Looking to mitigate neighborhood impacts at a popular exercise area, Santa Monica city officials are considering potential solutions that are workable to both the neighbors and those exercising.

The Santa Monica City Council voted unanimously Tuesday, April 7th, to request staff to review several recommendations intended to address resident complaints regarding usage of the median at Fourth Street and Adelaide Drive and nearby street stairs.

The various suggestions include restricting group use on the Fourth Street median, restricting access to the street stairs during the night, further parking restrictions and the proposed construction of alternative recreational stairs leading from Palisades Park down to the beach. Among other recommendations are updating signage near the median for available restrooms and parking, incorporating regular trash pickup at the site and forming a good neighbor working group.

The recommendations, which were developed with input from a neighborhood survey and participants at two community meetings on the situation in October and January, represent ideas on which people reached broad consensus, city Public Works Department director Lee Swain said.

The Fourth Street median and street stairs, which are within the Los Angeles border but enter onto Adelaide Drive, have been a popular area for fitness buffs to work out for years. In recent years the area has seen increasing numbers of people exercising ó some accessing the stairs early in the morning ó and using the median for activities that are not permitted under city law.

Neighbors have complained that the rise in usage has led to street and sidewalk congestion, safety issues, and increased traffic, trash and noise.

ìThe situation has just gotten out of hand,î neighbor John Ketcham told the City Council April 7th, reaffirming his concerns with the issue.

Adelaide Drive resident Elaine Culotti suggested that people are most likely not exercising if theyíre on the stairs at 3 a.m., and alluded to safety concerns with groups working out on the median.

ìItís not a park, itís a street,î she said.

A city ordinance in effect since 1970 permits only walking and jogging on the cityís medians, while other activities such as yoga, stretching and fitness classes are prohibited. The Fourth Street median has had signs discouraging the prohibited uses for years but they have widely been ignored, city staff said.

The usage of the area has been a contentious issue between neighbors and those exercising, and the city organized two meetings to hear from the community regarding potential solutions.

Of the seven main recommendations, some residents said additional parking restrictions would be a key improvement, but Culotti noted that parking limits in the coastal zone require Coastal Commission approval.

ìIf we can restrict parking it would limit the abuse and limit the use,î Ketcham told the council. ìAll we are looking for is ways to reduce the number of people coming in.î

Resident Terry Sanders encouraged the council to consider the opportunity to create ìworld class exercise stairsî from Palisades Park down toward the beach.

ìFourth and Adelaide is not a park, Palisades is a park,î Sanders said.

Councilman Bobby Shriver, who said the issue of people exercising on the median and street near Adelaide has become a dangerous situation, supported the proposal for exercise stairs leading to Palisades.

Councilwoman Gleam Davis added that it ìwould be fabulousî to have stairs from the park going down toward the new Annenberg Beach Club, but the city should try to ensure that the situation at Fourth Street doesnít move to another location.

ìAre we just taking the problem and lifting it from one place to another,î Davis wondered with the proposal.