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Could laws ruin the Venice Beach vibe?

April 10, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
The L.A. City Council is restoring order at the Venice Beach Boardwalk. A newly approved city law will now put vendors in their place and limit their noise. But some say the regulations will ruin the vibe in a place known for free expression.The Venice Beach Boardwalk is a great example of how subjective taste can be. What some see as freewheeling and creative, others see as unruly and unsafe. There's no black and white on the boardwalk -- just infinite shades of gray.

"To have the most eclectic, exciting beachfront in the world is a challenge," said Councilman Bill Rosendahl.

Councilman Rosendahl says the challenge is a handful of safety and nuisance issues. But he says a new ordinance passed by the L.A. City Council should solve those problems. It creates a new set of rules regulating the vendors who line the boardwalk selling their wares or performing for money.

The new ordinance would segregate performers into 105 so-called "P-Zones" and vendors into 100 "I-Zones," and restrict noise levels.

"It does it in a civilized way, so they're not bumping up on each other, fighting with each other... You know, causing issues with tourists walking by, causing issues with the homeowners who have to live 24/7 with it," said Councilman Rosendahl.

But all that talk about P-Zones and I-Zones and decibel levels may make a lot of sense in the City Council chambers, but when you talk to the vendors on the boardwalk who are trying to make a quick buck, and they just shrug their shoulders. They're not even sure what the new rules would entail.

"It's all sort of like the scuttlebutt, and this is going to happen," said artist Bruce Gow. "But I guess some of the old timers down here say, 'You don't know until it happens.' That's it."

All the vendors who spoke with Eyewitness News admit the boardwalk has its share of problems. But they worry that yet another set of regulations will just make it harder and more expensive for them.

And the people who come here - the tourists, the shoppers, the inline skaters - worry Venice Beach will lose its character.

"Prices are just going up and up and up, and it's nice to have a place where people can just sell their stuff and not get into much trouble with bureaucracy," said West Hollywood resident Jason Ryterband.

Rosendahl hopes to have the new ordinance in place by Memorial Day weekend, and says it will protect a very important part of L.A.'s economy. But even though money is green, some of the vendors worry the new rules will take some of color out of the boardwalk.

 

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