Seal Beach City Council approves rent increases for two local swimming clubs

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The council on Monday, June 13, unanimously approved what the city calls a licensing agreement with the Swim Club. The rent increases are expected to go into effect on July 1.

The approval increases the club’s rent to $1,320 a month, according to the June 13 staff report. The current rent is $644.42.

The city also increased the rent for the Shore Aquatics Swim Club in a separate action. In both cases the votes were unanimous. In both cases, the clubs objected to the increase. In both cases, the council voted unanimously to increase the rents. The council voted on each item separately.

In a June 13 email to the Sun, sent at 10:22 p.m., Swim Club Head Coach Patti Haney wrote: “I was very surprised and disappointed that the city council voted on our pool rent without us there to provide answers to their questions. We are a non profit community swim club that has been at the McGaugh pool for 57 years. We established our Seal Beach Swim Club in 1965 at McGaugh.”

In a June 7 Swim Club email to the club’s members, which was forwarded to the Sun, the members were warned that the club would probably have to increase monthly dues. The club urged members to attend the council meeting. The city moved to a virtual format for the meeting later that week.

Both items were originally on the Consent Calendar, but City Manager Jill Ingram pulled both of the swimming club-related items off the calendar so the council could consider them separately.

Several members of the public spoke out against of the swimming community spoke out against the rent increases during the public comment segment of the council meeting. Because this week’s meeting was virtual (due to an apparent COVID-19 outbreak within city government), the public had to phone in their comments. Some individuals did not realize they were “on” and sometimes the sound was garbled.

Several speakers objected to the proposed rent increase for the swim club. Swimmers, both children and adults, expressed concerned that they might not be able to continue if the cost were increased.

Swim Club Board Member and Seal Beach resident Maria Fattal said she would like to petition the city for a reduction of the club’s fees. Fattal said the club was proud that many families can participate in the club because if its low cost. Fattal said the club was told on June 4 that fees would be increased 105%. She objected to the short notice.

Chi Kredell Jr., speaking on behalf of the Shore Aquatics Swim Club, opposed the rent increase. Kredell, who had been in the Swim Club in his youth, said he went on to be an Olympian. (He represented the United States in the 2000 Sydney, Australia, games as a member of the water polo team.)

He said Shore Aquatics would also like a fair and equitable rent.

Later, after the council approved the Consent Calendar, Marine Safety Chief Joe Bailey presented the council with the separate swim club rent increase proposals.

According to Bailey, Seal Beach Swim Club’s rent for using McGaugh pool had increased by 2% a year since 2013. Bailey said it had been nine years since that agreement. The new agreement, as the city calls it, does not include the automatic fee increase. Bailey said staff plans to bring the agreements back to the council every three years.

There were no questions from the council at the time.

Bailey then gave the presentation on the licensing agreement for the Shore Aquatics club.

Bailey said that once it appeared was moving out of COVID, he’s been changing things at the McGaugh Pool. He said the city now uses the pool from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. He said Shore Aquatics uses the pool more than the Seal Beach Swim Club.

Bailey said he did a survey of area swimming pool fees and described Seal Beach’s fees as on the “middle high side.”

District Three Councilman Mike Varipapa asked if the Junior Lifeguard program was part of the Swim Club.

Bailey advised him that the Junior Lifeguard program was not part of the Swim Club.

Bailey said that he had just started running the pools in 2013. He wanted identified agreements.

“As the council knows, the pool is past its useful life,” Bailey said. He said that even with a new pool, there would be costs. He cited increasing costs for equipment, upkeep, and chemicals to tree the pool.

Bailey told the council he did not know what the swim club charges.

Ingram said this is why the city conducts fee studies on a regular basis. “The cost for us increases; the overhead increases,” Ingram said.

According to Ingram, the cost reduction to the swim club over nine years had cost the city $70,000.

District One Councilman/Mayor Joe Kalmick said as much as the city hopes to recover the cost of services, the city does not recover 100% of costs.

According to Ingram, not for recreation services.

Background

“On September 23, 2013, the City Council adopted Resolution 6406 allowing the Seal Beach Swim Club (Swim Club) to use the McGaugh Pool for a flat monthly rate of $550, with a 2% increase each year,” according to the staff report by Marina Safety Chief Joe Bailey.

“The current monthly rate is $644.42. Although the City’s fee schedule indicated the rate should be set at $55 per hour of use, in 2013 the Swim Club requested that the City Council approve a reduced rate, which the City Council at that time agreed to,” Bailey wrote.

“Over the last nine years there has been increased interest from other local swim and water polo clubs to use the McGaugh Pool for their activities,” Bailey wrote.

Shore Aquatics Swim Club has been renting time at the McGaugh Pool for g $55 per hour, according to Marine Safety Chief Bailey’s June 13 report on that issue.

“Over the last year and a half, Shore Aquatics Club has been renting pool time at McGaugh pool for their club activities, for approximately 10 months out of the year, which includes competitive water polo and swimming,” Bailey wrote.

“Staff has negotiated a Facility License Agreement with Shore Aquatics Club to establish the terms and conditions under which Shore Aquatics Club can continue to use the pool at the rate established by the City Council,” Bailey wrote.

The council then cast the unanimous vote on the Swim Club rent, followed by a unanimous vote on the Shore Aquatics rent.

“This flat, monthly rate takes into account the six (6) weeks that the City’s Junior Lifeguard program utilizes the pool during Shore Aquatics Club’s normally scheduled hours in March and April each year,” Bailey wrote.

Seal Beach City Council approves rent increases for two local swimming clubs