Irvine nonprofits to now pay fees for use of some public facilities

IRVINE — Nonprofit organizations must now pay fees to use some public facilities and may face penalties for abusing the reservation system, according to policy revisions unanimously approved by the City Council on Tuesday night.

The change to the policy, first created in 1976, is designed to counteract the monopolization of the facilities by some groups during peak hours and allow equal access for all Irvine groups and residents, according to the staff presentation.

Fees on nonprofits for use of popular indoor facilities will go from free to between $24 and $31 during peak hours, according to a city staff presentation. Peak hours are defined as 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

Irvine has 133 nonprofits, but only about five of them routinely use the more popular public facilities during the peak hours, according to the presentation.

Facilities designated as "premium rooms" will be affected by the fee change. These are the multipurpose rooms at the Heritage Community Park, Las Lomas Community Park, Turtle Rock Community Park, University Community Park, Rancho Senior Center, Woodbury Community Park, and the Lakewood Senior Center auditorium and cafe.

Additionally, city staff may now change a group's reservations to a smaller room if it's determined that the group routinely does not fill the larger space. Groups also face losing their special nonprofit rates, which include free usage of facilities in nonpeak hours, if it's found that the facilities have been used for personal, not fundraising, purposes.

Reservations for public facilities can be made though the city website.

In other City Council business, a resolution was unanimously approved to allow the Irvine Community Alliance Fund to accept donations raised by animal activists for the renovation or the Irvine Animal Care Center or the building of a new facility. Under the resolution, the ICAF will be able to accept the contributions raised for the project, but with a stipulation that city staff reassess the project every five years.

Irvine resident Dinny Frasier wants to fundraise as much as $35 million to build a new center, or raise at least $6 million to renovate the current center, according to a city staff report.

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