The city of Chula Vista provided updates and a rough timeline on Harborside Park during Tuesday's city council meeting, nearly a month after its closure prompted by illicit and illegal activities occurring within homeless encampments.
Chula Vista City Council unanimously voted on Aug. 23 to temporarily close down Harborside Park for 90 days citing public safety concerns. The city closed the park to the public on Aug.31 and conducted a “Connect Event” which offered options to impacted unsheltered individuals.
According to the city’s Principal Management Analyst, Angelica Davis, the city cleared up about 10,000 pounds of trash at Harborside in a single day, compared to the 9,000 pounds typically collected at local parks. Once all encampments and debris were cleared from the park, the city installed a chain-link fence around the perimeter of the five-acre property, which sits adjacent to Harborside Elementary school.
Davis noted reports of increased homeless encampments in the surrounding areas, in partular industrial MTS and Caltrans sites.
“There are about 16 tents in the industrial areas, but you can't compare that to the 70 that were there in the days prior at Harborside,” Davis said.
Davis said there have been no major incidents since closing Harborside Park.
“There was a minor incident with the fencing company, but because we had 24-hour security hired by the city, we had no other issues,” Davis said during the city council meeting.
The city held a community workshop on Sept. 21 to engage with Harborside Elementary and the Chula Vista Elementary School District, residents, business owners, social service providers, and the County of San Diego to develop long-term solutions.
A community workshop was held at Harborside Elementary, which gathered more than 50 participants from the community.
“We did capture a lot of the community. The open house format allowed attendees to come in and speak to us and get some history about the park, then work on designing their own park, and start thinking about those long-term concepts of what we might want to see at the park,” said Chula Vista Housing Manager, Stacey Kurtz.
Community workshop participants took part in a survey, which is still available to the community until Oct. 21 on the city’s designated Harborside Park webpage. Kurtz said the city received nearly 200 responses.
“We're gonna keep asking the community to respond to their survey. It asks both short-term and long-term things on there,” Kurtz said.
Harborside Elementary School will hold a morning coffee chat with the city on Oct. 25, and on Nov. 14, the city will host another community meeting at Harborside Elementary to further re-imagine Harborside Park.
City council will receive a report in late November and possibly early December on the survey results, along with a mid-term proposal. A
“We are going to continue to work with the community on those long-term solutions for that park site, and that is going to continue probably beyond the 90 days as we move forward,” Kurtz said.
Community members can find the survey and more information about Harborside Park at https://www.chulavistaca.gov/departments/parks-and-recreation/parkupdates. For more information, call (619) 691-5047 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.