The Echo Park Lake Sunday Swap Meet has continued to attract peddlers and customers despite complaints from some residents and a city “crack down” on vending on park grounds. The conditions mirror those on the Venice Beach boardwalk, where the recession and a complicated vendor ordinance has also lead to a spike in the number of sellers, triggering tension with residents and fellow peddlers, reports the Associated Press. The issue that has left police in Venice and apparently Echo Park unable to keep un permitted vendors off public land is what the story describes as a “social message” clause:
jewelry, photographs, or paintings, or items that are “inextricably intertwined” with a person’s artistic or social message. That would include, for instance, a T-shirt with a slogan advocating a cause. Violators can be ticketed. Store owners and artists say the regulations worked for a while, but since the economy nosedived, the boardwalk has gotten out of control with increasing number of vendors selling commercial items, such as computer mouses and incense, crowding out longtime artists selling their work, performers and political advocates.
Police say the social message clause makes enforcing the ordinance
against commercial vendors nearly impossible. “It’s very difficult for an officer to decipher what that means,” [LAPD Sgt. Marc] Reina said. “We’re not going to enforce anything like that.”