The Santa Monica city council introduced a motion at its Feb. 28 meeting to discontinue its longstanding policy of providing free public space to local neighborhood groups for winter holiday displays.
For years, the city of Santa Monica has provided space in a local city park along Ocean Ave. for local Christian communities to put up life-size nativity scenes. Requests in recent years from other local groups, including Jewish and atheist communities, for equal consideration resulted in the city adopting a system to allocate the free space by lottery.
In 2011, the lottery system resulted in most of the available slots being awarded to non-Christian groups, keeping most of the nativity scenes from being mounted that year. Because of the number of complaints that the city received over the lottery results, the city attorney has now recommended that the city abolish its winter holiday ordinance altogether.
A final decision will likely be made by the Council at its March 27 meeting.