City Attorney Responds to Venice Stakeholders

City Attorney Jane Usher has responded to the Venice Stakeholder Association’s May 16th press release questioning Councilman Rosendahl’s May 2nd press release.

LA City Attorney

From City Attorney Jane Usher:

Dear Mr. Ryavec:

It appears that you have published an article entitled “Legal Review Reveals Rosendahl Lied to Constituents about Need to Allow Food Giveaway Stations on Venice Beach.” If this is not your publication, please ignore the rest of what follows. If it is your article, please post this to the article’s recipients.

On behalf of the City, including Councilman Rosendahl, I have responded to you on many occasions regarding this matter and your other daily complaints. I cannot hope to combat your constant selective recitation of what you have been told. This pattern gives every City employee considerable pause when interacting with you.

Let me repeat for your broader audience the full measure of what you have been repeatedly told regarding the food spaces on the Boardwalk:

1. United States District Court Judge Pregerson has been a firm and active jurist in his capacity as the judge presiding over whether the City of Los Angeles has complied with federal law in its ordinances concerning the Venice Boardwalk. I was not present in years past when he included two food giveaway spaces as part of the City’s legal settlement of the 2008 version of its ordinance. I have been advised by many who were present that his insistence on this portion of the settlement was final.

2. I correctly analyzed the Ninth Circuit’s Food Not Bombs case for you previously. To repeat, “that ruling did not conclude that the distribution of food is always a First Amendment activity; instead, the court said that whether food distribution is a protected expressive activity must be determined in a fact-specific “as applied” challenge. This statement was only dicta — because, as the Ninth Circuit noted, after the litigation commenced, the City of Santa Monica amended its ordinance to allow the non-commercial distribution of food on public sidewalks, without requiring a permit, so long as the distribution did not interfere with pedestrians or street traffic. But dicta provides a fair warning regarding what the Ninth Circuit believes.”

3. I declined your repeated request that I track down the notes and any transcripts of the settlement proceedings before Judge Pregerson. In my view, this would not be an appropriate use of the sharply strained resources of my office. That said, Norman Kulla offered to give you access to his materials; he was present for the sessions with Judge Pregerson. It would appear that you would rather mischaracterize what occurred with the judge than read the documents that have been offered to you.

I will not comment on how an outside attorney, who was not present before Judge Pregerson, can opine on what happened in the judge’s courtroom. Hopefully, I will bear his comments in mind before I exhibit such hubris as to declare what happened in a courtroom where I was neither present nor with access to so many who were present and whose memories are unequivocal.

Jane Usher

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