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Use of city’s fields might be reconsidered

Costa Mesa might reconsider which local athletics groups should have greater access to the city’s fields and how much they should pay based on whether they compensate their executive staffs or board members.

The Parks and Recreation Commission recommended that course of action with a 3-2 vote at its meeting Thursday night.


The idea is to draw a distinction between volunteer-based groups and groups that compensate their local officials, commission Chairman Byron de Arakal said before the meeting.

“The fee question then becomes, well, is this fair to AYSO or Pop Warner, who are all volunteers, who have to compete with organizations who are not all volunteers?” he said.


The city’s Parks and Recreation Department already prioritizes which groups get to use fields for organized sports and how much they have to pay to do so.

For example, nonprofit youth-sports leagues that have more local players on teams get higher priority and pay less than a for-profit adult league with fewer local players.

“Field space has always been a valuable resource,” said recreation manager Bob Knapp. “It is more acute especially as more and more groups are vying for the same space or premium space.”

The recommended policy would reclassify local groups that compensate their board members and executive staffers, bumping them down on the priority list.


It would not affect groups that, for example, pay someone to work the snack bar, Knapp said.

“That’s not what we’re talking about,” he said. “Almost every group might have a situation where there may be paid staff somewhere, but they’re not part of the executive or corporate body.”

Commissioners also recommended auditing all organizations in the highest-priority group to make sure they belong there, Knapp said.

The item will come before the commission one more time before it is forwarded to the City Council, which holds final approval power.