Lincoln Place Needs Our Help
By Jim Smith
The first article in the Free Venice Beachhead about a threat to the tenants at Lincoln Place Apartments was printed in the April 1972 issue. Since then, the events at Lincoln Place have been an on-going issue around Venice and in the Beachhead. And well they should be. At its height, there were about 3,000 residents at Lincoln Place, nearly 10 percent of the population of Venice, and an even higher percentage of affordable housing in our community.
Lincoln Place has been a model of how good affordable and low-income housing can be. The quality of life at Lincoln Place is higher than that at most so-called luxury apartments and condos. Lincoln Place residents are not walled in by security fences and gates. They have acres of park-like green space to share with their neighbors. And, they know their neighbors. Ask the residents of the multi-story fortresses that are passed off as luxury living how many of their neighbors they know.
Lincoln Place is a living rebuke to the privatized, anonymous, alienated and consumption driven lifestyle that are considered the ideal for capitalism in its sputtering old age. You didn’t see any Lincoln Place-style apartments in such film critiques as Matrix or Blade Runner. Even though the structures at Lincoln Place are solid, and probably good for a few hundred years if they receive regular maintenance, they must be destroyed for ideological and financial reasons. Lincoln Place, by its very structure, lends itself to community building. Once workers or tenants start talking among themselves they constitute a threat to those who would exploit them.
It’s probably no accident that Lincoln Place was built and thrived in Venice, a place where community is valued over private interests. While Venice has quite a few courtyard apartments, canals and walk streets that lend themselves to community living, Lincoln Place is the flagship. We can’t let it go without a fight.
Up until now, the renters, and their organization, the Lincoln Place Tenants Association, has led the fight to save the apartment complex. We Venetians who don’t live there have stood back as spectators, perhaps cheering the tenants on, but not actively involved as a separate force.
A Lincoln Place Support Committee is long past due. It would bring together all those who see the importance of saving Lincoln Place and are willing to do something about it. It needs to be able to act independently of the tenants association and their legal struggles.
Among the activities of an LPSC would be: conducting educational and outreach activities about Lincoln Place in the community; raising money to help in the struggle to save the buildings and tenants; mobilizing supporters to come to community rallies for Lincoln Place and against those who would destroy it; supporting civil disobedience actions against evictions, and more.
It should also be mentioned that Lincoln Place residents have a long history of activism in Venice. Issues that come to mind include the longest rent strike in Venice history at Four-Floors West, helping with senior issues at the Israel Levin Center on Ocean Front Walk, working with Oakwood organizations like the Neighborhood Adult Participation Project (NAPP) and LIEU-CAP, a senior assistance program run by Vera Davis.
Among now deceased Lincoln Place activists were Sadie Doroshin, Bill Tomkin, Saul and Helen Weingast and Ethel Bertolini. Many of them came out of New York garment union and political struggles in the 20s and 30s.
They “retired” to where else, but Venice. Sadie, a natural leader and organizer, was by then in her 70s. She used to walk (or occasionally ride the #2 Blue Bus) from Lincoln Place to the beach every day to walk the picket line at the rent strike. Long after she had to move on to assisted living at Sunset Hall, her Lincoln Place apartment on Lake Street was one of those bulldozed by an insane developer.
The elder generation was replaced by new activists including Sheila Bernard, former president of the Venice Neighborhood Council, Laura Burns, C.V. Beck, Ingrid Mueller, Jan Book, Moira LaMountain, Erin Grayson and many more who are continuing the struggle at Lincoln Place and throughout Venice.
Now, their homes are at risk. They need our help.
If you agree, let’s form a Lincoln Place Support Committee. You can call me at 399-8685 or email: LPSC@freevenice.org
Posted: Wed - November 2, 2005 at 01:40 PM