Stay in touch with the Spirit of Venice


March 26, 2019

Killing off rent-stabilized apartments to make way for tourist hotels? The struggle for the soul of Venice Beach rages on by Rob Abcarian, LA Times


…[Carl] Lambert is the landlord at the center of last week’s planning meeting. In 2005, he bought an apartment building at 417 Ocean Front Walk and converted 30 of 32 units into hotel rooms. According to the hotel’s website, rooms at the Venice Suites go for $255 to $329 a night in the summer high season and well under $200 a night in winter. That’s a lot more revenue than he’d get from the rent-subsidized tenants who used to live there.

In 2015, he was cited by the city — at the urging of local housing activists — for operating a hotel without the proper occupancy permit.


Then, two years ago, it became unavoidably clear that the short-term rental craze was taking thousands of rental units off the market in Venice Beach, exacerbating an already severe housing crisis. City Atty. Mike Feuer sued a few landlords, including Lambert, claiming he was not just illegally operating a hotel in a residential zone, but falsely advertising it as such and engaging in unfair competition. (Later, the City Council adopted regulations covering short-term rentals, but don’t hold your breath that they will ever be enforced.)

Though Lambert won a preliminary technical victory in court last year, the suit has not been fully resolved and a trial is scheduled for the end of May.

“I’m a preservationist of buildings,” Lambert said. “Everybody was happy with the properties I saved until the Airbnb phenomenon. Now, I’m the scapegoat.”

Indeed, he is often vilified by housing advocates and neighborhood preservation folks. Lambert has been accused by housing activists of converting five rent-stabilized apartment buildings in Venice to hotels, thus removing more than 125 units from the market.

(He told me that two of the buildings had always been operated as hotels, but declined to discuss the others.)

A recent critical story in the community paper, the Free Venice Beachhead, bore the headline “The Carl Lambert Problem.”

Read more here


November 6, 2013

Watch this playlist to catch up on VNC Ocean Front Walk committee meetings re: Venice Boardwalk and other videos of interest

April 6, 2013


Ocean Front Walk Committee: Chaired by Venice Neighborhood Council Community Officer, Thomas Elliott (Venice Ale House).

The Committee has the general responsibility for addressing the issues, concerns, programs and services that affect the various stakeholders and interests on the Venice Boardwalk and Venice Beach. These include, but are not limited to: free speech, performance, merchants, tourism, sanitation and recycling, public nuisance, public safety, and interaction with law enforcement and other officials of the City and County of Los Angeles.

Agenda items discussed:

Minutes of meeting:


April 2, 2013

Is It Art? On Venice Beach, Police Can Make the Call

Ordinance Limits What Types of Works Can Be Sold; No Pottery, Snow Globes OK By HANNAH KARP

LOS ANGELES California

Sgt. Daniel Gonzalez has broken up bar fights, chased armed gangbangers and even apprehended a blood-soaked murderer after a car chase.

But nothing in his 22 years with the Los Angeles Police Department could have prepared him for his latest responsibility: art critic.

Since January, the clean-cut cop has patrolled the beachside neighborhood of Venice’s famous boardwalk, passing judgment on painted porcelain skulls, henna tattoos and scrap-metal Star Wars sculptures offered for sale. On a recent Thursday, he told a dread-locked artist dabbling in a variety of media that he should “get more into the wood stuff, less into the hats.”

“Now this is what people are looking for,” Sgt. Gonzalez told another artist, offering what he called “positive reinforcement” for selling on-the-spot spray paintings. “Do you really take Visa? That is awesome.”

Sgt. Gonzalez inspects wares on the boardwalk in Venice Beach.

Sgt. Gonzalez’s new duties are part of one of the LAPD’s more unusual mandates: keeping Venice weird.

Famous for its funky mix of performers, skateboarders and runaways, Venice Beach is one of California’s biggest tourist draws in part because day-trippers are all but guaranteed to see something strange. But increasingly the surfside community is battling to preserve its character as big businesses and wealthy individuals move in, threatening the very quirkiness that helped attract them in the first place.

