do anything, or to rate their romantic lives on a scale, that kind of thing,” Shapiro said. “The most common thing I heard was ‘I want to do this or that, but I just do not have the time.”
Shapiro has found that “the perfect time” never comes and that people simply have to dive in and take the risk, something he knows by experience.
Taking only his laptop and some microphones and launching the “The One and Only” in April this year, Shapiro has taken a chance to reach people on a much wider level.
With the podcast at 15 episodes and interviewing people like “Mad Men” star Vincent Kartheiser, the risk seems to be paying off.
“When I contact people to interview, I try to find subjects who are successful in a unique way,” he said. “There’s nobody really like [Kartheiser] for example, so he fit in great with the title of the show.”
As a “former resident” of corporate America, Shapiro knows that success can make someone seem unapproachable or aloof, something he tries to break in his interviews.
“I try to get the people I talk to be vulnerable in our conversations, so people can really see what makes them authentic,” Shapiro said.
Shapiro has lived in Venice since 2008 and owned a home in the neighborhood since 2012.
He said he takes much inspiration from the community.
“I am so lucky to have the amazing network of creative people who support and motivate me,” he said. “Venice is the best place I’ve ever lived.”
Shapiro said he is aiming to inspire at least 100,000 people in the next 10 years.
“There’s no way to really quantify that I know, but I have a purpose bigger than myself, and just continuing to do what I do is meaningful,” he said.
“The One and Only” releases new episodes weekly, and is available on iTunes as well as via MakeYourMarkToday.com.
The setting summer sun still sits high in the sky with its harsh light filtered through a milky haze. A row of vendors line the beach side of the parking lot at 601 Ocean Front Walk at Sunset Ave., Venice. Their temporary structures draped in a mish-mash of tourist must-haves that sway in the late afternoon breeze.
One of these vendors, Frank, has been selling souvenirs and accessories since 2002.
“It’s not going to be good if they build something here,” he says of the parking lot where he and other vendors line up along the boardwalk.
However, times are changing, and developers in Venice are riding the wave. It’s a wave that might just wipe out smaller businesses like Frank’s.
The current plan for the parking lot at 601 Ocean Front Walk is a 28,000 square foot high-tech office space. If it goes ahead the building will be a first for the boardwalk.
Long-term, part-time Venice resident John Stein worries that this kind of development will set a precedent along Ocean Front Walk.
“You’re going to have office development up and down the boardwalk and the whole boardwalk’s going to be transformed,” Stein says. “It’ll become a business park. That’s just not what this city needs. The City needs this safety valve for the whole city to come here and enjoy the beach.”
While the property has been a parking lot for as long as many can remember, back in the 80’s approval was given to build a food court.
Twenty-year Venice resident and architect for the proposed development Glen Irani says there is currently an active permit for a similarly scaled building on this site with a restaurant and retail use.
“The owner would have built [that option] unless I had advised them otherwise,” Irani says. “It’s an economically viable option, but certainly not the highest and best use nor the most neighborhood friendly use. Such a use would entail numerous deliveries every day, food trash odors, homeless lurking for food trash, constant vehicular traffic, and possibly a bar or two with loitering drunkards after-hours as most every bar does have.”
Add to all this another tick against the idea for a food court, is that it seems the current climate is dictating a very different direction for the project.
Venice has inadvertently become the center of a tech boom with companies like Google and online media company Vice making Venice their home, as well as numerous tech startups, including Snapchat. This tech boom has fueled a property boom with both residential and commercial property prices soaring.
As the successful startup has grown, Snapchat has continued to eat up office space in Venice, on Market Street, and Venice Blvd.
On June 1 Venice staple Nikki’s closed its doors for the last time. The space will become Snapchat’s employee cafeteria. The silicon beach darling even has office space at the back of the Gingerbread Cottage, the building right next to the parking lot at 601 Ocean Front Walk.
There’s a rumor a large tech startup is slated to move into the proposed new office space on the boardwalk. While nothing has been confirmed, considering how spread out Snapchat is, currently one could be forgiven for speculation.
