It's Time for the City to Honor its Commitment to Santa Monica High School, and Build an Athletic Field
City Council mandated an athletic field when it the ratified Civic Center Specific Plan
June 26, 2017
Update 6/28: Last night, the City Council voted 7-0 to move forward with a temporary field at the Civic Center, at an estimated cost of $8.6 million, and work with the various constituents to address their parking needs. The motion included authorization for a mandatory parking study related to the site, issuing an RFP for renovation of the Civic building and analysis of additional field space at Memorial Park. Staff were also directed to take feedback from Thursday’s School Board meeting regarding the need for a softball field.
On Tuesday, June 27th, the City Council will hold a hearing on the proposed staff options for the sports field.
Over one thousand students at santa monica high school are student athletes. The number of sports fields has decreased over the past decades. Softball Field - gone; Soccer Field - gone. The open space for our students has steadily decreased. The Civic Auditorium has been closed for several years. There is one chance to give our students the space they deserve. The sports field at the Civic is the only answer. The City Council has affirmed this several times.
I want to discuss the sports field that was added to the Civic Center Specific Plan almost a decade and a half ago and was first brought to the Santa Monica City Council in 2002.
The Council under tremendous community pressure, once again approved a multi-purpose sports field to be used primarily for soccer, lacrosse & band practice early in 2016. The field would be situated on the mostly vacant SM Civic Parking Lot. The City Council instructed that the field, whether temporary or permanent, be expedited. Instead, city staff has now brought back eight possible plans and raised the cost of a simple high school sized sports field to almost $9 million dollars.
Indeed, they now peg the cost of an artificial turf field at over $95 million and project its completion for late 2022.
In 2002 the City Council began discussing the Civic Center Specific Plan in earnest. The idea of a sports field in the SM Civic Parking Lot had been broached years earlier by civic leaders who knew the paucity of athletic space that the high school contained, for a student population of over 3000 students.
The field was mandated in the ratified Civic Center Specific Plan as part of our land use law. Tongva was built, the City Hall lawn was reimagined, Rand moved and the large condo complex was built between Main and Ocean. A parking structure was built at 4th and Olympic Drive so that parking would no longer be needed at the Civic. It has been clear that certain elements of the city would rather have a hotel there, "creative" offices, an underground parking lot, in fact, almost anything other than the sports field that the students of our only high school desperately need.
Over 1000 students play sports on only two fields at Samohi. Many half to walk without supervision to John Adams or Memorial Park each day...for the love of sport. Our brilliant Viking band has no practice area, our soccer and lacrosse teams nowhere to play and with the loss of two fields over the past 20 years no other hope of gaining open space. This should not be about a proposed bond issue, it should never be about parking nor Santa Monica College's hopes and dreams. This is about our kids, pure and simple. Build the field that has been promised to our students over and over again. Build it now, without any further delays or subterfuge. Our students deserve that much.
The City Council must act to build the sports field and build it now. You can help - send a simple, clear email to [email protected] now. Tell them to honor their commitment to our students. It's been over two decades since this field was promised to our students.