The Los Angeles City Council has approved a revised ordinance regulating vending on the west side of the Venice Beach Boardwalk (Ocean Front Walk).
The City Council voted 12-0 Tuesday, January 31st, to approve a package of proposals designed to protect Boardwalk street performers while defending free speech and curbing commercial activity along the west side of Ocean Front Walk.
The City Council also voted to endorse a series of initiatives recommended by 11th District Councilman Bill Rosendahl that Rosendahl said are designed to protect the character and artistic flavor of Venice’s top tourist attraction.
Rosendahl said his proposals came from input in various public meetings in the Venice area.
“This is a great day for Venice Beach,” Rosendahl said.
“Today’s vote will end the illegal commercial vending that has threatened the street performers and free expressionists, harmed local merchants, and made life unbearable for local residents,” Rosendahl claimed.
Rosendahl said the revised ordinance will do the following along the publicly owned west side of Ocean Front Walk in Venice:
n Declare an officially recognized “Free Speech and Expression Zone” from Navy Street to 17th Street;
n Allow performers, entertainers and free expressionists to sell their own original and constitutionally protected merchandise;
n Prohibit all other commercial activity; and
n Crack down on excessive noise.
Rosendahl has also proposed to direct the city Department of Recreation and Parks to work with the Grass Roots Venice Neighborhood Council and other Venice Beach stakeholders as part of a “Venice Beach Free Expression Protection Working Group” to do the following:
n Explore whether and how to abolish the controversial “lottery- based” system of issuing permits for space on the Ocean Front Walk;
n Develop a proposal to further restrict excessive noise through guidelines for restrictions on amplified noise; and
n Examine community ideas to further refine and improve the Venice Beach ordinance.
“I am pleased that we have developed an open-ended, flexible, community-based approach,” Rosendahl said. “Venice Beach has a life unto itself, so we need to keep looking at and revising the rules. This creates a living process to do that.”
Last summer, at the urging of the city attorney, the City Council repealed parts of the ordinance regulating vending on the west side of Ocean Front Walk.
The City Council action occurred just weeks after vendors opposed to the ordinance regulations filed a civil rights lawsuit against the city.
The city attorney advised the City Council that parts of the ordinance were “constitutionally infirm” and needed to be repealed immediately.
After the City Council repealed the previous ordinance last summer, performers said they have been “squeezed out” by commercial interests, and merchants on the east side of the Boardwalk said they have suffered from unfair competition.