La Jolla parks get an overall ‘good’ score in city evaluation; two get ‘poor’ ratings

La Jolla's Ellen Browning Scripps Park
La Jolla’s Ellen Browning Scripps Park had an almost perfect score in a recent evaluation of San Diego city park amenities.

Several La Jolla parks scored well in a recent evaluation of San Diego city park amenities, some nearly perfect. Two parks — one of them in The Village — received “poor” ratings.

The report looked at playgrounds, parking lots, playing fields and courts, furnishings, landscaping, pedestrian paving and other features.

Consultant Kitchell CEM performed Park Amenity Assessments for 235 parks throughout San Diego from 2014 to 2019. According to a report associated with the evaluation, the information will help city staff in planning for park maintenance and capital renewal for both current backlogs and future park concerns for the next 20 years.

Each park was given a Park Condition Index, or PCI, determined by a mathematical equation that factored in the cost of the current maintenance backlog (repairs for each asset type assessed, not including routine or daily maintenance), the cost of the replacement backlog for features that have reached the end of their useful life and the cost to replace plant assets in kind.

The highest backlog costs were for playgrounds, followed by parking lots. Overall, the evaluation determined that many playgrounds had exceeded their useful life and/or required upgrades to meet current code requirements for accessibility.

The lower the PCI, the better. The 14 parks rated in La Jolla had an average PCI of 9, considered “good.”

Here is a list of the La Jolla parks and the PCIs assigned to them:

  • Cuvier Park, also known as Whale View Point, home to La Jolla’s Wedding Bowl: 1
  • Ellen Browning Scripps Park: 1
  • Laureate Mini Park: 1
  • Soledad Natural Open Space Park: 1
  • Via del Norte Mini Park: 1
  • Cliffridge Park: 2
  • Bird Rock Neighborhood Park: 3
  • Kellogg Park: 3
  • Windansea Beach Park: 14
  • Calumet Park: 17
  • La Jolla Community Park, located on the Recreation Center grounds: 22
  • La Jolla Hermosa Park: 24
  • Villa La Jolla Neighborhood Park: 31
  • Starkey Mini Park: 34

Villa La Jolla and Starkey parks received “poor” PCIs.

Villa La Jolla Neighborhood Park is on Via Mallorca between Caminito Eastbluff and Via Marin east of Gilman Drive. It has a small playground and a few benches and picnic tables.

Starkey Mini Park, built in 1982, sits along Draper Avenue in The Village between Gravilla Street and Bonair Way and is intended to serve those within a half-mile. It has a limited playground, hilly terrain and multiple levels accessed by stairs.

Starkey Mini Park had La Jolla's worst Park Condition Index, or PCI.
Starkey Mini Park had La Jolla’s worst Park Condition Index, or PCI, in a recent evaluation of San Diego city parks.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

In 2019, three La Jolla Girl Scouts painted on the concrete at Starkey to add a hopscotch court, four-square court and walking “maze.”

One of them, Esra Yazici, said at the time that “most of us grew up here, so we have walked around this park and saw there were no kids here. We wanted to change that because the Fay Avenue Bike Path runs behind the park and connects to Muirlands Middle School and La Jolla High School, and La Jolla Elementary School is not that far away. So we were thinking it would be good to revamp this park and see more kids here.”

The park also was briefly considered for an off-leash dog area, but nothing came of the idea. Currently, dogs are allowed there on leash.

Claudia Baranowski, president of the La Jolla Parks & Beaches board, said: “While I have not seen the detailed contents of this evaluation of the city’s parks, [La Jolla Community Planning Association President Diane Kane and I] are pleased to see public attention focused on the long-standing disinvestment in public parks. We agree that attention to parks like Starkey is wonderful and are interested in learning more about this study and its potential impact on our community parks.

“Awareness is the first step in remedying the situation, hopefully with meaningful discussions about the extended reinvestment into the future.”

The Kitchell CEM report recommends that the city create a plan to “address maintenance and capital backlog items identified for the 235 parks assessed … [and] to address backlog items identified in the park amenity assessments as ‘critical’ or ‘potentially critical,’ and to stop accelerated deterioration.”

It recommends that the plan “first determine which of the parks has the highest critical functions to the city based upon usage, accessibility and joint use. After this has been determined, the plan should provide a schedule for addressing backlog items by reliability level, beginning with Reliability Level 1,” which includes playgrounds, athletic fields, pedestrian walkways and outdoor courts. ◆