CITY HALL — Palm reading, tarot cards and crystal balls can soon make their way back to Ocean Front Walk.

Following concerns about First Amendment protections, the City Council on Tuesday approved an ordinance that expands the areas where fortune-telling is allowed to Ocean Front Walk, Lincoln Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard. The activity was restricted to the Santa Monica Pier.

Their action makes permanent an interim ordinance that allowed such activities to take place in certain areas outside of the pier. The council in 2000 adopted a temporary law that permitted fortune-telling on Ocean Front Walk but it expired.

The California Supreme Court in 1985 ruled that the activity is protected under the Constitution and cannot be prohibited by a municipality.

Councilman Bob Holbrook joked before the vote that he “predicted” the ordinance would pass, to which Mayor Ken Genser quipped that forecasting wasn’t legal on the dais because it fell outside of the authorized zones.

The ordinance will be effective 30 days from adoption.

Legal settlements and clerk’s bonus<p>

The council approved a $35,000 settlement in the case of Martin v. city of Santa Monica in which the plaintiff tripped and fell on a city sidewalk, resulting in an fractured wrist and two surgeries. Councilman Bobby Shriver abstained from the vote.

City Clerk Maria Stewart will also receive a 10 percent performance-based bonus for fiscal year 2007-08 following an evaluation in closed session. Genser noted that many employees did receive bonuses during that year.

Due to the financial difficulties, Stewart will receive five additional paid days off in lieu of a bonus for fiscal year 2008-09. Genser said that while her performance was excellent last year, many employees did not receive a bonus because of economic circumstances.

Marathon set for SaMo<p>

After months of discussions over the location of the finish line for the Los Angeles Marathon, the council approved a route that would conclude the race at the intersection of Ocean Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard.

The council revised an existing ordinance to allow only one marathon a year to occur on a Sunday between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., allowing L.A. Marathon officials to proceed with plans to bring the 2010 race from Dodger Stadium to the sea.

The race will enter the city at the intersection of 26th Street and San Vicente Boulevard and head west before turning on Ocean Avenue. The post race festivities will be held at the 1550 lot immediately north of the pier.

Next year’s marathon will be its 25th anniversary.

Regulating driveways for big lots<p>

The council voted on the first reading an ordinance that would regulate the number and type of driveways permitted for parking lots that have more than 40 spaces. The ordinance will become final upon a second reading.

The ordinance will essentially make an interim ordinance that will expire on Dec. 11 permanent. It requires that parking lots with 21-40 spaces have one double driveway. Lots with more than 41 spaces must be approved by the transportation planning manager based on safety, efficiency and effectiveness.

Parry resigns from Housing Commission<p>

The council accepted Jason Parry’s resignation from the Housing Commission and directed the clerk to publish the vacancy. Parry was appointed to the Planning Commission last month for a term ending on June 30, 2011, replacing former chair Terry O’Day who resigned in August to focus more attention on his family and career.

The council also designated Mayor Pro Tem Pam O’ Connor as the voting delegate to the National League of Cities’ Annual Business Meeting on Nov. 14 in San Antonio, Texas. Councilman Richard Bloom will serve as the alternate.

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