The end of free/open play volleyball on Carlsbad State Beaches?

January 9, 2020

Monday afternoon I received a phone call from Lisa Urbach, California State Parks & Recreation Southern District Supervisor. She notified me that State Parks was going to proceed with issuing an RFP (Request for Proposals) for a third-party volleyball / athletics concession for all Carlsbad State Beaches. The concession would control play on the public poles at Frazee, Warm Waters, Tamarack and Ponto beaches. This effectively makes all of Carlsbad State public beaches “pay-for-play”. Further, past problems with operations of the existing concession do not bode well for the future (see HISTORY and CONCESSION PROBLEMS below).


The State wants to fast-track this. The public meeting has been scheduled for 1/23/2020 at 6:00pm at:

Hilton Garden Inn
Carlsbad Beach
6450 Carlsbad Blvd.
Carlsbad, CA 92011


California State Parks Coast District – North Sector
2680 Carlsbad Blvd
San Diego, Carlsbad, CA  92008         
(760) 720-7001

Following the meeting, the State has said there will be 45 days to submit concession proposals.


We would like the State to:

  1. Drop the concession concept for volleyball entirely and return to in-house permitting and open/free play.
  2. If the above is not achievable and the State moves ahead anyway, they should delay the process for issuing and responding to the RFP by six months. This would allow other entities and groups the opportunity to incorporate (non-profit or LLC) and create their own proposals for taking operating the concession. We think that the short notice gives an inside edge to the current concessionaire.


NCBV has setup a website at where we are going to post news and updates about this. In addition, we have put up a simple online petition. Please click and sign it. Also, if anyone is willing to help with the tech side of things, please let me know. I would appreciate the help.


I’ve setup a mailing list. Let’s see if it works. Subscribe here:

No it’s not integrated into the website. Maybe later.


  1. Attend the State Parks meeting.
  2. Sign our online petition (see above).
  3. Forward this email to friends.
  4. Join our Facebook group:
  5. Volunteer to do PR, legal or other work. Help get the word out.
  6. Contact State Representatives, Senator Patricia Bates and Assemblymember Tasha Boerner Horvath
  7. Contact State Parks
  8. Contact the Coastal Commission?


The current concessionaire is Dennis Shay DBA Carlsbad Village Athletic Clubs (CVAC).. The concession was first awarded in 2012 for two years and included volleyball, yoga and other athletic activities. Beach areas designated include Frazee, Tamarack, Warm Waters and Ponto (without volleyball). The contract was never formally renewed on its expiration in late 2014. Instead, due in part to public pressure, the contract was extended month-to-month without additional public input or competitive bids. CVAC continues to operate the concession under the old contract month-to-month.

If past CVAC operations are any indication of the future, beach volleyball players would have to pay anywhere from $189 to $249 PER YEAR to play volleyball on public beaches during prime times (3pm to sunset Monday – Friday plus most of the day Saturday, Sunday & Holidays).  In addition, the concessionaire would have the right to use our public resources (poles / courts) as it saw fit for other revenue paying activities such as foot volley, club volleyball, clinics and tournaments. Generally only one court per location has been left open for free play.

Instead of these activities being administered directly by our government for the benefit of ALL citizens (taxpayers) OR as is usually the case for open play, being self-organized by the volleyball community, they will be under the control of a single third party. This model also creates a privileged class of player – those who can afford to pay.

Note that our group (North Coast Beach Volleyball / NCBV) installed and has maintained the courts and poles at Ponto since 2008 on a volunteer basis. Our members have funded hardware and equipment through donations. Ponto courts have operated without incident for all these years on first-come, first-serve basis with open/free play.


NCBV and most  members of the volleyball community have been opposed to this concession on a philosophical basis since its inception. The local volleyball community has witnessed firsthand significant issues with the operations of CVAC. People have reported #MeToo problems, not maintaining normal and basic business records, underreporting of revenues to the State, unfair treatment of some members, favoritism, nebulous terms and conditions, and taking scheduled playing time away from prepaid members in favor of other groups.

These issues were deemed egregious enough that State Parks conducted its own internal audit / investigation of the concessionaire and the contract itself in mid-2018. Some of us who were interviewed by the auditors (including myself and Brent Marsh) were told point blank they felt the entire arrangement was unusual, inappropriate and that the concessionaire had violated the already very permissive terms of its contract.

State Parks STILL has not released financial statements (as required by California law) for its concession operations for the years 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 despite several of us making numerous requests for these public records. State Parks has also not released any information to the public regarding the outcome of the audit / investigation of CVAC and its owner.