Not in Anybody’s Backyard!

What is this blog about?

I’m not really a big fan of labels but I did give it some thought a while back because, according to the experts on how to best build and support my future business, I need to identify my audience and zero in.

My conclusion?

Honestly, I don’t have any real desire to “zero in” too much because, for better or worse, I don’t believe that my mind is capable of doing that very well most of the time.

I’m studying to be a Landscape Architect so that’s very important to me.  My grandpa instilled the love of gardening in me…also important.  Many of my best memories have been formed while hiking & mountain biking the trails around my home and the great people that I’ve met in doing so!  Hugely important for my sanity!

However, if I had to choose what I’d like to “zero in” on, it’s open and green space and how we interact with it.  Planning it, designing it, enjoying it and taking care of it (that narrows things down a bit, right?).  This leads me to why I’ve been a little sad lately (mini soap box coming up).

Citrus Ranch Park in Tustin Ranch, CA

I live in the Tustin/Irvine area and love it mainly because, in a matter of minutes, I have multiple county or state park options to hike or mountain bike in.  Our neighborhood & adjacent cities have many, great municipal parks within spitting distance (and I’m not good at spitting).

Goliath and I walk to and around most of these parks and I was very excited when a new one was built right next door to my complex (especially nice for those rainy morning/evening dog walks).  Even my overly-critical Landscape Architecture student eye appreciates that they installed some different plants such as Kangaroo Paws, Rush, Carex, Sage, Strawberry Trees, Chitalpas, etc  and I have a couple of different areas that I can visualize how great the transition spaces will be upon maturation of the Sycamores!   (Not so much appreciation for the Flower Carpet Roses planted everywhere that the maintenance staff hate and can’t seem to take care of properly).

As somebody who will be involved in park and urban planning/design in the future, I also enjoy watching how different people use these types of spaces (or don’t use them).  The buzz about this park’s opening was constant and, when they finally dropped the barricades, it was packed every day and still is!   There were, literally, mobs of small children and parents on the playground from sun up to sun down.  Families had picnics, others chose to just sit on the grass and talk and fitness groups started using the park as their regular meeting place.  For about a month, it was a little too crowded for my overly-excitable Labrador buddy but the park was and continues to be a huge success!

For you planning and design nerds (of which I proudly affiliate myself), the city of Tustin now has 2.6 acres of park for every 1,000 people. The next park the city will build is a 25-acre sports park in Tustin Legacy at the former Marine base, which will change the ratio to 3.5 acres of park to 1,000 people, exceeding the national standard.

Lately, however, the park seems to have some unwanted visitors.  Vandals.

Since the park opened in February, many of the young Australian Willow, Camphor and Eucalyptus trees throughout the park and in the parking medians have been hacked, ripped out or pushed over.  This morning, as Goliath and I walked through, I noticed that two more were damaged and will probably die.

There are tracks across the grass on both sides of the park, about 1-foot width, that look like someone rode a motorcycle through it while wet.  Broken beer bottles litter the grassy areas and the citrus grove. Goliath has already stepped on some.  I suspect the same people are responsible for pushing over the young Eucalyptus trees along the adjacent horse trail and pushing over all of the concrete site furnishings (benches and trash containers) at the large sports park down the road.

At school, we discuss the extreme measures that are taken to protect LA’s parks and their users and I remember the problems in the parks around my own neighborhood and my grandmother’s growing up in Altadena and Pasadena.  I listen to the stories and think about how fortunate we are in most of Orange County to not have to deal with those conditions.  No, vandalism of this park in Tustin and having to create “safe places” in parks to shield children from errant gunfire is nowhere near an equal comparison but it’s sad nonetheless wherever and whenever it happens.

I’m a little bristly about this today and am suppressing my colorful language. Obviously, the cost of replacing the trees is a concern with many communities paying hundreds of thousands to do so.  But, more importantly, I think, is the cost to the community.   I take it personally and it gives me a sense of feeling violated!  These amazing spaces are such a gift to us and it only takes a few idiots to ruin it for so many!  I believe that with each act of vandalism, they are taking something away from everyone who uses the space and because it belongs to everyone collectively, people need to check themselves before they go around wrecking things!

It’s important to take steps to stop this if you’re ever a witness because (1) your tax dollars are being used to install, maintain and now repair these spaces, (2) your tax dollars are now being diverted from the valuable recreational programs and/or facilities that they were designated for and (3) it just blows!

Please call 9-1-1 or the local police precinct if you see a crime in progress.  Or, when an immediate police response is not needed, still call the local precinct or contact your city’s Parks & Recreation Dept.

During one of our classes, we had to do an assessment of Palmer Park in Glendale.  It has been designated a “Smart Park” due to the surveillance measures installed with the intent of keeping the community users safe (of course, not all community members are pleased with it).  I, however, particularly like the visual of people getting doused by the sprinklers that come on after 10:00 pm if they hop the fence!  Joking aside, is that what it takes?

I think that, ultimately, good still wins out over evil in that the park users continue to come and interact with each other and the park is still a success.  Hopefully the police can catch the vandals but, if not, maybe the continuously destroyed landscape will ignite a sense of ownership in the user community and more people will get personally involved in protecting our parks and open spaces.  We’re lucky to have them.

Photos from OC Register


2 responses to “Not in Anybody’s Backyard!

  1. That is so sad that a few bad people would ruin something as wonderful as a community park. They are likely teens that need better parenting to understand that it’s not acceptable/funny/cool to destroy public property that we all pay for and deserve to enjoy. Sometimes having dummy cameras around are enough to deter would-be vandals.

  2. Very true….or real ones. Sadly enough, when I spoke to Tustin PD to inquire about patrol units in the area, they indicated that they’ve never received any reports. I guess people will start caring about it more when all of the plants have been destroyed and they’re told that it’s not in the city’s budget to replace them.

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