By Holly Mosher
On December 18 I attended my first ever Land and Planning Use Meeting in Venice. I was there because I had heard about the proposed hotel that developers want to put up directly across the street from Westminster Elementary School on Abbot Kinney. When I realized that the hotel I’d been hearing rumblings about on Abbot Kinney was going to be across the street from a school, I had to attend. When I was five, I had been hit by a car in front of a public library and the town I grew up in then installed a yellow flashing light where I had been hit, to get traffic to slow down. I also was concerned by the transient nature of a hotel and how people with ill intent can easily stay at the hotel and prey on children.
I wrote to a friend who is a librarian at an elementary school in Santa Monica and she agreed with my concerns saying, “I completely agree with you. Nothing about putting a hotel across from a school feels right. Having worked at a hotel myself I have seen how even a nice hotel can attract some sketchy people. My other concern would be the increase in traffic. Even on our fairly quiet section of San Vicente I have seen some close calls. I imagine that with a hotel you would get more drunk drivers, impatient taxi drivers, and out of towners who are lost and confused driving by the school. The idea of this alone makes me nervous. If this proposal was happening across from my school, I would fight it and I can guarantee so would every other faculty member and parent at our school.”
The first item on the agenda at the meeting was for the proposed Firestone Walker Brew/Pub on Washington and I was impressed that the Land and Planning Use Board seemed very concerned with what the immediate neighbors to the location felt about what was being proposed. So when it came time to talk about the proximity of the hotel to the elementary school, I was surprised to find out that there has not been a town hall meeting at Westminster Elementary to find out how the parents and faculty felt about the hotel. I doubt most of the parents and faculty even know about the proposed hotel.
I began an email chain with the developers voicing my concern and they assured me they have been in dialogue with the school. Interestingly, they mentioned that one of them had been a supporter of the school and they had been talking with administration and the endowment committee. As the developer made those two points I wondered if they were putting the financial interest of the school ahead of the safety interest of the children.
Last week a friend told me she was shaken up a bit because she was driving down Abbot Kinney and looking at a restaurant while driving and accidentally bumped the car in front of her. Imagine how it will be with all the out of towners who will be just trying to figure traffic out. I’m a person who is great with directions, but it took me several years to really get a gist of all the streets in Venice. The way they all criss-cross around Abbot Kinney will only create confused drivers or people paying more attention to their smartphones than to kids crossing the street. And the developers mentioned trying to make Electric a part time one way street will only add to the confusion.
Marta Every spoke up during the comment section and mentioned how the hotel would bring 700 new car trips to Abbot Kinney each day. And there are only 160 parking spaces, while the developers’ own estimates say that the hotel complex will employ 160 people, but that’s not even including guests or an additional space for a café. The hotel developers seem to think that all their guests will arrive in taxis, but as someone who manages a rental property for tourists in Venice for the past four and a half years, I’ve only had one group arrive without a car.
I was also concerned by the transient nature of a hotel, which would allow anyone to stay there, including sex offenders – not to mention that hotels are places of prostitution. Megan’s Law doesn’t allow sex offenders to stay within a quarter mile of a school, and even though the law may not have a stipulation for hotels, its up to us, the community, to do our best to make schools a safe space. We should be careful and make sure the entire community discusses and can weigh in on the idea of having a hotel adjacent to an elementary school before it is too late. On January 11th, I am going to be facilitating a discussion on this issue at the UN Women Safe Cities LA Assembly at 606 Wilshire Blvd. between 11am-4pm. If you would like to learn more about making Los Angeles a safe city for women and girls, please attend so we can discuss this matter more fully.
I also hope that the school has the good sense to call a full assembly for all parents and faculty, to discuss the idea of a hotel and how it would affect the school. If you are a concerned parent or know people with kids at the school, please ask the Westminster Elementary School Administration to host a town hall for all the parents and faculty. I also suggest you write to the Land and Planning Commission (LAPC) Board and the Venice Neighborhood Council to voice your concerns. And don’t delay, decisions may be made at the next LAPC meeing on January 15th and the full VNC Board on January 21st.
The project’s address is 1033 S Abbott Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291: It must be included at the top of any correspondence.
Above: December 18 LUPC meeting. Photo: Krista Schwimmer
Above: Proposed hotel on Abbot Kinney, as seen from Electric Ave.