March 2008 – Letters

• Town Hall on the OFW Ordinance – Paul Carey
• More on the Ordinance – Steve Schlein
• Venice Women on the Web – Pat Hartman
• How High the Fence? – Kevin Maloney
• How High the Fence on Rialto? – Brian Finney
• Billboard Blues – Grant Gordon
• Letter from Seattle – Tina Morehead & Steve Effingham
• Immigration – Ron Lowe


Town Hall on the Ocean Front Walk Ordinance

Dear Beachhead,

What an evening! I must say that the dais demonstrated remarkable compassion and tolerance of the disrespectful behavior on the part of some of the OFW community members.

 It is felt by all the current state of draft ordinance is unworkable. 

 Culturally disjointed: Zoning OFW is the absolute antithesis of the organic process that has brought world wide attention to Venice Beach.

 Unenforceable: The existing ordinance could well be working if it were actually enforced. The NUMBER ONE CONCERN of the OFW community is the removal of the commercial vendors. If you did not make it you may not sell it. Please keep these people out thereby reducing the need for zoning.

 Administrative nightmare: Zoning OFW as proposed has a fiscal impact that is not acknowledged nor are the jurisdictions involved prepared to accept the burden.

 Being a musician who must rely on an amplifier, and an engineer, I have specific issues with the noise ordinance as discussed at the meeting. The specifications are inconsistent with the physics.

 The ultimate objective is to harmonize the activities on OFW with the community while nurturing expression.

 While I personally can not understand why anyone who chose to live at the beach would complain, I do acknowledge that there are folks that wish the performers had an off switch. For all the time and energy that is going into this, perhaps we should ask an architect in the community to comment on the feasibility of a structure to block the sound.

 Lastly, I am dismayed that criminality is asserted in the ordinance. A workable ordinance will see enforcement limited to revocation of the permit to occupy a site with an appeal available subject to a hearing in the same venue that granted the permit. All criminality shall be judged according to existing municipal code. 

You really need to walk the boardwalk on Sunday and pick a few people who will participate in crafting a workable solution. 

Thank you for your commitment to the process.

 Paul Carey


More on the Ordinance

Dear Beachhead,

The Ocean Front draft ordinance published in the February 2008 issue of the Beachhead would legalize 75 decibels of sound volume at a distance of twenty-five feet from any source on the Venice boardwalk.

The Noise Element (Exhibit H) of the city’s General Land Use Plan places the volume of 75 decibels on a scale between the noise of shouting 3 feet away and the noise of a vacuum cleaner 10 feet away.

No member of the public should have to suffer this intolerable volume of noise while walking on the ocean front, and performer noise cannot legally be allowed inside the homes of residents who live on or near the ocean front.

 Performer noise far below 75 decibels already invades the homes of Venice residents.

 The noise decibel criteria in the draft ordinance is the wrong criteria because it will harm the public welfare and violate the seminal decision of the United States Supreme Court in Ward v. Rock Against Racism, 491 U.S. 781 (1989).

 In Ward, performers argued that they have a First Amendment right to perform outdoors even if their noise enters the homes of nearby residents. The Supreme Court ruled that performers do not have a right to place their noise inside anyone’s home. The justices observed:

“… It can no longer be doubted that government has a substantial interest in protecting its citizens from unwelcome noise. This interest is perhaps at its greatest when government seeks to protect the well-being, tranquility, and privacy of the home …”

 Since performers do not have a right to put their noise inside the homes of Venice residents, city government does not have a right to do it for them.

 Instead, government has a duty to “protect the well-being, tranquility, and privacy of the home” and that means keeping performer noise strictly on the outside.

 Steve Schlein


Venice Women on the Web
Dear Beachhead,
VirtualVenice.info delights in showcasing the talents of Venice artists. These women have their own pages: poets Philomene Long, Kate Braverman, Lynne Bronstein and Wanda Coleman; authors Laura Shepard Townsend and Rana Ayzeren; and photographers Arielle Haze Tyner and Helen K. Garber.

I would love to feature more Venice women. All it takes is: for a visual artist, a few photos of Venice-related art; for a poet, a few Venice-related poems; for an author, a book excerpt or substantial review of your Venice-related book.

Bios and interviews are also desirable, and it would be great to have women in other areas too, like music and theater. All I ask is that the examples of your creativity have something to do with Venice.

Please consider contacting me for your own page in Virtual Venice.

Best of all possible regards, 
Pat Hartman


How High the Fence?

Dear Beachhead,

It’s not too late to distance yourself from Fox News. Georgie Gravel went stark, raving mad, putting such an inaccurate slant on the Venice Neighborhood Council’s Fences and Hedges meeting that Bill O’Reilly would be proud. Georgie, the only thing accurate in your article is the title, which, surprisingly, makes a good point. So why didn’t you expand on it, instead of completely misrepresenting what actually went on.

