How To Be A Venice Beach Boardwalk Vendor / Artist / Performer / Free Speech

The Venice Boardwalk has approximately 205 spaces designated for artists, vendors, performers and persons engaging in free speech. In February of 2012 modifications were made to the rules on “vending” on the Venice Beach boardwalk. READ THIS ORDINANCE IF YOU WANT TO BE A VENDOR —> You can click here to review the entire ordinance.

BEFORE you call us with questions, make sure you read this entire page as the answer is probably here.

Vending Spaces:

Vending spaces are FREE, and are available on a “first come, first served” basis daily. YOU DO NOT NEED A PERMIT TO VEND, BUT YOU NEED A CITY SALES PERMIT WHICH ALL BUSINESSES NEED. Performing in spaces is permitted given that you “rotate” on a schedule if other performers also want to use the same space. (Read the ordinance)

Vending Hours:

Hours are from 9 a.m. to Sunset daily. You may NOT set up in a space or “mark” a space prior to 9 a.m. You must wait adjacent to the vending space you wish to occupy. Waiting on the grassy area is encouraged so you do no obstruct pedestrians or merchants along the buildings on Ocean Front Walk. Parking is minimal, most vendors park a few blocks away and roll their vending items and tables in on a rolling cart.

If you plan on selling ANYTHING you MUST HAVE A SELLERS PERMIT from the City of Los Angeles. If you don’t the cops will kick you off the boardwalk and/or give you a ticket.


If you plan on selling items, they must be hand crafted only, or reflect permitted free speech items. The list can be found in the ordinance. However here is a list of a few common items people often ask questions about.


  • Food of any kind. ( You can only give it away for free in two designated spaces WITH a permit )
  • Animals of any kind ever. That means you CAN NOT sell your litter of puppies or kittens along the boardwalk.
  • Commercial, mass produced items – even if they look hand made.
  • Jewelry. That’s right – YOU CAN’T SELL JEWELRY EVEN IF YOU MAKE IT.
  • Clothing or items that have “nominal utility” or “use”
  • For the second time NO CLOTHING AT ALL
  • NO CLOTHING AT ALL means ties, hair bows, tshirts, socks, hats, or ANYTHING YOU CAN WEAR. NO NO NO!!!

After reading that you say, ” But I was at the boardwalk and saw people selling clothing and jewelry, so why can’t I??? “

Clothing, belts and other items that are NOT ART and have a use are PROHIBITED. People have them on the boardwalk because they are taking advantage of a loophole in the vending ordinance that allows people to “display” items ONLY and not sell them. The fact is, they ARE selling them, unless the cops breeze by… and they claim they are not. IF THE COPS CATCH YOU, IT COULD MEAN YOUR ITEMS AND CONFISCATED AND YOU COULD BE ARRESTED OR GIVEN A TICKET. Risk is on you, we advise that you don’t do it.

After reading that you say, ” I still don’t get why they prohibit those items “.

Here is why those items are banned. There are businesses that pay an average of $7,000 per month, have a business license, pay taxes, employees, payroll tax, etc, to have a very expensive STOREFRONT on Venice Beach. It isn’t really fair for someone to come and set up in a free vending space 15 ft away from them for FREE and sell the same items for a profit, tax free. If you want to sell that stuff, rent a store. Otherwise, learn to paint on a canvas.

If you are a performer, you MAY NOT BLOCK pedestrian traffic, and you MAY NOT set up in athletic areas or areas ADJACENT to the vending areas unless in designated spaces. The operative word there is ADJACENT meaning YOU CAN’T BE THERE.

Fights, intimidation and general unfriendly activity:

The Venice Beach Boardwalk spaces are in high demand in the Spring and Summer months. Many vendors are homeless, and many engage in space marking and other forms of ensuring a spot which violate the laws governing the area. If you decide to participate in vending activities on Venice Beach we suggest you be prepared. Visit the LAPD substation and Park Office on the beach first. Put 1-877-ASK-LAPD on speed dial in your phone and report violations or intimidation. Our best advice is to be part of the solution rather than turn a blind eye or be part of the problems that contribute to an unsafe environment.

Prior to the recent court injunction there was a lottery system for allocating spaces. Since the lottery was ended, the Department of Recreation & Parks and LAPD have made concerted efforts to keep the boardwalk area safe for the vendors, merchants, residents and visitors. There has been a substantial increase in fights over spaces requiring LAPD intervention. Vendors have also been lining up in front of the “East Side” merchants and property along the boardwalk, leaving trash and debris, and obscuring the sidewalk and entrances to adjacent buildings. Prospective vendors have also been reported to be marking spaces in violation of the 42.15 ordinance causing unsightly trash, garbage and sanitation issues. Please make an effort to keep the boardwalk free of debris and if there is an issue or discrepancy over a vending space please call LAPD at 1-877-275-5273 (1-877-ASK-LAPD).

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