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BMX Track Strife Discussed But Not Resolved

At the May 24, 2022 Santa Clara City Council meeting, the Council discussed whether to allow PAL to continue managing the City’s BMX track. It also looked at garbage rate increases and a petition from Reclaiming Our Downtown to return City Hall to the Downtown area.

A status report on the situation with the Santa Clara BMX track left the Council kicking the can down the road. The Council discussed the issue at the track at length but made no substantial decision.

For months tensions have been bubbling between the track operators and its manager, the Police Activities League (PAL). PAL fired the volunteers at the BMX track after alleging financial mismanagement, claiming that money for clinics and camps had gone unreported. That allegation caused several parents to turn out in droves, defending the team operating the track.

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Finally, the item made its way on a Council agenda earlier this month when fired volunteer Nick Valencia petitioned the Council to get involved, cutting PAL out of the equation.

Many parents and riders alike decried the loss of the track’s sanction. USA BMX, the organization that sanctions tracks, refuses to sanction the track under PAL’s management, claiming the group lacks the expertise to handle it.

Instead of getting involved, the Council simply filed the report and tried to stay out of the matter by “encouraging” USA BMX and PAL to find an amenable solution and opted to return at another time to discuss the situation further.

The City has the ground lease on the property, which is slated to be developed as part of the Related Santa Clara project. Valencia had requested that the City’s Parks and Recreation department help the volunteers manage the track.

Mike Walke, president of PAL, told the Council that PAL has reopened the BMX track for practice and plans to put in place better financial oversight. However, without access to Valencia’s private PayPal accounts, he said he cannot give the Council a fully transparent audit.

Many turned their nose up at the idea of the track being only for practice, saying that PAL does little to manage the track and does not understand riders’ needs.

Geoffery Wihs said he has never met or even seen a PAL member at the track.

“People have come from around the world to race in Santa Clara,” he said. “Suggesting that the track drop the sanction and become a practice track [is] equivalent to saying, ‘Let’s have Levi’s Stadium do the same,’ thinking that other NFL teams would come from far and wide to come practice with the 49ers.”

Rich Gordon, a forensic accountant who conducted analysis for PAL, said there is roughly $136,000 of unreconciled revenue from clinics, camps and races.

City Attorney James Sanchez said terminating the agreement with PAL would result in a three-to-six-month closure while the City searches for a new operator.

Santa Clara Police Chief Pat Nikolai implored the Council to maintain the agreement with PAL, who, he said, has more than a 50-year track record of providing benefits to the community.

Still, numerous public members took a different stance, laying the blame at PAL’s feet and defending Valencia’s team, claiming the allegations are unfounded.

“Continuing with PAL is a virtual death sentence,” said Jeff Sereni. “Their proof of mismanagement and inability to understand the basics of this sport show a major shortfall on their part. Their inability to answer even the most basic questions this evening is an example. Their desire to score a win is a loss for everybody.”

The Council voted 5-2 to note and file the report, with Council Members Kevin Park and Anthony Becker voting “no.”

Public Petitions, Garbage Rate Increases

The Council also approved gathering more information on returning City Hall to downtown. The item saw Council discussion because of a public petition by the civic group Reclaiming Our Downtown that asked the City to study the relocation’s feasibility.

Reena Brillot, Assistant Director of Community Development, told the Council that contracting with the company performing the City’s urban planning, WRT, would take six months or more and likely cost between $258,000 and $334,000 to study, with figures on the upper end of the estimate being “more realistic.”

Additionally, at the behest of Council Member Becker, the Council agendized a discussion about building a new lawn bowling field for a future agenda.

Finally, the Council also approved new solid waste rate increases. Depending on what type of solid waste service provided, rates will increase between 3.1% and 13.8% — or an increase between $0.50 and $1.28.

Consent Calendar Spending

  •  A two-year, $350,000 contract with County of Santa Clara for the Santa Clara Intensive Case Management and Homeless Prevention Program;
  • A two-year, $1.08 million contract with TruePoint Solutions for software service for permit system;
  • A $5.63 million contract with Robert A Bothman Construction for rehabilitation of Montague Park;
  • A two-year, $332,000 extension to an agreement with HouseKeys, Inc. administration services for “affordable” housing. Total contract amount: $875,000.

The next regularly scheduled meeting is Tuesday, June 7 in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 1500 Warburton Ave. in Santa Clara.

Members of the public can participate in the City Council meetings on Zoom at https://santaclaraca.zoom.us/j/99706759306; Meeting ID: 997-0675-9306 or call 1(669) 900-6833, via the City’s eComment (available during the meeting) or by email to PublicComment@santaclaraca.gov.

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3 Comments
  1. A local Rider 1 month ago
    Reply

    I would like Santa Clara PAL and USABMX to agree so we can start racing there again under sanction. If Nick is there too that will be great, if not that’s his choice. So today I got a nice email from USABMX, and I thought to myself I can just reply to them directly. You can do this too

    Dear USA BMX,
    I would like to race again at Santa Clara PAL, please work with them to open the track again. We have been closed down for too long, it is not about who runs it, it’s about what we run on it – races!

  2. James Poli 1 month ago
    Reply

    This is a horrible outcome. The PAL board is a cancer. They have impugned the volunteer staff and now ruined the BMX racing organization in the Bay Area which had become the number 1 track in the country.

    It is hard to overstate how unqualified they are to operate the track.

  3. JimBo 1 month ago
    Reply

    Unbeknownst to PAL, NonProfit Nic has been setting the track rates for private events, clinics and camps as he saw fit, so much so that for 2021 alone, ForProfit Nic grossed in excess of $136,000 while all the other USABMX coaches and pros were shut out, laid an egg, and went to more accommodating tracks instead.

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