Dropping the Tennis Ball

The decision, by the City of Santa Barbara and its Parks and Rec Dept., to lease the Los Positas Tennis Courts to Elings Park has had consequences probably not contemplated by the city. The effect has been to drive out the members who have played there for many years. This has occurred because Elings has hired a for-profit company, Oceanside Tennis Academy, to manage the tennis facility.

This has resulted in the raising of fees 446% thus making it prohibitive for current members to continue their membership for the upcoming year. Half of the members are seniors 65 and over who, for the most part, are on fixed incomes.

Elings has offered its senior members a 35% discount, not enough for them to maintain their membership.

A committee has met with Elings management several times and recommended Elings forgo its planned additions and provide only necessary maintenance. The following statements by the committee are from in a city council agenda report. “Use of the premises is limited to the development, operation, and maintenance of a public tennis recreation facility. … Similar to how the facility has operated for years, programming will include a year-round balance of fee-based activities for youth and adults, including instruction programs, camps, clinics, leagues, and tournaments, and informal play on a drop-in basis. Consistent with the language of the park lease, any construction of new facilities on the tennis facility premises requires the consent of the Parks and Recreation Director …”

It does not appear that Elings, by turning over the management to a for-profit company, is in compliance with what the city intended when it signed the lease agreement with Elings. We urge the city to reevaluate the agreement made with Elings.

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