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Police Ticket San Diego Yoga Teacher For Classes Being Too Big

in YD News

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Free outdoor yoga takes a new and expensive turn. Many of us have taken part in outdoor yoga whether it’s on our own in the backyard, with thousands in the center of the universe, or along with a few other fellow practitioners led by a teacher (who is paid, or most likely not) in a local public park. For one teacher in San Diego, that last opportunity comes with limits, or very expensive consequences.

Yoga teacher Steve Hubbard has been leading regular by-donation yoga classes on weekends at Pacific Beach Park in the typically yoga-friendly San Diego. Sounds innocent enough, but last week he found himself in court fighting against the city’s efforts to shut him down and pay tickets of up to $500 and $800. Why? Hubbard’s classes have become popular enough that over 50 people attend, and therein lies the problem. According to city code, any groups over 49 are not allowed and police actually showed up to his class last summer to issue tickets.

While Hubbard believes this is ridiculous, as many others might as well, it gets a little more loopy, literally. Hubbard has been able to hold classes recently via a loophole – he breaks up the group into smaller groups under 50 people each.

“You can have three groups of 50 people, but you can’t have 150 people. I don’t think the code is serving its purpose,” Hubbard told 10News.

Tons of people clogging up space in a public park is one thing, but the fact that lots of people want to spend their weekends practicing yoga is never a bad thing. We say, step it up San Diego! Let the people yoga! Figure out how to appease everyone before you have a non-angry flash mob of protesting yogis on your hands. And please don’t make it a pricey permit matter a la Denver.

It’s not time to lie down and savasana yet. Seeing it as an issue of free speech, Hubbard plans to continue his fight in court (any court) until it’s been settled.

Photo: 10 News

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4 comments… add one

  • Too many people exercising! Lol! What a unique health crisis for the U.S!

    I don’t comment too often, but I love reading Yoga Dork. It’s on my blog roll. :D

  • This is a good problem to have though.

  • Sarah

    The thing is, if that crowd were gathered for some other purpose, you might understand the rationale for the limits (which can often be worked around by obtaining a permit in advance).

    The park has to provide clean up and parking, and allow for access to a great variety of groups, generally with equally worthy fitness causes. You should see the park schedules around here; people fight for every inch of free space. Something as simple as routine lawn care can cause a fuss by those who believe it’s a conspiracy against their cause/group from meeting that day.

    We should be careful not to paint municipalities as “anti-yoga” or “anti-exercise” without addressing the valid public space, maintenance, and safety concerns most planners and police face.

    Most of your local planning commission meetings are open to the public — pop in sometime and contribute! You will likely see it isn’t as easy as allowing everybody everything they want, like all the park time they can use.

  • If he is charging people (even donation based) to teach a class using public property, he should be paying to rent it or strike a deal with the city to help get the citizenry of San Diego in better health. I’m all for people exercising, especially practicing yoga, but I think this type of thing tends to turn into abuse of use of public land. (And by abuse I mean over use) If he is doing this as regularly as every weekend, the classes he is teaching have a far greater impact on the property. This is why public land can often be rented. These rental fees help to ensure that is continues to be maintained so that everyone else can continue to enjoy it.

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