Archive for February 2012

OPEN LETTER to those concerned with Venice Boardwalk Clean UP :

February 26, 2012

Written : To those involved in the clean-up of OUR BOARDWALK who may want to read about a personal experience and view of CHANGES now finally appearing Ocean Front Walk:

Friday Feb 24, 2012

I went down to see how the Venice Ocean Front Walk was shaping UP – instead of being the down-experiences that have been prominent for the last couple of years with the frequent bullying, with garbage strewn all over, with cheap flea-market resales crowding the whole west side of walkways, and the east-side businesses then retaliating by pushing their cheap mdse into the other 1/3 of the Sidewalk – areas meant for pedestrians to walk …and to enjoy the sea, skies. To mingle with the varied humanity proliferating Venice’s only free tourist spot.

It was cloudy and cold day, and I walked from Windward to Rose, to see what was happening on OUR boardwalk now….stopping briefly at Anthony’s “1c-penny-for-homeless-to-eat tent, where I watched and congregated amongst the hungry homeless there. A good deed here obviously needed and decently freely served by volunteers.

[ It seemed that 88%of the hungry homeless on Boardwalk are males, and many looking disabled in various ways – including some apparently also being x-cons on their way to who knows where?]. Anyone walking by could also freely grab a sandwich, fresh fruit and healthy vegetables – openly available to all.

Now this is a Good Sign of what Venice can be about. Giving, instead of selfishly selling,and hawking, begging, drugging, or fighting.

The Venice I’ve been part of – the artist community – since 1971…and it’s always been interesting with unexpected learning adventures there. It was good on a cold day be out in fresh air too…

At the October 2011 Parks and Rec meeting downtown at City Hall I spoke for my 3 min inquiring “how this will new ordinances be Enforced? ”, asking about the clean up of commercial vending. My concern is still not what is legally written, but how it is acted out in real life, enforced, kept up, and maintained past the initial push and clean-up. Others also at that hearing each contributed their own points on having the new ordinance passed and the improvements finally made. We all shared our part.

THE CHANGES HAPPENING FINALLY – a view of the ocean too:

This day I was glad and surprised. ON our BOARDWALK – I loved it that there was HARDLY any commercial vendors! A few slipped in pretending to be artists of the visual‘art’ kind – prints, canvases, cardboards, et al but there were a few questionable vendors there too.

I mostly saw – maybe about 72% were artists – real-or-pretend – of all kinds, styles, media… some very poorly talented but still trying…to sell and to look like what they do is known as ‘visual art’ – but there mainly for sale of course.Others more recognized as creative expressions done and then put up for sale, not just to cash in on their ‘art’.

And then there were also others – like the obvious: made-in-Tijuana pretend-home-made stuff = as if they were hand-painted tourist souvenirs = i.e. the stone-cement turtles, and 2 stands with pretend-indigenous Indian “feather earings” of colors and in styles not at all in known traditional Native American ways with nor with any religious/cultural ‘meanings’ other than displayed for their sales values…and then more of the tiny wood-painted bobbing-head-turtles, those found everywhere downtown LA and in Mexican border towns made by poor Latino laborers…

and then a few but visible homeless – sleeping in marked spaces – or just‘hanging out’ in them as if the space demarked their home/territory …

Those pretenders still need to be confronted about their attempts to sidetrack the ordinances and slide into loopholes, unfairly, and not be setting a bad prescendent too.

BUT the rest of the lingering huge mounds of junk were mostly gone !!!!!

A vista of ocean was open to view. Even the air was a bit cleared of all kinds of smoke, the sidewalk less littered, sidewalk spaces opened up to again be a beach scene. Wow ! The beginning of what Venice was, and could similarly be – to see the beauty and be a healthier open place.

I was delighted at so many open spaces now, and no downtown resale jewelry and cheap junk in sight [yet… for they may try to come back again though… under some pretense or other thru some pretend-loop-hole ]

and whatever is claimed to be ‘art’ is redefined or faked by some… done by some of the more desperate or resistant “people on the beach”, and some claiming to have actually done it elsewhere – by themselves. Then the rest made-in-Mexico or elsewhere… or bought/ purchased from other sources/ vendors or other artists, and then sold here as if done by this ‘artist’ vendor down here….on Venice Boardwallk.

My assumption is that these sideliners too will be cleared out too – for rules to be FAIR for everyone… so with a bit more official investigations of their products and their actual intentions [ whether JUST for sales, instead of to be creatively self-expressive, or for expressing some religious traditions or displaying their political positions].

When those who are ‘pretending’ are questioned more seriously, it will ‘send a message’ that Venice Boardwalk is actually intended to be a place of artistic aesthetics expressions and not a free sale space for anyone trying to fool the LAPD, or the LA City officials and the public too.


Even some of the east-side stores have finally moved their cheap stuff off the sidewalk – but not all of them . Those, who in retaliation, took up 1/3 of east side Boardwalk – i.e. see stores by near Figtree and the Titanic – had pulled back their mdse closer to their actual door spaces and back closer to their bldgs [where before they had extended way out into sidewalk [walk area] – they obviously were trying to compete with the west-side free-rent commercial same-garbage-for-sale vendors who were also pushing their stuff on to walking space. So the People’s access to ‘sidewalk’ walkway] has mostly been restored.

