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Mira Mesa community pleads with the city to clean up parks, materials now on order

CBS 8 is Working For You to find out how the City of San Diego picks the parks and playgrounds it chooses to upgrade.

CBS 8 has been working for the Mira Mesa community who want to enjoy their local park, which they say is neglected and run down. Two days after airing the story about the park, we have an update from Mayor Todd Gloria's office. 

Working for You update June. 9, 2023:

A spokesperson tells us that City Councilmember Kent Lee, who represents the area met with the Parks and Rec Department and materials are now in the queue to be ordered; including materials to replenish the sandbox.

If you know anything about the damage that has been done to the park, officials are asking that you reach out to Crimestoppers.

We're scheduled to sit down with the City of San Diego's Park and Rec Department Monday to find out how the city maintains its parks and how they decide when a park gets updates.

Original story June 7, 2023:

Broken and missing playground equipment. Neglected maintenance. A homeless encampment beside the playground. Some people in a Mira Mesa neighborhood say the City plays favorites by fixing other parks and not theirs.

CBS 8 is Working For You to find out how the City of San Diego picks the parks and playgrounds it pays to upgrade, and to help this neighborhood bring attention to its neglected park.

The Mesa Verde Park community is diverse with immigrants and military families. It’s in the heart of Mira Mesa near Target and restaurants, and directly beside Mason Elementary School.

Alex Timberman has lived in the park neighborhood for 6 years. He brings his 3-year-old daughter here. He reached out to CBS 8 because he’s been telling the City about problems at the park for years, but says he’s gotten nowhere. 

“I love our neighborhood. I think we deserve better. Time passes by quickly. Kids become teenagers quickly. So one year when you have playground equipment that doesn’t work, I really feel like our kids are deprived," Timberman said. 

He showed us the sandbox. It’s full of old mulch that’s never been replaced by playgrounds and dead grass.

“Kids gravitate towards playing in the sand. They bring their small buckets here and I just feel sorry for them because they've never replenished the sand in the box or cleaned it or raked it,” Alex said. 

The playground’s seesaw disappeared months ago, as did a ladder. Alex filled out numerous “Get it Done" reports. Those cases are still open.

"Every park has better equipment than the one we're in," Alex said. 

About a mile down the road is the recently opened Salk Neighborhood Park. The $11.28 million park was developed by the city in partnership between it and the San Diego Unified School District. Alex says he was shocked at the city's spending on Salk Park last year. 

“I don't know what you can do with $11 million if you want to renovate a park," Alex said. "They let our park decay. Homes here are small. Homes are much larger. I don't know if tax revenue has something to do with it but I don't see why the city can't do better in this neighborhood. The city's job is to make things fair. Equal distribution of resources.” 

I asked Alex if he saw that in the way the City maintains the parks. "No." They haven't done anything here,” Alex said. 

But it’s not just broken or missing playground equipment that concerns families. Homeless people live on top of and behind a hill beside the playground. 

“They overlook the children playing here,” Alex said.

Alex also showed us the basketball courts. Mesa Verde Park has one of the only basketball courts in this area. It’s full of cracks. Along the edge of the park, there are deep holes along the fence line that fill with water. Alex and his neighbors worry about mosquitoes. The information Alex provided was reported to his City Councilmember’s office. In the past, it was Chris Cate, and now it is Kent Lee. But nothing has changed.

I started reaching out to the City and Councilmember Kent Lee’s office early in the morning. Late this afternoon I got this statement from Councilmember Lee’s office:

“People should feel safe when visiting their neighborhood park, and Councilmember Kent Lee shares the community’s concerns. He was at Mesa Verde Park in April with Parks and Recreation staff. He highlighted the need for the City to improve the overall experience at this park, including playground equipment. His office has also worked with residents over the last few months to document these issues. He has filed repair requests with City operations. Councilmember Lee just became chair of the City Council’s Infrastructure Committee. He is fighting to increase long-term funding so the City can improve neighborhood amenities like this one. Our office has confirmed that all constituent inquiries have been responded to. We encourage residents to contact our office directly by emailing KentLee@sandiego.gov.

The City also got back to me and says they’re working on getting answers and status updates on Alex’s open Get It Done app reports. Alex filled it out months ago. They said they'd have answers for us later this week and CBS8 will report those when we have them. They sent this statement just before airtime:

Parks and Recreation Department maintains Mesa Verde Park daily. Staff performs routine maintenance such as litter control, turf maintenance, weed abatement, graffiti removal, and equipment/amenity repair on an as-needed basis. City officials are gathering more information on additional maintenance issues.

Staff continues to actively work with the police department to address ongoing encampments in and around the park. The Unsafe Camping Ordinance will be heard by City Council on June 13. If the ordinance passes, it would provide guidance and support to both Parks and Recreation staff and SDPD in addressing encampment activity in parks.

For now, Alex will continue to hope Mesa Verde Park gets the attention it needs. He says, “I think people are very humble around here." People are very friendly. We can't have it. I think we deserve better than this.”

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