The agenda for the next City Council Meeting contains two items:
4. 1st Reading of Ord. 673 N.S. adding new use restrictions for Linda Beach Playfield to clarify the city’s intent that the field be used for youth sports and recreation programs (continued from 12/3/07)
5. Consideration of an appropriation in the amount of $14,000 for creation of a scale model of the proposed Civic Center Master Plan and an additional appropriation in the amount of $26,500 for cost estimating services for this project (cont. from 11/19/07)
I think that both of these, for a variety of reasons, are bad ideas. But I guarantee to you that no level of objection to the City Council as currently constituted could prevent these items from going forward. Nevertheless, here’s what we’ve got.
The proposed use restrictions at Linda Beach require 2 readings before they can be voted on as legislation. The first of those readings will occur Tuesday. The ostensible purpose of this is to make sure that public has truly considered its legislation before it enacts it, but as I said, since this Ordinance has been pre-approved by the recreation commission, it is essentially a fait accompli.
Among the provisions of the proposed ordinance are:
1) that the Recreation director is authorized to implement restrictions “to administer and supervise the use of the Linda Beach Playfield in order to provide a field for the use of Piedmont community youth sports teams and Recreation Department programs. “ NOTE: public use of this community asset is not considered a priority.
2) for some inexplicable reason, soccer games can start at 9:00 a.m., but baseball and softball games can’t start until 10:00 a.m.
3) the field is not open before 8:00 on weekdays or 9:00 on weekends, so no early morning exercise: jogging, tai chi, etc.
4) regardless of whether the school is using it or not, the field is closed during school hours, so even pre-schoolers and their parents couldn’t use it during that time.
5) despite a dire need for more field space for youth sports, the blanket prohibition of use of the field for youth sports on Sundays remains.
6) “Linda Beach Playfield may be fenced and operated, on a short term or permanent basis, as an open/closed park that is locked during hours when the park is closed.” This will require more big ugly fencing and will change the character of the field.
7) They’re going to punish you for violating these restrictions, but they don’t say what the punishment is yet: “Any willful violation of any provision of this Section 3.8 5 et seq. shall be an infraction pursuant to Section 3.24 herein with the fine for such infractions to be established by Resolution of the City Council.”
I wonder if that last provision is even legal since the punishment for the crime is unestablished. I also think that there is some sloppy drafting, but that is less significant than the fact that we’re creating all of these dramatic restrictions on the use of this public resource just because we don’t like the big boys coming to play soccer. This is bad public policy.
Speaking of which, I can’t support spending another $40,500 on a Civic Center project that I think we will find does not (and should not) have popular support. I will expand on that in other posts. In the meantime, there is a very exciting new proposal to rebuild Havens School for $25 million (not much more than their proposing just to upgrade it) that would create a brand new sports field for the community and perhaps improve resources for other sports/activities as well that might dramatically impact how people feel about the Civic Center plan.