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Residents and park users wishing to have their say about the recent removal of guardrail benches along Sunset Cliffs Boulevard attended the June 1 meeting of the Sunset Cliffs Natural Park Council.

Also in attendance were SCNP councilmembers, San Diego Park and Recreation staff, and SDPD officer David Serwilo.

After the meeting was under way, Dan Daneri of the park and rec. department spoke about the decision to remove the benches. He also apologized to the council and community for removing them without consulting the SCNPC beforehand to get community input.

Noticeably absent from the meeting were any representatives from the City’s risk-management department, the agency that made the decision to remove the benches. Though the specific regulation the City acted in accordance with remains unclear, “liability issues” was the reason given.

During public input, speakers spoke in support of replacing the guardrail benches, as did a member of the O.B. Town Council.

The meeting was conducted in an orderly fashion with only a few interruptions being called to order. The founder of the Save Sunset Cliffs group was mildly disruptive and was called to order for interrupting the meeting twice.

The SCNPC membership then discussed the issue. The determination that some benches were within park boundaries and some in the city streets jurisdiction led to a motion to ask the City to replace the guardrail benches that had been removed from the parking lots along Sunset Cliffs Boulevard; those are within the park’s boundaries. The motion passed.

Further discussion led to the determination that because all the benches were used by park visitors, the SCNP could ask for all the guardrail benches to be replaced. A motion was passed to do so.

Discussion also ranged into the SCNP master plan guidelines regarding benches and “resting forms” for the park.

Keeping the park “natural” means that infrastructure and amenities will be kept to a minimum. Because of the lack of funding for implementation of the master plan, bench styles and bench placement throughout the park have yet to be addressed in detail.

A current grant from the California Coastal Commission for $2.8 million is expected to accelerate the pace of the master plan’s implementation.

The next meeting of the SCNPC will be on July 6.

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