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Davis

Davis, California

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

City of Davis sued by former city mayor and his wife over noisy playground equipment

Former Mayor Krovoza and his wife sue the city over Arroyo Park Sky Track equipment

 

By LA RISSA VASQUEZ — city@theaggie.org

 

On Oct. 17, the city of Davis was served a petition for writ of mandate by former city mayor Joe Krovoza and his wife over the relocation of the Arroyo Park Sky Track playground zipline. Former Mayor Krovoza and Janet Krovoza claim that the city failed to file an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) when city council decided to relocate the playground equipment and is therefore in violation of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

The lawsuit, filed through the Superior Court of Yolo County on Oct. 5, became public when Davis City Council released a statement addressing it on Oct. 25.

“The Davis City Council tonight, in its closed session discussion, unanimously voted to direct the City Attorney to defend the Krovoza v. City of Davis CEQA litigation,” read the statement.

The Sky Track zipline first opened in May of 2019 and since its opening, only Joe and Janet Krovoza have submitted a formal noise complaint.

Following the complaint, city council retained Acoustics Group, Inc. (AGI) to conduct a noise study. AGI’s report was submitted to the city council for review on March 1, 2022. According to the study, the playground equipment was not compliant with noise ordinance levels.

“Based on the measurement data from NM1, the existing noise from Sky Track operations slightly exceeds the City’s Daytime Noise Standard of 55 dBA,” the statement reads.

AGI referenced a noise source and decibel (dBA) level comparison chart for their assessment. According to their report, 50-60 decibels is the sound equivalent of a quiet office to a normal conversation on the phone. For comparison, a vacuum cleaner operates at 70 decibels.

The report was discussed in an Aug. 30 city council meeting. Unhappy with the findings of the report, Janet Krovoza stated at the meeting that the noise is a disturbance regardless of what is shown by the meter. 

City Attorney Inder Khalsa also commented on the AGI report during the meeting.

“If noise ordinance is set at such a low decibel level that it precludes everyday activities and especially free speech activity, it is not constitutional,” Khalsa said.

Regardless of the decibel difference, on Aug. 30, the city council unanimously approved the relocation of the Sky Track facility in Arroyo Park to a new location within Arroyo Park based on CEQA exemptions under Class 1, existing facilities, and Class 3, new construction or conversion of small structures.

According to the Oct. 25 statement, relocating the equipment with these exemptions does not require the city to file an EIR under state law, saving the city up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

Unsatisfied with the city council’s response, the Krovozas have proceeded with legal action. They are arguing that the city improperly used CEQA exemptions to avoid filing an EIR and are suing the city to rescind their Aug. 30 decision, stalling construction and building efforts to keep the popular playground equipment open to the public. 

Khalsa said in the Oct. 25 statement, “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.”

 

Written by: La Rissa Vasquez — city@theaggie.org