Adjacent landowners recently petitioned the courts to overturn the Salinas City Council’s unanimous decision to approve the 68-acre soccer complex proposed by the non-profit Salinas Regional Sports Authority (SRSA).
Petitioners Higashi Farms, Inc. and Henry Hibino Farms, LLC., claim that the City Council improperly followed the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) when they approved the Mitigated Negative Declaration, which was a critical step to approving the project.
“The Higashi and Hibino families are part of Salinas’s history, including their many years of farming in the Carr Lake area,” said Christopher Callihan, Salinas City Attorney. “The City believes that the families’ farming operations may continue and co-exist with the Salinas Regional Soccer Complex, a vital project for our youth and for enhancing economic development and quality of life for everybody in Salinas. The City Council’s decision to approve the project is consistent with California law and previous planning decisions and has made it possible for this much-needed recreational opportunity to soon become available for the youth and the families in the community.”
The Salinas Regional Sports Authority was formed in 2008 by local community volunteers to address the unmet need for recreational sports facilities for the youth in the Salinas area. One of the primary goals of the soccer complex is to engage youth in soccer and other recreational activities to promote health and prevent negative choices and gang involvement.
Consisting of 21 tournament-quality outdoor fields, one indoor field, an indoor health and learning center, and multiple recreational facilities, the complex will expand upon the existing fields at Constitution Boulevard and East Laurel Drive, and include perimeter walking trails and exercise paths in addition to playgrounds and picnic areas. Additional planned features include two lit synthetic turf fields, a Celebration Plaza, and 2,000-capacity stadium seating.
These sports facilities will provide a safe healthy space for fitness, life skills and athletic development as well as an economic engine for local businesses and municipalities.
“Many parents and volunteers have worked so hard for more than six years to get to this point, and it’s very disappointing that somebody would sacrifice the health and well-being of our kids for their perceived personal gain,” said Maricela Cruz, community leader, youth soccer coach and SRSA Board member.