It's official. Council Votes to Allow Commercial Fitness in Palisades Park
You might have thought the parks ordinance went down to defeat on Tuesday. You would have been right. But only briefly.
In a 3-3 tie, the City Council failed to pass the proposed ordinance that allowed commercial fitness trainers in city parks. The proposed ordinance had drawn sharp criticism from a coalition of all the city's seven neighborhood groups, as well as the Recreation & Parks Commission and the Landmarks Commission (see below). Council Members McKeown, Holbrook and Vazquez voted against the measure, with Mayor O'Connor and Council Members Davis and Winterer voting for it. With Council Member Terry O'Day absent, the ordinance appeared to be dead. For a while.
Then about half an hour later, Council member McKeown made a motion to reconsider. By the time it was all over, the parks ordinance permitting commercial training that had died earlier was revived and passed in a 4-2 vote. McKeown's "yes" vote was joined by O'Connor, Winterer and Davis; Opposed were Holbrook and Vazquez. Council Member Terry O'Day was still absent.
McKeown said he strongly opposed commercial training in Palisades Park and termed the ordinance "inadequate," but argued that it was better than nothing in offering some protection to the city's parks. Both Vazquez and Holbrook, who voted against the ordinance, joined McKeown in voicing strong opposition to commercial training in Palisades Park. Vazquez favored asking city staff to redraw the ordinance to include stronger restrictions on trainers in Palisades Park.
Holbrook said he had received an avalanche of complaints from the public on the issue. "I have had my rear end chewed out up one side and down the other about Palisades Park and what we're doing to it with the trainers there, " he said. "I have had leaders of neighborhood organizations saying, 'What is wrong with you people? Aren't you listening?' ... It's been loud. It's been continuous -- it's probably the loudest thing I've heard since the tree issue and shrubbery issues and the fence issue ... it's a big, big thing brewing in the community. It's erupting. All I wanted to do was protect Palisades Park."
Council Member McKeown later sent out an email explaining his actions, which is attached here. See also the analysis of the night's activities by Peggy Clifford at the Santa Monica Dispatch here. The video of the council meeting is on the council's website here. The reconsideration of the parks matter begins at about 4:06.
Many, many thanks to everyone for all your good work on this issue. The neighborhood groups stood united in seeking curbs to commercialism in our parks, and we found out which council members were listening.
The newly approved ordinance takes effect in 30 days. The next phase will likely involve working with the city to monitor the situation, and insisting that enforcement be properly funded and implemented in all city parks. We will share more information as it becomes available.
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