CITYWIDE — Following a fiscal year that saw six road-closing races held in Santa Monica, City Council limited the annual number of 5 and 10K races to three.
Previously, City Hall allowed eight 5 and 10K races to be held in the city annually. Five such races were held in Santa Monica last year. Additionally, the Los Angeles Marathon ends in Santa Monica. For four straight months, from February through May, a race was held in Santa Monica this year.
“Residents and businesses have expressed concerns about the number of races being held in the city as they are impacted by street closures, lack of parking and noise,” said Kathy LePrevost, recreation manager.
Santa Monica offers a few different routes, but every route affects sections of Ocean Avenue and San Vicente Boulevard. Councilmember Bob Holbrook, who lives on San Vicente, described being stuck in his neighborhood for several hours on race days.
“When we run one of these races, anyone who lives on the north side of San Vicente cannot get to Santa Monica,” he said. “We have to go to Los Angeles, drive down the Pacific Coast Highway or drive Sunset Boulevard to 26th Street at least. … Do you realize the burden of being cut off from the city for several hours?”
Race promoters are required to reimburse City Hall for any services, including use of police and fire departments. The new ordinance, which passed unanimously at the last council meeting, requires race promoters to mail postcards to residents living within 250 feet of the race, up from 100 feet in the old ordinance.
The new ordinance also sets a timeframe for the races, with one being allowed in May and two allowed in September, October, or November.
Last year, the races included the SM 5000, which benefits the Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation, the Leslie Cohen Law 5K, which benefits the Santa Monica High School cross country team and the Public Counsel Debtor Assistance Project, Live Ultimate Santa Monica, which benefits End Child Hunger, the Santa Monica Classic, put on by the L.A. Marathon group, and the Gobble Wobble.
Brennan Lindner, who helps puts on the SM 5000 and the Gobble Wobble, acknowledged that race fatigue had become too much in the past fiscal year. The Gobble Wobble is not coming back, he said. The SM 5000, which has been held in October over the past eight years and has raised $250,000 for the education foundation over the past three years, will likely return.
About 15 races are held on the Westside of Los Angeles every year. Culver City holds one race. Beverly Hills hosts only its segment of the Los Angeles Marathon. Manhattan Beach and Hermosa Beach each hold about three to five races a year, with some occurring on the sand to avoid street closures.
Councilmember Gleam Davis, who originally proposed the reevaluation of the race ordinance, noted fitness has been a running theme at council meetings of late. Council recently placed restrictions on fitness trainers who use public parks and denied the appeal of a neighborhood group attempting to block an incoming Crossfit gym. Unlike those two issues, the race ordinance did not draw contentious public comment.
“The one thing that has become apparent to me is that we have a community that wants to be fit, and stay fit in very many ways and enjoys these outdoor activities like these races,” she said. “But they really were putting an undue burden in terms of the frequency given that everyone was running the same route.”