Denied San Carlos field time, soccer club makes it a federal case

A youth soccer club has filed suit in U.S. District Court against the city of San Carlos, alleging the town violated its constitutional rights by denying it field time and the right to post signs.

Use of sports fields on the built-out eastern Peninsula is often as competitive as the teams that play on them. Ten children in the San Andreas Youth Soccer Organization, a regional group with offices in Belmont, complained in a lawsuit filed Friday that they and 60-odd other San Carlos players are being unfairly denied the opportunity to play on San Carlos fields.

The lawsuit alleges that overzealous adherence to a city policy that gives precedence to groups whose majority is composed of San Carlos residents has violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. There are 500 youths in SAYSO from throughout the Peninsula.

“I think that [the policy] was probably OK when all we had were little individual cities … but regionalization has increased,” SAYSO Executive Director Michael Lindeburg said. “All of the cities have some kind of field policy. That policy, regardless of how it is written, recognizes that if we have 100 children from San Mateo, which we do, we have to have 100 children accommodated on San Mateo fields.”

A policy that bars groups without a San Carlos majority from posting signs violates the First Amendment, the lawsuit further alleges.

San Carlos Parks and Recreation Director Barry Weiss said both charges are frivolous and without merit.

“They asked for field space several years ago, and we told them ‘no, you have to be a San Carlos-based organization.’ I consider that [granting space to nonresidents] inappropriate service to the community,” Weiss said.

He added that the city doesn’t have enough field space for its own residents.

Lindeburg said that point is irrelevant.”That’s a compelling argument on the surface. They could allocate less time per team than they do now,” he said.

kwilliamson@examiner.com

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