For a paltry $63,000 a year in estimated annual gross income, city staff is prepared to let commercial exercise groups dominate our beloved Palisades Park 365 days a year from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. (“Council to vote on outdoor fitness ordinance,” Oct. 7). That sum won‚Äôt even cover the salary (plus benefits) of Community and Cultural Services Director Karen Ginsberg, who devised this ugly plan, which she will present to the City Council for approval on Oct. 8. And certainly it comes nowhere near covering police and park patrols, garbage pickup, damage repair and maintenance expenses.
What do the residents and taxpayers get out of this sellout to commercial users? Lots of noise ‚Äî even on weekends and holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Wake up folks, it‚Äôs 6 a.m. and the exercise classes are in session. The plan ignores residents‚Äô requests for an 8 a.m. start time. When the commercial instructors countered with a 6 a.m. start, the city staffers compromised on 6 a.m.! They totally ignored the city‚Äôs Recreation and Parks Commission‚Äôs advice that the City Council bar “all commercial fitness instruction (including 1-on-1; 1-on-2) in Palisades Park; no commercial fitness instruction, classes or camps may occur in any park before 7 a.m. ‚Ä¶ .”
Palisades Park was a gift to the citizens of Santa Monica. They have first dibs on its use. City staffers have no right to bargain away our rights to profit-making businesses that want rent-free access to a priceless ocean view. Why should City Council give them preference over the taxpayers who live and vote here? Why does Santa Monica have to capitulate to their terms to the detriment of its residents?
Let the City Council know by e-mail, phone or in person that they were elected to represent the residents and that Palisades Park is not for sale. It should remain a place of quiet enjoyment, not an outdoor gym.
Harriet P. Epstein