Last Sunday, May 17th, the City of Santa Monica ended twelve years of tethering ponies to a metal bar or “hot walker” to push them round and round a tiny circumference, always in one direction, shoeless on hard ground. Likewise, the petting zoo where an alpaca and zebu were tightly penned was closed. Instead, hundreds of market-goers dined in front of the Beverly Belles, as the ladies in polka-dot dresses belted out their favorites.
The City of Santa Monica is seeking new activity vendors — those offering cooking demos, arts and crafts, painting and more. Please share this link with vendors who might be interested.
On Sept. 9, 2014, following almost two hours of robust public debate the Santa Monica City Council voted to give preference to non-animal vendors, while asking City staff to explore alternative venues for the pony operators. If you want to watch the debate, see below.
Pony operators Tawni Angel and Jason Nester sued me, Santa Monica resident Danielle Charney, and 20 unnamed defendants (DOES) following the City Council’s September 9, 2014 vote. A lower court judge dismissed part of the suit against me, and the entire lawsuit against Charney, calling it a SLAPP or Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation intended to chill public debate. Following the ruling, Angel and Nester reimbursed Charney’s lawyer for $20,000 in legal fees.
Meanwhile, I am taking my case to the California Court of Appeal, arguing protesters have a First Amendment right to picket a carousel pony ride and petting zoo at a city-sponsored market and to petition their government for a redress of grievances.