Santa Monica City Hall (File photo)

Aside from water rate hikes and a proposed transit hub, which the Daily Press wrote about previously, City Council will consider banning wild animals from a slew of public spaces and a union appeal at the Feb. 24 meeting.

The proposed wild animal ban would oust exotic and wild animals, like snakes, reptiles, birds, and non-human primates, from all city parks, the beach, Ocean Front Walk, the Santa Monica Pier, the pier ramp, the Third Street Promenade, and the Downtown Transit Mall.

Animal handlers offer chances to hold or be held by massive snakes or colorful birds near the entrance to the pier in Palisades Park. They ask for donations in return.

“At times, these individuals do so in an aggressive manner,” a report from city officials to council says. “Animals such as birds or snakes are even tossed by their handlers at unsuspecting park patrons so that they have no choice but to interact with the animals and their owners.”

When the Daily Press spoke with animal handlers last month, they denied these claims.

“The Santa Monica Police Department has responded to several incidents at the southern end of Palisades Park involving exotic animals, including documented injuries to children,” city officials said in the report. “Additionally, these animals often attract crowds and cause commotion that result in people congregating in the middle of park pathways and sidewalks restricting public access to the park, and sometimes spilling into the streets near the busy intersection of Colorado and Ocean Avenues.”

City officials also bring up a concern that the animals are being treated inhumanely. Last year, after protests from local animal rights activists, council voted to seek non-animal vendors for a location that’s been home to pony rides and a petting zoo for years at the weekend Farmers’ Market.

“Residents and visitors have voiced concerns regarding the treatment of these animals and question if their exposure to a large number of people in a generally loud urban environment (which is generally not their native habitat) and their prolonged exposure to the sun is healthy for the animals,” city officials said in a report about the proposed wild animal ban.

Union dispute

The International Workers of the World (IWW) filed an appeal with City Hall after they were denied permission to be the exclusive bargaining representative of 11 labor trainee-as needed city employees assigned to beach maintenance.

In January, Interim City Manager Elaine Polachek denied IWW’s petition, citing standards in a city ordinance.

IWW appealed the decision earlier this month and council will have the final say on Tuesday night. City officials are not making recommendations to council as to how to handle the appeal.

Shrinking Arts Commission

The Santa Monica Arts Commission could drop from 13 members to 11 members with a vote of the council Tuesday night. Back before 1994, the commission had 17 members but was downsized because it had trouble reaching a quorum.

The same thing problem is happening now.

“While the Commission continues to have important work to do, once again the body’s unusually large size appears to impair its ability to meet and therefore its efficiency,” city officials said in a report to council. “Accordingly, on January 27, 2015, the Commission Chair appeared before Council and requested that, instead filling two current vacancies, Council consider acting again to reduce the body’s size.”

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