La Jolla Rec Board faces hurdles from City policy

As a decision looms confirming the new rules that will govern how the City of San Diego’s rec councils operate, the transition is already throwing stumbling blocks in front of the La Jolla Park & Recreation, Inc. (LJPRI) board. Discussed at the board’s April 25 meeting, newly discovered issues include how meetings will be run, how the group will support the Kiwanis Club of La Jolla’s annual community Pancake Breakfast, and how the group will garner volunteers to carry out projects.

In late 2017, the City Attorney opined that all funds collected by rec councils are City funds, and therefore subject to Charter and Municipal Code requirements governing the use of funds. As such, all money collected through permits and fees was handed over to the City’s Park & Recreation Department for distribution. Those with 501(c)3 non-profit status (which La Jolla’s Rec Council has) were allowed to keep any monies that came in through donations or grants and maintain control over those funds.

A working group comprised of representatives from different area rec councils has also formed to create an interim Standard Operating Procedure and, ultimately, a new permanent Standard Operating Procedure, which would go into effect in July.

Because the City’s new policy separates the two funds, the LJPRI meeting format will likely also have to be separated.

“There needs to be a delineation between the two organizations because one is the advisory group meeting (where you get updates on Rec Center business), and the other is where business and projects funded by the non-profit group are discussed,” said area manager Tyler Canales. “Essentially, there needs to be two agendas — one for the Rec Council meeting and one for the non-profit board meeting. There are items on tonight’s agenda that the City Rec Council would not discuss.”

He suggested having the publicly noticed Rec Board meeting at 5 p.m. and at the conclusion, adjourn the meeting and immediately convene the private non-profit group meeting. Projects such as the bocce ball court installation, Girl Scout projects for Rec Center improvement, the planned Wi-Fi installation and more, would be discussed during the non-profit group meeting.

Another obstacle for the board, under the new rules, is the way the Rec Board must interact with the Kiwanis Club, in terms of its annual community Pancake Breakfast, which is held at the Rec Center.

Member Bill Robbins noted the board was working toward an even partnership with the Kiwanis Club, so as a Rec Council, it could lower the cost for the event. Now, because of the separation, in order to offer that same benefit, the City Rec Council would have to partner with the Kiwanis Club, which Canales said it would not do. “We didn’t budget for it and it is not a Rec Center event. It is a Kiwanis event held at the Rec Center,” he clarified.

Alternatively, the non-profit group could partner with the Kiwanis and financially support them, but even that raises some questions. The non-profit board applies for grants from the Kiwanis Club, and so trustee Gail Forbes questioned why it would give the Kiwanis Club money in one month and ask for money from them in another.

Noted acting chair Dan McCandless: “It would be one non-profit giving to another non-profit. The difference is, their mission is to give, ours isn’t.”

But because the Pancake Breakfast meets the Rec Center’s goals of providing children’s activities and community events, the board voted to pay for bounce houses and a face-painter out of its 501(c)3 non-profit bank account.

The last issue discussed regarding the new rules involves the City’s procurement process as it relates to rec councils. Forbes explained: “If our board were to become an independent contractor with the City and perform the services of being a contractor, which may happen … additional general requirements may need to be met.” For example, she said the City may require the board to ask for up to five competitive bids. Considering the fact that much of the work planned for the Rec Center would by donated by volunteers, how that would be carried out is unclear. Forbes also said the City may require certain insurances.

“It’s a considerable burden and I call it that because I know I don’t want to do it,” she added. “These rules represent a considerable deterrent to quick action and volunteer involvement.”

— La Jolla Park & Recreation, Inc. next meets 5 p.m. Wednesday, May 23 at the Rec Center, 615 Prospect St.