“It’s not an untimely project,” Irani says. “So it will happen and there’s no reason why it can’t from a code prospective and a legal prospective. The ground work has been laid out over many, many years.”
Irani was present at a community meeting held in the lounge room of Stein’s home on Sunset Ave., Venice in late May.
“I just came here to hear what everyone was concerned about,” Irani says. “I think as any good architect would do I want to take into account what everybody thinks.”
The meeting ran for hours. The discussion was passionate and a petition was sent around collecting the names of those concerned as to what the development would mean for the beach community. Some people asking if there was even a place for such a large office complex along the beach front.
Long term Venice resident Ivonne Guzman said, “We have something special here. We need to make sure we protect and conserve the beauty we have here.”
Again and again, the issue of insufficient parking and traffic congestion along Speedway was raised as a major concern.
“A lot of the old buildings nearby here have no parking; they were built before parking was required, a lot of them use this lot as another safety valve,” Stein says. “This is where residents’ visitors can park, deliveries use this lot. With this lot gone it’s just going to gum up the entire section of the boardwalk from Rose to Navy, and that’s half of the boardwalk.”
Venice local Ehron Sidel lives on Speedway across from the future development site.
“What’s going to happen is the parking situation is going to be a nightmare for everybody in the community,” Sidel says.
While concerned about traffic congestion Sidel is not completely against the project.
“We’re looking at the proposal as an opportunity to make the project right, as opposed to opposing it,” Sidel says. “We just want it to be legal and to be within the guidelines of the community. They’re also looking to make sure that it’s adequately developed so that parking isn’t an issue and traffic congestion isn’t an issue. Right now there’s maybe 50 parking spots and they’re looking to add 400 people to the neighborhood, which is a really big multiplier.”
As to whether the proposed two levels of subterranean parking is even possible along the beachfront, Irani says it is “totally viable and done all the time at high water land.”
“Thornton Lofts just two doors south has underground parking,” Irani says. “Numerous very old buildings in Venice have basements from the days when basements were common. The entire City of New York is built on enormous subterranean garages well into the high water table. There’s nothing new or dangerous about it.”
Irani says people’s objection to a structure on that asphalt parking lot is completely off point.
“The new project provides all the space that this parking lot does for neighboring uses in addition to all the parking required for the uses on site,” Irani says. “That hole in the Ocean Front Walk commercial ‘edge’ is nothing but an underutilized eyesore. New tenants and building facilities management will take good care of the surrounding area, secure the boardwalk in that area, partake in the forming Venice Boardwalk Business improvement district when it materializes – and I expect that it will. Buildings of this caliber with tenants of commensurate caliber provide money and jobs to the economy, stewardship for the neighborhood and are generally very good for the neighborhood.”
Yet, not everyone in Venice is supporting such rapid change and with that the evolution of Venice appears to be a delicate juggling act.
The Land Use and Planning Committee (LUPC) have drafted and at their meeting on Tuesday, June 2, approved a motion that recommends a Venice Coastal Zone Interim Control Ordinance.
The ICO’s background states that over the past 10 years, since the inception of the Venice Coastal Zone Specific Plan, the city ordinance approved in 2004, the pace of development in Venice has greatly accelerated. The motion says that the cumulative impact of development in Venice has had, and continues to have a significant adverse effect on the character of Venice.
The motion also states that the “…rapid and most times careless gentrification of the Venice neighborhoods in terms of their character and density, and especially in terms of loss of affordable units is causing a rapid, permanent and significant adverse change in the social, racial and economic diversity of the Venice neighborhoods.”
LUPC Chair Robin Rudisill says one of the things that has to be looked at is the cumulative impact.
“You essentially have to imagine the entire boardwalk with completed projects of the same type as this proposed development and ask whether that would be acceptable?” Rudisill says.
“Personally I think it’s a beautiful building but the decision can’t just be based on opinion. We have to look at our guiding principals and policies and map out the future of this area. The Coastal Act is meant to preserve and protect Venice as a special coastal community.”
Irani says the fact is that any project can look pretty bleak when unnecessary delays occur.
