PROTECTING & PRESERVING FREE SPEECH & PUBLIC SPACE

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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The Villager has just published a news article, [“Board #2 asks city
to review vendors jamming Broadway” January 31, 2013] revealing that
local community groups are trying to revive the Street Vendor Review
Panel (see end of this email for that article and my letter to The
Villager about it).

This is a very important piece of vending news that will affect all
NYC vendors regardless of where you sell, what you sell or what your
legal status is and regardless of whether you are an artist, art
vendor, food vendor,
general vendor or vet vendor. Artists should note that by restricting a street
(such as Broadway, West Broadway, 53rd Street etc) to food cart vending, that
artists are automatically restricted from that street.

CB#2, the same SoHo Community Board that pressured Mayor Giuliani
to launch the crackdown on artists in 1994 (which led to the founding of ARTIST
and all of our lawsuits) is now trying to pressure Mayor Bloomberg
into reviving the Street Vendor Review Panel (SVRP). Until it was
disbanded in 2001, that panel arranged for virtually all the streets
in NYC that are now restricted to vending to be restricted. The panel
was run 100% by the BIDs (Business Improvement Districts) and it
existed for the sole purpose of eliminating independent vendors
and then replacing them with BID and City-owned vending concessions.
Before you can replace vendors with BID and city-owned concessions
you have to eliminate the vendors.

If the SVRP becomes active again this is the likely 4 stage pattern of
events that will take place, if we don’t stop it:

1. West Broadway, Broadway, Spring and Prince in SoHo will be made
completely restricted to all vendors 7 days a week. 5th Avenue and
similar midtown streets and Avenues that are now only partially
restricted will be made 100% restricted. Throughout the City, any BID
that submits an application to have their local streets restricted
will be granted that restriction. Park Conservancies will also try to
get the SVRP to make their parks and the sidewalks around those parks
completely restricted to all non-City run vending.

2. A small number of vending spots will be allowed to remain open (temporarily)
in each BID territory so as to prevent a lawsuit from being too easy for
vendors to win. Those  handful of remaining legal spots will be made
available by either a medallion (as is currently the practice in 4 NYC parks)
or by a permit-lottery system.

3. The demand for those limited vending spots will so high that
vendors themselves will start begging the city to put them up for
bids, exactly as vending concessions are now bid for in parks. If you
think this is far fetched, consider that some artists who previously
sold in Union Sq Park for free, now pay as much as $14,000 to set up
for one month in the Holiday Market.

Once the demand for the very few remaining legal spots is high enough
the City will claim that vendors themselves are “forcing” the City to
sell the spots as concessions. This is the real agenda behind this
effort.

The media, (many newspapers and TV networks are directly connected
to the BIDs, or actually founded the BIDS)  will depict all vendors as
dangerous, dirty, lawbreaking, violent tax dodgers that need to be curtailed
for the sake of public safety.

4. Once all vending spots are sold as concessions, virtually 100% of
all the vendors now working will either be out of business or will be
forced to sell illegally. Vending concessions in NYC Parks generally
sell for anywhere from $50,000 a year to as much as $750,000 a year
for a single spot. Vending spots on the streets could sell for much
more, since it will be corporations using them for advertising and
promotion, not just for selling merchandise and food.

***
Is there anything we can do to counter this or prevent it from happening?

1. The lawsuit against the 2010 park rules, Lederman et al v Parks Department,
is now before the 2nd circuit Federal Appeals Court. If we win, not only will
the park rules and the artist medallions be struck down, but it will become very
difficult legally for the City or the BIDs to enact unreasonable new
restrictions on artists, especially on streets where we have legally
sold art since winning our first
lawsuit in 1996.

2. The reason the Street Vendor Review Panel was disbanded was that
between 1998 and 2001 vendors held very large protests against the
Street Vendor Review Panel, lobbied elected officials, sued the city
and otherwise made it into a very public expose about the BIDs. The
ARTIST group was at the forefront of these protests, but other groups
also had a high profile in them, including disabled veterans, food
vendors and general vendors’ groups. It was definitely a group effort.
However, as First Amendment protected vendors with a constitutional
right to sell on these streets, artists have the best possible legal
arguments to defeat whatever a new SVRP might try. Without us, those
other vending groups have virtually no chance to win.

