By David M. Greenwald
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 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.