Judge Orders Culver City Gymnastics
School to Cease Indoor Activities
September 17, 2020
A judge has sided with Culver City and blocked a local gymnastics school from conducting indoor sessions for at least the next six weeks.
Santa Monica Superior Court Judge Mark A. Young has issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) against Los Angeles School of Gymnastics and its owner Tanya Berenson, who have been accused of holding indoor classes and activities in violation of health order aimed at limiting the spread of the Covid-19.
During the recent ruling, Judge Young granted Culver City’s request for the TRO, which was included in the lawsuit the city filed Sept. 1 against the gymnastics school.
In their court papers, lawyers for Culver City declared that the gymnastics school on Higuera Street is a public nuisance and that city staff received numerous complaints about the school’s alleged indoor operations.
The city’s zoning code forbids outdoor operation of gyms and fitness establishments, so the city manager on July 21 issued a public order suspending the enforcement of that zoning code provision which allows gyms and fitness facilities to operate outdoors on private property if owners obtain a temporary permit from the city. The TRO against indoor operations is effective until that public order is vacated or amended.
The TRO will legally expire Oct. 28, at which time the judge will hold another hearing, if necessary, to decide if it should be extended., court officials.
During an interview with City News Service, Berenson maintained that she has not violated any health orders and has conducted all sessions and classes outdoors according to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s health orders issued in July.
She said that none of her 600 students has contracted Covid-19 at the gym and that her business is a pillar in the Culver City gymnastics community. She added the legal efforts against the school and its children’s activities center represented a “really sad day” in Culver City.
In his court papers opposing the TRO, defense attorney Drew H. Sherman said there was no emergency that warranted a TRO being issued, that the city did not provide the defense with proper service of the complaint and that the TRO does not specify what activities are to be enjoined pending the Oct. 28 hearing.
According to the Sept. 1 lawsuit, Culver City Fire Department personnel went to the gym on July 22 and left updated business operation guidelines with the gym staff who later said they had given the paperwork to Berenson, who was not present at the time. Later that month, Berenson told county health workers and city officials that the gym would move all classes, camps and coaching outside, according to the lawsuit.
But, according to the suit, fire inspectors who returned to the gym July 29 saw 10 children inside engaged in activity and another eight being checked in for admission into the indoor facility.
After receiving additional complaints about alleged indoor activity at the gym in early August, officials said the city issued a cease-and-desist letter that stated the city’s fire marshal determined that Berenson was “attempting to hide the fact that classes were taking place indoors.”