Banning Retail Chains on the Venice Beach Boardwalk?

Los Angeles City Councilmember Mike Bonin is looking at ways to preserve the unique character of the Venice Beach Boardwalk. Photo: Sam Catanzaro.

Venice councilmember proposes legislation to protect small businesses on Ocean Front Walk. 

By Sam Catanzaro 

Last week, the Santa Monica City Council voted to ban the opening of new chain and fast food restaurants from the Third Street Promenade and under a piece of legislation introduced to Los Angeles City Council by Councilmember Mike Bonin, the Venice Beach Boardwalk could see similar rules.

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The Santa Monica rule prohibits fast food restaurants with more than 100 national locations from opening on the Third Street Promenade and is intended to maintain the shopping area’s unique atmosphere. The bill introduced by Bonin would place limits on the development of chain stores on Ocean Front Walk in a similar effort to maintain the uniqueness of the Boardwalk.

“In recent years, increased economic pressure on commercial properties on Ocean Front Walk has displaced locally-owned independent businesses, and Venice neighbors are wary that displacement will impact the unique character of the Venice community,” Bonin wrote in a November newsletter. “Locally-owned independent business are important contributors to the neighborhood identity on the Westside and help to sustain the social fabric of the community by providing local services to residents in a walkable environment.”

The motion submitted by Bonin to City Council on November 27 instructs the Los Angeles Department of City Planning and the Los Angeles City Attorney to create a feasibility study describing zoning and other land use planning tools to promote independent retail development on Ocean Front Walk.

“This is a critical first step that will allow local government to shape the mix of business that makes sense for the neighborhood and preserve Venice’s unique character,” Bonin said.

In the legislation, Bonin cited other cities such as San Francisco and Jersey City, New Jersey that have established land use planning and zoning rules to preserve a unique neighborhood character in communities by supporting small businesses and independent retailers. Some ban all chain stores from certain neighborhoods, others cap the number of retail chain stores allowed within an area while others require a case-by-case approval of proposed retail use projects.

To read the full legislation, visit https://cityclerk.lacity.org/lacityclerkconnect/index.cfm?fa=ccfi.viewrecord&cfnumber=07-0629-S1

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