Will Restoration Efforts Endure At Palisades Park If City Permits Boot Camps?

Saturday, 5 Oct 2013, 9:43:00 AM

Letter To The Editor

Friends of Palisades Park offers a new compromise for City Council's consideration relating to fitness classes in the park.
Courtesy Photo
Friends of Palisades Park offers a new compromise for City Council's consideration relating to fitness classes in the park.

Editor's Note: This is an open letter regarding the new proposed ordinance that will allow group trainers at Palisades Park. This is item 7A on the Santa Monica City Council's Oct. 8 meeting.

Friends of Palisades Park is delighted with the Landscape Division’s new restoration efforts. See our video at YouTube.

But will the restoration be extended to the all degraded parts of the park? And will it last if the city permits 20 new boot camps?

The City Council is being asked to sanction 20 commercial training groups with up to 15 members each, all potentially operating at the same time. The impact from such a daily pounding on the grasses and soils is bound to be significant on such a fragile ecosystem.

How will the city monitor such impacts? They do not say. When will it decide enough is enough? They do not say. Will they allow the land to return to the former degradation, a condition that has been tolerated for many years and brought about by excessive abuse from trainers and boot camps?

Will the current restoration effort proceed to all areas of the park, to all the proposed and currently degraded zones? There is unfortunately no known plan for the park's complete restoration, nor is it mentioned in the staff proposal.

Thus we urge the Council to establish a moratorium on all commercial training groups until full restoration has been completed, wait until all the grasses and soils have been fully restored in all the five zones of proposed training. This way the City staff and landscape division will have established a benchmark — full restoration. They, we, the public, the caretakers will have a clear benchmark to gauge impacts.

At that point, we believe, the city could introduce a limited number of training groups (no more than one per zone), monitoring each one for their impact on the soils and grasses. They would of course need to establish another benchmark upon which to trigger protective actions. But that would not be hard to do.

All licensed trainers should be required to follow established guidelines for sustainable use. Such guidelines currently do not exist.

But even this proposal sidesteps three critical questions:

1. Is Palisades Park active or passive? Historically it has always been a passive park. It has been designed and managed so since its founding. Please see our page: Is Palisades Park Active of Passive?

2. Does the city really want to set a precedent of monetizing our public parks? How, for example, would a commercial trainer be distinguished from a commercial vendor selling gum or sun glasses?

3. Is the city prepared to maintain the park for active use? The costs will be very high indeed. Please see our page on managing for active use.

Please find more documentation and images at www.friendsofpalisadespark.net.

While there, please sign our petition.

Friends of Palisades Park

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