The Urban Jungle Gym

What qualifies as a park in one of San Diego’s supposedly trendier neighborhoods? Answer: North Park Mini Park—and, yes, that’s the name of the community seen in the Featured Image. When I think of a park, particularly in a coastal region with three Summer seasons (Early, Mid, and Late), lush space with grass, greenery, and trees comes to mind. Apparently, not in North Park, where cement rules.

Say, can some stereotypical, anti-carbon emissions, stop climate change citizen living there explain the environmental benefits of building another edifice that absorbs heat and in the process quite likely also contributes to global warming? Wouldn’t heat-reducing, carbon-dioxide absorbing, oxygen-producing plants, shrubs, and trees make more environmental sense and be more interesting a refuge for residents?

My wife and I first walked by the so-called mini park about three weeks ago, when the place was fenced off. What we didn’t realize then, or when I shot several photos yesterday, is that the, ah, attraction hadn’t opened yet—that it is brand, spanking new. San Diego officials, including the mayor, cut the opening ribbon on Jan. 16, 2022. Get this: The city authorized the project 10 years ago! The space is 21,780 square feet and cost about $5 million to construct. Put those tax dollars to work.

As you can see from the first photo, the place was nearly empty on a sunny Wednesday morning at 9:28 a.m. PST. I did see one dad and elementary school age daughter sitting around a cement table. What I expect to find in the future: Some of the homeless folks frequently found on 30th Street moved over a block to the fresh, currently clean open space. Can you say—switching to terminology perhaps more acceptable to North Park progressives—unhoused encampment? There is plenty of room for a tent city, and if no one else uses the space, well…why not? Eh?

Meanwhile, for kids wanting a jungle gym to play on, perhaps they can climb any of the nine letters. Ah, their color: White is such a great canvas for would be street artists and their spray cans. Well, damn, I missed the majesty behind the concept and who could make great use of the mini park: Street sleepers and graffiti makers—and surely skateboarders will trade tricks riding atop N-O-R-T-H P-A-R-K.

Both photos come from iPhone 13 Pro. Vitals: f/1.8, ISO 32, 1/3774 sec, 13mm. The other: f/1.5, ISO 50, 1/10309 sec, 26mm.