Dennis V. Allen Park
The playground at Dennis V. Allen Park in Southeastern San Diego. / Photo by Megan Wood

This week we asked residents to share the condition of their local park, and what they would do to improve it if the city had the necessary resources. We got dozens of responses — from doing nothing to tearing it apart and starting over. 

Our curiosity stemmed from recent reporting by Lisa Halverstadt who found the city of San Diego has hundreds of vacancies within its parks and recreation department. The staffing troubles have slowed the city’s efforts to ramp up recreation center programs and pool hours and maintain city parks in the aftermath of pandemic-related shutdowns. 

Advocates for city parks and libraries on Wednesday launched a campaign for a proposed November 2022 parcel tax measure that would provide funding for park and library projects as well as security and technology needs. 

“The community is united behind this ballot measure because these public spaces belong to the public, they belong to you and me, and the public deserves better,” said Michel Anderson, chairman of the San Diego Parks Foundation in a statement. 

Supporters told the Union-Tribune they are still making calculations, but that property owners can expect to pay “a few dollars a month” if the parcel tax is passed by voters next year. 

So, what’s really happening with local parks? Here’s what you had to say. 

Sharon Singleton, who wrote in about the 6th Avenue playground at Balboa Park, estimated that some of the playground equipment there “dates back to at least the 1960s.” She wants better park maintenance and increased access to social services to support homeless people in the area. 

Adam, whose local park is Dennis V. Allen in the Mount Hope neighborhood, said “I would fix the jungle gym!” which has, apparently, burned down. 

Dennis V. Allen Park
The jungle gym at Dennis V. Allen Park in the Mount Hope neighborhood on Nov. 19, 2021. / Photo by Megan Wood

Others who shared with us wanted expanded park hours and services. 

James Hauser, who uses the city park shared with John Adams Elementary School in Normal Heights, said the park closes at dark. “During the winter months the park is locked around 5:30, giving the residents little opportunity to enjoy it even though the park has lights and the lights remain on until 10. During the pandemic the park was closed during the day because it was during school hours even though the school was closed.” 

Steph, who mentioned the South Clairemont Rec Center, said “Sunday is one of the busiest days at the park but the building is closed so there are no restrooms to use.” 

Have thoughts on your local park? Tell us here. We’ll do a bigger roundup of your responses next week. 

News You Can’t Miss

  • Earlier this week, Maya Srikrishnan explained how San Diego’s District 4 has been undergoing a demographic shift for decades that has meant fewer Black people have been able to stay in the district — and in the city of San Diego as a whole.   
  • Mayor Todd Gloria last week doubled San Diego’s previous commitment to cut emissions. His new climate target: net zero emissions by 2035. Our MacKenzie Elmer spoke with Gloria about how we’d get there. 
  • It’s been a rough year at the Housing Commission, and the City Council is getting closer to reforming the agency. More from Andrew Keatts on the topic here. 
  • San Diego officials have collected positive press for their ordinance banning so-called ghost guns, but it’s not at all clear how the city will enforce the ordinance, as freelancer James Stout reported for us this week.

Read These Comments

 About city parks and rec vacancies … 

“Why not target active seniors for many of these positions? I have zero interest in joining a union or getting involved in office politics, but helping kids? Oh hell yes!! I think a lot of active seniors would feed the same way. We could not be lifeguards, and would probably not be suitable for heavy work, but there are a lot of seniors who are looking for ways to give back to the community.” – Bruce Higgins 

On San Diego Unified’s unplanned mental health day … 

“After over a year of closed-down schools, it is really a shock. Now we have set the expectation that the school calendar can change at a week’s notice and it’s up to the parents to figure it out.  If I had known my children were having a 4-day weekend I could have planned accordingly.  We are very disappointed in how this decision could have been made without input from school sites or parents, or how it could have been so poorly communicated and planned.” – MLin92115 

As always, we want to hear from you. Shoot me an email at In case you missed it, we text now. As our digital manager says, we promise to only send you cool shit. Text “VOSD” to (619) 374-5382 or sign up using this link. 

Megan is Voice of San Diego’s director of marketing. She is responsible for producing and overseeing strategies that extend the reach of the organization....

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