CITY HALL — There is no reason that a child in Santa Monica should grow up without learning to swim.
That’s the position that Recreation & Parks commissioners have taken, anyway.
The commission requested staff place an action item on the August agenda to ask the City Council to open up local pools for use to take burden off the one municipal pool in the city — the Santa Monica Swim Center, located on the Santa Monica College main campus.
The goal would be to offer programs similar to those that kids enjoy at the center, or at least give lap swimmers and other recreational users a place to go so that more classes could be offered at the center.
It became clear that demand was far outstripping supply when two commissioners reported that they could not get their kids enrolled in swim classes at the Santa Monica Swim Center, said Commissioner Phil Brock.
“You’ve got three pools in the city that are available,” Brock said. “We’ve got capacity that’s not being used. Whether it’s for lessons or for lap swimming, it’ll take the weight off the Swim Center.”
The commission is targeting the two pools that are under the control of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District — Santa Monica High School’s Drake pool and the pool at Lincoln Middle School — as well as the pool at the Annenberg Beach House.
“We’ve heard from citizens that there’s a need to have more facilities open,” Brock said. “Commissioners [Richard] McKinnon and [John] Petz would like to see the Annenberg Pool open more hours, with temporary lanes put in so people could lap swim, and I believe the Lincoln pool would alleviate overcrowding at the swim center.”
The most recent draft of the supplemental joint use agreement between City Hall and the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District will allow community members to get permits to use Santa Monica High School’s Drake pool when it’s not being used by the district, said Carey Upton, director of facilities management at SMMUSD.
However, permitting for that pool and for the Lincoln pool is still done through the school district, and will be for the foreseeable future, Upton said.
“We do permit Drake to outside groups now, and have for years. We will continue doing that as we go,” Upton said. “There’s no plan as of today for the city to open it up for recreation et cetera.”
If City Hall wanted to take on the responsibility to permit and program the Lincoln or Samohi pool, however, the school district would happily enter into a partnership, Upton said.
“If the city wanted to come in and do a partnership with that pool, we’d be happy to do it,” Upton said. “The district is not interested in creating programs for the community to swim. It’s not in our scope.”
The district pool in Malibu, for instance, gets heavy use from the community, and is managed by Malibu’s City Hall.
“When they’re not using it for school, they’re using it,” Upton said.
It’s unclear at this point how involved City Hall wants to be with the pool at Samohi.
Under a joint use agreement approved in June, the pool will be available for community use, said City Hall’s Karen Ginsberg, assistant director of Community and Cultural Services.
The details of the hours and which agency will do the permitting hasn’t been worked out yet, Ginsberg said.
The agreement hasn’t been seen by the Recreation & Parks Commission, nor the City Council.
The Recreation & Parks Commission did ask staff to come back with an action item to recommend to the City Council that City Hall pursue a joint use agreement with the school district to open up the pool at Lincoln as they have the pool at Samohi.
“We’re tired, as a commission, of it being put off,” Brock said, citing several times that the commission has asked for the matter to be taken up between City Hall and the school district.
The goal is to get kids and adults swimming, at the same time cut down on obesity and poor health.
“All of that will be a tremendous asset to our city,” Brock said.