Many in Venice this week were mourning the death of Bret Haller, founder of the Yo! Venice! website.
An official with the L.A. County Department of Coroner confirmed to L.A. Weekly that Haller, 45, died of pancreatic cancer on April 9.
Haller's death was announced by family on his own website. Tributes poured in on the site's discussion forum over the weekend:
A reader called Venice WatchDawg wrote that “Bret's baby, this website, has been the greatest tool we have had in Venice to provide the transparency and forum that has been lacking in the neighborhood councils, almost since the beginning:”
YoVenice has provided a more realistic view of community concerns beyond maintaining 1970 forever and providing a safe haven for transients.
The site has been straight ahead with its law-and-order reporting, community-events listings and skate-park photos. But Haller, who seemed to live incognito in his community, was middle-of-the-road, fair and balanced in a community of sometimes extreme and polarizing politics.
The site Venice Paparazzi published photos that comprise some of the first images of Haller many Yo! Venice! readers had seen.
He shied away from the snark of the day and didn't editorialize much, even as wars broke out in town over gentrification and homeless' rights, wars that often played out on the forum pages of his own site.
A reader with the handle Venetian said, “He was probably the fairest, most unbiased moderator I have personally seen on the internet.”
Haller was a consummate tipster, communicating often with L.A. Weekly about emerging stories in Venice and exchanging emails with residents in the know. One of those residents is Jen Bilik of local gift purveyor Knock Knock. She tells us:
He was so attentive and allowed people to announce news, air grievances and solve problems. I had heard from a neighbor five or six months ago he had pancreatic cancer. That's never good news.
The Yo! Venice! announcement of Haller's death says:
… Continuance of this site will be announced in the future. Until then, please raise a glass in his honor and post away.