Santa Clara temporarily waives fees for youth sports groups

Santa Clara youth sports nonprofits are calling on the city to drop stadium reservation fees, and officials are looking for a compromise.

This year, Santa Clara began charging youth sports groups, such as the Santa Clara Westside Little League and the Police Activities League (PAL), $14 per hour to use city fields, bringing in about $115,000 annually to the general fund. The city began imposing fees two years ago, and these groups said the fees put a financial strain on families and want them reduced or dropped entirely. The Santa Clara City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to waive fees from July through December, giving city staff time to discuss fees and other access-related concerns with sports groups.

Councilor Raj Chahal said the revenue generated from field fees is negligible.

“The benefits to the community and the children and families are well in excess of $115,000, if you add economic value to the benefits,” he told the San Jose Spotlight.

The league received a city bill for about $14,000 for its use of the fields during the regular softball season, said Mike Walk, president of the PAL’s executive board. The softball program has about 140 players, and dividing the total cost of using the field by the number of players comes out to $100 per player — a cost that can be charged to families as part of registration.

The cost has meant the league has had to find more creative ways to generate revenue, but the increasing financial pressures are affecting parents who may not be able to afford the higher costs.

“I hope they waive park user fees for nonprofit groups,” Walk told San Jose Spotlight. “This started two years ago. It’s not working. So I hope we go back to how we were before, where inner-city non-profit youth groups don’t have to pay fees.”

The city has also maintained the Wade Brummal Youth Sports Scholarship since 2015, which charges a $25 fee to non-Santa Clara residents involved in local sports groups to provide scholarships to residents who cannot afford them. About $152,000 has been provided, according to city data, though youth sports groups said the fund is struggling. Application process.

The city is inviting local youth sports nonprofits to a meeting in July to discuss these concerns before bringing them back to the City Council in the fall, city spokeswoman Janine De La Vega said. She said the city plans to review fees and potential revisions to the grant program. Walk said the league has a strong partnership with city staff, so he looks forward to working with them to find a solution.

The city supports $22.2 million, or 86%, of its $25.8 million parks and recreation expenses, De La Vega said. Field use fees were initially imposed to help the city recover some of the costs. The city too Consider the bond analogy in November to help finance a $624 million infrastructure deficit.

Councilor Suds Jain said one benefit of charging for field use is that it ensures the number of reserved fields does not increase. He said the scholarship fund should be better used and deployed to support families who cannot afford the registration fees, but he was concerned that making the fields available for free use would lead to abuse of the fields.

“It’s not about a trivial amount of money from the general fund, it’s about (the use of) those fields… when they’re reserved,” Jain told the San Jose Spotlight.

The Santa Clara Westside Little League pays for the use of fields owned by the city and local school districts, and league president Linda Pascual said those fees add up to about half of the league’s total operating costs. She said the league is trying not to burden players with the cost of on-field use, since the lower division registration price is $200, but she expects the number of players registered to decline significantly over the next few years due to increased costs.

“It’s a small amount of money compared to (the city’s) overall budget, but it’s no small amount of money for groups like ours,” Pascual told the San Jose Spotlight.

Contact B. Sakura Cannestra at [email protected] or @sakokanstra On X, formerly known as Twitter.

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