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Proposal would scale back hours for some Encinitas parks

Orpheus Park would close earlier under a plan from the Encinitas Parks and Recreation Department.
Orpheus Park would close earlier under a plan from the Encinitas Parks and Recreation Department.
( / Jared Whitlock)

The Encinitas Parks and Recreation Commission on May 19 heard a plan that calls for reducing the hours at some local parks.

Thirteen smaller city parks, including Leucadia Oaks Park and Orpheus Park, are open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Under a proposal from the Encinitas Parks and Recreation Department, the new hours would be sunrise to sunset. This would provide law enforcement with consistency, the staff report stated.

Commissioner John Gjata said he understands the need for consistency, but sunrise and sunset times change throughout the year.

“That doesn’t seem like something that makes it easily enforceable,” Gjata said.

Jason La Riva, parks and beach superintendent, said these 13 parks don’t have lights, and the city doesn’t necessarily want people congregating at night.

“By having the sunrise to sunset (hours), it’s going to eliminate some of that after-hours activity that takes place in our parks,” La Riva said.

At nighttime in non-lighted parks, he added, tripping, falling and other safety hazards are a greater risk.

The plan calls for the hours to stay the same at parks with lights, including at Ecke Sports Park. Only Leo Mullen Sports Park would see extra hours — its sunset closing time moving back to 10 p.m. — because a draft city budget includes funds for permanent field lighting there.

Hours would also be scaled back at the 44-acre Encinitas Community Park. It’s open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., and this would change to sunrise to sunset.

Within the park, the 8 a.m. to sunset hours would stay the same for the skatepark, dog park and athletic fields, according to the plan.

Lisa Rudloff, Parks and Recreation director, said people often gather at the community park playground after the sun goes down.

“It causes problems with enforcement, neighbors and such,” Rudloff said.

The Parks and Recreation Department has the power to change park hours. But city staff decided to bring the proposal to the Parks and Recreation Commission for feedback. And the City Council, which would have the ultimate say, could eventually consider the plan, according to Rudloff.

The commission didn’t weigh in with formal support or opposition to the proposal.

Rudloff said the commission had the option of offering a consensus opinion, which would have been noted, should the item go to the council.

Commissioner Doug Long voiced support for the plan, calling it justified.

The agenda item didn’t draw any public speakers.


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