Politics, government and public life for Southern California

LA City Council approves safety review of Venice Beach

Car Into Beachgoers

Maarten Smitskamp/AP

Pedestrians gather as police and fire officials respond after a car drove through a packed afternoon crowd along the Venice Beach boardwalk in Los Angeles, Saturday, Aug. 3, 2013. On Tuesday, the Los Angeles City Council approved a safety review of the area.

In response to this weekend's fatal crash, the city council Tuesday ordered city staff to issue a report on public safety at the Venice Beach Boardwalk within two weeks.

The motion, introduced by Westside Councilman Mike Bonin, states that the city will look into ways of controlling non-governmental vehicle access to the boardwalk. It was unanimously approved. Driving on the boardwalk is already illegal and cars are kept off by physical barriers.

“We learned [Saturday] night that as many as 15 or 20 times a day, people drive on Ocean Front Walk putting life and property at risk,” Bonin said. “There are almost 30 streets that run directly into Ocean Front Walk and almost none of them prohibit vehicular access. That is a huge risk.”

On Saturday, a vehicle drove onto the pedestrian-only boardwalk, hitting and killing a woman visiting from Italy and injuring 16 other people.

Bonin said he was sensitive to keeping the area a “playground and not a high-security prison.” He
suggested removable blockades, concrete planters, and artwork as potential solutions.
 

“Hindsight is always 20/20 and always tells us about things we can do better. The rare and sad benefit of a tragedy is that it brings our foresight into focus,” he said.

He also proposes improved signage and “safety lighting” to help keep drivers on the streets and away from the boardwalk.

Bonin also asked the council to examine potential safety measures for Venice Beach Boardwalk from its position as a tourist attraction, requesting that an emergency public address system be installed on the boardwalk.

The council calls on nine offices and agencies to collaborate on the report: the Los Angeles Police Department, fire department, Recreation and Parks, Bureau of Street Services, transportation, Administrative Officer, Chief Legislative Analyst, the Mayor’s Office and the City Attorney. The group will report findings to the Public Safety Committee, Venice Neighborhood Council and the Arts, Parks, Health, Aging and River Committee.

Before the vote, Councilman Tom LaBonge urged council members to take this as an opportunity to examine the safety of other places in L.A. like the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

“The only thing that I would ask in a friendly way is that they would focus 1,000 percent on Venice, but take a step back and continue to focus on other regions of the city,” he said.

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