Development/Gentrification

#EVICTSNAPCHAT

On Friday October 6th, The Venice Dogz once again held a protest against Snapchat’s

The Jon Wolff Collection

by Jon Wolff

parent company Snap Inc. to raise awareness on their expansion in Venice. Snapchat has been telling the media and the community that they’re leaving when their actions clearly say the opposite. The protest was held on Abbot Kinney Boulevard just south of Brooks Avenue across the street from Westminster Elementary School, which is adjacent to two buildings where Snapchat has expanded their presence.

920 S Abbot Kinney Boulevard: They’ve taken over this entire Victorian building. It’s next to their other huge office at the corner of Abbot Kinney and Main. This building has applied for a change of use from the Coastal Commission to change it from Residential to Commercial. This means they’re already in there illegally now and it also asks the question, “Why would they care to change the zoning of the building if they plan on leaving?”

901 Abbot Kinney Boulevard: Snap only had one office in this complex and now they’ve expanded in this building by way of taking over the Microsoft Lounge. The Microsoft Lounge was used by the Venice Community because The Sundance Institute was housed within it. Movie screenings and panel discussions were held there – not any more. Snap Inc. continues to displace more people and businesses and take away local establishments. Again, if they’re moving to Santa Monica, why kick out yet another Venice business?

Big companies don’t do this by accident. Snap Inc. uses the same old excuse about growing too quickly to justify their expansion in Venice while at the same time they keep claiming that they’re going to leave next year leaving behind just a few small offices. They continue to lie to the community and the press and it seems like they lie to their own employees too!

During the protest, a senior executive from Snapchat told the Venice Dogz they plan on moving everyone to Santa Monica by the end of 2018 and even went as far to say that 500-700 employees have already moved there. Which is amazing, however that would mean many of these buildings would now be empty and they’re obviously not. Seems like they may have had so many employees crammed into offices that it’s not possible to feel any difference in scale from their reported shifting of employees from Venice to Santa Monica.

This was the same senior executive that told the Venice Dogz that the hideous Spectacles Store at Thornton Lofts on Ocean Front Walk was only a pop-up store and would only last “a few days” and it’s currently been over 7 months. That very same building is packed with so many employees that we are told there’s not enough bathrooms for everyone to use in a timely manner. Not to mention, Snap currently resides illegally there at Thornton Lofts because this space is zoned Live/Work and there’s no residential living going on there at all. It’s packed with employees as evidence in their very own employee Jobs video found on their very own website. The number of employees at Thornton Lofts also has also created trash problems where long-time neighbors of those buildings claim their trash bins are always overfilled with corporate waste because of the countless Snapchat employees that are housed in buildings that are only intended to be used for a small number of people. These same residents used to be able to park overnight there also, but now the parking lots there are only used by Snapchat employees during the day and are almost completely vacant overnight.

Their expansion in Venice and claims of departure bring up other questions too:

1) They knew way in advance that they were going public and more employees would be needed – so why wouldn’t they have a concrete plan in advance to get out of Venice to handle the employee growth? Most probably answer: Because they never planned to leave.

2) Also, six weeks ago Snap Inc. was doing construction on the former restaurant called Tlapazola Grill, that is now part of their office enclave at 606-654 Venice Blvd which is a mini-compound of Snap offices. Why would Snap Inc. be taking over a restaurant and reconstructing it into an office when they plan to leave only a few small offices left behind in Venice next year?

It simply doesn’t add up. On March 15, 2017, senior leaders of Snap Inc. told the Venice Dogz they were not taking over any more buildings in Venice, yet businesses are still being kicked out all over town and EVERY business in Venice is fearful that they will be next – retail store or otherwise. And they’re not just replacing other businesses and corporations that could be anywhere in a dog-eat-dog world – they’re displacing businesses and corporations that are local staples that were used by Venetians every day. The Teen Project on Market Street wasn’t just another non-profit company – it was a program that was needed for troubled teens right here in Venice. The Sundance Institute at the Microsoft Lounge wasn’t just another business – the locals attended movie screenings and events there all the time.

Nikki’s, Sean’s Café and Tlapazola Grill weren’t just any other restaurants – they were adored by locals and always frequented by Venetians, not to mention the many other victims like the Freak Show and the ripple effect Snapchat’s mere presence has caused. These victims and the many others were all viable and productive businesses that were in Venice for a reason, as opposed to a company like Snapchat that only needs desks and computers for their employees and could easily do business anywhere!! Even local restaurants complain that Snapchat employees use their own private commissaries more than the local eateries.

So when does it end? When do land owners, property owners, lease holders, City of LA, California Coastal Commission and our own Venice Neighborhood Council stand up to this company and say enough is enough – this is Venice and NOT Snapville? When does Snap Inc. themselves look at what they’ve done to this historic community and realize they’ve done more damage than good and STOP displacing more people and businesses, not to mention taking away beach access, resident parking and the many other problems they create? Hopefully it’s not already too late – we’ll all be waiting and watching.
To see the full story of how Snap is ruining Venice check out AllianceForVenice.org/snapchat

To join the fight against Snap go to AllianceForVenice.org

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