Venice Justice Committee Free Speech Lawsuit — City Of Los Angeles Settles — Agrees To Rewrite Beach Ordinance To Expressly Permit Leafletting, Petitioning, And So Forth On Boardwalk Until Midnight — And To Pay Carol Sobel $80,000 — When Will They Ever Learn?

Peggy Lee Kennedy and the Venice Justice Committee advocate for the rights of homeless people on the Venice Boardwalk. The LAPD has regularly threatened Kennedy with arrest for illegal vending in violation of the ordinance regulating such activities on the Boardwalk, that is to say, LAMC §42.15. Thus in February 2016 Carol Sobel filed suit in federal court on behalf of the activists. The suit survived a motion to dismiss after an August 2016 hearing in which not only did the City’s oral arguments seem pathetically pro forma but the judge, Dean Pregerson, seemed openly skeptical of the City’s position.

And that’s pretty much where things stood for over two years until yesterday, Wednesday, October 10, 2018, when the City of Los Angeles passed a motion agreeing to settle the case. The terms are excellent for the plaintiffs. The City agrees to rewrite the relevant section of LAMC 42.15 to explicitly state that activities protected by the First Amendment, including the use of a table, are expressly allowed on the Boardwalk until midnight. The City will also pay Carol Sobel’s office $80,000 for her excellent work on this matter. Turn the page for the full text of the motion. You can also read most of the pleadings here on Archive.Org.

Full text of yesterday’s motion settling Venice Justice Committee v. City of Los Angeles:

I HEREBY MOVE that the Council ADOPT the following recommendations of the City Attorney in order to effect payment of attorney’s fees and costs and settlement in the case entitled Venice Justice Committee, et al. v. City of Los Angeles, et al., United States District Court Case No. 2:16-CV-01115-DDP-SS (the pending litigation concerns Los Angeles Municipal Code [LAMC] Section 42.15.) SUBJECT TO THE APPROVAL OF THE MAYOR:

1. AUTHORIZE the City Attorney to pay $80,000 for Plaintiff’s attorneys’ fees and costs in the above-entitled matter.
2. AUTHORIZE the City Attorney to settle the above-entitled matter along the following proposed terms:

a. The City agrees to change the language of LAMC Section 42.15 in two places as follows:
i. Subsection E.9 would be amended to read: Except as provided in Subsection F.1, no Person shall set up or set down items in, take down items from or block, or attempt to reserve a Designated Space between Sunset and 9:00 a.m.
ii. Subsection F would be amended to change the title of Subsection F (as set forth below), and to insert a new F-1 (the current F-1 and F-2 would be renumbered F-2 and F-3, respectively)

F. Additional Rules for Activities in the Designated Spaces, and Areas Outside ofthe Designated Spaces, Pagodas, and Recreation Area.

1. Use of the Designated Spaces After Sunset.
No Vending or Performing may occur in the Designated Spaces between Sunset and 9:00 a.m. After Sunset, First Amendment activities, including but not limited to petition gathering, political speech or other protected expressive activity may occur in the Designated Spaces. A person engaging in First Amendment activities between Sunset and midnight may use one table not to exceed 4 feet by 6 feet in connection with those activities. The table must be removed from the Designated Space when the individual leaves and, at the latest, at midnight.

3. AUTHORIZE the City Attorney, or designee, to make necessary technical adjustments, subject to the approval of the City Administrative Officer; and, AUTHORIZE the Controller to implement the instructions.

This matter was recommended for approval by the Budget and Finance Committee (Krekorian – Blumenfield – Bonin: “Yes”) at its meeting on October 1, 2018, in Closed Session as permitted by Government Code Section 54956.9(d)(1).

PRESENTED BY
PAUL KREKORIAN
Councilmember, 2nd District
SECONDED BY
BOB BLUMENFIELD
Councilmember, 3rd District


Image of Peggy Lee Kennedy is ©2018 MichaelKohlhaas.Org. The source is more or less this excellent little video here.

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