CHULA VISTA – Residents in Chula Vista are speaking up about plans to ‘reimagine’ Harborside Park.
The park has been at the center of controversy after temporarily closing due to criminal activity and homeless encampments.
It’s been 83 days since the City of Chula Vista voted unanimously to shut down Harborside Park for a 90 day period following growing concerns of crime and homeless encampments.
On August 23, 2022, the Chula Vista City Council approved a resolution that gave the green light on the temporary closure of the park to address the growing concern of criminal activity.
Monday night, the city once again asked for the community’s take on the future of the public space moving forward.
To reach a concrete solution, residents participated in an in-person survey at Harborside Elementary School where they voted on whether or not the park should reopen as a short-term solution following the 90-day trial period. By the end of the meeting, most votes were split down the middle.
Councilmember John McCann, who’s also leading the city’s mayoral race, explained he’s prioritizing security.
“We know that if we are not protecting the park, being able to close it properly, making sure that people who are doing illicit activities are not being taken care of, then it will become a problem again and that’s the plan we need to make sure that there are no issues in the future,” said McCann.
Neighbors were asked to vote yes or no to a temporary solution on reopening of the park with security, signs and fencing.
It’s what could be a temporary fix ahead of a definitive answer. “The bathrooms, the areas where some illegal activity has consistently occurred, we will most likely keep that closed until we have a long term solution,” said McCann.
Mario Cornejo, who has lived in Chula Vista since 1990, says the problem at the park has now spewed onto nearby streets. “The County of San Diego also has some responsibility here. It’s not a Chula Vista-only issue,” said Cornejo.
Proposed long-term solutions include a picnic area, classrooms, a playground, or an exercise park.
The question of what happens next remains up in the air. The results from Monday’s survey will be passed along to the City Manager and then discussed with the city council on Dec. 6. It’s unclear if a final decision will be made on that date.