While working out at popular exercise area in Santa Monica, fitness enthusiasts will no longer be able to place their equipment or conduct exercise programs on the median strip or parkway.
The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday, February 23rd to prohibit the use of city medians or parkways for any commercial or business purpose, as well as the placement of any exercise-related equipment in those areas.
The regulation comes after residents living near a popular exercise area at Fourth Street and Adelaide Drive have argued that the street has become a public park in recent years with fitness buffs accessing the nearby street stairs and median for activities not permitted under city law. People working out in the neighborhood also take up parking spaces and tend to go into the street, creating a safety issue for motorists, residents say.
In response to the complaints, the city has implemented measures to mitigate some of the impacts, including regular trash pick-up and updating signage near the median for available restrooms and parking, Public Works Department Director Lee Swain said. But activity remains high at the location and the city is continuing to explore mitigation efforts, he said.
The prohibition of exercise equipment and programs is intended to address the highest impact uses of the medians and parkways, while allowing the public to utilize those areas for walking, jogging or passive recreation, staff said.
“This is thought to at least curtail that type of use,” Swain said of exercise equipment and activities on the medians and parkways.
In addition, the City Council directed staff to increase education and enforcement in the area and study the possibility of gating the top of the stairs at night. The option of closing the stairs, which are within Los Angeles city limits, at certain times has also been discussed but that city has not been supportive of the idea, Swain said.
Neighborhood residents encouraged the council to take action to address the safety issue and ensure that the street does not stay as a park.
“It’s a beautiful street but over the last few years it has attracted more and more peopleÖwho found it to be their next gym,” Adelaide Drive resident Steve Carolla said. “Basically it’s turned into an outdoor gym, a park and athletic field all combined.”
John Ketcham says he loves the location of his Adelaide home but he can no longer enjoy it there due to a lack of parking and verbal abuses by people exercising on a daily basis. He said the ordinance does not cover all the issues and he recommended that the stairs be temporarily closed to allow the council more time to study it.
“I feel that this ordinance doesn’t go nearly far enough,” Ketcham told the council.
City Councilman Bobby Shriver, who also lives on Adelaide, says he doesn’t think the police enforcement of people walking in the street has been very good. He believes the city has allowed the area to become a public park and agrees with some residents that it has created a safety issue.
“I live on this street and to me, the worst thing about it is the fear I have of hitting somebody,” Shriver said. “I think it’s an accident waiting to happen.”
Resident Terry Sanders said he feels the police presence has lead to improvements, noting that there has been less of an impact on the median than there used to be.
After some council members noted that a main reason people have been walking in the street is to avoid obstacles on the sidewalk, the council considered adding sidewalks to the list of prohibited areas for exercise equipment. Councilman Kevin McKeown suggested that bicycles, which is an encouraged form of transportation, be excluded from the regulations.