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FCPG to consider PLDO funding for splash pad, swimming pool

Joe Naiman

Village News Reporter

The Fallbrook Community Planning Group chose not to vote on a priority list for Park Land Dedication Ordinance expenditures at the planning group’s Oct. 17 meeting, but a splash pad and a new swimming pool at Fallbrook High School were added to consideration for the vote which will likely take place Nov. 21.

“These are two things that came up which will be potential great adders to the priority list,” said Stephani Baxter, who chairs the planning group's Parks and Recreation Public Facilities Committee.

The list is not due to the county until the end of November. The Parks and Recreation Public Facilities Committee did not have a quorum at its October meeting and thus could not legally provide a recommendation. The delay of the planning group vote until November also allows more information to be obtained on the potential new projects.

Park Land Development Ordinance fees are collected from developers to fund park improvements in the area of the development. In 1965, the State of California adopted the Quimby Act which authorizes local governments to assess impact fees on new residential development to provide funding for park and recreation facilities to serve the new development.

The Quimby Act allows fees sufficient to provide three acres of park land per 1,000 residents, although a local government may adopt a higher standard of five acres per 1,000 residents. The county has been collecting PLDO fees from developers since 1973. Developers have the option to dedicate parks instead of paying PLDO fees, and a combination of park dedication and PLDO fees is also potentially acceptable.

PLDO funding must be spent in the area of the development for which the money is collected. Initially the fees could only be used for active recreation parks.

“For a very long time the PLDO funds were really focused on active recreation,” said county Department of Parks and Recreation Region Manager Jake Enriquez. “It also includes indoor and outdoor meeting spaces.”

In 2018, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors approved revisions to the Park Land Dedication Ordinance, and one of the revisions allows up to 25% of a fiscal year's PLDO revenue to be used for the acquisition of land for trails or to develop new trails.

“Those areas also serve to benefit the community,” Enriquez said.

PLDO funding still cannot be used for open space. The fees can be used for acquisition of land but not for maintenance or operation, and they can be used for replacement of playground equipment but not for the restoration of historic structures.

In 2021, the Fallbrook Community Planning Group voted 13-0, with two members absent, to approve a priority list of projects utilizing PLDO funding. A trail or pathway along Stage Coach Lane from Reche Road to South Mission Road was the top priority. (Pathways are within the right-of-way of a road, and PLDO funding cannot be used for pathways. Trails are outside of the right-of-way.)

The highest priorities approved last year also included a trail or pathway along Gird Road between Reche Road and State Route 76. Sports courts were the highest priority after trails, and sports fields followed sports courts as a priority. Improvements at the Fallbrook Community Center was the priority after sports fields. The 2021 priority list also included a Frisbee golf course at a park to be determined.

During the Parks and Recreation Public Facilities Committee meeting, requests for the splash pad and a new swimming pool were addressed. Baxter indicated that more information will be needed on using PLDO funding for a swimming pool at the high school.

Fallbrook High School is one of 25 high schools in San Diego County, including 21 public schools, with an on-campus swimming pool. The current Fallbrook High School swimming pool was completed in 1970. Fallbrook aquatics coaches and parents have sought a new pool.

“There are thousands of gallons of wasted water due to the outdated infrastructure,” Baxter said.

In addition to the pool’s age, it is shallow at one end and deep at the other end. Only a pool which is deep at both ends can be used for CIF water polo playoffs, so teams prefer non-league games at an all-deep pool to prepare for playoff competition and Fallbrook as well as its opponents desire non-league matches outside of Fallbrook. The dimensions of an all-deep pool would also enable Fallbrook to host tournaments.

Fallbrook's current pool is 25 yards long, which is the standard lap distance for CIF swim competition, and has six lanes. Olympic swimming laps are 50 meters, and many pools measure 50 meters by 25 yards to allow for both 50-meter laps and 25-yard laps. The new Fallbrook pool as envisioned by the Fallbrook aquatics interests would have the 50-meter by 25-yard dimensions. That would allow for long-course meets to be held in Fallbrook.

A larger pool would also allow for concurrent lessons or public activity. The depth of the pool would allow for a three-meter diving board as well as a one-meter board, and the three-meter springboard is also part of the Fallbrook pool project. The Fallbrook aquatics plan also includes improvements beyond the pool such as reconfiguring the deck.

The Fallbrook group's plan is to raise enough money beyond the actual construction costs so that interest on the excess amount can be used to cover operating expenses. In 2016, the desired amount was between $5 million and $7 million. The estimate Baxter provided the planning group was $13 million.

Enriquez noted that any facility funded with PLDO money must be open to the public when not reserved for other activities. “Any park amenity funded with PLDO funds has to be public,” he said.

 

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