Archive for January, 2012

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Stay in touch with the Spirit of Venice — spiritofvenice.net

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There was standing room only at the VNC Neighborhood Committee meeting on Monday, January 24, 2012.  Boisterous proponents of the new curfew affecting Ocean Front Walk (Venice Boardwalk) showed extreme satisfaction with the city’s decision to restrict access to the boardwalk between the hours of 12 midnight and 5:00 am.

Some residents claiming to live close to the boardwalk cited fear of walking the boardwalk because of the youth who congregate there, camped out over night.  Other residents complained that the curfew was over-reaching and restrictive to their freedom to come and go when they choose.  Then again, others questioned why the curfew was needed, at all, as there are already laws on the books to deal with unlawful activity on the boardwalk.

CD 11 Deputy, Arturo Pina, gratuitously fielded questions from the room after explaining that the boardwalk has always been part of the park, and a curfew applies to all parks from midnight to 5:00 am.  LAPD officer Kreeft mis-spoke when she claimed that the “Jones Settlement” (allowing homeless individuals to sleep on the sidewalk) only applied to Skid Row, downtown.  While LAPD officer Thusing assured the crowd that the situation on the boardwalk at night is “dangerous” – begging the question:  so why haven’t the police been dealing with it?

According to officer Kreeft the police have had their “hands tied” through fear of lawsuits; and have, additionally, been lacking in sufficient personnel to cope with the problem.  To which one astute resident asked: so, how do they expect to cope with it now?

Residents who live off Speedway were concerned that the new curfew will drive the homeless campers east of the boardwalk and up onto their property.  They were also afraid that there would be more late night foot traffic on Speedway, comprised of drunks turning out of the bars, which would add to the mix, creating noise problems and safety issues.

Mention of the Coastal Commission and the California Coastal Act were noticeably absent from the meeting, an issue that has yet to be properly addressed by the city with regard to the curfew on the beaches, and now the boardwalk.  According to correspondence from the Coastal Commission on August 26, 2010 to the City of Los Angeles “the beach curfew…qualifies as development under the Coastal Act and therefore requires a coastal development permit.”  The letter also states that “The imposition of this beach curfew, as is it’s clearly stated intent, restricts public access to the sea.”

It is very possible and highly probable that a lawsuit will be the deciding factor in this dispute.  Meanwhile, our freedoms continue to be slowly but surely eradicated at the behest of the City of Los Angeles and a handful of fearful “stakeholders” in Venice who are determined to make Venice their proprietary domain.

Sign our petition here:

https://www.change.org/petitions/the-governor-of-ca-restore-24-hr-access-to-california-beaches

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Stay in touch with the Spirit of Venice — spiritofvenice.net

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No names mentioned but the inexorable “Energized Bunny” – Ms. T (currently surviving on food stamps and police handouts) – is first with the scoop on Ocean Front Walk “developments”.

The latest news from our tireless bunny is that the police and city attorney are ramping up to enforce not only the newly amended LAMC 42.15 that proposes to regulate vending on OFW, but also close OFW from midnight to 5:00 am, since it has recently been declared part of “The Park”.

According to Ms. T, the police have declared that “The Park”, consisting of OFW from Navy St. to Washington Blvd., will be closed between midnight and 5:00 am and anyone in “The Park” will be warned and then cited if they stay in the park beyond midnight. This also means that those homeless people who sleep on the edge of OFW; and those local residents who like to take a late night/early morning stroll down OFW, will no longer be able to do so.

The police have been in training, getting ready to enforce LAMC 42.15, which will begin around January 20, once the new signs are posted. This will also coincide with the enforcement of the midnight – 5:00 am curfew on OFW.

The inclusion of OFW as part of the park and the new park hours came as a surprise to most. Not least, members of Venice Neighborhood Council, which had made recommendations to the city in connection with the ordinance.  The VNC can’t do anything without Board action but they can take emergency action to address concerns by residents living close to OFW, who are complaining that this planned enforcement will limit where and when they can walk their dog, take a stroll in the midnight air, or simply step across OFW to reach the beach. Some complain that the homeless people, now sleeping beside OFW will be diverted onto Speedway, closer to residential areas, with the potential for creating “problems”.

