Following the lead of the city of Los Angeles, the Santa Monica City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to prepare an ordinance prohibiting discrimination by private clubs.
"Some private clubs have a distinctively public nature in that they provide, as some of their functions, an opportunity (for members) to participate in business," said Councilman Dennis Zane. "They are not simply social clubs."
The Los Angeles ordinance, adopted May 28, prohibits large private clubs from rejecting applicants for membership because of race, sex, sexual orientation, religion, ancestry or disability. The measure applies to private clubs with more than 400 members that provide regular meals and that rent facilities.
Santa Monica City Atty. Robert M. Myers said he will prepare an anti-bias ordinance for the council within 30 to 60 days.
Officials of the Jonathan Club, which last month moved to admit women members, refused to comment on the council action. The club has facilities in Santa Monica and Los Angeles. The club's employees directed all inquiries to club President Donald E. Butler, who could not be reached for comment.
The local chapter of the all-male Kiwanis International will vote Tuesday on admission of women, said Albert A. Skarupa, president of the 140-member Santa Monica chapter.
Results of the vote will be presented by the chapter's delegates to the international's July convention, which will consider changing the organization's bylaws that now bar female members.
Skarupa said it was likely his group will vote in favor of admitting women. But, he added, "we have to abide by the laws of the international" organization and exclude women until those laws are changed.
Officials from local chapters of the National Organization for Women and the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People applauded the council's action.
"We wholeheartedly support the effort," said Katherine Spillar, president of the Los Angeles chapter of NOW. "There is business taking place in these clubs, and they cannot be closed and discriminatory."
Norman Curry, president of the Santa Monica-Venice chapter of the NAACP, said the council's action shows that Santa Monica will not stand for discrimination.
"The average citizen will be more comfortable knowing he can join any organization he wants," he said.