3. We have a lot of documentation that can be used in a subsequent
lawsuit (if necessary) showing how BIDs themselves create far more
sidewalk congestion, due to their own very extensive vending
activities and planters, than all other vendors combined create. As
just one example, within the community board #2 district (that’s the
board pushing Mayor Bloomberg to revive the Street Vendor review
Panel) there are more than 100 annual street fairs and thousands of
sidewalk planters. Each of these street fairs has as many as 1,000
vendors completely obstructing pedestrian and vehicular traffic for an
entire neighborhood. The planters obstruct it 24/7/365. These street
fairs are all approved by the exact same community board, CB#2, trying
to eliminate independent vendors. Need one mention that the Community
Board directly benefits financially from these street fairs as does
the Mayor’s office?

If you are one of those vendors who is thinking these newly proposed
restrictions are reasonable because some vendors take up too much
space, sell items for a lower price than you or compete with you for
the same spot, it would be a good idea for you to educate yourself on
the real dynamics behind the City’s more than 100 year long effort to
destroy vending. These BIDS want to take over vending for themselves.
Open and unobstructed sidewalks are the very last thing they are
interested in.

Here are links to a few video clips, documents and news articles from
the fight against the Street Vendor Review Panel illustrating the
anti-vending effort for those who were not there or don’t remember:

NY Times 6/2/98
Vending Ban Widens: Not just food but also books and art
http://www.nytimes.com/1998/06/02/nyregion/vending-ban-widens-not-just-food-but-also-books-and-art.html

*Artists protest privatizating vending system 1999
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eqvc3qk3E7E

*Vendors Stage A March Against N.Y. Restrictions Giuliani Is Pushing
To Ban Them From Much Of Manhattan. He Points To Sidewalk Congestion.
http://articles.philly.com/1998-06-04/news/25728382_1_food-vendors-hot-dog-restrictions

*NY Times Street Vendors Win Reprieve From Giuliani
http://www.nytimes.com/1998/06/18/nyregion/street-vendors-win-reprieve-from-giuliani.html

*Daily News VENDORS VENT ANGER ON CURBS
http://www.nydailynews.com/archives/news/vendors-vent-anger-curbs-article-1.789883

*How BIDS use planters to obstruct sidewalks and prevent legal vendors
from setting up
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvtFS2GCdDw

*Legal Brief the BIDs filed in Bery/Lederman et al v City of NY 1995
http://www.scribd.com/doc/102623165/BIDs-Amicus-Brief-96

*BIDs Exploit Immigrant Vendors
http://www.scribd.com/doc/123500452/BIDs-exploit-immigrant-vendors

*BIDs Operate Criminal Courts for vendors
http://www.scribd.com/doc/123500432/Bid-operate-Criminal-courts

*****The new article about the Street Vendor review Panel*****
The Villager
Board 2 asks city to review vendors jamming Broadway
January 31, 2013

Large food carts along Soho in Broadway, like this one near Broome
St., narrow the sidewalk for pedestrians, which becomes even more of
an issue during rush hours and on weekends. This photo was taken on
Wednesday around noon. Photo by Sam Spokony
BY SAM SPOKONY  After heaps of complaints from Soho residents about
the number of street vendors along Broadway, Community Board 2 is
calling on Mayor Bloomberg to take action by reconvening a city review
panel that hasn’t been used in more than a decade.

The resolution, which C.B. 2 passed unanimously last week, ultimately
seeks to limit the amount of vendors allowed to operate on the stretch
of Broadway between Houston and Canal Sts.

“The proliferation of vendors [along that] corridor constitutes a
serious and immediate threat to the health, safety and well-being of
the public and local residents on the weekends,” the resolution
states, “in that sidewalks are too congested by pedestrian traffic to
permit the [current number of vendors].”

Many Soho residents have said that those problems are compounded by a
lack of consistency and overall effectiveness in the city’s
enforcement of current street vendor regulations, such as one that is
supposed to stop vendors from operating within 20 feet of a building’s
entranceway.

To address the entire issue, C.B. 2 now wants Bloomberg to convene the
city’s Street Vendor Review Panel, which would include members of the
departments of Small Business Services, Transportation and City
Planning. The panel was first created in 1995, but it has not been
convened since 2001 — the year before Bloomberg first took office.

The Mayor’s Office did not respond to requests for comment.

