February 2008 – Law Abiding Citizens Vow Crime Spree Over Fencing Regulations

By Georgie Gravel
Always, just always, it amazes me how people will move to Venice, attracted by the openness, airy, loose lifestyle, and freedom of expression, and then put up fences to keep all that good stuff out. 
I am an innocuous-looking gent that observes, asks questions and listens. Listening is key. Listened to people at the Farmers’ Market discussing the upcoming Venice Neighborhood Council Board meeting on Fences and Hedges. Checked out the proposed motion on the VNC web site – noted that the last two paragraphs of the draft recommendations describe the city action that is requested and there is a special section on retaining decorative gates. 

Read the many emails and flyers I got about it. So I went. Well, ol’ Georgie here got a lesson in participatory democracy gone stark, raving mad at that meeting. Definitely world class ranting and raving. 

If you didn’t go, you missed quite a show. Out of almost 200 locals attending, 90 percent were screaming and hollering, “…How dare VNC tear down my fence…Draconian measures to enable the few to dictate to the many….Over my cold, dead body….Fight to the last stake in my fence……you are evil, EVIL and a curse on you and your family…How dare there even be a LUPC task force on this…of all the things wrong in Venice you focus on our fences…” A list of sex offenders in two communities of Venice was submitted with instructions as to how VNC could address that problem. And my favorite, “…you antichrists you, how dare you spring this on us at the last minute like this.” 

Sorry folks, even the most casual look at VNC/LUPC web site over the past year revealed a draft copy of the report with an email reply address for public comment through July 25, 2007. There was many an opportunity to read and comment on this report before January 29th. 

My, my, my. Makes one wonder if the creationists are right and we sprung full blown into life four thousand or so years ago without the benefit of learning to live together, acquiring good manners and/or eschewing foul behavior.

Attendance was seriously slanted to people wanting to keep their illegally high fences and damnation to anybody that wanted to reduce them for any reason. The few that spoke in favor of the LUPC paper were booed and hissed until the VNC president, Mike Newhouse, reminded the audience that civil behavior was expected. 

On Tuesday, February 19, the VNC Board will consider recommendations on the LUPC paper. If anybody out there is in favor of low or no fences in our fair city they had better show up and be heard. I drove slowly through most of Venice last week and IMHO only about 30 percent of our homes have over high fences. That means that 70 percent observe the law. 

Perhaps it would be a good idea for the 70 percent majority to testify at the next VNC Board meeting, Tuesday, February 19 at Westminster Elementary School auditorium.