History’s Not for Sale: A fight for the First Baptist Church of Venice
The sun peaked through a hazy Sunday afternoon outside the First Baptist Church of Venice (FBCV), where a group of supporters rally on the corner of Westminster and Seventh Avenue. The FBCV is located in the historically black Oakwood neighborhood of Venice Beach, and was recently purchased by media tycoon Jay Penski owner of Rolling Stone, Variety, and billionaire heir to automotive giant Roger Penski. Penski and his wife, Elaine Irwin, a former Victoria’s Secret and Calvin Klein model, have plans to convert the space into a single residency with a 11,750 square foot mega-mansion plan. Long time Venice locals and supporters have fought against the destruction of the church with an organized rally encouraging the crowd to donate to the ongoing legal battle over the fate of the church. The next hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, April 30th at a Westside Planning Commission meeting. Lot designations and the displacement of people within the California Coastal Zone have prompted several initiatives to be filed with the Planning and Land Use Commission and the Los Angeles Superior Court. Gentrification is a prominent issue, making it harder for those born and raised in Venice to remain in the area.