What will become of the Nimitz Kids’ Bike Park that was bulldozed?

by on February 15, 2012 · 33 comments

in Culture, Environment, Ocean Beach, Popular

This photo shows the complex track for older kids - before it was bulldozed. All photos by Judy Swink.

What will become of the bulldozed bike park that local OB and Point Loma kids developed? That is the question.

Will locals be galvanized and convince the City and the Housing Commission that it’s okay for the park to be “re-opened”?

Photo of the simpler track for younger kids, before being destroyed.

Our friend Judy Swink took the following photos – before and after – of the bike park off Nimitz Boulevard.


This is a view of the more complex bike section that Channel 5 videotaped as it was destroyed

Here’s what Judy wrote in her email to us when she sent these photos:

The three “before” photos are of the simple track for younger kids and the more complex one Channel 5 videotaped as it was destroyed. The fourth photo is the more complex one wiped out.

The saddest part is that this all came about because someone reported homeless people camping overnight in that area – the homeless are back already and doing no harm to anyone that I am aware of.

Aftermath of the bulldozed "more complex" section for older kids.

{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

Judy Swink February 15, 2012 at 11:06 am

Looks as if I sent two of the larger track and not the “simpler” one – sending again!


editordude February 15, 2012 at 1:01 pm

Thanks Judy, we posted the 4th photo of the “simpler track” up.


JEC February 15, 2012 at 11:25 am

Those without talent to run a bureaucracy hide behind legal rationales – what part of “destroy” is unclear? Some years back Tecolote Youth Baseball of which I was involved built a T-ball field; with City official approval, with dozens of volunteers each working hundreds of hours to build a field for generations to come. The city bulldozered the entire field SIX MONTHs later. For the damage George Loveland and staff did to community spirit they deserved to be fired. Is this not another slap down? But with the strong Mayor format – with no City Manager to go after – such a policy decision must have the support of the Mayor and the city council? Could this be evidence that there are too many layers of government? That buried beneath multiple layers the Housing Commission is no longer responsible to any elected official?


Lois February 15, 2012 at 1:29 pm

Totally agree, too many layers of government. Since when are any of them responsible? Long record of various issues ignored.


RB February 15, 2012 at 11:38 am

When I was traveling this summer, I happened upon a similar dirt bike track.
Except this track was built by their Park District and incorporated into their park.


jim grant February 15, 2012 at 1:20 pm

“the locals be galvanized” i wonder what locals will stand up and be accountable if a kid gets hurt….If the City or SDHC allows or ok’s the bike riding they will be on the hook ….what part of liability do you folks not get.
One simple question indulge me if you will. If you had been born into the lucky sperm pool and your family was wealthy and owned this property and a group of kids built the ramps , jumps etc on YOUR property and your family trust attorney suggested you put a stop to it as you might be exposing your self to liability what would you do? Tell the attorney to piss off the kids are having fun and its harmless….Maybe invest 4-500k and build them a bike park or ignore it all together ….
It is a liability issue , anybody who has ever contracted with the city in any shape or form realizes the #1 issue the city has is protecting its butt………I feel bad for the city dwelling kids who have no yards but private property is ….. well private property.


Frank Gormlie February 15, 2012 at 2:15 pm

Thanks Jim, I was assured that you would present the “other” side, as you always do. Hmmm, yet if the property is owned by the Housing Commission and the Housing Commission is the City and the City is us …. what part of public property do you not understand. What part of not being the Grinch and the curmudgeon every time some local issue comes up. What’s up with that, big guy? Getting too used to La Costa and the schmoozing around with the well-off?


jim grant February 15, 2012 at 4:28 pm

Actually Frank the SDHC and City of San Diego are not connected you better fact check a little closer on this one . Even IF they were your theory is a real stretccchhhh.
However I will play along with you on this cause I know you like that: If your theory is correct I assume it will not be to long before Sunset Cliffs are turned into a small BMX park…Maybe Torrey Pines ……And the beach can be a sandy motel for anybody needing a place to sleep. After all its City Property and we are the City, gezze this sounds like a Simpsons episode. Just because a property is City owned ( or public property)does not mean it has no restrictions or that it can be used for anything anytime by anybody you know that right? Yeah yeah yeah I know its kids on bikes trying to have fun I get it. I used to take my kids to the BMX park in Lakeside maybe the parents could do something like that …
Grinch Curmudgeon ? hardly I just have a different opinion on occasion ….thats ok isn’t it? Or does my opinion have to that of yours or of others who read here? Are you trying to be snarky with ” big guy, schmoozing & well off remarks ” if you were it did not work it comes across as small. Anyway hopefully the kids can find a great place to ride bikes I photograph at the skate park often and the kids who ride there seem to have a great time . While I’m here how about a few updates on: 1.The Fire in OB and the cooler full of weed that the mother had who was arrested for child endangerment…..2. The poisoned dogs or supposed poisoned dogs …did the Tox reports ever come back. 3. The supposed killing of Ospreys in OB … I enjoying catching up on local events here thanks …hows Lemon Grove , ever go to Food Factory ?? Bob the owner is a great guy …


