The project to add lights over Rosecrans Street is underway, while continued delays on a proposed pocket park, stalled by funding issues and park-planning changes, has prompted Peninsula planners to petition the City to grandfather the latter project in.
“We got a permit and the project is actually under construction, which we hope will be done by the end of the year,” said Branden Boysen, a board member of the Point Loma Association, which is spearheading Anchor Lights, a series of string lights reaching across Rosecrans Street from Talbot to Cañon Street.
News is not so good however on the other Point Loma community-improvement project, a long-delayed proposal to turn a vacant lot on Avenida de Portugal above Cañon Street into a pocket park.
“Adoption of new rating priorities for San Diego parks may have the unintended consequence of wasting seven years of volunteer and City staff effort and throwing away $1 million on an unfinished pocket park,” said Fred Kosmo, Peninsula Community Planning Board chair, in a recent letter to the mayor. “The City recently adopted a new master plan for the city’s park system … Unfortunately, it may stop a three-quarter acre pocket park in Point Loma from being completed. Highest priorities under a point system will go to large, recreation-oriented parks, not small passive ones.”
“Despite seven years of work and the money spent, this park may be shoved to the end of the line and never built,” concluded Kosmo’s letter. “The PCPB voted 10- 0 on Sept. 16 to ask the mayor’s office to Grandfather the pocket park under the old rules; find the funds to fill the gap and devote staff resources to get the park built, and identify how much money was spent and what money remains for the project.”
PLA board member and landscape architect J.T. Barr, who’s been working on the Anchor Lights project, spoke of its particulars.
“We’re using high-efficiency, LED string lights, two pairs strung across each set of eight poles over two blocks,” he said.“The project is intended to shine a light on the historic village providing an experience or ambiance. The lighting will be better, but it also will be lighting that is much more pedestrian-friendly. The goal is to create a canopy of light over the street. So as pedestrians walk on the sidewalk or down the street, it will create a ceiling of light that they experience.”
Barr’s PLA colleague, Boysen, added that the poles on which lights are to be strung are “supposed to look like masts on a sailing ship.” He added those lights are also “supposed to be programmable with different colors.”
Added Boysen, “The total estimated cost for the project is $530,000. The project funding has come from the County of San Diego ($60,000), the City of San Diego ($5,000), 216 generous donors ($225,000), and unrestricted funds from the Point Loma Association ($240,000).”
Community activist Don Sevrens has been working on the Cañon Street pocket park proposal since 2014. Pointing out a need for such a park was identified in Point Loma’s community plan in 1987, Sevrens expressed frustration that the pocket park remains in limbo while costs soar.
“We found $844,000 in Development Impact Fees, that the City had lost track of, that was sufficient in 2014 to fund the project,” Sevrens said. “The project got unanimous approval at every level. Now the City is saying that money has been spent on soft and hard engineering, with no elaboration on what that is.”
Added Sevrens: “The City just passed a budget of $4.6 billion. You can’t find $1 million to complete a park? The biggest fear here is that the new City parks master plan changes the priority system for parks, giving points to large parks but not small parks meant as passive parks. With the new priority system, it seems fair to grandfather this park project after seven years. Let this pocket park be created and developed under the old rules, rather than let it sit there for another 20 or 25 years.”