PALISADES PARK — City Council will vote Tuesday on regulations for fitness companies operating in public parks.
All parks will be subject to the regulation but Palisades Park is the focus of the ordinance. The park has seen an increase in fitness trainers in recent years, said Parks and Recreation Commissioner Phil Brock, who first brought the issue to City Council.
“A lot of those trainers started using the park five, six hours a day,” he said. “We ended up with trainers not only using it as their place of business but also attaching resistance bands to light posts and to the fence. Then we further started having trainers who started bringing weights, sometimes in large pickup trucks.”
The proposed ordinance would split Palisades Park into four quadrants and allow only 20 permits. Class sizes are set at a maximum of 15 students. Permits will cost the trainers 15 percent of their annual revenue.
All other city park permits require a 10 percent fee to City Hall.
Erin Dick, head of the Santa Monica Outdoor Fitness Coalition, said the ordinance is an example of the democratic process working.
“The city has listened to us, council has listened to us,” she said. “We were not close together in position back in February when we started this. Now here we are with a compromise that, I think, is very favorable to both the city and these small business owners.”
At Tuesday’s meeting, Dicks plans to ask council to remove the 20 permit cap, something that Raisa Lilling, owner of Fit 4 Moms, Santa Monica, agrees is important.
“What if my daughter is sick and I can’t get down there to get a permit and end up being number 21,” Lilling said.
Overall, Lilling is also happy with the proposed ordinance.
“It’s not usually an issue for me, but sometimes I hold free classes,” she said. “Imagine a mom who gets her child ready, gets out the door, gets all the way to the park, and they’re number 16.”
Brian Burke, of Friends of Palisades Park, is pushing for a moratorium of fitness at the park and seeks grass restoration. He said fitness classes are partially responsible for grass erosion at the park.
“It’s not a treadmill, it’s not a gym, it’s a living, breathing organism,” he said.
Burke said they should let the grass regrow before considering the slow reintroduction of fitness groups.
“There’s no scientific study being done on what is best for the park,” he said. “They are going to allow these boot camps of up to 15 people and there’s really no way of enforcing that.”
Burke plans to be at the meeting to express his views.
Brock, who originally pushed for a total ban, is happy with the proposal but plans to offer a few changes at the council meeting.
He wants to lower the Reed Park fee to 5 percent in order to encourage trainers to activate a park that is sometimes occupied by the homeless. He will also ask council to ban personal trainers where Palisades Park is narrow, north of Margarita Avenue.