Google Inc. recently opened a Southern California office in Venice. Hollywood producer Joel Silver is converting Venice’s old post office into his corporate headquarters. And a Canadian company recently won approval to install a controversial zip-line ride along the boardwalk, infuriating locals who fear it will only exacerbate the area’s traffic and commercialization.

The L.A. City Council last December passed a new ordinance that effectively banned anyone but local artists from engaging in commercial activity on the boardwalk’s beach-facing side. Ordinance violators are subject to fines and repeat offenders can end up in jail.

That has left it to officers like Sgt. Gonzalez to routinely weigh in on a debate more suited to the Museum of Modern Art or the Guggenheim: What constitutes art?

Residents say making the cops police art isn’t ideal, but there is little alternative.

“You could have volunteer boardwalk walkers, but then what?” says Matt Kline, director of outreach for the Venice Neighborhood Council. “It is a tough job for the police to do, but this is an ordinance, so they’re really the only people who can do it.”

Venice, a former epicenter of Beatnik culture that now attracts 16 million visitors a year, according to the Venice Chamber of Commerce, has long struggled with how to regulate the freedom of expression on the wide, concrete path that borders the beach, officially known as “Ocean Front Walk.”

There were virtually no rules governing commerce on the boardwalk until two decades ago, when the city banned unlicensed vending there at the behest of local merchants who complained that vendors were stealing their business.

But in 1997 a federal appeals court overturned the ban, arguing it trampled First Amendment rights. Since then the city has tried implementing a slew of different rules to avoid sheer chaos—for example requiring artists to enter a lottery for “Public Expression Participant Permits.” But each version of the law proved either too restrictive or too vague to hold up in court, deterring some police from issuing citations altogether.

Now, though, Sgt. Gonzalez says he thinks the city has finally hit the nail on the head. The ordinance that took effect earlier this year gives police more explicit guidelines than ever to determine what qualifies as art. Pottery doesn’t count as art because it has a utility apart from its artistic message, according to the ordinance, nor do any goods that appear mass produced, like home appliances and auto parts.

Still, he says there is plenty of gray area. Hula-hooping might be performance art, but selling hula hoops is not. Hand-drawn henna tattoos can pass for art, but those made with mass-produced stenciled designs are another story. Mass production is difficult to determine, too, since the ordinance gives no specific number of items that constitutes a “mass.”

Sgt. Gonzalez says he is no art aficionado—he studied business and economics in college, and the 45-year-old Southern California native says most of his art education came from working for several years as a part-time security guard for Sotheby’s in Beverly Hills, shortly after he joined the police force in 1990.

While working at the art auction house during his off-duty hours, he says he “saw a lot of cool stuff” and developed a particular appreciation for Impressionist artists like Paul Cezanne.

“I don’t know how they came up with that oil-based paint—how thick and real it looks,” says Sgt. Gonzalez.

J. Scott Smith, a homeless man, sells cardboard “bum signs” that qualify as art.

Still, he isn’t afraid to give pointers to the boardwalk artists about what he thinks will sell—and spends much of his time encouraging ordinance violators to find their hidden talents. This year he says he inspired one crystal vendor to make beach-themed snow globes from her precious stones, since selling plain crystals is a no-no, and he says he spurred another woman to melt crayons onto canvases with a blowtorch.

This spring, J. Scott Smith, a homeless man who has lived in Venice for several years, says he asked Sgt. Gonzalez: “What do I have to do to stay here?”

“I said, ‘Create something, perform,’ ” Sgt. Gonzalez recalls. “If you’re out here and you do have some creative juices flowing inside you, figure it out.”

Now, Mr. Smith makes and sells cardboard “bum signs” with messages like “Need $ To Bail Mom Out of Jail” and “Couldn’t think of Anything Snappy So Just Give Me a Dollar And Beat It.”