Pete Davies, a Broadway resident for more than 30 years and
neighborhood activist, lauded the C.B. 2 resolution, saying that he
and his neighbors — a group called the Broadway Residents Coalition —
have been trying to “make some noise” about this issue over the past
year.

“We’re very happy to see this, since the review panel is really the
key to getting things back together,” Davies said. “The system is just
broken right now.”

He explained that his group has been counting the number of vendors
along Broadway each weekend for about a year, and claimed they’ve
found that there are around 100 total vendors located between Houston
and Canal Sts. during a typical weekend day. Around 30 percent of
those are food carts, according to Davies’s estimations.

The C.B. 2 resolution specifically highlighted those larger food
vendors, which generally use their own diesel fuel generators and have
garnered additional complaints for their allegedly careless disposal
of cooking grease.

Another of Davies’s points that was mentioned in the resolution was
one regarding food carts left on the sidewalk overnight. To do so is a
violation of city regulations, but Davies said that his group has
found about a dozen carts left overnight, specifically between Houston
and Broome Sts.

Sean Basinski, director of a wing of the Urban Justice Center that
advocates for the rights of street vendors, declined an interview to
discuss the matter, instead sending a statement that revealed an
apparently hyperbolic and tangential interpretation of the C.B. 2
resolution.

“Street vendors are a vital part of New York, and Lower Broadway is a
busy commercial strip that is enhanced by the presence of vendors,”
Basinski said. “Rather than trying to ban vending there, we encourage
the community board to work with vendors to find solutions that
benefit vendors, shoppers and residents alike.”

C.B. 2 did not call for any kind of outright ban on street vending
along Broadway. Instead, the resolution recommends — after the
convening of the city review panel — that legislation should
eventually be passed to limit the number of vendors there.

Pedro Amin, 31, a full-time worker at the Tribeca Taco Truck, which
has been located on Broadway between Prince and Spring Sts. for more
than six years, said that he often hears complaints from local
residents, even though he tries to keep his part of the street clean.

“They mostly complain to us about the crowds on the sidewalk, or
sometimes they just call the police,” Amin said. “I feel bad about it,
because I just want to work, and support my family. And I always take
the time to sweep the street around the cart.”

Like nearly every food cart worker along Broadway, Amin does not own
the cart in which he serves tacos all day. Davies stressed that he and
his group understand that fact, and that they are not out to pick a
fight with employees like Amin.

“We understand that people who work out there are trying to earn a
living, and they’re working their butts off,” Davies said. “And a bad
part of this is that when the city issues a violation to one of the
employees, rather than the owner, they’re penalizing the wrong
person.”

Instead, as the C.B. 2 resolution stated, Davies puts the onus on the
city to analyze this situation and come up with effective solutions.

“These food cart workers, along with the residents, are simply being
ill-served by the city right now,” he said. “The mayor has allowed
this problem to mushroom by not convening the Street Vendor Review
Panel at all during his time in office, so of course it’s going to be
much more difficult to fix now. It’s become an urban planning issue
now.

“We just want the city to seriously look at this,” Davies said, “so
they can make a real determination about how to move forward.”

Questions or comments?
Robert Lederman, President of ARTIST
artistpres@gmail.com

Letter to The Villager

To the editor re: “Board 2 asks city to review vendors jamming Broadway” 1/31/13
CB#2 has a very long history of harassing and persecuting street
artists and vendors. I have testified many times before CB#2, the
Police Community Council and the City Council explaining that
draconian new laws and new restrictions are not what is needed.
Enforcing the existing vending laws, which are 60 pages long, very
detailed and which cover all possible scenarios, is what is needed.
When CB #2 first started persecuting street artists it caused us to go
to court and win the first in a series of rulings that greatly
strengthened vending rights. I suggest before you open up this next
can of worms, that you might ask Kathryn Freed and Alan Gerson what to
expect from trying to eliminate artists and vendors from your
community. You might also ask your community board why it approves
almost 100 giant street fairs in your district each year, some of
which are fronts for organized crime, and each of which causes more
congestion than all the vendors being complained about create in their
entire lifetimes. Ironically, CB#2 is falling into a trap with this
entire idea, which is directly associated with the new BID. BIDS want
to take over vending for themselves. Open and unobstructed sidewalks
are the very last thing they are interested in. Helping them to do it
by reopening the Street Vendor Review Panel will ultimately bring you
far more congestion, noise, dirt and tourists than you complain about
now. And if you want to relieve sidewalk congestion right away, why
not eliminate the thousands of illegal sidewalk planters that
landlords, stores and BIDs have installed on SoHo’s narrow sidewalks?
Robert Lederman, President of ARTIST

