CITY HALL — Members of the organization Community for Excellent Public Schools (CEPS) earlier this month gathered to celebrate the first anniversary of the passage of a half-cent transaction and use tax that has been levied on the citizens of Santa Monica since March 2011.
That initiative, Measure Y, was joined by an advisory vote called Measure YY, which dictated that half of the money raised by the tax would go directly to the Santa Monica-Malibu School District.
In return for the estimated $5.7 million each year, SMMUSD promised that City Hall would get access to its sports facilities, opening up additional recreation sites to community use.
Though City Hall and the district formally entered that agreement on June 28, the details of how the field sharing would occur were only released this month and, so far, there have only been a few hiccups, officials say.
“We’ve been working on the supplemental agreement for several months,” said Kathy LePrevost, community recreation manager with City Hall. “It provides an opportunity for expanded use.”
The agreement opens up the use of outdoor basketball and tennis courts, a track, the Drake swimming pool on the Santa Monica High School campus, a dance studio, wrestling room, one gym and other facilities like bathrooms, parking and storage.
City Hall will be the gatekeeper for community use of the main field, track and tennis courts. It will keep the fees it charges community members for the use of the facilities, and send back extra staffing costs to the district.
The district will handle the permitting and associated fees for the dance studio, gymnasium, outdoor basketball courts, swimming pool and wrestling rooms.
The fees charged are comparable to other recreation fees in the city, and cover most of the costs, LePrevost said.
“The additional revenue and costs to have staff handle the permitting, that is additional to what’s in the budget and will be addressed (at the mid-year review),” LePrevost said.
A big prize of the equation is the combination football-soccer field at Santa Monica High School, which is part of a $57 million rennovation that City Hall funded through its Redevelopment Agency.
It’s also caused some scrambling between the two agencies, which are working out the kinks in their communications, said Carey Upton, director of theater operations and facility permits with the district.
“We are open, we are moving, it’s going well,” Upton said. “But there have been some hiccups.”
Workers finished replacing the new synthetic turf in mid-October, approximately a week before the official ribbon cutting that took place with fanfare on Oct. 27.
The next day, an adult soccer team became the first community group to exercise their new rights on the field.
The biggest issue so far could be considered a good problem to have — with its win over Culver City on Nov. 4, the Samohi Vikings became champions of the Ocean League and clinched a berth in the CIF-Southern Section Western Division Playoffs in football.
That means they’ll be hosting Channel Islands on Friday at Santa Monica College’s Corsair Field, and have a chance to play again the day after Thanksgiving, Upton said.
On top of that, the Viking Marching Band has been blowing out its competition. It’s number one in its field, and will compete on Nov. 19 and 26 and for the Dec. 3 championships.
Both the band and the football team will need time to practice for their big events, preferably on the field that they now have to share with community teams.
The team and band will see relatively little impact, said Daniel Escalera, Santa Monica High School’s athletic director.
For now, just one football practice has to move should the Vikings advance to the second round of the playoffs, Escalera said. That practice would be held at SMC on Wednesday.
“We’ve been working closely with the district,” LePrevost said. “We’ve needed to do a little bit of shuffling.”
It’s nothing new, she said. City Hall has been using the facilities at John Adams Middle School for several years through a separate joint-use agreement.
As the two agencies get more comfortable in their roles, they will reassess what’s working and what isn’t.