Art policing isn’t for everyone: Sgt. Gonzalez says that since he joined the beach patrol in January he has seen three officers quit the patrol. But he has no plans to leave. “It’s a little bit of higher calling,” he says.


January 20, 2012

Jones Settlement, Venice Boardwalk, and LAPD

Yesterday I attended a Friends of Boardwalk meeting in which Lt. Kreeft, and Lt. Curtain were present to answer questions about the rollout of LAMC 42.15 and the park closure. I will want to point out some areas of concern in the spirit of improving communication, of having a consistent message, and of building better communications within the various groups in Venice:

Signs are being posted this week. No date is set at this time per Lt Kreeft as to when enforcement efforts will be underway but she is evaluating and working to include the necessary teams, etc.

Lt. Kreeft stated she did not believe that the Jones Settlement applied in Venice. She was asked early in the conversation if the Jones Settlement was going to be honored on the boardwalk? She stated Ocean Front Walk is a park and the Jones settlement does not apply to park.

The Jones settlement does apply to public right of ways in Venice though so I quickly stated that was an incorrect interpretation which would have significant impact to community especially the individuals that are defined in our society as homeless. I request that Capt. Peters be informed, and the City Attorney’s Office so that this matter is cleared up. She did state that she did not believe that being homeless was a crime and that she was not going to identify a date in which enforcement would begin because she was working on having the right service organizations involved regarding the park closure so that other avenues would be available for those that were sleeping by OFW.

No one from Park and Recs, City Attorneys office, or Councilmen Rosendahls office were present which did indicate to me that improvement of the City of LA interdepartmental communications are greatly needed in order to provide continuity, and a clear consistent message. Failure to provide a consistent message by the City, the people’s resources can and has put our community in many challenging situations which unfortunately pits groups of our community against each other. A healthy ecosystem and a healthy community is the goal. More dialog with representatives from all the stakeholders is necessary resolve this challenges which will enhance our community for all members that chose to be part of the solutions.Lt. Kreeft indicated that any item determined to have nominal use would be in violation of the LAMC 42.15

Background: Eden, Amaya and I explained that an inconsistency existed regarding t-shirts that were being painted or drawed on on the boardwalk containing an expression because of case precedence in the Federal Courts in New York as explained by the City Attorney’s Office (Valerie Flores ?) during a Ocean Front Walk Committee Mtg chaired by VNC Community Members Ivonne Guzman and Ira Koslow, members of Rosendahl’s Office, and the City Attorneys Office were involved in an interactive review of the draft of 42.15 that was subsequently approved and is in process of being implemented.

I indicated that people that work on the boardwalk were present too and interacting with the City Attorney’s Office who extensively explained that t-shirts would be an exception provided the artist was creating the expression on the spot and expression contained words not just symbols. We encouraged Lt. Kreeft to contact the City Attorney’s Office and the individuals that attended that meeting to confirm because of the inconsistency presented. It was also communicated that this did not include persons who design and have their t=shirts printed elsewhere. The case reference was regarding a graffiti artist in New York.

During the discussion of the park closure reasoning was mentioned that the beach is closed at 10:30pm. So closing the park which is OFW  is a natural step The park will be closed from midnight to 5:00am per LAMC 63.44(14b). It was pointed out by Lt. Kreeft that the VNC mtg where she discussed the same points the night before the community was upset and frustrated with the announcement of the park closure. Park and Rec per Lt. Kreeft have maintained that OFW is a park per the zoning. The City Attorney’s office confirms that as well.

Others pointed out that the City of LA is in violation of the Coastal Act and in litigation with the Coastal Commission regarding the closure of beach without an exemption from the joint powers of the Coastal Commission. People also voiced concerns about the impact to what was perceived to be relocating the people that sleep along OFW onto Speedway and other adjacent areas.

