Since December 2018, the Starbucks at 909-913 Ocean Front Walk, has had illegal delivery trucks come at all hours of the night and early morning. They park their trucks, which look like 18-wheelers, on Brooks Avenue, Breeze Avenue, or sometimes right on Ocean Front Walk and they’re impossible not to hear. Breeze Avenue resident Maria Skelly says, “They wake us up all the time. Usually a few times a week depending on where they park. Their trucks are unbelievably loud, twice as loud as a trash truck. You can hear them from way down the street with your windows shut”.
Other residents at the end of Brooks Avenue complain, “some nights they’re literally right under our windows. The transmission booms, the reverse beeping, the lift going up and down, they slam the rear gate open and closed, they’re loud just sitting idle and it usually lasts between 10-25 minutes. They’ve come at midnight, 2am, even 4:30am and it’s been every day of the week. If it’s an occasional thing with a small truck or a van no one would notice and it wouldn’t matter, but they use massive trucks in the early morning hours that literally wake up everybody. It’s been all year and I’m over it.”
Los Angeles Municipal Code 114.03(a) states:
114.03 LAMC- Vehicle loading or unloading (Deliveries)
Allowable Hours if Deliveries are conducted within 200 feet of resident:
Between the hours of 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
*If more than 200 feet from resident, deliveries can be conducted any time
Two-hundred feet from a residential building encompasses the entire stretch of Ocean Front Walk since there are residents all along Speedway. Mark Rago from the local activist group The Venice Dogz says, “This is the type of stuff that happens when you allow big businesses on Ocean Front Walk. Much like Snapchat, they bend the rules for themselves or they think they’re above the law and it’s the residents and community that pay the price.” Residents have since gathered together to compile a huge number of photos and video of the violations, in addition to calling LAPD each time their trucks deliver after hours. Said Rago, “This has simply never been a problem until now. Just imagine if more stores like this move in.”
The Venice Dogz have been pushing the city for over a year now to put in an ordinance on Ocean Front Walk to prohibit national chain stores. Otherwise called “formula” establishments, cities all over the country have similar laws in place to protect the uniqueness of an area and their small businesses including San Francisco, Carmel-By-The-Sea and Arcata CA. Their protests of Starbucks and Ben & Jerry’s earlier in the year have gotten the attention and support of Councilman Mike Bonin. In November 2018, Bonin requested The LA Department of City Planning to do a study “to explore options of how we can place limits on the development of chain stores along Ocean Front Walk in Venice so we can preserve and protect the unique character of the world-renowned neighborhood”
In April, Bonin’s motion was approved by the Planning and Land Use Management Committee (PLUM), then on August 26th, the Department of City Planning held a joint meeting with the Ocean Front Walk Committee to discuss and receive feedback from Venice stakeholders about the proposed ordinance against national chains. The presentation from City Planning showed examples of other cities that have similar ordinances like Solvang, CA, and the effects it has had, if any. Said Rago during the meeting, “All we’re trying to do is keep Ocean Front Walk from becoming the next Universal CityWalk… keep Venice unique and protect small businesses… We’re still hearing rumors about 7-11, Chipotle, and McDonalds opening on the walkway and more”. After the meeting, Rago stated “I didn’t like the way it was presented. I had to clarify just about everything afterwards. They put everyone in a defensive position right off the bat without giving us a chance to give reasons for some of the restrictions that we proposed in our online petition, restrictions that were mostly taken from ordinances that other cities have used all over the country.” Their online petition that was discussed can be viewed and signed here: http://chng.it/gFf8nn8FFr. Said Rago, “Every city is different and the City needs to come up with what would work best for our famous walkway, which is what I thought they were bringing to us, but they were just getting feedback on what we had in our petition. But at least the ball is rolling though and hopefully we do this again real soon because time is of the essence.”
In the meantime, Starbucks trucks have been waking up residents almost nightly using a third-party delivery service called QCD (Quality Custom Distribution), based out of La Puente. LAPD has been involved and have received tons of complaints from many different residents. The few times the truck drivers were questioned by residents or LAPD, they claim they have a permit but are never able to show one. Also, when questioned, the drivers usually state that they’re just the driver and to call QCD at 626-465-7100 to which phone calls and messages are not returned. The nightly security guard states he’s just the security guard while defending their actions. The employees of Starbucks also claim it’s beyond their control and give out a phone number to call, 800-782-7282, which also has had no effect.
LAPD have also been cc’d on an email chain between Rago, OFW Committee members and Starbucks District Manager Erin Rojas, who has stated multiple times that they corrected their deliveries to meet the details of the delivery noise ordinance – however these corrections usually only last a week or two and then it’s back to the same late night/early morning illegal disturbances. In the email thread, Rojas stated on October 10th that “as of today, we were officially able to move all deliveries to be completed between 6pm–10pm”, however their trucks have been spotted on Ocean Front Walk past 10pm at least twice by community members with video footage as proof.
Time will tell if this continues to get worse as it has in the past, or if Starbucks finally does abide to the law. If you see their trucks deliver after 10pm, please call LAPD at 1(877)ASK-LAPD, press 1, then 1.