March 14, 2012
Dear Lt. [LAPD];
Let me begin by thanking you and your officers for your initial sweep of the commercialism off the Boardwalk, and for meeting with us on Thursday, March 15. We very much appreciate it.
My purpose in sending this message is to reiterate the concern of First Amendment people that the commercialism will creep back in unless we are vigilant.
We are striving to work with the east side merchants to keep the Boardwalk a Free Expression Zone, we anticipate a productive collaboration with the LAPD to achieve this. It is our hope that we can get our concerns dealt with in a conference, which is why we are particularly grateful for the scheduled meeting.
I believe I have already shared with you that one of the Rasta merchants was back on the Boardwalk on Wednesday, March 7, relocating himself with his shirts and hats and other paraphernalia near Navy. On Sunday, March 11, he was joined by two others, who set up shop in their usual location near Brooks.
The roasted records were also still there, an illegal handcraft in their own right; but also being sold by an employee for the person who claims he makes them (according to a recipe he got from the Girl Scouts, by his own account).
So were the melted bottles, also a handcraft and also from a procedure created by someone other than the retailer. Leather jewelry and hula hoops were back as well.
No police were to be seen on the Boardwalk during the greater part of the day. The substation was called several times, with no response until early evening by which time the complainant had left. No commercial vendors were approached when the police did show up.
In addition, there are questions about the legality of the wind chimes, as well as the little bicycles again being sold down there. The bobble-heads, the painted skulls and cement turtles are still being retailed as well.
In addition, the person who paints people's names on stylized mini-surfboards (skateboards?), something expressly not permitted in the ordinance, is still operating.
Two set-ups had “dream weavers.” When I asked a person manning one of the tables about them, he had no idea what they were supposed or purported to be, and merely focused on trying to sell me one.
Another ongoing concern is the mobile commercial vendors who ply their wares down the center of the Boardwalk.
We realize that Harry Perry selling his t-shirt and offering to have his picture taken for a fee is problematic, as is the Reggae for Children CD marketer. The food vendors, however, are clearly illegal but thus far seem to be invincible.
The above are specific instances that we feel need to be addressed, but there are others as well. It has been somewhat disconcerting the see the police, when they do come down the Boardwalk, continue on past the commercial items and say nothing.
On occasion, when they have been approached about specifics, they have stated that the items are legal or that they have an important appointment to keep and cannot stop.
I am writing this for a group of persons who anticipate that we can get our issues dealt with in our conference, and many of whom I hope will get a chance to share their concerns tomorrow..
As ever, we are committed to working with LAPD and the City Attorney's office in any way that can contribute to the success of the ordinance, and its continued improvement with respect to removing activities not protected by the First Amendment from the Boardwalk.
from a Boardwalk First Amendment Advocate
I also spoke with Sgt. at the Task Force meeting on March 7, who told me they would discuss our concerns with you and was willing to attend any meeting we could set up as well. They gave me the dispatch number to call to report violations of the ordinance,
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NOTE: the above letter was also sent to many city officials involved in the Venice area that may/should be interested and helping clean up the Venice Beach Area that has long been neglected and turned into a messy flea market with the bullying, violence, and a very un-neighborly alienating area, with loss of what previously was a “Venice community” including artists.
and Qs from another Venetian concerned with Our Neighborhoods, especially Ocean Front Walk ] =
1. What occurs when a civilian person calls that number and reports their perception/experiences of violations ? Is there some other than "we are busy with more important matters now" response, which is often given when an enforcement officer asked to check validity of apparently commercialized goods being blatantly sold on OFW ?
2 . How much enforcement or or time/effort goes into this area of law enforcement as some officers appear to see it as less than important according to their repeated in-person verbal responses in the recent and past ?
3. How much does civilian-citizen input count towards helping the LAPD enforce the new ordinance and what is best method to inform/ request/ alert your officers to see us not as a nuisance but rather as an ally and helper instead ?
4. What do we need to do to get an email or any other REPLY to our concerns from LAPD?
5. Thank you [all] for not ignoring all the work we too do to help clean up our sidewalks.