Sunset Cliffs Park – Is It a Park or a Parking Lot?

by on July 10, 2014 · 16 comments

in Culture, Environment, Homelessness, Ocean Beach

Pt Loma park park lot

Pt Loma park parking lot. (All photos by Lois Lane)

Report on Sunset Cliffs Natural Park Advisory Council, July 7, 2014

By Lois Lane

At the Sunset Cliffs Natural Park Advisory Council meeting, it was déjà vu all over again, as they say.

The public comment period of the meeting lasted over an hour, as Point Loma neighbors on Amiford, Stafford, and Cornish voiced their impatience with park graffiti, under-age drinking, any-age drug use, all accompanied by cars, noise and general disruption by the people involved (not all homeless in this case), most of it at night, with the park a regular hangout.Not to mention the off-leash dogs.

Ocean Beach isn’t the only place where people are outraged about what is going on in their neighborhoods, and the residents were there to be heard.

Pt Loma Park Regs signCornish Drive added complaints about cars parking in the parking lot, and what goes on when they do – under-age drinking, drug use, eating hamburgers and tossing the wrappers out the window, having sex and tossing used condoms out the windows.

This meeting was the “déjà vu” of the Ocean Beach complaints about the homeless at a recent OB Town Council meeting, but the point of view is the same – how can we get the existing rules enforced?

Council Member Ed Harris was also there for a planned visit, and he tackled their complaints head on. Some of his answers people didn’t like, but he was direct. He tried to get a Park Ranger added to the City Budget three times. The mayor makes the budget, and each time it was deleted. A Park Ranger WAS added, primarily for La Jolla Shores, but he was able to get the Ranger re-allocated to our Beach Parks for the winter months as a pilot program. He noted that one unintended consequence of the alcohol ban at Beach Parks was to push the alcohol use out of sight.

As you may have guessed, there was outrage all around about La Jolla Shores getting that Park Ranger. The answer was that it was a priority for Sherri Lightner, as the commercial projects have inundated the La Jolla Shores Park (kayak classes, sail-board tours, surf lessons for tour groups, and more).

Pt Loma park hillside

Amiford Dr from the parking lot.

Once again – we heard the same big-picture story, this time from Council Member Harris – shortage of Police Officers. His perspective was interesting – every community he visits has a version of the same sorts of complaints, and there are no immediate plans that will result in changing things. Policemen are retiring or they are moving to the Sheriff’s office, where conditions result in immediate increase in take home pay, even at the same salary because of how benefits are charged. They take their seniority, status, and retirement service with them when they change jobs. Who wouldn’t move to the County?

He has been working with Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman to address the problem. They are working on plans to bring in retired police officers as provisionals within the existing rules.

When the meeting finally moved to the regular agenda, there was one agenda item – the application to Development Services to accommodate a development by adjusting the Boundary Line established by the park for a Multiple Habitat Protection Area (MHPA). The proposed project consists of a “companion unit”, a pool, and a spa. The location? Amiford Drive. The committee voted for a recommendation to follow the rules of the MHPA and to oppose the adjustment proposed for the development.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Tyler July 10, 2014 at 10:50 am

It definitely is sad how much trash piles up in that parking lot and ironically along garbage beach. It’s not the homeless over there, that’s for sure. It’s mostly 15-22 year olds that don’t seem to be from the peninsula.

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avatar oburntout July 10, 2014 at 12:13 pm

What about a gate that closes at certain hours to prevent the cars from getting in after dark?

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avatar Tyler July 10, 2014 at 1:02 pm

Decent idea but that won’t quell the numbers. They will just parking on Ladera, etc and just walking a few more yards.

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avatar Audrey Stratton July 10, 2014 at 3:13 pm

I will admit that we bring our dogs there off leash. We always clean up after them and most others do as well. The graffiti is really bad but even worse is the broken glass EVERYWHERE! All the underage shit heads that go down there and trash the place really sucks.

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avatar Dave Rice July 10, 2014 at 10:52 pm

Definitely an uptick in litter, especially glass bottles. I used to frequent the park all the time, when I was single and my buddies would come down and we’d ride bikes out from my old place on Abbott to hang out at Sunset Cliffs.

Fast forward about a decade, with me only heading that far south occasionally, and I’ve taken up walking up to the top of the hill and then out to the access trail at the end of Amiford, around the park, then home along the cliffs. I’m never there at night, but it’s pretty obvious that it’s become a party spot for teenagers, and the trash is far worse than I was used to seeing.

Simple (yet likely impossible) solution? Get a patrol cruiser to roll through the parking lot once or twice a night, especially on weekends. I’m pretty sure there are posted hours out there, so just being present at the no-no times would be cause for cops to harass anyone present (I can’t believe I’m actually advocating this).

Give it a month or two, and word will spread quick enough through the high school pothead circles that police are onto the spot and the kids will move somewhere else. Speaking from experience here as one of those punk kids back in the ’90s.

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avatar Debbie July 10, 2014 at 11:21 pm

Faulconer who lives in Point Loma doesn’t feel this park needs/deserves attention?

