PROTECTING & PRESERVING FREE SPEECH & PUBLIC SPACE

Archive for the ‘Boardwalk’ Category

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

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VNC OCEAN FRONT WALK – PUBLIC SAFETY TOWN HALL OCTOBER 29, 2013

VNC Ocean Front Walk Committee Meeting ~ August 12, 2013

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.

ACTIVIST THANKS LAPD & CITY FOR PROTECTING FREE SPEECH ON THE 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.

ABBOTT KINNEYS DEEDS SURFACE

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

Ocean Front Walk Committee

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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Is It Art? On Venice Beach, Police Can Make the Call

Ordinance Limits What Types of Works Can Be Sold; No Pottery, Snow Globes OK
By HANNAH KARP

LOS ANGELES California

Sgt. Daniel Gonzalez has broken up bar fights, chased
armed gangbangers and even apprehended a blood-soaked murderer after a
car chase.

But nothing in his 22 years with the Los Angeles Police Department
could have prepared him for his latest responsibility: art critic.

Since January, the clean-cut cop has patrolled the beachside
neighborhood of Venice’s famous boardwalk, passing judgment on painted
porcelain skulls, henna tattoos and scrap-metal Star Wars sculptures
offered for sale. On a recent Thursday, he told a dread-locked artist
dabbling in a variety of media that he should “get more into the wood
stuff, less into the hats.”

“Now this is what people are looking for,” Sgt. Gonzalez told another
artist, offering what he called “positive reinforcement” for selling
on-the-spot spray paintings. “Do you really take Visa? That is
awesome.”

Sgt. Gonzalez inspects wares on the boardwalk in Venice Beach.

Sgt. Gonzalez’s new duties are part of one of the LAPD’s more unusual
mandates: keeping Venice weird.

Famous for its funky mix of performers, skateboarders and runaways,
Venice Beach is one of California’s biggest tourist draws in part
because day-trippers are all but guaranteed to see something strange.
But increasingly the surfside community is battling to preserve its
character as big businesses and wealthy individuals move in,
threatening the very quirkiness that helped attract them in the first
place.

Google Inc. recently opened a Southern California office in Venice.
Hollywood producer Joel Silver is converting Venice’s old post office
into his corporate headquarters. And a Canadian company recently won
approval to install a controversial zip-line ride along the boardwalk,
infuriating locals who fear it will only exacerbate the area’s traffic
and commercialization.

The L.A. City Council last December passed a new ordinance that
effectively banned anyone but local artists from engaging in
commercial activity on the boardwalk’s beach-facing side. Ordinance
violators are subject to fines and repeat offenders can end up in
jail.

That has left it to officers like Sgt. Gonzalez to routinely weigh in
on a debate more suited to the Museum of Modern Art or the Guggenheim:
What constitutes art?

Residents say making the cops police art isn’t ideal, but there is
little alternative.

“You could have volunteer boardwalk walkers, but then what?” says Matt
Kline, director of outreach for the Venice Neighborhood Council. “It
is a tough job for the police to do, but this is an ordinance, so
they’re really the only people who can do it.”

Venice, a former epicenter of Beatnik culture that now attracts 16
million visitors a year, according to the Venice Chamber of Commerce,
has long struggled with how to regulate the freedom of expression on
the wide, concrete path that borders the beach, officially known as
“Ocean Front Walk.”

There were virtually no rules governing commerce on the boardwalk
until two decades ago, when the city banned unlicensed vending there
at the behest of local merchants who complained that vendors were
stealing their business.

But in 1997 a federal appeals court overturned the ban, arguing it
trampled First Amendment rights. Since then the city has tried
implementing a slew of different rules to avoid sheer chaos—for
example requiring artists to enter a lottery for “Public Expression
Participant Permits.” But each version of the law proved either too
restrictive or too vague to hold up in court, deterring some police
from issuing citations altogether.

Now, though, Sgt. Gonzalez says he thinks the city has finally hit the
nail on the head. The ordinance that took effect earlier this year
gives police more explicit guidelines than ever to determine what
qualifies as art. Pottery doesn’t count as art because it has a
utility apart from its artistic message, according to the ordinance,
nor do any goods that appear mass produced, like home appliances and
auto parts.

Still, he says there is plenty of gray area. Hula-hooping might be
performance art, but selling hula hoops is not. Hand-drawn henna
tattoos can pass for art, but those made with mass-produced stenciled
designs are another story. Mass production is difficult to determine,
too, since the ordinance gives no specific number of items that
constitutes a “mass.”

Sgt. Gonzalez says he is no art aficionado—he studied business and
economics in college, and the 45-year-old Southern California native
says most of his art education came from working for several years as
a part-time security guard for Sotheby’s in Beverly Hills, shortly
after he joined the police force in 1990.

While working at the art auction house during his off-duty hours, he
says he “saw a lot of cool stuff” and developed a particular
appreciation for Impressionist artists like Paul Cezanne.

“I don’t know how they came up with that oil-based paint—how thick and
real it looks,” says Sgt. Gonzalez.

J. Scott Smith, a homeless man, sells cardboard “bum signs” that qualify as art.

Still, he isn’t afraid to give pointers to the boardwalk artists about
what he thinks will sell—and spends much of his time encouraging
ordinance violators to find their hidden talents. This year he says he
inspired one crystal vendor to make beach-themed snow globes from her
precious stones, since selling plain crystals is a no-no, and he says
he spurred another woman to melt crayons onto canvases with a
blowtorch.

This spring, J. Scott Smith, a homeless man who has lived in Venice
for several years, says he asked Sgt. Gonzalez: “What do I have to do
to stay here?”

“I said, ‘Create something, perform,’ ” Sgt. Gonzalez recalls. “If
you’re out here and you do have some creative juices flowing inside
you, figure it out.”

Now, Mr. Smith makes and sells cardboard “bum signs” with messages
like “Need $ To Bail Mom Out of Jail” and “Couldn’t think of Anything
Snappy So Just Give Me a Dollar And Beat It.”

Art policing isn’t for everyone: Sgt. Gonzalez says that since he
joined the beach patrol in January he has seen three officers quit the
patrol. But he has no plans to leave. “It’s a little bit of higher
calling,” he says.

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