Anyone who has ever tried to find out information on how to get a vendor’s permit for Venice Beach has probably run into the same difficulties that I have. It is very discouraging just trying to get through to the right person who can tell you what you can and can’t sell. After being re-routed about 7 times, I finally reached a very hostile rep for the parks and recreations department for the City of Los Angeles who gave me very vague answers. When I was dissatisfied with his response, I did some further investigation today that helped to uncover the mystery of the vending situation.
First of all, it is called a Permit and not a License. The permit is called a “freedom of expression” permit and is only good for the west side of the boardwalk. It costs $25.00 for the initial fee which is good for a year, and then a $10.00 annual fee for a lifetime. Pretty reasonable, I must admit, but the restrictions on what you can sell is very confusing. I wanted to sell some vintage costume jewelry and was told that that was considered “commercial” and therefore not allowed. If my jewelry had a religious connotation, or had the words “peace, love, spirituality, etc”, or if it was political in nature, those pieces would be allowed. I would need to bring my jewelry with me to the office where I would buy the permit to make sure that it was appropriate and fit into the guidelines of “freedom of expression”. I had been told the day before that if I wanted to take my chances and go ahead and sell the jewelry that was deemed inappropriate, were I to be caught I would be cited with a misdemeanor ticket and would have to appear in court. Now how well manned the boardwalk is, is up for interpretation, but we have already received one ticket and really can’t see why we would want another. In addition to the “permit”, you also need to get a seller’s license at a different location in order to sell on Venice Beach. You can download this slip from the City of Los Angeles website and mail it in, or you can go directly to their office and be issued one on the spot. This is a free license, but a required one.
Once you have paid for your “permit” and received your seller’s license, you then must go to 1800 Ocean Front Walk Venice, Ca. 90291 on Tuesday morning @ 8:30 and drop your “permit” into a drum, where it will be pulled “lottery” style to see if you are able to get a spot on the beach. There are currently 300 applicants for 100 spots, so you have a 1 in 3 chance of actually getting a spot. Call (310) 396-6764 for more information. I hope this information can save someone in the future from the nonsense that I had to go through. Just make sure that whatever “expression” you want to sell fits their idea of “freedom”!