PROTECTING & PRESERVING FREE SPEECH & PUBLIC SPACE

T-Shirt Fraud on OFW

T-shirtShopFrom Venice Beachhead:
A total of eight T-shirt shops owned by the same person have opened on OFW recently. They sell the same generic merchandise, which is offensive, especially to women.

Owned by Liran Azoulay, an Israeli immigrant, these businesses were able to multiply so quickly because of the higher-than-average rent payments he offered to the owners: upwards of $10,000/month. Vendors of stores that own the lease of their shops were approached and offered upwards of $100,000 to sell the remainder of their leases.

When contemplating how someone can afford such high rent payments and enormous buying-out sums, the word on OFW is that some type of money laundering is behind the operation.

This business scheme had the ripple effect of raising all OFW shops’ rent payments. The remaining oldtime vendors are considering selling out while worrying whether they’ll be able to make it through the summer. Several tourists reported buying a shirt for $20 to have their credit card charged several hundred dollars.

Because this is a civil case, as opposed to a criminal one, the LAPD won’t help them. And the tourists don’t have the time or the know-how to go through the Department of Consumer and Business Affairs to sue the unscrupulous business owner. Several warnings against these custom T-shirt businesses have been published online, on sites such as Trip Advisor and YouTube. What the LAPD is required to do is not allow these eight stores to play music with offensive, X-rated lyrics. They tend to do this loudly and obnoxiously, with no fear. Also, they stay open long after all other stores on OFW have closed: as late as 11pm. It was reported that some of the workers live in the stores, which is of course illegal.

We call on the LAPD to address and investigate this high-level crime that is infesting all OFW businesses and customers, local and foreigners alike. And we call on you, locals, to boycott these eight businesses.

Wishing they go away soon,
Rachel Bloomfield

New York’s Artists Take Their Case to the Supreme Court

By Victoria Bekiempis December 27 2013
Artists hope to reverse a decision that prevents virtually precludes
them selling work in public.

The New York City artists who have long litigated to sell their work
in public parks have officially asked the U.S. Supreme Court to
consider their case, according to legal documents filed earlier this
week.

Robert Lederman, who heads activist group Artists’ Response To Illegal
State Tactics (A.R.T.I.S.T.), wants the Supremes to reverse a lower
court’s recent decision allowing the city to regulate where creatives
can publicly set up shop.

As previously reported by Newsweek, Lederman and his allies claim that
the City’s 2010 code effectively bars them from selling their art,
since the rule limits the number of artist-vendors in the city’s most
popular public spaces – Central Park, Union Square Park, Battery Park,
and the High Line.

Lederman and his legal team, Julie Milner and Svetlana Minevich, have
argued that these regulations violate their Constitutional rights to
free expression and equal protection under the law, since the city
allows buskers to perform virtually wherever they chose on public
property.

They also contend that the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which
ruled against them in September, was wrong in refusing their requests
to depose city officials — and in deciding, more broadly, that
governmental officials should be protected from depositions save for
“exceptional” circumstance.

What Milner and Minevich argue in their petition, submitted on Dec.
23, one day before their filing deadline, is that the Second Circuit’s
ruling means far more than cut-and-dry violations of Constitutional
protections or bad court procedures.

They claim that the case merits the U.S. Supreme Court’s attention
because the Second Circuit’s decision clashes with other circuits’
decisions on similar matters – which means there’s no consistent
precedent across the country on artist-vendors or depositions.

Their petition sums it up thusly: “This Court should grant the
Petition to settle the law and resolve these aforementioned
controversies.”

Lederman further worries that “if the Supreme Court allows the lower
court ruling to stand, government officials will be immune from ever
being called to account for their misdeeds.”

The artist advocates have many obstacles ahead of them. First, the
stats are stacked heavily against them: The U.S. Supreme Court only
agrees to hear between 100 and 150 “of the more than 7,000 cases that
it is asked to review each year.” And even if the court gives the case
a green light, Lederman will have to raise funds from artists around
the country to cover the extensive legal fees. (Just printing the
petition according to the U.S. Supreme Court’s standards cost
$24,000.)

The city, which maintains that the September decision reflects a
“careful balance between the rights of First Amendment vendors and the
city’s valid interest in ensuring that parks can be enjoyed by the
public,” is poised to keep fighting Lederman. Sources close to the
matter tell Newsweek that the city will likely file an opposition
brief to thwart the artists’ petition.

http://www.newsweek.com/new-yorks-artists-take-their-case-supreme-court-225190

Contact Robert Lederman

This committee meeting discussed the August 3 tragedy on Venice Boardwalk, and Cecilia Castillo of Councilmember Mike Bonin’s office announced some of the security measures the city is taking to protect visitors to Venice boardwalk.

