by John Davis
The City of LA, with Mike Bonin, Councilmember for CD 11, and City Attorney Mike Feuer, have fully supported violations of Article X of the California Constitution, and the U.S. Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, and the implementing California Coastal Act of 1976 at Venice Beach.
The clear target has been people of low or no income and of color. Thousands have been unjustly arrested, placed in jail, saddled with records, and divested of their possessions as a result. Mike’s message is clear, they are not welcome at Silicon Beach at night and they will be punished.
Two brave Venice residents recently decided to take the City to court, Jataun Valentine and Francesca De La Rosa. Case No. BC 603647 was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court on December 9, 2015. The highly respected law firm of Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP represents the plaintiffs.
Bonin and his predecessors have made every excuse to attack the freedoms of persons attempting to access the beach at night, all eleven miles of it, particularly in Venice. Their apparent motive has been an ongoing attempt to privatize Venice Beach and drive real estate prices sky high.
The specter of a nighttime boogieman is the only argument the City can offer to support its position. Though Venice hauls in millions of dollars in revenue for the City annually, the claim is made there is no money to patrol the beach at night. City records do not support denial of access to Public Trust Lands, as the Coastal Act requires. Public Trust Doctrine has existed since the times of Roman Emperor Justinian who proclaimed that the beach, ocean, rivers, and waterways were a resource belonging to everyone.
Only after citizens from Venice brought the matter to the Coastal Commission meeting at Marina del Rey in 2010 was the topic broached at a hearing to privatize public beach parking, only for local property owners. Peter Douglas, the former Executive Director agreed with the overwhelming majority of public speakers that the City curfew was illegal. The parking measured was denied by the Commission. Douglas then penned a letter to the City Attorney at the time, Carmen Trutanich, spelling it out how the City was violating the law.
Trutanich’s office replied in claiming the California Coastal Commission was “harassing” and “intimidating” the City. He further claimed no Coastal Development Permit was required to limit access to the beach, contrary to the State Constitution and the California Coastal Act of 1976.
When the Commission met one year ago in Santa Monica, Commissioner Dayna Bochco inquired about the illegal curfew, Ainsworth replied that the City was not responding anymore and that we need to do something.
Commissioner Bochco asked for action. A year later, Executive Director, there has been no enforcement action.
The Coastal Commission should join this lawsuit.
The Commission recently joined a non-profit in legal action at Martins Beach near Half Moon Bay in San Mateo County. Silicon Valley Millionaire Vinod Khosla decided he had the right to deny beach access to everyone.
It is the City that is the real criminal in the matter, not those innocent folks being swept up by authorities in a dragnet.
The matter will now be considered in a Court of Law.
The Constitution of the United States guarantees the right to exercise religion on the beach, to assemble, to freely associate, and to exercise free speech, 24/7. Both the State and Federal Coastal Act reflect these freedoms.
Everyone in this Country has the right to enjoy a nighttime beach stroll under the full moon and starry sky, even those of lesser means. But don’t try it in Los Angles, or you may be arrested as thousands already have been.