Santa Paula: SPARC Sparks at Planning Commission

By Sheryl Hamlin

The May 28, 2019 Santa Paula Planning Commission started off with the following agenda item:

Item 3: Discussion – Design of New Park at the Harvest Development

The staff report had only the following image, so it was not possible for citizens to know details in advance.

Source: Staff Report

Chair, Elyssa Vasquez allowed comments to precede the staff report. There were nine speakers with one deciding to wait.

Tammy Atkins, grant writer for SPARC, explained the mission and services of SPARC. She also said that the City Manager promised both land and funds to SPARC. The Assistant City Manager proposed the wastewater treatment land (presumably the old plant). She also complained that the Assistant City Manager (ACM) did not mention the Planning Commission meeting at the community meetings. She reiterated that SPARC needs about 3 acres.

Richard Rudman, Pat Kennedy, Bonnie Smith Trina Naegle, all spoke in favor of SPARC, while Laura Espinosa, former council member, reminded that the funds from Measure T have no expectation for use by parks and/or non-profit. She also said that city planning documents such as the General Plan, budget and youth survey, lay the foundation for parks for families.

Assistant City Manager (ACM) Report

Ikani Taumoepeau (ACM) thanked the citizens who spoke and then tried to pull the meeting back to the intended agenda item. He said that the park design had been several years in the making. Recently there were five workshops, all on the east side of town. He reiterated that the $11 million is restricted to construction. He then presented a culmination of community concerns:

-Walk/bike access via bridge. He noted that Limoneira is still working with a lobbyist in DC for approval of this bridge. Read related article on bridge
-Dog park, .9 acre planned
-Shade, but there was no discussion about water requirements or source for landscaping.
-water feature, such as spash pad, pool, although they realize, he said that pool maintenance is huge. Pool options range from a simple community pool to a 3.5 meter pool.
-SPPD station like Las Piedras Park
-Amphitheatre to bring people together, 300 seat size
-Walking path with benches
-Picnic access shaded
-Soccer fields, regulation size (multi-purpose field)
-Basketball court with volleyball use
-Tennis courts
-Senior area with senior exercise
-Pickle ball
-ADA parking
-Running trails, DG composite good for backs according to medical professionals
-Some say big park is a maintenance cost issue
-Snack bar with health food (boos from audience)
-Mile marker
-Art pieced or mural without blocking the line of site
-Parking accessibility. ACM said that there is parking to the west and along Hallock of about 300 spots
-Bioswale to the south and east for the filtration system is dedicated land
-Barbecue grills in the north west for about 135 people seated
-Need to refine map, one with pool and one without
-Squash pad, a new feature

Commission Comments

Trying to elicit comparisons to existing conditions, Commissioner Ikerd asked how many acres of parks are now in the city versus the addition of the EA1 park. He repeated this for ball parks and soccer fields but ACM did not have the information. Director Mason said that the metric is 1.5 acres for 30,000 people, which makes Santa Paula slightly under-parked.

Nicki from SPARC rose to discuss SPARC monies and contract. Another commentator also spoke. Both of these occurred after the closing of Public Comments, but were allowed to proceed.


The ACM revisited the SPARC issue saying that this is not the ACM versus SPARC. The city is working to increase the O&M (operations and maintenance) to SPARC and is also looking at more sites. He showed a few on the map. Unfortunately, only one of the large monitors is connected to the light pen, so not all can utilize the two monitors.

Commissioner Bangs asked for explanation of responsibilities between SPARC and the City. She also said that there might be a trade off, but she felt that if people went to East Area 1 for SPARC, they might skip Santa Paula.

The ACM explained that SPARC would be responsible for the buildout, but did not say if the city planned to lease the land to SPARC.

Commission Herber asked to expand on the educational component of the park. He also commented on the orientation of the amphitheatre away from the city and asked if event permits were required. To this, the ACM said there might be an educational kiosk and yes, an event permit was required.

Commissioner Ikerd asked what the commission was expected to do with this item. There was no vote nor any consensus, he said. City Attorney Kettles said there are no votes to be taken at this meeting only conceptual ideas given to the staff. Director Mason said that this was an opportunity for input and a preparation for the council and another public meeting.

Commissioner Dunkel said he appreciated the design and layout and asked about native plants, to which the ACM indicated that the architect has started the landscape plan.

Attorney Kettles reiterated that Public Comments were closed because other speakers rose to speak.

A citizen was videotaping the meeting at the back of the room.

Commission Bangs asked what is the procedure to move on to the next agenda item. Commissioner Ikerd reiterated that the Planning Commission is not a Public Workshop.

Mayor Garman and Council Member Juarez left after this agenda item and did not stay for historic discussion.

To listen to the audio, click here.

Previous reports on East Area 1 click here.

For more information on author click sherylhamlin dot com

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