As Venice booms, some residents wonder whether L.A. is holding them back
by Sarah Parvini
There are few places so ingrained in the identity of Los Angeles as Venice — the quirky artistic vibe, the bustling boardwalk and the designer real estate.
For decades, the beach district has served as a cultural touchstone for the larger city, from the days of beatniks, Jim Morrison and the Z-Boys to the upscale Venice of today, with its Silicon Beach money, trendy restaurants and avant-garde homes profiled in architecture magazines.
Now, some Venice residents believe the connection to Los Angeles is holding the neighborhood back and are exploring a cityhood effort that would break free from L.A. government.
Though even backers say secession is a long shot, it has heightened a long-running debate in Venice about the future direction of the community, a reckoning for the once counter-culture stronghold that has grown into an affluent hot spot with some rough edges.
Venice residents speak less of specific issues than a general feeling that City Hall — about 20 miles to the east — isn’t serving their needs and that local government would serve residents better.
Some cityhood supporters look to Santa Monica as a model for an independent government, with its booming shopping district and innovative focus on environmentalism and sustainability. Cityhood skeptics, on the other hand, see their upscale neighbor to the north as exactly what Venice doesn’t want to become.
“If Venice was its own city, it wouldn’t be encumbered by all of Los Angeles’ issues,” said Nick Antonicello, chairman of the ad-hoc neighborhood council committee on cityhood. “There’s a great pride of living here, and I think people believe the services are lacking — whether it’s repaving or public safety.”
“People perceive themselves as Venetian first and Angeleno second,” he added.