Tennis Court Rally
Updated On: Jan 29 2013 06:05:18 AM CST
Dozens of area residents say they're protesting the increase in fees to use the tennis courts at Las Positas. They say the increase in fees from $150 to $495 is too much and they're boycotting the facility. At De La Guerra Plaza, dozens of area residents protested what they call the City of Santa Barbara's one dollar public park giveaway of the Las Positas tennis facility, a long-term contract which calls for Elings Park Foundation to manage and maintain the tennis courts for the City for one dollar per year. Longtime tennis players say they're being priced out of the courts and because of that the courts are now sitting empty. They say they're furious over the increase in fees and that's why they're protest calls for a public hearing to communicate with the city. Many members of the Las Positas Tennis Groups, as they identify themselves, say the privatizing of public property is taking away an asset from the citizens of the city. Meanwhile Elings Park a not for profit foundation says in 2010 it signed an 18-year lease with the City of Santa Barbara to manage and restore Las Positas Tennis Courts..and adds it took on a 1-point-1 million dollar liability from the City to help keep the facility open. Danny Vickers of the Elings Park Foundation says he sees his organization as coming to the rescue of the City because with all the maintenance needed it stepped in to prevent the city from closing the facility. And in response to the protest over high fees Elings Park recently reduced its fees for tennis players according to this December 2012 news release. Nevertheless, Vickers says the present fee schedule will not cover the operational expenses of the facility but we believe it will cover about 50 percent of those expenses. News Channel 3 is told the Foundation has additional sources of income to cover the balance of operational expenses. No one from the City of Santa Barbara could be reached for comment. The Las Positas Tennis Group says so far it has over four-hundred signatures calling for a public hearing on the Eling Park lease with the City and its fees.