Point Loma getting a new park in its pocket
The ¾-acre park at the northwest end of Avenida de Portugal off Cañon Street may include drought-resistant plants and a piece of public art.
Longtime plans to develop a small plot of land along Point Loma’s Cañon Street into a park are moving forward, with the city of San Diego expected to give final approval to the project by next week.
The development of the ¾-acre park at the northwest end of Avenida de Portugal is coming about in large part because of the advocacy of local resident Don Sevrens, who first got involved with the idea when he was a member of the Peninsula Community Planning Board.
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“There were a lot of twists and turns with getting to where we are now, but [the city] put it out to bid,” Sevrens said. The project was put on “expedite mode,” he said.
“The result is that this construction might take nine months as opposed to up to 18 months.”
Though the site is not suitable for an athletic field given its size and slope, features of the park may include drought-resilient plants and a public art piece commemorating Point Loma’s maritime history. One design depicts a model pier that pays homage to the area’s fishing legacy. Another design includes a mock-up Spanish galleon modeled after the one used by Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, who led the first European expedition that explored what is now the West Coast of the United States.
The park project traces its roots to many years ago, “when someone sliced half a hillside off like slicing a cake,” Sevrens said.
“It became kind of a site for storage of heavy equipment when they were working on a construction project,” he said. “At one point it became surplus property. There was an attempt to make it condominiums or houses, and the planning board back then blocked that. About the time I started, there was a paper street [a street that has been plotted on a map but not been built] that cut through the site, and the planning board blessed a proposal to abandon one paper street. That facilitates things going forward. Basically the big hangup was getting funds to [create the park].”
According to Sevrens, proceeds from a land sale were sitting idle in a development impact fund. Sevrens engaged the city about using those funds as the seed money for the park.
“There was more than $660,000 in that fund,” Sevrens recalled. “The money must be used over a certain period of time. ... In San Diego’s case, there was no plan. I was about the only person realizing that this money was available.”
Sevrens said he and a fellow board member attended a meeting with executives from the San Diego Parks & Recreation Department and notified them of the available money.
“They assembled all the city departments and the task was ‘What was shovel-ready?’ — meaning what could be done quickly with not a lot of preparation,” Sevrens said. “It had to be small. This amount of money is not huge from a city standpoint. So all the departments came up with the idea that priority No. 1 for Point Loma was this park.”
The Parks & Recreation Department gave the project its support in July 2018.
Final city approval is expected by Monday, Aug. 14. Contractors are required to begin work on the project within five days after that approval.