Maybe the city should put the park up for sale since it appears there is no money to maintain or patrol it. The new buyer will keep out the undesirables, unleashed dogs, party people etc. and the city will have $$$ to give La Jolla more services they so badly need.

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avatar Cliff July 11, 2014 at 3:40 pm

Privatization of city parks is not the answer. We pay taxes for law enforcement, we deserve to receive what we pay for. The suggestion, seen here, to put in a locked barrier is exactly what any private ownership will do, with toll booth or parking meters, I might add. The better solution is to have a regular patrol drive through the lot as they should be doing anyway. Perhaps the volunteer Senior Patrol could take up the slack for our “Serving the Public” police department. It’s not “lack of funds” that is the problem, it is “lack of concern!” Spend a bit less on SWAT, armored vehicles, drones, computers, etc. and get back to using the “human resources” that drive around in those “Patrol” cars!

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avatar OB Kid September 2, 2014 at 1:36 pm

“Human resources” clue in man they have almost no officers. The city did a hiring freeze a few years ago and are now playing catch up. BUT the officers are all leaving to other agencies who pay better.

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avatar Mike Stephens July 11, 2014 at 11:15 am

The plastic foil individual cigar wrappers are getting out of hand. People are smoking “blunts” which is a small, usually flavored cigar which is hollowed out and stuffed with marijuana. These purple wrappers are everywhere! If pot smokers want to seem respectable they should behave accordingly. I will keep picking them up but would like to see people care for the The Cliffs.

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avatar Tyler July 11, 2014 at 11:44 am

First of all – this is the Rag, i don’t think you need to explain what a blunt is! Secondly, a vast majority of smokers do not smoke in public places nor do they litter. There are more beer cans/bottles and fast food wrappers than there are blunt wraps, should we lap all of them into a single entity as well?

I agree that those wrappers are annoying, buts this is an issue with disrespectful teens and people coming from inland, not a specific Issue with pot smokers

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avatar South Park July 11, 2014 at 3:59 pm

Good article, good photos. It does seem that the SD Police could just put this area on their radar and boost the drive-throughs. Don’t we have problem-oriented policing?

Question: What does “adjusting the Boundary Line established by the park for a Multiple Habitat Protection Area” actually mean? Are the property owners asking to utilize public land for their additions? Or does the MHPA involve adjacent private property?

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avatar Lois Lane July 13, 2014 at 12:23 pm

The Habitat Protection Area includes private property, and acts much like an easement for animals. Originally designed for canyon protection, it operates much the same way adjacent to Sunset Cliffs Park. This is not flat bulldozed lots we are talking about. Also the restriction can be removed, similar to a variance, and granted by California Fish and Game. More on this topic later.

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avatar Park Advocate July 13, 2014 at 3:39 pm

Outstanding coverage. Everyone should read also the S.D. Police retention issue in Sunday U-T San Diego 7/14/14, that explains the loss of police and therefore, for instance, non-emergency phone calls to the police department often take a long time for police to answer but they have been honoring our neighborhood calls as best they can. Fewer police and no park ranger means little enforcement–time to start serious ticketing/fines as we get more help. Hear people in the park after 10 p.m.?–call non-emergency police number (531-2000) to report that and any other park violations. Police welcome our calls–even at 2 and 3 a.m.! They have been great coming out! We also need to show our P&R Dept./councilman/city council/mayor we DO have a great enforcement need in this park, but if you don’t report violations, they can’t quantify this park need. Letters/emails/reporting, etc. CAN help. Let your government know!

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avatar Danny Fontaine July 16, 2014 at 8:57 am

I’m tired of the broken bottles and dog shit , the graffiti is from the punk gangster wannabes and the fu($ing hippy kooks! From all the “pocket” beaches to Ab, these visitors could care less about the fact we live here and most of my friends born and raised. Also the new residents who think it’s cool to walk your dog without a leash on Cliffs from PL Ave to No Surf, my dog has been in a couple scrapes and I’m getting pissed! One last thing , some of the trash are from Seagulls raiding the over filled trash cans.
That’s my 2 pesos!

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avatar South Park July 27, 2014 at 1:26 pm

Check out the Reader article about Elite Security Patrols:
http://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/2014/jul/26/stringers-were-targeting-bad-behavior/

Maybe they could mosey by the Park for a quick check now and then, and report any bad behavior to the SDPD.

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avatar Noone Cares August 25, 2014 at 2:53 pm

Since I was a teen (and long before), what is left of Sunset Cliffs Park has been a sketchy, filthy parking lot where randoms go to vandalize. When I see pictures of what it once was, and how the City, not once, but twice, lied about maintaining it’s grandeur for the citizens, I highly doubt the current crew of “leaders” would be any more trustworthy than the ones that came before them. If anything worth creating on that land happens, it will be by private citizens, with their own funds, and their own ways of keeping it safe. Sorry folks, there aren’t even enough police around to keep drunks from turning parked cars on Ingraham into demo-derby wannabes every night.

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