So far, the Coastal Commission has not been discussed, and may have not been consulted, as they could present a possible roadblock to the plan. According to the California Coastal Act of 1976, the public should have 24 hour access to the beaches. As recently as November 2010, L.A. Times reported that the California Coastal Commission is challenging “beach curfews established by cities up and down the coast, saying they are illegal without state approval and that people have a right to be on the sand whenever they want.” http://articles.latimes.com/2010/nov/18/local/la-me-beach-curfew-20101117.

The L.A. Times article by Tony Barboza quotes Coastal Commission Executive Director Peter Douglas: “There are a lot of people who want to use the beach, which they have a constitutional right to do, in the middle of the night…You don’t preclude the public from that use without a good justification — a good reason — and we have to be able to look at that.”

Barboza goes on to say: “The new push is likely to renew debate over coastal access, with beach cities arguing that the curfews are needed to ward off late-night crime on the sand. Coastal Commission officials argue that crime has dropped significantly in the last decade while demand for time on the beach has increased.

City officials in Los Angeles said they had no intention of weakening a curfew that’s been on the books for decades. The city attorney’s office said that the curfew was meant to deter crime and that the state didn’t have the authority to challenge the statute.

Los Angeles’ curfew is well-known to people who have enjoyed an evening bonfire at Dockweiler State Beach by LAX or a moonlit walk in Venice only to have it cut short.

Enforcement of the curfew, however, may be inconsistent with the law.

Lifeguards told The Times that they started clearing the sand and surf at 10 p.m., two hours earlier than stipulated in the city’s 1988 ordinance.”

Residents and visitors alike will be impacted by this new development on OFW, and it may turn out that the Coastal Commission will have to step up and step in to protect public access to our coastal areas, yet again.

Please sign our petition:  https://www.change.org/petitions/the-governor-of-ca-restore-24-hour-access-to-california-beaches

New 6ft high fence replaces old 4ft high fence at north end of Oakwood Park close to the benches.
NOTE: entrance gate at corner is locked shut

First let me start by saying that due to the closure of the entrances of Oakwood Park on 7th and Broadway and Oakwood and Broadway I have not been able to get any stories about the benches because sadly enough the great gentlemen who sit and play dominoes and talk have not been utilizing the park at all (Thank you Lizka Mendoza Oakwood Park Director and LA City Parks and Recreation).

“The park bench area has been dead, I will repeat the park bench area has been dead!”  Oakwood park benches  that are suppose to be vibrant and alive with people utilizing it for fun, and accessible to all human beings has been systematically cut off from the men and women and children, who enjoy sitting and playing dominoes and having birthday parties completely.

I think it is disheartening to ride/walk  by at various times of the day and not see anyone sitting on the park benches  because the entrances where people are suppose to enter and exit have been ‘fenced off completely ‘ and everyone who sits and plays and used the benches are asking “Why?”  They have been given various excuses of why the entrances have been closed and quote “Moved” but the insensitivity of the Park Director Lizka Mendoza and LA City Parks and Recreation for there decision to do such and heinous act to the people of Venice. Quiet and serene is not what a park is to offer nor should anyone who has common sense want that, but when the LA City Parks and Recreation  decision/staff management team  make this such a personal attack on those who utilize the benches on a daily basis, there must be action and we all must speak out against the unjustness that is occurring as I write this email.

The timing that the fencing off of the park entrances took place was strategic and well thought out,  and the reason it was done was to once again hurt those who utilize it for recreational purposes.  I can say this you cannot shut down forward movement and you will not stop the process of saving the Oakwood benches  from those who want its demise to quickly come about. The fact that ‘human beings’ have been cut off from utilizing the benches on a daily basis has been stopped for over ten days is only a deterrent for a moment.

I am requesting that all of us write a letter to the Lizka Mendoza park director (lizka.mendoza@lacity.org) and LA Parks and Recreations RAP (RAP.Commissioners@lacity.org) board and Shoreline district supervisors (email-charles.singer@lacity.org and kevin.regan@lacity.org ) and let them know that we the people of Venice want what is fair for the people of Venice who utilize the park benches for recreational purposes. Open the entrances and exits as they were previously ASAP!  The park should be accessible to all people including handicapped and disabled.

I will get the stories of the park benches but this must be dealt with first and foremost.