‘A Bunch of Dads’ and Moms and Kids Move to Save the Famosa Pump Track

by on March 19, 2018 · 19 comments

in Ocean Beach

Since about 2006, Darren has see three attempts to plow or bulldoze the series of bike tracks called the “Famosa Pump Track” just across the road from Bill Cleator Park in Point Loma. The latest one was this morning.

Darren, who lives close by, has been maintaining and repairing the pumps and trails of the dirt course since then. It’s just “a bunch of dads” he told me this afternoon, about 6 to 7 who regularly show up and help – and about 30 kids – who use and maintain the track.

But this morning, around 8:15, he got a call that there was a bulldozer at the track plowing down the hills. He rushed over there – and pleaded with the work crew to stop what they were doing. ‘Orders are orders,’ they told him back. It’s wasn’t a huge bulldozer, but a bobcat – but still. \

Darren got on the phone with their supervisor; ‘orders are orders’ came the response.

At this point, Darren was standing directly in front of the bobcat. “I wasn’t going to move,” he told me. “They weren’t going to continue.”

He wasn’t alone. Katie was there, sitting on a mound. She’s a mom who was startled when she saw the dozer at the track as she was taking her kids to school at OB Elementary. She took the kids to school and rushed over to the site. She then went home and began making calls. Katie then returned and sat down on a mound in front of the bobcat.  “I wasn’t leaving,” she said.

She told me that the workers really didn’t want to do what they were doing. She said Darren was there and about a half dozen others at this point. And of course, it’s not really just dads.

Darren and Katie got on their phones – calling the city. Darren is certain the land is owned by the San Diego Housing Commission. Katie told me “the city didn’t know anything about it. They didn’t have any permits, no orders.”

Darren in a phone conversation with this reporter, confirmed that the city said they didn’t have any orders for a job like this. And the nearby home owners associations didn’t have any orders either, he said.

They still don’t know who ordered the job, who ordered the bobcat.

“Darren built the track,” Katie said, and for years he has been working with the city, maintaining it, trying to get it recognized.

Darren will be speaking at a rally this afternoon in a public display of support for the bike track – it’s at 4pm at the track, at what locals call the Famosa Pump Track.

I asked him, “What’s going to happen tomorrow? Will the workers and bobcat show up?”

“I don’t know,” he said.

 

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Geoff Page March 19, 2018 at 4:11 pm

Did anyone get a name of the company that owned the equipment?

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dmrides March 19, 2018 at 9:09 pm
Chad March 19, 2018 at 4:27 pm

That is a great misuse of property.
Hopefully they develop that area into something far more progressive that the whole community can enjoy.
There are plenty of safe and legal BMX races courses nearby.

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kh March 19, 2018 at 5:19 pm

I think it’s a fantastic use of the land. I’d rather see kids playing there then public land sit vacant, bulldozed and fenced off. If there are other greater plans for it then I’m sure the parents are all ears.

Do tell where all these “legal bmx race courses” are.

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Chris March 19, 2018 at 6:46 pm

The only two I know of is Chula Vista and Kearny Mesa, and those are for actual racing, not just riding around (and have fees). Chad is just trolling.

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Dave March 19, 2018 at 9:56 pm

There’s also one in Lakeside, but even getting out to Kearny isn’t exactly a reasonable ask of a kid who just wants a place to ride…

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Chris March 19, 2018 at 6:48 pm

This is the best use of property and we need more of them.

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Dave March 19, 2018 at 10:11 pm

+1

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dmrides March 19, 2018 at 9:05 pm

I’d be curious to learn how else the community would enjoy using this land. I have only ever seen bike riders and dog walkers on this vacant land. I would think if the community wanted to use it for something else, surely someone would have done so in the last decade.
I would also like to learn more about the plenty of bmx racing courses that are nearby that the kids can ride their bikes to, that are open all day, that are free, etc. Somehow after living in San Diego for about 30 years I have not yet found any of these courses.

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unwashedwallmartThong March 19, 2018 at 5:11 pm

Kids have been riding their bikes at that lot for decades. Leave ’em be, fer chrissake.

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Peter from South O March 19, 2018 at 8:20 pm

Apparently it is a liability issue for the City:

Below is a statement from Debbie Ruane, Executive Vice President & Chief Strategy Officer of the San Diego Housing Commission:

“An unauthorized and unpermitted makeshift bike park was set up by unknown individuals on the undeveloped property that is owned by the San Diego Housing Commission (SDHC) at the corner of Famosa and Nimitz Boulevard. Some of the no trespassing signs placed on the property by SDHC have been removed. Without sufficient insurance, SDHC, a public agency, cannot allow the property to be used as a bike park. The property is being planned to be developed as affordable housing. We are pleased to be working with the Community Planning Group on the future development of affordable housing at this site.”

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Geoff Page March 20, 2018 at 9:25 am

Interesting statement about working with the Community Planning Group. I’ve been involved with the planning group for years and attend all their meetings and I have never heard of the Housing Commission working with the group to develop affordable housing at that site.

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dmrides March 19, 2018 at 8:57 pm

The liability is easily resolved. Public skateparks, baseball fields, basketball courts, etc all have liability coverage. It is highly unlikely the land will ever be developed for low income housing. I’ve lived nearby this vacant lot for almost 15 years and have never seen anyone other than bike riders, dog walkers and homeless in this vacant lot. As a community park with walking and biking trails, this vacant land could become a great asset to our community rather than an eyesore.

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Dave March 19, 2018 at 10:09 pm

I helped build, and re-build (and re-build…and re-build…and re-build…) the Nimitz trails from the late ’90s through the early ’00s. They were there before me, and they’ve com back several times since I got old and fat. This will happen again – I’ve had trails razed everywhere from here to Sabre Springs to Mission Trails to Cuyamaca College and on at least a dozen other private spots that were less conspicuous where we lasted a while longer.

The liability of having bike trails on private land, or city land, or anywhere, is going to cause them to get knocked down. That said, I was really stoked to see the pump track go up, and it’s a hell of a lot safer than what I built as a kid, when we’d get our dirt for the lips and landings from a pit smack in the middle of the two.

That said, the city can somehow manage the liability of operating skate parks like the one at Robb Field – why can’t there be somewhere in the community to legally build dirt jumps?

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RB March 20, 2018 at 8:10 am

I wonder how many lawyers are parked above the dirt track waiting for the crash and ambulance.

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Frank Gormlie Frank Gormlie March 20, 2018 at 12:53 pm

None.

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BB March 20, 2018 at 9:09 pm

Share your support with our Mayor’s office!!! It’s a great open space & everyone’s presence keeps it cleaner than ever. If you live in PPL maybe even inquire with the City about the easements, why were/are they there (fire access road for developments above?) and better yet – why was it parceled off there & sold to Housing Commission? For them to access that land they have to trespass – either in PPL property or across the city’s easement.

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marc johnson March 20, 2018 at 10:31 pm

I think it’s a liability the reason why they are fencing It Off people are afraid of being sued if somebody got injured.

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BB March 20, 2018 at 11:00 pm

Recreational Use – historically open space

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