For the past five months, Pacific Highlands Ranch resident Vlad Kroutik has heard the “click, clack, click, clack” of skateboards taking over the bike pump track in the new park under construction next door to his home. Skateboarders are trespassing through a fence in the Airoso community into the new Pacific Highlands Ranch Community Park on Village Center Loop Road. Kroutik said he hears the “click clack” during the day, it continues while he’s eating dinner with his family and sometimes until as late as 11 p.m. as determined skaters bring their own light to skate at night.
For the last five months, he has been making his own noise about the issue, determined to hold the city and the developer accountable for “failing to monitor and secure the construction site and once the park opens, for failing to monitor and secure the park, which is going to turn into skateboarder feast.”
Kroutik said he believes that the developer and the city have given up, but promises he and his neighbors in the Airoso community will take the issue seriously as the park trespassers have become a “huge nuisance,” destroying property and harming their quality of life. He said he has spoken with lawyers to work on an injunction lawsuit to try and prevent the park from opening.
Alec Phillipp, public information officer for the city, said that staff is currently monitoring the safety of the park during construction, and should any additional concerns arise after construction they will be addressed by the appropriate staff.
Currently, security on the site is being provided by the contractor for the duration of the park construction, Phillipp said.
“Given the concerns expressed last week, the plan is going forward to bury some areas of the pump track in mulch for the duration of the construction,” Phillipp said. “City staff are currently monitoring the safety of the park during construction, and should any additional concerns arise after construction they will be addressed by the appropriate staff.”
Steven Hadley, representative for San Diego City Council President Pro Team Barbara Bry’s office, said they are aware of the concerns and encouraged those who have problems to contact the mayor’s office.
“We continue to heckle the developer and the city to do just the simple thing: locking the place up,” Hadley said, noting that it can be a challenge for one security officer to take on a dozen youth with skateboards.
The pump track at the park consists of obstacles called “rollers” that allow riders to gain speed — by “pumping” the obstacles, riders can develop basic bike-handling skills and get a fun form of exercise. The park, set to open in fall 2018, does include a separate skate plaza.
As the park went through the design process in 2015, the design committee came up with the ideas for alternative recreation such as the city’s first public parkour course and the bike pump track. At the time, San Diego Parks and Recreation staff expressed concerns about their ability to maintain a dirt pump track and made the recommendation to remove the pump track in favor of a larger off-leash dog park.
The committee lobbied for the pump track to stay and suggested that the jumps could be made of concrete or soiltac (a polymer that controls dust and erosion) and could be placed on the dirt to prevent issues that would necessitate having to rebuild.
Pacific Highlands Ranch resident Karen Dubey said the neighbors never meant for the park to be so noisy, let alone risky.
Dubey shared her concerns about the pump track with the Carmel Valley Community Planning Board on June 28—her concerns reach beyond the trespassing but what will happen once the park opens. She said there is nothing that will prevent skateboarders from using the track meant for bikes and without someone managing it, “It’s going to be a disaster.”
“It may need support so that skateboarders don’t go there, such as dirt in the low laying areas to prevent skateboarders,” Dubey said.
She worries about injuries, particularly with younger kids on bikes on the “massive” course.
This will be the first pump track in the city’s system and they are still researching and developing specific operational policies for it. The plans are for it to remain concrete and not directly supervised, operated in a manner comparable to the city’s skate parks and plazas in which patrons use the facilities at their own risk.
“As described when in the general development plan process, in order for the city to maintain the pump track, the track would need to be made of a very durable material that required little ongoing reconstruction, and as such it was going to be concrete and not going to be dirt,” Phillipp said. “There are no current plans to put dirt or other materials on the pump track after it opens; the plan is for it to remain to be concrete.”
“There will be rules and regulations for use and these will be posted at the site. These rules are in the process of development by staff.”
The park is on track to open this fall—in addition to the bike course there will be a five-and-a-half-acre turf field, two full-size lit basketball courts, parkour course, dog parks and an inventive play garden for kids with unique structures for discovery and climbing. There will be a half-mile walking and jogging loop with exercise stations around the park perimeter as well as the 17,000-square-foot recreation center which includes a large gym, meeting rooms and class spaces, linked together by an enclosed patio.