Mission Hills Residents Speak Up on Behalf of Presidio Park

| June 29, 2018 | 0 Comments

The grounds of Presidio Park are littered with trash and other unsavory items.

This past month, a large group of Mission Hills’ residents who live in the Presidio Hills area went before the Mission Hills Town Council trustees to voice their serious concerns regarding the physical condition of the park and the increasing number of homeless encampments that are becoming a common problem. They also shared the fact that walking through the park is no longer safe due to the “aggressive and odd” behavior of many transients who have decided to make Presidio Park their home.

Two of the Presidio Hills’ residents, Rebekah Walker and Lauren Williams, are spearheading the effort on behalf of the neighborhood and everyone with similar concerns.

As they shared with the trustees, the poor physical condition of the park is not just an aesthetic issue but also one of fire safety to Mission Hills. There are currently several encampments existing in the park at any given time. A fire took place in the Park several weeks ago that prompted attention by the San Diego Fire Department.

Also present at the meeting were representatives of Mission Hills Heritage. Following a lengthy discussion, some of the trustees and others who were present offered suggestions on city and county officials who might be able to assist with addressing these issues.

During the meeting, I offered my thoughts on involving the Old Town Chamber of Commerce as a part of this effort. Working together as collaborative partners would allow us to have a louder voice on these very important concerns that impact residents and businesses in both communities, Mission Hills and Old Town.

I also offered that the 250th commemoration of the State of California would take place in 2019 and lots of eyes and interest from throughout the State of California will be on Mission Hills and Old Town. That’s because Presidio Park is where Father Junipera Serra established the first mission for the State of California.

Following the meeting, I immediately contacted Supervisor Ron Roberts. He shared with me that the homeless situation is a priority for the County of San Diego and that funds were being “earmarked” for dealing with a major cause, which is primarily mental health related. (In this issue, on page 14, there is reference to funding that was recently approved by the County Board of Supervisors to address the homeless problem.)

This past month, as a trustee for the Old Town Chamber of Commerce, I spoke before the board and asked for support. All agreed that we needed to act accordingly and put time and resources to this effort. At the meeting were representatives of Councilman Chris Ward, Senator Tony Atkins and Assemblyman Todd Gloria’s offices.

Each of them responded by saying that they would look into the problem and make themselves available to discuss this further. Jason Weisz, field representative for Senator Toni Atkins office, said that there is funding coming from the State of California that is designated for Presidio Park. I offered to call him to learn more about the funding and the timing.

Over the last week, I have been fielding and reviewing emails from the Mission Hills’ residents who are advocating to correct the physical state of Presidio Park, which is quickly becoming a serious fire concern due to dead vegetation and unkempt grounds, lack of water and the homeless encampments.

I have seen and heard from these same residents about the alarming number of needles lying on the grounds, near park benches and in areas where visitors and guests of Presidio Park go to picnic, hike and spend time with family and friends.

With Fourth of July just days away, I know that crowds of locals, residents and visitors of San Diego will be swarming to Presidio Park to celebrate the holiday. It worries me that they will see and experience what those of us who live near the Park are growing accustomed to observing on a daily basis.

We do not want Presidio Park to become known as the forgotten Park of San Diego. As a reminder, this is where San Diego and the State of California started. Let’s treat it like the gem it was meant to be and give it the attention it deserves and to protect and preserve it as a significant historical, landmark park for the City of San Diego and the State of California.

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