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.
Cornish 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).
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.