“These days, the Planning Department has been so backed up that I can only imagine the economic damage they’re causing this already struggling city,” Irani says. “Add to that the delays caused by obstructionists and appeals and you have an enormous amount of money spent on entitlements and holding costs rather than the tangible benefits of a better building.
“Architects are just stuck right smack in the middle of all this vortex and all we want to do is funnel as much energy and money into the building. Our only interest is to do a good project that works for the client, the community and the users. On a project like this, where there is no deep pocket pension fund or REIT floating the project, rather there’s a group of real, well-meaning, honest people with real families and real cash flow issues working hard on many things to bring this project to fruition and to do something good for their futures without taking unnecessary risks. So getting the project done with minimal delays is important for everyone.”
However, regardless of differing opinions within the community, could the bolting horse that is the Venice boom take care of itself?
Snapchat is just one of many tech startups rumored to be heading for an IPO this year.
Fox Business reported that the market for IPO’s in 2014 was the best since 2000, this being the year before the Dotcom collapse.
With property and tech so interconnected in Venice are developments, like the proposed office for Ocean Front Walk, sustainable in the long run?
“My believe is yes, absolutely Venice can sustain these developments and prices mostly because of who is investing and locating their businesses here, hence Silicon Beach,” says James Allan, an agent at Coldwell Banker and 20-year Venice local.
Irani says the scale and character of Venice is defined by the diversity of all the architecture, whether it’s old or new.
“This project just happens to be on a big lot, it will be a big project for Venice,” Irani says. “Whether this is developed by the current owner or a future owner. Whether it’s designed by a local architect, or a foreign architect and I guess the City supports the scale of the project because they allow it. The issue I think for the general public and certainly for Venice residents is, who do they want building the project and who do they want designing the project? If they don’t want me designing the project then I won’t, but who do they want to do that? Speak up and know that if I don’t, somebody else will.”
Stein says the Venice Specific Plan sort of says no offices are allowed but it leaves loopholes so the developers are trying to squeeze through their projects.
“This will be a test case, so is the City and the Coastal Commission going to enforce it?” Stein says. “Because it really is not good for coastal access. Offices are all around town, they don’t have to be on Venice Beach. Venice Beach is too precious to turn into an office park. Just because they have the money. It doesn’t go to the highest bidder, there are other things involved.”
Whatever the outcome the parking lot at 601 Ocean Front Walk appears destined to become the center of what could very well be a deciding factor in the direction of the future of Venice.
Tomorrow Assembly will vote on SB277, a vaccination bill that is being fast-tracked through the Senate and Assembly. Last week, the Venice Neighborhood Council voted against the bill.
The bill was introduced by Senator Pan, a pediatrician who is accused of acting in a conflict of interest. It is reported Pan had received over $95K in contributions from pharmaceutical companies right before the bill was introduced.
Lawyers across the country who opposed to the bill, slam it as unconstitutional . SB277 mandates that all children receive 10 compulsory vaccines, removing the current exemptions for personal and religious beliefs.
Arguments supporting the bill include research confirming that a 2010 whooping cough outbreak in California, the nation’s worst in over 50 years, was spread by children whose parents applied for non-medical exemptions to school vaccination requirements, many for religious reasons.
The study showed that more cases of whooping cough occurred in the clusters of unvaccinated children than not, resulting in 9,120 instances of the disease and 10 deaths. In San Diego county alone, there were 5,100 exemptions and 980 whooping cough cases.
If the bill passes it will not allow parents the choice to delay or space out vaccines – if they do, their children will not be permitted to enroll in daycare or Kindergarten.
Assembly Members, including Venice representative Assemblywoman Autumn Burke, will be voting on this bill on Tomorrow. Currently Burke says she is undecided on how she will vote on the bill and is open to hearing from constituents.
Residents of Venice may call 310 412-6400 to state their stance on SB277 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
You can hear their hooves echo down Speedway on a busy day in Venice; it is a rhythmic clop-de-clop announcing to all that the LAPD Mounted Unit is out in force.
