By Katy Crenshaw
At the Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) meeting held on May 15, the Zip Line proposal appeared on the agenda. The VNC recommended the installation of the structure by Greenheart/Flightlinez productions (a Canadian based company) with a few conditions.
First, and foremost, the Zip Line should get a three month trial period. And, thereafter the structure should be dismantled. At the end of the trial period the attraction would be subject to environmental review by the City of L.A., the California Coastal Commission, and to input from the VNC, and the community regarding; noise impact, parking, visual blight, security & safety, crowd control and revenue earned.
Among other recommendations provided by the VNC included nighttime lighting and security, local entertainment opportunities, financial packages provided for at-risk minors, local artistry opportunities to dress the towers, financial incentives for Venice residents, monthly benefits for local non-profits hosted by the Greenheart, and permanent rejection of the “Great Observation Wheel” in favor of a location elsewhere in the City where it may generate community support.
Greenheart Productions offered a half-hour pitch where they offered a big-hearted effort to win over the community. Addressing the concerns of local residents, the team explained the Zip Line project and the fundamental concept for the installation of the Zip Line structure. Ian Green, co-founder of Greenheart/Flightlinez productions (http://www.greenheart.ca) is based out of Vancouver but works worldwide to provide conscious, nature-based entertainment. Canopy walks and flightlines are developed and aimed at nature conservancy and giving back to the community. The company also has structures located in Las Vegas, San Diego and Bootleg Canyon in Nevada.
Ian Green assured the crowd that he is only interested in providing a Zip Line that is not “too showy” and developing something that fits into Venice Beach. Green also insists this is an opportunity for conservation of Venice parks and Venice Beach. The Greenheart team includes locals from the Venice community that support the idea and would work with the community to integrate the culture of the community as well as maintain the artistic integrity of Venice. Included in the planned events for the three-month trail period include a school that would offer classes for Trash Art, Ocean Awareness, Empowerment Through Bravery for young girls and Costuming class.
During the public comment time period member of the community raised their voices. One commenter supported the idea of a family-friendly attraction, even at the cost of visual blight to customers from his Sidewalk Café, yet he still requested more information. Others had serious reservations including safety concerns and one resident told the VNC, “Don’t REC our PARKS!”
The VNC listened and voted with eight in favor, six opposed, and three abstentions. The Zip Line is approved for permitting. Now the major hurdle that stands in the way of Greenheart productions is the California Coastal Commission (CCC). An email from Ian Green to the Beachhead stated that Kevin Regan of Rec and Parks was working to get the Zip Line on the Commission’s June Agenda. As of May 30, the Zip Line is not on the June Agenda. According to Chuck Posner, of the CCC, the City has not yet submitted an application for the permit. Since the Zip Line structure is on the coastline it must have a permit for any structural coastal development. The earliest this could occur would be July’s CCC Agenda.
Do the math. One ride at the attraction will cost $20 bucks. During the 90-day trial period Greenheart projects about 250 rides on a good day. This equals a potential for $450,000 in revenue for the Zip Line project. After covering the total costs of the structure ($300,000) the potential return on the investment is $150,000.
How much will go to the City of L.A.? And how much will trickle into Venice? Possibly, there could be a return in revenue to the City of L.A. of $90,000, if they are given 20 percent of gross revenue. Is this gonna happen? It is recommended that two-thirds of the revenue from the City be returned to Venice. This is a ballpark figure of about $60,000. The Greenheart team also stated they anticipate hiring 3-4 people for the Zip Line crew from the local community. The total impact on Venice from the Zip Line project remains to be seen.
If you are interested in filing an appeal form with the California Coastal Commission, FAQs are located here: www.coastal.ca.gov/cdp/appeals-faq.pdf