From: Dave Bradt, Anti-Circumcision Activist

A big thank you to the Los Angeles Police Department’s Beach detail foot patrol and numerous undercover agents who have facilitated the issuing of ‘illegal vending’ citations. 

Also,  thanks to the many citizens that kept the department’s feet to the fire, making sure they enforced the law and the deputy city attorney (Claudia Martin), who prosecuted it. 

Because of everybody’s efforts, jewelry and crafts presence is down considerably on the boardwalk.  Free expression can at last find spaces in which to exercise their first amendment in the free expression zone of Venice Beach Boardwalk.  Even during the busiest of summer weekends – though this still does require some exceptional steps such as arriving as early as possible in order to secure those spaces.

Good job every one.

Over the years rumors of ‘Abbott Kinneys Deed’ have floated through Venice but nobody ever seemed to know much about it, except that Abbott Kinney, the founder of Venice Beach, had made certain stipulations about how the deeded beach area was to be used.

But now, thanks to Venice activists — the deeds, there are more than one, have been made available to the public; we are now in possession of those deeds and can reveal what it was that Abbott Kinney stipulated over 100 years ago in 1904 and 1906.

It appears that Mr. Kinney had a very specific use in mind for the area – that is now considered Venice City Beach park – a “pleasure park” is how he and his partners described it in the 1904 ABBOTT KINNEY DEED:

    “TO HAVE AND TO HOLD all and singular the said premises together with the appurtenances unto the said party of the second part and its successors and assigns in the hereinafter named trust, forever, as a pleasure park or beach for the use, benefit and enjoyment of the public in general and particularly the inhabitants of said city and the owners of the property lying adjacent to the property hereinbefore described; provided, that this conveyance is made upon the condition that no house or houses or building of any kind or character, or miniature, steam, street, or electric railway or roadway, or any gas, water or sewer pipe shall ever be erected, constructed, laid, maintained or operated, or he permitted or allowed to beerected, constructed, laid, maintained or operated, in, along, upon or over said lands or any part thereof; and that no game of any kind shall ever be permitted to be conducted or carried on upon said lands or any part thereof, and said lands and every part thereof must at all times be kept free from teaming, open, and unobstructed for the use and enjoyment of the public and as a pleasure park or beach, and said property shall be kept clean at said City’s expense.”

Later, in 1906, Kinney and his partners deeded the 40 ft wide strip of land known as Ocean Front Walk in the 1906 ABBOTT KINNEY DEED:

    “IT BEING HEREBY UNDERSTOOD AND AGREED that said strip of land is to be used for the construction of a public sidewalk and for no other purpose.”

It appears that the City of Los Angeles has stuck, to the most part, to the terms of the deeds.  However, there could be cause for concern, as several businesses fronting onto Ocean Front Walk (Venice Boardwalk) are occupying, and conducting business on what is actually public property ie. the boardwalk (sidewalk) that also happens to be a ‘park’ – which begs the question: would Abbott Kinney approve and, more to the point, is it legal?

From the web:  the Abbot Kinney Company filed a lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles regarding what they considered to be a violation of the 1904 deed when the Rose parking lot was built, on what used to be the beach, at the end of Rose Avenue.  The lawsuit ended in favor of the City of Los Angeles as noted here: http://law.justia.com/cases/california/court-of-appeal/2d/223/668.html

April 6, 2013

PART 1: VNC OCEAN FRONT WALK CMTE APR 1, 2013

Ocean Front Walk Committee: Chaired by Venice Neighborhood Council Community Officer, Thomas Elliott (Venice Ale House).

The Committee has the general responsibility for addressing the issues, concerns, programs and services that affect the various stakeholders and interests on the Venice Boardwalk and Venice Beach. These include, but are not limited to: free speech, performance, merchants, tourism, sanitation and recycling, public nuisance, public safety, and interaction with law enforcement and other officials of the City and County of Los Angeles.

Agenda items discussed:  http://www.venicenc.org/ocean-front-walk-committee/ofwagenda_040113/

Minutes of meeting:  http://www.venicenc.org/ocean-front-walk-committee/ofwminutes_040113/

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