Earlier today, the Los Angeles City Planning Commission signed off on a multifamily residential development in Venice, rejecting two appeals seeking to block construction of the proposed apartment building.

The project, slated for a currently empty site at 1600 E. Venice Boulevard, calls for the construction of a four-story building featuring 77 apartments - including seven extremely low-income affordable units - above semi-subterranean parking for 43 vehicles.

Developer Wiseman Residential faced two appeals for neighboring property owners in Venice - Mickey Ramos and Allen Sarlo.

Ramos, through a representative, argued that the project is in violation of zoning regulations as currently planned, and contends that its entitlements should be overturned, as the bus stop which made the project eligible for Transit Oriented Communities affordable housing incentives no longer qualifies as a major transit stop following a reduction of service on Santa Monica's Big Blue Bus Line 3.

However, the project retains its eligibility despite the service changes, according to a staff report, as Wiseman applied for entitlements prior to the reduction in bus service.

The second appellant, Allen Sarlo, a local business owner who was once profiled in the documentary film Dogtown and Z-Boys.  Sarlo, who owns a neighboring building, argued that the proposed apartment complex would not include sufficient automobile parking, an assertion which was rejected by a staff response.

In presentations to the commission, both appellants argued that the height of the proposed development made it inappropriate for the neighborhood, given lower-scale adjacent structures.  Additionally, the appellants urged modifications to the affordability levels of the apartments, and requested larger units to accommodate families.

The December 17 hearing was the third before the City Planning Commission for the 1600 Venice development, after the two appellants failed to appear to argue their cases during meetings held in October and November.

Although the Commission voted to deny the appeals, the decision was not unanimous.  Commissioner Karen Mack, voicing reservations about the Transit Oriented Communities program as a whole, voted to grant the appeals, citing claims from the appellants and Venice residents that Wiseman Residential had failed to conduct community outreach.

Matthew Hayden, a representative of Wiseman, stated in his presentation to the Commission that the project had received the support of the Venice Neighborhood Council's Land Use Committee.  However, according to Hayden, the Council's Board of Directors voted against the committee recommendation and formally opposed the project.