CITY HALL — The Los Angeles Marathon on Tuesday got a preliminary nod from the City Council to locate the final leg of its 2010 race in Santa Monica, a course that’s been dubbed the Stadium to the Sea.
The council instructed its staff to return with an ordinance or policy change that would allow marathons to be held in the city where only 5 and 10K runs are currently permitted. The staff will also meet with marathon officials to negotiate the proposed route, which in Santa Monica would go down San Vicente Boulevard, heading south on Ocean Avenue to Barnard Way and concluding just beyond the border in Venice. The race was initially thought to end in Santa Monica but a final decision on the exact location of the finish line has not been made.
The race, scheduled for March 21, will begin at Dodger Stadium.
Frank McCourt, who bought the 24-year-old organization late last year, said his goal is to put on a marathon that enhances the quality of life that city officials want to protect, involving businesses, charities and the greater community in the event.
“The vision for the marathon I think is fairly clear, this notion of a world-class event running from the stadium to the sea through and around the iconic places within this great region,” McCourt, who also owns the Los Angeles Dodgers, said.
The marathon, which reportedly raised $1.6 million for charities in 2008, has identified Heal the Bay, Sojourn Services of OPCC and Students Run L.A. as beneficiaries next year.
A half-marathon has also been proposed to be held just three weeks before the bigger name event, going along Ocean Avenue before branching off to Moomat Ahiko way, traveling up Pacific Coast Highway to Sunset Boulevard before returning to Santa Monica and concluding at the 1440 lot just north of the Santa Monica Pier. The Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation, which is launching an athletics endowment next year, is slated to be the sole beneficiary of the half-marathon.
Elaine Polachek, the deputy city manager, said during an interview on Wednesday that she expects the date for the half-marathon to change because it’s scheduled too close to the L.A. Marathon, which is far along in its process having received approvals from the cities of Beverly Hills, Los Angeles and West Hollywood.
While holding such races in Santa Monica is expected to reap economic benefits in the form of more revenue from sales and transient occupancy taxes, city officials said they anticipate adverse impacts, including traffic congestion and stresses on law enforcement and public safety efforts.
SMPD Chief Tim Jackman said he plans to seek assistance from neighboring law enforcement agencies, noting that such a large-scale event, which attracts about 25,000 runners, would result in significant parking and traffic impacts.
He added that most in his department was not around for the last marathon in the city, which was held in 1984, but believes that his staff will be well prepared.
“This will essentially for most of my staff be a completely new exercise, but we think we can support the event and make sure it’s done safely and appropriately from a police perspective,” he said.
For the Santa Monica Fire Department, the race could mean an increase in demands for medical attention that day.
Based on figures from previous marathons across the region, Fire Chief Jim Hone said he anticipates anywhere from 15 to 30 patients to be transported to area hospitals at the conclusion of the race.
Both chiefs said that they had concerns with the half-marathon, primarily with the short break between it and the L.A. Marathon. Jackman said he also had concerns with the half-marathon’s proposed course on Pacific Coast Highway.
Aside from routes, city officials expressed enthusiasm for the idea of having such a high profile race in Santa Monica.
“Not only are we talking about events that will be exciting for the community, but events that have long-term benefits for the community,” Councilmember Gleam Davis said.