————————————

To contact Robert Lederman
please use this address ONLY:
artistpres@gmail.com

The return of commercial activity to the west side of Ocean Front Walk has been escalating over the past week. Last Sunday – for the first time since the new ordinance was enacted – there were several nasty altercations over spaces around the Sunset Pagoda area. Regulars expect this weekend to be even worse. Given that the problem generally arises when illegal vendors insist on their imaginary right to sell commercial goods and “make a living” in this first amendment protected area, and that LAPD has been stymied in halting this activity by the “right to display” clause in the ordinance, a group of us have researched legal aspects of “intent” as a possible means of addressing this loophole.

The following is what we have learned. We make it available to you for your advisement and in the hopes that you will find it useful.

In the meantime, we continue to brainstorm strategies with east side merchants and other first amendment people on the Boardwalk. We will continue to send any useful determinations along to you. Any feedback or suggestions on how we can most effectively interface will also be appreciated. Thank you.

Therese Dietlin, OFW First Amendment Advocate

Intent to Sell on Ocean Front Walk

– by Dave Bradt – Free Expressionist

The police have communicated that they cannot tell the difference between illegal vending and protected free expression because everyone has a right to display any item in the free expression spaces. The city has a compelling interest in determining and eliminating commercial sales in order to reduce violence and allow protected expression on public land. Generally, a wide range of direct and circumstantial evidence is allowed to prove intent.

Such as, cases in which:

1.  Displaying one item would convey the same expressive message as displaying many similar items.

2.  Displaying items, while being in controlled (i.e. concealed or in the car) possession of similar (limited variations) items (not being displayed and not expressed but available to replace sold items). Such circumstantial evidence would be reasonable and logical to prove intent to sell.

Precedence of circumstantial evidence proving intent:

It is illegal to park on the street in front of a driveway. If the engine is running or the keys are in the ignition that is proof of intent (not to park). To be arrested for drunk driving, one need only show intent. To be in the driver’s seat while intoxicated is not enough to be arrested for DUI, but to put the key in the ignition proves intent.

A shoplifter need not leave the store without paying for an item, or a book or other library materials taken from a library facility, to be guilty of theft. California (as most states) invites evidence of intent (i.e. The CA law 490.5. (4) A merchant…(librarian) having probable cause to believe the person detained was attempting to unlawfully take or has taken any item from the premises. In 33 states ‘to conceal’ (the act that proves intent) is also a violation, in of its self.

The NH law 644:17 Willful Concealment and Shoplifting.

The AS law 11.46.220. Concealment of Merchandise.

The AZ law 13-1805 5. Concealment.

The CO law SECTION 1. 18-4-407 (2)… OR conceals upon his person….

The CT law Sec. 53a-119. (9)  A person intentionally concealing unpurchased goods or merchandise of any store or other mercantile establishment, either on the premises or outside the premises of such store, shall be prima facie presumed to have so concealed such article with the intention of converting the same to his own use without paying the purchase price thereof.

The DE law Sec. 53a-119. (3) Conceals any such goods….

The GA law 51-7-60 (1) Conceals or takes possession of the goods or merchandise of any store or retail establishment;

The ID law 18-4626. WILFUL CONCEALMENT OF GOODS. The IL law Sec. 16A-2.1. To “conceal”.

The IA law 808.12 1. Persons concealing property.

The KS law 21-3701. Theft, (2) concealing any merchandise.

The KY law 433.234 Shoplifting (1) Willful concealment of unpurchased merchandise of any store.

The ME law §361-A. Permissible inferences against accused; 2. Proof that the defendant concealed unpurchased property stored.

The MD law § 3-1301 (3) Concealing any merchandise;.

The MA law Chapter 266 Section 30A Shoplifting; penalty; arrest without warrant Section 30A. …or any person who intentionally conceals upon his person…

The MS law SEC. 97-23-93. Shoplifting; (1) (a) Conceals the unpurchased merchandise; The MT law 46-6-506. (4) (a) “Concealment”

The NE law Section 28-511.01 (1) (a) Conceals or takes possession of the goods or merchandise of any store or retail establishment;

The NV law NRS 597.850 Shoplifting: Merchant may request person on premises to keep merchandise in full view.

