Back issues in my
MORE BeachHead Archives
Free Venice Beachhead
archives selected articles 1980-81
Beachhead Archives 1982
Beachhead Archives 1983
25 Years Ago in Call
Someplace Paradise and/or Ghost Town
Venice in Books A-C
Venice in Books D-K
Venice in Books L-P
Venice in Books Q-Z
Quotations about Venice
Venice in Magazines and other ephemeral
1981 Resistance Celebration
1981 Resistance Celebration
Birth of Venice:
1914-1916 Part 1
1914-1916 Part 4
1914-1916 Part 5
Destiny's Consent by
Lions and Gondolas
Poem about Venice
Tales of the Blue Meanie
by Allan Cole
Another Chapter from
Tales of the Blue Meanie by Allan Cole
Venice Historical Society
1969 Police Riots
Jack the Liar
Free Venice Beachhead
Webslave's note: Each month, back
when I lived in Venice, someone from the Beachhead Collective would
drop off a bundle of a hundred copies at my door, and I would distribute
them house-to-house around Oakwood. My way of continuing to be a Beachhead
volunteer is to resurrect and re-type selected articles from its past
(pre-computer) issues, for which the Beachhead has graciously granted
January 1984 #169
Venice Christian Community
by Elizabeth Elder
When the likes of Ed Meese and other Paleolithic politicians
begin making obscene rumblings to the effect that there is not a genuine
hunger problem in America, and when Ronald Reagan packs a commission to
study the non-problem with a gang of his own sycophants who (predictably)
echo his lack of concern for a burgeoning problem, I can faintly hear
the Ghost of Marie Antoinette entering stage Right with the now infamous
one-liner about the cake. My fury is mixed with real sadness at the unspeakable
ignorance of one like Mr. Meese, who, no doubt being thoroughly unfamiliar
with hunger himself, can remark publicly that so many people are eating
at the soup kitchens and getting handouts of surplus food because it's
"easier than cooking at home." Can he have seen* any of those
food lines and still believe that most of the people in them have cozy
little homes and fat little refrigerators? Or homes at all with even empty
refrigerators? It's unbelievable: the blind pig-people have taken over
While too many folks who read this daily insanity may
deplore it or ignore it, or perhaps even cheer it on, it renews a flagging
faith in humankind to see some others doing something about it. Whether
out of a sense of religious commitment to "feed the hungry",
a feeling for simple fair play, or whatever gets you outside you own ego
for a moment, there are groups of people who, without much fanfare, are
taking direct action. The Venice Christian Community is one such group,
having fed holiday meals to 525 people on Thanksgiving and more on Christmas
Day. They also distribute surplus food through a government program. And
they're the ones who run a yard sale almost daily for whatever donations
people can afford. They are Christians who do more than spout theology,
a refreshing departure from the Jerry Falwells and James Watts and others
who claim the label of Christian and don't seem to have read Christ's
2nd Commandment: "to love your neighbor as yourself."
The Currently Operable Commandment as we approach the
Orwellian New Year seems to be "Sell your neighbor if you can; nuke
him if you can't." I'd like to think that enough conscious and well-intentioned
people of whatever stripe just might be able to pool energies and turn
that one around.
Parking a Trojan Horse
by Moe Stavnezer
March 1984 #171
Trojan horses didn't often look like apartment buildings
but, then again, neither were they built by Werner Scharff. The proposed
40-unit apartment house on Paloma Ave. for poor elderly peope may be our
own horse-of-a-different-color is fome of the loose ends are not securely
fastened in the real world.
As someone who has worked very hard in support of affordable
housing and more parking in Venice, it is strange to feel so apprehensive
about a development that includes both. But there are some good, solid
reasons for my dkepticism. Werner Scharff wants a zone change on Paloma
which would allow a development 10 times greater than current zoning permits
in order to house 40 of the elderly poor. He also proposes to provide
75 parking spaces, far more than are needed for the building, at least
40 of which he claims would be available to local residents (at a fee,
The increased density of the building does not, in itself,
trouble if if* used for the purpose Scharff has stated. I am more troubled
by the ramifications of the parking proposal. Both aspects of the project
must be considered. Questions abound - who will choose the tehants? Who
will set the income standards and see to it that only the poor become
tenants? How will the rents be subsidized after Mr. Scharff, now in his
70s, is no longer with us? The government usually performs these tasks
but, remember, this is to be privately financed and most of us have never
dealt with such a proposal. But I think Scharff will answer these questions
and make satisfactory legal arrangements for them because I am fairly
sure that what he really wants is the parking!
Werner Scharff has a dream of his own. It involves redeveloping
Venice in a mold that clearly resembles the 1970 plan for Miami beach
west scaled down to meet current realities - renovation of existing buildings
along Ocean Front Walk instead of the grandiose plans for knocking all
the buildings down and constructing new hotels, condos and other accoutrements
of the wealthy (e.g. Werner Scharff). He owns a whole bunch of the property
along OFW including the recently acquired Cadillac building where a court
order stands as the only impediment to his eviction of the current elderly
residents of that building. Strike one! Werner has concrete plans for
the Cadillac, a building transplant that will convert it to a 45 room
"Bed and breakfast" hotel which will include a posh Harry's
Bar & Grille and require more parking than is now available on cacant
land in the area. So, Scharff wants to be able to use the parking at Paloma
to satisfy, on paper, the parking requirements for the Cadillac. Strike
two! What are the details? The hotel and restaurant will require 63 parking
spaces, the Paloma building a mere 10 totalling 73 of the 75 spaces at
Paloma. Scharff, however, claims that most of the Cadillac parking will
be satisfied in the Rose Ave. lot and will leave empty spaces available
to residents on a more unofficial basis. In the meanwhile, on paper, the
precedent of allowing commercial parking on a residential street, to satisfy
the needs of high priced businesses on OFW, will be established! Strike
three! So far, the only non-negotiable factor in the proposed Paloma building
is the parking - Werner will not agree to set aside even one space for
community parking if that space *might be required for the Cadillac. Hint,
A number of Venetians have met in the past few weeks
and discussed these problems. At present our position is that if the questions
raised earlier about the administration of the apartments is legally resolved
we will support the project if the following limitations on the parking
are legally required and enforced. All* of the parking spaces are reserved
for residential use! The spaces be made available to residents who live
between Speedway and Pacific Ave. Lastly, some type of audit be conducted
yearly to verify the residential use.