There still are ones still illegally and abusing the spaces they don’t actually pay nor rent -and by extending into sidewalk areas too, i.e. Gingerbread house rental bicycles and many clothing stores.

There are many sandwich board signs outside many stores -still illegally blocking the full walkways – i.e. all along the Boardwalk, including the ice cream stores and clothing stores too

[ please check to see the actual LA CITY Rules for how much space OUTSIDE the bldg is actually permitted to be used for advertising, – luring customers inside their limited rented spaces] … as for years many businesses all over this city have ENCROACHED into sidewalk spaces, even blocking access to pedestrian walking areas. But as there is little enforcement, this abuse still continues to be ILLEGALLY done!

If some businesses are required to pull back into the spaces they actually pay to rent and not extend into PUBLIC SPACES, then all of the business on east side of Boardwalk should do so too. To be fair and legal too.

I have previously spoken to various City Agencies, i.e.the LA Bldg and Safety and other agencies, who actually came out to inspect – and then they confirmed that while these big signs blocking walk areas are illegal – there is little enforcement of what is dangerous and interferes with public access to city sidewalks/ streets.


I first went to find someone at the Windward bldg prior Park and Rec office and it was locked up completely with no signs of life anywhere.

I only saw reflective windows with shades drawn, no signs of their hours or access, no phone # posted, or info of where to get info or help…. nor sign of any living human around…. or where Park and Rec was now operating … or if office is ever open [ obviously not] …

And the LAPD in same small bldg on other side was also totally locked down with no info nor access nor referrals to other locations listed either.

I wandered around a bit, didn’t know who to ask for information… but when I came back to bldg, then I found 2 janitors in uniforms – chatting by their equipment – at one side of that circular bldg….so I spoke to them and asked. But had I not asked, I would have had NO IDEA that the “other small bldg” these employees pointed me toward – the other house in front of muscle beach is also a Parks and Rec office.

I went there, asked and thus learned – this is where they monitor the ‘gym’ [=weight lift area] and lend out sports equipment.

I asked the fellow working there, about when the other P and R office is open and he assumed it WAS. He said he knew nothing about closure or their hrs. Though he did provide info when I asked … and also when I ASKED further, he then gave me copy of the new ordinance – and I also had to ask for new Venice brochure I saw behind him. He was decently responsive to my questions w/o being defensive – and I was glad to have ANYONE available to provide even some info !

Even if he did not know about the other office or staff there, or so he said. He said the other office was “open”. I said I could get no response there nor see sign of any life or access. He said he did not know. [OK, but should he not be informed if he is the only person visibly available there as officially part of Park & Rec ? ]

I still knew nothing about why the other Park and Rec office – where lottery was monitored before – was totally shuttered and inaccessible. This left the impression that the agency was deliberately non- informative, as to if any one worked there or when it is open or if ever…

Actually it looked like they are AVOIDING the public and not answering to anyone ? …. nor wanting to be found ?

nor being open on a regular weekday as it was a Friday at 1 pm…hmmmm ? Out to lunch ? or closed down w/o any notice to THE TAX-PAYING PUBLIC, their clientele ?

What is happening and who is responsible there ? or who supervises the situation and location ? We all need to inquire further as to what officially-paid-LA-City-officials and workers know about all those apparently evasive maneuvers?

The public who is denied information/ access needs also to be informed more about this hiding out or whatever the situation is… maybe by addressing the questions and concerns thru the news media – for the benefit of all Venice area residents and those concerned- so everyone can know more about if or how their region being neglected by LA City staff.


I even tried to make inquiries – from LAPD – as I saw only 2 police cars – which I politely smiled and waved down: the first one was driving very very slowly on boardwalk and had a policeman driving. He clearly was not wanting to tell me anything about my Q = “how is the new ordinance is being enforced ?”

And he made almost no eye contact and stayed faced front, so I could not see his name on his uniform either, while the policewoman in car beside this driver made it obvious that she was irritated that I stopped them at all … cfor what she may have not seen as appropriate to LAPD work ? Not that they were obviously on to ‘more serious crime work ‘ crawling along boardwalk’…

and she only told me to “go to internet” and I asked if she meant” to see the text of the ordinance?” and she then frustratedly said “yes” and nothing more. I had even mentioned having “not been able to be at the VNC meeting where LAPD reported about this …” and asked if could they tell me anything ? But I guess NOT.

Nor did they give me more than the directive to go on internet [also assuming I would have also have a computer available because they do ? as not everyone has money or machines to use conveniently for whatever…] like for viewing the formal printed text ordinance – which is clearly NOT what I was asking them for.

