Hit the Beach

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Thanks to a lawsuit and a man in a pig mask, L.A. officials have rescinded some of the regulations and permit requirements meant to tame Venice Beach. On what was earnestly dubbed the "free expression" side of the boardwalk, the old rules had barred the selling of goods lacking a "religious, political, philosophical or ideological" message. The New York Times reports:

Some vendors said they had been forced to prove they were selling art, not merchandise. Judah McLean, who was selling Caribbean knit hats, said he had to demonstrate to the police that he could crochet. "We make our stuff," Mr. McLean said.

Asked why some hats had "Made in China" labels, he said that even artisans had to yield occasionally to the power of Far Eastern mass production.

"China is the biggest producer of Rastafarian culture," he added.

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  1. “Some residents, performers and vendors praise the lottery, saying it has ended the early morning scramble and allowed newcomers to occupy space once monopolized, sometimes using intimidation, by entrenched vendors.”

    Intimidation by the police is, apparently, okay.

    “That angered the shopkeepers on the eastern side, the commercial side, who complained of unfair competition from people who did not have to pay rent or taxes.”

    If this regulation drove people to compete with the shopkeepers, that would be an interesting development. People only go to Venice to see the freaks.

    Really, the freaks draw huge. I can understand why the city wouldn’t want that, especially if it isn’t getting a chunk of the sales tax. …and I’m sure the city spends plenty to patrol over there; for those of you would be tourists out there–just in case you don’t know–Venice is as dangerous as all get out.

    How do they handle vendor tax in NYC? I mean, I’d always heard that the prime directive of the NYPD was to make sure that street vendors pay sales tax. How do they make street performers pay sales tax?

    The guy that paints himself silver and does the robot for quarters, the electric guitar playing, elvis singing Seikh on rollerskates (does he even take donations?), the homeless guy (he’s gotta be homeless) that walks on broken glass–logistically, how do you make those guys pay sales tax? …do you do spot inspections on their tip jar?

  2. Not to derail, but how dangerous is Venice? I’ve been there a few times, on short trips, after finding a hotel in the area I really liked. I’ve walked around the area at all hours of the night, though I apparently missed the 5 a.m. squatter fights, with no problem.

  3. “Los Angeles officials said the new rules, which took effect in March, were intended to end a daily scramble for Boardwalk space that was disturbing residents.”

    This is ridiculous. It’s been that way since I lived there 34 years ago! Any residents who complain were “disturbed” long before they arrived. Certainly the complaints didn’t come from the folks at Synanon, The Oarhouse, or that old ugly hole-in-the-wall known as the original “Gold’s Gym.”

    So how far from the beach are the Reason offices?

  4. Venice didn’t seem very dangerous to me when I was there last year. In fact, it seems to be gentrifying, which I suspect is the real source of the brouhaha. Heck, Muffy and Skip shouldn’t have to live around all of those “dirty people,” should they?

  5. It is easy to laugh at the LAPD, but what would you do?

    The city owns a valuable asset – space along the boardwalk. It wants that space to be used by performers, because that is what draws the tourists. If you are just running a retail store, you don’t draw tourists and you should be renting space on the retail side.

    Somebody post a better solution in this thread.

  6. Just off the top of my head: The city stop owning the space and auction off parcels of boardwalk space. Or the whole boardwalk.

  7. If you are just running a retail store, you don’t draw tourists

    Sure. Nobody goes anywhere because of the shopping.

  8. “The city stop owning the space and auction off parcels of boardwalk space.”

    I would guess that a large portion of the “performers” are probably homeless. They aren’t gonna buy anything.

    …and in this case, believe it or not, it’s the people who are paying rent that benefit from the “performers” and wacky sidewalk vendors–not the other way around. Without the riff raff, nobody would go there. They sometimes draw like a 150,000 a day!

    A stroll down Venice with the freaks out in force ain’t no trip to the Mall.

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