Kids' play area planned for small O.B. park

Where Saratoga Ave. meets the ocean is also homeless hangout

Saratoga Park
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The Ocean Beach Community Development Corporation has proposed several changes to the end of Saratoga Avenue in O.B., mainly a privately funded children’s playground and adult fitness center to be located at the west end of the green space that abuts beach just north of the pier.

The project was proposed to the community back in 2014, but many residents say they are just learning about it now.

“We have beautiful cliffs and beach to run along, an ocean to swim, surf, paddle on and a grassy area with lots of room for activities…a couple of blocks the other way is a rec center and the Ebers Street park...and the other way are sporting fields and a skate park,” commented Holly via a Facebook post, “I kinda just see this being a place where I wouldn't want to actually take my child and where the less likeable homeless people will continue to reside…. I don't understand why kids need something to do at the beach. Or why adults need a specific fitness area?”

Per the OBCDC, the adult-specific fitness area would serve the firefighters and first-responders who routinely work out at the park.

“There are still a lot of questions to be answered,” said Claudia Jack from the Ocean Beach Mainstreet Association. “Way back in the day, there used to be a playground that went unattended, so they took it out; this new one is quite a ways down the road, maybe a few years.”

Former San Diego City Council member and longtime Point Loma resident Byron Wear explained the ongoing project.

“A children's play area at this Saratoga Park location was approved as part of the Ocean Beach Community Plan two-plus years ago by a unanimous vote of the O.B. Planning Board, the San Diego City Council and the California Coastal Commission. A small play area for kids on the edge of the park will be family-friendly and allow for other informal passive park use. The funds for the children's playground will be privately raised.”

Back in December 2016, councilmember Lori Zapf granted $2500 for the project during a fundraiser, which raised nearly $7k, said Wear (whose son Conrad is on Zapf’s staff).

“Other San Diego beach communities have children's play areas near the beach including La Jolla Shores, Pacific Beach at Fanuel Street, Mission Beach at Bonita Cove and Shelter Island in Point Loma,” Wear continued. “The playground will likely be only 5 percent of the park area.”

Who will maintain the playground remains a mystery.

“Like I said,” Jack added, “A lot of questions surround it and they still need to raise the money to build it.”

There will be community workshops and design ideas for all to look at before any final decisions are made. The OBCDC holds public meetings every second Thursday of the month at 7 p.m. at the OB Rec Center. Tom Perrotti, president of the OBCDC confirmed the next workshop is “tentatively planned for Tuesday, April 18, at 7 p.m.”

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I believe this park is dedicated as Ocean Beach Park under City Charter Section 55, and protected. Saratoga Park and the proposed Ruth Varney Held park are not named parks, and also are not on the list of alcohol-prohibitions for parks. The primary difference between dedicated parks and city property used as a park is that only dedicated parks are protected parkland and require a 2/3 vote of the people of San Diego to change the status.

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