After the 2000 census, the Los Angeles City Council deemed it necessary to redraw the council district boundaries, presumably to accommodate shifts in population. Accordingly, new districts were created, one of which was the new CD11, encompassing Venice, Westchester, West LA and Pacific Palisades,. Council member Cindy Miscikowski was appointed the representative for this new district, over the vociferous objections of large portions of their voting populations.
Immediately thereafter, talk arose about “problems” with violence and bad behavior on the Venice Boardwalk that needed some kind of city supervision. The talk rapidly escalated into discussion of the need for a means to regulate activity on the Boardwalk and very shortly thereafter, the initial steps to this end were implemented through the establishment of a permit system for people wishing to be present on the west side of the Boardwalk – the area traditionally known as the Free Speech Zone. Within a few months, the permit system was extended to include a lottery for the purpose of assigning spaces on the Boardwalk which had been predetermined by the city’s Department of Recreation and Parks. All of this was done in the face of fierce, but ineffective resistance by traditional free expression people.
A lawsuit charging violation of first amendment rights was filed by opponents to the new system. Unfortunately, a settlement was reached which modified the implementation of the permit/lottery, but did not address the problem of first amendment violation. A second lawsuit met the same unhappy fate and has led to wholesale commercialization and egregious violations of those rights which are rampant on the Boardwalk today.
Today, true artists, performers and free speech advocates are being forced off the Boardwalk by city-sponsored resale of commercial goods which has converted the traditional Free Speech Zone into a cheap and tawdry swap meet.
Criminal activity such as selling and/or swapping of spaces, multiple family members – including minor children- entering the lottery for spaces, illegal vending (where such activity is proscribed by the ordinance LAMC42.15) and improper vending where vending is allowed (again, of a nature that is proscribed by the ordinance) are epidemic. The twelve black spaces which were presumably set aside for true first amendment activity have been essentially highjacked by aggressive commercial individuals and groups of individuals who have threatened anyone attempting to use them for their presumed stated purpose.
Further, a reading of the ordinance reveals it is so vague and inconsistent as to be unenforceable, even if its intentions were to establish reasonable order on the Boardwalk. The resistance maintains that such intentions are illusory, if they ever existed.
Therefore, the resistors are actively seeking a constitutional attorney who is willing to take this issue on pro bono or for a modest fee, since these resistors are for the most part themselves of very modest circumstances.
If there is a local attorney or anyone else who can help the resistance in any way, please, please contact us at [email protected].
–VBBC Administrative Board