City Heights residents have ramped up calls for more park space in recent years, and neighborhood teens challenged city officials to come up with the money to solve what they say is a community health issue. Fewer parks means sedentary lifestyles and unsafe places to play.
The neighborhood needs about 100 acres of additional parkland to comply with city guidelines. Mayor Bob Filner’s preliminary budget, released this week, takes steps to fill that gap.
It calls for $750,000 to begin construction on the Home Avenue Park. City Heights residents have waited about a decade to break ground on the two-acre park, which will commemorate former District 4 Councilman Charles Lewis III, who passed away in 2004.
The budget does not, however, set aside funds for a skate park in the neighborhood.
Filner told City Heights youth at a rally in December he would find money for the popular project, even leading the crowd in chanting ‘Skate, se puede,’ a riff on the United Farm Workers rallying cry “Si, se puede,” which translates to “Yes, we can.”
Youth involved with the Mid-City Skatepark Advocacy Group have worked with City Councilwoman Marti Emerald to identify a possible location for their skate park — a lot next to the Copley Family YMCA on Landis Street. But the project hasn’t been formalized and added to the city’s list of pending capital projects. Parks typically make it onto the list long before full funding is available.
The mayor did budget $1.2 million for a mini park on Central Avenue that has been designed to include a small skateboarding area.
Filner’s budget also includes new allocations for playgrounds at Chollas Lake and a pilot program that would provide free bus passes for some students at City Heights high schools.
The City Council will review the budget in early May. A community hearing for residents to give feedback is scheduled for May 22.
Megan Burks is a reporter for Speak City Heights, a media project of Voice of San Diego, KPBS, Media Arts Center and The AjA Project. You can contact her directly at email@example.com or 619.550.5665.
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