Long Live the City of Venice!

Dear Beachhead,

City of Venice-graphic

City of Venice – by Emily Winters, 1979

Your article by Mike Bravo (May 2018) confirmed what other people had told me: that the Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) meeting on cityhood was a complete fiasco. Bravo, a long-time Venetian, hit the important points, that there was no diversity, outsiders were brought in to tell us what to think and that some dicey people have gotten on the bandwagon.

It’s ironic that Mark Ryavec repeated my suggestion that we do an end run around L.A. by going to the state legislature to remove the provision that all of Los Angeles must vote on Venice’s right to secede. L.A. didn’t vote when we were annexed. Why should it vote when we deannex? I’ve written about this possibility in several Beachhead articles (doesn’t anyone read this rag anymore?) and spoken about it on numerous occasions, including when Ryavec was present.

It’s not surprising that the Neighborhood Council didn’t invite any women, people of color or other working-class Venetians to this dog-and-pony show. Instead of inviting a current Beachhead Collectivist, they picked someone from the Marina paper. I was not invited even though I’ve written more on cityhood in the past 20 years than anyone. They didn’t invite Mike Bravo, Laddie Williams or Jataun Valentine, and others who know the history of our community.

The real issue, in my opinion is not who-said-what-first, or who now supports cityhood, but rather how do we get out of the most corrupt city in the country. L.A. has always been run by greedy developers. The city council members and the other lackeys in city government work at the behest of big-time developers, many of whom have now set their sights on Venice. If we don’t declare our independence soon, we’ll end up homogenized along with the other starbuckian neighborhoods of this chain-store megalopolis.

It wasn’t the rich who thought up the idea of Venicexit, or Vexit. From the time when L.A. annexed Venice to get our oil and our beach, there has been resistance that continues until today. Back in the 1960s when L.A. wanted to turn the canals into a yacht harbor like the Marina, a Free Venice movement was started – which meant get Venice out of L.A. – and free yourself from the dominant culture. Free Venice was a real movement which created many of the attributes of a city, without getting permission from L.A. There was a Free Venice Theater Group, a Free Venice Survival Committee, in fact, Free Venice committees everywhere you turned. And, let’s not forget the Free Venice Beachhead, which like its name has been strongly pro-cityhood for 50 years.

If we are going to get our city back, we have to be fearless. There are thousands of us living in rent-controlled apartments and homes that we bought many years ago. If we come together in a free city of Venice we will not be defeated. We have a right to make our own decisions. The right to self-determination is even in the UN Declaration of Human Rights and the U.S. Declaration of Independence. These are our rights, not Mike Bonin’s, and not the L.A. City bureaucracy.

In 2003, we came together as Venice Progressives to challenge the right-wingers who were running the Grass Roots Venice Neighborhood Council. (GRVNC). We overwhelmed the opposition, winning 21 out of 22 seats. The sore losers secretly asked city officials to save them. The City moved in like the U.S. army invading a third-world country. We were all removed from office and the GRVNC was abolished in favor of a sedate VNC. Had we not been part of Los Angeles, our decisions, made with transparency and approval by giant town hall meetings, would not have been overturned.

If we are to win cityhood, we’ll have to form an all-Venice coalition and work with people we don’t like, but who also support cityhood. I am confident that after we win cityhood, we will be able to out think, out talk and out vote any assholes we may encounter.

Let’s start talking about all the great things we could do if we had our own city!
-See the Venice Progressives platform at
-See the emails of the L.A. cabal against Venice at
– Jim Smith