Concerns voiced about upkeep of Solana Highlands Park

Tree removals at Solana Highlands Park have left behind stumps and mulch.
(Karen Billing)

When the green and sparkling new Pacific Highlands Ranch Community Park opened down Del Mar Heights Road this April, Carmel Valley resident Rod Luck couldn’t help but have a little park envy.

This spring, Luck had been calling the city about the state of his neighborhood park, Solana Highlands Community Park, which had become overrun with weeds.

“It was like a pasture out there,” Luck said. “At first sight, you’d think it was used for goats and cattle.”

After the weeds were eventually removed, over the summer the park has now returned to its “California desert look.” The front of the park is barren without any landscaping and a mostly dirt and mulch slope leads up to picnic tables, the play structure and the shared space with Solana Highlands Elementary School.

Debris was left behind after branches were removed.
(Karen Billing)

While the local homeowners associations like the Martinique community are responsible for maintaining their frontages on Longrun Drive, Luck said the city doesn’t seem to give the same consideration to the park frontage.

“The rest of the park speaks for itself: dead brush, dead trees,” Luck said. “The park just doesn’t seem to fit the personality of Carmel Valley. It’s just one of the most neglected parks in this area.”

In the past few months, several dying trees were removed or trimmed and in some cases the stumps and large branches were left behind; some branches were stacked near the wall separating the park from a neighboring home. Other stumps were simply covered with mounds of mulch.

“Mulch has become the Band-Aid, for the park,” Luck said. “If something looks bad, throw some mulch on it.”

Luck said he believes the underbrush has taken over in many areas of the park, which he worries could pose a fire risk in addition to being unattractive.

In all, he believes the park deserves a little love as it is such a well-used park by the community: “It needs a good cleaning from head to toe.”

What remains of a tree removal in the park.
(Karen Billing)

The park is scheduled for an upgrade next year— in 2020, construction is set to begin on a new restroom comfort station. Tim Graham, public information officer for the city of San Diego, said the city is also taking a look into Luck’s concerns about the brush abatement.

“The park is lined with Acacia shrubs which are important to provide slope stabilization in the area. While those plants may appear to be in need of maintenance, any trimming done to the undercarriage of the Acacia will kill the entire plant and will actually create more brush that would need to be removed,” Graham said. “The city will inspect the area to see if there are any dead twigs and leaves that can be removed as well as grind tree stumps and trim the tops of the Acacia trees.”

Graham said staff will also consult with its city horticulturalist who can make recommendations.

Regarding brush abatement, Graham said if any neighboring residents have concerns that park plant material is encroaching on to their property lines, they should let city staff know and those issues can be addressed.

A complaint about a fire hazard created by brush should be directed to the Fire Hazard Advisor at (619) 533-4444. Requests for tree maintenance can be made on the city’s Get it Done app. Learn more at

A neighbor has expressed concerns about the brush at Solana Highlands Community Park.
(Karen Billing)