The whole matter came before a hearing examiner for the
L.A. City Planning Commission in late January. Many of the issues raised
above were aired at that hearing - as well as many flatly opposed to the
project no matter what compromises could be reached. The hearing examiner,
John Parker, caught most of the hints and concerns of the residents. His
recommendation for total denial of Scharff's proposal listed 9 major reasons
why the Commission should deny both the zone change and the coastal permit.
Traffic, density, inconsistency with the current plan and zoning were
the most compelling arguments raised in Parker's recommendation. The commission
is scheduled to consider the matter at its March 1st meeting in Rm 305
of LA City Hall (some time after 9:30 a.m.). Since it is rare that the
commission opens such meeting to public testimony, there may be no reason,
except perverse curiosity , to attend that hearing. Rest assured, however,
that no matter what the outcome of the commission meeting, the matter
is not closed.
Meanwhile, on a personal level, it is a sad commentary
that I feel so distrustful of something I want to support. Experience
tells me that people who won't agree to "putting it in writing"
don't really intend to do it.
The ball is in your court, Werner.
Is the Beachhead Camp?
by Carol Fondiller
Playwrights have typecast Cassandra as an anorexic type,
big eyed, her artistically tattered clothes hiding yet revealing her tiny
titties as she warns in lyrical schizophrenic voice about freebies from
people who have never given anything away for free.
So, what the hell am I doing, fat, big-boobed, my voice
harsh from saying "It's gonna happen!" and rising to a high
note when I squawk, "I told you so!"
It's all happening again. What business had we in Vietnam?
Did I really watch a Donahue show where men who avoided the draft confessed
to guilt feelings about not "fighting for their country" in
Vietnam? I did. We topped England's invasion of the Falklands by invading
Women fought for the right of controlling their own bodies,
and it seemed for a while in the 1970s that women won that right. Now
it seems that a group of people as reactionary as the Ayatollah Khomeini
are trying to make us nothing more than brood mares, trying to tell us
about getting government off our backs and into our bedrooms.
And, didn't we have hearings or something like that ten
years ago about some President or other who tried to abrogate the Constitution
of the United States, sabotage the electoral process, and use investigating
agencies to discredit and silence those people and groups who disagreed
with him, and didn't he resign? And didn't I just see him on the Tee Vee
coming on like some charming rapscallion of an old uncle grumbling, who
said, "Well, I resigned, isn't that apology enough?" It only
took a year and a half of constant threats of impeachment and revelation
of a complete blueprint--and now that old geezer who ten years ago was
bitching about his poverty now got five hundred thousand dollars for being
interviewed by a friend and employee? I checked with some friends and
they claim they saw it too, so I guess it really happened.
Seven, eight or nine years ago, I wrote an article called
"Invasion of the Afflu-Hip". There I stood, my big, flat feet
gripping the sand, looking to my ever-lasting sorrow like Emma Goldman
and feeling like Emma Bovary, saying "Hey, hey, look it, these sweet
soft folks who are telling us to be objective, reasonable and act polite
and the rich have a right to live in Venice also, and this would be such
a wonderful place to live in if only we'd get rid of the "undesireables,"
and I said, "Hey, they mean poor people." People who aren't
pretty. And they took pictures of us folks and our quaint native customs.
They wrote articles filled with premature nostalgia about cute townsfolk
fighting for their right to look at sunsets, started restaurants without
parking, yet refused to give up the lifestyle of suburbia--the two-or-more
car family. A map of Venice came out leaving out Oakwood, the area that
is predominently Black. Venice became like Marijuana. When the middle
class discovered Marijuana, it became a whole connoisseur culture from
outlaw drug, where it has become almost too costly for dishwashers and
jazz musicians, to a tiny "bud" that the Young Upwardly Mobile
Afflu-Hips have transformed into the same mystique they used to reserve
for imported wines. It's a fact. When the middle class "discovers"
something be it grass (thank goodness, cocaine is replacing grass in trendiness),
the Farmworkers, the Women's Movement, or Venice, they "improve"
it. They improve it so much that it bears little resemblance to what attracted
them to the substance, movement or locale in the first place.
Heck, maybe I'm feeling grumpy and out of sorts because
one of my lovers criticized one of my articles for not being objective
without reading it. And while I'm off the subject, when I am speaking
of "I", I've been very much aware that other people have
been putting themselves on the line and heroically working their buns
off to preserve, support and fight for the same things I believe in.
Maybe I'm pissed because I was told at a meeting that
my writing was "pleasant."
Maybe I'm angry because some of the new folks who are
moving into Venice feel that they're improving the neighborhood just by
deigning to live here. Maybe I'm angry because the same things are happening
over and over again. Doctor's offices being torn down to become parking
lots. Committees formed to rid the Ocean Front Walk of vulgarity, i.e.,
cheap entertainment, sunglasses and clothes, and efforts to replace cheap
trash with rich trash. The Cocaine and Croissant set replacing the Ripple
and Hot-Dog crowd--Bongo players replaced by expensive suitcase stereos
that blast out manufactured music.
Some time ago at a Venice Coastal Committee meeting,
an upwardly mobile movie industry type wanted the Venice Coastal Committee's
support for some project he had. In return, he said with a boyish smile,
he would do community work, like edit and proofread the Free Venice
Beachhead. The smarmy condescension of the man still rankles.
No, the Beachhead is not pretty. Its purpose is
not to sell advertising. Its purpose is to disseminate a point of view.
