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Editorial:

Let park users work it out on their own

August 02, 2008

We thought it was an ill-advised move when the City Council designated Paularino Park as “passive,” meaning the park’s many soccer players were forced out.

Now, the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission has recommended designating 28 more parks as passive and two parks — Balearic Park and The Farm — as “active.” The council will consider the proposal at a future meeting.

This comes after a few large boulders and trees were installed in Paularino last year to prevent soccer games after some residents complained it was a safety hazard to their children and an annoyance.

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Under the proposed ordinance, some mild sporting activities such as throwing around a Frisbee or kicking a soccer ball would be allowed, but with the provision that no teams are formed and that no cleats are worn.

“I think the idea is to remove the competitiveness of it and limit the number of people in the park so others can still recreate,” said city Maintenance Service Manager Bruce Hartley.

No new boulders or trees would be planted in parks under this new proposition, but signs would be put up, telling people they are no longer allowed to play the sports they used to.

Police and park rangers would be authorized to issue citations, but they could also choose to merely throw the athletes out of the park.

“The signs will mostly serve as a reminder or a warning, but if there is a problem, police can go over and cite people,” said Public Services Director Peter Naghavi.

We can see it now: A weekend warrior, a soccer or softball player, being ticketed for engaging in an activity that puts others at risk. We can also see 28 parks, left to a smattering of strollers and dog walkers, losing their vitality.

Can you say over-regulation? That term sure springs to mind when you’re talking about criminalizing competitive sports.

Let the athletes compete. Let the strollers stroll and the nappers nap. And let all these groups work out the logistics for themselves, as they’ve done for years. We really don’t need big brother to mediate.


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