HUNTINGTON BEACH : New Tax Is Studied to Fund Youth Sports

Two city leaders have vowed to make youth their No. 1 priority and take the steps, including a tax proposal, to build more sports and recreation facilities.

Councilmen Ralph Bauer and Tom Harman joined Chuck Beauregard, the chairman of Save Our Kids, last week to announce a unified commitment to youngsters and support for a tax proposal to buy school land to build more playing fields.

"There's a great need in the city for a youth sports complex," Harman said. "Everybody wants it. The problem is [the city] doesn't have the money to pay for it."

Harman has proposed creating a park and beach improvement district to finance those projects.

He is also pushing to place an advisory vote on the March ballot to gauge public support for a citywide tax to pay for youth recreation projects and beach and park improvements.

The tax proposal would cost about $25 to $30 a year for a typical homeowner, Harman said.

Bauer agreed the city must make an investment in its youth by providing a place for recreation and sports as way to keep them out of trouble.

"It's time for the people of Huntington Beach to step up to the plate and take care of their youth," Bauer said.

Beauregard, whose nonprofit group advocates youth activities, said additional playing fields are sorely needed to accommodate the growing number of young athletes. Existing fields are in need of maintenance, and some at closed schools are at risk of being sold for development, he added.

Meanwhile, the city's Community Services Commission last week recommended $26.5 million in potential projects for the proposed improvement district.

Part of the commission recommendation would include buying three closed schools to develop youth sports facilities--for a total cost of about $13 million.

The council is expected to consider the commission's recommendation Nov. 6 and must decide by early December whether to put the advisory on the tax measure on the ballot.

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