And the Collective members are not experts. Goddess knows, we want it
to look nice, but not at the expense of community input. If the Beachhead
became cosmetically pretty, there'd be no place for me. I laid out page
three in the April issue, I'm ashamed to say, and I tried to do a good
job. I didn't. Most of the time I do better, but I'm never great. But
if the Afflu-Hips got hold of the paper, I know I'd be aced out. I don't
even know if I'm speaking to anyone out there. Whether there's anyone
out there who really loves this town because things look like they've
been here for a while, because there are people who I've known for years
living here. Venice is not just a party pad to me. It's my chosen home
with good bus transportation, narrow and mysterious alleys and letter
carriers who know you. I'd rather have another hardware or shoe repair
shop than another caviar-and-champagne bar. So the Beachhead might
be camp to all those gentrificators and artrepreneurs whose "expertise"
and professionalism and style has succeeded in moving out the scruffy,
dull and non-artistic types who've made Venice what the "Winners"
want to take over.
I hope the Afflu-Hips and the YUPs still read me with
an air of patronising amusement.
I'm not talking to them anyway--is there anyone else
out there I'm talking to?
Or am I just this fat, crazy Cassandra standing out there
yelling into the wind and getting sand in my throat?
June 1984 #174
Imperialist Juggernaut Rolls On and On
and On and
by Arnold Springer
Developer-speculators have opened their 1984 offensive
against Venice. This time it is not residential condomania but commercial-retail-office
space that is the chosen vehicle.
Another difference is that this time the attack is not
coming from the Peninsula by way of the Marina, or from the Canal area,
but from Ocean Park in the north, along the Pacific Ave. Main St. corridor.
There is also significant development proposed for the north end of the
Ocean Front Walk.
The objective consequence of these new developments is
potentially staggering. A dramatic increase in the amount of commercial
office and retain space built along a line from Main St. in Ocean Park,
along Main St. in Venice, to Brooks Ave. and West Washington Blvd. - will
create a Venutian Berlin Wall between North Venice and the Oakwood neighborhood.
Once this salient is seized, occupied, and fortified with new construction
goodies, the gentrification of both neighborhoods can then proceed apace
quite independently of each other. If the scenario is successful the entire
socio-economic-political structure of the Venice community will be profoundly
Liberty Fish Project:
This is a very large project located partly in Ocean
Park and partly in Venice. The principles involved include: Al Ehringer
who runs the Oarhouse in O.P. and is a national class restaurateur; Bob
Skoura who, like Ehringer owns a lot of property on Main Street and the
owners of the Fish Enterprise restaurant on Neilson Way in Ocean Park.
The Liberty Fish project is a monster. It will cover
the entire block bounded by Pacific Ave. on the west, Marine St. on the
north, Main St. on the east, and Navy St. on the south. When completed
it will contain three buildings, one of which will be in Venice. That
structure is 40 ft. high, contains first floor retail, and office space
on the second and third floors.
The larger of the two Ocean Park structures is located
on the corner of Marine and Main Sts. It contains a 1,850 sq.ft. restaurant
on the first floor, and 3 additional floors of office space. It will be
52 ft. high. The third building, located on the corner of Marine and Pacific,
will be 27 ft. tall and contain office space on the ground floor and four
residential condos on the second floor.
This project will provide 156 parking spaces most of
which are hidden beneath the project on 1 1/2 floors of underground parking.
That portion of the project which is situated in Venice meets Coastal
Commission parking guidelines for our community' that is one parking space
per each 250 sq. ft. of office and retail space. The rest of the project
is however, only designed to satisfy the more permissive Santa Monica
parking code for that area. The developer has promised to provide 15 replacement
parking spaces for residential users only in Venice, and that about replaces
half of the total number of parking spaces no existing on the undeveloped
site as surface parking.
Representatives of the Ocean Park Community Organization
oppose the project on a number of grounds. Noise, congestion, cooking
odors, insufficient parking and failure to meet Coastal Commission parking
guidelines are of most import- but they also oppose the large restaurant
and the serving of alcohol.
At its May 21 meeting, the Santa Monica Planning Commission
approved the Liberty Fish project but provisionally restricted the restaurant
to 50 seats. (The applicants had requested a 130 seat restaurant. For
comparison, the Fish Enterprise restaurant contains 180 seats.) The Commission
did not however require the developers to reduce the 1,850 sq ft set aside
for a restaurant, and only such a reduction can insure that the eatery
will remain small.
This project can be appealed to the Coastal Commission.
A large steel and glass high-tech structure which the
Flinkman family proposed to build next to the Carlton Apartments. One
Life Natural Foods, the Meyers Restaurant, and some galleries are also
located in the Carlton. This project was also heard by the SM Planners
on May 21 and was rejected. That came as somewhat of a surprise since
the project appeared to meet all Santa Monica building and safety requirements
for height and bulk, and because it appeared to provide sufficient parking.
Neighbors of the project living on 2nd St. in Ocean Park
complained to the Commissioners that the building would vastly increase
the number of cars using 2nd St. A traffic study produced by the Flinkmans
and Liberty Fish (the two projects are catty-cornered) was introduced
to ostensibly show that both projects together would have no negative
impact on the area. This study was passed over by the Commission which,
in rejecting the project, asked bureaucrats to take another look at potential
traffic congestion and noise problems on 2nd street. It appeared however
that of equal import to the Commission was the building's design, which
many said was completely inappropriate for the Main St. site.
It is probable that the Flinkmans will return to the
Commission with a redesigned building. Regardless of the design, the building
will be 4 stories or about 40 ft. high, above one floor of subterranean
parking It is exclusively composed of retail and parking space.
The two projects together will have a great impact on
traffic and traffic congestion at the intersection of Rose and Main, and
Rose and Pacific Ave.
Meanwhile Tom Safran is back with another, even more
terrible project for the site he owns (with the help of an $800,000 short
term bailout loan from the City of Los Angeles!!) on Ocean Front Walk
between Navy and Ozone. This time he wants to construct a monolithic building
over the entire site, towering 46 ft. above the Ocean Front Walk.
