Venice Sunshine

From the days of Abbot Kinney's Venice of America, to the 2009 grand opening of the Dennis "Polar Bear" Agnew Memorial Skate Park, the Venice coastline has consistently been one of L.A.'s most generous and eccentric public spaces. A stretch of sand that was once dominated by oil wells has hosted everything from 1920s dance marathons to body-building spectacles, to everything in between. The only thing one can say for sure about Venice Beach is that it makes room for all and very seldom discriminates.

Today, though, commercial interests are aggressively trying to homogenize and privatize Venice's polyglot public space. It is a pitched battle, but the beach goers that frequent the beach's recreation center and piers, that surf its waves and collect on its sand, will not let go.

Still, change is coming to Venice Beach. Community leaders like Ruth Galanter, who represented Venice for 15 years in the City Council, are trying to maintain the spirit of a strip of stand that is, in many ways, Venice's raison d'être, while at the same time preparing the area for coming transitions and adjustments. This week Departures takes a look at the state of Venice sunshine.

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