Reader Rant: Keep San Diego’s Parks Open – They’re Essential

by on March 20, 2020 · 29 comments

in Health, Ocean Beach, San Diego

Lake Murray from its northeast corner.

By La Mesa Reader

This morning, with my bicycle in the back, I drove up to my favorite place to bike to take a much needed break from being cooped up inside during this Coronavirus Shut-Down. As I approached the gate to Lake Murray, immediately I could see the gate was closed and a small sign announced something I’m sure about having to close the park as it wasn’t essential.

Now I know Lake Murray isn’t in Ocean Beach or Point Loma and I know I don’t live out at the coast. But I read the OBRag almost daily and thought its readers might be interested in these thoughts. I’m sure there’s plenty of parks in OB and Point Loma.

Finding the gate closed and locked kind of pissed me off – I need my exercise as an older person – and I have to mightily disagree with the notion and government policy of closing parks during the shut-down.

Parks are essential services! Let me repeat this. Parks are essential services.

We need parks – especially right now. Parks provide necessary but intangible services to humans. For one thing, they help humans relieve stress. And don’t we need that now – especially right now.

While in the parks, we can practice proper social-distancing.

So, not only are they places where we can go exercise – and BTW – exercise for us older citizens is a necessary – nah, essential thing in our lives; for me, exercise is a life-saver – parks help us to get through the stress we find ourselves in during normal times. Now with the anxiety that we all feel, we need to get rid of the stress build-up all that much more.

Government needs to understand this. The people at the top who think that parks are not essential need to re-examine these directives and policies. Okay, during this California shut-down, essential services are required to stay open. My wife works at one of those – fortunately, however – unlike most of her colleague – she is able to work from home due to the nature of the type of work she does.

As with other essential jobs and sites, the managers and bosses who run government need to understand parks are essential and open the parks back up.

I checked some points made by the National Recreation and Park and  Association and here are some reasons that make parks essential (some of them reflect my points):

  • Parks and recreation programs produce a significant portion of operating costs from revenue generated from fees and charges
  • Parks are the places that people go to get healthy and stay fit.
  • Parks and recreation programs and services contribute to the health of children, youth, adults, and seniors.
  • According to studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, creating, improving and promoting places to be physically active can improve individual and community health and result in a 25 percent increase of residents who exercise at least three times per week.
  • A study by Penn State University showed significant correlations to reductions in stress, lowered blood pressure, and perceived physical health to the length of stay in visits to parks.
  • Parks improve the quality of the air we breathe and provide a place for children and families to connect with nature and recreate outdoors together.
  • Parks are a tangible reflection of the quality of life in a community. They provide identity for citizens and are a major factor in the perception of quality of life in a given community. Parks and recreation services are often cited as one of the most important factors in surveys of how livable communities are.
  • Parks provide gathering places for families and social groups, as well as for individuals of all ages and economic status, regardless of their ability to pay for access.
  • Parks and recreation programs provide places for health and well-being that are accessible by persons of all ages and abilities, especially to those with disabilities.
  • In a 2007 survey of Fairfax County, VA, residents of 8 of 10 households rated a quality park system either very important or extremely important to their quality of life.
  • Research by the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods indicates that community involvement in neighborhood parks is associated with lower levels of crime and vandalism
  • Access to parks and recreation opportunities has been strongly linked to reductions in crime and to reduced juvenile delinquency.
  • Parks have a value to communities that transcend the amount of dollars invested or the revenues gained from fees. Parks provide a sense of public pride and cohesion to every community.

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Frances O'Neill Zimmerman March 20, 2020 at 2:56 pm

Mt. Soledad Memorial Cross-in-the-Park was closed off late yesterday afternoon before sunset on the first day of Spring.


Don March 20, 2020 at 5:52 pm

National Parks are free right now so why can’t we liberate our regional parks?


Richard March 21, 2020 at 8:59 am

Corona Virus Stupid!


Michelle March 21, 2020 at 3:16 pm

Unfortunately you can’t hurt the virus by calling it names


Peter from South O March 21, 2020 at 3:20 pm

I think that Richard just omitted a comma after “Virus”.


Peter from South O March 21, 2020 at 2:17 pm

The park is closed not just to keep the irresponsible from mingling but to lessen the risk to our city workers who would be emptying trash containers, picking up trash, etc. For society’s sake, stop thinking about the minor annoyances you face (just jog somewhere else) and consider the common good.


