Boardwalk: Plans for Refurbishing the Venice Beach Area

Your desire to provide "balanced" coverage of the Venice Boardwalk debate has led to a magnification of a tiny but vocal minority, many of whom do not live in our community. Let me give a few examples.

Early on we were confronted by an odd character from Santa Monica. This classic news hound copied the Historical Boardwalk refurbishment plan prepared by the leading Venice civic organizations, made a few changes and tried to pass off his version as "the community's plan." This led the public to erroneously think there are two current, legitimate plans in circulation.

I suppose we should be flattered that our master plan was so compelling that he wanted to use it as the base for his bogus version. Unfortunately his changes shortchanged the boardwalk of needed improvements, diverting millions of dollars to the white elephant of Venice--the pavilion. This 30-year-old dysfunctional structure could be built anew for less than the $2 million estimated by the Coastal Conservancy to bring it up to current building, parking, disabled and seismic codes.

Then we were entertained by a Hawthorne resident posing as a Venice historian. Ironically, his complaint was that we proposed to replicate the historic 1930s lighting and use brick on the boardwalk--a popular building material of the 1905 Venice-of-America era. He favored asphalt, a petroleum-based substance that erodes and leaches into Santa Monica Bay, killing the grass in the adjoining park on the way.

Now comes a Mr. McLoskey, who hails from Cupertino in the Silicon Valley in Northern California, and Mr. Wallach, a Playa del Rey resident (Letters, Sept. 22, 1994).

Unfortunately, neither gentleman participated in the two-year-long Coastal Conservancy workshop process in 1989-90 that led to the community's Venice Waterfront Restoration Plan. Two years ago, this plan was adopted by voter approval of Proposition A and stands as the blueprint for boardwalk refurbishment. For example, it reflects the desire of most of the community to demolish the pavilion.

Mr. McLoskey recommends that we leave the dangerous curves on the bike path, not restrict performers to specific areas, and not re-create the Third Street Promenade. While I welcome his input, his lack of familiarity with the venue has led him astray. I am a frequent user of the bike path and my scrapes and scars attest to the need to straighten the path. No one has ever suggested restricting performers. And we have proposed restoring the boardwalk to its 1905 Venice-of-America ambience, not a 1992 Promenade style.

From south of Ballona Creek, Mr. Wallach questions who speaks for Venice. I'd say the voters of Venice--they approved Proposition A, tying expenditure of $10 million to the conservancy plan.

I'd also say the nonprofit Venice civic improvement groups like the 200-plus-member Venice Action Committee and the longstanding Venice Town Council speak for Venice. They wear a well-earned mantle of leadership. Over the last five years, their members paid their dues to develop both the Coastal Conservancy plan and its complement, the historical refurbishment plan. And unlike those who live in Cupertino, Santa Monica, Hawthorne and Playa del Rey, we make our home in Venice and deserve to be heard on a project taking place in our back yard.


Executive Director

Venice Boardwalk Assn .

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