“Venice is a very unique place, you see a lot of different things and we add to that bringing the horses to a beach environment, so as weird as everyone thinks Venice is, the weirdness of bringing horses to Venice just adds to what a great place it is,” says LAPD officer Eric Coffey.
Coffey was joined by Sergeant Brian Heaney, Officer Thomas Willers, and two LAPD horses on June 4 – the last day of school at Westminster Elementary on Abbot Kinney Blvd., and the kids flocked to the school’s outdoor cafeteria for a special treat.
The crowd squeals as Coffey demonstrates how the horses are trained to not be afraid of walking right up to a person, even pushing into them if they have to.
He wows the crowd with tips on basic horsemanship and police work, even explaining that when the Mounted Unit arrests someone they do not throw them up over the back of the horse but call a patrol car to pick the person up.
“If we threw people over the back of the horse people would want to get arrested,” he says.
After the talk the kids line up for a chance to pet the horses, excitement taking over, the line is broken and a mob soon crowds around the animals.
Coffey explains that school visits like this are actually great for training.
“The horse realizes that with all this noise and all of the crowd that he’s getting pet on, and it’s actually a good thing,” he says. “It’s good for them to see little kids up close to them petting them.”
School principal Barry Cohen says there are many positives for interaction between the students and local police.
“The Mounted Unit are such a big part of the Venice community, it’s important for the kids to see them as friends, someone they can go to when they’re in trouble, when they’re in need, so I think it’s really important that they connect with our students,” Cohen says.
Coffey says the Mounted Unit receives plenty of attention when they are out on the job.
“A lot of people don’t like to approach police officers in cars but of course they want to approach a horse and ask about the horse and talk about the horse,” Coffey says. “So it’s a very different, positive interaction with the public with regards to community relationships.”
However, school visits and community outreach are just one aspect of the work done by the LAPD Mounted Unit.
“We’re assigned to the Metropolitan Division, which is a city wide unit so we go wherever we are told to go in regards to spikes in crime,” Coffey says. “Any spike in crime that happens in this city is mapped out and they send us in that direction. So right now, and for the past month or so, we’ve been assigned to Venice for a little while with Pacific Division.”
Sergeant Heaney says it does show that there is a reduction in crime when they’re deployed to an area.
“We’re like a workforce multiplier, we can come in and assist with a problem area whether it’s a vagrancy issue, vandalism, or a rise in aggravated assaults,” Heaney says. “We can identify those kinds of problems and assist a division by making the proper arrests and help clean up some of those problems. We give Pacific Division the support they need to help make sure that the community feels a lot more safer.”
Coffey says the Mounted Unit is one of the highest producing units in all of LAPD.
“We go out there and get up and down off these horses may be 20-30 times a day, getting down, arresting people all day long,” Coffey says. “Being so high up we see things at a different level. When we turn a corner we can see all the way down the street whereas a police car is down a lot lower. Police cars can get to somewhere faster than we can but we turn corners and we’re able to look down the street. The reason we’re in Venice Beach right now, it’s a place where lots of visitors go and there’s thousands and thousands of people. We can literally go right through a crowd and see a fight happening or see a person doing something they shouldn’t be on the complete other side of all those people. You name it, we’ve chased people on bikes, we’ve chased people down the beach, and down the sand for fighting with lifeguards.”
Two years ago, Coffey says the Mounted Unit were at the scene when Nathan Louis Campbell drove his car onto the crowded Venice boardwalk, striking pedestrians and killing an Italian woman on her honeymoon.
“We were right there in the action with horses, jumping down and calling for ambulances,” Coffey says. “There were people everywhere. The horses are able to move a crowd whether that be a good thing or a bad thing, whether people are just trying to help but police officers and the Fire Department need the room to get in and out and do things.”
Darrell Preston, Operations Manager at The Venice Whaler on Washington Blvd., says that everyone in Washington Square has noticed a reduction in crime with the increased presence of the Mounted Unit.
“Eric (Coffey) and his crew are a big asset, their presence reduces crime, we’ve seen it,” Preston says. “Overall all the business owners in Washington Square have needed to make less calls to LAPD. Their presence here is a calming thing.”