The project is mixed commercial and residential with
about 102,000 sq. ft. of floor area. It will contain, if approved, 68
condos, 21 of which will be for seniors, and a 2,370 sq. ft. restaurant,
over one floor of subterranean parking.
Although the site has been used for parking for as long
as anyone can remember, and is a developed and legal parking lot, Mr.
Safran is refusing to provide any replacement parking. This in spite of
the fact that in two previous projects which he has presented over the
years to the City and the Coastal Commission, he has been ordered (by
the Commission) to provide replacement parking in addition to meeting
the Commission's strict parking guidelines.
A hearing on the Safran project was held in West Los
Angeles on May 22. The hearing officer from the Office of Zoning Administration
was Rbt. Janovici, who questioned the applicant as to why, when the City
Council had previously permitted him only about 26 residential units on
the site (above a restaurant which they also approved) why he now thought
he merited 68? Janovici also questioned the building's bulk and height.
The owners of some condos east of Speedway (Navy Street
Homeowners Assoc.) were represented by a lawyer named Fox who argued that
the parking situation and traffic congestion in the immediate area were
so bad that a full environmental impact report should have been prepared,
and especially a study of parking shortfalls and traffic congestion from
any new development in the neighborhood ought also to be prepared.
Many interested people from the neighborhood also showed
up to voice their strong opposition to the Safran project. Objections
included: the building was too high, too dense, the restaurant was too
big and would create too much noise along with the alcohol related social
problems, that the neighborhood was parking impacted and that replacement
parking should be provided on site.
Representatives of the Venice Coastal Committee (formerly
the Coastal Committee of the Venice Town Council) opposed the project.
The most important precedent here is replacement parking, although there
are many other things which are just plain unacceptable to the members
of the Committee. If the Safran project is approved without replacement
parking than the eventual parking shortfall in the North Beach neighborhood
will be so great that eventually the pressure to open up the walk streets
will become irresistible to the City, speculators and developers, and
even to renters with no place to park their transportation.
North Beach residents should look out for their own self
interest on this issue and contact the city to express their views. For
your information as proposed that Safran project exceeds the 30 ft. height
limit set by Coastal Commission guidelines for the neighborhood, and it
also violates the height limits in the draft North Venice Specific Plan.
It proposes residential uses in this area along Ocean Front Walk, a use
which is presently not encouraged by the Coastal guidelines. It also exceeds
the recommended number of lots which can be consolidated for any project.
Coastal guidelines specify two, Venice Specific Plan for North Beach calls
out 5, and the Safran lot has 7. It does not speak to the issue of replacement
parking. If no such replacement parking is required on this site, better
kiss replacement parking for north Venice good-bye. And if there is no
replacement parking that will mean the end for this neighborhood as we
Antique Car Lot project:
Project site is at 340 Main St. in Venice, just south
of the Rose Cafe parking lot on Rose and Main. Applicants propose a large,
57,000 sq. ft. building containing small retail shops on the first floor
and offices on the 2nd and 3rd floors. The building is 30 ft. high above
two levels of subterranean parking which will hold 237 cars. The strict
parking ratios of the Coastal Commission for this area of Venice are being
met by the developer. So far, with the exception of the Rose Cafe, no
retail business has been allowed on this section of Main St. If approved
this project will provide the first such new retail uses and will set
a precedent for the area. The land is zoned for light industrial (M-1)
uses, not for residential or commercial or retail uses.
Applicant is C. Gregory Walsh, although the project may
be owned or planned by the Richlar Corp and perhaps Frank Gehry, a world
class architect both of whom were principles in a failed project (the
famous Rose and Main Tombstone project of Venutian oppositional legend)
several years ago.
Quietly, stealthily, under cover of myriad bureaucratic
agencies, Werner Scharff, grey eminence supreme, has struck again. Ye
Gods, it's the Cadillac.
Without any public notification, he makes use of all
the favorable nooks and crannies that have been specially placed in books
of regulations and administrative procedures for the sole purpose of expediting
the projects of people who want to develop their properties (development:
a euphemism for profiteering.)
So, without anyone who might have opposed him knowing
it, Werner has gotten
1) an exemption from the Coastal Unit of the City of LS for any earthquaking
renovation of the Cadillac Hotel
2) an exemption from the State Coastal Commission which says ditto.
He is expressly forbidden to put shops or a restaurant
or to change the actual use of the ground floor commercial space.
Janna Zimmer, who is providing the legal defense for
the elderly living in the Cadillac, told the Beachhead that if people
in the Venice community intend to save the Cadillac and save the housing
for the elderly, they better start getting off their duffs, AND QUICK.
The Building and Safety Commission of the City of Los
Angeles has scheduled a hearing for June 7 to take evidence in a matter
brought up by Zimmer. She charges that the City of LA has been violating
the state law that regulates changes of use and occupancy along the coastal
zone. This legislation is called the Mello Bill. It says, according to
Zimmer, that when a city agency is considering a request on the part of
a developer to change an existing residential use to any other, (say,
hotel or commercial use) the city must first certify that other equivalent
housing opportunities (low rent, for instance) are available in the area.
And if they are not available, the city must tell the developer, under
certain conditions, to recreate a portion of those units in the area.
Zimmer says that the city has not been enforcing the Mello Bill and is
permitting conversions of low rental apartments without conducting the
proper hearings and making proper legal findings.
For its part, the city is relying, in this case, on Werner
Scharff's official statements to the effect that he is only "Renovating
an existing apartment house. Ms. Zimmer claims that he is on the record
stating that he wants to convert the Cadillac into a hotel, based on public
statements made in the conventional media by Mr. Scharff. Originally the
Cadillac was a hotel.
Ms. Zimmer would like the help of interested Venetians.
Her office phone number is ------. Anyone with knowledge of Mr. Scharff's
intentions as to the transformation of the Cadillac into a hotel should
call her. She says that if you want to save the elderly now in Venice
and the Cadillac elderly and their housing in particular, the time to
act is now.