Frank Gormlie March 22, 2020 at 12:13 pm

Sorry Peter, you’re missing the point here by the author. Not able to visit parks is not just a “minor annoyance”. (Did you read the article?) We can go to parks and practice social distancing and so can the park workers.


Peter from South O March 22, 2020 at 12:59 pm

What part of “stay home” don’t you get? I did not miss the point; I know people need fresh air. My counterpoint is that parks should be closed to protect and conserve our public workers who are better utilized during a PANDEMIC than cleaning up parks after selfish individuals that must take their exercise in one particular place.
We are lucky here with our options for open space. Think of NYC. The Mayor just implored residents to stay out of the parks.
The sky is not falling, but it is a damn sight closer than it was a few months ago.


Frank Gormlie March 22, 2020 at 1:16 pm

Ugh! “Selfish individuals”! Forget our health and relieving our stress, then.


Peter from South O March 22, 2020 at 1:25 pm

Yes, selfish individuals. Lake Murray is a reservoir, and as such is closed to the public. Many other parks are open (for now). You can relieve stress with a walk around the block. Don’t be frustrated by perceived affronts to your personal freedom at this early stage. Be flexible, positive and get into the WWII mindset, if you can. We can get through this despite the best efforts of the buffoon in the White House.


Frank Gormlie March 22, 2020 at 2:47 pm

Me thinks we’re showing our anxiety, amigo.


Peter from South O March 23, 2020 at 4:22 am

If you doubt that we are indeed in deep shit, keep an eye on the Florida numbers in the next few days. I’m 67 with underlying immune system issues. I have been at home since the Governor told me to do so a week ago. Anxiety? No. Scientifically informed concern with the way this is being addressed by the population AND the administration? Yeah. That’s the ticket.
Did you watch the twenty-minute stream of self-pity that orange man spouted at the “task force update” yesterday? I mean really watch the whole, horrifying thing, not just highlights? Gaaaaaahhhhh!


Gregor Schroeder March 23, 2020 at 11:40 am

Please stay where you live and do not travel to public spaces that others are/will travel to during this. This is a global pandemic not a holiday. I am sorry for your inconvenience during this time.


Shay April 8, 2020 at 2:22 pm

I don’t see how walking on a trail and briefly passing by another person is a risk. Covid-19 is serious and is deadly but you’re not going to get it by walking by someone!!! Certain things are being blown way out of proportion!!!! Get rid of the ports potties for now and use the bathroom before you go. Otherwise, I see no problem with being on a hiking trail out in the open!!


sealintheSelkirks April 8, 2020 at 7:54 pm

Shay, read my reply from March 24th. That should explain what you don’t understand yet.

Six feet is the MINIMUM that standing perfectly still a person’s exhalation will carry those microscopic water droplets filled with tens of thousands of live virus in each Six feet before they land on your shoes.

I teach martial arts (well, not at the moment except phone lessons!) and believe me that I know just how far someone’s wet breathe will fly. All instructors and trainers do. And that’s just what I can physically feel. What I can’t goes even farther because the smaller, the lighter the droplet is, the more distance it will cover…to cling to your sleeve or shirt collar or your earlobe. Wherever they can land, they will. Then you pull your sleeve off your coat when you get home, hang it up and just barely brush your bare skin on that spot, then rub your itchy nose because you just came inside. You just became infected with a killer lung-closing virus. It’s that damn easy.

Deaths are being severely under-reported everywhere. Governments are running very scared.



Debbie March 21, 2020 at 2:56 pm

Rocky Mountain National Park is now closed to all visitors until further notice

Also, public restrooms are probably breading grounds for “the virus”.

Well wishes to All!


Debbie March 21, 2020 at 5:34 pm

Cabrillo is also closed.


Frank Gormlie March 22, 2020 at 2:50 pm

“People can still go for a walk or run or bike ride, but they should do it while following physical distancing rules,” said Lifeguard Division Chief James Gartland. “The Stay At Home order makes clear that this is not a time for parties, it’s a time to protect the public health.”


thequeenisalizard March 23, 2020 at 9:59 am

California, and San Diego cases are going up exponentially now. It’s much larger than worrying about social distancing and exercise. If it’s not a necessity stay the fuck indoors. Think of others.


Peter from South O March 23, 2020 at 10:58 am

What he said.


