Venice Beach is a fun crazy place in Los Angeles, minutes from Los Angeles International Airport, the beachfront boardwalk is famous for its street performers, craft vendors and great people watching. Since Jim Morrison and the hippies hung out here and made it popular, it has always had a unique, artistic, bohemian vibe.
I am personally affected by a recent court ruling that will again change what activities will require city permits and how those permits will be distributed. According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, a federal judge just blocked the city’s 2008 ordinance which required permits for beachfront vendors and performers and had them issued via a lottery system. A Los Angeles City Council rule that prohibited the use of musical instruments or amplified sound between 9 a.m. and sunset was also tossed by the judge.
The risk here is that Venice will be over run with an influx of commercial vendors, replacing the artists and musicians that give the area its special feeling. I am personally affected by this issue as my girlfriend is a musician. A real musician who plays a unique instrument, the harp. Like a big, full size harp as seen in paintings and historical films. She is classically trained, and attended the prestigious Julliard School of Music in New York City. She has played for orchestras across the country and currently makes a great living as a session harpist, playing on various recordings in Los Angeles and Nashville. She also does TV appearances, you may have seen her on the Tonight Show or Letterman, backing up various pop and country stars. You would be surprised how much work there is for a harpist! She also loves to perform on the Venice Beach boardwalk as a real street musician, making money from donations.
We live in Los Angeles and for since she moved here in the early 1990’s she has made extra money by setting up and playing on the Venice Beach boardwalk in Los Angeles. She doesn’t make a fortune, but can both practice her art and make a few hundred dollars on a summer weekend. The vision of a beautiful girl, strumming that enormous harp, amidst the crazy scene and human carnival on Venice Beach, stops people in their tracks. She always draws a large crowd, but its her wonderful playing that mesmerizes people and keeps them standing there listening.
She truly plays for the love of playing and for the donations people care to leave. She puts out a box, and if people want to leave something, they are welcome to. If they don’t, they are just as welcome to stay and enjoy the music. This is called free speech, free expression and I believe its protected here in the US by the Constitution, she should be regulated by the city of Los Angeles.
As someone affected by this law, I support the city looking at the issue again and coming up with a sensible plan that limits commercial activities while allowing public artistic expression. As a regular visitor to Venice Beach, I don’t want to see it over run with commercial vendors and I support a sensible plan for the area. I feel artists and performers, who only perform for donations and do not sell anything, should be allowed to operate without permits. Artists who wish to sell their physical artwork should be limited by city ordinances, and there should be a differentiation between artists who sell items they create themselves, and anything sold for resale. This could help prevent commercial vendors from taking over and keep the original hippie spirit of the area.
Andrew Blankstein “Judge blocks Venice boardwalk permit system” The Los Angeles Times via latimes.com