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Westside Watch

Boardwalk Battle's Next Round Set

June 01, 1995

They've ranged from homeowners and merchants to a vegetarian activist and a guitarist on wheels. And starting Saturday, the protagonists in the fight over the future of the Venice boardwalk will take up the cudgels yet again.

That's when a San Luis Obispo design firm is scheduled to hold the first public workshop on a planned $7.3-million renovation of the tourist-rich pedestrian strip.

The firm, RRM Design Group, plans to host up to four public meetings on a wide range of contentious issues, such as repaving the boardwalk with brick or building special areas for performance artists.

A consensus design is then to be submitted to the city--assuming a consensus can be reached, which is quite an assumption.

The first workshop will be held Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Venice Beach Graffiti Pit at the end of Windward Avenue, north of the Pavilion.

It won't be a day at the beach.

Debate about the boardwalk's future has been intense for years. One group, which includes many boardwalk merchants, wants a major overhaul of the walkway to lure more tourists from rival attractions.

Another, featuring roller-skating guitarist Harry Perry, vegetarian activist Jingles and irrepressible all-around activist Jerry Rubin, worries that renovation could destroy the boardwalk's freewheeling character by turning it into an upscale mall.

*

SOUNDS OF SILENCE: Maybe you can't always fight City Hall, but you can usually get a quote out of it.

Not so recently. Several politicos in residence have remained uncharacteristically mum on the hottest topic of the day: the controversy surrounding Police Chief Willie L. Williams, who was reprimanded by the Police Commission for allegedly lying about free hotel rooms in Las Vegas.

Did Williams tell the whole truth or didn't he? Do city officials still place full confidence in his leadership of the city's men and women in blue?

Council President John Ferraro issued a brief statement through aide Gayle Johnson suggesting that "we return to normalcy in our city . . . if that's possible." The statement declared that "too much has been said already. It's too bad this matter was spilled out into the public arena.' " Ferraro represents the Hancock Park area and parts of Hollywood.

Other council members also declined to say much of substance, although Marvin Braude, whose district includes Brentwood, Pacific Palisades and other parts of the Westside, made no secret of his stance.

"I feel very strongly about it. I know Chief Williams very well," said Braude, head of the council's Public Safety Committee. "I have no reason to think that he's not telling the truth.

"Of course, I haven't seen the report of the commission, but I have no reason to think this outstanding police officer would do something like that. There's an American principle of the presumption of innocence."

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