Venice Boardwalk Could See New Rules For Vendors, Free-Thinkers: Gadfly Zuma Dogg Says he'll Challenge City Hall in Court (Again)

Actress Robin Arcuri signs an autograph on the boardwalk.
Actress Robin Arcuri signs an autograph on the boardwalk.
Robin Arcuri

Nearly a year after a federal judge knocked down the city's way of regulating free speech and trinket hawking on the Venice boardwalk, L.A. city Councilman Bill Rosendahl is circulating a proposed ordinance that would try once again to bring order to the free-spirited area.

And once again Zuma Dogg, the local gadfly who successfully challenged the constitutionality of the city's original boardwalk enforcement efforts, says a legal fight is likely because he thinks the new proposal puts too many limits on speech.

Rosendahl's proposal was, strangely, discussed at a meeting in faraway Harbor City this morning, with little notice given of the public hearing (72 hours is requied under state law but we just heard about it yesterday afternoon). It states that these items "may be vended:"

... newspapers, leaflets, pamphlets, bumper stickers, patches, buttons, books, audio communication materials, videos, paintings, prints and sculptures.

Banned from being sold:

... housewares, appliances, clothing, sunglasses, auto parts, oils, incense, perfume, crystals, lotions, candles, jewelry, toys and stuffed animals.

The city would corral 205 spaces and assign them via first-come, first-served starting at 9 a.m. and ending at sunset. There would be five double-wide (yee-haw) spaces for performance, and amplified sound would be allowed, although there would be decibel limits.

Folks would have to give up their double-wides each hour if someone was waiting to use them. Rosendahl's office states:

We want to clear up the confusion on the boardwalk and make it enjoyable for everyone: tourists, residents, entertainers and artists.

Zuma Dogg says cops gave him a hard time about playing amplified music on the boardwalk and that he had been cited for asking for donations from tourists to take a photo with his cardboard cutout of Hanna Montana. Thus his court challenges last year.

"Zuma Dogg feels if he goes out there and repeats what he was doing before, under this new ordinance they can still ticket and arrest him just the same," he told the Weekly today.

In October a U.S. District Court judge sided with Zuma Dogg, saying the city's rules violated free speech protections. The gadfly also sued the city in civil court for allegedly violating his rights, and he indicated has a meeting with City Attorney's officials Monday to discuss a possible settlement.

He says the new ordinance still has holes that he would likely challenge.

"There are still flaws that I believe are constitutional violations," he said. "I do expect I will be filing additional lawsuit once this hits."

It's not clear when Rosendahl will bring his proposal to the full City Council for consideration. He's still seeking input, and tweaks are possible.

[@dennisjromero/djromero@laweekly.com]


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