Boardwalk: 2 Fronts of Opposition

Perhaps if we all lowered our voices, we could get the Venice Beach refurbishment plan under way. Mr. Ryavec, we who oppose certain parts of your organization's plan are not scoundrels and obstructionists. We have a point of view that is shared by a substantial part of the Venice community, as evidenced by the heavy turnout and vigorous testimony at recent meetings.

We are in favor of large parts of the Venice Boardwalk Association's plan. Most of us agree that the pier should be repaired. Most of us agree that the restrooms should be refurbished (although we don't quite understand how making them better will also make them safer). Most of us agree that a skating path should be constructed adjacent to the bike path. We can easily settle the issue of "dangerous curves" on the bike path--none of us favor "dangerous curves!" Most of us agree to refurbishing the pagodas, though we have minor differences on the design of those repairs.

I don't know Jerry Rubin, but I am puzzled by your relentless attack on his "plan" on the grounds that it contains large portions of your plan! Why not commend those parts of the alternate plan you agree with so that we can get on with the improvements?

Some of us are apprehensive about the entertainment pockets. There are valid arguments on both sides--but it seems to many of us that the pockets are a first step leading to licensing and regulation. Surely we can have a civil debate on the issue, and come to some reasonable compromise.

The major source of the recent vigorous opposition to the VBA plan is the proposal to spend $1,650,000 on bricking the boardwalk and $315,000 (plus installation and wiring costs) on "historic" light fixtures that, admittedly, do not effectively illuminate the boardwalk so that they will have to be augmented by existing light standards. Your opponents feel that your plan is a $2,000,000 raid on public bond money for the benefit of boardwalk landlords, and that it will result in a gentrified strip shopping mall similar to the Third Street Promenade and Universal CityWalk--the two ideals that proponents of your plan constantly cite. Keep in mind, Mr. Ryavec, that all of us are going to pay on those bonds--not just the landowners.

Many of us would prefer to see that money spent on refurbishing the Pavilion so that it can become a major community cultural center. Many of us would like to see some of it spent on the Ballona wetlands. Those of us who oppose this part of the VBA plan (including, incidentally, many boardwalk merchants) feel that it would destroy the special nature of Venice Beach. That those who designed the plan spent four years on the task is hardly a reasonable response to our objections--we would object even if you had spent 10 years.

I frankly do not know how to resolve this impasse civilly. Shouting at each other is ineffective, and settles nothing. Perhaps we could have a referendum--at least allow the residents and workers of Venice to select a proposal either to brick Ocean Front Walk and install the "historic" light standards or refurbish the Pavilion. Let's argue about the benefits and costs of each proposal, and agree to accept the populace's decision.




Who would you travel across the city, state or world to see? tattooed-daredevil juggling chain-saws or a man selling T-shirts? The merchants don't bring tourists to Venice; the artists and entertainers do. The proposal (to renovate the Venice Boardwalk) is another example of crass commercialism leeching onto the back of art.

This is my home. I love Venice and the people that make it special and unique. I don't feel threatened by them in any way, but I do find this proposal a threat to our uniqueness.

They can build another Universal City; they can put down a red brick road from here to Disneyland, but they won't be capturing the magic of this community. They'll be destroying it.

You'd think by now people would have learned that it's just this kind of aggressive "improvement" plans that have left holes of extinction in this world. And not only have we wiped out species of animals and plant life but we were duped into doing it by someone telling us it was for our own good.

Would anyone suggest straightening the Leaning Tower of Pisa to make it look more "appropriate?"

Would anyone suggest refurbishing the Venus de Milo back to some Hugh Hefner historical ideal to increase its value?

Should Venice be homogenized and sterilized and compromised to line the pockets of merchants?

I say no.



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