Santa Claus got the OK to come to town next week as the Los Angeles City Council approved an emergency ordinance Tuesday that authorizes his reindeer-drawn sleigh to land on rooftops "in all residential zones."
Council members voted 13 to 1 to amend the municipal code to permit "infrequent sleigh landings" between dusk of Dec. 24 and dawn of Dec. 25.
The role of Scrooge was played by Councilman Ernani Bernardi, who represents the eastern San Fernando Valley. His humbug vote drew hoots from several of his council colleagues.
Bernardi said he opposed the ordinance because it was frivolous.
"I don't think we ought to play jokes with ordinances," he said afterward. "I may be accused of not having a sense of humor, but the city shouldn't have an ordinance like that on the books."
The new ordinance was authored by northeastern Valley Councilman Howard Finn. He said he introduced it in hopes of bringing some Christmas spirit to the council.
Finn said he was surprised by Bernardi's dissenting vote.
"Whatever he did it for, he did it on purpose. Some people say his 'no' button is stuck, but it's not," Finn said.
The measure states that the ordinance is required "for the immediate public necessity, convenience and general welfare, especially of children. . . ."
Santa's Gifts Needed
It noted that children "in poor economic circumstance are utterly dependent" on Santa's gifts "for the necessities of life.
"To not permit the delivery of such gifts because of legal technicalities would be a gross injustice."
The new law specifically bans creation of any "regularly operating sleigh landing field, sleigh-port or sleigh-stop," however.
Although rooftop sleigh landings were illegal under the old Municipal Code, officials said Los Angeles police have generally overlooked Santa's touchdowns in past years.