PALISADES PARK — A pilot ordinance that restricts group exercise in the parks is a success to some and a bust to others, according to a report from City Hall released on Thursday.
There’s been a notable reduction in the amount of commercial fitness training in the parks and grass has grown back in the areas where the training is completely prohibited but some say the ordinance is too harsh while others say it’s too loose.
City Council approved the ordinance in October after residents complained that the trainers were too loud, destructive to the landscape, and monopolizing park space.
Some residents and neighborhood groups called for an all-out ban on commercial training in Palisades Park, which was the center of the controversy.
Many fitness trainers and clients favored some kind of regulation but said the approved permit fees were way too high, especially for the Palisades Park large group permit, which cost $8,100 for the year.
Despite the cost, several trainers purchased permits when the ordinance went into effect in January. Seven small, three medium, and two large group permits were purchased for Palisades Park. Two small, six medium, and three large group permits were purchased for the other parks and the beach.
City Hall brought in $43,400 from the permit fees.
The Code Compliance Department, which is tasked with enforcing the one-year pilot ordinance, got 41 total complaints regarding potential violations of the ordinance, with nearly half coming in January and none in June. Code Compliance opened 23 cases and issued three citations. Six cases are still pending.
One aspect of the ordinance, a requirement that trainers regularly rotate locations to save the grass, is not working. The designated fitness areas are still showing more signs of wear and tear than the non-fitness areas. In an area north of Marguerita Avenue, where training previously occurred but it is now prohibited, the grass has significantly improved.
City officials reached out to about 250 people interested in the ordinance — residents, trainers, and clients — for a 13-question survey.
Of the people surveyed, 40 percent called the permit program excellent but another 46 percent were disappointed.
Of those who left comments on the survey, 40 percent wanted more restrictions, especially at Palisades Park and 38 percent wanted looser restrictions and cheaper permits.
Roughly half of those surveyed were OK with the group sizes, the 25-pound limit on weights, and the allowed days and times.
Half of those surveyed had a problem with the allowed parks, with a majority leaving comments, again, asking for more restrictions at Palisades.
“Staff will continue to monitor and assess the permit program and report back to Council at the end of the one-year pilot period and propose changes if warranted,” city officials concluded in the report. “During the summer season, staff anticipates more commercial fitness or athletic instructors attempting to conduct classes in the parks and at the beach. Staff will continue active enforcement of the regulations through education, warnings and citations.”

dave@smdp.com

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