City Sued by Former Mayor Over Sky Track at Arroyo Park

By David M. Greenwald
Executive Editor

Davis, CA – The dispute between the city and Joe and Janet Krovoza progressed to a lawsuit filed on October 5 by Sacramento attorney Daniel Cucchi, but the suit became publicly known on Tuesday as the Davis City Council responded.

On October 17, the City of Davis was served with a petition for writ of mandate challenging the City Council’s action to relocate the Sky Track play structure (Sky Track) within Arroyo Park under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The lawsuit which was filed on October 5 through the Yolo County Superior Court of California, names the City of Davis and City Council as respondents.

The suit marks yet another escalation in the dispute over the city’s decision to locate a “Sky Track” play structure within Arroyo Park—a structure petitioners believe violated CEQA and city noise ordinance.

The petition alleges that the noise generated is both continuous and impact noise.

“The Sky Track is the largest and loudest piece of playground equipment in the city,” the petition notes.  “To be locked at night, it requires daily management and staff attention that often fails.  No other play structure in the city requires daily management.”

It has been the subject of complaints from nearby neighbors regarding noise generated during the daytime and nighttime.

The city installed the equipment in the spring of 2019; it was closed in March 2022 “based on a noise report that established that this piece of park equipment had operated in violation of city’s noise standards for day and night residential levels since it was installed.”

However, the petition alleges, “City now proposed a new project to site the Sky Track at a still unspecified location to the north of the initial location within Arroyo Park.”

The suit alleges that doing so would simply move the Sky Track close to other residents in the north.

The petition further alleges that in response to complaints, the city engaged a noise consultant in 2019, to determine whether the track violated the noise limits and it concluded that it did not violate daytime noise limits, but made no conclusions about nighttime “nor did it compare the existing ambient noise level without operating Sky Track to determine the level of increase in the ambient noise level resulting from an operating Sky Track.”

A 2022 study conclude that Sky Track “does violate the city’s daytime and nighttime noise standards at its original location.  This conclusion was reached using the same average noise levels standard in the 2019 Study.”

During a closed session discussion on Tuesday, the council unanimously voted to direct the City Attorney to defend the Krovoza v. City of Davis CEQA litigation.

“The City’s action to relocate the Sky Track was consistent with the law. I am confident that the City will prevail in this lawsuit,” stated City Attorney Inder Khalsa.

During the council meeting on August 30, 2022, the City Council voted unanimously to relocate the Sky Track from its current location to a more central location in Arroyo Park farther away from residences, based on a previous recommendation by the Recreation and Park Commission to relocate the Sky Track.

At that meeting, the City Council made a determination that the relocation and placement of the playground equipment falls within one or more of the exemptions to CEQA, such as Class 1: existing facilities, or Class 3: new construction or conversion of small structures. Therefore, an EIR is not required under state law. The preparation of an EIR requires substantial funding and time to complete; the cost of an EIR can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and take up to a year to complete.

In a separate statement to the Vanguard, Councilmember Dan Carson defended the city’s policies.

“Families in my district overwhelmingly support keeping the Sky Track playground equipment at the new central location in Arroyo Park,” said Councilmember Carson, who represents the district where the park is located and serves as liaison to the City’s Recreation and Park Commission.

Carson noted that, after a detailed examination of the issue, the commission voted to endorse the relocation of the playground equipment to its new location. “Kids love playing on the Sky Track. Our families and kids should be allowed to continue to enjoy the Sky Track,” he said.

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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11 Comments

  1. Don Shor

    The city should remove this play structure. There are plenty of other types of playground equipment that would be equally popular and not as noisy. It seems staff and council have dug in their heels and refuse to acknowledge that this particular structure, in a small park setting, is a nuisance.

    Get rid of it. Put something else there. And perhaps give more consideration in the future to the anticipated noise levels of playground equipment in small parks located in residential areas.

    1. Bill Marshall

      Don…

      Arroyo is not a “small” park… it ‘sports’ soccer fields, and a pool site… it is a ‘district’ park… much like Mace Park… unlike some other ‘small’ parks in Davis…

      I find an ‘irony’ in that two residents of District 1 have sued the City… one, a current CC member has been repeatedly excoriated for doing so… a former CC member… ‘crickets’.

      Not sure if it is just ‘irony’… might well be ‘hypocrisy’…

      Wouldn’t surprise me @ all if the Krovosas also sue for legal/court costs… but that’s just ‘righteous’, yes?

      Or, ‘politics’?

       

        1. Bill Marshall

          The City and the County were named in the Carson lawsuit.  False equivalency.

          I see no substantive difference between the two… we can agree to disagree…

          But Mr Krovosa abused his “power of office” (and/or tried to) when he was on CC… he violated the Davis Muni Code (literally), and State standards of ethics (more ‘squishy’)…

          And, by your ‘headline’ he is still using his former ‘office’ for “creds”… and the article also implies that Carson is “to blame” in the issue…

          Come clean, and admit you are an ABC… and probably an advocate for Ms Fortune…

           

          1. David Greenwald

            The city and County had to by law be named. The real parties in interest were the private citizens.

            I’m not here to argue either way on the propriety of the lawsuit, but I do see a fundamental difference between this and hte other suit.

            Per the headline, that was my headline and used for identifying who Krovoza is, for those not aware… I don’t believe there was any mention of it in the actual copmlaint.

            “Come clean, and admit you are an ABC… and probably an advocate for Ms Fortune…”

            Krovoza or me?

        2. Richard_McCann

          Bill M

          I’m with David 100% here. There is NO parallel between a Councilmember suing citizens over a ballot issue (even if the City and County were ancillary defendants) and a now private citizen suing the City over a facility management issue. Your opinion has no factual basis.

  2. Walter Shwe

    During the council meeting on August 30, 2022, the City Council voted unanimously to relocate the Sky Track from its current location to a more central location in Arroyo Park farther away from residences, based on a previous recommendation by the Recreation and Park Commission to relocate the Sky Track.

    “Families in my district overwhelmingly support keeping the Sky Track playground equipment at the new central location in Arroyo Park,” said Councilmember Carson, who represents the district where the park is located and serves as liaison to the City’s Recreation and Park Commission.

    The new centrally located Sky Track should reduce substantially the noise for people living near Arroyo Park. Arroyo isn’t a small park. Characterizing Arroyo as anything else is a lie.

  3. Ron Glick

    Maybe a property swap  would provide a win win solution. The city could trade SkyTrack for Trackside. No noise issue being next to the railroad and we could build a big 6 story apartment building infilling the park behind Joe’s house.

    As for Carson suing his constituents I think it can hardly be said that the real parties named in the No on H ballot argument can hardly be considered Carson’s constituents.

  4. Bill Marshall

    The concept noted of a “property swap”, got me thinking…

    In a lot of land-use discussions, the concept of “sensitive receptors” (i.e. people who are ‘sensitive’) has been used…

    Perhaps “uber-sensitive receptors” should be banned from residing near certain land uses… would cut down on size of staff reports, and might even cut down on lawsuits…

    I hear jet noise (sometimes helicopters, small planes), freeway noise, and train whistles, rumbling, frequently, particularly at night… have pretty much all of the 60+ years I can recall – multiple locations… to me it isn’t offensive noise… background sounds (that I actually need – can’t stand dead quiet)… and my hearing is, and has been quite good (audiological reports available on request, but for a fee)…

    Some folk should just ‘get over themselves’, or move on…

    Some folk would say that I’m “insensitive”… so be it…

     

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