It seems that at least a couple of fairly large, privately-owned fitness organizations have found a great, free place to hold their exercise classes and boot camps — Palisades Park.

For example, Body Inspired Fitness by Angela Parker conducts three co-ed body fitness classes and/or boot camps in Palisades Park on three weekday mornings during the spring/summer seasons, according to its website.

As many as 30 clients pay Parker up to $275 each for class sessions which are held in six week increments. Privately-owned exercise organizations must purchase a business license to do business in Santa Monica, but do not pay any other charges or fees for the use of public park land.

Vending in the parks is prohibited, but it only applies to direct payment for goods and services in the parks themselves. Memberships, class fees or pre-registration charges for training and exercise activities are collected off premises, therefore, not covered by any existing municipal ordinance.

Residents complain the classes “take over” and prevent people from using the park and City Hall isn’t even recouping expense in maintaining and restoring the grounds once these conditioning classes are through.

There are a couple of ways to handle the problem. Revise the municipal code to expand the vending prohibition to include payments for goods and services made outside the parks as well as in the parks.

However, I think it would be more desirable to come up with a system to regulate the size and frequency of exercise and boot camps and develop a fee structure to be paid by private trainers or fitness organizations for the use of municipal recreational facilities. Licenses and filming fees are collected from production companies who film in the city, so why not implement a similar system for privately-run fitness classes and boot camps?

The director of Community and Cultural Services, Karen Ginsberg, e-mailed this to me:

“On April 10, 2012 the City Council directed staff to consider options for regulating non-city sponsored fitness classes in parks and at the beach in order to address the issues that you have raised in your e-mail as well as other concerns that community members have raised.”

She said that staff will return later in the year “with options for regulating non-city sponsored fitness classes.” Sounds like she’s on the right track.

I’ve been a member of private and celebrity gyms over the years. Some require personal trainers and their clients to join the gym or pay weekly, monthly or per-session fees for using the facilities. Some gyms just charge personal trainers an hourly fee — typically $25 or more per session to train clients.

Here, it’s obvious that some trainers are using Palisades Park and other public space because it’s “free” and they can avoid the cost of using private gyms.

City Hall should also require those conducting exercise services on public property to be certified by the National Exercise and Sports Trainers Association or other accredited personal fitness trainer program and provide proof of insurance.

Getting people in shape and healthy while letting those who are profiting by it pay for the use of city resources seems like a fair situation to me.

 

Monster on our doorstep? 

It’s been in the works for three years; another large, mixed-use development proposed for West Los Angeles near Santa Monica’s eastern border may be closer to breaking ground. The project combines 512,870 square feet of residential housing (538 units) with 260,800 square feet of retail space and parking for 2,090 cars. The developer is Casden West L.A., LLC. Currently the site is a cement plant near the corner of Pico and Sepulveda boulevards.

Casden’s massive project — with components as high as 200 feet or 17 floors — is near Expo Light Rail stops and next to Interstate 405. The developer is claiming the project “will provide people a place to live without daily dependence on a car,” reports L.A. Curbed. Right. How many parking spots?

But, the big question is, after complaining about the Hines Bergamot Village Transit Center in Santa Monica and, now dead, Olympic/Bundy Medical Center in West L.A., where is all the neighborhood opposition to this mega-project? Getting organized, I hope.

Nativity scenes in limbo

Last Tuesday night, the City Council listened to public comment about nativity dioramas and other unattended holiday displays in Palisades Park. Because of the late hour, they deterred taking action until a future meeting — most likely June 12.

Allowing them will only trigger complaints that displays promoting religion have no place on public property. Others will claim that they’re “OK,” good for tourism and a valued tradition. Arguments about what’s fitting and appropriate will never be resolved, which is why I say an outright ban on all unattended displays in our parks is the only rational way to end this controversy.

 

Paying respect 

If you’ve finished your morning coffee and are looking for something to do, I suggest marching over to Woodlawn Cemetery at the corner of Pico Boulevard and 14th Street for the 74th annual Memorial Day Observance. It’s a great way to pay respect and honor the brave men and women in uniform who’ve made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.

This free event will feature speeches on our city’s history, lots of patriotic songs and music plus a flyover by a World War II vintage DC-3 and maybe even a surprise or two. The observance begins at 11 a.m. Free parking and shuttle service is available at Santa Monica College across Pico.

 

Bill can be reached at mr.bilbau@gmail.com

 

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