The Los Angeles City Council voted 13-0 last week to approve a Venice Beach Boardwalk ordinance that will require street performers and artists to acquire a $25 lifetime permit and participate in a monthly lottery system for 106 designated spaces on the west side of Ocean Front Walk.
Grass Roots Venice Neighborhood Council president Suzanne Thompson argued for more time than the allotted 20 minutes to present views of those in opposition to the ordinance, but was unsuccessful.
Thompson suggested that the ordinance be rejected and asked instead for “professional mediation” — to solve problems associated with the boardwalk — to be supervised by the Grass Roots Venice Neighborhood Council.
Thompson and the Neighborhood Council had voted to oppose the ordinance at a Grass Roots meeting Monday, September 27th.
Before the City Council vote Wednesday, October 27th, members of the public spoke both for and against the ordinance.
The ordinance was supported by Los Angeles City Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski.
When Miscikowski began to speak, a group of boardwalk vendors and some Grass Roots board members stood up in unison and turned their backs on the councilwoman.
“I must comment on this,” said Councilman Dennis Zine.
“In my tenure here of almost four years, we’ve had a lot of debates, a lot of issues, and I’ve never seen a group turn their back on a councilmember who’s addressing a particular issue, and I’ve noticed that with this group,” said Zine. “What that tells me is, you talk about respect, you talk about freedom, you talk about liberty, but the councilmember (Miscikowski) worked very, very hard on this, along with members of the police department and the Department of Recs and Parks.
“When you folks stood up and turned your backs on Councilmember Miscikowski, that showed lack of respect,” said Zine.
The ordinance establishing the permit program will contain 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 will have to apply for and be issued a “public expression permit,” valid for life, unless revoked, with a one-time charge of $25.
The permit will be nontransferable and will be required to obtain use of a designated location on the boardwalk.
n Designated spaces will be 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.
There will be 62 public expression spaces and 44 performance spaces.
Anyone wishing to use space on the boardwalk for public expression will have to be in an assigned and designated space with a permit in their possession.
n a lottery will be held at the end of each month to assign spaces for general expression or performance for the coming month.
In the case of more permit holders in the lottery than spaces, those not receiving an assigned space after all the spaces are assigned will not be allowed to make space for themselves on the boardwalk and will have to wait until the next lottery.
n There will 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 will be allowed.
n Recreation and Parks Department staff will manage the program, which will include the set-up, day-end, and periodic inspections to ensure compliance with the regulations.
For the first violation of one of the regulations, 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.
The ordinance will go into effect Tuesday, November 30th, according to Sandy Kievman, Miscikowski Venice field deputy.