PRESS RELEASE ~ FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Date: 9/16/09
Venice Beach Boardwalk Coalition (VBBC) challenges City of Los Angeles Permit/Lottery on Venice Boardwalk
On June 24, 2009, Seattle Center’s permit regulations, imposed on street performers, were overturned in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals by an 11 member “en banc” panel of judges, including Judge Harry Pregerson, father of Judge Dean Pregerson, who, the City of Los Angeles claims, presided over the creation of the current LAMC 42.15 ordinance that regulates the Free Speech Zone (FSZ) on the west side of Venice Boardwalk.
Seattle’s law, requiring a permit to engage in [individual] speech: “constitutes a dramatic departure from our national heritage and constitutional tradition,” according to Judge Marsha Berzon, writing for the majority opinion. Additionally, the City of Seattle required free expressionists (artists, performers, politico’s, etc) to wear badges, refrain from soliciting gratuities, stay away from captive audience and work only in designated sites. Similarly, in the Venice Boardwalk FSZ, the City of Los Angeles requires free expressionists to purchase a permit and enter a lottery; just to have a chance to win an opportunity to exercise their First Amendment Free Speech rights, in city specified “designated spaces” in the FSZ, in accordance with city rules, including wearing badges.
VBBC free expressionists are demanding that the City of Los Angeles rescind the unconstitutional permit/ lottery and remove all “unprotected” retail commercial vending operating under the current LAMC 42.15. As Judge Marsha Berzon writes: “It is our belief that the protections afforded by the First Amendment are nowhere stronger than in streets & parks, both categorized for First Amendment purposes as traditional public fora. In such fora, the government’s right to limit expressive activity is sharply circumscribed. Among traditional public fora, parks [such as Venice Beach], are especially important locales for communication among the citizenry, as they have immemorially been held in trust for the use of public, and have been used for purposes of assembly, communicating thoughts between citizens, and discussing public questions.” Furthermore, VBBC claims that these important protections should not be subverted to allow the “unprotected” retail commercial vending that currently proliferates in the FSZ, driving out expressionists such as artists, activists, performers, politicos and others with a real “protected” message.
For more information on this topic, or to schedule an interview with Venice Beach Boardwalk Coalition please send us an email.