How long has Councilman Mike Bonin been communicating with Coastal Commission representatives about his desire to house the homeless at beach parking lots and City parks? Since at least December 2020.
Following are the December 2, 2020 emails obtained through the public records act and shared with Circling the News, between Steve Hudson, district director for the South Central Coast and Krista Kline, Councilman Bonin’s deputy chief of staff.
From: Krista Kline
Sent: Wednesday, December 2, 2020 10:57 AM
To: Hudson, Steve@Coastal
Subject: pallet sites
Thanks again for letting me crash your meeting with city folks yesterday. I appreciate it.
I wanted to give you a head’s up that Councilmember Bonin (and Supervisor Hahn) want to meet with Jack to discuss the pallet shelter idea. So, I’m going to be reaching out to Jack about that. I wanted to know if you’d like to be in that meeting, as well.
Thanks again for being so accommodating with your time to talk about homeless solutions. I really appreciate it.
Deputy Chief of Staff
Councilmember Mike Bonin
City of Los Angeles
I was glad to have you there and it sounds like an interesting project. Yes, I’d be interested in joining that meeting. Is the “pallet shelter” project the same as the hotel conversion project that was discussed yesterday?
South Central Coast District
California Coastal Commission
89 South California Street, Suite 200
Ventura, CA 93001
South Coast District – Los Angeles Area
California Coastal Commission
301 E. Ocean Blvd., Suite 300
Long Beach, CA 90802
“The pallet shelter project is different from the hotel conversion (project homekey) — the pallet shelters are the tiny villages located on the beach parking lots that we briefly discussed a few weeks ago.
How were the emails discovered? Through another controversial project — converting the Ramada Inn in Venice to a “Homekey” site.
Residents may have heard the term Project Roomkey and Project Homekey and think they are the same. They are not.
Project Roomkey was established by the State in March 2020 to provide non-congregate shelter options for people experiencing homelessness. The units are intended to be temporary, while serving as a pathway to permanent housing. Local governments were supposed to identify shelter clients.
Project Homekey grew out of that program when Governor Gavin Newsom made available $600 million in state and emergency funds to city and counties to purchase motels.
In order to qualify for Project Homekey, the City needed to receive state funding and the property had to meet certain vetting criteria and deadlines.
Residents learned that Los Angeles purchased the property with its own funds, then approved its own Coastal Development Permit over the objections of more than 400 neighbors and businesses and finally deeded City/taxpayer-owned property to a service provider.
Public Records Requests were shared with Circling the News. The state, on March 5, wrote: “Several members of program staff for multiple divisions were asked and that project was not funded by HCD.”
A March 23 public records request stated, “I have been advised by program staff that the City of Los Angeles has their own program, also called HomeKey, and that they might be able to provide assistance.”
And, a public records request received last week noted that “in response to your follow-up message of March 23, 2021, no Homekey applications were submitted to the State for these properties.”
According to a December 2020 Venice Current story (“Ramada Inn on Washington Boulevard Sold to City for Project Homekey for $10 Million”) that was updated in April, “The Los Angeles City Council authorized the use of Project Homekey funds to purchase eight buildings, including the 44-room Super 8 on Airport Boulevard in Westchester and the 33-room Ramada Inn on Washington Blvd. in Venice.
“The total cost for the eight properties was $90 million. The estimated purchase price of the Ramada Inn was $9,900,000. The City listed closing costs to be $300,207 bringing the total to $10,200,207. Renovations are expected to come in at $382,220. With 33 rooms, that totals about $322,000 a door.”
After using taxpayer money to buy the property, the City deeded it to P.A.T.H., the service provider, who was awarded a multi-million dollar, no-bid contract to operate the facility in December 2020 (L.A. County Recorder’s office #20201677458). See attached agreement Rec – Grant Deed
One Venice resident asked, “Since when is our tax money used to enhance the real estate portfolios of private entities?”
To sum up, the City has not been transparent with its residents about the money spent — and residents have been excluded from conversations regarding housing the homeless.
It was only through public records requests that residents were able to discover that Bonin’s Council District 11 had been in conversations with a Coastal Commission representative about beach parking lots and that a hotel was purchased and deeded to a nonprofit.