August 1984 #176
Venice Land-Rush Continues
by Moe Stavnezer
Things are poppin' all over town!
Not since the late '60s early '70s have there been so
many plans for Venice coming into public view, at the same time, which
will have an enormous impact on the community.
The Ocean Front Walk, which many people equate with Venice
- especially media people - stands on the brink of great change: The Bath
House building, at Breeze Ave, nearing completion, signals the success
of developers providing virtually underwater parking for large OFW developments
(water is continually pumped out from the ground under the underground
parking to keep it and the foundation relatively dry); Werner Scharff's
proposal to conver the Cadillac building into a bed and breakfast hotel
brings to the most northern part of the Walk a far more affluent vision
than its recent past; Tom Saffran's plan for a combination of residential
condos (the first on a large scale on OFW) and affordable housing for
seniors, possibly with some commercial space included, will take another
private parking lot away and hasten the gentrification of north Venice.
There is also a trend toward converting marginal businesses into indoor
vending stalls. In one case a restaurant and in another a former market
have made this transition. Along with the general increase in vending
activities, these will encourage more traffic because they are not so
affected by changes in the weather. They may also prove more profitable
than, say a convenience market, and play a role in forcing the few quasi-community
oriented businesses off the Front.
(If all this doesn't yet stimulate your little "Venice"
button, consider the juicy rumor that the surveyors lately seen along
Speedway are making jokes about turning our infamous alley into a freeway
Main St./Hampton Dr are also poised on the edge of rapid
change. Beachhead fans will remember the June issue's outline of the 3
projects, in this area, already approved at the City level (mainly office
and retail), and that more are in the works. There are ominous signs of
potentially drastic change on Hampton - the street parallel with Main,
one block to the east. Buildings that until recently housed local industries
(Tasty Spuds and Jason Cosmetics) are up for sale. It is unlikely, given
current land prices and interest rates, that these buildings will continue
to be used for manufacturing. More likely we can contemplate some type
of office or retail use. The same is true of the old Hammond Lumber lot,
until recently a movie studio for the Roger Corman group. Now it's been
sold to a group of attorneys whose plans for the site are as yet unknown.
Along with the imminent departure of RTD (see story in Beachhead) these
goings-on portend an escalating gentrification at the eastern edge of
Oakwood and the western edge of north Venice.
Continuing southeast from Hampton Dr. along Electric
Ave., we can expect a number of changes on the railroad right-of-way since
Southern Pacific has begun selling off parcels of that land. I suspect
the new uses will be as varied as the new owners and will include parking,
new buildings (commercial is most likely), and the expansion of existing
businesses. On Washington St itself, the emergence of a Merchants Association,
which sponsored the recent street faire) appears to indicate that people
doing business there are beginning to have a more unified idea about what
they want to happen on the street. Indeed, the group's latest newsletter
broaches the idea of another event. Many merchants also want to change
the name of the street to Kinney Blvd. (our "founding father")
which would help end the confusion of having 4 streets named Washington
in the community. Many of these same merchants have long cast envious
glances toward Main St. in Santa Monica where chi-chi ships come and go
with more regularity than Ex-Lax and a parking space can be more difficult
to find than the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.
Enter Venice Blvd. The City has sent out an RFP (Request
for Proposal) concerning the median strip of Venice from Ocean Ave. to
Lincoln Blvd. An RFP is bureaucratese for "make me an offer."
The City is asking an entrepreneur to make an offer to turn the strip,
from Ocean to Oakwood into a parking lot the revenue from which would
go to the company that got the contract. So will responsibility for maintenance.
Given the heavy parking demand, especially during the summer, and the
fact that much of the land is already, de facto, a parking lot, having
it paved and landscaped seems on OK idea. Of course, none of the truck/bus
people living on the land will mind at all. Councilwoman Pat Russell's
aid Dave Granis indicated that the parking would either be metered or
attendant. If it's the latter, it will be possible for businesses in the
area, on both Venice and Washington Blvds, to validate parking and, therefore,
satisfy some of their parking needs using this land. It seems to me that
a potential conflict will exist on summer weekends when parking demand
for the beach fills this stretch of land already. There haven't been any
public hearings on the proposal as yet - we'll try to keep you informed.
Continuing, slightly to the west, along Ocean Ace., and
taking a right at any number of streets brings us to the Canals - the
land of $400,000 homes, More than 70% of the area's property owners have
voted to fund an assessment district to repair the sidewalks, clean the
bottoms of the canals and lint the banks with some kind of non-dirt substance.
An assessment district is when property owners "tax" themselves
to pay for various kinds of repairs. Only property owners, not renters,
can initiate this mechanism. A number of tenants, especially those who've
lived at the Canals are not too happy because they know that rents will
be raised to pay their owners share of the assessment. Also, a number
of owners, the 25%+ who did not sign the assessment petition will be forced
to pay for an "improvement" that they don't approve of. The
new sidewalks etc. proposed will be a double edges sword - on one hand
they will increase the property values (gasp!) in the area on the other
they will allow more visitors/tourists into the canals. They will also,
at least partially, destroy the natural look of the banks and the canals
A hop, skip and a jump brings us to the Peninsula. Seems
the CIty has chosen the "logical" time of an Olympic summer
to bar parking on its vacant lots, just east of Pacific Ave., which allow
some access to the Peninsula beach. One rumor is that a land swap is in
the offing. The City will trade its buildable lots, of which it has 50
on the Peninsula alone, to landowners along the western edge of the Ballona
Lagoon where the lots are unbuildable. The City, the story continues,
would then put strip parking on the narrow strip between, say, Lighthouse
and Topsail streets. It's a pretty good idea in order to increase use
of this very under-utilized beach where lack of parking is the primary
reason for the sparse crowds. One needs to question, however, if in a
lot for lot trade the City isn't getting the short end of a very expensive
Lastly, and in general, you may have noticed that again
and again I seem to mention parking in this article. Parking has become
the linchpin of development in Venice. Developers and the City have finally
understood the very direct relationship between the two with a little
help from community activists and the Coastal Commission. (It is a sad
commentary that the center of discussion about new development in Venice
used to be providing affordable housing - now it's affordable parking!)
