Venice residents have long complained about the “west” side vendor area along Ocean Front Walk, but the “East” side vendors are as adept, if not more at scamming patrons and breaking the rules. Last week the owner of “Bikini Bay”, a shop on Windward in the shipping-container complex known as “The Sidewalk Market” was arrested on sexual battery charges. He offered to give a patron a bikini for free in exchange for performing a sexual service on him in his shop on the boardwalk in the changing room (jerking him off – victim was a female transient type). The female agreed, and when he took a photo she freaked out and reported him. Not sure why she wasn’t equally charged for prostitution, but whatever. A pretty disgusting practice in a retail shop on the boardwalk.
The sidewalk market is also host to a number of “food” operations. These fruit stands have no required permits or business licenses. They operate as restaurants and here is the best part, they get the water they need to run ramshackle pumps and sinks (there is no water or plumbing in The Sidewalk Market area) from the SHOWERS at the Ocean Front Walk bathroom areas. We have seen and video taped this, which resulted in one shop being shut down. The others tip one another off when the health department shows up and they close their front gate and don’t respond. Although each rented space has a unit number – they are not displayed on the outside. When inspectors come they canning cite a unit location – the biz doesn’t have a license and the biz name is different than the registration name if there is one. The owners of the property leasing to these businesses have responsibility and legal exposure in this situation.
Surprised about the rampant violations in The Sidewalk Market? The owners of the market complex, The Sidewalk Cafe equally violate by blocking an entire sidewalk with an outdoor hostess area which is not part of their outdoor dining permit. You can’t block a sidewalk. If you happen to be in a wheelchair and go down that sidewalk, into the street with you!
Lawless permit violations aren’t restricted to The Sidewalk Market. There are multiple violations up an down the boardwalk, primarily starting with businesses putting out signage into the sidewalk beyond 1.5 ft and having “hawkers” outside their businesses. If you recall, the “Medical Dr” offices have NO MEDICAL PERMITS, (except one) and they have to hawk from INSIDE their doorway… not in gangs of green-clad scrubs loitering along the sidewalk.
There are many more gross violations, these are just a few. So, be careful of the food you buy along the boardwalk, and the bikinis. They may come spiced with some unexpected extras!