Dear Beachhead,

The City’s promise was to take away the Commercial vending from the boardwalk and restore the ambiance of quality.

 The first day of the Lottery, some City employee held spaces open for their family and friends! and those who would pay for space… then from out of the blue came those who said we’re being compensated to make the Lottery work.  So, some shop owners saw open spaces – they moved their Commercial products on the West side too. 

As the Lottery Supervisor pulled out a hand full of permits, he or she would line them up as they saw fit, and then, stopping the Lottery to say there was no more space.   What was not noted by the Supervisor was, the Permit holders were watching their every move to see the luck of the draw.  They, the Permit holders, surmised later they must make their own luck if they wanted to survive.

So now!  the Commercial vendor sat along side the Artist to learn how to speak like them whenever they were asked about their product.  This act may have lowered the quality and changed the look of the boardwalk.  The police would lay in wait to target, hassle, chase artists;  at night, some were arrested and driven away from the boardwalk and dumped in other neighborhoods and cities.  The police could be seen hiding in the back streets; reports were made to higher ups by artists.

That’s when the police started helping the Commercial vendors to stay on the boardwalk by telling them, “just put a cross on it and you’ll be alright.”  The Commercial vendor numbers started to grow and the buying and selling of spaces became more wide spread. 

Commercial vending was reinforced by a two year campaign in City Hall by vendors and opportunist to fragment and cut out a space on the boardwalk.  By the way, it worked! the City’s response was to violate the lifetime permit agreement that was in place on the boardwalk.

The new signs impose restricted reverse; this action generating tickets in the court system for the City to pick and choose what they wanted – to fight to get a law on the books.  The City Attorney tells its victims to go back to the boardwalk and comply; the ticket can be acted on at a later date, as they, the City Attorney, pick and choose.

What was legal behavior is now being covered up.  The new rules that state, ‘you must give away one displayed item to anyone that asks per day’, chokes the spirit and pulls the Artists into financial ruin.  The Commercial vendors have employees!  And, there are no board members to control what or who gets into the Lottery.

What may be driving City Hall is the 2.5 million dollar lawsuit two vendors are working out with the Attorneys and the City. 

Is the City banking on the homeless for its new source of income?  The Artists are thankful for the locals and churches in the area for the dinners and snacks over the years.   The count of the dead found around the beach area would be much higher.  One homeless Artist has a conviction of $416.00.  Is this what we really want from the homeless on Venice Beach Boardwalk?

The Zones are set up to pit every one on the Boardwalk against each other;  Entertainers are side by side and putting on shows causing headaches; Commercial vending is mixed in with and along side of the Artists which causes confusion and hate among friends and selling of spaces.  The Artists must tell visitors that they can’t give away things because the City didn’t give them anything to give away – this kills the ambiance!

The locals say!  What?  what the City wants is crazy, and it’s not fair!  Shop owners say it’s stupid!  The City expects too much!

Understanding the City Council’s point of view is not hard – generating City funds is a must.  But many of the people are homeless and loyal to their logic! this is their weakness, the City seeks to capitalize on.  Do they realize that it is this strength on Venice Beach that generates millions of dollars every year – people from across America and around the World find community and, love of life here.

The City should be more thankful to the people at Venice Beach for what they bring and give to this great State of California and the World. 

 Samuel Brantley

Categories: Letters, Ocean Front Walk