Echo Park Lake Swap Meet Update

A new round of discussions about the swap meet at the Echo Park lake is taking place on the Echo Elysian Neighborhood Council Forum, starting with a resident who drove by the Park at nearly 2:00 am last Saturday night and noticed the “whole north end of the park was already ringed with blankets.” After some discussion, Alejandra Marroquin from Garcetti’s office chimed in with an update, writing:

We completely hear the frustrations of the community and are equally frustrated.  We have been monitoring this situation for about a year now and have been having meetings with the City Attorney’s Office, LAPD, Office of Public Safety, Department of Transportation and the Department of Recreation and Parks since last year and on a regular basis to identify ways for this activity to be better regulated.  In addition to that, our office has been attending meetings lead by the Echo Park Improvement Association so that collectively, we could come up with some ideas for better monitoring practices.

We have identified that what is taking place is in fact un-permitted.  However, the situation has gotten to the level that it has because of the City’s inability to use Municipal Code 63 which used to prohibit vending on park property but was subsequently suspended by the City at the recommendation by a Court Judge back in 2005.  The ordinance that suspended Municipal Code 63 is 176929 (I have attached the language of that ordinance down below).  Unfortunately, this was as a result of a lawsuit that was filed against the City of LA by a group of Venice Beach vendors who sued the City for “violating their First Amendment Rights” when the City was enforcing no-vending at this location.  Those vendors claimed that they had a right to free speech among other rights and the courts established that their lawsuit had merit.  The Judge overseeing that case found that the Municipal Code that was being used to enforce no vending was too broad and found that it caused for too many interpretations.  He subsequently recommended the suspension of the code which limits the City’s ability to do any kind of legal enforcement on all park properties under the Jurisdiction of the Department of Rec and Parks. Without an active law that states that enforcement can take place, the City is unable to enforce no-vending on park properties.

At the moment, we are awaiting for further instruction from the City Attorney’s Office as to when they they can start enforcing this Municipal Code.  They have drafted a new ordinance for the Venice case.  If approved by the Judge, this will then go to the City Council and then become City law.  If this new ordinance is successful, it will then be used as a model for how the City Attorney’s Office drafts a new ordinance for the rest of the parks in the City.  The ordinance for Venice is still being reviewed by the Judge and the City Attorney’s Office is awaiting further word from the Judge before they can proceed.  We are anxiously awaiting what the Judge’s recommendations are for the newly drafted ordinance so that the City Attorney’s Office can then proceed with new language for an ordinance that will impact the rest of the parks that fall under the Department of Recreation and Parks.  We hope to have word back from the City Attorney’s Office any day in relation to the drafted language for the Venice Ordinance which will then be used to draft the new language for a new Ordinance for all City parks.

We will continue to monitor this situation and continue to communicate to the City Attorney’s Office that this is an escalating situation that needs immediate attention.

Thank you for your attention to this and hope this helps answer any questions.

If you’d like to chime in on the discussion, click here to go to the Echo Elysian Neighborhood Council forum.

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