The City seeks to transform the 12,220-square foot Ramada Inn, located at 3130 Washington Blvd., into a 33 bed interim housing facility

On Wednesday the L.A. City Board of Public Works voted to deny the two appeals filed against the coastal permit issued for the proposed conversion of the Venice Ramada Inn to a homeless shelter. 

One appeal claimed that the proposed homeless shelter would undermine public safety, while a second appeal raised numerous concerns relevant to the California Coastal Act and legality of the City’s planning proceedings. 

After over four hours of discussion, public comment, and presentations from both the appellants and site developers, the five members of the Board unanimously voted to deny the appeals.

“While I very much appreciate the effort and the narrative and the conversation had here, I will be crystal clear in saying that I’m not persuaded that this coastal development permit is violative of the obligation to provide findings consistent with the coastal map,” said Greg Good, president of the Board of Public Works.

The two-story 12,220-square foot Ramada Inn property is located at 3130 Washington Blvd. and was purchased for approximately $10 million by the City of L.A. in December 2020 using Project Homekey funds. Project Homekey is a grant program administered by the California Department of Housing and Community Development, which encourages local public entities to convert motels, hotels, and apartment buildings into interim or permanent homeless housing.  

In March 2020, a Coastal Development permit was granted for Council District 11 to convert the Ramada Inn into a 33 bed interim housing center with comprehensive case management services provided by non-profit organization People Assisting the Homeless.

Many local residents oppose the installation of an additional homeless shelter in Venice. Over 30 residents spoke against the project during a Bureau of Engineering hearing in February and dozens spoke in support of the appeal on Wednesday.

Concerns raised run a wide gamut — from a correlation drawn between increased homeless services and increased crime in Venice, to environmental concerns of the project, the loss of affordable motel beds for visitors, and a lack of transparency between City planners and the nearby community members.  

Some of the resistance to the project stems from what many residents perceive as the failure of the ‘A Bridge Home’ (ABH) interim housing facility in Venice to live up to the City’s promises. While the City vowed that this shelter would reduce the number of unhoused individuals living on nearby streets and improve public safety, many residents feel it has done the opposite. 

This week a coalition of concerned residents counted 101 tents in the several block radius known as the ‘Special Enforcement and Containment Zone’ surrounding the Venice ABH. 

During the last seven days police recorded nine major crime events in the SECZ. According to LAPD records there was a 88 percent increase in violent crime in the SECZ in the first nine months of ABH’s operation.

The Board of Public Works members do not feel that it is fair to compare the Ramada Inn to ABH and disagree with the appeal’s claim that a Ramada Inn homeless shelter would negatively impact public safety. 

“There is a very significant distinction between the ABH site on Sunset and the Ramada Inn on Washington. These are very different operations,” said Good. “I’m not convinced, again, respectfully, that creating a Homekey site at a 33 room hotel with 24 hour security is actually going to undermine public safety, versus actually helping public safety, in terms of the cumulative effects.”

While the ABH is a 154 bed facility that opened days before the beginning of the pandemic, the Ramada Inn is a 33 bed facility opening in a more stable economic and public health environment. 

Subject to further permitting and approval processes the City plans to partner with PATH to run an interim housing facility with onsite security and supportive services for the next five years. After this time period the goal is to convert the facility into a permanent supportive housing development.