Venice Beach Segway accident, June 2013

Venice Beach Segway accident, June 2013

This week, I am pleased to say I have escaped the Arizona heat and have headed west to California. Venice Beach and all its wonder is the destination.

As always, when I head to points-not-home, I get a bit curious about legal angles that may afflict the foreign community.

Given that the locale is Venice Beach, I took it as a challenge that the legal story could not be about medical marijuana, dog-leash laws, overnight parking permits, or injury caused by speeding Segways.

I mean, come on; give me a hard challenge.

Abbott_Kinney,_Founder_of_Venice,_California,_1884_or_before

Abbott Kinney, founder of Venice, Calif.

That’s when I came across a story about a deed from the turn of the last century that helped to create the free-and-easy Venice we know today.

Abbott Kinney was a developer, conservationist and founder of Venice.

Here is what the Venice Beach Boardwalk Coalition reported recently, on June 18:

“Over the years rumors of ‘Abbott Kinney’s Deed’ have floated through Venice but nobody ever seemed to know much about it, except that Abbott Kinney, the founder of Venice Beach, had made certain stipulations about how the deeded beach area was to be used.”

“But now, thanks to Venice activists, the deeds—there are more than one—have been made available to the public; we are now in possession of those deeds and can reveal what it was that Abbott Kinney stipulated over 100 years ago in 1904 and 1906.”

The “Spirit of Venice” website continues:

“It appears that Mr. Kinney had a very specific use in mind for the area—that is now considered Venice City Beach park—a ‘pleasure park’ is how he and his partners described it in the 1904 ABBOTT KINNEY DEED:

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Free speech placard via the Venice Beach Boardwalk Coalition.

TO HAVE AND TO HOLD all and singular the said premises together with the appurtenances unto the said party of the second part and its successors and assigns in the hereinafter named trust, forever, as a pleasure park or beach for the use, benefit and enjoyment of the public in general and particularly the inhabitants of said city and the owners of the property lying adjacent to the property hereinbefore described; provided, that this conveyance is made upon the condition that no house or houses or building of any kind or character, or miniature, steam, street, or electric railway or roadway, or any gas, water or sewer pipe shall ever be erected, constructed, laid, maintained or operated, or he permitted or allowed to be erected, constructed, laid, maintained or operated, in, along, upon or over said lands or any part thereof; and that no game of any kind shall ever be permitted to be conducted or carried on upon said lands or any part thereof, and said lands and every part thereof must at all times be kept free from teaming, open, and unobstructed for the use and enjoyment of the public and as a pleasure park or beach, and said property shall be kept clean at said City’s expense.”

A subsequent deed in 1906 conveyed the Ocean Front Walk itself.

Given the deeds, the community groups wonder, is all the development at the park and on the boardwalk legal?

I’ll leave that dialogue to community activists and chambers of commerce.

Read the original deeds (1904 and 1906) here.

I’m pretty fond of Venice Beach. And a legal mystery only adds to its charm.