The Venice boardwalk. (Los Angeles Times )
Forget the 200-foot-tall observation wheel. Venice Beach expects to get a zip line this summer.
The Venice Neighborhood Council this week approved the installation of a 720-foot zip-line ride to run for a three-month trial period, clearing the way for consideration by the California Coastal Commission.
Under the proposal, riders will take off from a 44-foot tower near the skate park and ride to a 24-foot tower at Windward Plaza by the basketball courts. The metal towers will be decorated with local art, and the attraction will bring in much-needed revenue to clean up the boardwalk, said Linda Lucks, president of the council.
"The part that really struck us, what's really positive, is that it wouldn't take up a lot of space — on the ground or in the air," she said.
The final step for the ride operator, Greenheart Conservation Co., is permits from the Coastal Commission. The firm hopes to open the attraction by July 1.
Greenheart plans to offer live acrobatic and aerial performances to the public and proposes to give a percentage of its gross revenue to the city to clean up the trash and improve public restrooms along the boardwalk. Educational programs on art and environment issues are to be offered for children.
"We want to fit into the Venice Beach culture. The idea is to work with parks to be a solution," said Ian Green, co-founder of the Canada-based company. "And for us, it's the opportunity to talk about our work in Rwanda, or ocean plastics in Vancouver. It's how we get people to know what Greenheart is doing."
The company has budgeted $300,000 for the summer and hopes to attract 300 to 400 visitors a day. Rides are to cost $20 and be open to the general public after the education programs each morning.
The city's Department of Recreation and Parks brought the idea to the council after a British company's proposals for an observation wheel angered many local residents. That company, Great Observation Wheel, is now looking at other possible sites in the region that might be more welcoming, according to the L.A. Convention and Visitors Bureau.
"This is the third idea Recreation and Parks have brought to us as a way to bring more revenue, and it's the least obnoxious," Lucks said, noting that the first idea was to begin advertising in Venice Beach parks, followed by the proposal for the observation wheel.
Support for the zip line wasn't unanimous. Many residents said the screaming from people on the ride would make the area even noisier, according to Lucks. Other concerns include more crowds, more trash, possible injuries and unwanted effects on the aesthetics and character of Venice Beach.
But many are optimistic about the attraction. "The fact that they [Greenheart] came in proposing to take care of our boardwalk is encouraging," Lucks said, adding that spending cutbacks in recent years have left Venice Beach in desperate need of maintenance.
The zip line must be dismantled when Greenheart's three-month permit runs out, but a permanent installation may be considered and is subject to environmental review by the city of Los Angeles and the Coastal Commission, officials said.