|Grassroots Venice - The Sweet Smell of Certification
by Jim Smith
The Grassroots Venice Neighborhood Council was certified, March 13, 2002 by the L.A. Board of Neighborhood Commissions after a show of strength and good sense by our side.
A parade of GRVNC stakeholders - that seemed to last for hours - trooped to the microphone to urge certification. In addition, many spoke out against having to change our boundaries by including the Villa Marina area.
Terry Conner of "Coastal Venice," who had made himself the nemesis of GRVNC for the past year, attended but did not speak. However, it became clear from the couple of "Coastal" speakers that they were breaking the last minute "mediation" that would have committed GRVNC to a referendum on admitting Villa Marina. Our speakers also raised questions about whether Marina residents really wanted to be in the Venice N.C. A speaker for the Del Rey Neighborhood Council in formation pleaded with the Commissioners not to take this part of their area away. In the end, we were certified without any requirement for a referendum on admitting Terry Conner, et.al. (Of course, he and any other Coastal Venice members who are Venice stakeholders can join and participate in GRVNC at any time.)
The most dramatic moment occurred when a commissioner asked why GRVNC didn't participate in formal mediation, as early as January, with Coastal Venice. The silence was deafening.
In my opinion, the problems around mediation - the lack of it, and then the last minute agreement that satisfied no one - points up the need for more inclusiveness in our leadership. As we move past the election phase, let's hope our whole board is kept informed and involved.
One of the best moments came when a Commissioner complained that we didn't include businesses. It seemed to him that we were only (mere) residents. At that, quite a number of people stood up, waving their arms, and saying they were business owners. The Commissioner then retreated to complaining that we didn't include any big businesses, like CostCo. He must not have realized that CostCo is in Culver City, not Venice. (Culver City has a real city government where only residents can vote!)
The hearing brought us together on the issue of certification, and even on the issue of preserving our boundaries. Let's hope that we can get through the next phase, elections, with our unity intact. The future of Venice is entering a critical time as more and more greedy developers hatch schemes to transform our beloved community into just a trendy part of the Marina. The birth of GRVNC couldn't have come at a better time!
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