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Feinstein May Get Parting Wish

By Susan Reines
Staff Writer

November 10 -- Outgoing councilman and former mayor Michael Feinstein may leave one final mark on City government before he leaves office if the City Council approves a last-minute resolution to allow rollerbladers on the Promenade at the last meeting of the old guard.

The council's 1998 decision to ban rollerbladers, bicyclers and skateboarders from the Promenade hit the man who introduced rollerblades to California hard.

Feinstein, who used to show up at City Hall in his blades, and Council member Pam O'Connor, both voted against the ban six years ago.

On Tuesday, O'Connor successfully tacked a resolution to overturn the rollerblade ban onto an ordinance regulating street entertainment, and it will come back for a final vote at the council's November 23 meeting -- Feinstein's last before John F. Kennedy nephew Bobby Shirver replaces him.

"We do have a proponent of in-line skates here," O'Connor said, "so I would like to see a resolution come back on the 23rd of November."

Feinstein's political foes, however, took issue with the outgoing gesture.

"I don't think this is the way a council should operate," said Council member Ken Genser, who recaptured his seat this month, running on the Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights slate that failed to endorse Feinstein for the first time this year.

"If it makes sense to change a law, then it makes sense to change a law, no matter who's on the council," Genser said. "This means that other City business is going to be put aside so we can discuss this while there's a particular composition on the council."

Feinstein and O'Connor argue that it does make sense to change the law.

"People still skate there," Feinstein said in an interview after the meeting. "We just don't have any record of a whole bunch of accidents. People are still skating there, and it hasn't been a problem."

Mayor Richard Bloom, the other member of the SMRR slate who held on to his seat this month, joined Genser in dissent.

Mayor Pro Tem Kevin McKeown, who, like O'Connor, is a SMRR council member who was not up for reelection this year, voted in favor of bringing a resolution back in two weeks. Council members Herb Katz and Bob Holbrook joined him.

Genser, who walks with a cane, asked City staff to make sure they posted notices of the upcoming hearing in senior centers and at the Emeritus College, saying people with limited mobility should be advised that the council would be considering allowing roller blades on Promenade walk streets.

The senior community was instrumental in bringing about the ban with public comments in 1998.

O'Connor responded with a request that notices also be posted where young people congregate, noting that younger generations use roller blades as a significant form of transportation and should be notified of their opportunity to weigh in on the ban.

The council will vote on the resolution to allow rollerblades on the Promenade on November 23.

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