Los Angeles will crackdown on what it describes as “illegal vending” on the Venice Beach Boardwalk, as the City Council unanimously approved at its Aug. 6 meeting a motion calling for an amendment to the municipal code to eliminate new forms of commercial merchants and vendors on the popular beachfront thoroughfare.
An action proposed by Councilman Mike Bonin, the code amendment would “combat new forms of illegal vending” on the Boardwalk, according to the motion, as a means “to protect and enable lawful, First Amendment activities and constitutionally protected vending.”
“The Boardwalk at Venice Beach … is world-famous for its free performances and public expression activities,” Bonin stated in his motion, which was co-sponsored by Councilman Mitch O’Farrell.
Also according to the motion, the Los Angeles Municipal Code already “prohibits most commercial vending on the Boardwalk but protects free speech activities and limited vending protected by the First Amendment” and has been “amended numerous times for the purpose of ensuring that visitors and residents alike are provided with the opportunity to visit a Boardwalk that is safe and enjoyable for all.”
“The narrow Boardwalk can accommodate only a limited number of performers and other activities protected by the First Amendment,” Bonin stated in the now approved motion. “Without the Venice Beach Boardwalk regulations prohibiting non-First Amendment vending, those engaging in First Amendment activities will be denied the ability to use Venice Beach Boardwalk for their constitutionally protected activities and visitors will have a less enjoyable experience.”
Bonin added his office recently became aware of “illegal, commercial vending that was occurring on the Boardwalk as a result of vendors exploiting provisions [of the Municipal Code] … designed to allow vending of items protected by the First Amendment.”
By further regulating certain vendors on the Venice Beach Boardwalk, Bonin and his colleagues hope to prevent tourists from being frequently annoyed or harassed by solicitors, ensure enough space is available on the “narrow” thoroughfare for performances or other expressive activities, remove certain items that prove to be an obstacle to pedestrian traffic and crowd management, and eliminate unnecessary clutter or “excessive and annoying noise.”
The City Attorney’s office will return to the council within 30 days of the Aug. 6 vote with a status update on the proposed amendments and possible revisions.
Three councilmen were not present for the Aug. 6 vote, including Mitchell Englander, Jose Huizar, and Paul Krekorian.
The final vote at Wednesday’s council meeting was 12-0-3.