Welcome to San Diego Blog | April 21, 2010
San Diego Stroller Strides Has Another Setback
Up until several months ago, the North Park group of Stroller Strides moms and babies had been holding class at Balboa Park. We had been traveling through various parts of the park as part of our one-hour exercise class. We were not disturbing others or harming the park in any way. In fact, we were holding monthly trash collection days to beautify the park, as well as bringing in revenue by visiting museums, and frequenting the cafes, coffee cart, etc.
We were told that we could no longer meet in Balboa Park and were threatened with citation because we did not hold a permit to be there. When we began holding classes there several years ago, Founder Lisa Druxman went through all proper channels and attempted to get a permit, but was told that such a permit did not exist and that she did not need a permit to hold class there.
Now the tune has changed, but with one major problem – the permit that they are requiring does not exist! So, we are being told we cannot be there because we do not have a permit…and a permit does not exist! (At other locations throughout the county, Stroller Strides pays a nominal permit fee.)
So, Stroller Strides moms and babies made our presence at the San Diego City Council meeting on Tuesday, March 16, 2010. 20 some moms with their approximately 30 babies and strollers in tow, attended the meeting to have our voices heard. Stroller Strides founder, Lisa Druxman, with all of the moms and babies standing behind her, made a very compelling 3-minute (that was all the time allotted to non-agenda public comment) presentation to the City Council.
City Council members were genuinely shocked that a group of mothers and babies exercising in the park had been kicked out of the park with threat of citation. Several Council Members spoke in response to what they heard; including Council Member Carl DeMaio who 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.
We left the City Council meeting filled with hope that a resolution was in sight. Founder Lisa Druxman was told that she would be able to meet with City officials to work on a resolution. A few weeks later we heard through the Stroller Strides grapevine that a meeting had been scheduled.
When Founder Lisa Druxman met with City officials we anticipated a positive outcome. We anticipated that we would be told that we could return to Balboa Park and resume our classes there. But sadly, and frustratingly, this is not the case!
To the shock and dismay of our members we were told that the city’s “hands are tied” right now! And if that weren’t bad enough – 3 other San Diego locations have also had their Stroller Strides classes shut down. La Jolla Shores, Mission Bay, and the Coronado classes were all told that they can no longer hold classes at these locations! It appears that by going through the proper channels and trying to “do the right thing” we have brought attention to ourselves and are suffering because of it.
All exercise groups (private trainers, boot camps, yoga classes, etc.) are supposedly prohibited from holding their classes at these locations as well, however to our knowledge none of them are being hassled or threatened with citation like Stroller Strides is.
A small group of moms with strollers was walking through Balboa Park recently and were stopped and questioned by Park Rangers. They were asked if they were with Stroller Strides and they responded that they were not. At which point they were told by the Ranger who stopped them that he was “on the look out” for Stroller Strides. It absolutely blows my mind that a group of moms and babies would be targeted in such a malicious manner!
In the next few weeks the City of San Diego is supposed to be unveiling their new plan for a permit system for exercise groups, which will then take effect in July 2010. We remain hopeful that a reasonable permit system will be created so that we can return to Balboa Park (and Mission Bay, La Jolla Shores, etc).
As it stands I am currently disheartened that as a tax-paying, city of San Diego resident, I am not allowed to take my 15-month-old son to a one-hour exercise class in Balboa Park.
I will post another update in the weeks to come, so please keep checking back. If you are compelled to do so, please write to Council Member Marti Emerald, Council Member Todd Gloria, Council Member Carl DeMaio, or Mayor Sanders regarding this issue. Thank you for your support!