VENICE (CBSLA) — Students athletes on the Venice High School baseball team are currently unable to use the new million dollar field, recently renovated by the Los Angeles Unified School District, because of safety concerns communicated by a neighbor.
Parents of team members are now upset. Brandon Halverson’s son is a junior on the varsity baseball team and said that while students are still distance learning, the baseball program was allowed back on the field.
This was supposed to be the first season that high school athletes could play on the new softball and baseball diamonds.
“Without that, a lot of these kids are going to get robbed of that experience for a second time,” Halverson told CBSLA’s Rick Montanez, adding that once the baseball program started, he saw his son’s grades go back up and noticed an improvement in his mental health and demeanor.
That all changed when LAUSD announced that Venice High School teams could no longer host home games on the field and restricted hitting practice to inside the batting cages.
Parents say this started when a homeowner new to the neighborhood, whose property borders the field, complained to the district about safety concerns. That specific neighbor did not want to talk to CBSLA, but while surrounding neighbors say they understand the concerns, aside from a few broken windows every season, they don’t mind the games or the practices. According to longtime residents of the area, LAUSD has always covered repair costs whenever there’s been property damage.
“Now a new neighbor comes and threatens to file a lawsuit against LAUSD, and LAUSD, I feel, didn’t have our backs,” Halverson said. “This was supposed to be the year that we all made it right and got them back on the field. And they would be able to have a somewhat normal baseball season.”
The district delivered letters to nearby homeowners Saturday outlining a potential short-term solution to get through the remainder of the season on the home field. The offer is to put up tents during home games or to give any family living in the affected area $1,200 as an incentive to leave their homes during the games, which may alleviate any safety concerns.
Whether or not the offer will work is yet to be seen. There is a Zoom meeting scheduled for Monday night where parents hope to learn more about the fate of their kids baseball season.