With summer in full swing, visitors to Venice Beach will now be welcomed with more than $6 million in upgraded facilities to enhance their time under the sun.

Los Angeles county and city officials introduced the new beach improvements during a dedication ceremony Thursday, August 2nd, near the Venice Beach Boardwalk, Ocean Front Walk.

The $6.2-million upgrades include reconstruction and expansion of restrooms, refurbishment of parking lots at the ocean end of Rose Avenue and Washington Boulevard and reconstruction of the parking lot at the ocean end of Venice Boulevard, with new entry kiosks.

The project also included the removal of an existing gazebo to construct a new picnic area at the ocean end of Washington Boulevard, as well as the construction of three new bicycle and skate rental concession buildings at Rose Avenue and Venice and Washington Boulevards.

Officials said the upgrades are expected to enhance the appearance and use of the facilities that offer recreational opportunities to the more than 5.5 million people who visit Venice Beach each year.

“From an infrastructure point of view, Venice Beach has never looked better,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said at the facility dedication ceremony. “The people who visit the beach deserve to have first class, 21st century facilities.”

Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who represents Venice in the 11th Council District, hailed the beach improvement project as “another example of the cooperation” between city and county departments to provide service to the public.

The Venice Beach project started a year and a half ago as part of the effort to enhance beaches in the county, said John Kelly, deputy director of Los Angeles County Department of Public Works.

The project stretches from Yawl Street to Rose Avenue.

“It’s part of the comprehensive improvements to county beaches,” Kelly said.

Officials earlier dedicated improved facilities at Will Rogers State Beach in Pacific Palisades, bringing the total of recent upgrades at county beaches to approximately $20 million, Yaroslavsky said.

Kelly praised the new Venice facilities as being “creatively architecturally designed” and easily maintained. He added that beach users will hopefully have “a new level of respect” for the facilities.

Among the various improvements are that the bicycle and skate rental facilities, which used to be on the pavement, now have a secure building with lighting, he said. The new unisex restrooms include renovations compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as well as showers and sinks.

Other enhancements include landscaping, parking attendant kiosks and parking lot improvements, such as a new storm drain system.

Dusty Crane, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors, noted that a major change was moving the beach bicycle path out of the parking lot at Venice Boulevard to help improve safety.

Many of the Venice Beach facilities were built after World War II and suffered storm damage in the early 1980s, she said. The project has helped “revitalize” the area for beach visitors, she added.

“We think (the upgrades) will make it a more pleasant experience and accommodate more people,” Crane said.

Officials attributed many of the improvements to beach visitors who offered input on what upgrades were needed.

“The citizens who expressed their concerns are really the source of how these projects are born,” Kelly said.

County Fire Department Deputy Chief Michael Dyer expressed confidence that the new facilities will be heavily used by beachgoers, including lifeguards.

Venice Neighborhood Council president DeDe Audet was also quick to commend the project as a benefit for the community.

“I think it will give more enjoyment to more people,” Audet said.

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