Saturday, June 19, 2021

Tennis Community Voices Frustration with Increased Fees, “Lack of Transparency”

After the community meeting, Mayor Richard Bailey announced on social media that fees would remain at previous rates per court, not per person.

5/4/21 Editor’s Note: Article has been updated with additional comment from people that attended meeting.

Tennis Community Meeting 4 28 2021
Over 50 people attended the meeting.

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A Coronado community meeting was held at the Glorietta Bay Tennis Center on Wednesday, April 28th to discuss increased court fees, the new concessionaire (Impact Activities), camps and reservations on the City courts. Local tennis players had been disappointed by what some described as a “lack of transparency” from the City and new tennis concessionaire – especially with regard to increased fees. Many felt that changes were made with no input from the tennis community.

Director of Recreation and Golf Services Roger Miller fielded questions regarding fees. He said that he had to “interpret the fee schedule as I see it.” According to Miller, the pricing was already set by the City but was not being enforced properly. Referring to the court fees, fees are determined by the city and listed in the ‘City Facility Use Fees and Policies’ document [Resolution 9034] that provides detailed price structures for resident and non-resident use at each public facility. The resolutions state pricing as follows “$5 per two hours for Group E [Resident Individual]; $15 for two hours for Group F [Non-resident Individual]; $15/hour for Group G [Commercial use].” Local players were accustomed to paying $5/court and having the option to walk-on if courts were not in use or reserved.

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For years, the tennis courts have operated as a $5 flat fee to reserve a court. But under the new fees, each resident would have to pay $5 to use the court (a 400% increase). Each non-resident would need to pay $15. So, four residents playing doubles would now need to pay $20 instead of $5.  For non-residents, that price would be $60 for a doubles match versus $15.

Tennis Community Meeting 4 28 2021
Roger Miller, Director of Recreation and Golf Services, addressed the crowd and answered questions on April 28.

Bob Thompson, Coronado resident and a member of the Coronado Tennis Association (CTA) for the past seven years, spoke on the new fees during the meeting, saying, “None of the fees that are listed are per person, they had never been. While you (Roger) interpret it the way you will, the fact of the matter is that the fees have never been charged per person. It’s not in the actual document; what was being done here is not right. To drop this on everyone like this, we’re just asking you to fix this and work with us. To go through and say it was in the fine print five years ago, that simply isn’t right.”

Another outspoken member was resident Rebecca Taylor, who questioned the legality of the new fees saying, “The changes of the fees and the City’s new interpretation flies in the face of statutory construction legally and is against California state law. If you are to change these fees you must do so through City Council resolution with a public hearing.”

Tennis Community Meeting 4 28 2021
Coronado Mayor Richard Bailey listened to the tennis community’s concerns.

Akshay Sateesh, a resident who attended Wednesday’s meeting, expressed his frustration with the decision-making process: “The lack of transparency and rigor to follow due process when it comes to RFP processes. Why not disclose the process that was used to choose the vendor? Why didn’t the Parks and Recreation Committee get involved in reviewing bids? I’m left confused and bewildered as to what measures of accountability exist to address a City staff member’s performance and lack process to make decisions that serve the community.”

While there was worry and perhaps doubt about what would be done to solve the issue, it was apparent that City leaders were listening. All City Council members: Mike Donovan, Marvin Heinze, Bill Sandke, Casey Tanaka, and Mayor Richard Bailey were in attendance to hear from the people they represent. Towards the end of the meeting, Mayor Bailey addressed the crowd, saying, “We are here because we care, and we want to help fix this issue. If these changes catch you off guard and these changes catch us as a council off guard, that is a legitimate concern. If it’s important to you, it’s important to us.”

Mario Di Lonardo, Coronado tennis professional, shared this comment, “I was asked to speak about my experience of the pro treatment at this meeting.  Everyone’s talking about a lack of transparency. I have proof of this lack of transparency and I shared it with Mayor Bailey.  Another pro supports this claim saying that’s exactly what happened, 100 percent.”

Coronado Tennis Association member Randy Johnston attended the meeting and shared this comment:  “Ideally the main purpose for our tennis community should be to work toward a common goal of bringing us closer together. Having attended the recent meeting with the mayor and council members I was left with the distinct feeling that our newly appointed concessionaires presented themselves with an us vs. them approach. I heard no transparency and legitimate questions regarding hiring and maintaining staff seemed to be deflected rather than embraced.”

Some additional questions are left to be answered, such as what will be done about current tennis pros’ contracts at the tennis center. But that will be decided between the pros and Impact Activities.

Later that evening, Mayor Bailey released a statement to explain that the City would suspend the increase in fees effectively immediately while they discuss a way forward:

“After today’s meeting concluded, City leaders met to discuss the necessary steps to continue administering the fees at the previous rates per court, not per person. It was determined that no special council meeting was necessary to provide that direction. As they have been administered for the past several years, the previous fees will remain in effect. At a later date, the City Council will hear a comprehensive report regarding tennis activities, including the fee schedule. This future meeting will allow the council to provide clear direction regarding activities and fees going forward. Until then, the court fees will return to their previous amounts. The change back to the previous court fees may take a short period of time to be reflected in the online reservation system. Please be patient while this change is made. The entire City Council values the input of the tennis community and supports this action.”

 

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Clark Fahrenthold
Clark is a recent graduate from Sonoma State University where he received his BA in Communications and a minor in History. In his free time, he enjoys playing golf, tennis, and running. Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: manager@coronadotimes.com
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