Devin Kostrzewski, representing an ad hoc organization identified as La Jolla Track Interest Group, discussed recent problems with school access by the public.
“We would like to raise awareness and support for keeping La Jolla High School's athletic facilities open to the public,” Kostrzewski told park planners at their March 27 meeting. “We have been trying to use the track and field for a variety of uses by families, individuals and people running and playing soccer. We have been repeatedly harassed and told to leave.”
Kostrzewski noted San Diego Unified School District and the city have expressed a joint interest in “helping make more public park space out of public school facilities using their tracks and pick up fields.”
LJPB board member Bill Robbins agreed, noting “there's a new partnership between the school district and the city to make more school playgrounds available in the city as parks.”
Kostrzewski noted SDUSD has a policy that allows individual school principals the option to open school facilities to the public after-hours — or not.
“The new (La Jolla High) principal imposed this policy,” he said noting that wasn't the previous principal's policy. He added the public is now greeted on weekends by locked gates at La Jolla High's field facilities.
"This plan moves the state towards a more sustainable water future by instilling a new water conservation ethic for ALL water – whether potable or recycled. This approach is essential for regions where dry conditions are the norm like San Diego. While the impacts of this new report won’t be fully realized until the details of implementation and regulations are worked out – particularly as they relate to urban water use targets – we’re pleased to see that a long-term strategy for dealing with water scarcity follows immediately on the heels of one of the worst droughts our state and San Diego has faced in history.
San Diego’s reaction to the drought in the form of conservation came slowly at first, but eventually we saw most of our region step up and make considerable savings. What the drought showed us is that we, as a region, can considerably reduce our water use in a way that does not jeopardize our San Diego lifestyle. We’ll need to continue to save in face of our new normal: increased and prolonged droughts, with sporadic very wet years in between."
Following the LJPB meeting, Mary Kay Plantes weighed in on the La Jolla High public school use issue, offering these four reasons for keeping school facilities open:
• The community will be healthier. There is no other level, cushioned area away from traffic to walk and run safely or play ball sports. The elderly, parents with children, adults starting a fitness routine, runners, tennis players, and pick-up soccer game players among others will benefit.
• Property values will increase. Community property values are enhanced by access to recreational areas. ... protecting property values is critical to our investment in living in La Jolla.
• The community will feel better about the school and therefore be more willing to give back. ... A school that opens its doors to the community, versus builds a wall around itself, will find a more interested community when an ask is made.
• It's good for students to see their school as part of the community. The residents can be an important watchdog on inappropriate use by students or others outside of school hours.
“Were the high school privately owned, we would have no right to ask for use of the facility,” said Plantes. “But the facility was built and improved with public funds (Prop Z for recent refurbishing). Nowhere in the 'ask' was there a statement that the facilities would 'not' be open to the public.”
The San Diego Unified School District and La Jolla High School's principal could not be reached for comment.