A zip line will zoom visitors and residents high above Venice Beach this summer, as the project cleared its final bureaucratic hurdle on Thursday.
After months of public debate and planning, the California Coastal Commission on Thursday voted 7-4 in favor of a 3-month temporary installation of two towers at the Venice Beach Recreation Center. The coastal permit will expire at the end of the pilot program – June, July and August – and cannot be renewed. Organizers will need to remove the structure and then apply for a separate permit if enough community support exists to keep the attraction as a permanent fixture in Venice.
The 46-foot high tower will be situated next to the skate park and a zip line will move riders 750 feet over Windward Plaza to a 24-foot tower just west of 17th Avenue.
Rides will cost $20 and the zip line will be open from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m for children’s educational programs, and from 11 a.m. to sunset for the general public.
“We think it’s going to be a fun and interesting activity,” said Kevin Regan, assistant general manger at the Parks and Recreation Department. “And it’s not just a ride, we will have recreational activities, acrobatics classes, kids’ camps, public art projects and free performances about three times throughout the summer.”
And Regan said the city will hire local artists to decorate panels on the side of the towers.
City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, the Venice Neighborhood Council and the Parks and Recreation Department all favor the project as two-thirds of the estimated $150,000 revenue during the pilot period will be transferred to city coffers and used for bathroom maintenance and trash pick-up at Venice Beach.
Rosendahl said the zip line installation is a win-win-win for the public, the community and for the city, and stressed that after three months, the towers will be removed.
Some residents however are skeptical about the project’s supposed temporary existence, pointing out that the attraction could easily become a permanent staple at the beach.
VNC council member and resident Ira Koslow told California coastal commissioners that the zip line changes the whole nature of Venice Beach and fears that if the project is successful, officials may not hesitate to keep the structure for good.
Walk-street Venice resident Gail Rogers argues that the project will adversely impact traffic, parking, obstruct ocean views and commercialize Venice Beach.
“It is the city’s responsibility to keep our park clean without us having to make deals that comprise the lifestyle of residents,” she said.
Although the zip-line proprietor, Ian Green of Greenheart Conservation Company, will need to dismantle the two structures at the end of the three-month pilot program, he can apply for a new permit, one which some residents presume could be granted if the project is successful.
“Like any trial, I hope we are not guilty until the trial is over,” Green said. “We are listening to the community. We intend to be very responsible and engage the community.”
Rosendahl praised public-private partnership in dire economic times as a way to raise funds for much needed services. The Parks and Recreation Department is mandated to generate $30 to $40 million of its annual $185 million budget, and deals such as the zip-line, have become a means to meet budget shortfalls.