The Venice Beach landscape will add a zipline attraction this summer, allowing visitors to soar across an area that is home to a skateboard park, graffiti walls, basketball courts and a famed workout pit.
The 750-foot-long zipline, initially proposed for temporary installation last summer, was approved by the California Coastal Commission with conditions Feb. 7 for a three-month pilot program slated to begin Memorial Day weekend.
Once the attraction is installed, harnessed riders will be able to fly from a 50-foot-high launch tower on the northern edge of Windward Plaza to a 30-foot-high landing tower near 17th Avenue and the basketball courts. Rides will operate between 11 a.m. and sunset and cost $20 per person, with some discounts offered.
Los Angeles officials say the zipline, similar to those found in rainforests and other exotic locales, can offer beachgoers another form of amusement in Southern California’s second highest tourist destination, while providing needed funds for park maintenance. The city Department of Recreation and Parks plans to allocate two-thirds of funds raised through the ride toward cleaning beach restrooms and emptying garbage cans.
“I think this is going to be a very fun and interesting activity at the beach. It’s very much in keeping with the Department of Recreation and Parks’ mission of providing public recreation,” Kevin Regan, the department’s assistant general manager, told the commissioners.
City Councilman Bill Rosendahl said he was ecstatic at the pilot project approval, which allows for a public/private collaboration to ensure services are provided for the millions who come to Venice Beach.
“This is a great day for the city of Los Angeles in its commitment to public/private partnerships,” said Rosendahl. “This is a prime example of how the private sector and the government sector can work together to provide basic services.
“Thanks to the Coastal Commission we will be able to clean our bathrooms and empty our garbage cans in one of the busiest beach communities in the world.”
The Venice Neighborhood Council narrowly voted to support the temporary installation when the project was first presented last year.
The zip ride project is proposed by Greenheart Conservation Company/Flightlinez, a Canadian company that designs, builds and operates conservation based canopy walkways and other nature-based attractions around the world including Las Vegas, the Amazon and Rwanda. In addition to giving visitors the thrill of ziplining at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour over the beach, the project is intended to support the maintenance of the park, said Ian Green, president and co-founder of Greenheart.
“We’re looking at how to work within an area to create revenue,” Green told the commission.
A key element of the Greenheart plan will be holding regularly scheduled classes and workshops on aerial acrobatics, juggling and hooping specifically targeting at-risk youths. The aerial attraction will also feature periodic evening performances involving lights. Funding for the classes and shows will be raised through zipline tickets.
While the city maintains that the zipline will support needed park services, some Venice residents argued that the attraction will be out of place in an area where most forms of recreation are free and the two towers will block beach views.
“This changes the whole nature of Venice right now,” Venice Neighborhood Council member Ira Koslow said. “This is a beach for the public. We want a free beach.”
Other concerns included impacts to traffic and noise from screaming riders, and some have objected to commercializing the beach.
“It’s the responsibility of Recreation and Parks to keep our park clean without making deals that compromise the lifestyle and integrity of residents,” said Gail Rodgers, who filed an appeal against the proposal last year. “Parks are a core city service and they do not exist to generate revenue.”
In an effort to prevent adverse impacts to scenic coastal views, commission staff recommended that dressing material be removed from the towers. A project component allowing for local artists to decorate a portion of the structures was supported by commission staff after a request by the recreation department.
Referring to concerns that the amusement ride would change the atmosphere of the beach, Commissioner William Burke noted that Venice was the largest amusement area in California when he first arrived in Los Angeles, and he believes the project deserves a chance.
“I think the city deserves this opportunity to try it out,” he said.
Rosendahl stressed that there will be a 90-day trial for the zip ride and any impacts will be assessed before it is considered again in the future.
“We will obviously be sensitive to the community but we are going to be delighted to be able to finally clean our bathrooms and empty our garbage cans,” he said.