With all the recent drama at Del Mar Avenue, I decided to take a tour in search of other viewing benches in the area. Working from North to South our tour begins at the dead end alley known as Cape May Place. This lone bench is in the style of memorial benches, but bears no plaque. The view here is spoiled by a trash can and the exposed rip rap at the Northern edge of Saratoga Park. Sadly the bench also suffers from that most ineffective mating ritual known as graffiti. I think the bench should be relocated out to the far corner of Saratoga Park. At the very least it should be angled more toward North Ocean Beach. I would also screen the back of the bench from public view with a single dome-shaped lemonade-berry plant.
Moving South the next bench is a long line of sandstone boulders that provide variable seating. There are no memorial boulder benches here. It’s been said that the most interesting man in the world once sat there for seven hours, but nobody knows exactly where. The boulder benches end at the beginning of the combination sea wall bench that runs all the way to the the Silver Spray sandbox. So the beach portion of our tour has seating for hundreds, but only one traditional bench.
Moving up to the pier there are twenty benches, and none of them are memorial benches. The armless benches have a Jetsons Era style, but probably aren’t that old.
I think we need a new style of concrete bench made just for the pier. Benches that have PVC pipes cast in the armrests for rod holders. Similar but smaller holes along the backrest for beach umbrellas to slide into. Plus the angle of the back must be more reclined. I want a bench that says, “I’m not waiting for a bus…I’m waiting for fish.” It might also be worth placing the benches on small slabs so that people can see over the railing better.
Out near the end of the pier is a small building that could possibly be the ultimate viewing bench. Unfortunately the Admiral’s Bridge is off limits to the public. It’s kept locked up, but I still hope to have a cup of coffee in there someday. In fact I wish that everybody could get the chance to pilot the pier from the Admiral’s Bridge someday.
The pier extends farthest on the Southern branch. This is the peoples portion of the pier. While the pier was being built, it became known that the pier would miss the kelp beds. Funds were needed to extend the pier South, and the donation jars sat on the counters of many local merchants, if not all of them. I even donated coke bottle money to the cause. The people eventually met their goal, and got their Southern extension.
During my recent visit, I was able to get the farthest bench on the Southern end. Sitting on that bench was a real joy when I was a kid, but the bench is no longer something that inspires civic pride. The choice bench closest to the kelp beds now has shatters on both corners, and the nearby railings pegged my skank-o-meter. Perhaps it’s time for the people and the merchants to take charge of their end of the pier.
Back to the bluffs and moving South, the next benches are at the foot of Del Monte Avenue. There was once a pier here, so the end of the street is very wide. It still has the old school wood railing painted white. The concrete walks need a major makeover. This street has a lot of potential, but currently there are just two benches and a trashcan. They are both memorial benches. One has a plaque that reads, MARC. We Miss You! Mom, Dad, Jen, Mitch & your circle of friends. There are no dates of birth and death. Sadly Marc’s bench is missing a large chunk at the top.
The other Del Monte bench is a tribute to Dr. Tony Moore, Dad, Husband, Surfer, Friend 5/6/49 (small cross) 5/10/98. I sat there for a while and pondered the guy that died four days after his birthday. If anyone knows more about Marc and Tony, then please chime in down in the comments section. (See photos of these plaques in the gallery below)
Our next bench on the tour is a memorial bench where Coronado Avenue ends at Bacon Street. The plaque reads “Choose Happy” In Memory of Cathie Shedd 1944-2000. There is of course more traffic here than on a dead end street, and your view of the ocean is through an eight foot tall chain link fence. I must say though that I do like the way this bench reclines. The bench itself is set on a slope. I think we need to choose a happier location for this bench, like Narragansett or Orchard Avenues. At its current location it’s too close to a dangerous cliff that could slump at any time. In fact I’m surprised that City Risk Management hasn’t moved the bench sooner.
The only other memorial benches in the area would be the missing Del Mar Avenue benches. When they return, I think it would be nice to place the Story bench closer to the ocean. The bluff in that area has been rebuilt, sloped, and vegetated. It should be safe to have the bench closer to the ocean than it was originally.
I think it’s also a good time to complete this unfinished micro park. Currently there’s no curb separating the dirt from the end of Del Mar Avenue. We need to prevent water from flowing in both directions. The guardrail could be replaced with a short wall planter box. It only needs to be tall enough to handle the street end warning signs. The sidewalk to nowhere on the South side of the street should wrap around the end of the street.
More ambitious projects farther in the future might involve a lower terrace that provides a more secluded view point. A terrace that would give more privacy to both visitors and residents.
One final word about parking at our dead parks. At several locations we could get rid of all the red paint and angry no parking signs if we would simply put in some seven minute parking spaces in strategic locations. Bermuda and Santa Cruz Avenues should each get one parking space that allows people seven minutes to park and unload all of their beach stuff. It would make those two beaches more family friendly. Some people might want to park there for seven minutes to gobble a quick meal while they check out the waves. Plus local residents should see some value in them for quick stops for themselves and their visiting friends.
Narragansett and Orchard Avenues have stairs that don’t lead directly to beaches, but I still recommend them for seven minute parking spaces. Having no parking paints our micro parks with negativity. I say we keep it positive with seven minute parking. People will park there anyway.
On my recent visit there was a small park & rec trash truck parked at the end of Narraganset Avenue. Two city guys were eating their lunch in their truck, and enjoying the view of the pier. There is no city trash can there for them to service. There’s just a small kitchen size trash bin probably maintained by people in the hood. The city guys were doing exactly what the rest of us would like to be able to do. It’s high time for us to get real about it.