Yes, tall fences violate an existing ordinance that a LOT of people don’t like, some for very good reasons, some for, well, kinda shaky, embellished, emotional reasons. Yes, there was some rude shouting. But OVERWHELMINGLY, everyone was willing to listen to EVERYONE, for or against the law. Georgie Gravel, you are a liar. You said the meeting was seriously slanted in favor of people wanting to keep their illegally high fences. The FACT is, more than 90-percent of the people attending the meeting want illegally high fences. That’s not slanted! That’s just the way it was! Not only that, Georgie, but the few people with a minority point of view were graciously allowed to take cuts and speak earlier, so they wouldn’t have to wait until the end of the meeting. And their points of view were applauded, too, even by the “other side”. Yes, there were a few boos and hisses, but my dear Mr. Limbaugh, the meeting was mostly civil, and ably and democratically handled by the Venice Neighborhood Council. You make it sound like all opposing viewpoints couldn’t be heard over the din of self-righteous law-breakers. No, everyone was heard.

And if you say there are 70-percent of Venice property owners who want the existing law, and that they should show up at the next meeting, I say right on! Where were they January 29th?

I say to the Beachhead: Your publication is important. You don’t need to bend and misrepresent the truth to get your point across. That’s what the other side does.

Kevin Maloney


How High the Fence on Rialto?

Dear Beachhead,

In his report on the VNC Board meeting on Fences and Hedges, George Gravel introduces himself as “an innocuous-looking gent that [he means, who] observes, asks questions and listens.” Read further and nothing could be further from the truth.

He claims that 90 percent of the 200 Venetians attending “were screaming and hollering” their objections to the proposal to bring down all hedges and fences to a regulation 3’ 6”. While a few speakers qualified for this description, the majority of the objections from all but four of those attending were expressed in reasonable and often deeply felt terms. 

George Gravel then asserts with no evidence that “attendance was seriously slanted to people wanting to keep their illegally high fences.” To back up his contention he claims that he drove slowly through Venice and found that only 30 percent of our homes have high fences. I have done a house to house count of the 400 and 500 blocks of Rialto Avenue. There is no way you can do an accurate count with a drive-by. I found that 60 percent of the 400 block and 50 percent of the 500 block had high fences. 

George Gravel concludes that on his count that means that “70 percent observe the law.” Apart from rejecting his count, I would point out that several of the home owners in my block who have low fences nevertheless object to the proposed attempt to reduce Venice to a uniformity, when Venice represents for most of us a triumph of diversity – if not outright eccentricity.

If George Gravel considers his an impartial and objective piece of journalism, he should apply at once for a job with Fox News.

Brian Finney


Billboard Blues

Dear Beachhead,

Could someone please explain how it is that we got this hip, new, lighted mini-billboard on the corner of Main and Abbot Kinney?

Driving home from work the other day, I stopped at the traffic light.

I glanced over to my right to look for lurking cyclists/pedestrians and got an eyeful of the new ultra-desirable, oh-so-hip MacBook Air.

Why is there suddenly a billboard at that intersection?

Dangerously placed at eye level to a driver?

Do I need to find a new route home to avoid yet another slick pitch, this one so totally unavoidable?

Perhaps CBS/Decaux will face a lawsuit after someone gets knocked down because of their pretty but obstructive billboard.

Isn’t someone supposed to vet these things? Whose brilliant idea was this?

Or, is it, as I suspect, acceptable only if the products advertised therein are in the tragically hip and lovely category.

I can’t see a poster for Subway or Ralphs getting the green light, can you?

Are these the same geniuses that run the orange lights on the meaningless billboard at the community center all night.

Yours in total disbelief,      

Grant Gordon


Letter from Seattle

Dear Beachhead,

Hope all is well with the collective. We so enjoy our Beachhead – a bit of sunshine each month here in the Northwest! Here is our sustainer check for $100. Keep up the good work!

Love, Tina Morehead & Steve Effingham



Dear Beachhead,

There goes another bogus claim of the anti-immigration crowd. A report just released says that immigrants are far less likely to commit crimes than are native born citizens. People born in the United States are eight times more likely than immigrants to be incarcerated.

Go to any cosmopolitan city, New York, Miami, San Francisco, and you will hear a wide diversity of languages from around the world. So much for the “speak English” only spiel of talk radio hosts.

As far as the assimilation argument goes, I see multitudes of Mexicans and Latinos and their children and they’re working, speaking English and assimilating quite well, thank you.

Every day the bigotry, intolerance and prejudice that drives the anti-immigration movement becomes more apparent.     

Ron Lowe

Categories: Letters