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

From playground upgrades to overall park maintenance, it’s clear San Diego’s parks could use some — or a significant amount of — work.  

Last week the San Diego Public Library Foundation and the San Diego Parks Foundation launched their campaign for a ballot initiative that would add a parcel tax to property tax bills across the city of San Diego. The funding would support park and library projects, homeless outreach, and security and technology needs among other things. 

As Scott Lewis and Andrew Keatts mentioned in this week’s Politics Report, we’ll be interested to see the breakdown of how the money is spent between building and fixing things and paying people to run and operate existing programs. 

Another key issue: Staffing shortages. The city currently has hundreds of vacancies within its parks and recreation department that have slowed efforts to ramp up recreation center programs and pool hours and maintain city parks in the aftermath of pandemic-related shutdowns.  

Last week our readers shared with us the conditions of their local parks, and what improvements they would prioritize if the city had the necessary resources. We got a lot of interesting responses — some were positive, but most were not. Here’s what they had to say.  

Editor’s Note: Some responses have been edited for clarity.

Most Concerns Relate to Park Maintenance  

Miriam Aguilar Escobar on the Adams Avenue Community Park: “This park has been neglected for decades. I am sure it is out of compliance, not only for the quality of the gym structure that is totally outdated but also out of compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.” 

Denise Stanley on the Carmel Valley Community Park: “It’s in disrepair! 3 years ago, lights fell over from poles being rusted out and they have not been fixed or replaced. We called everyone we could … Stop spending money on new parks until you fix the ones we have!” 

Homelessness Is Top of Mind 

Keith Selby on Charles Lewis III Memorial Park in City Heights: “With the increase in the homeless community the neighborhood parks need more than a quick drive through for maintenance. There is also a critical need for periodic supervision of the grounds. These parks have been treated like independent facilities, but they need monitoring.” 

Others Want New or Increased Amenities  

Steph on the South Clairemont Rec Center: “Staff 7 days a week. Sunday is one of the busiest days at the park but the building is closed so there are no restrooms to use.” 

Marty Caswell on Fanuel Park in Mission Bay: “Put in new swings. Put in a new slide. Modernize a park that hasn’t been updated in at least 20 years. This park is close to useless.” 

Holly Van Valkenberg on the Western Hills Park in Clairemont Mesa: “Add 2-4 standalone pickleball courts on the underused upper grassy area. Demand for pickleball is huge and the city currently has zero free public pickleball courts.” 

And for Some, Their Parks Are Just Fine 

Paul SanGiorgio on Olive Grove Park in Clairemont Mesa: “No major issues. Play equipment is just sad and boring compared to newer, cooler parks.” 

Melanie on the Lindbergh Neighborhood Park in Clairemont Mesa: “My park is wonderful. I walk my dog through it every day and there’s a hugely diverse community using the park for both organized (soccer classes, salsa classes, AA meetings, religious services, etc.) and unorganized (reading, sharing a meal, children playing, basketball) activities.” 

Notable Mentions 

Steve from San Diego said: “I worked for the Park Department for 29 years, retired. You could blindfold me, drive me to 10 parks all around the city. Unfold the blind fold at each park and I could tell you by the condition of the park where it is located. It was and is all about funding. Parks up north vs parks east and south. I’ve worked both areas. They’re completely different.” 

Like we mentioned in What We Learned This Week, Adam, whose local park is Dennis V. Allen in the Mount Hope neighborhood, wrote in to tell us he’d like the city to replace its jungle gym. Take a look at this photo and you’ll see why. 

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

Have thoughts on your local park? You can still share with us here. The city has a map that allows the public to track the progress of active construction projects (including some parks) here. See if yours is listed and let us know.

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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