As tragic as the demise of Venice has been to watch over the last five years or so, it turns out that she still has some life in her. If anyone had asked me five years ago which neighborhood of Los Angeles might successfully oppose a BID, I would have said Venice without even having to think about it. But the last half-decade, what with sociopathic techbros of both sexes in possession of orders of magnitude more money than sense buying every sliver of land in sight and thereby running the prices up into the stratosphere even as they’re hogging the waves with their irremediably Barneyfied GoPro equipped styrofoam surfboards, zillionaires remodeling the canals into a nightmare AirBnB horror show, stupid fucking restaurants that…evidently leave me speechless, all this had driven me into what I thought was an inescapable well of cynical despair with respect to the fate of this dearest of all areas of our City.
Well, tonight the Clerk’s office placed a petition with 169 signatures of Venice residents opposing the formation of a BID there and, just like that, my hope in Venice is restored! They oppose it articulately, wisely, and for all the right reasons, too:
We, the undersigned, oppose the establishment of a Venice Beach Business Improvement District (BID). We believe in public control of public resources and oppose the privatization of those resources. We support renters’ rights, both for residential and commercial renters, and oppose taxation without representation. BIDs impose taxes that renters often pay, but which landlords decide upon. BID private security forces have a track record of infringing on the rights of our lowest-income neighbors, especially those people who are unhoused. We oppose private security fources controlled exclusively by commercial and industrial interests when their impact will affect the entire community, especially those disenfranchised from BID governance.
And it’s worth reading the cover sheet, too, which is signed by a number of right-thinking organizations and lays out a spot-on general anti-BID theory in the highly specific context of opposing this BID. You can read it here and there’s a transcription after the break:
Dear City Officials,
We are writing to oppose the establishment of the proposed Venice Beach Business Improvement District. As longtime residents, property owners, business owners and stakeholders, we are concerned about both the Business Improvement District (BID) process and potential implementation. We oppose for many reasons, including:
- The process for establishing the BID has not been public or transparent. None of the details or documents about the potential Venice BID have been made public, including the proposed area of coverage, the bylaws or other governing documents, the process for membership, the results or timing of any petitions or ballot processes, and other relevant information.
- Business Improvement Districts in the City of Los Angeles, and particularly the security forces they hire, have a history of hostility toward homelessness and low-income residents resulting in several lawsuits since their inception in the late 1990s regarding unconstitutional practices.
- Business Improvement Districts are a way to put the control of public spaces and services in the hands of private, commercial property owners that disenfranchises or harms those that don’t own commercial property, and limits democratic control over resources.
- Business Improvement District assessments are not feasible for all businesses or property owners to pay, particularly non-profits and small business owners. Additionally, non-profits and small businesses that rent their properties are likely to have to pay their portion of a BID assessment without any voice or vote in the approval process.
- The founding premise for the Business Improvement District is at fault. It is claimed that a BID is needed because the City of Los Angeles is not providing the proper public services. While the city is not currently providing all needed services, the solution is not giving grossly disproportionate control of public spaces to the select few who own businesses in a neighborhood. We vehemently oppose any privatization of our public spaces and services. The city is responsible for providing these necessary services.
- Currently, and for at least the past five years, some of the wealthiest global technology corporations such as Google and Snapchat have enjoyed an 80% tax break from the City. Simply requiring these companies pay their fair share would help properly fund our needed public services.
- Residents, small businesses, tourists and other stakeholders in and near the proposed Venice Beach BID are not in favor of the BID, yet have no voice or vote in the process. Initial petitions documenting this opposition are attached.
For these and other reasons, we urge that any proposal for a BID in Venice be denied.
Los Angeles Community Action Network
Los Angeles Human Right to Housing Collective
People Organized for Westside Renewal (POWER)
Venice Coalition to Preserve Our Unique Community Character (VCPUCC)
Venice Community Housing
Venice Justice Committee
Western Regional Advocacy Project
Westside Tenants Union
Picture of Venice Boardwalk is super-freely licensed, and you can see the details here.