Ever tried to get a “vending” spot on Ocean Front Walk during a summer weekend? From what we hear, it is nearly impossible. Although the spots are supposed to be free and available to all on a “first come” basis, in practice that does not really happen. There is a reason that long time vendors are in the same spot for years on end, and it isn’t because other “artists” don’t want to be on the boardwalk. Hopeful “new” vendors are pushed out by intimidation, threats and often times violence. Some of the long time vendors will offer newcomers space in “their” spot, but require some baksheesh, which is not legal.
Picture from our friend Vivianne at NameOnRice
Hopefully with some enforcement, the “free speech” zones will actually become something other than rent free vending zones that many use to sell mass produced (manufactured) goods (another illegal practice) for years on end.
The Ocean Front Walk “zones” were originally intended as artist zones .. you know .. walk by a guy playing saxophone and throw a quarter or a buck in his hat type of exchanges. The “free speech” zones were not intended to be “rent free” professional vending zones.
Legally, the “P” areas are supposed to be “by donation”, meaning you can take anything a vendor has and “donate” whatever you feel like giving. Try and give a vendor a quarter for something and you will likely get beat up, but that is the way that the boardwalk stalls are legally supposed to be. If a vendor refuses your donation, you can always call the police on them …