August 4, 2021 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Universally Accessible Playground Unsafe: Residents:

A public-serving facility always seems to be a great idea until that facility is planned in front of or near one’s home. That “not in my back yard” – or NIMBY – mindset has prevented freeways from being built and affected how country officials planned the route of the new Expo Line into Santa Monica.

At the first council meeting of 2012 on Tuesday, several local residents appeared at City Hall to express their reservations about a public park catering to children of all capacities.

What started as an ambitious plan to bring the first-ever universally accessible playground to Santa Monica turned into a divisive debate about safety, homeless activity, and other potential negative elements taking over a small portion of Santa Monica Beach.

The playground’s design calls for a 20,000-square-foot facility that is meant to give able-bodied and disabled youths the same access to a playground hailed from the Sea Colony complex. If realized, the universally accessible playground would be in an area on Barnard Way in between Sea Colony and Santa Monica Beach.

Based upon the rendered designs of the planned playground, residents were most concerned about noise and potential homeless or gang activity in the area.

Other concerns included proper (and free) parking, and whether children would be able to cross the adjacent bike path in order to access the nearby restrooms without the threat of oncoming bicycle traffic.

Some of the concerns stemmed from the playground’s design, which, according to the staff report, called for a “Ship Concept.” With a faux naval vessel, complete with white sails and hulls, built into the sand, some residents worried that the homeless might take residence – and perhaps fornicate – in the large prop.

“Many of us strongly object to the proposed location. Our reasons are safety, health, sanitation, and noise. I’m sure the playground expansion is well-intentioned, but the location is horrible,” resident Steve Unger said. “It’s a big mistake. It will not serve or benefit the Santa Monica community. If there were ever a foreseeable hazard, this is it.”

Unger also pointed out that there were homeless people, gang members, and “drug pushers” already populating the area where the planned playground would be constructed.

“The proposed location may be universally accessible, but it is definitely universally unsafe,” Unger added.

One Sea Colony resident expressed support of the playground, adding he suspects many others at the residential community would do the same.

“This is a public beach. Disabled children and their families have as much right and access to that beach as anyone else,” Shawn Casey O’Brien told council members. “You are living in a tourist destination that is second only to Disneyland. If you don’t like crowds, then you shouldn’t be living at the beach in Santa Monica.”

The seesaw public debate essentially fell in line with the comments expressed by Unger and O’Brien. On the one end, the playground was an open invitation to urban ills and would possibly disturb the lifestyles of the Sea Colony residents. On the other end, the playground served as a symbolic and practical gesture in ensuring children with special needs would be allowed to enjoy Santa Monica Beach no different from anyone else.

Council members deliberated for more than one hour looking at points raised before ultimately agreeing unanimously to move forward with the playground’s plans while also considering alternatives for child safety.

Mayor Pro Tem Gleam Davis thought the playground’s planned location on Barnard Way was the best option available. She also pointed out that the safety concern of having to cross the bike path to get to the restroom was an issue for beachgoers and playground visitors alike.

“I think it’s fabulous to have a universally accessible playground. I think this is a lovely spot for it because it is on the beach,” Davis said. “It will let people of all abilities enjoy our beaches. That’s not to say there may not be problems. I understand the concerns of the residents, but I think most of the concerns that I heard the residents express … were existing concerns.”

Mayor Richard Bloom pointed out there was still work to do before the final designs were formally approved and that many of the concerns residents raised in council chambers might be addressed by the time the playground becomes a reality.

“We did not address every issue that residents would have liked us to address, but I do think we got to most of them,” Bloom said. “Staff is convinced that in the coming process they will be able to address some of the other concerns. The finished product is, I believe, going to be something that will not cause the kinds of problems that are a concern here tonight.”

Putting the playground into perspective, the usually progressive Bloom said he believed Santa Monica was overdue to have a universally accessible playground.

“Someone observed we are behind the curve on accessible parks. Well, we certainly are,” Bloom said. “But we’re not alone. The entire country is behind on accessible parks. I am hoping that this will demonstrate leadership in Santa Monica. There are a few (cities) out there (with universally accessible parks), but there needs to be many, many, many more.”

Looking ahead, the complete design development plans are expected to be completed by March, with the Coastal Commission reviewing plans as early as next month. Construction documents are expected to be complete by May, with council members potentially deciding whether to award a construction contract in July.

Construction would start in August if all goes as scheduled.

All seven council members were present at the Jan. 10 council meeting.

in News
Related Posts

Santa Monica’s UCLA Hospital Ranks No. 1 in State, No. 3 in Nation

August 3, 2021

August 3, 2021

Highest set of rankings ever for UCLA Health  By Sam Catanzaro UCLA Health hospitals have ranked No. 1 in both...

La County Health Lifts Water Advisory For Santa Monica Beaches: Santa Monica Beat – August 2, 2021

August 2, 2021

August 2, 2021

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes. * La County Health Lifts Water Advisory For Santa Monica Beaches *...

Man Killed in Santa Monica Hit and Run

August 2, 2021

August 2, 2021

Fatality occurs early Monday morning on Santa Monica Boulevard By Sam Catanzaro A man was killed in a hit and...

Millions of Gallons of Partially Treated Sewage Continue to be Discharged Into Santa Monica Bay

August 2, 2021

August 2, 2021

Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant still not operating at full efficiency following July spill  By Sam Catanzaro Three weeks after a...

Library Director Patty Wong to Leave Santa Monica

July 30, 2021

July 30, 2021

Santa Monica Public Library (SMPL) Director Patty Wong announced recently that she will leave Santa Monica to take on the...

City Council Prioritizes Housing for Historically Displaced Households

July 28, 2021

July 28, 2021

At its meeting on July 13, Santa Monica City Council made changes to Santa Monica’s Affordable Housing Production Program and...

Homeless Man Charged with Hate Crime in Assault of Korean Woman in Santa Monica

July 27, 2021

July 27, 2021

Melvin Taylor faces charges in connection to July 23 incident By Sam Catanzaro Hate crime charges have been filed against...

Homeless Advocate Arrested Near Shelter on Suspicion of Dealing Drugs, Claims no Wrongdoing

July 27, 2021

July 27, 2021

65-year-old Garry Featherstone accused of selling meth, PCP By Sam Catanzaro A self-described homeless outreach advocate was recently arrested near...

Off Leash Dog Park And Picnic Area Coming To Downtown Santa Monica: Santa Monica Beat – July 27, 2021

July 27, 2021

July 27, 2021

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes. * Off Leash Dog Park And Picnic Area Coming To Downtown Santa...

Two Arrested for Main Street Bike Shop Burglary

July 23, 2021

July 23, 2021

Two suspects were arrested for the burglary of a Main Street bike store after the owner witnessed the crime via...

Council Selects Berkeley Deputy City Manager to Helm Santa Monica

July 23, 2021

July 23, 2021

David White to be Santa Monica’s next City Manager starting in October  By Sam Catanzaro Santa Monica City Council has...

Ocean Park Library Set to Reopen

July 20, 2021

July 20, 2021

New self-service hours begin July 28 By Sam Catanzaro The Santa Monica Public Library’s Ocean Park Branch is set to...

Police Tase Suspect Following Santa Monica Beach Stabbing

July 19, 2021

July 19, 2021

32-year-old man arrested Sunday evening on Santa Monica Beach, suffers head injuries in arrest By Sam Catanzaro As part of...

Santa Monica Beat: Santa Monica Beat – July 19, 2021

July 19, 2021

July 19, 2021

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes. * Serial Killer Arrested by SMPD Sentenced to Death * New Grants...