Improving San Diego's Parks Will Take More Input and Money | Voice of San Diego

Opinion

Improving San Diego's Parks Will Take More Input and Money

With the parks master plan being part of an overarching plan to reduce development impact fees to encourage more development in the city, the amount of money available for parks will be further reduced even as the amount of residents increases.

Eric Harris runs through some basketball drills with his sons at a court near Sherman Elementary School. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

The city’s parks master plan got it right when it comes to trying to focus on communities of concern and our older park-poor neighborhoods. These communities having been waiting for decades for park upgrades but more importantly for more park land and in that the parks master plan fails to deliver.

The parks master plan’s emphasis on a points-based system overvalues the built environment and undervalues our open space parks, canyons, creeks and even over our less developed park areas like grassy areas for picnicking, playing catch or letting children run amok in glee.

Instead the plan focuses on more concrete and commercial activities in our parks. While some commercial activities in our park can serve diverse communities, with the city’s centralized planning approach and fear of public input, there is no guarantee that these activities will provide the types of services our diverse communities’ desire.

The real problem is that the city of San Diego does not fund parks.

With the parks master plan being part of an overarching plan to reduce development impact fees to encourage more development in the city under the ill-named “Complete Communities,” the amount of money available for parks will be further reduced even as the number of residents increases. But at least the politicians and the developers will get rich. The mayor seems to think that should be enough for San Diegans.

The city’s rush to approve this plan before our current mayor leaves office has shut community groups across the city out of the planning efforts, and to date has failed to acknowledge the many great recommendations of professional planners including former city of San Diego park planners, the city’s own Planning Commission, and has squashed public participation in the process.

Seems to me that the mayor is just trying to pay back the developers who got him elected before he leaves office. What do you think?

Karin Zirk is the executive director of the Friends of Rose Creek, a resident of Pacific Beach and highly values the ecosystem diversity of San Diego.

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