Most developers now recognize that new development, especially if it's
commercial, will not fly lacking sufficient parking. Almost everyone also
understands that private parking lots heavily used by beachgoers (almost
as much a part of Venice as the residents) cannot continue to disappear
under new development without having an impact on everybody. Two years
ago there was a shooting over a parking space in my neighborhood. Tempers
have cooled a bit since then, but if we don't pay a whole bunch of attention
to the parking part of any development we will contribute to the outbreak
of a full scale war!
A final tidbit. The huge lot at the corner, northwest,
of Rose & Main is now for sale by the Southern Pacific. Along with
the RTD land, this is a crucial piece of property on Main St. It would
make a wonderful site for some affordable housing and some parking.
Scrounging Your Next Meal
The New Venice?
January 1984 #169
Last Friday morning in that old Venice landmark the Lafayette
Cafe' on Ocean Front Walk a young man came in. Walking to a table just
vacated with some food still left on the plates he attempted to pick up
Amid laughter and smug smiles he was firmly seized by
the owner and pushed out the door.
The pretty blonde waitress, saying something about needing
a bouncer proceeded to remove the plates and throw away the food.
"I saw the young man you threw out," I said
when I went to pay my check.
"Yes," he replied, "Many here are hungry."
"Then why," I replied "did you throw out
the hungry young man and throw away the food?"
The Lafayette is becoming "respectable."
Has Venice's "bedroom community" of apartment
dwellers who work in LA made Venice more "respectable"?
Does "respectable" mean respecting money but
not respecting the needs of people?
I will never forget the smugness on those faces.
The Homeless Economy
by Rhonda Ridabot
March 1984 #171
How many people are living on the street? Laundromats?
Bushes? Parking lots? Beaches? Behind trees and buildings?
How many people are living in their automobiles, including
How many are living with their friends?
AND DO WE CALL THIS LIVING?
Is there any way of actually figuring out how many there
are and how rapidly they are increasing?
The unlawful detainer office records evictions: only
completed cases, settle, will provide that answer. We do know that the
property owners are winning eviction cases, 99% to 1% tenants. Those figures
were approximate in Oct. 1983. But as to the number of tenants put out
into the street from these, many times, illegal evictions, those figures
are not available.
In some areas, particularly Venice, an obvious increase
of street people is occuring. Backpacks, cars, vans, transients, and a
lot of them.
And where do they go for food and shelter?
Not to Ronald and Nancy's house to be sure.
As far as food for the homeless - there is about 1/2
of what there was available 6 months ago. The food bank has been low and
food distribution agencies have been forced to reduce the size of the
bags of food down, just to make sure that there's enough to go around.
As far as clothin for the homeless - your better cities
garbage can is probably the best bet. We prefer to either trash it or
the thrift store.
And don't get caught being homeless either. You could
end up in jail. But they are crowded too, so that isn't a good answer
You would think a supposed improved economy would mend
some of the above mentioned problems.
As a result of higher rents, certain agencies report
that as many as 10 people are living together in one bedroom apartments.
What is the solution?
GOVERNMENT INTEREST AND AWARENESS OF A GROWING PROBLEM,
NEEDING ASSISTANCE AND STUDY.
I don't imagine the homeless would ever unite and revolt,
or would they?
The Deane Dana Desert
This article is to inform you that the strip of grass
and palm trees bordering the Ocean Front Walk between Rose Ave. and the
Venice Pier is being allowed to die by LA County Supervisor Dean Dana.
Despite numerous complaints to his office, the supervisor
for the Venice/Marina area has completely neglected to maintain the costly
automatic sprinkler system in this area, without which the lawn and trees
As of this writing over 2/3 of the lawn has died. What
remains has been kept alive only by the valiant efforts by a handful of
When Dane took office he inherited a completely healthy
lawn with well repaired and functioning sprinklers and a brand new automatic
sprinkler-timer which was working perfectly. It would have been cheap
and easy to maintain this expensive and valuable community resource. Instead,
for no good reason, Dana has knowingly allowed it to fall into a state
of terminal neglect and disrepair.
It has been nearly two years since the LA County Dept.
of Beaches (under Dana's supervision) has repaired or replaced any broken
sprinkler heads. The automatic timing system was shut off a couple of
years ago and has never been turned back on. Only rain and local residents
manually turning on individual sprinklers overnight have kept the grass
alive since then. Sparse rain and attrition among interested locals has
resulted in the current"Dana Desert." We are told that there
just isn't enough money while at the same time Dana just built a $Million-plus
park (bike path, lawn, exotic plants and flowers, benches, exercise course)
in the Marina which practically no-one uses but which is none-the-less
maintained like the White House lawn. At the same time we see the all-too-infrequent
county work crew come to the beachfront and stand in one spot for six
hours, leaning on their shovels and "looking busy" while wasting
our money and their time doing nothing.
In fact, the Beach Dept. has done much more to sabotage
the system than to maintain it. Examples are sending crews to bury the
sprinklers and local flow-boxes in sand so that they soon overgrow with
grass and disappear, failing to put up wind-fences in spots which lets
the sand blow over and bury the lawn, pouring concrete in flow-regulation
boxes to prohibit locals from turning on the sprinklers, removing key
sprinklers at hilltops so that those sections die even when the sprinklers
are turned on, etc. Apparently the idea is that if there is no lawn there
is no work to do maintaining it.