Frank Gormlie February 15, 2012 at 7:51 pm

Had to give you some grief, as you are so negativo, my dear Lemon Grove homie. Yea, been to Food Factory and actually Bob ran for City Council. They are not open late, so ya gotta get there for the breakfasts and early lunches. There’s great Mexican restaurants out chere, like Pollo Grill, Rany’s in Casa de Oro has the best Mexico City food in the county, and of course Uruapan Carnitas.


dave rice February 15, 2012 at 10:31 pm

Frank – I know you’re new to the land that San Diego forgot, but if you’re giving props to any Mexi in Casa that isn’t Sarita Taco Shop I’m only going to assume it’s because you’re new and misinformed. That place is so legit my science teacher in high school once traded me two field-level tickets to a Padres game (when they played at Jack Murphy Stadium) in exchange for a carne asada burrito, and another time gave me a full pad of signed, not completed off-campus passes (basically free passes for ditching school) in exchange for a box of carne asada fries.

Also, Chef China is the spot for way too much greasy food that’s way too good (both this place and Sarita are in the heart of Casa on Campo Road). Tell the girl Jen who works the counter that you’re friends with Dave who used to work at the bike shop in the same strip mall – it probably won’t get you a discount but I haven’t been in to say ‘hi’ in a while…


Frank Gormlie February 16, 2012 at 9:17 am

OK, ok, in the heart of Casa de Oro – what’s the cross street? I’m sure Patty – that East County girl – knows about them. But, anyways, ya gotta try Rany’s …. also in the heart of Casa.


dave rice February 16, 2012 at 9:18 pm

Chef China – on Campo in the strip mall across from Chevron. Sarita – a block up on the corner of Bonita next to the dry cleaner’s.

This Ranas place appears to be new – in the DMV center, right? Do they do take out? If so I’ll check it out at work sometime soon…recommendations?


Patty Jones February 18, 2012 at 4:16 pm

They are in the center where DMV used to be, there is a Fresh and Easy there now.

When you go to Rana’s tell them you were referred by a friend, it’s for your first time and ask for a sampler of their sauces…. I’m sure they do take out but you want to sample the sauces before you order over the phone. Everything I’ve had there is wonderful.


dave rice February 15, 2012 at 10:24 pm

Jim – ever walked the Sunset Cliffs park? If you did and missed the BMX trails that have existed there for at least a decade and a half, I’d be happy to point ’em out to ya…the thing is that the dirt and the erosion out there make it not such a cool place to build – and the speed you can get going when riding at such a downhill slant is something fierce – last time I rode trails like that I ended up with my hand put on backwards and in a long-arm cast for three months. I’m glad most riders leave the place alone because the last thing the park needs is more human intervention, but I’ll guarantee you any spot where there’s dirt and an absence of cops/landowners to cuss you out, I can find you some bike trails.

Here’s some old footage from when I was a kid shot at Mission Trails on the eastern edge of SD…used to take us three hours to ride there from Spring Valley and another three to ride home as kids, but it was worth it to hang out with a backpack full of Doritos and warm Gatorade for half a day trying to kill ourselves..

The race tracks in Lakeside and Kearny Mesa are still around, I’ve been promising my daughter to take her out once I can afford the entry fees. These places, though, are nationally sanctioned and insured, and require payment for their use – way different from kids out playing in a dirt lot after school.


