About a decade ago I lived for a short period of time on Ocean Avenue. The trees and sculptures became playgrounds for my two toddlers as we would spend hours in Palisades Park.

Way back then it was very common for me to see numerous homeless persons in the park. I never had any problems, but it did affect where I went with my kids, mostly due to the smells than any fear of other danger.

In this past decade the city has done a tremendous job addressing issues of homelessness and the parks are a great example of this.

Now, instead of complaining about being overrun by homeless people in the parks, we are complaining about being run over by exercisers (“Council to flex muscle on park uses,” My Write, April 22).

I thought all this boot camp stuff was silly until a few months ago when a small group of friends grabbed our sons’ baseball coach and started the “Old Man Hour of Pain,” which only last 50 minutes by the way.

We meet up in Palisades Park, run around, catch up on family events, sweat a little, talk some smack and maybe we’re getting in slightly better shape. We give the coach some money each week and we go about our days.

Last week I saw two homeless people and about 20 people exercising and at least another 20 to 30 walking and socializing. All enjoying a beautiful Santa Monica morning.

Where is the harm here? Is it physical harm to the grass? It looked pretty good to me. In a city which won a million dollar grant to measure the well-being of its residents, wouldn’t one stop to think that exercise in a public park might be a net positive?

Maybe there are professionals out there who are making decent money training clients, but so what. Do we really need a piece of every pie? And how are we going to enforce this?

My guess is that every day one poor exerciser forgets to feed a meter. The city is probably coming out ahead based on parking tickets!

The other day, because of the lack of field space for kids in Santa Monica, I took my girls’ soccer team to Palisades Park for a boot camp. Eight of them worked out for an hour and had a great time. I used a few cones and jump ropes and we ran some stairs. Am I a professional and do I need a license now?

Sometimes we do a really great job in Santa Monica and sometimes we lose sight of the forest through the tall hedges, I mean trees.

Can’t we focus on some other priorities for the time being? If we really do have a resource crunch then I don’t want to see policemen policing fitness classes. That’ll end well.

Council, in viewing the well-being of the city and its residents, take a pass on fitness classes for now. Unless of course you’d like to join us for Old Man Hour of Pain.



Jon Kean

Santa Monica

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