They have a million excuses. Beach dept. jobs are 20-30
year positions. They get expert at devising excuses which they repeat
to each successively elected supervisor. Example--they say they shut off
the timer because sand has turned the lawn into hills and they want to
let the grass die, remove the hills and then re-plant flat lawns. The
fact is that only about 1/3 of the lawn is hills and since the extremely
expensive timer has switches for each section of lawn, they could switch
off water to the hills only while continuing to keep the rest of the grass
alive. One of Dana's assistants said that she was told that some of the
sprinklers were buried in sand and therefore if the timer was switched
on, they would "blow up or something."!!! Then there's the old
standby that they don't have the money. The truth is that the started
with a perfect system and lawn and it would have taken very little money
to keep it in shape.
The truth may be that a dead beachfront means more Olympic
Tourist Money gets spent in the Marina, or maybe no grass and trees signals
phase one of a new row of construction on the front where the park was
or maybe just influential Marina-types were jealous of Free-Venice attracting
so many people Whatever the reason, LA's most heavily-used free recreational
facility is being put to death, thanks to Dean Dana.
Maybe a new supervisor (Alex Pope) would give us a better
July 1984 #175
Fables and Foibles
"Who said democracy would be easy?"
John Haag at the first Venice Town Council meeting
There she (if we must personalize a structure) sits all
right, though I think squats would be more accurate in 5-1/2 acres of
some of the most valuable beach-front property this side of Miami. It's
owned by the City/County of Los Angeles, i.e., us and through a series
of mishaps, bad planning, gerrymandering boondoggles, pork barrels and
other politically bad karmic catastrophes, the focus of this 5-1/2 acre
gold mine is useless. The interior of the pavilion is useless and has
been for at least 9/10ths of its 23 years of existence.
In 1961, Councilman Rundberg had a dream. He saw a way
to "upgrade" Venice and do some favor for some friends and make
a little money on the side. An open-air theater called "Theater-by-the-Sea"
was constructed. It was advertised, I remember, as going to bring people
to the area. It was run by a private organization. Among its offerings
were the "Seven Year Itch" which starred an ex-Playboy bunny.
I didn't see that one, but I did see most of "Othello." The
title role was played by that King of Hammond Organ-like tones that resonated
through his head, William Marshall. It was cold at night. The wooden backless
benches were hard and planes zoomed over, drowning out the heavily-miked
actors. Even at that time in Venice, there were actors, artists, playwrights,
audience, etc. that were cordially invited NOT to take part or contribute
to the theater. One of the puff pieces in the Independent Journal comes
to mind - fine theater and "Security guards to escort patrons to
their cars." Theater-by-the-Sea never got off the ground artistically
or financially. Councilman Rundberg was found to have received $10,000
from the lessees and owners of Theater-by-the-Sea. Rundberg left for sunnier
climes (Mexico, I believe) and was indicted in absentia. Timberlake became
caretaker-Councilman of the 6th District. The 6th District was captured
by Marvin Braude, a fairly Liberal conservationist. At one time, he was
asked to put a roof on the Pavilion. Somehow, the City did just that,
but neglected to take care of the acoustics. The 6th District was rearranged
to insure the Democratic stronghold on the West side. Pat Russell was
elected Councilperson and has been since the early 70s. Attempts were
made by various Venetian groups to make the Pavilion part of the community.
Now, I am only talking about the Pavilion. The other parts of the 5-1/2
acres, including the downstairs Bocce Ball and meeting rooms, the weightlifting
pen and paddle tennis courts and children's play area were well used by
Senior citizens, organizations, youth groups and church groups who gave
out free Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners to the homeless and/or poor.
But I shall confine my personal recollections to the Great Flying Saucer,
Blown Up Delores Drive in style architecture, the definitive, deco drecko
City Council architectural candidate Draconian style architecture, the
Pavilion - it/her/himself.
During the early 70s, several theater groups tried to
use the theater. I remember being in a play that was supposed to last
1-1/2 hours. But, because of the acoustics, we had to speak very slowly,
to combat the echoes, and the play lasted 2-1/2 hours, longer than most
of the audience.
I must tell you that when I read this article at the
Beachhead Collective, much discussion and controversy ensued. Some of
the Beachheaders leaped in with valuable and fascinating informational
tidbits. I welcome their amplifications on certain points, and look forward
to seeing their articles (and yours, too, please!) in the Free Venice
Beachhead. However, as I told the Collective, these memories and recollections
are my recollections trashed from the muddled files of my mind, with my
very own biases and lapses of memory, and if they and you don't like,
well tough tacos. Don't grab me on the Ocean Front Walk or at Chipperwich's
and beat yer chops. Refute, recollect, correct in writing! Anyway, doe
to cutbacks in staff and maintenance, the Pavilion fell into a sad state
Charles Feick, 3-year resident of Venice, was interested
in getting the Pavilion renovated and re-starting the Venice Town Council.
So on Summer Solstice, June 21st. About 100 people showed up to find out
what could be done.
Now, the City had put out a call for Requests for Proposals
from interested parties. I remember seeing the plans of a local artrepreneur
about 2 years ago that involved tearing up the lawn area in front of the
Pavilion and putting in underground parking and then replacing the lawn.
Of course, there were to be boutiques, booktiques, quichetiques, sushitiques,
artiques, but no tackytiques or videotiques in the Pavilion and outside
picnic area. And nothing, I'm sure, for under $15. The Venice Beach Associating,
an organization of ocean-front businesses, wanted to tear the Pavilion
down. This proposal was again brought up by Rose Qualey of the Venice
Chamber of Commerce. But seriously, folks, what happens to the Pavilion
affects the surrounding area which is paid for by all the Los Angeles
County and City residents. So how the Pavilion is used and by whom, could
well affect public access to the 5-1/2 acres that include the Pavilion.
Charles Feick researched and got together a Venice Pavilion
Revitalization Committee. A local architect and an acoustics engineer
both said that to renovate the Pavilion so that it could be used would
cost at least $50,000. Osah Harmon who had performed in the Pavilion in
a fundraiser for Los Angeles Artists for Survival, an anti-nuclear group,
said that it could be renovated for much less, "about $10,000."