Frank Gormlie February 16, 2012 at 8:25 am

Dave – thanks for the vid. BTW, before the condos on top of the hill where the bike park is were built, the whole undeveloped hilltop was a major make-out area for Point Loma and OB teens from PLHS. Prominent stop on the trail of watching the submarine races.


jim grant February 16, 2012 at 8:36 am

I know those trails I spend many hours there. My point guess was missed. It simply being that just because a property is owned by the city (and according to editor dude by extension the public) that would not make it appropriate to engage in any type of activity on such property under the veiled reasoning of ” well i own part of this and i want to do this on my piece of this property” …the last thing the cliffs need would be this type of activity.
I agree 100% i raised two boys and from 1982-1994 i spent plenty of $ on Diamonbacks and Redlines …and I know my boys were always looking for new jumps ….I took them often to the jumps off of Chase in EC…The jumps down on the River in Bonita …The park in Lakeside and lots of other places around town . The point of this whole thing is : If it were your property and you allow it you in effect are owning it. You are buying it> You ARE responsible …does it suck the kids are being kids yeah…..Does that change liability issues . No. Will you be sued. Yes.
If I had been born from the lucky sperm pool and had property which sits vacant , and kids had taken it upon themselves to transform it into a bmx park with jumps, berms etc ….I would be forced to protect my self fiscally with prohibiting kids from using the land as a playground. Does it suck yeah. Is it necessary you decide. I have a great idea there is a vacant lot 1-2 house from the NE corner of Sunset Cliffs and Ladera St….Maybe the kids can build a little park on that site. what more could you want a billion dollar view and a bmx park…


dave rice February 16, 2012 at 9:28 pm

I think we’re on the same page, Jim. Yes, liability is why most everything I spent hours building as a kid was eventually torn down, and why the same thing continues today. Yes, it sucks. But yes, if I were lucky enough to have the money to own a bunch of land that I just sat on and did nothing with I’d have to cover my ass like anyone else by not allowing kids to come onto my property and find ways to try and hurt themselves.


JEC February 16, 2012 at 10:25 pm

Jim is evidence of too many layers; Jim, the SDHC was created by the City (under State law); the 7 member commission is appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the city council. Ok, point made; and I would be pedantic making some comment about contenious land use issues in answer to Jim’s point that “… does not mean it has no restrictions or that it can be used for anything anytime by anybody…”. The public officials choose a combative approach – spiced with a little belligerence – they handled it poorly. We the people have a reasonable expectation that those on the public’s payroll – including police – not add to the conflict – not make matters worse. Funny, they found a bulldozer to destroy something – when are they going to fix the broken streets?


Frank Gormlie February 15, 2012 at 7:25 pm

Oh, and where is that “small government” that you conservatives pine for?


unWASHEdwalmaRtthONG February 15, 2012 at 3:37 pm

This was a pre-emptive bulldoze. The pigs who tased the kid at Correia didn’t want to have to run through the park chasing the kid, so they had it bulldozed. The fat ones might have been able to chase him across the field adjacent to the school, but right around the duggout, they would have been out of breath, and with a little angina coursing across their chests.
It’s the only example of a cop actually thinking ahead.


Frank Gormlie February 15, 2012 at 7:24 pm

No kidding! I had that same thought.


devon February 16, 2012 at 7:37 pm

genious. ha


OB law(yer) February 15, 2012 at 4:24 pm

How is the liability here that much different from the liability at the completely unattended skate park? Are the jumps that much more dangerous or the conditions of construction of such lower quality that City officials couldn’t allow for such activities?

When the skate park had a paid city park staffer onsite…at least they could suggest wearing safety equipment or mediate a dispute or discourage vandals/graffiti. Since the park has been unmanned now for over a year due to cuts in the Park/Rec budget, I’m not aware of any such issues or episodes. Even though there was indeed a moderate community outcry about this when it was introduced that the staff position funding would not continue.

Nope….seems as if the kids have been getting along just fine and it has not become either an eyesore or the HotSpot for buying Meth that the community feared.

I say….let kids be kids… They’ve been growing up fine for years without much help from the government ‘looking out for their safety’. Seems like a waste of our taxpayer money to go and destroy the work of some folks on some land not being used for much of anything else.

Are we sure we’ve requested some clarification by the City on their actions on this? In fairness….there might actually be some project (like a new comfort station, football stadium or convention center) slated for this very spot and ready to break ground next week!!!???!! (insert snark)


Frank Gormlie February 15, 2012 at 7:26 pm

^ Bump


dave rice February 15, 2012 at 10:42 pm

Nice response! If I still had access to my medical records I could give you a tally for evidence that even though 90% of my youth was spent riding dirt jumps, more than half of my serious injuries requiring ER visits resulted from street/park riding…dirt jumps are safer by a multiple of 10, especially for younger kids that (deservingly) get cut a lot more slack.

