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October 8, 2021

Barragán & Lieu Request Navy Continue to Allow Children Access to Local Ballfields

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 8, 2021

Dramatically increasing user fees would effectively prevent community youth organizations from using the ballfields in San Pedro and Lomita  

SAN PEDRO, Calif. – Today, Congresswoman Nanette Diaz Barragán announced that she and Congressman Ted Lieu asked U.S. Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro to prevent dramatic increases in user fees the Navy charges local organizations to use Defense Fuel Support Point (DFSP) ballfields in the Los Angeles Harbor region.

“Baseball is America’s favorite pastime and it shouldn’t be unaffordable for kids to play. Local Little Leagues and other community organizations simply cannot afford to pay the outrageous increase in fees the Navy is proposing,” Congresswoman Barragán said. “These are fields that kids in San Pedro have been playing on for nearly 50 years and now they are being unnecessarily priced out. Going ahead with this price increase could end up destroying youth baseball and softball in San Pedro and Lomita. I hope we can prevent it.”

“Our neighbors in San Pedro and Lomita have been using these fields for decades and it would be a shame if they were priced out of future use,” Congressman Lieu said. “I’m joining Rep. Barragán in asking the Navy to reconsider increasing the user fees for these local ballfields. Youngsters in the area deserve to have access to green spaces to play sports and participate in other community activities.” 

Barragán and Lieu sent a letter to U.S. Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro requesting the Navy abandon the fee increases for ballfield use. Barragán has also raised the issue during an in-person meeting with Secretary Del Toro.

In their letter, Barragán and Lieu wrote they “strongly urge the Department of the Navy to consider the outsized impacts this decision will have on the health and wellbeing of youth in communities disproportionately burdened by lack of access to parks and outdoor recreation. Maintaining affordable access to the three DFSP fields is essential to combatting youth obesity, addressing environmental injustices, and promoting active lifestyles.” 

In June of 2020, the Secretary of Defense issued a memo stating the Department of Defense (DoD) will no longer provide non-reimbursable support to non-DoD entities. As a result, the Navy informed local organizations that it will dramatically increase the cost of user fees for the DFSP ballfields at 2981 N. Gaffey Street and 3181 N. Gaffey Street in San Pedro, and at 26800 S. Western Avenue in Lomita.

For nearly 50 years, the San Pedro Girls Softball Association has maintained the fields at 2981 N. Gaffey Street at no cost to the Navy. In 1992, the community-run San Pedro Athletic Complex (SPAC) converted six acres of unused Naval property at 3181 N. Gaffey Street into four baseball diamonds for the community. Since then, SPAC has maintained the fields, installed irrigations systems, batting cages and bleachers. The facility is used by dozens of youth baseball teams every year. The field at 26800 S. Western Avenue in Lomita is the home of the Lomita Little League.

“They’re pricing us out,” said SPAC Founder Jesse Ibarra. “The San Pedro community has long relied on these fields to provide the open space needed for recreational activities. In a region where the open space per capita is far lower than it should be, the loss of these fields would be very detrimental to young people in our community.” 

Full text of the letter from Congresswoman Barragan and Congressman Lieu to Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro can be found here

Letters from community members in support of maintaining access to the fields are available upon request.

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Nanette Diaz Barragán is proud to represent California’s 44th Congressional District, which includes the communities of Carson, Compton, Florence-Firestone, Lynwood, North Long Beach, Rancho Dominguez, San Pedro, South Gate, Walnut Park, Watts, Willowbrook and Wilmington. She serves as chairwoman of the House Homeland Security Committee’s Subcommittee on Border Security.