By ALIX GUCOVSKY and BARRY CASSILLY
(Circling the News has tried to remain impartial in the upcoming election and on the ballot measures, presenting readers with information, so they can make their own decisions. This column appeared October 14 in the Westside Current. CTN has pulled out two of the topics for readers—particularly to highlight the Venice Median Project. The Project would be 140 units of housing built on the Venice Median. It is the last parcel of open space in Venice and one block from the beach in the Venice Canals Historic District. Councilman Mike Bonin bypassed a PLUM hearing and took it to the Committee on Homelessness, so that it could go directly to the City Council.)
Local politics attracts a group of passionate engaged stakeholders who dedicate their time to community councils and stakeholder groups. Two of the most passionate adversaries are former LUPC Chair Alix Gucovsky, and LUPC committee member Barry Cassilly. Barry was an early supporter of Mike Newhouse, Alix has always supported Traci Park. Today, we are writing as a unified voice, one that is not defined by our differences but by our love of our community and to stress the importance of putting aside partisanship to rally behind Traci Park in the November election.
Ballots for the November 8, 2022, election have been mailed. What is at stake in these elections? The soul of CD 11 and Los Angeles, and the future of the Democratic Party.
CD 11 long considered one of the most staunchly blue areas of Los Angeles will have to choose between Traci Park, a moderate common sense liberal Democrat, and Erin Darling, the far-left Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) endorsed candidate. Both democrats, both with radically different ideas of how to work through the problems and challenges facing the district.
The Monster on the Median
The elephant in the room, is the infamous median project. A housing project paid for by taxpayers and low-income tax credits, that will, if built, create a mere 140 units of affordable housing with only seven for very low income at a cost of $1 million plus per unit.
This project will displace several low-income families of color who have lived in the area for 15 plus years. This housing project is currently being appealed by the Coastal Committee, which has been vigorously opposed by the community: it faces two lawsuits. It was a project awarded with no transparency through a no-bid process.
For seven years the community has battled Councilman Bonin who has refused to listen or engage with the community. Erin Darling enthusiastically supports this project. Traci does not and will fight to ensure that this ecologically sensitive area, and last remaining bit of open space is protected.
While this may seem like a local Venice issue, the rest of the district, especially our neighbors to the north should be paying close attention to this project. Make no mistake, the city is using this process as a test.
Should the median project come to fruition, it will open the doors, or shall we say floodgates to similar projects throughout the district. The new state and local laws will make it next to impossible for communities to engage and oppose these types of projects that are vastly unsuitable and overpriced.
Traci recognizes that we need to look for solutions to build and create affordable housing for our workforce and those who are housing insecure, but Traci wants to empower builders and service providers who are solution oriented. She realizes that housing needs are not one size fits all.
Traci uses the term granular when speaking of our unhoused population which consists of seniors, youth aging out of foster care, families, addicts, and victims of domestic violence. Each group requires different types of housing and Traci is committed to ensuring that each group is serviced appropriately. Her opponent Erin Darling has one solution which is to build, build, build, with no consideration to specific needs within the unhoused population.
The DSA endorsement of Erin Darling may be one of the most troubling parts of the Darling candidacy.
Looking at the political landscape, we can see the two-party system has been taken over by extremists, the DSA on the left, and Trump on the right.
Neither is helping us move forward as a nation, and more importantly should the DSA continue its assault on the Democratic Party we risk empowering the extreme right on a national level.
This is just not speculation; the numbers support this hypothesis. According to an analysis by Axios, moderate candidate in seats that Dems won 14 out of 22 congressional primaries when a progressive candidate challenged a more moderate candidate in seats Dems can win.
In a Gallup poll, liberals makeup the smallest share of the electorate. Gallup found that a 37% plurality of voters identified as conservative, 36% as moderate, and 25% as liberal, which means that the Republicans can play to their base and still manage to win elections with a minority of moderates. What does this mean for the party?
Democrats need moderate support to win outside the bluest parts of the county. Why does this matter in Los Angeles, and CD 11? We cannot allow the Democratic Party to be hijacked by an extreme faction of the party, we do not have the support for this to play out on a national level.
Translation, we could see a growing conservative movement. And on a local level, this means we need all hands-on deck to support or pragmatic hard working Democratic candidate Traci Park.
(Gucovsky’s and Cassilly’s entire column can be read on westsidecurrent.com)
The authors make a very important point. One can be a liberal and not be a left wing extremist. One can be a conservative and not be a right wing extremist. The boundaries of what is a liberal and position on an issue and what is a conservative one can be quite arbitrary. Someone can believe that during the height of the pandemic, masks and vaccines should have been mandatory. This is considered a left of center view. That some person can believe that taxes are too high. That is considered a right of center view. Yet, the two positions are not internally contradictory. The fact that one is deemed to fall into the liberal camp while the other is deemed to fall into the conservative camp does not make them logically contradictory. A person can have a consistent worldview and simultaneously hold both positions.
I own commercial property in West Los Angeles. For seven months there was a homeless encampment right in front of it. I couldn’t get it removed. Even if we allow the homeless who so desire to remain on the streets, we don’t have to permit them to encamp right in front of businesses.
I am very active in opposing the religious right wing. Yet, I fervently support Rick Caruso for Mayor and Traci Park for City Council. Regardless of how “liberal” my views are on the separation of church and state issues, as a resident of Los Angeles, I fear for my physical safety. We need more well-trained police on the street. Even maintaining the current level is no longer enough. These perspectives that I have are not contradictory, notwithstanding that some can be classified as the more liberal position and some as the more conservative stance.
My choice of municipal candidates based upon my fear for my own safety and my income does not cut me off from being a bona fide participant in society’s quest to end poverty and find shelter for desperate people.
Will you please tell me the eastern boundary of the Venice Median Project? I can not tell from the compact map.
Thank you and more thanks for your newsletter.
The north and south boundaries are Venice Boulevard. Pacific Avenue is the western boundary and Dell Avenue is the eastern boundary. I’ve included a link to a story in City Watch by a Venice resident.