I recommended that Stephen Fiske, and the Friends of the Boardwalk connect with the Emergency Task Force on Homelessness that was created by the VNC of which I am a participant to remove overlay, to improve communications, and the develop solutions that address the struggles within our community and especially the persons defined as homeless who require our community to provide a voice for them. Political will is required to get some of the immediate needs addressed besides having a right to shelter, to food, to use of showers/waters and hygiene requirements.


As Buddy Clark so clearly communicated face time with each other builds a connection and a community. Let’s keep moving towards positive, non violent solutions, with a open dialog, and a spirit to become a livable sustainable community.

Lisa Green, Venice Artist
Green Party Co-Coordinator of Los Angeles County
Love is the strongest power in the universe


October 5, 2011

Fw: Urgent Update: Bathrooms at Rose Ave Lot

—– Forwarded Message —–
From: Lisa Green

Subject: Re: Urgent Update: Bathrooms at Rose Ave Lot (pictures included)

Certainly a multi-pronged solution is required. As of yesterday requests for maintenance and supplies are not being met.  When? And by whom? In terms of a the permanent bathroom facilities:

I’ve mentioned before that the bathroom design in part of the problem. Often I find toilets not flushed. Typically the toilets with a flush lever instead of the toilets with a flush button. Also, I have heard from more than one woman and an occasional male leaving a stall that the toilet is broken.  When I enter I often find that the lever isn’t pushed completely. Those with levers not button take a great deal of force. I mention this detail again because to just define the problem as vandalism isn’t accurate.  Yet I am by no means claiming that vandalism isn’t occurring at times.

In terms of IMMEDIATE needs such as the portable toilets I reiterate:

Only 1 portable toilet and 1 permanent toilet open.
Neither had paper to use.
1 portable toilet is filled (picture 2 of 3).
No access for disabled persons with wheelchairs either.

Lisa Green, Venice Artist

Love is the strongest power in the universe

From: Therese Dietliin
Having been driven to using the Brooks Ave facilities by the state of the Rose Ave bathrooms, I need to tell you the problem is boardwalk global.  Also, the Rec and Parks people have stopped putting handsoap at all locations – some suspect (including me) it is to discourage homeless.  The entire system needs to be revisited.

Thanks for your engagement in this and other contentious issues.  If I can be of any help in any way with dealing with any of them, please do let me know.  These issues transcend Venice by a long shot.

Anyway, count me for back up.

Thanks again.

Therese Dietlin


— On Wed, 10/5/11, Linda Lucks  wrote:

Not a bad idea. A better one is to use some of the quimby fund money being used to redo the other end of OFw to build a new one and keep the portables there all the time.

On 10/4/11, David Ewing wrote:

Any suggestions on a change of approach? Is there anything that could be done to reduce the vandalism or misuse of the toilets? My suggestion would be to put a team of homeless folks in charge of the restrooms with pay tied to results. Just a thought.


From: Lisa Green

To: Arturo Pina <>

Subject: Re: Bathrooms at Rose Ave Lot


Thank you for your prompt response while indicating the challenges and the triumphs.  Many, many people visit our beach each week. The weekends are especially busy.
Yes, we do have our “problem children” in many facets of our existence. As we continue to unite and communicate in healthy ways we can solve our struggles together and assist those that resist growing up.
I have noticed Chrysalis workers at the permanent bathrooms maintaining and improving the place in fact. Great work!
So there is improvement.

Thank you again. The immediate need is available toilet paper at the stations. The next would be cleanliness.  As my friend Claire say everyone poops!!

Lisa Green, Venice Artist
Green Party of Los Angeles, Co-Coordinator
Love is the strongest power in the universe

From: Arturo Pina <>
To: Lisa Green
Subject: Re: Bathrooms at Rose Ave Lot

Thanks Ms. Green for contacting me.  As you may or may not know, these restrooms have a history of being vandalized.  While the city invests quite a bit of staff time and resources to properly maintain all of the restrooms on the beach, unfortunately folks have used the sinks and toilets at these particular restrooms as garbage disposals.  And yes, when that happens, it takes more then the traditional Liquid Plummer to get out there and repair these facilities.