I did not see these LAPD officers as ‘serving the public’ nor providing the asked for information or given much courtesy – but their wanting to ignore me and drive away w/o contact – and w/o giving me barely any information, not even mentioning the signs posted on the walk, that I had not noticed yet …

so later when walking further I saw a 2nd LAPD van, with a policeman alone in it. At least he was more responsive and courteous…so when I asked him where are the “new posted signs” – he pointed out which ones they were .. then I looked up and saw high up,sign with lettering in small print, [thus too hard to be read or be noticed at all I presume] which is the ‘posted information’ for enforcement to proceed.

And I thanked him for LAPD enforcing the new rules and having cleared out so many illegal vendors and he seemed glad to hear my appreciation too. So I saw 2 versions of the LAPD ‘human response’ to a citizen inquiry about police work, one evasive and defensive and one responsive and given a bit of the actual information requested.

That was my original intention : to ask the people responsible for enforcement for how the ordinance WAS actually being enforced …in real life, or the problems with that…tho I got no info from 1st van…and at 2nd attempt trying to connect to get info – I did receive something more helpful.

While 1st LAPD set was defensive and wanting to get rid of me or impatient with my daring to ask them anything the 2nd LAPD did HIS JOB dutifully and well.


When arriving in my walk down to Dudley, I saw that in the back of someone’s truc/vans he had emptied his stuff, unpacked personal belongings, placed into another parking space and part in drive way, in the parking lot area.. and was loudly playing recorded music to the parking lot…

However, the scene seems to have changed little from prior times, except for the elimination of the many tents on the boardwalk and regulation of the misc. resale vendors in this area of OFW too.

The only person I spoke to on beach was a “[real] photographic artist” I have long known who told me his views of what is happening. His sales of his printed on canvas art has not increased with the elimination of commercial vendors but he hopes it will later. Maybe other artists and art vendors will return back to the Boardwalk too. Maybe….

THE VENICE ‘COMMUNITY’ that also existed before, no longer, on Ocean Front Walk:

I have missed not having the prior people who frequented the Boardwalk – the welcoming caring ‘community’ of the kind many of us all knew “before” …not to return to any “the good old days” that cannot be, nor should return, but the people who were here before acting neighborly, attentive, and stayed long enough on Boardwalk to even briefly get to know each other and help each other too have exited this scene. Now there is almost no friendliness around… only sellers, homeless, sad and depressed, transients and a few bewildered tourists expecting what tour books falsely promise and describe, what once was that is no more…not now.

It was not just the cold or fog that day, but those humans on OFW, mostly walking dogs who urinate and leave feces on the bit of grass left – those local residents who remain here, who seem to ‘see no one they dont already know’ or who converted into people with whom many can have a direct human connection .

I also saw the previously violent [and maybe mentally Disabled ?] woman with her many kids, sitting in the Dudley pagoda – the same one who we had seen do a surprise unexpected physical assault another woman sitting at a booth there, 2 yrs ago, [ who then made a police report but nothing happened, because she was told it was “after the fact”]. Again, another person that scares the ordinary visiting public away and whom it’s best to carefully avoid. It’s hard to tell when some smiling people then decide to explode to their own emotions or demons and harm/affect the lives of others, but that too is what Venice has become much more often, with no one to stop the abuser. The public likes to “watch” physical fights, take pictures, but do not help each other any more . Changes. With the sales scene came a more alienating atmosphere and money-first-and-only lifestyle. Not the Venice of before. Of course not.

These things did not happen or only rarely in prior times – when Venice was a Community. But times have changes everywhere else too.

A big change of whatever Venice was – as a place to meet creative like- minded people – is long gone. The proliferation and aggregation of cheap sales and greedy grabbing of free- spaces changed the whole atmosphere.

Now only the very depressed/sad/ addicted/disabled men – many of whom are homeless… are hanging out on grassy areas or in other nooks/
crannies …

Now the few try-to-sell-anything -as-art people on the west side of boardwalk have set up…. Maybe some decent performers will be playing some music for money mostly on weekends, but hopefully the LAPD will continue enforcing the ordinances and keeping away the “only here for business for money” saturation.

Then Venice Beach can return or become what can b = a scenic, family- friendly, ocean appealing BEACH area. This will make a big change of who then comes to ‘visit’ our beach area, not so much to buy, but to see and enjoy natural life. Not a cheap store on a beach sidewalk. To the Venice seen in beach picture books.

With a Beach walkway. And not with bicycles on OFW, walked or ridden. Not with skateboarders – hitting children’s ankles either. But a place to WALK serenely and peace-fully …maybe… someday….

Our hope is that some of the prior vibrant community of creative people, the transient and more permanent ones, return and recreate what was always the ‘cutting edge’ of Venice – in ideas, in creative endeavors, in having the OCEAN view returned to it’s natural beauty and the water be the real valued lure to visitors.

Maybe even return to the [fake] promises that the tourist books like to promote for their own reasons. Give Los Angeles back it’s original tourist attraction.

MY BASIC MSG: Glad the garbage is gone! Welcome to Venice BEACH area !! again.

[Tho this is long and detailed, any parts of this writing can be excerpted if at all useful…. WITH CREDIT TO THE BLOG SITE PLEASE.]

Written by a very local, loyal, concerned, and involved Venice artist and activist.

(c) wowveniceisactive 2012


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