NEWPORT BEACH — Someone grunting and another yelling commands might disturb a sunset picnic at the park. A family heading to Big Corona could be caught offguard by a spandex-laden woman dashing up the stairs.
These are some of the situations that Laura Detweiler, the city's Recreation and Senior Services director, may be able to prevent should the Newport Beach City Council adopt a regulation she proposed at Tuesday's council meeting.
The rule, which the council voted to revise and reconsider at a later meeting, would prohibit personal trainers and others who profit from teaching in the city's parks and on its beaches, unless they are city-affiliated or pay a rental fee.
Officials say they are looking to prevent people from profiting off of public property, and to offset some maintenance costs. They also want to mollify those who have complained.
"We just want to make sure it's a fair use of these facilities and everyone is contributing to them," Detweiler said Monday. "They'll tend to dominate these areas, and it makes it difficult for the general public to use."
One problem area is the bluff above Corona del Mar State Beach, said Councilwoman Nancy Gardner and other officials who have received complaints from residents.
Both at Inspiration Point and Lookout Point, some personal trainers stage "fitness boot camps" and yell at the participants like a drill sergeant, sometimes early in the morning. Detweiler said they'll run on the stairs leading to the beach, fill the few grass patches, and otherwise make a racket for neighboring residents.
In other places, private coaches sometimes take over baseball diamonds for pitching lessons and degrade the mound, she said; this leads to conflicts with softball leagues. She added that some volleyball coaches at Big Corona dominate certain beach courts, which makes it difficult for the public or the city to use them.
These clashes have been happening more frequently recently, Detweiler said, adding that she would like to be able to issue fines when for-profit instructors are using in city parks without permission. The first violation would be $100, the second $200, and the third $500.
Some of the council expressed doubts. Councilman Keith Curry said that the rule was too broad and could unintentionally bar church groups, for instance, from gathering at the beach.
"I think we're just really over-reaching with this," he said.
Councilwoman Leslie Daigle said she thought trainers and coaches who work one-on-one with clients shouldn't be prohibited because they have a negligible impact on facilities.
"If you look at a coach and a person, there is no more impact than a father and a child using the park," she said.
Detweiler disagreed, pointing to the baseball diamond example.
To avoid the penalty, instructors could partner with the city and offer their classes through the recreation department, and make their classes open to the general public. They could also rent park space at $200 per hour. City affiliates split give 30% of their revenues with Newport.
Personal trainer Steve de la Torre, 31, said Monday the 30% share the city would ask of its partners is a little steep, but he would consider making an agreement instead of paying to rent a park. De la Torre trains clients indoors at a gym in Corona del Mar, and outdoors on the CdM bluffs.
"At least this will help weed out a lot of the bad trainers," he said.