Otay Regional Park
There's a divide in the county when it comes to outdoor recreation. North of the 8, parks unfurl in all directions. In the South Bay, you have to squint to see them.
Thanks to San Diego's nearly 100 joint-use agreements, partnering with school and community college districts to provide shared use facilities for recreation, the county has found room for more parks.
But only 39 of those agreements are in park-poor areas, while 60 are in communities not so lacking.
"This is creating two very different living conditions for our children in San Diego," said councilmember Vivian Moreno at the April 6 meeting, as the City Council approved the latest joint-use agreement with San Dieguito Union High School District.
"The agreements that come to council are, by and large," to the north where parks are plentiful, said Moreno, whose district 8 covers the South Bay.
"We need to be engaged with and partnering with" school districts such as Sweetwater, South Bay Union, San Ysidro.
Carmel Valley plan will add 29.02 acres of irrigated natural turf field, running track, access drive, parking lots.
A report by the San Diego Foundation mapped the most park-poor areas as having the highest concentration of low-income and minority households. It noted that while 45 percent of the county's total land area is green space, communities don't share equally in the park riches.
The latest agreement doesn't change that. It will open two more recreation spots in 2022 in North County. It covers the use and maintenance of facilities at Pacific Trails Middle School and Canyon Crest Academy in the Pacific Highlands Ranch Community of Carmel Valley.
It will add 29.02 acres of irrigated natural turf field, running track, access drive, parking lots, and infrastructure to the area's already abundant options for outings.
Right next to the schools, the city-owned Pacific Highlands Ranch Community Park opened in April 2019 with a five-acre turf field, new 17,000-square-foot recreation center, two dog parks, a playground and discovery play area, skate plaza, the city’s first free public parkour area and a bike pump track.
Joint use with the adjacent schools was planned when the park was recommended for approval in 2016 by the Carmel Valley Recreation Council (an advisory board to the San Diego Park and Recreation Department) and the Park and Recreation Board.
According to a staff report, the school and park sites were acquired and built to function on a joint-use basis to reduce the overall cost to the public to use them. Construction was funded by the district.
The city’s annual estimated maintenance cost is $27,654.
An initiative to build over 45 new joint-use parks – the Play All Day Parks Program – is now in the works, but the concept is nothing new. The city and San Diego Unified School District have had shared-use agreements for recreational facilities since 1948. It's one of the largest joint-use programs in the country.
They are currently updating all of the joint-use agreements.
Moreno said she met with park staff in 2020 to discuss the inequity that has left her district with far less green space. While the department has had conversations with some of the South Bay districts about potential opportunities, that's as far as it's gotten.
There are no concrete plans to create new joint-use areas in District 8, she said.
"The area that needs it the most."