Anyone want to point out where the beginners’ section at the skate park is? Okay, there are the ankle-high bowls outside the fences, but where’s the transition from that (which my daughter found a complete joke on her bike by age 5) and the 4′ high ramps in the actual park?


Bud Pillsbury February 15, 2012 at 4:38 pm

What will become of the bike park? With today’s rain I’m sure there will be lots of kids out tomorrow rebuilding.


dave rice February 15, 2012 at 10:43 pm

Damn, cruised through the comments responding to this and that but avoiding the end topic and someone beat me to it. I almost want to ditch work, go buy a flathead shovel, and start rebuilding myself…


Jason L. Showalter February 16, 2012 at 11:28 am

I’m glad to see the community discussing this subject because it establishes the fact you care. There are very good points being made, a little mis-information, a lot of community soul. Let’s see if we can focus on a solution.

The City cannot allow anyone to build anything anyway they may chose. If the City allows an unauthorized (fill in the blank) over here, what is to stop an unauthorized (fill in the blank) being built over there. You can call it covering their butts, liability, anything you want. Can we agree on this?

Why did the riders build their Bike Park?
We all know that legally, by building without permission, on land they do not own, is an act of trespassing, and maybe vandalism. I have seen other sites that involved habitat destruction of sensitive plant species, and alteration of the grade of the land which caused an increase in silt to be deposited in a river, causing damage to the ecosystem. I’m not asking anyone to ignore the legalities or environmental impacts. I’m not asking you to give the builders a “pass” or absolve them of any resposibility for their actions. Simply, why did they build their Bike Park?

Some have brought up the issue of safety. Most unauthorized Bike Parks (I’m not saying this applies here or does not apply here) are constructed with stunts that the builders have the skills to negotiate. Makes sense, yes? Some sites are constructed very well. Most sites I have seen are lacking in quality and proper and responsible construction practices. It requires huge amounts of knowledge and labor to construct a safe, fun and long-lasting bike park. The main difference between authorized and unauthorized bike parks is the concept of progression.

Having the opportunity to practice on stunts that are constructed to accepted standards ( Not as defined as Building Code, but proven to work and accepted as “best practice” by professional builders and local governments) that reflect the skills of beginner, intermediate and expert riders allows these athletes to develop self confidence and the skills at their own pace. There is no “do-or-die” situation.

More youth under the age of 18 are injured playing basketball than anyother sport. Before anyone wants to point out to me that more youth play basketball than ride pump tracks and dirt jumps (I acknowledge this fact), my point is the City provides hundreds of basketball courts, free to the public. Full contact football. Soccer. Baseball. Badminton.

For all the differences of opinions being shared here, from the mean government taking away fun from the kids, the kids have to be responsible for their actions, the legalities involved, and everything else, the solution is right in front of you.

If the community would like to hear a responsible solution to this issue, that addresses the concerns of the City, liability, environmental impacts, safety, and economic benefits for your community, please direct me to whom I should contact. I represent the San Diego Mountain Biking Association, as well as the BMX community, and we are ready to go to City Council, have answers to Councils’ questions. All I need is a community that can see the benefits and is willing to work. Are you that community?


Jason L. Showalter
Board Member, San Diego Mountain Biking Association


dave rice February 16, 2012 at 9:46 pm

Thanks for your thoughts, Jason. Are you suggesting that you’d like to create a situation similar to Sheep Hills in Huntington Beach where the city is aware of and allows the existence of dirt jumps on their property? If so I’m all ears so far as how to make it happen!

As for the “why” question you pose, the answer is simple: kids want to have fun. They’re not thinking in either a positive or negative manner about their impact on the environment, they’re just thinking about how to create the best lines while altering the landscape the least – not because it’s environmentally sensitive, but because it’s less labor-intensive. But I’m sure you already knew that.

As far as building trails that appeal to all skill levels, when I was young our primary incentive for building rollers, tabletops, and other obstacles that appealed to beginners was to discourage them from destroying the jumps we built for ourselves in order to lower the skill level needed to navigate them. Being a racer at heart, I always liked sections that could be navigated in a variety of ways, but I took to digging giant pits in the middle of doubles like everyone else in order to make it harder to “dumb them down” and out of sheer laziness. If there was some kind of give and take relationship where trails couldn’t intentionally be constructed in a dangerous fashion but would be allowed to exist, I’m sure there’s a compromise to be struck.

