Welcome to San Diego Blog | March 19, 2010
San Diego Stroller Strides Meets the City Council
Stroller Strides moms and babies made our presence at the City Council meeting last Tuesday, March 16, 2010. And quite a presence we were! From the moment we entered the City Administrative Building and approached the security station and metal detectors, we were turning heads! I guess it’s not every day that 20 some moms come through the door with their approximately 30 babies and strollers in tow.
Once we made it up to the 12th floor we were asked to park our strollers in a separate room and then we entered the meeting room. We consumed the last several rows. It was clear by the City Council members’ faces that there was much curiosity as to the reason for our presence.
The meeting began with roll call of Council Members and the Pledge of Allegiance. One item of business was taken care of and then City Council President Pro Tem Kevin Faulconer shelved many Agenda items until the afternoon session when the President would be present and moved on to “Non Agenda Public Comment” items. We of course, were the first “Non-agenda Public Comment” item.
Lisa Druxman, Stroller Strides Founder, took the podium with all of the mommies and babies standing behind her. She gave a very moving and explicative presentation in the 3 minutes she was allotted. She explained who we are, what we do, and how when she started the company 8 years ago she attempted to get any necessary permits to use Balboa Park and was told she did not need one. Over the next several years she was told on other occasions that she did not need a permit – until the problem began and we were cited and told not to return to Balboa Park.
It was very interesting to watch the faces of the City Council members. In the beginning as Lisa Druxman told the background of whom and what we are, they appeared impressed by our program but a bit confused as to why we were there. Once Lisa got to the part about us being cited and told not to return to Balboa Park, their faces seemed shocked that this had occurred.
When Lisa’s 3 minutes were up, much more quickly than you would think, something abnormal happened. Usually the Council Members do not address “non-agenda public comment” items, but we had ignited a spark and not one, not two, but three separate Council Members felt the need to address our group.
President Pro Tem Faulconer reminded the Council that we were NOT an agenda item and asked them to keep their comments brief.
Council Member Todd Gloria spoke first, mainly to let the other Council Members know that his office has been working on the issue of creating an outdoor fitness permit for groups such as ours. Next, Council Member Carl DeMaio spoke and gave us a heartfelt apology that our “city government is so bureaucratic” and applauded our efforts towards physical fitness and setting a positive example for our children. Lastly, Council Member Marti Emerald addressed the group stating first her confusion regarding the requirement of a permit to “pass through” Balboa Park and then went on to say that she chairs the committee that handles permits and that they will be in touch with Lisa Druxman.
Lisa Druxman asked “what is the next step?” At which point, President Pro Tem Faulconer reminded the Council again that we were NOT an agenda item and that we were not supposed to be having a discussion, so our time was effectively up.
All in all, I’d say it was a success. We were able to bring our issue before the Council and be heard. We received a very nice apology and kudos, and most importantly we received an indication that a solution is in sight. I am hopeful that we will be issued a temporary “pass” to return to Balboa Park while the particulars of a long-term solution are determined.
Stay tuned for the next update, and if you’d like to see the video clip of the meeting click here, select the March 16, 2010 meeting (our clip begins at 12:10).