I find curious the quote in The Independent attributed to Mayor Helene Schneider that the system is “rigged, meant to protect the politically connected, the powerful.” Perhaps now she can appreciate the feelings of the disenfranchised, long-term tennis players at the Las Positas Tennis Courts.

This sports facility, the most beloved public tennis park in the city, was privately leased to Elings Park Foundation for $1 per year beginning in 2011. This was done with no public input during a quick calendar consent vote by the City Council. To many, this lease agreement appeared a backroom deal. At no time did the city come to the players to discuss the needed maintenance at the park, the argument the city provides for the “necessary” park giveaway. Since then, however, new parks (e.g., Ortega) were created, also requiring maintenance.

The transfer of this facility to Elings Park, with its wealthy connections and past mayor on the board of directors, appears a “top down” approach. Another example of how this transfer seems rigged: Elings has done non-permitted and non-inspected construction on the site, directly against the lease agreement, without any consequences. Would the average citizen get away with this?

It helps to be connected.

If Mayor Schneider is indeed campaigning as a Democrat from the “ground up,” she should separate herself from her Republican colleagues on the City Council who have lauded privatization of public parks, consider the interests of her constituents, and return this park to the people. Democrats don’t give away public parks.

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