Today the Venice Paparazzi spotlight takes a political twist. This is one of three interviews in our Who’s Your President series. The purpose is to get to know each of the three candidates running for President of the Venice Neighborhood Council.
Name: Brian Averill
Give us a brief bio of yourself:
I’m a professional photographer and director, a current board member on our Venice Neighborhood Council, and an avid surfer.
How long in Venice, and what have you accomplished/done since you have been here? Community Involvement?
I moved here from New York City (the East Village for all you other NYC transplants) 20 years ago. I moved into a beautiful hundred-year-old building on Paloma Avenue called the Ellison. I loved everything about it, except our ethically challenged landlord. Long story short, this began the start of an ever-expanding battle for renter’s rights and the protection of our essential RSO units. I’ve fought for sensible short-term rental regulations and helped crackdown on illegal units and party houses all over Venice with great organizations like Keep Neighborhoods First. I’m a founding member of the Venice Boardwalk Action Committee, and I’m also a current VNC board member, serving on our Oceanfront Walk and Outreach committees.
Why are you running for VNC President?
The neighborhood I love is in crisis mode. I thought very carefully about this decision for months and realized that the best chance we have to get through this is to find our collective common ground and genuinely come together as 1 Venice. I feel that I’m by far the candidate best suited to accomplish this. The City of Los Angeles and CD11 are completely failing this community, and we urgently need to speak as one voice and demand that the situation on our streets is immediately addressed. No more motions, no more proposals, and no more tone-deaf 100 million dollar projects that will take years to finish. We need action right now. This is an emergency.
I’m also running together with seven other truly amazing Venetians. I deeply respect every one of them, and I’m fortunate to have them in my corner. These people not only genuinely love this neighborhood, but they also walk the walk and get things accomplished.
I encourage everyone to come to meet Alix, Alex, Robin, Jim, Erica, Alley, and Jason & learn more about us at: 1venice.com
What are the most pressing issues facing Venice, and what are some concrete steps you would take to solve them?
By any measure, our most crucial challenge is homelessness and its effect on this community. I’m not waiting to be elected to tackle this. I’m doing the work now. In January, frustrated by our current council’s ineffectiveness, I formed an independent committee with five incredible neighbors (Connie, Cari, Robin, Judy & Arya, you are all fantastic human beings). We decided to focus our efforts on Oceanfront Walk, and we got to work. We learned about the different jurisdictions on OFW and the beach; we did bi-weekly tent counts, we had dozens of zooms with city and county officials, LAPD, and service providers. We drafted a concise step-by-step proposal to prioritize the unhoused people on OFW for any available supportive housing in LA. We sent it to city, county, and state officials & the media. The LA Times responded, and city officials followed soon after that. We brought the city and county teams to the table together and forcefully implored them for help on OFW. Months later, we are just now starting to see people moved from beach amenities and into supportive housing. We have a very (very) long way to go, but these first steps represent a ray of hope for many of us in this community.
What would you like to accomplish in your two-year term?
I’d like to regain a level of respect that I feel this council has lost, both locally and in the eyes of city departments. We can be doing so much more for this community, but frankly, we’ve become an ineffective bickering mess. We will write better, smarter, more nuanced motions. We will unify with the other westside councils and become a strong voice on WRAC. We will conduct ourselves in a professional, civil, productive manner, and we will make genuine progress on the very serious issues facing this neighborhood. We have direct lines of communication to every major department in this city, and we will begin to utilize them in an intelligent, strategic manner and start to actually accomplish meaningful change in this community.
Why should people vote for you?
I have great relationships with people from across the entire spectrum of Venice life and in almost every city department. I can find common ground with virtually anyone. I’m very comfortable managing different personalities and bringing out the best in people. I have a well-documented, proven track record, and I’ve fought and won high-profile battles in this neighborhood. I’m thoroughly experienced negotiating the occasionally maddening labyrinth of city officials, and I understand how to cut through red tape and make genuine personal connections. In my opinion, this job boils down to 3 things:
- Experience and a true, realistic understanding of how this council and LA City government function together.
- A natural ability for problem-solving and strategic critical thinking.
- Genuine people skills and the ability to inspire and lead with grace, strength, compassion, humor, intelligence, empathy, and fairness.
Respectfully, you will not find these three things in any other presidential candidate.
Any thought on your political slogan?
1 Venice. It’s our slogan, our motto, our website, our guiding principle, and the only way we’re realistically going to overcome these current challenges.
To me, Venice is the most wonderfully complex, incredible coastal community in the country. I’ve long been fascinated by the fantastic history of this neighborhood and the incredibly diverse ingredients that have simmered together to create such a vibrant, unique spirit. A melting pot of different cultures has combined with the arts – writers, poets, painters, performers, and musicians – along with surf and skate culture to create a truly extraordinary place that is very much worth fighting for.
Favorite book, band, movie, drink?
I’m a music fanatic, so it’d be impossible to pick one artist, but off the top of my head, Miles, the Stones, Jobim/Gilberto, Marley, Grant Green, Social D, Radiohead, Biggie, Jason Isbell, St Vincent, Otis Redding, Nirvana, Nas, the Strokes, The War on Drugs, Tom Waits, Leon Bridges, Neko Case, Spoon, Wilco, Sinatra. I could go on forever, but I should probably get back to work.
What’s the best advice you have received?
I’ve got two. Both are from my dad, and I always return to them, especially when it comes to community leadership.
Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
If people on both sides of an issue aren’t totally happy with your idea, you’re probably onto a good compromise, so keep pushing.
How can one find and follow you?
- Website: 1venice.com
- Instagram: instagram.com/brianaverillphotography
- Other Website: brianaverillphotography.com