By Lois Lane
Why do we live here, when the streets are dug up, the sidewalks are dirty, and we are overwhelmed with people some other people don’t want here?
It all turns on the beach, of course.
Our hearts do not belong in Penasquitos. All of Ocean Beach is beautiful, and so is Sunset Cliffs – a designated national and endangered treasure.
If you attend the Sunset Cliffs Natural Park Council meetings the first Monday of every month, you will hear more about how we keep the cliffs from eroding if we can, and how the trails project will enhance the experience for park-goers. This project, only recently finally approved, with no appeals filed against the Planning Commission’s decision to approve, moves into the next phase – construction drawings, bids, and before too long, the trails and new native plantings will actually start.
No actual construction date yet, but anything is possible within our collective lifetimes. The Committee is optimistic about the unfunded $2,900,000 shortfall for consultants and construction. Ed Harris, our interim City Council member, visited the park on April 25, and (according to the Chair’s report) voiced his support of the park to the Executive Board members who accompanied him – Ann Swanson, Lyle Beller, and Gene Berger.
But in the meantime, the native plants have been in full flower, and the weeding and watering getting maximum attention from the Revegetation Committee and its Chair, David Kimball.
It is a little past prime time (the winds from last weekend took their toll), but the native gardens continue to be an attraction. The water to get the new plants started is provided by the City. This has also enabled some Torrey Pines to be planted as an experiment, since they require regular watering to the roots to become established. The linear park, along Sunset Cliffs Blvd, is not so lucky. The dreamed-of native plant garden is still bogged down in review. Maybe next year.
The City staff members who usually attend the meetings were absent. Michael Ruiz has transferred to Balboa Park for the next 18 months, and his position will be filled by Vincent Paniagua. The District 2 Council Representative slot will be filled by Rollin Bush.
Lt. Natalie Stone from the San Diego Police Department was there. If you attend other meetings, you have already heard about the short supply of Police officers. Attempts have been made by the City to make the isolated canyons less hospitable to illicit use by making them less accessible. The City is investigating bringing back retired policeman for short (90 day) periods of employment to cover some of the short fall.
A look at the San Diego City Crime watch link for all of March and April (a period known for spring break partying in the park) in the Sunset Cliffs Park area shows: vehicle break ins (3/16 and 3/24), a drug or alcohol arrest (3/25), minor in vehicle containing alcohol (4/8), possession of concentrated cannabis (4/14), DUI (4/17), and a sex crime (5/2). No arrests were made along the linear portion. These reports do not distinguish between arrests in the park and those on the street adjacent to the Park, so the picture is fuzzy at the edges.
Like Ocean Beach, the park is beautiful, but edgy. We can do without the crime. A way to minimize the need for cliff rescues is another priority.
But walking there and to there on a rainy day or a sunny day is an experience that is ours for the enjoying.
Photos by David Kimball