Venice Stakeholders Respond to City Attorney


The Venice Stakeholders Association has responded to the May 17th letter from Jane Usher of the City Attorney’s office.

Venice Stakeholders Association

From The Venice Stakeholders Association:

Ms. Jane Usher
Special Assistant
Office of the City Attorney
City of Los Angeles

Dear Jane,

Your response to our recent press release once again concedes that there is no court decision, order or even a legal settlement that requires the City of Los Angeles to provide two stations for food distributions at Venice Beach.

The “settlement proceedings” that occurred before Judge Pregerson were voluntary negotiations, not a formal court proceeding. As a result of these negotiations, the City passed a new sidewalk vending ordinance, which included provision of two food stations on the Boardwalk. This ordinance was apparently sufficient to motivate the plaintiffs to voluntarily dismiss their lawsuit.
Judge Pregerson, while he may have presided over the negotiations, did not formally order anything at all. In fact, there was not even a formal “settlement” with the plaintiffs – something that would necessarily have been documented by a written agreement.

The City did not have to pass the new ordinance. It could have reached a different kind of accommodation with the plaintiffs, or it could have continued to litigate the matter. The City’s choice to pass the ordinance anyway was unwise, and, in retrospect, harmful to Venice and its residents. But regardless of the wisdom of the initial decision to pass the ordinance, the City is certainly not legally bound to maintain the ordinance indefinitely in its present form. It is free to change it, and should do so immediately.

We said that Councilman Rosendahl lied because he tried to shield himself and the City from responsibility for the food stations by blaming the courts. He claimed that “the Ninth Circuit has ruled” that there is a “First Amendment right to distribute free food,” that “the court insisted” on the food stations on the Boardwalk, and that the City is “legally required” to provide them. In fact, no such rulings or requirements actually exist. Instead, Councilman Rosendahl and the rest of the City Council tied their own hands by passing an ill-advised ordinance, and they can untie their own hands by amending the same ordinance.

Mark Ryavec
Venice Stakeholders Association