Nine very long years after lawsuits at Venice Beach caused it to be suspended, on Wednesday the Board of Recreation and Parks Commissioners passed a new version of the Illegal Vendors code within LAMC 63.44 sections governing City parks.
It's damn well time they did!
The reticence on the part of the City Attorney to deal with this issue in a reasonably timely fashion is unconscionable. For nine years, the City itself was left wide open to a variety of potentially costly liability lawsuits. After all, if someone falls off a horse they paid to ride in a City park or someone gets sick from food purchased in a City park, who are they going to sue? How about the equestrian riding on a legal park trail whose horse spooks and throws them when a vendor wagon or vendor with flowers rushes out in front of them - who are they going to sue?
The physical impact to the facilities itself has been pretty bad. City parks are looking like street parties on weekends, with vendors just about everywhere including pushing their carts deep into sensitive wildlife areas of some parks to sell food, toys, beer, cigarettes, and so on.
Concessionaire agreements for the parks dept. were significantly impacted, too. Vendors paying for exclusive contracts in City parks were often inundated with unregulated competition, making such contracts undesirable. This financially impacts the Dept. of Recreation and Parks because they are semi-proprietary and should therefore be able to control any financial undertaking on their properties. Without the suspended code, the Dept. had no control essentially of their own properties.
Meanwhile, Park Rangers and law enforcement were left with no authority to cite on the basis of the illegal vending - period.
With the vote on Wednesday, the Board of Commissioners took the first official step to stopping the anarchy by passing the new ordinance content. It didn't happen quickly, though. This particular issue caused some consternation on the part of the Board who took their time with it over the course of two meetings with special committees. Their approach to this issue is entirely unlike how they handled the two Tom LaBonge boutique items that failed to have proper CEQA work done on them and rightfully drew lawsuits. The Board passed those easily. I'm trying to decide if the board's new found caution is is a good thing (they're learning), or they were just following someone's (Mayoral?) orders again.
Let's hope this is a good thing and they're learning.
I should note that it was Rocky Delgadillo and Carmen Trutanich's office
who let this crap slide. These two really were a complete waste of
taxpayer dollars, weren't they? Thank you to Mike Feuer's office for
The code update also includes a tightened definition of Camping in Parks, which should help with transient management issues. Next stop is a vote at City Council. Hopefully these past nine years of park impacts have not been lost on councilmembers, and they pass this without changes.
Link to the new code is here.
Or read on Scribd -