The NH law 644:17 Willful Concealment and Shoplifting. The NJ law 2C:20-11 Shoplifting A. (6) “Conceal”.

The NM law 30-16-20. Shoplifting (2) willfully concealing merchandise.

The NC law § 14-72.1. Concealment of merchandise in mercantile establishments.

The PA law (2) § 3929. Retail theft. (c) Presumptions.–Any person intentionally concealing unpurchased property of any store or other mercantile establishment.

The RI law § 11-41-20 Shoplifting. (c) The fact that a person conceals upon his person…

The SC law SECTION 16-13-120. Shoplifting; presumptions from concealment of unpurchased goods.

The TN law 39-14-146. Theft of property – Conduct involving merchandise (a) For purposes of § 39-14-103, (1) Conceals the merchandise;

The TX law § 31.02. Consolidation of Theft Offenses… or concealing stolen property.

The UT law 76-6-602. Retail theft, acts constituting. A person commits the offense of retail theft when he knowingly: (1) Takes possession of, conceals..

The VA law § 18.2-103. Concealing or taking possession of merchandise;

The WV law §61-3A-1. Shoplifting defined. (1) Conceals the merchandise upon his or her person or in another manner;

The WI law 943.50 Retail theft. 2. (1m) (d) Intentionally conceals merchandise held for resale by a merchant or property of a merchant.

The WY law 6-3-404. Shoplifting; altering or removing price tags and markers; penalties. (a) A person who willfully conceals the state of one’s mind at the time one carries out an action. Only protected expression is allowed in the free expression spaces California (most states) invites evidence of intent (i.e. The CA law 490.5. (4) A merchant… or an agent thereof, having probable cause to believe the person detained was attempting to unlawfully take or has taken any item from the premises, In 33 states ‘to conceal’ (the act that proves intent) is also a violation, in of its self. © Dave Bradt 2012

June 29, 2012

Topic:  Venice Beach Biennial

Dear Sir/Madam,

Your promotional material on your proposed “Venice Beach Biennial” the weekend of July 13-15  has come to the attention of myself and several colleagues, and raised several questions and concerns.

First, what does Venice Beach Biennial mean?  Is this something to be scheduled at two year intervals?  Does it have any meaning at all other than some reference to Venice, Italy?

Second, the outlined proposal is extremely vague in how this event is to be orchestrated.  How are “artists” chosen to participate?  How are spaces to be allocated?  LAMC42.15 indicates first come, first serve.  Is this to be observed?

Third, as LAMC42.15 makes clear, the Boardwalk is a Free EXPRESSION zone, not an art walk.  There are first amendment people on the Boardwalk who do not do art whatsoever but use the opportunity afforded by this public venue to exercise their constitutional right to free speech.  Your event focuses exclusively on artists (?) with no allusion to, acknowledgement of or accommodation for these Free Speech individuals.

Further, as stipulated in LAMC42.15, the standard for art on the Boardwalk is nominal utility.  That means art for art’s sake.  Crafts are generally not considered first amendment protected activities. Also, the sale of stones, oils, incense, sage are explicitly prohibited.  Some of your proposed artists, I submit, fall in a gray area with questionable legitimacy, if not outright prohibition.  The ceramicists, the miniature Mexican sculptures, the two-headed bicycle, the metal detector treasure display, are examples.  The photo booth is also of dubious merit.  LAPD already has a challenge enforcing the current ordinance with some of its unfortunate ambiguities and a population of determined illegal commercial vendors..  Your proposed event has just made their job (and protection of true Free Speech individuals and groups) that much more difficult.

Let me add that I know some of the artists currently on the Boardwalk.  I will also submit that some are being less than candid with you when they describe their “art.”

Ridding the Boardwalk, the traditional “Free Expression Zone,” of aggressive commercial vending and keeping it open for truly First Amendment protected speech has been and continues to be an ongoing struggle.  Please consider carefully the consequences of your proposals to that end.

Thank you.

