Fullerton Council to Discuss Policy That Keeps Low-Income Sports Teams in the Dark

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Fullerton City Council members, after hearing an earful from residents at their last meeting, could make a policy change Tuesday that would give the Fullerton Blue Stars youth soccer club a lighted field to practice on at night.

The city has lighted fields, but its current policy gives priority to teams that are affiliated with a state or national governing body. As a result, low-income teams that can’t afford the membership fees charged by large umbrella organizations like the CalSouth Soccer Association are left literally in the dark, say parents and coaches.

Blue Stars coach Jorge Sigaran said the team currently has to practice at Richman Elementary School, where the only light is spillover from the field at Richman Park, where the affiliated teams, known as “city partner teams,” practice at night.

The city staff recommendation that council members will consider Tuesday is to uphold the current policy that gives the better fields to city partner teams like the well-funded Fullerton Rangers. However, Councilman Bruce Whitaker said he’s going to try to force his colleagues make a change that would allow organizations like the Blue Stars to become partners.

“I want to get away from the monopoly we have with the Rangers,” Whitaker said.

The Rangers club became engulfed in controversy earlier this year when its former treasurer, Laura Zellerbach, was arrested on 27 charges of embezzlement and other felonies in connection with $250,000 allegedly stolen from the club.

The city’s recreation supervisor, John Clements, said the youth sports policy was written up because the city is limited in the number of fields it can let sports teams use.

“How are we going to allocate space better when everyone wants it?” Clements said. “I think it would be different if we had a lot of space.”

Nonetheless, Whitaker says allowances need to be made for teams that can’t afford the association dues.

“By adopting the rules that they have, it pretty much elbows the other groups out,” Whitaker said.

The City Council meeting starts 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Fullerton City Hall.

Spencer Custodio is a Voice of OC intern. Please contact him at Scustodio21@csu.fullerton.edu.