I can’t say I speak for the dirt community these days, so I’d encourage you to respond publicly here if you’d like. You can chase me down at daverice.dr@gmail if you’d like, though.


devon February 16, 2012 at 7:40 pm

I consider this THEFT!

These pictures are amazing. Thank you. Years ago I was zombie walking and this place caught my eye when there wasn’t much there yet. It illuminated my heart. Woke my ass up. If we want it there, it will be built again.

Built by hands and hearts
Destroyed by machines and farts


A beautiful skater built skatepark has been demolished recently.

TALENTED TECHNICAL Skateboarding that is sometimes percieved as
(any and all things bad) is in it’s truest reality:

THE MOST JAW DROPPING (sometimes cracked)
THE MOST (any and all things good)

Deepest apologizes to any and all who are yet to experience this
I can teach you

I didn’t build the park, nor skate the park so my heart did not narc.
The destruction of it has inspired me to deeply appreciate the natural ramps that the tree roots like to surprise us with reminding us they are below. To grip em and hip em before they are ‘repaired’.

I am forever in awareness of our shifting slicing asphault that changes almost daily. Our terain man made is naturally re-creating itself and I love that it shifts and shucks at my wheels in unexpected underterminable ways. It keeps me alert and stoked to spurt sporatic unexpected intellengence in chance intereactions of those asking questions merely filling category arranged in a way that only certain things fit as if our thoughts had shapes. Skateboarding has encouraged me to challenge people in suttle ways that they never open in thier days. They draw blank. Then fill with flour to be later used for cookies on another day. That is if they choose to bake them. Hopefully choosing to share. Off to the store for milk. I had sent them on an adventure. They now have created more categories that need to be filled. They come back for more acquiring all that is necesary to put the down payment on thier new store. Open. I walk in the door. This time invited.


devon February 16, 2012 at 9:47 pm

link for pictures and smiling Demolition Staff infection


JMW February 17, 2012 at 1:32 am

Damaging the environment? It’s an empty lot, waiting to be completely bulldozed and built over, unless there are engineering issues preventing such a fate. Why did these kids steal this land and wreck it? They did neither. Kids are kids, not lawyers or cartels. Why here? Close to home. If you’ve been by this place, you might have noticed there is a maze of apartments to the south. Why not take them to Lakeside? Not every mom or dad has the time, money or interest.
Lesson for the kids: initiative doesn’t pay.


Jason L. Showalter February 18, 2012 at 4:02 pm

Mr. Rice,

You understand where I’m coming from. Mr. Grant also. What about the rest of the OB community?

Bike Skills Parks are the skate parks constructed from dirt for bikes. San Diego is over a decade behind this movement. As I have previously mentioned, a major difference between unauthorized bike parks and authorized bike parks is the concept of progression. Stunts are available for all skill levels. As one builds confidence and skills at their own pace, they have the opportunity to practice on stunts that allow them to progress. All the stunts located in one area as opposed to driving or riding around town to find stunts they can negotiate.

Pump tracks can be enjoyed by anyone that can ride a bike. Riders use their arms and legs to absorb the front face of a 1′-2′ rounded mound of packed dirt then “pump down the back face. The mounds of dirt are spaced in a way similar to sine waves. Momentum is created and one does not have to pedal. An incredible full body workout.

A bike park can be created in a small area that may include a pump track or two and a couple jump lines. A larger park with more features and elite level stunts will not only provide for a community gathering place, but can host major events that will boost the local economy. You will be amazed with the number of riders that will visit your community just to ride some dirt.

There is a group of local riders that have started a petition to get a bike park in your community. The San Diego Mountain Biking Association has the knowledge and resources to assist. The missing link is community support. Every Mayor, Parks & Recreation Director, City planners that I have interviewed have all enjoyed discussing how proud they are of their Bike Skills Parks. How amazed they are that some shaped dirt could provide so much to their communities.

The site that was bulldozed may or not be an appropriate site for a Bike Skills Park. There may be other sites in the community that may be appropriate.

Does anyone here believe the OB community may want to consider a Bike Skills Park? Would the OB community be interested in learning about the Bike Skills Park concept, how hundreds of cities are reaping the many benefits their Bike Skills Parks offer?

The Famosa Freeriders and the San Diego Mountain Biking Association would like the opportunity to address the OB community, share with you what we believe will only bring benefits to the OB Community, and hear what you all have to say.


Jason L. Showalter
Board Member, San Diego Mountain Biking Association


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