On February 28th 2018, almost exactly 1 year after Snap, Inc. went public amid huge protests that got national attention, Snap, Inc. alerted their media contacts that they plan on moving out of Venice into Santa Monica. One year. The protest that took place that day and the ones organized later in the year were organized by the newly formed local activist group The Venice Dogz: An Alliance for the Preservation of Venice. Their statement regarding Snap, Inc.’s announcement is as follows:
“We, the Venice Dogz: An Alliance for the Preservation of Venice, are delighted to hear of Snap Inc.’s departure from Venice and we hope they continue to move out of their remaining locations. Although they have a right to work wherever they want just like anyone else, their expansion and overpayment of so many properties in our small community and their concerted mentality of using our Venice as their own “corporate campus” has caused substantial damage by pushing out many other beloved small businesses and residents. This egotistical outlook combined with their huge presence has also led them to breaking zoning laws, taking parking away from residents, prohibiting beach access for beach-goers, and utilizing an overwhelming amount of private security guards that have harassed residents in public areas and made our streets unwelcoming, in addition to other problems including overflowing trash bins, traffic congestion and more. Their security guards are onerous and unnecessary, and promote the concept of disassociation between Snap’s employees and the community at large. Furthermore, their behavior has encouraged others to do the same. We see this as a mirror image of the activities that drove most of the middle class out of San Francisco.
We urge our political representatives of the Venice Neighborhood Council, Los Angeles City officials, City Councilman Michael Bonin and The California Coastal Commission to enforce and uphold the many zoning and coastal use laws that are currently being completely ignored. These laws were written for a reason: to protect the quality of life in a neighborhood. We, the residents of Venice, are very protective of our community and we urge all stakeholders, property owners and all relevant politicians to be mindful of this special area that is unlike anywhere else in the world, and such unjust actions in the future will not be tolerated.
The Venice Dogz: An Alliance for the Preservation of Venice.”
Snapchat listed 14 properties that they are now subleasing. Also, as most people know, Snap, Inc. utilizes much more than 14 properties. There are 9 properties on Market Street alone. They declared they plan on keeping at least 1 of the buildings on Market Street and it could be more. The ones we know they use that are NOT on the list of their departure/sublease properties aside from Market Street are:
*523 Ocean Front Walk – otherwise known as the Blue House. They hardly use it all but apparently, they want to keep this probably for nostalgic reasons
*8 Brooks Avenue – the rooftop penthouse party pad that they apparently pay over $25,000 a month to use every once in a while.
*248 Westminster Avenue – 3-story building south of the school at Westminster, Riviera & Cabrillo.
*606-654 Venice Boulevard – the complex at Abbot Kinney and Venice Boulevard
*29 Navy – the apartment building they use for their interns
Hopefully they give up more of these properties as well. They may be departing 14 major spots, but they are still spread out all over Venice. A big question this raises now is who will takeover their leases and their space. Given Snap, Inc. still holds the leases, they can sub-lease to whoever they want so most likely it will be more tech-friendly businesses. As long as there are no more shuttles, security guards and arrogance towards our community, many Venetians will be satisfied. In fact, many Venetians have stated that they would personally offer to help them move themselves.
And yes, this subleasing keeps the door open for them to move back whenever they want, but this is also common commercial real-estate practice done to protect all parties involved. Leases are typically 3, 5 or 10 years with a sub-lease option for the prime tenant, and no landlord/owner wants to get a building back before the lease is up. Typically, they have done TI’s (Tenant Improvements), paid real estate agents and so forth and a pre-term termination cuts into their profit. So, in a normal situation, the sub-leaser takes over the rest of the outstanding term and any renewal options.
The Venice Dogz statement highlights the many zoning laws that are broken and ignored here in Venice and I hope this draws attention to the many wrongdoings that’s been done by all the rich companies and greedy developers here amongst the useless politicians. Thornton Lofts were not built for hundreds of workers to be crammed into every day. They literally stole parking away from residents and those parking spaces sit empty every single night. That’s just one the many problems Snapchat has caused with just 1 of the properties. Every property they utilize presented a problem. They took down the “Beach Access” signs at Gingerbread Court after kicking out multiple businesses, they broke zoning laws at 11 and 15 Brooks, they basically kicked out both Jerde and the Freak Show and stole parking from residents there also, etc. Snap, Inc. is the definition of an arrogant millennial tech company that would kill small businesses and push out residents and then point at the all good they did elsewhere, and their complete disregard for the many problems they’ve created is insulting and offending to most of the community. Although they’re not completely gone, news of their departure is a big win for Venice and our historic town will be much better in the long run.