A simple playground has neighbors on tilt in Santa Monica. The Santa Monica Daily Press reports that the issue lies with a proposed 20,000 square foot playground at the south end of the city limits, just before SaMo becomes Venice and things get a little freaky. Katherine Spitz Associates Inc. designed the park, which would be "the city's first universally accessible playground." Plans call for a "play area that looks like a buried clipper ship complete with sails and images of marine life...sails would provide shade and the hulls, decks and areas around the ship would provide places for the kids to play with traditional playground equipment like slides and swings as well as sea-themed features like periscopes and sandboxes" All of that sounds like a kid's wildest dreams, and the park has the added benefit of being designed to give kids with disabilities full access to the fun. The current park has a sand area, picnic tables, turf, and palm trees. But locals are concerned that the upgrade would be a magnet for more pernicious behavior than play.
Residents of the Sea Colony One condo complex nearby are concerned that the playground would also give homeless people and gang members a place to do drugs and "fornicate," according to the SMDP. At a city council meeting on the issue this week, resident Steve Unger said that "If there was ever a foreseeable hazard, this is it...My mind boggles at the crime, lawsuits and inevitable liability to Santa Monica taxpayers that this wrongheaded project would cause." The Canyon News, meanwhile, provides the following list of possible vulgarities feared by opponents of the project: "violence, public sex, urination, defecation, garbage, fireworks, partying, public drunkenness, broken bottles, drug materials and cigarette butts."
Adding to the opposition's worst nightmare, there is also the issue of the Marvin Braude Beach Bike Path, which playground users would have to cross to get to the bathrooms--opening the door for collisions and probably more drug use. The city will look at ways to deal with the bike path. According to the CN, Recreation and Parks Commissioner Phil Brock said the problems with crossing the bike path (which councilmembers said is a problem everywhere in the city) could be fixed with forthcoming yellow signs that will warn bicyclists to slow down.
Possible solutions to the horrors the playground is almost definitely going to bring include closing the site at 10 pm or having local police patrol the area.
· Universally accessible, but not universally loved [Santa Monica Daily Press]
· Locals Attack Multi-Use Playground Plans [Canyon News]
· Universally Accessible Playground Schematic Design [Agenda Item 8-B]