2009 – The Venice Year In Review

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January

• The year 2009 began with much of Venice grieving for Mark Sponto, proprietor of Sponto’s Gallery at 7 Dudley Avenue. Sponto, as he was generally known, was only 59 years old when he succumbed to a fatal heart attack on Dec. 28. He had turned the storefront at 7 Dudley into a cultural center with films, poetry, art exhibits, music, and an annual winter solstice party that overflowed into the street. 7 Dudley had been the site of the Beat coffeehouse, Venice West, whose name became synonymous with one of Venice’s historic and cultural high points. Since his death, the 7 Dudley landlord has rented it as a second room for the expensive restaurant next door.

• Debate about overnight parking districts (permit parking) which would force RVs out of Venice continued to rage. The Venice Neighborhood Council was one of the leading advocates of OPDs, while the Venice Town Council worked to collect appeals to the Coastal Commission opposing OPDs.

• The controversial artist Robert Graham died on Dec. 27. Even though he was praised by many around the world, he drew animosity in Venice for his headless, armless, legless woman statue in the Venice Circle, and for destroying the historic colonnade in front of his home and studio at Windward Avenue.

• Meanwhile, Venice was still celebrating the election of Barack Obama who carried 88 percent of the vote in our community. In the January issue, three poems were dedicated to the new president.

• The post office is planning to sell the carrier annex, 313 Windward, aka “the old Safeway,” to the highest bidder.

February

•Two events on OPDs in February. The Coastal Commission met on Feb. 4 and voted to hold a hearing on the matter in June. The Neighborhood Council held a vote of its members on Feb. 21 which confirmed its board’s position in favor of permit parking.

• More articles and photos on Sponto and the memorial held on the beach in his memory.

• Venice Historian Jeffrey Stanton concluded his two part inquiry, “Was the Annexation of Venice to Los Angeles in 1925 a good idea?” His answer: No, it wasn’t a good idea.

March

• Three more articles in the Beachhead about overnight parking.

• The Beachhead announces its twitter site: www.twitter.com/venicebeachhead

• International Women’s Day, March 8, observed at Beyond Baroque.

• Bill Rosendahl wins 67 percent of the Venice vote for reelection as city councilmember over token opposition.

April

• 16-year-long fight to save the Ballona wetlands, and against Playa Vista’s environmental impact report continues.

• Beachhead gets the ball rolling, again, to erect a civil liberties memorial at Venice Blvd. and Lincoln Blvd. where Japanese were rounded-up and taken to camps in 1942.

• Police intervene April 17 to stop a “third Friday” celebration on Westminster Avenue at Ocean Front Walk.

• Holiday Venice tenants send a delegation to Washington to save low-income housing in Oakwood.

May

• A Venice art treasure, the Jaya Mural, at Dell and Venice Blvd. has been restored.

• Venice High students walk out, May 15, in support of teachers and for quality education.

• More controversy over overnight parking permits.

• Venice High students take up demand for a memorial to the Japanese removal.

June

• Coastal Commission votes, June 11, to not allow permit parking districts.

• Venice icon Swami X honored by the Beachhead, Councilmember Bill Rosendahl and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at Beyond Baroque.

• Summer festivals: Carnavale and Eco-fest. Low-rider car show on Rose Avenue.

July

• Artists Protest Commercial Vending on Ocean Front Walk.

• Dissatisfaction continues on Ocean Front Walk about the lottery, commercial vending and noise.

August

• The Cult of Philomene continues with the 2nd Philomenian for the deceased poet laureate of Venice, Philomene Long.

September

• Multi-million dollar skateboard park opens on the sand near Windward.

• Tsunami alert for Venice turns out to be a false alarm.

• More festivals: Venice Music Festival, sponsored by the Venice Community Housing Corp. and the Abbot Kinney Street Festival.

October

• Murder on Venice Blvd.: Devin Petelski killed the evening of Oct. 15, by an on-rushing police cruiser without its lights on.

• Lincoln Place tenants reach agreement with corporate owner AIMCO for return of 83 families who were evicted. Deal paves the way for repopulation of nearly 800 apartments in Venice.

• Beachhead warns of rapist on the beach who has struck twice.

• Venice Skills Center dedicates new facility, Oct. 15.

• Venice Poet, Steve Richmond, dies Oct. 22.

November

• Medical marijuana dispensaries becoming hot topic in Venice and at L.A. City Hall.

• Biggest crowd ever turns out on Thanksgiving for “Feed the Beach” on Westminster Avenue.

• Charlie Beck appointed new LAPD leader, Nov. 17. How will he treat Venice?

December

• Eun Kang murdered in her Electric Avenue apartment, Dec. 11.

• Candlelight vigil four days later mobilizes the community in memory of Eun Kang.

• Last two weeks of December: Venetians dedicate themselves to celebrating the coming of a new year and a new decade.

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