Late into its Tuesday night meeting, the Santa Monica City Council postponed for the second time its vote on a proposal to outlaw nativity scenes and other winter displays at .
A vote is now expected June 12, although that date is not set in stone.
The life-sized dioramas are treasured by many residents. They were first erected in 1953, and visiting the displays has become a tradition for many local families. But in the past couple of years, they have nostalgic residents and church-goes with atheists and those who say they want religion out of government.
The City Attorney proposed a full-fledged ban earlier this year on "winter displays" in response to protests by some religious leaders upset by a new lottery system used to determine which groups would get to erect displays along the iconic stretch of coastline.
Unlucky in last year's lottery, the Santa Monica Nativity Committee . But City Attorney Marsha Jones Moutrie has said the First Amendment prohibits the city from picking and choosing which displays to allow, and she alternatively proposed the ban.
When the council , it did so to give the nativity committee and other nativity supporters time to come up with a compromise.
City staffers said various stakeholders made a number of suggestions, including: keeping the displays but revising the lottery process; physically separating the religious and anti-religious displays to minimize conflict; eliminating all unattended private displays from the park and relocating private displays to private property.
None convinced Moutrie to change her recommendation. And, on Tuesday night, nativity committee chairman Hunter Jameson again asked that the city reserve 14 spots for the nativities.