City creating Parks Master Plan, seeking La Jolla input

To create San Diego’s first Parks Master Plan in more than 60 years, the City is in the early phases of plan development, and has scheduled meetings this month to gather community input. No meetings are set in La Jolla, but the nearest one is 6-8 p.m. Thursday, June 21 at the Standley Recreation Center gym, 3585 Governor Drive in University City.

Meredith Dawson, with San Diego’s administrative services division, talked about the Parks Master Plan at the June 3 La Jolla Parks & Beaches (LJP&B) advisory group meeting at La Jolla Rec Center. Shoreline parks, such as those found in La Jolla, are considered regional parks and will be included in the Master Plan.

“We haven’t, as a City, had a Parks Master Plan since 1956 and this is something that is being led by the San Diego Planning Department with the support of the Mayor and the City Council,” she said. “It’s a three-year effort, and right now we are in the ‘listening phase’ that started with interviews with Park & Rec staff, so their wants and needs could be heard, San Diego City Council Members’ staff and the Mayor’s staff. Now we are listening to the communities. If this effort is not reaching the residents and park advocates, the City is not going to get the feedback it needs.”

A full list of the open house-style workshops can be found at cityofsandiegoparksplan.com (which also has a comment section for feedback). Those who wish to give input can attend any of the remaining workshops, regardless of where they live. A survey has also gone out to a select few households.

“We want your feedback — your pros and cons — the good, the bad and the ugly. The fact that this hasn’t been done since the 1950s speaks to our needs for a new roadmap for how we’re going to manage parks and infrastructure for the next 50 years,” she said.

LJP&B chair Ann Dynes encouraged the board to participate in some form. “Our group is very focused on what’s good for La Jolla, that’s our job. But when you look at what could come out of this citywide … it has the potential to improve things like park maintenance. Even if you don’t have time to physically present at these workshops, this is an issue closer to our hearts than can be appreciated,” she said, and she suggested the formation of a small working group to compile feedback and submit it on behalf of the LJP&B group.

Trustee Judy Adams Halter advocated for attending and participating in the workshops in other districts because “they are the ones who come and use our beaches” and that “they need to hear our views and needs, so they support our views and needs.”

When asked about the possibility of issues that La Jolla groups have discussed — either for or against — like charging for nearby parking, altering the fee schedule for events held in public parks, upgrading playgrounds on San Diego property, and a long-sought change to reserve fees generated in parks for park maintenance in that same area (which groups like LJP&B and La Jolla Shores Association have requested for years), Dawson said: “This is the perfect time to be talking about these things. We don’t know what is going to come out of this in terms of policy or bond measures, but the potential is absolutely there.”

At the conclusion of Year One, the second phase will be the “envisioning phase” and the third, “rolling all this feedback into some real policy and into some strategy,” Dawson said.

Funding for this project was assigned by the Mayor to pay for a consulting firm to create the Parks Master Plan, with money for three years to keep the work within that time frame. No dollar amount was available.

“The consultants doing this Park Master Plan have a lot of knowledge about how large cities operate and fund their parks — and their park improvement projects,” Dawson said. “Also, the nice thing about (San Diego Park & Recreation director) Herman Parker is he has done these Master Plans in other cities and was surprised to find that we didn’t have one, so he has been a real advocate for this, as well.”

A repeated question from the board was whether the Parks Master Plan would override the local community plans, and the board was promised it would not.

“These (local plans) are approved policy documents in and of themselves, but there is no overarching Parks Master Plan. Right now, everything is piecemeal. … We asked that question directly to the Planning Department and the consultants, and we were told it would not.”

Encouraged, Dynes reminded the group: “When it comes to (funding and management) priorities, parks are at the bottom of the list. This is the time to get noisy!”

How to Share Your Parks Passions

Attend a public meeting. The closest to La Jolla is 6-8 p.m. Thursday, June 21 at Standley Recreation Center gym, 3585 Governor Drive in University City.

Post comments at cityofsandiegoparksplan.com

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