Encinitas Residents Fighting Plan to Knock Down Park Wall
On Jan. 8, a 15-page lawsuit was filed by 40 neighbors of Encinitas to stop the city from tearing down part of a wall The neighbors, from residential blocks Warwick Avenue, Caretta Way, and Starlight Drive, wish to keep a six-foot-high concrete block wall that separates their homes from the 44-acre Encinitas Community Park.
The wall was initially built as part of a settlement from a decade ago, allowing no park access into the neighborhood. Due to concerns about lighting, traffic, and drainage affecting the residential area, construction of the park was delayed until the wall was created as a solution.
As reported by the San Diego Reader, Councilman Mark Muir spoke on behalf of the residents during an October City Council meeting. Previously, Muir was the fire chief for the city and had intimate knowledge of the city’s 2004 park plan.
“I value park access, but I also value an agreement,” Muir said. “Why didn’t the council at the time allow the access point? Why did they put up the wall?”
The reason for knocking down the wall came from the Cardiff School District, which wants to cut a pedestrian walkway through it in order to link two of their elementary school campuses. The gated path would give students and parents an easier way to walk between the park and schools.
As neighborhood leader Greg Hagen understood it, there were to be additional meetings before plans were finalized. “We held meetings with the superintendent, the principal, a school-board member, and city planner,” he said. “With only five days’ notice, I found out the item was on the October 11 City Council agenda. The school district apologized, saying they were not involved in proceeding with the project.”
Hagen later discovered that the proposed $66,000 cut in the wall was being pushed through by city officials. With a 4 to 1 vote of approval by the council, with only Muir opposing, city staff has agreed to create the hole in the wall. “We were never contacted,” Hagen said. With $30,000 worth of legal fees to prepare for a declaratory and injunctive relief, Hagen said, “It should be heard in the next 90 days.”
Per the San Diego Union-Tribune, the city’s mayor is behind the creation of the gate and path, citing walking and biking improvements. The residents noted in their lawsuit that because the roadways will remain private, that makes them liable for injuries to passing pedestrians and cyclists.