New Park Coming to the Peninsula – a Round-Up of the Parks of the Point

by on September 28, 2015 · 9 comments

in Culture, Environment, History, Ocean Beach

Point Loma google satellitePeninsula Closer to Getting New Park

By Don Sevrens

Ocean Beach and Point Loma, two of our city’s older neighborhoods, grew up haphazardly before the era of modern planning. Today they are 700 acres or more short of meeting park and recreational standards of 20 acres per 1,000 population. They also lack adequate recreation center facilities. Almost completely built out and with growing density, the peninsula communities can’t erase their park deficits.

Pt Loma Pocket-Park-aerial

Unimproved area of future park.

So, a new park emerging is big – and welcome – news.

Yes, we have beaches, ocean and bays – eat your heart out, East County – but neighborhoods also need pocket parks that are an easy walk away.

Mission Bay and Balboa are wonderful destination parks but for a mother with two small children a visit represents a half-day outing. Nearby pocket parks can be enjoyed much more frequently from toddlers to older folks in need of a mild therapeutic walk and fresh air.

Community activist Jon Linney and myself, after 14 months of neighborhood outreach, report progress on a new park – which is outlined below.

Pt Loma Pock Park 01-ed2

Photos and diagrams on display in June 2015 of park.

Linney is a 2011 graduate of Point Loma High School, a business management major at National University and Mission Fed Finance Park coordinator for Junior Achievement of San Diego. I spent 44 years as a writer and editor for The San Diego Union-Tribune and, like Linney, am an officer of the Peninsula Community Planning Board.

Q: What’s up with the new park effort? I hear you and other community organizers are making progress.

A: Yes, 28 years after the idea was born, we are making progress. The city owns the land, it is a designated park site, the city has some money available thanks to the recent surge in Developer Impact Fees, and the community wants its park. On Sept. 17, the Peninsula Community Planning Board supported Council Member Lorie Zapf and city staff in the proposed use of already collected developer fees for the park. The vote was 13-0.

The land is two-thirds of an acre at the upper end of Avenida de Portugal and is bordered by Canon Street. It’s a triangular shaped parcel best suited to being a passive, walk-in park. Not for athletic fields, giant parking lot, restroom or concrete paths.

Q: I drive Canon often. How come I’ve never seen it?

A: Dude, you really need to get out of your car. The site is probably five feet over your head as you zoom by. Joggers, walkers, bicyclists, people with dogs and the neighbors (who feel their streets have been neglected by the city) – know it well.

Q: What’s the name of this park?

A: Our working title is Portuguese Village Park. By completion, the name Festa Park may win out. Avenida de Portugal has been the heart of the Portuguese community in Roseville since 1880. The street is the route of the annual Fiesta procession and is home to a social hall, chapel, historical center, church, parish hall and more. United Portuguese S.E.S. has agreed to be the nonprofit sponsor for our community-based effort.

Q: What’s going in the park?

A: That will be up to the public –and, of course, the city – at two future workshops. The working plan calls for a park with ecological and history themes. Meandering trails of decomposed granite, colorful plants that thrive on little water, mulch instead of grass, benches to sit on and reflect, and picnic tables.

A couple monuments/statues to celebrate the Portuguese heritage and culture, placards with key dates in the community’s history. We want something for the kids – not a tot lot but something using their imagination.

Q: When will the park be finished?

A: It could easily take three years. The city has money for the basic park and owns the land. The community is solidly behind it so we do not anticipate major hurdles. Linney and I will seek private donations to pay for the extras the community wants such as the statues and kids’ area.

Q: How does this park fit into the mix?

A: Well, it is an easy walk from the Cabrillo Recreation Center on Canon Street. The Rec Center looks forward to being able to use it to complement their programs. We have reached out to Cabrillo Elementary School and raised the idea of field trips.

More on the park.

Q: What’s happening with other parks?

A: There is progress to report as they adapt to serve the public. The Peninsula has about a dozen parks or preserves though some are very tiny and hidden. Others are parks but just not in the flat, playing field sense.

Here is my outline:

Sunset Cliffs Natural Park – It is the largest park on the Peninsula at 68 acres but you won’t find a single ballfield here. Natural plant gardens are in bloom on the hillside portion south of Ladera Street. Planning and design work continue to curb severe erosion and intercept contaminated runoff before it reaches the surfing zone. Thanks to the efforts of Council Member Zapf, two rangers will be hired next month.

They will advise visitors of dog-leash rules, the danger of standing at cliff’s edge and coordinate with police to curb after-hours rowdyism, vandalism and illegal campfires.

The Sunset Cliffs strip is part of the park as well. Some see the illegal jumping from the arches as a rite of passage. But it’s very dangerous — with tide changes, how deep or shallow is the water? The rangers will coordinate stepped-up enforcement.

