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Venice Beach Bike Path Plan Defended

September 01, 1988

Once again some residents and property owners on the Marina Peninsula are getting ready to oppose the extension of the public bike path along their section of the Venice beach. Bike path opponents raise the following hollow objections:

First, they charge that the path's extension into "their" area is stupid because it will be "a path to nowhere." In reality, this path will link up with the existing and very popular Venice and Santa Monica beach bike path. It is possible that the path would terminate at the Marina Channel. So what's stupid about that? The Marina Channel would be a popular scenic destination. Bicycle riders could watch the boats tacking up and down the channel, perhaps relax at picnic tables, maybe even make use of a restroom if one were provided on this beach. No one is talking commercialization or refreshment stands.

It is also possible that the bike path, after it reaches the channel, could loop back along either the west or the east bank of the Ballona Lagoon, connecting to the existing bike path on Washington Street and thence through the marina itself. The lagoon belongs to the public. We have for years struggled to allow the public access to its coastal property, both the beach and the wetlands. And for years some interests have fought to protect their own very narrow advantages. The lagoon bank could be an appropriate location for the bike path to follow on its one mile or so return from the Marina Channel to its present beach terminus at Washington Street.

Another objection is that the extension of the bike path will result in more litter and crime. What these people are saying is that if the public is allowed to use its own beach, there will be litter and crime. I wonder how bicycle riders feel about the suggestion that their recreational activity is responsible for crime. The logic of this argument, carried to its conclusion, is that the public should not appear in public places! If it insists on appearing, that act is potentially dangerous because it contributes to an atmosphere which breeds crime! This is an amazing charge.

As far as increased litter is concerned, of course it is true that increased public use of any area will result in increased litter. We need a program to accompany the bike path extension, which will guarantee that the authorities (city, county, parks and recreation) will create a special fund to maintain and clean all of Venice's beaches. It is a scandal that these beaches are not kept up, and the extension of the bike path should be keyed to the establishment of this special fund and program.

Far from representing a nonsensical, ill-advised or sinful proposal, the bike path extension to the channel seems reasonable and public spirited.

The public has a right to use its beaches. Presently, the beaches on the Marina Peninsula are virtually empty, while those to the north are jammed. We in Venice (including the so-called Marina Peninsula) are presently preparing our Local Coastal Programs (LCPs). The LCPs will be submitted by the city of Los Angeles to the California Coastal Commission, which has to certify that they satisfy the intent of the California Coastal Act of 1976.

One of the principal charges of the Local Coastal Program is to "maintain and enhance" the public's right and ability to access its own coast. North Venice activists continue to support this provision of the act. We will try to accommodate the increasing numbers of Angelenos and tourists who flock here all year. That's part of the trade-off for living next to the public beaches. Residents and property owners on the south Venice beaches, particularly those who think they live in the marina, need to come up with some program for maintaining and enhancing public access to the peninsula beach. If they don't like the bike path, what do they propose in its stead?

A spokesman for a group called the Concerned Citizens claims that opponents are not opposed to public access per se. "We want people to come down here," but a bike path would be "a sin" because it would "create a race track" and because "we don't think replacing sand with concrete is a good idea." Well, everybody is against sin and concrete in public places. Next thing we know, the opponents of public access will wrap themselves in the flag. It would be productive to the public interest if bike path opponents like the Concerned Citizens would come forward with their own proposals for maintaining and enhancing public access to the beach in front of their neighborhood. Then all of us in Venice and Los Angeles could see whether they are in good faith or not.

ARNOLD SPRINGER, planning and development chairman, Venice Town Council

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