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Palo Alto AYSO Comments to SSC and PASC Letter

posted Feb 19, 2013, 8:06 AM by AYSO26 Regional Commissioner   [ updated Feb 19, 2013, 8:07 AM ]
The open letter from Palo Alto AYSO accurately addresses the issues, inclusive of the proposed brokering referred to by Bob and Charlie, field managers of the Stanford Soccer Club (SSC) and the Palo Alto Soccer Club (PASC).  The meetings to improve the brokering system with Bob and Charlie have made some policy progress, but have only addressed taking brokering priority away from AYSO to give more access to fields by SSC and PASC, and have not addressed any of the other issues.  The proposed brokering does nothing to address the overcrowding of our fields by non-residents, the overbooking of our fields by brokered users, and the sequestering of our fields into a private, non-open brokering system.  

Yes, the first phase of the brokering proposal for Palo Alto residents is open and fair, but after that is when the damage is done.

To proceed with the proposal at this time would bring harm to AYSO, benefits to the clubs, diminish value to our community, and fix none of the inherent problems of the over utilization of Palo Alto fields.

Here is what the new brokering proposal achieves.
1) removes priority brokering for open registration users (currently only AYSO was such a user)
2) provides equal brokering for users in accordance with Palo Alto participation
3) provides brokering to unlimited number of non-Palo Alto participants (subsidized, harms Palo Alto resident access, requires city to build more facilities for non-Palo Alto residents)
4) provides unlimited sequestering of fields to brokered users (revenue cost, wasteful, harms Palo Alto resident access, requires Palo Alto to build more facilities to address this non-existent need)

Overall, this proposal fails to achieve the following
1) Limit brokering of fields to Palo Altan use.  Without such limitation, Palo Alto subsidizes club organizations to bring non-Palo Alto participants in large numbers.  This removes the availability of those fields for Palo Alto users, and requires the city to needlessly build more field facilities to address the load.   
2) Limit sequestering of fields by brokered users.  Brokered users have already obtained the number of fields they are entitled to book, and block other users from gaining access.  Some brokered users then sequester fields after brokering, to ensure they have excessive inventory on hand to address poor planning and field husbandry on their part.  This overbooking is 
- wasteful - many of these slots go unused and are returned to the city just before the actual slot time
- removes inventory from what otherwise could be used by Palo Alto residents
- costs the city revenue - the return of the unused slots is too late for another user to reasonably plan to use them

In short, this proposal delivers on the paragraph in the AYSO Open Letter under the title, Travesty.
Discussion in the subcommittee is such that AYSO is to lose its open registration pre-brokering priority that it has been enjoying.  The motivation by the subcommittee is that other brokered user organizations are complaining of a shortage of number and quality of fields.  It is a travesty that the user organizations that create that problem through poor practices are succeeding in motivating the city to remove the favored brokering position of the one organization that season after season, executes outstanding husbandry of its fields.  It is a travesty that these wasteful brokered users will be rewarded with greater access to our community's fields, and provided even more opportunity to waste prime inventory with excessive booking and sequestering.  These parties are being guided by their own self-interest, and that interest does not align with Palo Alto community interests.

In the letter below, from Bob and Charlie of SSC and PASC are some misconceptions.  Inherent in their proposal is the idea that by providing brokering based on Palo Alto residents before brokering to non-Palo Alto residents, is fair to Palo Alto.  It is not.  Brokering to non-Palo Alto residents means that those non-Palo Alto residents are getting priority access, over non-brokered Palo Alto residents.  Further, the city is subsidizing them.  Further, the brokered parties are acting poorly after brokering to sequester even more fields, removing them from Palo Altan use.  Some brokered users have come to regard the open-ended use of Palo Alto fields as an entitlement.

This plan, attached, is not ready to go. 

Gordon Short
Regional Commissioner
Palo Alto AYS

The following message was sent by SSC and PASC in response to Palo Alto AYSO's Open Letter

On Feb 19, 2013, at 12:33 AM, Bob Wachs <> wrote:

Additional observations from Bob Wachs of the Palo Alto Soccer Club and Charlie Williams of the Stanford Soccer Club

Over the course of the past several weeks a plan was developed to improve the system for distributing playing fields to users in the city of Palo Alto. This directly addressed the 'Eligibility based on Residency' and 'Insufficient Field Space' issues. The planning included hours of meetings attended by representatives of AYSO, Stanford Soccer Club, Palo Alto Soccer Club, PSV Union, city staff and members of the Parks and Recreation Commission sub committee. The result was an elegant, egalitarian field distribution method which would address all the concerns and values expressed by the city. 

Elements of the plan:
* Brokering of practice and game fields would entail a round robin process attended by all eligible users.
*The round robin would occur in two phases for each age group.
*Phase 1 would be based solely on the number of Palo Alto residents for each user. Slots would be awarded proportional to the number of residents a user has. The more residents they have, the more slots they get.
*Phase 2 would be based on the number of non-Palo Alto residents for each user. This phase would not begin until all slots in phase 1 had been distributed.

* Users agree to return unused practice and game fields in a timely fashion as decided by the city. 

Beauty of the plan:
*Eligibility of all Palo Alto residents is given equal recognition, not just those involved with one user.
*The current problem of excluding a majority of resident players during the selection of priority fields is corrected.
*Residents' needs will be entirely met before any non-resident needs are addressed.
*All users are strongly incentivized to recruit Palo Alto residents for their teams. That's because the more residents they have, the more Phase 1 slots they get.
*Everyone's field needs are met, but not at the expense of the needs of the residents.
*If there is insufficient field space, it is manifested in Phase 2. Once again, the needs of residents are prioritized.
* This plan is fully matured and ready to go. The statistics needed to drive it are already submitted or could be obtained in a very short time. Therefore, the round robin session for the fall of 2013 could be held at any time.

In short, the plan is fair to all, transparent, efficient, addresses the city's concerns, meets the user's needs and is ready to go. 
We strongly urge the adoption of the plan (as described in the attachment).

AYSO26 Regional Commissioner,
Feb 19, 2013, 8:10 AM