Santa Monica Lookout
|Proposal Details Exotic Animal Ban at Santa Monica Parks|
By Hector Gonzalez
City Council members at their meeting Tuesday will get their first look at the proposal’s language, which bans “all species of snakes, reptiles, birds and non-human primates” from city parks and adjacent sidewalks.
As written, the ban would also extend to the beach, Ocean Front Walk, Santa Monica Pier and the Pier ramp, Third Street Promenade, and the Transit Mall.
It backs the prohibition with penalties and citations. Violations could be treated as misdemeanors that come with penalties including a fine not to exceed $500, or six months in jail, or both.
Minor violations could be treated as infractions punishable by a fine not to exceed $250, the ordinance says.
The ban’s language includes exemptions for people “interacting with animals naturally inhabiting the public property.” Feeding park pigeons won’t get you cited, in other words.
Exemptions also will be allowed for organizations displaying exotic animals at City sanctioned events and for movie filming purposes, as long as organizers secure proper City permits.
It also will remain perfectly legal under the proposed ordinance to transport exotic animals on public streets.
With as many as 500,000 weekend and holiday visitors jamming the Pier and other popular places around town, Santa Monica needs to take “special efforts” to ensure that its most congested locales remain “available to all,” according to the ordinance.
Crowds that gather around exotic animals end up blocking pathways and sidewalks, and sometimes spill out into the streets, a staff report accompanying the ordinance said.
“The presence of non-domesticated, and potentially vicious, ferocious or dangerous animals within these congested public spaces constitutes a serious danger to public health, safety and welfare,” the ordinance says.
“You get accosted, literally,” Santa Monica Recreation and Parks Commission Chairman Brock told The Lookout News last week. “I was walking down the Pier one day during the winter, and some guy throws a parrot into the air, and it flew right into my face.”
Last year, commission members and the Santa Monica Pier Corp.’s Board of Directors wrote to the Council asking that the City ban the use of exotic animals for donations at parks and the Pier.
The ordinance will then come back to the Council at a later date for a second reading. At that time, residents will get a chance to weigh in on the ordinance at a public hearing before the Council finalizes the new rules.
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