Frances O'Neill Zimmerman March 23, 2020 at 3:25 pm

This “great national drama” is weird, folks, unprecedented, historic and full of flaws. Belatedly, lamely, our President has just now walked back his past racist comments about Asians causing the coronavirus and is hyping the availability tomorrow of scientifically unproven chloroquine in New York City.
But here at home parking is off-limits at our parks and beaches. We’ve got ravaged grocery stores tardily posting quotas on certain items and compensatory bustling over-crowded “senior” shopping hours. Personal disorientation from necessary quarantine and “social distancing” is morphing into depression and isolation. School Closed has literally become No School at All, with one secondary teacher in 15 (my limited sample from San Diego Unified) providing daily academic interaction and direction to her students. What’s with that? One week in, there should be course-specific on-line lessons for the Haves and xeroxed packets for the Have-Nots, delivered along with every free and reduced lunch. People are obedient, stoic and sturdy, but the institutional response to this pandemic leaves a lot to be desired.


Michael March 24, 2020 at 1:13 pm

There’s a long history of naming viruses according to their origins.

I don’t think it really helps anything to call it that, but you have to call it something before you can categorize it.

Wet markets are breading grounds for cross specie contamination and they’re very prominent all over Asia.


Peter from South O March 24, 2020 at 4:54 am

City of Carlsbad Closes Beaches, Parks and Trails
Due to the number of people continuing to gather at city parks, trails and beaches, the City of Carlsbad announced it will temporarily close these public areas starting March 23 to help slow the spread of the virus that causes the COVID-19 disease.
Based on an update to the County of San Diego’s COVID-19 public health order, cities where people are not following social distancing rules at parks, trails and beaches are advised to close these areas to the public.
The order is enforceable by law. The City of Carlsbad Police Department has set up teams to fan out to popular gathering locations and non-essential businesses using and education-first approach. If people don’t comply after that, the police has the authority to issue citations.
About six of Carlsbad’s 7 miles of coastline are owned and operated by the state of California. The city has made a formal request to the State Parks Department to close its beaches and parking lots in Carlsbad.


Chris March 24, 2020 at 8:38 am

More than citations (which could be $1000). I heard on the news this morning of possible jail time up to 6 months.


Frank Gormlie March 24, 2020 at 10:47 am

It’s really doubtful that anyone would be jailed; they’re actually releasing people, non-violent offenders, people near the end of the jail terms, out back in the population. $1000 fine and 6 months is the standard sentence for most misdemeanors.


Chris March 24, 2020 at 10:52 am

I know, but still it was mentioned.


sealintheSelkirks March 24, 2020 at 2:45 pm

Folks, My neighbor to the north is a 75 year old retired biologist (immune/infectious disease labs before shifting to teaching high school biology). My best friend was a biologist who was on a county-sponsored task force in the mid-80s supposed to come up with an emergency plan on what to do after a Soviet Union biological warfare attack with a weaponized virus. I sent them BOTH the article link below, and they both replied ‘YEP, that’s how damned easy it is to catch this.’

You wanna go JOGGING past someone who’s huffing their breath out with exercise when just standing still breathing will have your water droplet breath travel 6 feet? Are you trying for your own Darwin Award?

You can jog in place in your living room. Get a jump rope. Put your feet under the edge of your couch and do sit-ups. I have a dojo built in my spare bedroom that I use every day at least for a short workout. I’m also an old surfer dude but I listen to the people who study this.

Read the other links I put up on First Day of Spring in OB.

The following article is NOT for somebody that can’t take any more bad news. DON’T read it as it is just a scenario that has been playing out all across the world one way or another…

Quit thinking flu. SARS II/Covid 19 isn’t. 3.4% of the population is roughly 11 million people.

My state, is closed. The economy of Washington is crashing like running into a piling surfing Southside of the Pier… STAY HOME is what the MD’s and RNs are saying all over the world. And they are at the pointy end of this stick…



tennyson March 30, 2020 at 9:09 pm

Parks in Coronado, Oceanside, Ventura are open because social distancing was observed. In OB social distancing was not observed. Yesterday driving through SC there were folks bunched up all over the cliffs, no one appeared to be observing the yellow “closed” tape. No one to blame here but ourselves for being so entitled we thought the rules applied to you, not us.


Don March 30, 2020 at 9:23 pm

Was walking along the cliffs and a jogger ran between my partner and I and jumped over our dog because apparently we were blocking her sidewalk. So, no more walking on that street now. You are right that as soon as one person rips down the caution tape, people feel emboldened to enter through that opening. Good to see the Border Patrol actually doing something useful today and monitoring parking lots along with the parking ticket cops.


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