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Boosters Bristle over Bouquet Bust

City says permits required off school property.

Posted: February 20, 2008 3:30 p.m.
Updated: April 22, 2008 5:02 a.m.
 
In the city's quest to wipe out illegal Valentine's Day street vendors creating too much competition for local flower shops, the city ended up punishing a group of Canyon High School boys volleyball players selling flowers to raise money for their booster club.

The group of eight varsity and junior varsity volleyball players, dressed in their team shirts, planned to sell 300 flowers from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Chevron gas station at the intersection of Soledad Canyon Road and Sand Canyon Road in Canyon Country.

But just after setting up, the group was told by one of the city's code enforcement officers that although the boys had permission from the gas station owner to sell on private property, they could not sell flowers without a city-issued permit. For three hours, the fundraising was suspended until the parents were able to get clearance from officials at City Hall.

"They worked hard for four days after school" to bundle flowers into bouquets, said Kathryn Borgese, whose son, Brent, is on the varsity team.

The booster club invested $5,000 to buy the flowers and vases and was expecting to raise $12,000, but instead broke even.

The Canyon High School's Chorus Booster Club had planned to sell flowers on the high school campus, so the volleyball booster club had to set up shop elsewhere, she said.

"Because we can't step on their feet, we had to go outside the school," she said. "We had to rely on our community and the city shut us down. It's not supposed to be like that."

She said the boys discounted their flowers toward the end because they were getting desperate. Their $30 bouquets sold for $10 apiece.

The city, however, was just enforcing its rules, city spokeswoman Gail Ortiz said Tuesday.

"If they're not on school property, they need a permit," Ortiz said.

She said the city is planning an outreach effort to inform schools and nonprofit groups that they need permits when selling such items.

"Our intent is to support the booster clubs and nonprofits," she said. "We can't selectively enforce the law. Unfortunately the boys volleyball team didn't have a permit."

The city's five code enforcement officers and four sheriff's deputies issued a total of three citations, nine warnings and confiscated one permit that was being improperly used, according to Sgt. A.J. Rotella.

"The focus is protecting local business," Rotella said. "(Illegal vendors) are taking money right out of our local economy."

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