A rock group impresario wanted to do a fundraiser for
Mr. Feick, using rock groups and amplified music. This was met with a
resounding lack of enthusiasm. The universal query of "Why is Venice
always the lowest of priorities?" was given the universal answer
by City and Councilman representatives. Venice is not lowest on the list.
SO there. Stories of muggings, shootings, stabbings, urination, dope dealing
were told. My mind wandered. The businesspeople want the chance to lease
or rent the Pavilion for some profit-making venture. They don't want to
pay a lot of money, or suffer too much control from the City and County,
and they didn't want to have to provide much in return for free public
access. The residents were apprehensive about parking, more noise, more
Actors wanted acting. Mary Lou Johnson asked about using
revenues from the movies that were shot in Venice that disrupted the existence
of residents and visitors. She also asked about Quimby funds that come
from "large developers that rip off the public by taking away public
lands and recompense the public by putting in a certain percentage of
the cost and/or profit of the developments into the Quimby funds. She
also wanted a "Venice Historical Museum."
Pearl White wanted to re-install the day-care center,
Senior Citizens activities and other community-oriented services that
had been cut since Prop. 13 and Reagan's metrophobic budget cuts.
A local minister wanted to open the kitchen and feed
the poor. Someone else proposed that some of the Pavilion and surroundings
be used to house the homeless.
A nearby resident complained that the Pavilion was not
lit, and stated that the Pavilion was one of the greatest magnets of crime
and he came from New York City. There was talk of drugs. Where? Where?
Where? My mind whined. John Stein wanted to know what the City would do
if they decided not to improve it. "Just padlock it? What is actually
being thought of?"
Ed Pearl pointed out that in order to use the Pavilion,
the community had to be involved and for the community to be involved,
it had to have some control over what it was to be used for and the City
has never asked the community for input.
Lee Babbitt declared the Pavilion and surrounding area"one
of the great resources of the City," and liked the "Joyous confrontations
in Venice of all kinds of people." About two years ago, he had submitted
a proposal that included aerobics, the Heart Association, a sport center
and skating exhibition center. I visualized the Venice Beach Association
rising Phoenix-like to protest as they had in the past when a skate dancing
area was provided, screaming "Gangs! Gangs! Gangs! Drugs! Drugs!
Drugs! They don't spend money! Money! Money!"
The Electric Cafe
by Moe Stavnezer
How does the idea of going to a local "cafe"
and having a little tete-a-tete with some folks sitting in their favorite
place on the other side of LA grab you? How 'bout if you could see those
people and, maybe, draw a picture with them even though you're 15-20 miles
distant from them. Maybe a friendly game of tic-tac-toe? Well hang on
folks, the Electric Cafe is coming to Venice!
Actually it's coming to LA at 5 locations, one of which
is Gunter's on West Washington Bl. Electric Cafe', the brainchild of Sherrie
Rabinowitz and Kit Balloway, will connect 4 eateries in various LA communities
as well as the LA Museum of Contemporary Art using computers, video cameras,
electronic writing tablets and speaker phones. The idea is to communicate,
to connect with other people in other places using the kind of technology
usually only available to "the powers that be" whether corporate
or military or... (fill in the blank). Commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary
Art for the 1984 Olympic Arts Festival, Electric Cafe will be open from
July 18 through Sept. 6th mainly between the hours of 2 pm and 8 or 9
In addition to Gunter's, Electric Cafe is Ana Maria's
Restaurant in East LA, the Gumbo House in South LA, and the Eighth St.
Restaurant in Koreatown.
"Electric Cafe will be a network for creative conversation
- a forum for shared ideas and exchanges of art, cultural concerns,"
Kit and Sherrie feel. "It is a vehicle for expressing and sharing
diverse cultural influences and images that make up Los Angeles,"
they continue. With lots of animation, they talk about the velocity with
which information is exchanged at upper levels of society and feel that
the Electric Cafe concept is a way for more ordinary people to be able
to make use of technology to keep up with things that concern them - from
art to politics to a friendly conversation to a meeting across town without
ever leaving one's neighborhood.
But what will happen when Electric Cafe pulls up stakes
and leaves town? Will people feel ripped-off? Will they try to raise funds
to keep it going? Will anyone care at all? And will some people be reminded
of George Orwell's 1984 and view Electric Cafe as a testing ground for
spying with TV? Kit and Sherrie fully expect all of these, and many more,
questions to arise at Electric Cafe. "That," they say, "is
the whole point."
Gunter Hiller makes the most outrageously wonderful cheesecake
in the western world. "Gunter's" fits right in with the Electric
Cafe concept, blending as it does food and conversation as an essential
item on his menu. Gunter's current involvement is with the Planetary Initiative
(a worldwide effort promoting peace and peacefulness.) "If electronic
devices can help build a better world, I'm all for it," he says.
"But," he cautions, "it can be a gimmick, it depends on
how it's used, it's simply a tool." Gunter's parents died in a concentration
camp and feels that, though Hitler is dead, the mechanisms he created
are still in place. He sees his restaurant as a statement about improving
the world we live in and welcomes his role in Electric Cafe as a way to
bring people of different ethnic, social and economic backgrounds together.
(Gunter's is located at 1009 W. Washington Blvd. in Venice.)
Electric Cafe will be free for people who want to use
it, whether to hold computerized conversations about virtually any subject,
or to hold meetings or forums between and among the participating cafes.
Each location will have a "bulletin board" so that patrons can
see what's been going on at all the cafes.
Electronic Cafe (Excuse us, folks, we've been calling
you Electric all this time) is a complex of equipment. Each cafe will
have a set-up that includes: a computer; a slow-scan, still image video
system; a digital writing tablet; and a hard copy printer. There will
be a main computer at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Communication is
via telephone lines. The system allows many ways to communicate. For instance,
using the electronic tablet, you can write a note or draw a picture that
will appear on the video screen where you are and also at the cafe you're
in contact with. The person(s) at the other end can add to your message
or help create the drawing.