Friday, November 20, 2015

Parks & Rec. Commission Votes For New Bark Park Rules


NEW PROGRAM RECEIVES UNANIMOUS APPROVAL
At the meeting of the Costa Mesa Parks and Recreation Commission Thursday, November 19, 2015, the commissioners voted to approve the staff recommendation about the future of the Costa Mesa Bark Park.  Read the staff report HERE.

EIGHT INTERESTED PARTIES SPOKE
Following a short presentation by Travis Karlen, Recreation Manager, and brief comments by the commissioners, eight (8) people stepped up to the podium to address this issue, most of whom had some concerns.
Costa Mesa resident Janice King, a Bark Park user, was concerned about the proposed rules "dividing" the city and about the technology to be employed.  She also thought a non-residents should have a different fee than residents.
Linda Quan also worried about the fee structure, who will monitor access, the constitutionality of the plan and the discrepancy between the current code which allows a resident to have 5 critters and the plan for the Dog Park which restricts each handler to three dogs.
Claudia, a Santa Ana resident, suggested corporate sponsors to help with the expenses of the park and was concerned about the fees being a burden on seniors.
Helena Roberts, a Newport Beach resident, suggested we follow Santa Ana's lead and go door-to-door to collect license fees.  She was also concerned about a "card system" having a negative impact on businesses.
Shirley McDaniel, a Costa Mesa resident and long-time functionary of the old Bark Park Foundation, said the change was not necessary and expressed that there is no restroom at the Bark Park.
Beth Refakes worried about the cost of the proposed key fob and the installation of the access control point.  She was also concerned about indemnification and diseases from dogs.  She expressed concern about disabling key fobs if persons leave the area or otherwise stop using the park.
Al Melone, who has run for City Council on the Bark Park issue in the past, suggested retaining the limitation on the number of dogs each user could bring and bemoaned the loss of the "old park", which was - in his words - 80-90% green grass and peaceful.  He told us he has used other parks since the city took over operations.
James Simmons, a Costa Mesa resident, uses the Dog Park 5-6 nights a week and opined that every animal using it be spayed or neutered to prevent bad behaviors.

NO ADDITIONAL COST
During the subsequent discussion, thanks to a question by Vice Chair Brett Eckles, we learned that, since EVERY dog using the park will be required to be licensed, there would be NO ADDITIONAL cost for the key fob used for park admittance.  The current license fee is $25.00 for animals spayed or neutered and $80.00 for those not.
RESTROOMS AND MONITORING OF THE PARK
Restrooms are available at the Skate Park and Tennis Center.  Karlen told the commission that Field Ambassadors, Park Rangers and the 20 hour-per-week Maintenance person would monitor park visitors and their behavior.

APPROVED, WITH DIRECTION
At the end, Commissioner Byron De Arakal moved to approve the staff report, including the 3-dog limitation.  His motion also called for the City Attorney to reconcile the incongruities between the new plan and current city code.  The age of dogs requiring licenses and park entrance is different, for example.  Read the staff report for all the details of the current condition of the park, improvements that have been made AND the terms of the changes passed on a 5-0 vote by the commission.  It will now be massaged by the staff to fine-tune it, then be presented to the City Council early next year.
ADULT FUTSAL APPROVED FOR DOWNTOWN ATHLETIC CENTER
Earlier in the meeting the Consent Calendar item regarding the operation of an Adult Sports Futsal program at the Downtown Athletic Center was pulled for discussion.  You can read that staff report HERE.  Basically, Futsal is, according to the staff report, a fast-paced form of soccer which can be played on a hard court surface.  The proposal is like those of other adult sports leagues, which is defined in the staff report.  Long time youth sports leader Mark Arblaster spoke on this issue favorably.  The commission voted to approve this concept, 5-0.
UH, OH - MORE CONTROVERSY INVOLVING SCOTT MAHAFFY
At the very beginning of the meeting, during Public Comments, a man named Bob Servin - self-described 25-year resident with 30 years as a coach and teacher in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District stepped into the well and handed papers to the commissioners, then told them about incidents with the Commissioner of the Friday Night Lights Flag Football program, Scott Mahaffy - behaviors that sounded like bullying to all in the audience and, apparently, to the commissioners, too.  Servin has a son playing in that program and he, Servin, is a coach of his team.
INVESTIGATION TO FOLLOW
Suffice it to say that there was enough concern about the behaviors described that de Arakal, holding up the papers and clearly very agitated, asked staff to immediately investigate the claims made by Servin.
A PATTERN?
Some will recall that Mahaffy is not a stranger to controversy - most recently involving Matt Leinart Flag Football program and the allocation of fields to that program.  It will be interesting to see how this shakes out.

POSITIVE REC. REPORT
Karlen ended the meeting with his report, which included affirmation of the creation of a new R.O.C.K.S. after school program at Rea School.

DONE FOR THE YEAR
The Parks and Recreation Commission will not meet in December due to the Christmas holidays. Their next meeting will be in January, 2016.  Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to them all.

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