Therese Dietlin
Free Speech Advocate on the Boardwalk

Here’s the latest report on LAMC 42.15 from Los Angeles City Attorney to be reviewed and voted on by City Council on Tuesday, December 13, 2011
LAMC 42.15 REPORT
http://clkrep.lacity.org/onlinedocs/2011/11-1131_RPT_ATTY_12-09-11.pdf

From: Arturo Piña

Hi folks,

we have been informed that LAMC 42.15, Boardwalk Ordinance has been
scheduled for the October 26th meeting of the City Council’s Arts,
Parks & Neighborhoods Commitee.  That meeting will occur at 3pm in
City Hall, Room 1050.  Please mark your calendars.  Should folks
require parking arrangements, I’ve copied Mr. Angelo Yenko on this
message.  Feel free to let him know by providing your vehicle
information, and he will be more then happy to make those
arrangements.  Thanks folks.

Arturo Piña
Office of Councilmember Bill Rosendahl
(310) 568-8772, Office
(310) 410-3946, fax

General

It is striking that this ordinance deals with the Free Expression Zone of the Venice Boardwalk, a public forum devoted to First Amendment protected activities, yet the First Amendment is not mentioned in the ordinance anywhere.  There is commentary on protecting the merchants, protecting the visitors, protecting the ocean scene, but none on protecting First Amendment activity.

Perhaps I am naïve, but I would like to believe (and do believe) that focus on this particular aspect of activities on the Boardwalk would necessarily address the other concerns as well.

There is the claim that regulation is necessary because the amount of space on the Boardwalk is limited; yet the Boardwalk is defined as the man-made promenade extending from the Santa Monica border to the north and the El Segundo border to the south.  It would appear that the space may be unnecessarily limited by restricting activities there to the Boardwalk spanning the region from the northern boundary with Santa Monica to the park headquarters at 17th Avenue to the south.   A better reason to restrict current activity on the Boardwalk it would seem is that so much of it is unprotected commercial enterprise.

There is the claim that unregulated activities affect the historic character of the Boardwalk.  Given the number of ordinances and amendments and revisions have been claimed necessary because of unregulated activities, it would seem that such activities constitute the historic character of the Boardwalk.  It is difficult to see the merit of this argument.

What is CEQA compliance?  Has it been checked into?

Ordinance

  A.  Definitions

  1. Definition of person:  Is this the necessary legal definition?  Why are businesses, etc. included when they are not engaged in first amendment protected activity and therefore not allowed on the Boardwalk to begin with?
  2. Program rules will come from Rec and Parks.  Will they be crafted by the city attorney’s office as Mark Brown did with the most recent ordinances?
  3. Vendor:  will a vendor be able to hire assistants?  Doesn’t that make said vendor a merchant?

B.  Findings and purpose

2(e)  The Boardwalk commercial life is assumed to refer to the merchants on the east side of Ocean Front Walk.  Ought this reference to east side merchants be specified?

C.  Beach Vending Prohibition

What is the northwesterly boundary of Santa Monica and the northwesterly boundary of the city of Los Angeles?

  1. Vending and Performing on Designated Spaces
  1. Expressive items ought to include audiovisual format, as much information is now distributed as CDs and DVDs.
  2. Are belts considered clothing?  If not, they ought to be specified as prohibited as well.

E.  Allocation of Designated Spaces

  1. Food give away spaces – will two spaces be designated as such?  Who decides?
  2. (3)Access spaces – if these are for access to the ocean, why are they also indicated in the area next to the Rose Avenue Parking lot, where a wall between the lot and the Boardwalk precludes access?
  3. (7-9)  These restrictions were in place in earlier ordinances.  They were essentially unenforceable.  What is being planned to change that situation?
  4. (11)  This is a pet peeve of mine and when the lottery was in place, Rec and Parks could have pulled the permits of those who left their assigned spaces a mess – which was almost everyone. They didn’t.  How is this going to be enforced now?  Will this be grounds to have someone banned from the Boardwalk – at least until they can clean up their act?

Last:  Ibrahim (Leroy) Butler has a court order signed by a Federal Judge that permits him to have his drum orchestra between 319 and 325 Ocean Front Walk from noon to 4:30pm on weekends and holidays.  He has performed in that location for years.  He is a Venice Boardwalk icon.  He will not be moved, with valid reason.  How does designated space apply in this case?

This is just one more objection I have to the designated space concept.

Let me close by reiterating my disappointment at lack of focus on enforcing the First Amendment.

Thank you.

Feedback and commentary are welcomed.

Therese Dietlin

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