Increasingly, the public park with its expansive green lawn and sandy tot lot has become more attractive to area homeless, and less appealing to families with children.
Locals hope to change that.
“We had about 20 neighbors meet at the library to discuss how we can better use the grassy area that is currently under utilized,” said Janice Bellinghiere, who attended the April 7 meeting. Bellinghiere noted, “Someone mentioned offering yoga classes ... Someone else suggested a movie night with the inflatable large screen used in the past. One person suggested, after the children's reading time in the library, they bring the kids out to run around and play on the grass. One lady wants to have a neighborhood picnic on the grass.”
Another attendee even suggested having a local church service out on the lawn.
“Basically we all want to start enjoying the park more,” added Bellinghiere who pointed out, “People are reluctant to use it (park) when it is occupied by people using drugs, and needles have been found in the grass. So we would like to encourage neighbors to bring their children and their dogs, maybe a blanket or lawn chairs, and just enjoy being outside in our beautiful PB neighborhood.”
Beach & Bay Press asked the City of San Diego and the San Diego Public Library to comment on PB library's park and the notion of PB reclaiming it and making it more user-friendly.
“The space known as the 'Taylor Greene' was donated to the city as a passive park,” said the city's Communications Department, noting, “This space is maintained by the Library Department, which provides funding for the maintenance and landscaping. As a passive park — much like a front lawn or outdoor patio — the space is not generally intended to be used for community-wide events or large gatherings that would interfere with public access to the park.”
City libraries want patrons to feel safe visiting the Pacific Beach/Taylor Library.
“This year, the library invested in new outdoor lighting and upgrades to the security cameras on the outside of the building,” said the city's Communications Department. “During open hours, a security guard patrols the library and the outdoor space. Library staff will immediately report any illegal activity to police.”
Concerning the public “taking the park back,” the city commented, “We understand the concerns of some community members, and we are interested in ideas that are both inclusive and welcoming. The library is a public entity and is open to everyone. The outdoor space is also open to everyone and we welcome the public to use the space on a first-come, first-serve basis.”
Two homeless people asked to join the group of neighbors during the park pow wow and were welcomed. They expressed shame concerning the actions of some homeless who use drugs, trash the park area and engage in illegal activities.
“They said they also would like the grassy area to be a drug-free safe-zone for all of the neighbors,” said Bellinghiere.
After the meeting, Bellinghaire took her dog for a walk around the library and saw the homeless woman who'd been at the meeting.
“We both smiled and we're happy to see a friendly face,” she said. “We need more of a community feeling in PB. It isn't just about the bars and nightlife, the days are full of perfect weather and friendly people. We are entering the busy season at the beaches, but the grassy area behind the library is quiet and lovely.”