Days after a 22-year-old man was stabbed at a bus stop at 43rd and El Cajon Boulevard on September 13th, the Copley-Price Family YMCA staff decided to lock the entrance to the Y off the boulevard.
4300 El Cajon Boulevard, City Heights
"It's for the security of our members," said Justin Warren, the facility's membership director. "We have families and kids here, and we want people to feel safe because they are safe."
Members are still getting used to the change but say it's understandable.
"It's sad that they have to lock the door to keep people safe," said a member who preferred not to be identified except as “a swimmer.” "But that's the neighborhood, and I'm glad they're looking out for us."
On September 13th, just past 7:30 p.m., a man approached the victim at the bus stop, according to San Diego police officer Billy Hernandez. "One of them made a gang remark," Hernandez said. The victim fled up 43rd Street and to Meade Avenue, where he apparently turned west and ran to his brother's home at Cherokee and Meade, according to police reports.
"The call came from Cherokee and Meade, and that's where the officers made contact with the victim," Hernandez said. "The wound was non-life-threatening."
But knowing what happened raised red flags for the Y staff.
"We had some issues [with the El Cajon Boulevard entrance],” said Warren, “and we had concerns about non-members having access to the lobby."
The Y's main entrance is on 43rd Street, with a drop-off driveway that leads into the parking garage. Most people use that entrance, which is closer to the front desk and the check-in kiosk. The sheltered driveway allows for less stress for parents picking up their kids and for other activities.
The Copley-Price Y opened in January 2015. It was built with funding from the Price Family Charitable Fund (now known as Price Philanthropies) and other groups that have long nurtured and invested in City Heights. The Price Family Charitable Fund was founded by Sol Price, who made his fortune by founding the Price Club. He worked for 30 years in City Heights and, when he died at 93 in 2009, had already invested tens of millions of dollars in the neighborhood, according to the Price Philanthropies website.
The $34 million YMCA complex, with two swimming pools and a playing field for league sports, is part of plans to revitalize a neighborhood that is one of the most diverse in California, but poverty and remnants of gang activity remain in the area.