Encinitas sports leagues eye La Costa Valley fields

The City of Carlsbad is withdrawing its offer to operate the La Costa Valley fields for the San Dieguito Union High School District.

Situated on 28 acres on Calle Barcelona, the site is home to two baseball fields, a softball field and three soccer and lacrosse fields. According to the district’s master plan, the site’s athletic facilities will serve the district’s athletic program needs and provide a community resource until such time that a new middle school is necessary.

The fields are slated to be used by the junior varsity and freshman baseball teams from La Costa Canyon High School and San Dieguito High School Academy, as well as lacrosse and soccer teams from San Dieguito.

The La Costa Valley fields were completed last year using funding from Proposition AA and have been open to daily use for the last few months but haven’t yet been available for rental. The district was planning to approve a contract with Carlsbad to manage the use of the fields.

“This is disappointing in that we felt partnering with the city would be a win for the district, the city and the community,” SDUHSD Superintendent Eric Dill said in an email.

At this point, Dill said district staff will now prepare to administer the use of the property to accommodate district athletic programs and community recreation groups.

“We will make every effort to accommodate as many organizations who would like to reserve the fields as we have done with our school sites,” Dill said.

Recently, several Encinitas youth sports leagues came forward urging the district to reconsider the partnership with Carlsbad, speaking with members of the Prop AA Independent Citizens Oversight Committee as well as before the school board on July 13.

“I’m very concerned about the district fields being handed over to Carlsbad,” said Scott Platenberg, a “soccer dad” of children at San Dieguito schools and a member of the executive board of Encinitas Express Soccer League. “As a board member I know the struggles we constantly face to find field space for our program. We have a great problem—we have more kids who want to play more soccer. We have a hard time finding fields in this community; Carlsbad does not have that problem.”

Jon Sevinson, the president of the Encinitas Express, argued that if Carlsbad were to administer use of the fields it would leave Encinitas teams “scraping the bottom of the barrel” for field use.

“Only a small percentage of Carlsbad pays into Prop AA and into the district while the city of Encinitas is entirely within the district,” Sevinson said. “Encinitas has a serious lack of field space and this would be a wonderful boon for us.”

The city of Carlsbad’s policy is that Carlsbad athletic organizations get first rights to use of fields and they also don’t charge city athletic organizations for use of city fields. Sevinson said Encinitas Express paid the district $30,000 to rent field space at Oak Crest and Diegueno Middle Schools last year as well as the turf field at San Dieguito High School Academy, which costs significantly more because of the turf. If the Calle Barcelona fields were available, he said the Express would utilize those fields rather than San Dieguito’s turf field to keep costs down for league families.

Sevinson said he was pleased that the district is moving away from the contract with Carlsbad.

“I think it’s the right decision for the district and the community,” Sevinson said.

Dill said the district will work on a plan of operations going forward until they find another organization willing to take over the operation of the site.

“We will now reconsider approaching the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito and the YMCA to explore other long-term operation agreements,” Dill said. “However, we must keep in mind that the ballot measure language assured community access to the fields and we would not want to restrict access to fee-based organizations only.”

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