In 2010, as the City of Santa Barbara was looking to reduce costs, the Las Positas Tennis Courts were leased to the Elings Park Foundation for $1 a year for 18 years.
The lease states “The Premises shall be used only for the development, operation and maintenance of a public tennis recreation facility…All use of the Premises pursuant to this lease shall be compatible with and accessory to the park purposes for which the City Council has designated the Premises in accordance with section 520 of the City Charter.” Section 520 of the City Charter states: “No land acquired by the City for or dedicated to public park or recreation purposes … shall be sold, leased or otherwise transferred, encumbered or disposed of unless authorized by affirmative votes of at least a majority…of the City Council and … of the electors voting on such proposition at a general or special election … .”
In the absence of such a vote, the purpose to which the property is devoted by the City must be maintained.
Elings, a non-profit corporation, hired a for-profit group, the newly named Santa Barbara Tennis Academy, to manage the courts. Go to elingspark.org and click on “Tennis” to see their fee structure. These fees are not compatible with a public recreational facility. Who is monitoring this? High fees are currently limiting public access.
This is a dangerous precedent set by the City. Think about the City giving up your baseball field or losing our beach access to a private organization without oversight.
Please contact Santa Barbara City Council members and the mayor to demand a hearing on this matter. Go to the website laspositastennis.com and go to the “YOU” section to find the links. We must ensure elected government officials honor the charters that are established for the public’s benefit.