Venice Is the Best Neighborhood in Los Angeles, But I'm Leaving

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Wed, Sep 18, 2013 at 6:00 AM

click to enlarge FLICKR / MEESHYPANTS

Venice has always been too good to be true. From its not-so-humble beginnings, when a tobacco magnate named Abbot Kinney dredged a bunch of unnecessary canals to build Venice of America, to The Doors, man, and Ed Moses and Dennis Hopper, to the sliding and flying Z-Boys, to the warring V13 and Shoreline Crips -- the chapters of Venice history are written before the era is even finished. Venice is "where art meets crime," but the art has not been good for years and the crime not as bad for almost as long.

click to enlarge FLICKR / JONDOEFORTY1
I love it. Venice is the best neighborhood in Los Angeles. Forget Echo Park. Never mind Highland Park. No neighborhood is more quintessentially Los Angeles than Venice, none more in love with its own myth in a city built on them.

The Venice Boardwalk is full of crap, but even locals don't stay away. Their parents or grandparents came to Los Angeles, to Venice, and found a town of facades, but the breeze was better than back home, so they stayed, and they bought a T-shirt.

Venice is incredibly walkable. Groceries on Lincoln, dinner and drinks on Rose or Abbot Kinney, the beach, the canals, the boardwalk, the pier, the skate park, the boutiques, the outdoor vendors -- everything is within 30 brisk minutes of everything else.

See also: Top 10 Bars in Venice

click to enlarge COLIN YOUNG-WOLFF
And once you hop on a bike, you're in Santa Monica, home of chain stores and tall condos. Santa Monica is nice enough -- J. Crew and the Apple Store have to live somewhere -- but I wouldn't want to live there. Give me access to your manicured Palisades Park, just not in my backyard. And if you could quit flying your damn planes over Venice instead of your own neighborhood, that'd be cool too.

The water quality in Venice is among the best in the county. The freeways are just close enough, and just far enough away. The neighborhood council fights chain stores and zoning variances. The homeless take naps on alley couches. The rich and the rent-controlled live side by side, their style of fencing (horizontal wood or chain link) the only outward indicator of who lives where.

Venice is the best neighborhood in Los Angeles, but I'm leaving.

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