City attorney is negotiating with state over Venice Beach curfew

City would lift nighttime ban on most beaches, except Venice, but negotiations continue

Los Angeles City Atty. Mike Feuer is negotiating a possible resolution to a dispute with the state Coastal Commission over an overnight curfew at Venice and other city beaches, officials said Monday.

Speaking at the City Council's Arts, Parks, Health, Aging and River Committee meeting, Councilman Mike Bonin said the city was "trying to find some middle way" to resolve the commission's objections to the midnight-to-5 a.m. ban. A spokeswoman for Coastal Commission Deputy Director Jack Ainsworth said the parties met Jan. 30.

The curfew on the city's 11-mile coastline has been in place since 1988, when an alarm went up about gang violence along the shore. Many coastal cities later copied the Los Angeles ordinance.

With the dramatic drop in crime in recent years, the Coastal Commission began challenging the ban, most recently last April. Bonin, who represents the coast, responded by asking Feuer for a draft ordinance, which came before the arts and parks committee Monday.

The ordinance proposed opening a nighttime corridor to the shore at Dockweiler and Will Rogers beach parks, but excluded Venice from the easing.  Advocates on Monday told the committee the city was using the ban to harass homeless people by ticketing them for sleeping or smoking on the beach.

They also said the curfew was pushing homeless people into residential neighborhoods, where homeowners complain bitterly of breaks-ins, public defecation and trash.

"What you're actually doing is denying all of us the right to come to Venice Beach at night to fish or look at the stars," said Steve Clare, executive director of the Venice Community Housing Corp. "Why can't we have regular patrols that could permit the people of Los Angeles to enjoy Venice Beach at night?"

Bonin said he "wasn't wild about curfews," but added that Los Angeles police continue to find it a "significant tool" to combat crime on Venice Beach.

The committee delayed consideration of the draft ordinance for 30 days. Mitch O'Farrell, the committee chairman, told the audience the city had made strides toward ending homelessness. "Were taking major steps to house our homeless," he said.

Twitter: @geholland






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