Santa Paula East Area 1 Regional Sports Park Fundraising

By Sheryl Hamlin

Called “The Santa Paula Creek Sports Park” in the East Area 1 Development Agreement, this 35 acre park has become the “Regional Sports Park”. A council Study Session in January 2018 describes this transformation.

At issue is the annual maintenance of the park which Santa Paula cannot afford now or in the future. The Development Agreement says this:

The Santa Paula Creek Sports Park must be publicly maintained either by the City or other public entity designated by the City, subject to a joint use agreement with the High School District and/or the College, which requires the High School District and College to pay City the fair share of maintenance costs associated with the shared facilities after opening of the High School or College, respectively. Until the High School and College are opened, the fair share maintenance costs attributable to the High School and College, respectively, must be privately financed through the Owner’s Association and/or a Landscape Maintenance District.

The idea of a Landscape Maintenance District was discussed at previous meetings. This would be a parcel tax on every parcel in Santa Paula and would cover maintenance for all parks. Mayor Gherardi also floated the idea of a 501 (c)(3) which would be chartered to raise monies by selling naming rights and using the earned income on the principal to pay for the maintenance.

During the July 16, 2018 regular council meeting, Council Member Hernandez said that maintenance would be “several hundred thousand a year”. This is INCORRECT. In the 2018 study session, Ed Mount presented three scenarios, where the maintenance ranged from $700,000 to $1,150,000 ANNUALLY.

Mayor Gherardi has assembled an initial team of interested residents: Dorcas Thille, local farmer, Chris Wilson, former SPUSD school board member, Amy Fonzo from California Resources, an oil and gas exploration company, Jason Cole, third generation avocado farmer, and Jack Pitluk, Chamber CEO.

A lengthy discussion ensued about the organization of the 501 (c)(3) with City Attorney Cotti explaining that the three types: 1) municipal, 2) private and 3) hyprid. In the first case, the Brown Act is required, while in the last, it is optional. And in the private case, there is no connection to the city.

Council Member Crosswhite was concerned about autonomy of the non-profit, while Council Member Hernandez prefers accountability. What happens when fundraising declines and costs increase, he said? Mayor Gherardi said the definition of the non-profit via the by-laws would specifiy how much of the endowment could be spent annually.

City Manager Rock pointed out there must be interaction with staff, so there is a city cost associated with the non-profit. Ed Mount pointed out that a new park will require less maintenance than an old park.

There is precedent for this type of organization with the Skateboard Park and the Oil Museum, according to the mayor.

It was agreed to have City Attorney Cotti develop by-laws which would be the focus of a future meeting.

Issues Not Discussed

The most obvious item was the cost of maintenance and the amount of endowment needed to provide for the maintenance. Assuming $1 million annual maintenance and an endowment fund paying 4%, these parameters would imply an endowment of $25 million. This is a very simple case. Obviously there would be a more complex model assuming x% earned interest with a portion of this earned income always going back to the fund. The by-laws would specify these parameters.

In the Landscape district scenario, there would be an annual payment on each tax bill. There are about 9,000 BAU (benefit assessment units) now in Santa Paula going to another 1400 with EA1 (remember 100 units removed for apartments). $1,000,000 annually shared by 10,400 BAU would be about $100 annually ad infinitum.

Parking under a full load of multiple events and school functions must be simulated. The original plan was to share the commercial space, but as was discussed at this same meeting, the Ventura County Community College District has its eyes on some of this property too, so there could be conflicts.

The East Area 1 traffic study must be redone. With only two ways of ingress and egress (Hallock and the Bridge), the ability to move 500 cars in an emergency during an event must be calculated.

Livability issues related to housing in close proximity to a Regional Sports facility must be considered, such as lighting, noise and traffic that would flow into the residential areas. The park could decrease the livability quotient.

To watch the meeting,and download the reports click here.


For more information on author click sherylhamlin dot com


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One Response to Santa Paula East Area 1 Regional Sports Park Fundraising

  1. Sheryl Hamlin July 18, 2018 at 7:26 am

    Note that the monies needed in the endowment to support the park maintenance are greater than the entire General Fund, as a point of comparison.


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