CITY HALL – Those who give fitness classes on the beach or in public parks have been put on notice.

The City Council gave staff the go ahead to explore restricting fitness classes in public open spaces, uses which city officials say force other people out of the parks and beaches and can cause damage to turf.

Officials recommended that the council approve a ban on equipment more than 4-feet wide or 25 pounds, citing the prevalence of large tires on the ground, cables running from trees and light poles and even massage tables set up on the grass.

Residents have complained about the private classes taught in public spaces because they block noncommercial access to the parks and beaches, said Community and Cultural Services Director Karen Ginsberg.

City staff will develop an ordinance to be considered by the council at a later date.

Community benefits study session

Council members mulled changing the process by which development gets approved in Santa Monica to maximize the amount of benefits that City Hall can ask developers to provide in return for special building rights without sinking the projects into financial infeasibility.

Community benefits are extras that developers promise to City Hall in return for the right to build above and beyond the restrictions in the zoning code, and can include public parks, art pieces or contributions to various funds, amongst others.

It’s difficult to know how much to ask for without also knowing what additional benefit the developer is getting from the special permission to build a taller, denser project, said Planning Commissioner Ted Winterer during public comment.

“I feel like we’re swimming upstream based on what we think on gut analysis of the project is an appropriate amount of community benefits,” Winterer said.

Council members also asked for more discussion of community benefits with Santa Monica residents earlier in the process in an attempt to make sure that the extras are not only what residents want, but also that they benefit the neighborhoods most impacted by the development.

More to come in Thursday’s print edition of the Daily Press.

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