On top of that, vendors block emergency access zones, and unauthorized yard sales pop up that police can't shut down because no signs are posted with the rules.
"We can't do anything 'til the signs are up and they know it," Reina said, pointing to the sellers in illegal spaces. "The vending is out of control."
Things took a violent turn last month. A man was shot at the boardwalk basketball courts when rival gangs showed up at a "flash mob" gathering promoted by Twitter. The gunfire sparked pandemonium as people scattered for cover.
A week later, another man was stabbed at the beach drum circle, a regular jam session with hundreds of people rhythmically banging everything from bongos to buckets.
Some locals took the incidents as a harbinger of a rough summer to come, while others simply attributed it to a higher visitor turnout due to a spate of spring sunshine.
"They're isolated incidents but getting regular. It was the first real hot weekend," said Matt Dowd, a longtime boardwalk musician. "But the problems here stem back to a lack of attention to Venice's issues."
In the wake of the violence, officers have stepped up monitoring of Twitter, called in reinforcements one Sunday from the elite Metro division, and sought help from the major crimes task force.
On a recent Sunday after the stabbing, six undercover officers - up from the normal two or three - were sent to mingle in the drum circle, which can draw 600 to 800 cavorting people and has been a persistent headache through the years.
"The problem is we can't see what's going on in the crowd," Reina said. "We even had a sexual assault in there years ago."
Peters acknowledged arrests are only part of the solution.
He's bugging the city to clean up overflowing trash cans in a bid to instill a sense of order and is working to get access to residents' video surveillance cameras.
He's even looking at piping calming classical music into the so-called "pagodas" - shaded sitting areas where people congregate - as well as installing better lighting and cameras with speakers that would allow warnings to be issued remotely.
Still, highly visible uniformed officers - about 20 comprise a typical weekend detail - are the most powerful deterrent, the officers noted. "If I had my way, I'd have 200 officers down here," Reina said.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.