Saratoga Park –Organizers want to create a tot lot but even relatively small projects take time. An effort to rename a portion of the park after historian Ruth Varney Held ran into unintended consequences, possibly putting at risk the park’s protections against being converted to other uses. [Ed.: Zapf’s office has assured the community that fortunately there is no risk.]

Liberty Station – Enjoy the park next to the channel, thanks to Liberty Station residents who stepped in to finance it with Mello-Roos fees. A community swimming pool is snagged at the moment because of operating agreement negotiations.

North Ocean Beach Gateway – Phase two, the landscaping, has been completed and invites a nice Fall walk – if Fall ever comes.

Famosa Slough – OK, it’s more a preserve than a park and is found on both sides of West Point Loma Boulevard. California has lost more than 85 percent of its coastal wetlands so this is a vital resting spot for our avian friends. Human volunteers have been carefully sprucing up the edges so it is a pleasant place to sit and escape everyday concerns.

Dusty Rhodes Park – The grass – what grass? – in the dog park portion is in sad shape because the water was turned off to meet the city’s conservation goals.

Barnard Elementary – This could have been a park. The1987 Peninsula Community Plan calls for doing a park feasibility study if a school such as Barnard is ever abandoned. The San Diego Unified School District, which does not need to answer to any local agency, chose to ignore that provision. The entire site was sold and is being turned into a gated apartment complex.

Cabrillo National Monument – This national monument is among the nation’s most visited. Staff and a supporting foundation are studying the possibility of a reception area for weddings and a low-level radio signal to guide visitors via their cell phones.

Don Sevrens is an officer of the Peninsula Community Planning Board.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Geoff Page September 28, 2015 at 12:44 pm

Two comments.

Zapf was one of SIX council members who suggested the new ranger positions to the City budget. For some reason, perhaps Zapf’s own District 2 newsletter, everyone is giving Zapf credit for the new rangers. And the new one that will be in the Peninsula area has a lot of coastline to cover, that ranger will not be devoted to the Peninsula.

Ther residents of Liberty Station did not step up with Mello-Roos fees, they had no choice in the matter as these were an obligation for buying a home there. McMillin was supposed to build the park as part of its agreement with the City when it was given the property to develop. Mello-Roos was not supposed to be a part of that.


OB Dude September 28, 2015 at 1:27 pm

Sorry to hear about no pool coming to NTC/Liberty Station …. if only McMillin did kick out the the fitness club/pool that was there and appreciated by so many in the community! That was nasty.


Geoff Page September 28, 2015 at 1:47 pm

A pool is suposed to be coming at NTC, a Request For Proposals went out a year ago. This article mentions a snag about who will operate the pool but it does appear a pool is finally coming after years of promises by the City and McMillin.


Byron Wear October 2, 2015 at 7:37 pm

Yes, I think the pool issues can be sorted out between the City, Department of Interior, San Diego Unified School District and the YMCA. The pool complex was approved by the California Coastal Commission in 2001 and is part of the approved land use at Liberty Station.


Geoff Page October 4, 2015 at 10:15 am

But, 14 years later, McMillin has not made it happen as it was supposed to do, it was clearly not a priority for them despite what the community wanted.


Byron Wear October 5, 2015 at 5:06 am

The development of the pool complex was always a City of San Diego project, not an obligation of McMillin coming after the 46 acre NTC park development was planned. The City did include the aquatic complex in the final Master Plan, Master EIR and approvals by the Coastal Commission and Department of Interior.


OB Dude October 7, 2015 at 7:58 pm

NTC had a great club operated by Jim and Jacquie Evans who were respected in the community and tossed like trash by McMillin. SHAMEFUL! The Point could have had a gym and pool for all these years but the “city” and McMillions chose to do otherwise.


Byron Wear October 7, 2015 at 10:19 pm

The fact is that the club run by Jim Evans was on a month to month agreement with the city during the reuse planning process. According to Real Estate Assets, Evans violated the lease terms by selling lifetime agreements to the facility. The club closed down because McMillin was required to replace the entire infrastructure of NTC including new sewer, water, sidewalks, etc. Evans made lots of noise but they signed a month to month agreement and the sewer and water project took 2 years for construction, so they moved to Gold’s Gym. When completed, the new aquatic complex will be a state of the art facility for competition and recreation, not an old pool built in the 1940’s operated with high energy and maintenance costs.


OB Dude October 8, 2015 at 4:25 am

There were many community members that supported the Evans…but not the city if my ole memory serves me still.

Based on recent news….the new operator for this state of the art facility might not be no angel either KPBS ROUNDTABLE Roundtable Looks At YMCA Investigation Premiere Date: October 02, 2015

Any chance on getting that report released to the public?


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