Today’s New York Times has an article, apparently on the front page, about a heated battle taking place in Santa Monica. It’s gotten so bad that the police now have to maintain a constant presence. The issue? Whether or not Santa Monica’s yuppie fitness maniacs may use the grassy median at the north end of 4th Street to practice their Pilates, do their yoga stretches, and work with their personal trainers.
You see, the signs on the median direct that it’s for “walking or jogging only.” I have been to this picturesque spot many times. 4th Street dead-ends into the famed Santa Monica Stairs, an inexplicably popular exercise spot for the SMYFMs. At this intersection, some of Santa Monica’s most stately homes line 4th Street and Adelaide Drive. The view across Santa Monica Canyon to Pacific Palisades and the ocean is spectacular. However, some neighborhood residents (who, coincidentally, include Santa Monica City Councilman Bobby Shriver), have reportedly complained about the ” increasingly loud, littering and generally intrusive groups of exercisers” who have allegedly disturbed the homeowners with their military exercise chants, pop! pop! kickboxing moves, grunts of side-stitch pain, and snapping of tendons and ligaments. So now park rangers, ordered by the Santa Monica Police, are reportedly maintaining a presence at the Grassy Knoll during a large part of the day, and are ready to crack down on the offenders, albeit, presumably, in a quiet way.
But the yoga stretchers aren’t taking this lying down. According to a recent L.A. Times article, “exercise trainers have circulated a petition to try to regain the use of the medians.” A recent public meeting was reportedly held at the Santa Monica Public Library, and even the Santa Monica City Council has become involved, with Shriver requesting “for staff to report on the use of the median on 4th Street, near Adelaide, for exercising purposes including the associated allocation of resources to enforce existing laws at the location and for the City Manager to confirm that the enforcement activities were not undertaken at the request of any councilmember(s), but in response to complaints from San Vicente Avenue tenants and condominium owners.”
Perhaps the City Council should next consider changing Santa Monica’s motto to: “We’re not elitists, we just have different priorities.”