Boardwalk One Step Closer to Chain Ban

Los Angeles City Council is considering regulating chain stores on Ocean Front Walk on Venice Beach. Photo: Sam Catanzaro.

Los Angeles City Council calls for a feasibility study for retail chain ban on Ocean Front Walk.

By Sam Catanzaro

Los Angeles City Council may restrict the development of chain stores along the Venice Beach Boardwalk on Ocean Front Walk.

A motion passed April 17, instructs the Los Angeles Department of City Planning, in conjunction with the City Attorney, to carry out a feasibility study outlining the zoning and other land use planning tools to encourage independent retail development on Ocean Front Walk in Venice.

“Neighbors deserve the option to go to locally-owned stores and spaces that shape the character of the neighborhood. This morning, the city council approved my legislation to place limits on the development of chain stores along Ocean Front Walk in Venice so we can preserve and protect the unique character of the world-renowned neighborhood,” said Los Angeles City Councilmember Mike Bonin who submitted the motion. “Locally-owned independent businesses are an important part of neighborhood identity and I am happy to support and sustain a strong sense of community among Venice neighbors.”

In the legislation, Bonin cited other cities such as San Francisco and Jersey City, New Jersey that have established land use planning and zoning rules to preserve a unique neighborhood character in communities by supporting small businesses and independent retailers. Some ban all chain stores from certain neighborhoods, others cap the number of retail chain stores allowed within an area while others require a case-by-case approval of proposed retail use projects.

In 2018, neighboring Santa Monica passed legislation that bans chain restaurants on the Third Street Promenade. The Santa Monica rule prohibits fast food restaurants with more than 100 national locations from opening on the Third Street Promenade and is intended to maintain the shopping area’s unique atmosphere.

Venice Dogz, a local activist group who has been at the forefront of the push to limit retail chains on Ocean Front Walk, is advocating for a ban on retail stores or restaurant chains with seven or more locations globally. In addition, the group wants to prohibit publicly traded companies and stores that advertise on national television from opening on Ocean Front Walk.

“We believe most people agree that Ocean Front Walk lined up with rows and rows of national chains one after the next with signs that say Starbucks, Louis Vuitton, and Skechers would simply be wrong,” Venice Dogz said in a petition. “People come to Venice from all over the world to see, feel and experience things they never have before – not to experience what they can anywhere else. It’s what distinguishes Venice and keeps it diverse, something upon which we Venetians have always prided ourselves. It’s what the residents want and it’s what the tourists want.”