The massive negative impact the 2015 proposed events calendar will have on local, recreational volleyball players cannot be underestimated. Nearly every weekend has an event that will displace 150-200 locals.

If you play volleyball on the weekend, this means you.

USAV brings 100s of youth players from all over SoCal. They've requested 15 weekend dates this year.

USAV brings 100s of youth players from all over SoCal. They’ve requested 15 weekend dates.

Just this past Saturday, with typical 70 degree January weather, a USAV tournament – one of a whopping 15 beach days they’ve asked for this year – sent players scrambling up and down the beach for courts. The struggle to work with the city to find a fair solution, which has been led by Dave Fulton, Suni Keeling and myself, has also been an illuminating civics lesson.

There are no “good guys” or “bad guys” in this debate and, for that matter, in any of the issues facing our city right now. It takes effort to balance competing interests and needs, finding ways to fairly use scarce resources – in this case a limited number of volleyball courts. It is unfortunate that city staff views the volleyball courts as a vacant, unused asset they need to fill.  When multiple organizations take up 10-15 weekend days per year each, they are using the beach more than the local recreational players.

The larger organizations, like USAV, typically have asked for all the NOP and/or SOP courts on multiple weekends. Smaller, locals-oriented events, like Volleyball Ventures, use a handful of courts and have minimal impact.

On a typical summer weekend, tournaments displace 150-200 locals. March through September there is hardly a single open Saturday NOP.

On a typical summer weekend, tournaments displace 150-200 locals. March through September there is hardly a single open Saturday NOP.

Complicating the process, the city has no one – no staff member, board member or council person – active in the volleyball community. Much of the difficulty in the proposed schedule arises from this lack of representation and no understanding of how beach tournaments and events impact the local volleyball community.  There is currently no opportunity for the volleyball community to provide input to the Parks & Rec commission or city staff.

Here is our proposal for 2015 and going forward:

Note: There are 23 total Pier courts: 16 courts North of Pier (NOP); 7 courts South of Pier (SOP). The most frequent impact is on the NOP courts. There are city classes Sundays that use all of the SOP courts year round.  There are city classes that use about half of the courts SOP on Saturdays March to September.

  • Volleyball tournament scheduling impact should be assessed on the number of courts requested, not the number of attendees anticipated. The loss of courts is the impact, not the people.
  • 50 percent of all Pier courts should be reserved for resident/recreational use. If an organizer is applying for one side or the other, the same 50 percent rule should apply. (Courts display visible numbers, so permits could identify the reserved courts specifically. For example an organizer could apply to use Courts 9 – 16 NOP and add a specified number of temporary courts. This would leave Courts 1 – 8 NOP for rec players.)
    Most organizations already own dozens of temporary courts.

    Most organizations already own dozens of temporary courts.

  • Events should not displace city sanctioned classes but, instead, install their own temporary courts as necessary.
  • Exceptions should be made for “signature, one-off” events like FinFest, AVP & NVL professional, spectator-oriented tournaments.
  • Events that want to use the beach but do not need volleyball courts, should be required to use the vast vacant spaces north of 14th Street or south of 10th Street.  There have been several events that don’t need courts but because they demand proximity to Pier the city ends up removing all of the courts on Wednesday and reinstalling them the following week.
  • The city should consider capping the total number of events and/or the total number of events allowed per organizer for next year.
  • The city should establish a volleyball advisory commission to help the Parks & Rec Commission and city staff.

We have also submitted an application to add new courts to underserved areas away from the Pier but the above strategies will achieve significant mitigation without requiring organizers to cancel events this year.  That application includes the support of over 100 volleyballers who are co-applicants. The approval process is lengthy and uncertain, so we must push for the above mitigation strategies to be implemented immediately.

Please print these strategies and bring them to the Parks & Rec meeting tonight, February 3, 2015, at 7PM and, more importantly, to the next City Council Meeting, February 10th at 7PM. We need your voice to be heard!

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