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Comments on City Parks and Rec Response to AYSO Parents

posted Feb 28, 2013, 8:29 PM by AYSO26 Regional Commissioner   [ updated Mar 3, 2013, 1:08 PM ]

The City of Palo Alto Parks and Recreation Department has responded to emails sent by some AYSO parents, asking that AYSO be restored to its former brokering position.  

  1. On the left is the initial response from the City, on the right are comments to clarify and correct.
  2. At the middle, in buff color, is a Call to Action
  3. At the bottom, City letter offering a meeting

From: ParkRec Commission <>
Date: Thu, Feb 28, 2013 at 9:53 AM
Subject: RE: Please allocate more fields to Palo Alto AYSO. This is an extraordinary non-profit organization that serves our Palo Alto youth and families

Thank you for your email,

The Parks and Recreation Commission and City staff have recommended changes to the field use policy that we believe creates fair and efficient use of Palo Alto playing fields. The recommended changes maximize Palo Alto resident access to the fields, while supporting AYSO along with other sports organizations with 51% or more residents. Palo Alto is fortunate to have a range of sports organizations that offer a variety of experiences, from competitive to recreational sports. The community values this diversity and we can accommodate many of the community's sporting interests with the playing field inventory in Palo Alto. The policy recommendation gives organizations with 51% or more residents a seat at the priority brokering table. However, the fields will be brokered by absolute numbers of players in each organization with absolute numbers of residents getting first choice of available fields. With respect to AYSO, which has close to 100% residency, they will have the opportunity to reserve fields for their entire program before any club organization has the opportunity to reserve fields for their non-resident participants.

The Commission and Staff value all of our sports organizations and have worked hard to improve the existing field use policy with interests of Palo Alto residents foremost in mind. Public input on this policy has been extensive from many and diverse sources. The commission and staff meticulously considered all input before creating this recommendation – returning it to the ad hoc committee multiple times for internal debate and revisions. At last night’s Parks and Recreation Commission meeting support for the new policy was expressed by all other Palo Alto based sports organizations in attendance. While we respect and appreciate Mr. Shorts comments they do not accurately reflect the impacts to the AYSO organization. AYSO remains a highly valued sports organization in Palo Altoand they will have access to all the athletics fields needed for their program in advance of any non-residents.

The recommended policy change will go to the Palo Alto City Council for approval in the coming months. Should the policy be approved staff will work closely with all the organizations to help make the transition to the new policy as smooth as possible. The policy will also be re-evaluated on a regular basis to make sure it provides Palo Alto residents with needed field space while allowing for a variety of activities reflecting the athletic preferences of Palo Alto residents.

For more information regarding the recommended changes to the field use policy please contact 

Recreation Supervisor, Adam Howard at 329-2192 or 

Division Manager of Recreation Services Rob de Geus 463-4908


-Rob (De Geus)

Comments corresponding to the text on the left
by Gordon Short

This is not true.  The recommended changes to the brokering policy reduces the access by Palo Alto residents to the prime times/fields.  What it actually increases, is access to prime fields for organizations that have 51% or more residents; organizations that then deploy teams to those brokered slots made up of fewer residents, perhaps even lower than 51%. 
If the slot was taken from AYSO, the resident count on that slot has been reduced substantially.  That is the true, on the ground, result of this policy --> a reduction in access to the fields by the most residents, shifting the use to a smaller group of residents, and their non-resident associates.

This statement regarding brokering glosses over that AYSO will be made to take turns with 51% organizations in brokering, such that AYSO gets a small batch of fields, then a club, then a club, etc, and finally back to AYSO.  It means that 51% organizations will take prime slots that would otherwise go to AYSO, and is the true intention of this policy. 

The unintentional bottom line on this policy is:
  1. club organizations will get a great marketing opportunity to recruit even more non-residents, by using Palo Alto best, prime fields as a draw (as long as they stay above 51%)
  2. prime field slots are used by fewer Palo Alto residents 
  3. the lower the residency count, above 51%, provides the most benefit to the club
    1. more subsidized non-residents is good for the club budget
    2. maximum benefit of sequestering priority fields for non-residents is achieved
  4. further overcrowding, requiring more fields
My comments do accurately reflect the impact of this policy proposal to the AYSO program, the diminished field availability to Palo Altans, the runaway field over-crowding requiring the building of more fields.....

These new policies do not recognize the value of AYSO to the community, and it was intentional of the commission to reduce the field access by AYSO and provide greater access to the fields by 51% organizations.  The method, brokering for resident counts in organizations, seems reasonable at first blush, but not once you work through the "on the ground" ramifications.
Mr. De Geus is correct, AYSO will get sufficient slots before non-residents are brokered.  Just not the right slots.  Mr. De Geus, the right slots count.  Otherwise, why propose the change?  Clubs get sufficient slots for their residents the way the policy currently stands. Aren't you simply trying to shift the "right slots" away from AYSO to the 51% organization?  That is all you have achieved in all this gerrymandering.

The intentions of the city staff and the Commission are laudable.  I have met with them many times.  But, they fail to see beyond over-arching "fairness" intentions into the "on the ground" ramifications of their "simplified" approach.  They are blind-sided into thinking that brokering on a statistical aggregation of resident player headcount will maximize the access by residents to fields.  It doesn't, it achieves the opposite.  What they have achieved with this policy proposal is harmful to AYSO, the community and the rate payer.  Each phrase of this statement can be explained clearly, in detail.  But one has to pay keen attention to a very convoluted subject.

Gordon Short