PIEDMONT -- The Piedmont Recreation Commission is revisiting the Sunday use of Beach playfield due to large adult soccer pickup games that are edging out recreational use by families and neighborhood children.
"Large men in a small park is a very difficult problem," commissioner Terry London said at last week's meeting. "It's not a manageable group of people. We're all running out of patience. Police need to enforce it."
Speakers at the July 18 meeting said they have observed "four teams in full regalia" playing on Sundays. The pickup games are aggressive, not conducive to children playing nearby who might be hit by flying balls, commissioners said. The word is out that Beach is a "beautiful field" on which to play, London said, with players coming from Oakland, Berkeley, El Cerrito and elsewhere.
While it is illegal to restrict people coming to enjoy recreation activities in a public park, the commission is trying to reach a solution by perhaps installing a movable fence to protect children's safety or hire a recreation leader to further enforce the rules. A part-time monitor now patrols the park on weekends and is familiar with the adult players, Director Mark Delventhal said.
Several neighbors have called police when more than the permitted 12 adults are playing a game, but police response has been lukewarm, they said. Apparently police do not know who to cite when there are more than 12 players. Commission chair Dick Hunt asked
"Relying on posted rules, police notification and monitor intervention has not solved the problem," City Councilman Garrett Keating said in an email to the commission.
"The repeated and obvious violation of the rules is fostering frustration and disappointment in many residents when they attempt to use the field."
The city amended its code in 2008 regarding Beach, requiring that no more than 12 people age 21 or older could play at one time on Beach's "open" Sundays. Use of the field other days of the week is permitted by youth sports groups that make reservations. The field is only for use of students during school days at Beach or for recreation department programs.
Commissioner Teddy King asked Delventhal to research how other towns handle similar problems.
The commissioners agreed they would like to hear from the Sunday pickup groups at their next meeting on Sept. 19. Last week's meeting was sparsely attended.
"Enforcement is the key," commissioner Nick Levinson said. "You can't bar the adults, but perhaps allow early morning or dinnertime play when kids are not on the field."