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SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) — This picturesque beachfront city plans to start charging fitness trainers who use its parks as gymnasiums after months of complaints from residents that commercial classes are crowding out picnickers and others from Santa Monica’s public spaces.
The City Council voted 5-1 Tuesday night to approve an ordinance requiring the fees, with prices to be determined by the number of people enrolled in a particular class. Fees will start at several hundred dollars.
The ordinance also bans exercise classes on Sundays from Santa Monica’s signature Palisades Park with its stunning oceanfront views.
The measure requires a second reading before it becomes law, and council members say they will review it in a year to determine how it is working.
It comes after months of complaints from Palisades Park users that yoga, cardio and other fitness classes held there by the dozens of trainers almost every day are crowding out dog walkers, picnickers, runners and others.
People have also complained that barbells, treadmills and other heavy equipment required for some classes are damaging the park’s landscape.
“It’s starting to look like a 24 Hour Fitness gym out there,” former Olympic track star Johnny Gray, who often runs in the park, told The Associated Press last year.
Fitness trainers, including many who say they already pay the city for business licenses and police permits to use the parks, respond that they are providing a healthy experience in a pleasant environment. Many point out they are insured and say they warn their students to pay attention and stay out of the way of others while working out.