Sometimes, it seems that no good deed goes unpunished. What’s happened to California kickboxing instructor Nikki Lian this week is definitely an example of that.
Lian’s gym, CKO Simi Valley, is located in a shopping center where the majority of the tenants have been shut down for a second time. Restaurants in Ventura County are open for outdoor dining only, so the restaurant next to Nikki’s gym, Eggs and Things, only offers indoor seating during normal times, but in order to remain open to some degree they set up some tables on the sidewalk in front of their restaurant. To help out, Lian told the restaurant they could use the sidewalk in front of her gym, too.
On Tuesday a woman dining at Eggs & Things heard Nikki inside her gym, where she was filming a Neuroboxing class (specialized for people with Parkinson’s and MS) on Zoom. Only Nikki and one other person were in the gym, but the diner heard Nikki’s microphone. That woman called the city’s code enforcement line to complain, but also said she saw Nikki “sneaking” people through the back door of her gym.
Nikki had contacted the city numerous times since the second lockdown was announced to clarify the rules. She got no reply. But on Thursday city representatives called 30 minutes before Nikki was to film that day’s Neuroboxing class and told her that nope, even though there were only two people in there she had to film it outside. But she could only film in the alley behind her studio – which backs up to a freeway – because she hadn’t pulled a permit and paid the city for the privilege of having any type of class in the parking lot (private property) itself.
This posed a big problem. When teaching Neuroboxing, Nikki told RedState, it’s critical that she and her staff be able to view the participants. During the first lockdown, Nikki and her team set up a large screen inside the studio so the class members could participate via Zoom and the instructor could see them. If the class is filmed outside, they’re not able to see the participants.
While city employees were there, they noticed that Nikki had erected an outdoor gym for her other classes and told her she couldn’t do that either unless she paid for a permit, which costs $295 for 16 days. Now, Nikki had already asked her landlord for permission to hold classes in the parking lot, which is mostly empty these days since many of the stores have been closed. The landlord gave her permission to use 20 spaces, but the city arbitrarily said she could only use seven.
Understandably, Nikki was really mad – and let it all out in a Facebook live video. It’s really a must-watch, even if you can only do the first 3 minutes.
Posted by Cko Nikki Lian on Thursday, July 16, 2020
Friday morning she met with city officials to see if they could come to an understanding and agreement. She brought a letter from her landlord to prove she had his permission to use the parking lot. After that meeting, she posted the results on Facebook, including the bullet points about what happened.
I pay $6750 for a 3000 sq foot space on this property, that comes with 30 parking spaces.
My awesome landlord gave me permission to use the lot sectioned off below. With proper social distancing we can have 20 per class.
I ordered and paid for 20 stand-up bags.
There is no traffic in the lot. All but two businesses have been shut down.
The City of Simi Valley just charged me $295 for a 16-day permit where I can use SEVEN SPACES ONLY. They would not waive my fee, and the 7 space rule will be enforced until they “come up with something.”
How the hell can we stay socially distant with 7 Parking spots
We are doing our very best to comply and still function.
Although everyone at city planning has been nice and helpful, in utterly disgusted with the system. Share this so people know what pro-active, solution-based small businesses are going through, and so maybe some patrons and people that drive by may stop taking pictures for negative reasons.
Later Friday, Nikki received a phone call from a woman at City Hall. From Nikki’s Facebook post:
The very nice lady from the City of Simi Valley called me. We had a chat about how I was ignored by Kevin for two days and then last minute telling me to shut down my zoom classes. So I was told someone was filing a complaint that on Tuesday we were “sneaking” people in the back door to do classes. No. We weren’t being sneaky at all. The storefront was closed because the business was told to shut down. Last shut down we were allowed to have 7 people in a room to film Zoom classes. We had no guidance this time so I assumed it was the same rules as last time. So I cut my classes down to 6 and me. 7. Apparently those weren’t the rules this shutdown. I was told I couldn’t do that and I stopped. I’m being completely compliant (with barely any guidance) and I’m the one being accused of being “sneaky.” If I was being sneaky I wouldn’t have posted it on social media and sent an email blast. Thanks again, Karen.
This is ridiculous. As Nikki said in the video, she’s being proactive and isn’t trying to complain. There is no public health reason why she and another instructor can’t film a Zoom video in the studio, and for the city to charge essentially $600 a month for a permit when this is such a challenging time for businesses is beyond stupid. It’s shameful.