A fitness trainer works with a client in Palisades Park. (File photo)

PALISADES PARK — After a year of restricting fitness training in the city’s parks, City Council will consider making the permitting rules stricter.

Weekend start times would get later, trainers would have to keep away from the trees, and high-earners would pay more under the updated rules proposed to council for their consideration next week.

Last year, City Hall started a one-year pilot program that charged flat fees to trainers — who had previously used the parks for free — and placed special restrictions on the use of Palisades Park, which was seeing some wear and tear.

Trainers said the fees were too high and that they effectively banned training at Palisades Park. Some residents said the rules were too lenient and should have banned training in Palisades Park.

A year later, trainers are still using Palisades Park and city officials say the program is a success.

There was an overall reduction in athletic instruction at the parks and complaints about the instructors have “drastically decreased,” they said in a report to council.

“The permit program has been effective in requiring commercial instructors to carry insurance, obtain a Santa Monica business license, reduce impacts on neighbors and park users, protect park and beach amenities, and compensate the City for commercial use of public land,” city officials said in the report.

As the pilot program expires, city officials are proposing a slew of new rules — mostly making the ordinance more restrictive.

Virginia Avenue Park would be off limits for large group trainers and off limits for medium groups on the weekends.

Weekend hours, which were previously 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., would push back to a 7 a.m. start time on Saturdays.

City Hall-issued signs would have to be displayed by all trainers in the park. Trainers won’t be allowed to hold spaces for one another.

Groups and their belongings will have to be at least 10 feet from any tree trunk to reduce environmental impacts.

Flat fees will remain in effect ($1,800 for small groups, $3,600 for medium groups, and $5,400 for large groups in most parks). If trainers make more than a designated amount ($18,000 small, $36,000 medium, and $54,000 large) they’ll have to pay 10 percent of their earnings to City Hall.

“This payment structure modification will likely impact only highly active permittees with multiple instructors or numerous classes and camps with large participation levels and extended hours operating year-round or during school breaks,” city officials said in their report.

It should be noted that the flat fees are 50 percent higher at Palisades Park and 50 percent lower at Reed Park, which has been a consistent hangout for the homeless.

The new rules, if approved, would go into effect April 1. City officials note that the changes could generate about $15,000 in additional revenue this year.

City Hall collected nearly $100,000 from the permits this year.


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