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Is Venice Is Losing Its Character?

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Google (along with other tech companies) has been muscling its way into Venice, buying up real estate wherever it could. But the company hit a nerve when it took over the body-building mecca of Gold's Gym.

It's not clear what the company's goals for the gym are or just how long Gold's lease will continue. But locals are worried that the company will shut down the gym and fold it into the company's other beachside holdings. This brings up the bigger question in a recent New York Times story of whether the rise of Silicon Beach means Venice is losing its character.

In recent years, the LAPD has cracked down on gangs in Venice, and some kinds of drug-dealing (although clearly not the quasi-legal kind, since the beach is still a hot-spot for dispensaries). At the end of last year, the City Council passed an ordinance putting limits on what vendors are and aren't allowed to sell. Venice has managed to stay weird in a lot of ways, but locals are worried it will end up becoming more like its neighbor to the North.

"I don’t want to see Venice look like Santa Monica," DeAlphria Tarver, a vendor selling homemade hats, told the New York Times.

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Arnold Schwarzenegger admits it has changed over the years but he doesn't think the DNA that makes Venice what it is has been tampered—after all, visitors can still get a contact high: "Some people think it’s lost personality. I don’t think it’s lost personality."

Of course, as the Times story notes, Schwarzenegger has some skin in the game, too. He took over World Gym and converted the space into a spot for high-end shops and offices.

Google Will Take Over Gold's Gym in Venice
Venice To Probe Silicon Beach: Home To Google, Digital Domain & JibJab