So while we definitely apologize for not being able to get these restrooms repaired in timely fashion, know that our Rec and Parks team always makes the repair of these restrooms a priority.  With that in mind, I have our maintenance supervisor copied on this message so he can provide a time line for when they will be repaired.

Thanks again folks and hopefully we will see you at tomorrows Rec and Parks meeting.

On Tue, Oct 4, 2011 at 8:15 AM, Lisa Green
Please assist with the bathroom situation at the Rose Lot by the playground.  Most of the bathrooms are locked possibly for repairs for over a week.  Up until yesterday. Monday, Oct3, four portable toilets were accessible though not maintained often enough. As of this am only one portable remains with no paper or seat covers available for use.  I am hoping that more toilets are available with proper maintenance and toiletries.  The pictures I took mid last week of the portables were stark.
Overfilled with paper for days. The County staff that maintains the permanent structure indicated the City was responsible for maintaining the portables.
Please assist
I witnessed more than one visitor and local this week quite frustrated with the state of affairs.

Lisa Green, Venice Artist
Green Party of Los Angeles, Co-Coordinator
Love is the strongest power in the universe


July 15, 2011



The transmittal report and draft 42.15 was publicly released by the City Attorney yesterday, see Council File 97-2112, 09-2112-S1 and City of Los Angeles website link below.

Input solicited.

I will inform folks relative to any upoming public discussions where the opportunity for questions and answers will be presented prior to City Council discussion.

Thank you for patience on this matter.

Arturo Piña
Office of Councilmember Bill Rosendahl
(310) 568-8772, Office
(310) 410-3946, fax


May 2, 2011

Rosendahl sells out Venice to billboard advertising on the boardwalk

Bring It On: L.A. Council Members Endorse Plan To Sell Advertising In City Parks

Ocean Front Walk in Venice is locally known as The Boardwalk, although it’s all concrete—the only boards in sight belong to distant surfers waiting to catch a wave. That view to the west is free of the intense commercialism of the inland side of the the Boardwalk, with its crowded T-shirt and souvenir shops, but strollers gazing beachward may soon be greeted by a new sight—advertising signs on light poles, benches, trash cans, and restroom walls and doors.

At yesterday’s meeting of the City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee, Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who represents the Venice area, endorsed the kind of plan put forward last year by the non-profit L.A. Parks Foundation to raise money for city parks maintenance and operations by selling space to what was termed “corporate sponsors.” The Venice Beach part of the plan called for 200 signs on an 8-block stretch of the Boardwalk, a total sign area of almost 10,000 square feet, or the equivalent of 15 full-size billboards.   More


April 13, 2011

We will be meeting at 7 pm on Thurday, April 21st at the Vera Davis Center, please attend and invite as many friends and family as possible.  We need support to keep the Vera Davis Center for those who need it the most.

The VNC will be hearing the matter at the next scheduled meeting which is on April 26th.
Look forward to seeing you all there.  Hope all is well.


April 9, 2011

Norman Kulla, Councilman Bill Rosendahl’s legal counsel, told the taskforce meeting on Wednesday, April 6, 2011 that the City of Los Angeles is in the process of creating a new LAMC 42.15 ordinance based on the findings of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal in the Hunt v. City of L.A. case.

Since Deputy City Attny. Mark Brown stepped down, the city has hired a female attorney to take his place. She will be the architect of the new ordinance.

OCEAN FRONT WALK (VENICE BOARDWALK) TASK FORCE MEETINGS are usually held at 9:30 am on the first Wednesday of every month at James Beach restaurant on North Venice Blvd. between Pacific Avenue and Speedway.



February 25, 2011

The last OFW meeting was held on January 12, 2011 and the meeting scheduled for February 2, 2011 was cancelled.

For more information about these meetings call Arturo Pina at: (310) 568-8772





November 21, 2010








August 10, 2010



July 22, 2010


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