The first lottery drawing for a new City of Los Angeles Ocean Front Walk “public expression policy” drew jeers and opposition Saturday, February 26th, at Westminster Senior Center in Venice.
The City of Los Angeles and its Department of Recreation and Parks officials say they established the lottery in an effort to bring some control to chaos among the throngs that wanted to “take over” the west side of the boardwalk to promote whatever they were promoting at the moment.
Crowds of people — mostly vendors, artists, and street performers who perform or occupy space on the west side of Ocean Front Walk — were present at the drawing.
Most were still protesting the new city lottery program.
Protestors shouted comments such as “keep Venice free” and “no lottery.”
One protester refused to clear the entrance to the Westminster Senior Center and was arrested by Los Angeles Police Department officers on hand to deal with the potential of such public disturbances.
During the arrest, another man voiced his frustration at LAPD officers.
“The police are supposed to work for the people, not the government,” shouted the man.
The lottery system is part of an ordinance approved by the Los Angeles City Council in October that established a public expression permit program on the boardwalk.
All permit holders who had entered their names for the drawing for a space assignment on the boardwalk, were assigned a space Saturday, according to Lydia Ritzman, Department of Recreation and Parks principle supervisor for the West Los Angeles region.
“There are 154 spaces available and 95 people had entered the lottery,” said Ritzman.
There are two types of spaces available to permit holders, for general public expression and for street performers.
At Saturday’s drawing 83 of the spaces were assigned to general expressionists, while 12 were assigned to street performers.
The new assignment of spaces went into effect Tuesday, March 1st. The permit program contains the following provisions supported by the Los Angeles City Department of Recreation and Parks Board of Commissioners:
n Persons wishing to conduct public expression activities on the west side of the Venice Beach Boardwalk must apply for and be issued a “public expression permit,” valid for life, unless revoked, with a one-time charge of $25.
The permit is nontransferable and is required to obtain use of a designated location on the boardwalk.
n Designated spaces are marked and numbered on the boardwalk, with ten-by-eight-foot spaces for general public expression and 20-by-eight-foot spaces for persons expressing themselves through performance.
Anyone wishing to use space on the boardwalk for public expression must be in an assigned and designated space with a permit in his or her possession.
n Drawings for spaces on the boardwalk are to be conducted every two weeks rather than monthly, as originally proposed, according to Sandy Kievman, Venice deputy to Los Angeles Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski.
“We want to give participants the opportunity to get a space on the boardwalk if their name was not drawn at the previous lottery,” said Ritzman.
In the case of more permit holders in the lottery than spaces, persons not receiving an assigned space will not be allowed to make space for themselves on the boardwalk during the permit period and will have to wait until the next lottery.
n There is to be no set-up or activity on the boardwalk between dusk and 9 a.m.
n No structures, furniture, canopies, tents or umbrellas over four feet or with more than two sides are allowed.
n Department of Recreation and Parks staff manages the program, which includes set-up, day-end, and periodic inspections to ensure compliance with the regulations.
For the first violation of a regulation, a violator will receive a warning.
A second violation will warrant a suspension of the permit.
For a series or third violation, the permit could be revoked for a one-year period before re-application would be permitted.
Local activist Jerry Rubin called the process “an unconstitutional” lottery system.
“Even if someone wanted to set up space and protest the lottery on the west side of the boardwalk, they would have to participate in the lottery,” said Rubin. “That is ridiculous.”
“If I wanted to set up a table for voter registration on the boardwalk, I wouldn’t be allowed unless I went through the lottery,” he said.
“There are and will continue to be legal challenges on this.
“I will continue to fight this.”
Rubin, who said he had not applied for a “public expression permit,” said he would ignore the new ordinance and set up space on the boardwalk.
“I’m going to sell my peace-oriented bumper stickers on the boardwalk anyway,” Rubin said.
The next lottery drawing is scheduled for Saturday, March 12th.