In return for the City halting demolition of the Famosa pump track, Darren Miller said he, and others who created the track, have agreed to keep their children and other riders off it, until a meeting between residents, the City and the Housing Commission is held to resolve the issue.
For years, Point Lomans have been voluntarily creating the handmade Famosa pump track to serve their offspring’s cycling needs, only to have their efforts periodically “undone” by the City Housing Commission. The commission owns the vacant property, which it intends to develop for future affordable housing.
On March 19, in an oft-repeated pattern, a bulldozer showed up to raze the popular, impromptu Famosa pump track. Only this time, instead of dirt, the wrecking crew found Miller standing in their way.
“I got a text message from another guy who helped build it, that there was a bulldozer, so I bolted down there as fast as I could,” said Miller, who found the track already half-leveled. “I stood in front of the tractor and pled with the [demolition crew] to stop, explaining how much it meant to the community – and how much work it was.”
After initially being told the crew had its orders to demolish the site by the following day, Miller noted his plea somehow got to the right ears, as the guy on the Bobcat finally hung up his phone saying his supervisor told him, “Pack up and head for the next job.”
The following day, March 20, a meeting was held between the mayor’s office, District 2 Councilmember Lorie Zapf’s office, and the San Diego Housing Commission. Thereafter, the mayor’s office requested the Housing Commission “to temporarily hold off on any maintenance on the land until we can get everyone to the table for a conversation about the realities of this lot, and how we may move forward with this.”
San Diego Housing Commission has characterized the Famosa pump track as being “unpermitted” and “makeshift,” while adding “no trespassing” signs on it have since been illegally removed.
The commission issued this statement: “Without sufficient insurance, SDHC, a public agency, cannot allow the property to be used as a bike park… We are pleased to be working with the Community Planning Group on the future development of affordable housing at this site.”
Another Point Loma track advocate, Fred Robinson, said it’s hard to overestimate the significance of the Famosa site to bicyclists of all stripes.
Robinson argued the Famosa pump track “is suitable for all levels of riders,” from 4-year-olds just learning, to advanced riders like himself. He added, “Lots of parents I’ve spoken to want their kids to go out and enjoy themselves outside on this track, rather than having them playing video games all day.”
Robinson said the scenario being played out yet again with the track is only too familiar.
“If you’re a mountain biker or BMX rider you’ve probably read this story 100 times before,” Robinson said. “A lot of the locals were excited about the track being put back in,” he said. “A lot of them are upset it’s being threatened again.”
“Locals find an unused or otherwise vacant piece of land and start shaping dirt by the shovel load… [later] the City or landowner comes in with bulldozers and flattens the land, returning it once again to its unusable and empty condition.
“What purpose does this land serve, other than for homeless encampments and dumping grounds, between those periodic times when cyclists make use of it?” It’s deja vu all over again for cycling enthusiasts with the Famosa track, concluded Robinson.