The recession hits Beverly Hills youth sports
“Gee, Uncle Jed, I sher hope Mr. Drysdale gives us that loan to pay for Ellie May’s softball team!“
Youth sports takes a hit because of the recession in even the most posh of addresses. From the Beverly Hills (Calif.) Courier:
The baseball fields may be manicured and the parks ready for play, but will there be anyone left standing at home plate?
Coaches of youth sports organizations are crying “foul” to the new fees they will have to pay after a 3-2 approval by the City Council Tuesday on all youth athletics. The Council’s hope is that it will generate $130,000 in revenue for Beverly Hills as it currently faces an $18.3 million deficit.
“Everyone has to pull their weight when it comes to the economy. This allows the City to recover some of the portions of expenses of the upkeep of the fields,” said Councilman John Mirisch, who voted yes with colleagues Dr. Willie Brien and Barry Brucker. “I understand people feel providing recreation space is a function of the government, but so is providing sanitation services. There is cost associated with it.”
In a nutshell, the city is charging $4 per hour for youth sports leagues to use city and school fields, as well as raising rates for players’ fees (now it’ll be $10 per player for residents and $30 for nonresidents) and imposing a $50-per-player fine on any organization that does not keep at least a 60/40 resident/nonresident ratio. The city of Beverly Hills is very big on residents only using its fields. Any youth sports organizations must have a majority of its board consisting of residents to even use facilities in the city.
More from the Courier:
Beverly Hills is not the only City imposing fees on youth sports, according to Recreation and Parks Commissioner Kathi Rothner, who also serves on the state’s board. Rothner said cities including Long Beach, Cypress and Agoura Hills are also charging. Others, she said, are “waiting on Beverly Hills to follow its lead.”
“Unfortunately, due to the difficult economic times, the City has had to cut budgets across all departments,” said Steve Zoet, assistant director Community Services. “In Community Services, we are decreasing activities and services for all age groups, including cutting after school programs and closing the Library early.
“We have also begun to assess fees for some programs to cover our costs. For youth sports activities, the playing fields will still be provided, but we must charge fees to defray the costs of the public’s investment in making these facilities available.”
It’s not just cities in California charging leagues for field use when they never did before — it’s happening all over the country. Beverly Hills estimates it costs $370,000 to maintain its fields (a number coaches say is high), and it’s easy for cities to look at how much they’ve given leagues gratis and decide there’s some easy money to be made.
While it might seem like paying $185 for Little League is not a lot for one of America’s wealthiest enclaves, it is a lot to the poor of Beverly Hills? Poor? That’s right. As of the 2000 U.S. Census, the poverty rate in Beverly Hills was 9.1 percent. Certainly, a lot of kids from surrounding communities and neighborhoods came into Beverly Hills to play in its leagues, which must be why the city council made such a point about sticking it to out-of-town, non-Beverly Hills-taxpaying kids and their families. You wonder if the city council’s goal wa as much cutting the amount of kids using its facilities, so they didn’t have to spend as much maintaining them, as it was getting more money to keep them in shape.