It’s Hard To See Old Venice Changing

Venice Beach is constantly changing, but is it for the better or worse?

Venice Beach Wines, owned by Oscar Hermosillo.

Venice Beach Wines, owned by Oscar Hermosillo.

Makai Folsom, Guest Contributor

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Venice Beach is a place of culture and art. It has always been a central hub for artists to express themselves freely however they please, through photography, painting murals or physical movement like skateboarding or surfing. Venice’s streets are full of artists of all types exhibiting their work on the streets.

You look left and see a green spray paint mural done by Muck Rock or a house designed by Frank Gehry. There are constantly pop ups and events located all around the narrow, dog-filled streets of Venice Beach, California for artists to preserve the culture of Venice Beach. 

But is the culture we’re trying to look after being stripped? Is it too late to stop?

Abbot Kinney, which used to only consist of small local shops and was known for its unique stores and rows of palm trees, has now been infested with chain stores, making the stores its main pull factor. When the first “chain,” an ice cream shop called N’ice Cream arrived on Abbot Kinney, protests occurred. The community didn’t want a parasite placed on this iconic street. Soon enough, in a blink of an eye, buildings and shops that made Venice Venice were being stripped away and replaced by concrete neon lights. 

Some places have lasted throughout this culture-ripping crusade like Venice Beach Wines owned by Oscar Hermosillo, a dear friend of my family. It’s an iconic restaurant on Rose that has sold wine and charcuteries on a street that used to be sketchy, but now is flourishing. 

Do I think it’s changing for better or worse? Personally as someone who’s lived in Venice my whole life, I’m torn. The new shops are bringing in new wealth, making Venice a safer and cleaner space. But on the contrary, we are losing the mom-and-pop shops, restaurants and art that is the DNA of Venice Beach. 

When we begin to see Venice’s values change, such as getting rid of these stores, something is changing in our neighborhood that we must be aware of. It feels as if they have dropped a large sponge soaking up and absorbing all of the places that have made up and built my childhood.

Whole Foods used to be purely a health haven and grocery store full of happy, inspired people and potentially your favorite body builder. It has shifted to a tech grocery store now owned by Amazon where you pay with a scan of your palm. Memories of me walking in at 8 a.m. in my pajamas getting breakfast with my dad in his Defender all now have a different meaning because of the value shift at Whole Foods.

Next door Thomas’s Hamburgers with the yellow and red paint, has now been torn to the ground losing all of its joyful customers coming on a Sunday morning to play with the claw machines and talk to their favorite chef they’ve built a connection with throughout the years they’ve been dining there.

Venice’s new wave has tried to steal its deep-rooted heritage by funding chains that buy out classic stores causing them to lose money and be forced to move. To fix this, we must carefully gentrify our neighborhood without ransacking its history. 

Gentrification is a double-edged sword—use it wisely.