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Public Can Exercise Their Rights at Thursday Meeting


By Lookout Staff

January 7 -- Frustrated residents and the exercise buffs who have turned an exclusive North of Montana street into an outdoor gym will get a chance to work out their differences at a community meeting Thursday night.

The meeting at 7 p.m. at the Main Library will offer opposing factions a chance to weigh the pros and cons of several options that have been proposed for limiting the use of the medians near Adelaide Drive and 4th Street.

“City staff will incorporate community feedback into recommendations to the City Manager as to how these issues may be addressed,” City officials said.

Residents of the area complained that as many as 1,500 people -- many of them drawn by a steep set of canyon stairs just north of the city border -- exercise on the leafy street, adding noise, traffic and litter to a neighborhood lined with multi-million-dollar mansions.

A park ranger has been stationed in the area for some seven months, handing out hundreds of warnings that exercising on the median violates a 1970 ordinance prohibiting the use of medians for anything other than walking or running. But the crackdown has failed to stop the exercising.

At a City Council meeting early last month, the council directed staff to work with Los Angeles City officials, and perhaps the California Coastal Commission, to explore ways to restrict access to the stairs that once gave Santa Monica students access to a canyon school.

Solutions discussed by the council ranged from making the area less welcoming for exercise buffs to working with LA officials to shut down the stairs.

Outside of enforcing the existing ordinance, there are likely few legal remedies to the problem, said City Attorney Marsha Moutrie.

A 1970 anti-loitering law, for example, has been deemed unconstitutional, “so that’s not a good way to deal with it,” Moutrie told the council.

Thursday’s meeting comes after staff worked with neighboring residents to temporarily tackle the problem, conducted a survey of residents within a 1,000-foot radius to gauge community concerns and held an initial community neighborhood meeting attended by more than 50 people.

The stretch of median “is regularly used for exercising, stretching, group fitness classes and pick-up gyms,” according to Lee Swain, the City’s director of Public Works, who is in charge of city streets.

“Recently there has been a noticeable increase in organized group exercise activities including ‘pickup gyms,’” Swain told the council.

At Thursday’s meeting, City staff from the City Attorney’s Office, Community Maintenance, City Manager’s Office, Police, Community and Cultural Services and the Public Works Department will be available to “discuss advantages and disadvantages from various perspectives,” according to City officials.

The Santa Monica Main Public Library is located at 601 Santa Monica Boulevard. The Main Library and the Multipurpose room are wheelchair-accessible. To request other disability-related accommodations, please call 310-458-8221 or TDD/TTY 310-917-6626. The Main Library is served by Big Blue Bus lines 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 9 and 10. Questions about the meeting may be directed to public.works@smgov.net or 310-458-8221.

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