NO MORE National Chain Stores on Ocean Front Walk in Venice!
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The historic one-mile stretch of Ocean Front Walk in Venice CA gets over 10,000,000 visitors every year and it’s one of the few tourist attractions in the world that hasn’t been inundated with national chains, with the exceptions of Its Sugar and the newly franchised Ben & Jerry’s that opened earlier this year. In the few months since Ben & Jerry’s opened serving Peet's coffee, longtime local establishments like Groundworks Coffee, Charly Temmel and more have all felt their effect. Now, Starbucks will be opening in a few months and there are rumors of other national chain stores opening soon as well such as Skechers, Chipotle, Subway, Nike, Adidas and more. Adding more of these national franchise stores would not only threaten our other beloved local establishments, but it would also destroy the uniqueness and character of Ocean Front Walk, and furthermore, of Venice CA. It will undoubtedly be detrimental to the cultural integrity of this world-famous family destination so many have come to love.
In recent years, cities all over the country have passed ordinances and amended existing laws to prohibit and/or limit national chains in their towns, or parts of their towns, and we can do the same. Even our own City Councilman Mike Bonin had this on his agenda a few years ago, but it fell down the priority list. Our big-city neighbor to the north, San Francisco, has had such ordinances in place since 2004. In fact, 32% of all retail and restaurant establishments in the U.S. are national chains (chains with 10 or more stores), but San Francisco only has 12% and they are prohibited entirely in the areas of North Beach, Hayes Valley and parts of Chinatown. It’s long been rumored there is an ordinance prohibiting national chains on Ocean Front Walk – that obviously is NOT true and now is the time to act to get the City of LA to put these ordinances in place.
In the spirit of protection and prosperity for Venice, California's unique character, vibe and diversity, The Venice Dogz: An Alliance for the Preservation of Venice, propose the following ordinances be adopted for commercial property zones on Ocean Front Walk from North Venice Boulevard to Navy Street including all side-streets between Speedway & Ocean Front Walk:
A) No retail store or restaurant national chains stores or franchises with seven (7) or more other locations globally will be permitted. These establishments can be defined as having standardized name, décor, logo, façade, color scheme, trademark, employee uniforms, merchandise, and signage.
B) Any new ground-level retail store or restaurant shall be cohesive with, and non-disruptive to, the current architecture and character of surrounding business neighbors.
C) Publicly traded companies whose ownership is dispersed publicly in freely traded shares, traded on a stock exchange or in over the counter markets are prohibited.
D) Companies that advertise on national television are prohibited.
E) No retail store or restaurant shall utilize a drive-through service.
F) Any establishment that has contracts signed before January 1st 2019 (or another date as administered from the City of Los Angeles) is exempt from these ordinances as they will be “Grandfathered” in.
As a supplement to the proposed ordinances, we also propose the following recommendations for new commercial businesses:
G) The areas of Windward Boulevard from Ocean Front Walk up to, and including, Windward Circle are also regulated.
H) No church entity, religious organization, or companies encouraging religious beliefs are allowed.
I) No retail store or restaurant shall exceed the size of 2,500 square feet or be more than 1 story in height.
J) No new retail store or restaurant shall serve the same predominant item or like principal items within 300 feet of a similar business.
K) New restaurants that have sit-down seating must have relevant parking, combustible take-away practices and pass environmental and economic impact reviews.
L) 24/7 revolving-door businesses that utilize night-time cleaning crews are not allowed.
M) Each business must dedicate a certain amount of resources, merchandise, or time to Venice community efforts.
In addition to San Francisco CA, the anti-chain store movement has been gaining momentum across the country for years with towns like McCall ID, Port Townsend WA, Cape Cod MA, Ogunquit ME, Arcata CA and Carmel by the Sea CA and more enacting laws and ordinances that restrict such businesses. More recently, even bigger cities like Brooklyn NYC, Boston MA, Portland OR and Boulder CO have started taking similar steps. Such laws and ordinances are motivated by concerns about preserving the uniqueness of the area, about independent stores being unable to compete economically with large corporations, and about creative communities becoming homogenized and therefore losing their appeal. These ordinances protect architecture, history, culture, immigrants, small business owners, and neighborhood character, which we believe must be recognized and respected.
If other towns and cities all over the country are creating ordinances, why can't we do the same here for our world famous Venice Boardwalk? People come to Venice from all over the world to see, feel and experience things they never have before - not to experience what they can anywhere else. It's what distinguishes Venice and keeps it diverse, something upon which we Venetians have always prided ourselves. It’s what the residents want and it’s what the tourists want.
It must be recognized by the City of LA, the Venice Neighborhood Council, the California Coastal Commission, the Venice Chamber of Commerce, et al, that Ocean Front Walk is NOT the Grove or Universal Studios and that the walkway is a huge part of its charm, its attraction, and ultimately its tourism. The diversity of Ocean Front Walk is the identity of Venice. No one wants to see a Margaritaville next to a Fatburger next to a Lucky Brand, but that will happen when it is being taken over by developers and investors who don’t care or have never even been to Venice before, not to mention property owners that have recently approved the Venice BID and get free and unregulated reign over our beloved historic asset.
Change is inevitable, and most people can accept that – especially here in Venice, arguably one of the most accepting and open-minded places in the world, but this is a forced change and there’s a big difference between ‘change’ and what’s ‘right and wrong’. We believe most people agree that Ocean Front Walk lined up with rows and rows of national chains one after the next with signs that say Starbucks, Louis Vuitton, and Skechers would simply be wrong. And opening stores like these won't magically "clean up" Venice as some people claim - just look at the McDonalds and Starbucks at Hollywood & Highland. It’s the character, diversity, sprit, history, people, and local businesses that separate Venice from every other town and tourist attraction in the world. That’s what makes Venice special. That’s why we live here and that’s why the community is so passionate. Ocean Front Walk was intended to thrive as a unique place unlike any other, NOT to be an office park or an artificial mall that you can see in every other part of the country and that should be celebrated, advertised, protected, and honored.
Please sign the petition below to encourage the City of Los Angeles to prohibit future national chains and franchises on Ocean Front Walk in Venice CA. Please share it and pass it on to everyone else you know. Also, please note whether you’re a Venice resident, a former Venice resident, a Los Angeles resident, a frequent visitor or other.
The Venice Dogz: An Alliance for the Preservation of Venice
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