CITY HALL— Neighbors are expected to argue for the appeal of a permit allowing a Crossfit gym to open inside the Edgemar Center for the Arts at the City Council meeting tonight.
The appeal was delayed at the previous meeting after Councilmember Kevin McKeown pointed to several unrelated Edgemar tenants that might have been in violation of the document that governs the property.
The document, the Statement of Official Action (STOA), approved in 1997, states that if an Edgemar permittee violates conditions of the document, no other permits may be approved for Edgemar until the problem is remedied.
The STOA requires that two properties facing Second Street must be occupied by artists that both live and work on the premises, otherwise the windows and doors facing the street must be covered. Code compliance investigators found that the manager of Fresh Interactive, a digital media company in one of the two spaces, lives on-site, city officials said. They also stated that the digital media company met the requirement of an artist. The other space is occupied by a work-live artist.
Violations were found recently at Brick + Mortar restaurant, city officials said, for serving alcohol to unseated patrons. The restaurant was also cited in December for “conducting nightclub activities,” city officials said.
Despite the open violation, city officials recommend that council deny the neighbors’ appeal. A staff report claims that the “permittee” is defined as the owner of the property and states that “it is not clear that the property owner/landlord has, in fact, failed to comply with any condition(s).”
The report does acknowledge that the tenant, Brick + Mortar, may be in violation of STOA conditions. Does this legally deter council from allowing the approval of a new use within Edgemar?
“Given this complexity and the novelty of the issues, the outcome would be difficult to predict,” the report states.
As for the appeal itself, neighbors say that noise created by Crossfit members entering and exiting the gym in the early morning will disturb the surrounding homes.
Fitness trainer fees
The proposed Crossfit gym comes in the wake of a recent contentious council ruling on a major fitness issue. An ordinance regulating the usage of city parks for fitness training will get a second reading at Tuesday’s meeting.
Since it passed earlier this month, advocates on both sides of the issue have come out in opposition to the pilot ordinance.
The ordinance requires, among other things, flat annual fees from trainers wishing to use parks. Debate centered around Palisades Park, which some said was being overused and others said should be free to be used by all, including trainers.
Fees at Palisades Park were set at a higher rate to reflect the park’s high demand. Fees for group trainers were set as high as $8,100.
Santa Monica Outdoor Fitness Coalition spokesperson, Erin Dick, said that the change effectively priced group trainers out of Palisades Park.
One the other side, seven neighborhood groups signed letters to council asking for them to ban commercial fitness from Palisades Park. Three of the seven asked for the council to extend the ban to all city parks.
“Other business interests are not allowed access to our public resources,” said a letter from Ocean Park and Pico Neighborhood associations and Friends of Sunset Park. “Allowing commercial interests to exclusively occupy city parks in ‘commercial training zones’ during daylight hours seems to us special interest use.”
McKeown said that he plans on sticking with the ordinance as it is.
“If the commercial trainers ordinance fails to pass on second reading, we go back to what we had, which is no law protecting Palisades Park,” he said in an e-mail. “I have to wait and see if anyone else has changed their mind. Otherwise, I still have to vote for the new law to protect Palisades Park at all. Going back to having no law for commercial trainers isn’t really an option.”
Another approved ordinance getting a second reading amends parking codes to allow neighborhood electric vehicles (NEV) with proper state-issued decals to park for free at city parking meters.
California stopped issuing NEV decals in 2011 so NEVs purchased recently are not eligible for free metered parking. City officials said it would be unfeasible for City Hall to issue its own parking decals.
The Daily Press reached out to officials in San Jose, Calif., which has its own decal system.
Drivers who live or work in San Jose can apply for city-issued parking decals, officials said. Decals allow drivers to park for free at metered spots throughout the city.
The permits cost drivers $30 for two years, which San Jose officials say is enough to support the program.