OCEANSIDE — A newly-established standing committee will oversee matters of equity and fairness when it comes to accessing the city of Oceanside’s public sports fields and facilities.
The city’s Parks and Recreation Commission established a standing committee on field and facility equity at its Jan. 10 meeting. The committee will investigate issues related to accessing the city’s various athletic fields and facilities, and recommend solutions for any inequities found related to permits, lease agreements and fair allocation of public spaces, including fields, facilities, outdoor courts, gymnasiums and aquatic centers.
The standing committee concept came from the previous ad hoc committee composed of several Parks and Recreation commissioners including Wilson Godinet, Lisa Russell and Genevieve Wunder. The commissioners met with members of the community during various public forums last year where residents recounted their negative experiences when trying to obtain permits for booking times at the city’s fields and facilities.
Godinet feels there is more investigation required to better understand if the process to obtain field and facility time is fair for everyone.
“We need to have a body that meets with the community at any time,” Godinet said. “The work we’re doing should be continued.”
Several members of the public also spoke in favor of establishing the standing committee.
“The ad hoc committee has provided a forum that is not available otherwise,” said resident Diane Woelke.
While the ad hoc’s informal meeting times have so far worked well for the three involved commissioners and public, the official change to a standing committee forces the group to formalize its procedures.
As a standing committee, the group is subject to regulations under the Brown Act, including mandatory recordings of meetings and giving the public appropriate notice, similar to a Parks and Recreation Commission meeting.
Despite the change, the commissioners went forward with supporting the committee, which was approved 5-2-1. Commissioners Thomas Frankum and Kelly Murphy voted against the standing committee’s approval while Commissioner Kelyn Hsu abstained.
While the original intention behind the standing committee was to examine field and facility fairplay, Godinet, Russell and Wunder also emphasized how their work tied into other community issues like park safety and gang prevention.
Godinet requested the reclassification of some parks like Joe Balderrama and John Landes from community parks to neighborhood parks due to their smaller size, and that more attention be brought to those two parks to push the gangs that currently claim them out.
The three standing committee commissioners wanted their focus to include issues relating to park safety and gang prevention. However, others on the commission suggested the group narrows its focus back to the original concern of field and facility access.
“I think it’s important the committee has a goal,” Hsu said.
The standing committee will meet monthly with dates yet to be determined.