San Diego

Namas-don't: Yoga instructors meeting with San Diego mayor's office canceled

The yoga classes have been offered at San Diego beaches for years, but the city has begun enforcing a decades-old law that bans them from operating in city parks

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Several yoga instructors had planned to meet with representatives from the San Diego mayor’s office Friday, but that meeting was canceled.

The San Diego City’s Attorney’s office told NBC 7 that the mayor’s office canceled the meeting because of a cease-and-desist letter sent by attorney Bryan Pease that stated a lawsuit would be filed.

The new enforcement is impacting some people who didn't even know the law applied to them. NBC 7's Joey Safchik reports.

Last Saturday, NBC 7 talked with Bryan Pease, an attorney representing some of the yoga instructors.

“I sent a cease-and-desist letter to the city attorney’s office Friday morning, hoping to get somebody to look at this and realize this is completely unconstitutional and it violates the 1st Amendment to tell people that they can’t practice or teach yoga at city parks,” Pease said.

Helen Grevenz, who lives a block away from Sunset Cliffs, loves going for a walk along the coast.

“I just want to hear the waves," Grevenz said. "It’s a dramatic, gorgeous spot and we want to keep it mellow."

Grevenz has also seen yoga classes taking place at the cliffs.

“Well, there’s very large classes — sometimes it looks like 40, 50 people — and they line the whole cliff," Grevenz said. "Some days, less.They do yoga, so I see quite a lot of it.”

A ban on the classes has been enforeced since the city updated a decades-old law in March that bans commercial activities in city parks.

The city said the yoga classes are commercial activities because, although they’re free, donations are accepted and their services advertised. That's why it's now requiring yoga instructors to get permits to operate.

According to the city, permits are only granted for Mission Bay or Balboa Park, not for beachfront parks. In  a statement provided to NBC 7 last week, the city said the changes are “in place to ensure the public spaces remain safe and accessible to all the users at all times.”

Ben Hukill has participated in the Sunset Cliffs yoga classes.

“I understand why they did it," Hukill said. "It’s a public space. It is. I guess I’m going to miss it a little bit, but I get it. I understand you have to lay the law down at some point."

Yoga instructors said they're asking the city to grant them permits.

NBC 7 spoke with several yoga instructors who said, as of right now, many of them are not planning on teaching yoga along beachfront locations. The instructors said they have a peaceful protest and beach clean-up scheduled for next weekend.

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