December 2, 2010

We'll Play on Your Grass But We Won't Sleep in Your Hotels

In my last post, I talked about the years we spent coaching a youth soccer team. Our team was a "recreational" team. All of our players lived in Poway. All of our games were in Poway until the kids got older. When the kids got older, they played against teams from nearby cities, but all of the kids on the Poway teams were from Poway . Our season was from August 'til early December. We could sign up for tournaments during Thanksgiving break or after the regular season. We did that once or twice.

Some Poway parents wanted a more competitive experience for their kids. They formed a club called the "Vaqueros", which became the competitive branch of the Poway Youth Soccer League (PYSL). Back then, there were only a few teams. Today, the Vaqueros have over 25 teams of youth players. The Vaqueros teams are further subdivided into green teams and white teams, the green teams being the more skilled. The teams have professional, paid coaches. Here is what the Vaqueros website says about the green teams:
Green Teams: Green teams are comprised of the top talent in each of the specific age groups. A professionally trained and licensed coach is assigned to the team to provide education and training at the highest level and must meet certain requirements relating to their soccer background. Green team players are selected based on their desire to commit to the team for an entire season, which could be anywhere from 7 to 10 months, and will involve participation in local, and out of town tournaments, including regional and state competitions. Participation on a Green team is a serious physical, emotional, and financial commitment.

The white teams also have professional coaches and play for a "7 month season". The hope is that their skills will improve enough to make it on to a green team. Many of the kids who play on the green and white Vaqueros teams are not local Poway kids. They are kids from nearby communities who want (or whose parents want them) to have some serious soccer training. The intensity of this training means that these kids spend a lot of time on the soccer field, and a lot of soccer fields are necessary to meet the needs of the kids who are accepted into the Vaquero program.

Poway's General Plan was written back in the days when we had a recreational youth soccer club in town, where Poway players played for a 4 month season against other Poway players. The General Plan doesn't provide for enough park space for a semi-professional sports league that trains kids from a regional area almost year round. Poway Youth Soccer League (PYSL) is well organized and has used their organizational ability to pressure the Poway City Council to light several fields, including Arbolitos, to accommodate their interests. Lighting Arbolitos has hit a snag because the people who bought homes overlooking what was originally designated open space weren't too happy about having the sports fields there. And they are even madder now that the city has reneged on their promise to never light the fields. One resident, Peter De Hoff, filed a suit against the city. De Hoff claims that the city did not follow the correct procedure in making the decision to light the fields. What? We pay our city manager and staff top dollar and they don't bother to follow some basic legal procedures?

I'm gonna leave it up to the court to tell the city whether they needed to do a biological study before they made the decision to light the fields, although that one seems like a "no-brainer," as a certain member of our council is fond of saying. I want to focus on a different aspect of the Arbolitos lighting controversy.

In an Oct 21, 2010 letter to the editor in the Poway News Chieftain, Laura Van Tyne contends that Poway neighborhoods should give up their parks and open space for a sports business that caters to out-of-towners because it helps the Poway economy.
The PYSL has less than 1,400 members. It’s true that there are a number of non-Poway players. However,I would like to point out that most attend PUSD schools.

When parents drop off their child at practice many spend the hour shopping, doing errands, and then eating in restaurants within the city of Poway. This generates revenue for our local businesses that would otherwise go to businesses out of Poway.

I don't think this argument has any merits. First of all, what does it matter if the non-Poway kids are from PUSD? Their parents aren't paying for the upkeep of our parks if they don't live in Poway. Second, let me note that these lighted sports field are not located in north Poway neighborhoods. If you are a regular reader of Poway Blog, you might notice one of my recurring memes: land use in north Poway is for quality of life; in south Poway, it is for revenue generation. I take offense to the idea that south Poway should give up their open space and parks to kids from north Poway and non-Poway communities because their parents might shop in Poway and produce revenue for the city while doing so.

Outsiders shouldn't own our parks on the pretense that they will shop in our stores. I don't even believe that they shop in our stores. Most of north Poway doesn't even shop in Poway. And you want me to believe that these soccer moms and dads are shopping in Poway and not heading off to Carmel Mtn Ranch or RB after they drop off the kids?

I have evidence that the Poway Youth Soccer Club doesn't even think about promoting Poway businesses. Last weekend, the Poway Youth Soccer Club hosted a tournament called "Poway Country Shootout". Teams had to pay $300- $350 to play in the tournament. All of the games were played at Arbolitos, Meadowbrook and Valley School fields, fields in south Poway where the City of Poway has spent millions of dollars to install artificial turf, lights and/or to maintain the fields. Although most of the teams that entered the tournament were from nearby communities, out-of-the-area teams were invited too. On their web page, the Poway Youth Soccer League suggested that these teams stay at hotels in Rancho Bernardo and Scripps Ranch. Not a single one of the three Poway hotels was on their list, even though they were closer to the sports fields where the tournament was held.

Shop Poway? Naahhhh, not PYSL.


My Account said...

There's got to be a way to get this sort of blog more visible press, please pass the URL on to others.

Anonymous said...

Well, we have a similar situation in Encinitas.
Our council has voted to build a regional sports park, against the desire of the majority of the public, in a residential area. The soccer groups, backed by Rotary that sponsor BIG tourneys, have the majority council boys voting to support the sports complex design. This does not fit into the general plan of the area and the planning commission rejected the proposal. The council majority had Park and Rec challenge the planning commission recommendations and council rejected the commission findings. Now council is trying to change the general plan and install 90' lights with light output of half the output of the Rose Bowl. This would destroy ocean, sunset and horizon views of hundreds of homes as well as causing dangerous night time traffic that was recognized by the planning commission and being ignored by council.
This proposal is NOT best for the majority.