ENCINITAS — Despite the growing popularity of Leucadia’s newest park, some residents living nearby are speaking out against overcrowding, obscene behavior and safety hazards.
Since the opening of Olympus Park in early May, many have enjoyed the park’s numerous attractions, including a skate park and zipline. However, neighborhood residents have described something far less appealing — parked cars obstructing fire lanes, public urination and loitering on private lawns.
Jordan Stockholm, a longtime Piraeus Street resident, fears his neighborhood has been plunged into a seemingly irreversible change. Stockholm recalled one particular incident when his wife was verbally abused for asking teenagers not to ride their e-bikes through the park section designated for younger children.
“My wife spoke up and said ‘Hey, please stop.’ They got in her face and there were four of them standing there yelling obscenities at her,” said Stockholm, who was speaking with his wife on the phone at the time of the incident and told her to “run.”
“And someone on the phone heard me say it and said, ‘Yeah, run you b—’.”
Stockholm has reached out to the city multiple times requesting parking enforcement and even the removal of the skating feature, fearing that it attracts unruly individuals.
“I wish my little boy felt comfortable now wanting to go to this amazing park but after he saw his mom being verbally attacked, he was afraid,” said Stockholm. “I’m not asking the city to tear the park down. I’m asking them to do the right thing and solve the immediate problems.”
Other neighbors have reported similar concerns to city officials, such as parkgoers urinating in driveways and bushes and bullying in the area surrounding Olympus Park.
“They’ve come in here with no respect to anyone around them. I’ve heard cursing, I know there are some issues,” said Brandi Pullman, a neighborhood resident. “It’s just a bummer to see these kids act this way. Where are the morals and the values?”
Opened on May 2, the Encinitas City Council was enthusiastic to open what it had labeled a passive-use park. Passive-use parks are self-managed, designed for a smaller population and typically lack features such as designated parking and public restrooms.
“The top portion of the park is for more passive use and the bottom area is for more active use,” said Pat Piatt, a city spokesperson. “The park followed the preferred design concept that was approved. The park is new and attracting many visitors at this time. The city will continue to monitor the use of the park. At this time, the city is not considering any changes to the skate element.”
But Stockholm said the passive-use designation and a lack of public restrooms have only created problems for homeowners in the area. Stockholm believes the park has become too popular without the proper infrastructure or design to handle it.
“The park was designed as a passive neighborhood park,” said Stockholm. “And they told us in the city meetings that they’re purposely not putting bathrooms because of the passiveness. They don’t expect anyone to stay long enough to need a restroom.”
“Well, if that was the case, this past Sunday I wouldn’t have caught two people in my yard — one woman squatting and another man I caught before he started peeing.”
Since opening, the park has employed a security guard seven days a week in an effort to maintain safety, according to Piatt.
On May 21, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department began parking enforcement around congested fire lanes on Olympus Street in response to several residents’ complaints. The enforcement will remain in place until August 21.
Following the restrictive new signage, visitors have taken to parking along Piraeus Street, leaving a dangerous blind spot for cars on Olympus turning south onto Piraeus.
“There wasn’t anticipation that this would be a problem when this was built,” San Diego Sheriff’s Lt. Matt Blumenthal told The Coast News. “The worst part of it was that the city built a really nice park. I think because of that, as well as just things like the e-bikes, it becomes a congregational area for people to hang out.”