OCEANSIDE — City Council adopted an updated Parks and Recreation Master Plan for the city at its Nov. 20 meeting.
It is the plan’s first update since 1996. That previous update included a recommendation for building out the El Corazon Park. Later in 2005, council approved a conceptual master plan for the site and in 2009, a “Specific Plan” was approved to include 212 acres zoned for parks and recreation.
Council also approved including the plan as part of the Community Facilities Element of the General Plan. This plan determines requirements like 5 acres per 1,000 residents, which will remain unchanged.
The Parks and Recreation department conducted a community process period between February and June 2018 to determine what the community wants for its parks, which then continued at Parks and Recreation meetings following that time.
Through surveys and community workshops, several top priorities the community wants to see for its parks include:
- Improvements to existing facilities
- Preserving open space
- Increase in trail and pathway connections
- Improvements to event facilities
- Additional facilities like gymnasiums, new restrooms, and others for activities like aquatics, bicycling and BMX, pickleball and basketball.
The plan update also conducted a “parkshed analysis” that considered walking and driving time to parks. The study identified three locational gaps:
- An area south of Oceanside Boulevard and north of state Route 78 between Vista Way and Rancho Del Oro Drive
- Space south of North Santa Fe Avenue and west of Melrose Drive
- An area east of Guajome Regional Park in the Guajome neighborhood.
According to Megan Crooks, city development services senior management analyst, city staff recommends using these three areas to close the gaps in parks across the city.
“The priorities would be to create pathways or connectivities to parks that are nearby and that you just don’t have that 15-minute walk or five-minute drive to access them, or to create trails in these areas which would then act as park space,” Crooks said.
Crooks added that it would be a “last resort” to recommend developing new parks in these areas.
The Parks and Recreation Commission voted 5-1-2 to recommend the plan, with one no vote and two abstained.
The commissioner who voted against the plan was Bill Loftus, who at the council meeting explained it was because it doesn’t address the lack of senior facilities in the city. Loftus used data from the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency to show how fast the senior population is growing.
“It’s a graying community,” Loftus said. “There are more people like me than parents with children.”
Crooks said city staff has been in talks with the Parks and Recreation commissioners regarding the need for more senior facilities. She noted the updated plan states the need for more recreation centers, which could be multi-generational.
Parks and Recreation commissioners also recommended including El Corazon’s specific plan in the update.
Council approved the update 4-1, with Councilman Chris Rodriguez opposed.
Rodriguez said he wanted to see some “additional layers” added to the update, like restructuring how Parks and Recreation is structured in its leadership and management of its facilities.
“Parks are important but they cost money,” Rodriguez said. “If we don’t plan correctly and have smart goals and action steps we’re going to lack funds.”
He suggested the department approach its management of parks and facilities as more like a business to help create additional revenues.