Flurry of trespassers delays repairs to athletic fields 

Trespassing is most commonly associated with kids looking to cause trouble, but in Foster City, the trespassers delaying city park improvements are adults looking to have fun.

Officials say the city has had a problem lately with adult soccer players using closed-for-maintenance fields for their games, increasing the time and money needed for repairs.

"We’ve had a lot of issues with pickup games at the fields when they’re closed, and that is unacceptable," Peninsula Youth Soccer Club Vice President Greg Turtletaub said. "Some of them are abusive when confronted by the city or youth sports representatives."

To keep its soccer and baseball fields in working order, the city closes individual parks on a rotating schedule to allow for resodding, reseeding and general maintenance, Parks and Recreation Director Kevin Miller said.

That downtime — while an inconvenience for teams wanting to use the fields — allows the city to maintain what Turtletaub says are some of the finest fields in the area.

"We understand that it’s difficult to keep a grass soccer field going year-round," he said.

On Wednesday, the Parks and Recreation Committee will discuss ways to deal with the problem and bring more order to field use, including lowering the maximum number of people allowed on a field without a permit to 10.

Right now, groups of 25 or less do not need permits to use city fields.

Permit prices vary between parks and uses; Miller said a group of 50 pays approximately $40 for the permit and a $75 security deposit.

There is no fine for unpermitted use and Miller said the city will probably not institute one, but instead work on educating residents.

"The intent of this is not go out and fine people, we’re just trying to maintain the fields and make sure that if people need a permit, they’ve got one," he said.

Even in open public space, Miller said, permits are important because they help the city prevent conflicts in use and provide maintenance funds.

The current four-month closure and improvement of Catamaran Park costs the city approximately $16,000.

Foster City resident David Gonzalez was playing soccer in Port Royal Park on Thursday, and said his group doesn’t bother to get a permit because it’s a public park. He said the group has moved several times to other nearby parks when the field has been closed for maintenance.

"I think that in Foster City, most of our guys respect these fields," he said.

The field is commonly used by the group on Tuesdays and Thursdays for two hours.

Miller said the group is not big enough to need a permit, but their heavy use of the field is a concern to the city.

"We just want to be able to manage that — 20 adults on a soccer field," Miller said. "Two days a week for 10 weeks means damaged turf."

jgoldman@examiner.com

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